Article Nine (1792 Kentucky Constitution)
John Gregg Fee and Berea College
Cassius Clay read the manual and was so impressed that he urged Fee to spread his abolitionist views among the people of western Kentucky as these views became widely known, proslavery forces began to see the church and school as hated symbols. In spite of threats, Fee and his associate, J. A. R. Rogers, struggled to keep the school alive. Shortly after the constitution for Berea was written, abolitionist John Brown and his followers raided the arsenal at Harpers Ferry West Virginia, in October 1859. Their intent was to free the slaves and establish a stronghold in the mountains. The raid increased the slaveholders' fear and angel; and reprisals swept the South. In December 1859 sixty five armed men rode into Berea and ordered Fee and Rogers to leave Kentucky within ten days. Since the state governor refused to provide protection, the men had no choice but to flee. In spite of this hostility by 1867 the school reopened; ninety six Black and ninety one white students were attending elementary classes at Berea.
The school remained an irritant until the turn of the century when the southern and border states enacted Jim Crow laws. Kentucky's segregationists turned to the state legislature in 1904, pressuring legislators to pass the Day Law This new legislation, which specified that Black and white students could not be taught on the same campus, was specifically aimed at Berea. The college fought the law for four years, but in 1908 the Supreme Court, in Berea College v. Commonwealth of Kentucky ruled that the state could require a private institution to segregate students of different races.
Bitterly disappointed, African American students had to leave the campus, and Berea remained segregated
until 1940, when the state of Kentucky removed the ban. During the period of segregation, Berea used its
funds to establish an all Black school in Simpsonville, Kentucky (see Lincoln Institute site). Of the
forty four buildings on campus, Lincoln Hall is the last surviving structure from the old college. The
three story brick building, constructed in 1878, was named after President Abraham Lincoln. The
structure originally contained classrooms, a library a museum, meeting rooms, and laboratories, but it is
used today for administrative offices and activities. Although the interior has been altered, the exterior
remains as it originally appeared. Lincoln Hall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Cassius Marcellus Clay and White Hall State Historic Site
Cassius Clay was the son of General Green Clay one of the richest men in Kentucky. At the time of his death in 1828, General Clay owned more land, slaves, and personal property than anyone else in the state. When his sixth child, Cassius Marcellus Clay was born in 1810, slavery was a well accepted institution in Kentucky. Cassius grew up in a world of wealth and privilege.
Two incidents caused Cassius to turn against slavery. The first occurred when he was approximately eight years old. A slave named Mary, who had been Clay's companion and playmate, was punished by Green Clay for a minor misdeed. She was transferred from her position in the Clay household and sent to work for the family of the overseer on another of Green Clay's estates. Years later these feelings were reinforced when he heard his first antislavery speech while a student at Yale. White abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison gave a lecture that impelled Clay to speak out against slavery. Clay asked that his name be removed from the church roll because he disagreed with the members' views on slavery. When he graduated from Yale, Clay was selected to deliver the Washington Centennial Address. He made his first antislavery speech at that time. After graduation, Cassius freed approximately fifty of his own slaves at great financial cost. In 1845 he began publishing an antislavery paper The True American, in Lexington. Within a month he received death threats and had to arm himself and barricade the doors of his newspaper office for protection. On an occasion when he was ill, a mob of about sixty men broke into his office, dismantled the press and equipment, and shipped them to Cincinnati. Clay continued to publish the paper from Ohio, circulating it throughout Kentucky.
Cassius Clay also helped to found Berea College, one of the first colleges in the United States established for the purpose of educating an integrated student body. This activity drew more hatred and enmity from Kentucky's proslavery forces. Clay's last years were saddened. Divorced from his wife and deeply in debt, he sold much of his property. Ironically, in spite of his antislavery views, he still owned some slaves, whom he now sold to pay his creditors. He lived almost alone in his large house, armed for his own protection. Clay died on July 22, 1903, at the age of ninety three. Sixty five years after his death, White Hall stood empty and in ruin. The fine furnishings were sold at auction for a little more than $3,000. Walls and floors buckled, and vandals destroyed parts of the house. Tenant farmers who lived in sections of the house stored grain and hay in the elegant ballroom. In 1968 the Commonwealth of Kentucky bought White Hall and thirteen acres of land from the Clay heirs for $18,375 and began to restore the main house. The old Stone slave quarters behind White Hall were built in the early 1800s. Slaves also lived in the basement of the main house, where bars remain across a window in one room. In another room a tunnel still exists where slaves owned by General Green Clay tried to dig their way to freedom by tunneling under ground. Apparently the escape plot was discovered.
(Information on Josiah Henson, Old Washington, Songs of the Underground Railroad are taken for the work of James Blockson, The Underground Railroad, 1994.)
Owensboro, Kentucky Josiah Henson Trail
However, late in 1830 he gathered his family together and with them escaped to freedom, going first to Indiana, and from there to Canada via the Underground Railroad. He later told his life story to Harriet Beecher Stowe and wrote an autobiography entitled Father Henson's Story. Stowe wrote the introduction to the second edition of his book, which was published under the title Truth Stranger Than Fiction: Father Henson's Story of His Own Life. The former site of the Riley plantation is designated by a historical marker on U.S. 60 near the village of Maceo, just west of the Davis County line. No evidence of the former plantation remains.
Liberty party conventions were subsequently held in Ohio and other states in the Northwest. The party was composed of moderate abolitionists who did not share William Lloyd Garrison's opposition to political action. Unlike Garrison, they professed loyalty to the Constitution and did not advocate secession or dissolution of the Union. By virtue of holding the balance of power, the party played an important part in the presidential election of 1844, and was considered responsible for the defeat of Henry Clay.
In 1848 it combined with the Free-Soil party and helped to defeat the Democratic candidate, Lewis Cass. The party's chief political issue was its stand against the annexation of Texas. Among its leaders were Gerrit Smith (NY) and Salmon P. Chase (OH).
Joining the Republican party in 1856, he ran for the Senate against Stephen A. Douglas (1858), accepting the nomination on June 17 with a speech in which he declared: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." In the course of seven campaign debates with Douglas he forced the latter to announce the so called Freeport Doctrine. Even though he lost the election, Lincoln had established himself as a national figure. He won the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1860 because of his conservative views on slavery. His election was regarded by the South as forecasting an attack on their "peculiar institution." By March 4, 1861, seven states had already seceded. In his first inaugural address Lincoln reiterated his constitutional doctrine that the contract between the states was binding and irrevocable.
Against the advice of his cabinet, Lincoln ordered the provisioning of Ft. Sumter and when war began called out the state militia; suspended the writ of habeas corpus; proclaimed a blockade of Southern ports; and in other ways did not hesitate to use the dictatorial powers with which he was invested. He largely countermanded Fremont's proclamation (30 Aug. 1861) emancipating the slaves of rebels in Missouri and proposed his own plan for compensated emancipation (Dec. 1861, 12 July and 1 Dec. 1862). "My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery," he stated (22 Aug. 1862). After Antietam he prepared a draft of emancipation, proclaimed formally 1 Jan. 1863. A diplomat in the handling of both his cabinet and his generals, his re-election in 1864, when he easily defeated McClellan, was assured by the military victories of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan. His plan of Reconstruction (8 Dec. 1863) was based on the prompt restoration of the Southern states to "their proper practical relation with the Union." He pocket-vetoed the harsher Wade-Davis Bill (8 July 1864). He personally attended the Hampton Roads Conference (3 Feb. 1865) to discuss peace terms with Confederate leaders. His most notable speeches were his Gettysburg Address (19 Nov. 1863) and his second inaugural (4 Mar. 1865), in which he appealed to the nation to "finish the work we are in... with malice toward none, with charity for all." Shortly after General Lee's surrender at Appomattox he was shot by John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theater, Washington (14 Apr. 1865), and died the next day.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe
A compromise formulated by Henry Clay resulted in the so called second Missouri Compromise (2 Mar. 1821) providing that the state of Missouri should not gain admission to the Union until the legislature gave assurance that the offending clause would never be construed as sanctioning the passage of any law abridging the privileges and immunities of United States citizens. This condition was accepted by the Missouri legislature (26 June 1821), which qualified its pledge by insisting that it had no power to bind the people of the state. On 10 Aug. 1821 President Monroe proclaimed the admission of Missouri as the 24th state.
Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church
Some of the freedmen established Mount Vernon Church. In 1848 George Pipkin, Albert Howard, and Peter West built the log structure on a slight rise, one fourth mile southwest of Free-Town and five miles north of the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The structure also served as a school. Except for the tin roof and double pane sash windows that were installed at a later date, Mount Vernon Church still has most of the original building material. The one-room, one-story structure has handhewn logs joined by wooden pegs and chinked with clay. Clapboarding covers the north and south ends. The interior has the original floor on log sleepers and rustic benches that appear to be the original ones.
A white resident recalls: They had a Maypole - it was around the time I married, in 1930 and it was such a pretty sight. They had a big dinner there in front of the church with white and Black there. They still have funerals there sometimes but most of them are done and dead and gone. Some residents of surrounding communities still have memories of activities at the log church. Ms. Edith Howard, an African American resident of Gamaliel, made the following statement: "We used to go to the church way back yonder. They had big dinners on the ground. Enjoyed it. They fixed the church up later and got it looking good."
Ruth Craig Proffitt of the Gamaliel Senior Center also has a vivid memory of the church. "I remember the Maypole. Everyone went from miles around to see it. The girls wore frilly white dresses. They held on to streamers that were red, white, and blue, I think, and they plaited them. They danced in and out, their dresses blowing in the wind, and when they finished, the pole was braided with the pretty streamers. It was the best settlement of colored people in the world. They were all straight and honest people. They had to go to Hickory Ridge for high school. Sometimes, too, they had to walk to Fountain Run, they would walk or go by in buggies. My mother would have a bucket of water for them because they would be thirsty. Nobody looked down on them, but I didn't know until I was in high school that Black people had to sit in the back of the bus and couldn't eat in the restaurant. When I asked why I was told it was just that way."
Mrs. Joyce Thomas, a school teacher in Louisville, Kentucky and a descendant of founders of Mount Vernon Church, is writing a book about her family in Monroe County and about Mount Vernon Church. Her great grandfather; Peter West, one of the builders of the church and its preacher; was a reed Methodist minister from Tennessee. Thomas said the Free Town people were: "very proud and honest, people who believed that you do what you say you will do and look out for each other. The Pipkins and Wests originally came from Tennessee, and most were teachers. My uncle, Roscoe Pipkins, and my Aunt Elmer taught school in the log church. When the school first started they chopped down trees and made desks, some of which are still there. For school supplies, they used whatever the white students had rejected.2
Mrs. Thomas leads an annual reunion to celebrate this heritage. Beginning in t982~I983, former members of the Mount Vernon Church and their families began to return to the log church for an annual reunion on the second Saturday in June. Thomas and her sister hope to open the church as a museum.
The National Underground Railroad Museum
Old Washington, Kentucky Slave Market
Also in Washington is a restored building called the Paxton Inn. This building is reported to have been a station stop on the Underground Railroad when it was owned by James A. Paxton, who is said to have hidden escaped slaves in the cellar. A prominent lawyer, Paxton married twice, both times into the Marshall family and was related to Chief Justice John Marshall. Paxton later moved to Ohio because he "would not rear his family in a state that supported slavery." Old Washington is just off U. S. 68 about five miles south of Maysville. Information can be obtained from the Washington Visitor Center, (859) 759-7411.
Pleasant Green Baptist Church
Reverend George W (Pappy) Dupee, a slave, was the fourth minister of Pleasant Green Baptist Church. In 1826 the congregation heard that Reverend Dupee's owner was planning to sell him. Greatly troubled, they asked a white minister; Reverend William Pratt, to buy their pastor for them, and Pratt purchased Dupee off the auction block. Every Monday morning the church members made a payment on the debt to Pratt with their Sunday offerings until Dupee was freed. Dupee became a widely known and respected preacher. In 1858 he left Lexington to become pastor of Washington Street Missionary Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky, where he served for thirtynine years.
When Stone built this house, his neighbors owned slaves, too, but they did not regard slave trading as an honorable profession. He was the only person in the community to openly advertise his trade. On July 24, r8i6, for example, he placed an advertisement in the Western Citizen: "Cash for Negroes" I wish to purchase twenty negroes, boys and girls from 10 to 25 years of age. A liberal price will be given for those answering the description on early application to the subscriber, Edward Stone. Living on the Limestone Road, 4 miles from Paris leading to Millersburg.4
In 1882 a Reverend James H. Dickey met one of Stone's coffles (that is, a group of slaves chained together) on the Paris Lexington Road. Forty men and thirty women were in the coffle, and Reverend Dickey described them as marching with sad countenances. Owners often sold Stone their unruly slaves or those who had committed crimes. To break their spirits, Stone chained them to rings set in the walls of the dungeon and left them in complete darkness. They were fed nothing but bread and water, and their only breath of fresh air came from one iron barred window under the back porch. This window was approached by a 4 foot by 400 ft doorway raised two feet off the ground and guarded with a solid iron door.
By 1826, Stone had developed a lucrative business, but the community still rejected him because of his slave trading practices, Stone finally announced that he would give up slave trading and become a planter. He planned a final trip to New Orleans with a cargo of seventy seven surplus slaves and loaded his human cargo on a flat bottomed boat. Ignoring a servant's warning that a rebellion might take place, he began a fateful trip down the Ohio River Approximately ninety miles below Louisville, the slaves overwhelmed Stone and other white men on board, killing them and throwing their bodies into the river. The servant who had given the warning fought to save Stone, but when he could not, he escaped and eventually returned home. The slaves who had rebelled were determined to be free, but were eventually captured. Their mutiny was unsuccessful in freeing them, but it left no doubt in the minds of Kentucky citizens of the strength of the impulse toward freedom. The fate of Stone's rebellious slaves is not known; as a rule, such slaves were either executed or very harshly punished. The Grange today is a private home, and its interior is not accessible to visitors. There is a one story brick cabin on the site that once was used as slave quarters, and the slave holding cellar is still there. Despite the fact that the house is not open to visitors, it is worth while to drive by because of its tragic history.
ABOLITION - A belief in the immediate end of slavery. Abolition grew from religious beliefs developed during the evangelical movement.
BENEFIT OF CLERGY- A one time exemption from a mandatory death sentence for a man slaughter conviction. Like England, Virginia limited benefit of clergy to white men who could read. If the judge granted the motion for benefit of clergy, the accused went free, but not before a court official burned a mark into the offender's hand with a hot iron.
CAMP MEEING - a religious meeting which lasted for several days, even weeks, where the religious faithful would bring tents and "camp out" during revivals. Camp meetings were characterized by music, speeches, vendors and a lively atmosphere.
CHATTEL - A moveable item of personal property. In eighteenth century Virginia, slaves were considered to be chattel property.
COMMON LAW - Laws or court decisions based on a long history of custom or tradition, rather than specifically enacted statutes.
"FANCY GIRLS" - a name given to women of African and European descent who were often fair skinned enough to be considered white. In many instances these women were well educated and from privileged backgrounds.
MANUMISSION - The act of releasing an individual from slavery, usually by the slave owner.
MIDDLE PASSAGE - The Atlantic crossing during which enslaved Africans endured inhumanely cramped unsanitary conditions.
MULATTO - An eighteenth century term describing an individual who has both African and European ancestry.
NEGRO - A term used in the eighteenth century to describe a person of African descent.
PLANTATION - Any farm that produces a crop for sale.
SLAVE CODES - Laws concerning the enforcement of racial slavery.