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ON BEHALF OF
THE OBERLIN INSTITUTE.
An Account of the Origin and Condition of the Oberlin Institute will be found at p. 11, of the following historical sketch of the trials of the Abolitionists of the United States.
Owing to the severe and long.continued commercial pressure in America, the Oberlin is thrown into difficulties, so nearly overwhelming, that its supporters have resolved to appeal to this country for aid. Two gentlemen, perfectly well acquainted with the circumstances of the institution, the Rev. John Keep and William Dawes, Esq., have offered their disinterested services as representatives of the friends of the Oberlin. They come commended to the friendship and aid of British society, by all the most honoured men and women among the American abolitionists. It is to aid their work that this tract is put forth; and we trust that the statement we shall presently make of the claims of their object to British support, will help to secure for them that success which their reception has already led them to anticipate.
The circular in which their views are explained contains the following particulars :
The Institution on behalf of which the present application is made, is situated in the northern part of Ohio, near the head of the great valley of the Mississippi. It has a Charter with University privileges, and originated in the following circumstances :
The Students at Lane Seminary, (a Theological College,) at Cincinnati, in Chio, in 1834, having become interested in the Abolition controversy, held a protracted discussion among themselves on the subject, and after three days' solemn debate, came to a resolution condemnatory of Slavery as incompatible with the spirit and precepts of Christianity. They formed an Abolition Society, and took means to acquaint themselves more thoroughly with the real nature of the slave system, and of the obligations which devolved on them in relation to it. These measures gave great offence to the heads of the college, who authoritatively interposed to prevent any further discussion of the subject. The
young men were prohibited from making it the topic of conversation, “ on ordinary occasions and elsewhere,” and on remonstrance, were given to understand that their continuance in the Seminary was dependent on their yielding an unqualified submission to this injunction: The heads of the college were positive, and it was left for the students either to sacrifice their duty to God and remain; or to maintain it and leave. They nobly chose the latter, and the result was that about forty of the most pious and talented were thus compelled to quit Lane Seminary. Such a body of young men, who so conscientiously maintained their principles at the expense of their prospects in life, was hailed with joy by the abolitionists, for it at once supplied them with a number of most zealous advocates.
It now became necessary to establish an Institution, in which the rights of conscience and of the Christian religion should be maintained, and in which the coloured person could be taught, and where he would be in all respects treated as a man and a brother.
A tract of 500 acres, in the midst of a forest, was obtained; and thither this noble band repaired, and commenced cutting down the timber and clearing the land ; and so ardent were they in this cause, that they freely submitted to all the hardships incident to these new circumstances, and persevered in their labour during the winter season of 1834 and 1835.
Thus commenced the present Institution, which consists of a brick building 111 feet long, and 42 feet wide; containing ninety-two rooms, including a hall and a library, with nine other buildings, chiefly of wood, and a barn. There are about 200 acres of land partiaily cleared, and brought into cultivation. A practical farmer superintends the cultivation; the labour is performed by the Students for the support, maintenance, and general good of the Institution.
In all its features this Institution is opposed to Slavery; and is a practical and standing exhibition of the great doctrine of immediate emancipation, producing its legitimate and beneficent results ; youth are admitted to all its privileges, without regard to colour, or nation, and there is a department for the instruction of females. It is thoroughly evangelical in its spirit and character, is free from all sectarian partialities, discards the prejudice of çaste in its various and disgraceful forms, and has already become a terror to the slave-holder, and a shield and a solace to the victim of the white man's tyranny. By uniting the youth of all colours in the same course of academical training, it furnishes a practical method of elevating the African race, of abolishing the tyranny of caste, and of opening an effectual door through which the black and the free-coloured man may attain the rights of citizenship, and the blessings of a quiet and protected home. It comprises a Preparatory, Collegiate, and Theological department, and at present numbers above 400 Students, with twenty-six Professors and Teachers. This Institution is the great nursery of teachers for the coloured people in the United States and Canada; in the latter of which, are 10,000 refugees from American bondage. It is an admirable school for the training of anti-slavery lecturers and preachers,-a class of men long demanded, and now called
THE OBERLIN INSTITUTE.
for more urgently than ever by the state of the abolition controversy, and the increasing, horrors of the American slave system. Several of the students have already entered on this arduous and self-denying field of labour, others are looking forward to the same holy calling. Twelve have gone to the West Indies as missionaries and teachers of the emancipated negroes, ten are on their way to the oppressed Aborigines in the western parts of America, and twenty are engaged among the coloured fugitives in Canada.
During the annual vacations, the students and professors have traversed extensively the States of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and the Western parts of New York and Pennsylvania. Wherever they bare gone, drooping liberty has revived and gained strength,
With the noble exception of the Oneida Institute in the State of New York, which, in the midst of persecution, has stood erect and preeminently true to the slave, mighty in its free testimony, and terrible to the oppressor, the Institution of Oberlin is the only one in the United States in which the black and coloured student finds a home, where he is fully and joyfully regarded as a man and a brother.
The stand which has been taken at Oberlin against slavery, and the prejudice respecting colour, bas excited not only the bitter hostility of the upholders of slavery, but also of a large proportion of the professing church. Another cause of offence is, that at this institution a plan of daily manual labour is adopted, shared in alike by the white as well as the coloured man. The founders of this institution consider this plan most important to the health, industry, energetic habits, independence of character, good morals, and economy of the students.
It would be injustice to the Professors of this institution, not to mention the sacrifices they have generously made, and the hardships they have borne in this cause. There is no institution in the United States with the same number of instructors, whose Professors are men of more eminent ability; and yet these men, whose qualifications might command the highest salaries, are supporting themselves and their fami. lies upon a very humble income; and, since the commercial distress which fell so heavily, about three years since, on many of its most able supporters, the Professors have been obliged to employ the vacations in labour to provide food and clothing for their families.
The necessities of the institution are now so pressing, that its operations must inevitably cease, if effectual relief be not speedily afforded. The Professors, their families, and the students have often been reduced to such straits, even for their daily food, that from week to week they bave not known from whence the next providential supply would come. Thus far, through the kind care of Him whose eyes are over all his works, when to human view the last resourse was cut off, and no earthly alternative remained, their daily wants have been supplied, and their hearts strengthened, to wait in the patience of hope, and to look to God for a like supply on the morrow.
Towards the support of the Oberlin Institute, the Abolitionists of America have contributed with their accustomed liberality. Sixty-five thousand dollars (£13,000) were subscribed to establish this institution;
but, owing to the fire in New York, and the commercial distress which has since been experienced in the United States, many, who three years since were wealthy, are now reduced in their circumstances, and have become unable to fulfil their engagements to this institution. Few of the Abolitionists are wealthy, and the demand for funds to sustain the general operations of their Anti-Slavery Society, presses heavily upon them. It is difficult for the friends of the negro in Great Britain to form any adequate conception of the pecuniary pressure which rests on the American abolitionists. Opposed by the great majority of their countrymen, and denounced-disgracefully denounced by many of the churches of the land, they have been called to pecuniary sacrifices, such as modern times have rarely witnessed, and to which nothing could have prompted them but a solemn conviction of duty towards God and their fellow-men. "To their power, yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves," and their acts will stand out in the history of a progressive benevolence, as a pattern for the church's imitation.
It is under these circumstances, that the friends of the Oberlin Institute apply to the philanthropists and Christians of Great Britain. So long as they were able to sustain its operations themselves, they willingly did so, but the failure of their means now obliges them to make an appeal to their British brethren, which for the honour of the country and the good of an oppressed and suffering race, we trust will be liberally responded to. The institute is already in debt, and the sum owing bears a high rate of interest. The Professors and their families have long been reduced to the greatest straits, and must soon, though in deep bitterness of heart, relinquish their stations, unless God in his providence raises them help.
A deputation, consisting of John Keer and William Dawes, is now in this country, for the purpose of bringing the claims of the Institution before the benevolent. They are affectionately commended to our confidence, prayers, sympathies, and benefactions in a document, signed by