Milton and Abolitionism

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | November 1, 2018

Representative Caleb Cushing (1800-1879) of Massachusetts presented “sundry memorials,” i.e., petitions, to the US House of Representatives, October 9, 1837. The petitions opposed the annexation of Texas. Among them was one “Of Elizabeth P. Jones and 123 other women of Milton.” They did not wish Texas to join the U.S. as another slave state.

In February or March, 1838, “Sarah W. Ricker, and 97 others, women of Milton, N.H.,” signed a memorandum, i.e., a petition, opposing the U.S. House of Representatives resolution of the 21st of December, 1837 (The Liberator, June 15, 1838). They were opposing the so-called House “gag rule”:

Resolved, that all petitions, memorials and papers touching the abolition of slavery or the buying, selling, or transferring of slaves in any state, district or territory of the United States be laid upon the table without being debated, printed, read or refined and that no further action whatsoever shall be had thereon.

Isaac Worster, of Milton, NH, stepped up in 1844, when there was some doubt whether the anti-slavery Herald of Freedom could continue to publish with their worn-out type and press.

In the next Herald of Feb. 19, Isaac Worster, in a letter to the General Agent of the Society, writes: You will consider me accountable for $25, towards the press. … If another press is needed when this is worn out, you will do me the favor to call &c (The Liberator, December 27, 1844).

He donated $2 to the same anti-slavery cause, via Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society agent Parker Pillsbury, in 1851. It was later said of him that he

… was a prominent man in Strafford county, N.H., for many years, where he was closely connected with the Abolition party, was firm and outspoken in his views against slavery, and was the personal friend and counselor of many of the noted leaders of the anti-slavery movement at a time when it required strong moral stamina and some personal risk to defend his convictions (Reno, 1901).

Worster and his family lived in West Milton, where he was a hoe and foils manufacturer in 1850. (He lived near Luther Hayes).

Stephen S. “S.S.” Foster, of Worcester, MA, made a round of collections for the benefit of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in the spring of 1853. He received

From Charlotte Roberts, of Danversport [Mass.], $10:00; the Essex County A.S. [Anti-Slavery Society], $5; Benjamin Chase, of Auburn, NH, $2; a collection at do. [Auburn, NH], $6; Amos Chase, do. [Auburn, NH], $1; collection at Canterbury, N.H., $4.50; at South Weare, N.H., $2.25; Haverhill, $15.48; Geo. W. Lee, do. [Haverhill], $1; D.P. Harmon, do., [Haverhill], $5; at Parker’s Falls, N.H., $1.33; at Milton, N.H., $3.09; J.C. White, Farmington, do. [N.H.], $1; at Great Falls, do., $2.77; Margaret Ham, do. [Great Falls, N.H.], $1; Daniel Emerson, Lee, do. [N.H.], $1; Jonathan Cortland, do. [Lee, N.H.], $1; A.M. Tolman, Portland [Me.], 50c; N.A. Foster, do. [Portland, Me.], $3; Dr. R. Shackford, do. [Portland, Me.], $3; Ruth H. Morrill, do. [Portland, Me.], $5. – $74.92.

Samuel Philbrick, Treasurer of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, included these collected sums in his account dated Brookline, Mass., June 1, 1853.

The Milton, N.H. donation of $3.09 was from a group, probably a church group, before whom the well-known S.S. Foster may have spoken.  (His wife, Abby Kelly Foster, was the more famous speaker).

The session of the [1854 Massachusetts] Anti-Slavery Convention yesterday was thinly attended, and the proceedings were excessively tame. In the afternoon, after a few remarks from Rev. Mr. STETSON, of Medford, S.S. FOSTER took the floor, and made quite a long, rambling speech, in which with characteristic boldness, he assailed the Free-Soil party as traitors to liberty and the rights of man (NY Times, 1854).

The Fosters’ Worcester, MA, farm (“Liberty Farm”) was a station on the underground railroad. Nute Ridge was said to be also such a station (See Milton in the News – 1949).

In June 1854, nearly eight-tenths of the eligible voters of Milton submitted a petition to Congress seeking repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

By Telegraph. Congressional. Senate. To-day Mr. Fessenden presented a petition from the voters of Milton, N.H., the birthplace of President Pierce, praying for the repeal of the fugitive slave law. Refused (Pittsburgh Gazette, June 30, 1854).

Another speaker made a Milton stop on a Strafford County anti-slavery speaking tour in 1855.

WILLIAM W. BROWN, an Agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society will lecture as follows:

  • Great Falls, N.H., Sunday, May 20
  • Farmington, ” [N.H.], Tuesday, ” [May] 22
  • Milton Three-Ponds, [& Milton] Village, Wednesday, ” [May] 23
  • Rochester, ” [N.H.], Friday, ” [May] 25
  • S. Newmarket, ” [N.H.], Sunday, ” [May] 27 (The Liberator, May 18, 1855).

See also Milton in the News – 1838 and Milton in the News – 1854


The Liberator. (1838, June 15). Memorials Against the Resolution of 21st December 1837. Boston, MA: William Lloyd Garrison

The Liberator. (1851, June 13). Treasurer’s Report, of Receipts, from April 1st to June 1st, 1851. Boston, MA: William Lloyd Garrison

The Liberator. (1853, June 17). Treasurer’s Report, of Receipts, from May 2d to June 1st, 1853. Boston, MA: William Lloyd Garrison

NY Times. (1854, June 3). Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Convention. Retrieved from

Reno, Conrad, and Jones, Leonard A. (1901). Memoirs of the Judiciary and the Bar of New England for the Nineteenth Century. Retrieved from

US House of Representatives. (1837). Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Being the First Session of the Twenty-Fifth Congress. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, December 11). Caleb Cushing. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, June 14). Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, September 8). Stephen Symonds Foster. Retrieved from

YouTube. (2001). John Brown Brings His War to Harpers Ferry. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: