1839 Founding of the Hanson Mass. Anti-Slavery Society

In early June 1839, a meeting was held by supporters of William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper The Liberator and members of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society at Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, Massachusetts. A committee (including Rev. Edwin Thompson and Nathaniel H. Whiting) was appointed to “circulate papers for donations and subscriptions”. [1]


Chardon St. Chapel, Boston, 1851. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In late June 1839, Universalist minister Rev. Edwin Thompson (1809-1888) met in Hanson, Massachusetts with a group of anti-slavery supporters, who were impressed with their conversation with Thompson, and determined to form a local Hanson branch of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. They met again in July of 1839 to determine who would serve as officers in the new organization. They elected:

They determined that meetings of the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society would be held at the Universalist Society church, located on the southeastern corner of the intersection of Whitman St. and East Washington St.


Universalist Church on 1856 Map of Hanson. Headquarters of the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society. See discussion of the Hanson Universalist Society at the Hanson MA USGenWeb.

In August 1839, Nathaniel Howe Whiting (1808-1889) of Marshfield met with Hanson women who were interested in abolition and collected $7.62 in donations from 20 Hanson women:[2]

On Sept. 27, 1839, the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society sent a letter to be published in The Liberator, announcing their formation and founding resolutions.[3]

FRIEND GARRISON: A new Anti-Slavery Society, auxiliary to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, has just completed its organization in this town. Previous to organizing, an interesting lecture was delivered to the people by Edwin Thompson. At two succeeding meetings the officers were chosen and resolutions discussed and adopted. The following is a list of the officers. Joshua Perry, Esq., President; Capt. Job Luther, Vice President; D. B. Harris, Secretary; Mary B. Perry, Treasurer; Ambrose Josselyn, Willard Poole, Jeremiah Soper, Directors.

A committee of three was appointed to collect funds to aid the cause in this vicinity. The following resolves were introduced by different members of the society, and after animated discussion, adopted:

Whereas, We are firm in the belief that American slavery is a political and moral evil, under all circumstances, an evil which casts a dark and sinful stain upon our nation’s glory – therefore

Resolved, That as Christians – as lovers of universal freedom – we cannot discharge faithfully our duty to God, to ourselves, and our fellow men, unless we put forth our unflinching efforts for the total and immediate abolition of American slavery, – but while we do this, we feel bound by the ties of our common nature, to labor for the promotion of harmony and peace in the community, when we can do this and not shrink from principle and duty.

Resolved, That the most effectual way to increase the manufacturing interests at the north is to abolish slavery at the south.

Resolved, That the success which has attended the cause of emancipation in this country, calls for debout gratitude to Almighty God, and should quicken our zeal and animate us to renewed exertions in behalf of the oppressed. Resolved, That the gospel minister who fails to bear his testimony against the sin of American slavery, and to urge the duty of remembering those in bonds as bound with them, is an unworthy follower of him who came to proclaim liberty to the captive – to break every yoke, and to let the oppressed go free.

Resolved, That southern slavery is a sin of such enormous turpitude, of so vast extent, and is identified with so many selfish interests, that the most strenuous and undivided efforts of the north are required to effect its abolition.

Resolved, That the public sentiment of the north sanctions and sustains southern slavery – and therefore every genuine friend of the slave should fearlessly array himself against this public sentiment, until it shall turn in favor of immediate emancipation.

Voted, That these proceedings be published in the Liberator.

JOSHUA PERRY, President. D. B. HARRIS, Secretary.


The following year, the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society Treasurer collected $2.44 from Hanson residents in October and November 1841:[4]

The Hanson Anti-Slavery Society also became a subsidiary branch of the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery Society. In 1842, the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery Society held its quarterly meeting at Hanson’s Universalist meeting-house on Saturday, Oct. 8, 1842. Joshua Perry ran the meeting, as president of the Hanson Anti-Slavery Society and Vice President of the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery. A prayer was said by Hanson First Congregationalist Church minister Rev. Samuel L. Rockwood (1810-1881). They elected a business committee consisting of Seth Sprague of Duxbury, Jairus Lincoln (1794-1870) of Hingham, and William Whiting of Abington. Resolutions were presented and debated by Sprague, Lincoln, Perry, Rockwood, Rufus Bates (1794-1878), Edward Young Perry (1812-1893) of Hanson, Elmer Hewett (1805-1897) of Abington,  S. Reed, S.H. Gay of Hingham, and Mr. Curtis of Hanover. They concluded by singing W. L. Garrison’s song ‘I Am An Abolitionist‘ [sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne]. [5]


[1] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 7 June 1839, p. 3.

[2] “Receipts into the Treasury of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society from 21st August to 26th August inclusive,” The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 30 August 1839, p. 3.

[3] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 11 October 1839, p. 3.

[4] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 17 Dec. 1841, p. 3.

[5] The Liberator (Boston, Mass.) 21 October 1842, p. 3.


[Post written by Hanson Historical Society Curator Mary Blauss Edwards]

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