A Walk Around Town – Walk X – Slavery

 

Excerpt from “Walk X” in “St. Catharines A-Z” by Junius, originally published in the St. Catharines Journal on October 30th, 1856.

This week Junius has provided readers with a brief overview of the history of slavery beginning in 335BC and ending with a prediction for the year 1900; “A.D.1900, human slavery will be abolished, either by the will of God, public opinion, war, plague, pestilence, famine, or the strong arm of the law. Black men and friends of human freedom, it is only a matter of time, say 44 years, when your highest wishes in this respect, will be fully consummated. Remember human freedom will visit our entire world in the year 1900. So foretells Junius.”

2006-77-1040a
1993 Postcard for the Bicentennial of the Proclamation Act     to abolish slavery in Upper Canada. John Burtniak, StCM, 2006.77.1040

Junius speaks specifically about the expansion of slavery all over the world. He provides ample statistics on the number of human beings who were abducted, sold into slavery and killed, in specific years and specific countries. He is very clear on his stance against slavery:

“Slavery is a running sore, and a contagious curse to any country, government, or people. It curses the slave and it curses the master; it makes the Black man heedless and careless, and the White man lazy and ignorant; it degrades labor; it demoralizes society, it is worse than the ten plagues sent upon Pharaoh in Egypt; it belittles the slave, and bedevils the master; it is unnatural, wicked, devilish, and a damnable evil ,it, like chickens, comes home to roost, and falls fearfully upon the head of the master; it never was designed to have a dwelling place, either in Heaven, or on Earth, or in Hell, but bad men have introduced in two, and would feign carry it up into the third Heavens, if they could!”

Junius references Canada as the “land of the free, the home of the slave, and the great North American refuge, as in Bible times, to which the Black man, or Black woman, or slave in the southern States can flee to, and find a secure retreat and safe hiding place from their task-masters and brutal overseers.  For here, no lazy lords of the lash, who lay it most unmercifully on the bended backs of the Black down south, can make merchandize in human chattels. Here there is no traffic in human bones, sinews and flesh.”

As much as I wish I could say that Junius’ words are an admirable example of a prominent individual supporting the emancipation of slaves, he goes on to finish is description of Canada as a refuge for slaves by stating the following:

“It is ascertained that from 1,500 to 2,000 slaves run away from their masters, and are brought to Canada by the Underground Railroad and otherwise, annually, and find a happy home; and we very much fear that unless masters keep a sharper look-out, Canada will yet be chiefly peopled with Southerners, human chattels.”  He then states that once slavery is completely abolished; “every black man, woman, and child, now or then living in Canada, will be wending their way back to their old homes in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, the two Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and other southern States to live…”

I will let these rather contradictory passages speak for themselves.

St. Catharines is very well known as one of the Canadian cities that offered freedom, support and respite to escaped slaves.  For further information, an excellent publication is: “Niagara’s Freedom Trail, A Guide to African-Canadian History on the Niagara Peninsula” by Owen A. Thomas.  Also, visit the St. Catharines Museum to view our exhibit: “Follow the North Star”.

 

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