This week I discovered another section of the archives previously unexplored — actually, I didn’t even realize it was there.
The walls in these connected buildings are shelved from floor to ceiling, as are the aisles and corridors. Inside those rigid 15′ dividers are movable racks that provide another layer of coordinates for filing archival folders of old and rare newspapers. It was here, highlighted by the angle of the tag, that I saw the title and date of voices for abolition. The Liberator  issues that are housed here go as late as 1865, but I was interested in the ones that preceded the Emancipation Proclamation . What was being written and discussed by this publication from the “Anti-Slavery Office” in Boston in 1859? What was the tone prior to that April bombardment that marked the start of the Civil War ?
The rag paper is full-sized (“folio”, in fact) and consists of four pages, mostly devoted to telling the stories of injustice and accounts that should provoke outrage. Headed by an illustration intricately representing people divided into groups based on the color of their skin, a banner curves along the bottom proclaiming, “THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF” while a sign above a wooden structure crowded with human beings advertises, “Slaves, Horses & Other Cattle In Lots To Suit Purchase.” I feel the effectiveness of the graphics, of the pleading tone in the “Letter to Southern Ladies” and the headline which queries, “Shall Massachusetts Be Slave-Hunting Soil?” But what surprises me the most in this new acquaintance was the attitude toward the forerunner of Abraham Lincoln . A full front-page column is headed “PRESIDENTIAL FALSIFICATIONS”, and pulls no punches in its criticism of James Buchanan’s avoidance of the situation with the Free State Men of Kansas and the powerful politicians whose support of Slavery  led to an effort summarized with, “The Missourians openly exulted in the sure prospect they had of making Kansas a slave state, in spite of the Free State men.”
I am looking forward to delving into the dates that discuss the events that followed — in all the permutations and compromises and regrets and triumphs. And I can’t help but wonder how much of a change anyone could have honestly expected after such a long period of such passionate division.