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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETIES, BLACK

ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETIES, BLACK

ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETIES, BLACK, formed in the Cleveland area in the 1850s, were distinct from the earlier, integrated groups such as the CLEVELAND ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY and the CUYAHOGA COUNTY ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY. John Mercer Langston of Oberlin was a leader in forming these organizations. He founded the Ohio Colored American League in 1850, reorganized it as the Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society in 1853, and revived it in 1858. By 10 Jan. 1859, Cleveland-area blacks (see AFRICAN AMERICANS) had formed the Cuyahoga Anti-Slavery Society as a branch of the Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society; it held its first meeting at the African Methodist Episcopal Church on Bolivar St., with Rev. S. T. Jones presiding. On 7 Feb. 1859, the executive board of the Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society held its first quarterly meeting in Cleveland's Forest City Hall. Langston presided, and Clevelanders Chas. H. Langston (secretary), JOHN MALVIN, and Joseph D. Harris were appointed general lecturers. The Cuyahoga branch donated $5 to the state society, and a local collection raised $13.30 more. By the fall of 1859, the state society had established headquarters at the corner of Ontario and Michigan Sts. in Cleveland and was circulating 2 petitions throughout Ohio. One called upon the state legislature to repeal the state's BLACK LAWS and to eliminate racial distinctions from the state constitution. The other called for a state law to protect every resident's "right to Liberty, and which shall effectually abolish kidnapping and man stealing on the soil of Ohio." The Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society remained active until the CIVIL WAR, with black Clevelanders taking prominent roles. At its annual meeting in Jan. 1860, John Langston continued to lead the organization, Malvin and Chas. Langston were reappointed lecturers, and Cleveland doctor ROBT. B. LEACH joined the executive board.


See also ABOLITIONISM.