|The Just Demands of the Other|
Halifax, Novia Scotia
(This article was initially published circa 1991 as part of the Syracuse University Kellogg Project Pamphlet Series, 1986-1992)
Increased civic awareness in the mid-nineteenth century was encouraged by the emergence of an informal system of adult education accompanying community development. Greater public participation in literary and verbal information-sharing occurred with the proliferation of newspapers and issue-oriented tracts along with the organization of occasional and periodic meetings to address serious issues. When they invited Samuel Joseph May to speak, the graduating students of the 1847 class of Harvard Divinity School knew they were to hear from a veteran community educator and radical.
Since the 1830s, he had been an activist in abolition and women's rights, as well as peace issues. During his presentation, however, May did not spend much time advocating any particular cause as right. Instead, he communicated principles for a perspective based on lessons he learned at Harvard decades before as a student.1 He encouraged all persons present not only to seek the truth for themselves, but to live up to their idealistic assumptions that this was an essential task for others: we say it can do a man's mind no good to assert to that as a truth, which he does not perceive to be true; that it can do his heart no good to obey a precept, which he does not from his heart believe to be right.2 In addition, May advised the graduates to be open to learning even from the poor and illiterate. From such people, he assured them, they would receive "expositions"3 which would put to shame their privileged acquisitions of scientific and theological learning.
Rather than creating a simplistic atmosphere of mutually reinforced agreement, May urged a greater sense of responsibility. He stated, "it will be your duty to do all you can to make them think." May urged his audience to encourage the strength and courage of diversity. This, he said, was necessary to foster the practice basic to free will and self government among all citizens. He set a standard of high expectations: Far more to be desired is it that all your hearers should entertain opinions different from your own, because they examine, think, and reason for themselves, than that they should assent to every one of your statements of doctrine, because they are too indolent or too much engaged in business or pleasure to make religion a subject of personal study; or because they are too much afraid of the displeasure of the church or the state, and the reproach of heresy or radicalism, to consider questions of truth and duty with faithful and fearless independence.4
Since he had served as the second principal of the first Normal School in the United States and on various school boards, May was regarded as an authority in education.5 Asked to give an address on “The Revival of Education” eight years later in 1855, May again stressed that stimulating people to think is “the first duty” of a teacher in a democracy. He urged that "The teacher should be to his pupils, whatever may be their age, not so much a dictator as a guide"6 who encourages pupils to observe and to reflect on their observations, since: We are prepared to accept intelligently and to use wisely the revelations of truth on any subject, that have been made to other minds, only when we have well considered and defined the revelations made to our own minds."7
In his 1855 speech May commended the influence of the Lyceum lecture series, which became a popular form of adult education. He noted that the Lyceums encouraged higher expectations for children's education and enabled diverse members of the adult populace not only to recognize the degree of their ignorance, but to "open their eyes to perceive how frequent the sources of knowledge are, if we know where to look for them; and how accessible, if we approach them in the right direction."8
Many people in Syracuse, New York, first got to know Samuel Joseph May, their new Unitarian minister as a peace activist. It was l846 and newspapers were full of items from new front lines of the Mexican War. Groups of young men had become "reinforcements," "companies," or "regiments of infantry." That some would become casualties was hardly mentioned. The work of publicizing, popularizing, and recruiting for the war was in full flood, promoted by speeches of the President of the United States. As a result, there were public meetings in almost every community to support the President's call. There was one in Syracuse on June 4th, 1846. But, soon a petition of protest was also placed in the columns of the Syracuse Star: The basest principles for the guidance of human conduct are disseminated amongst the people. The pacific precepts and spirit of the Gospel, and the claims of common humanity are derided; and those who dare to urge those precepts, and that spirit upon our countrymen are covered with opprobrious epithets. In a crisis such as this, good men and women may not innocently be silent, or inactive. We call therefore on all, who would stay the tide of war, and avert from our country the terrible evils, which flow from victory as well as defeat—to make their opinions known, and their influence felt. The petition appeared several times and the list of names signing it grew to 110. The first to sign was Samuel J. May, its primary author.9
The night of a subsequent protest meeting on June 18, there was an unexpectedly large turnout since many "Warites" appeared. Their sentiment was expressed in a resolution applauding patriotic conduct and consummate generalship in bloody engagement. As soon as it became clear that the announced agenda was not going to be taken seriously, May advised the friends of the original meeting to gather in another part of the hall. They decided to move to the Congregational church. May served on the business committee which drew up resolutions (his usual role at meetings such as this) and made a speech. The meeting went well despite insulting noises and vulgar language which could be heard from a crowd outside. As the peace resolutions were being voted on, a cannon was fired just outside—at least twice—but did not damage the meeting room.10
Though the Syracuse Star newspaper condemned these violent acts, Sam May wrote a letter to the editor citing inflammatory war language in the newspaper as partly to blame for what happened. He also made use of the opportunity to repeat parts of his speech about class and economic inequalities at work in the war. May shared his thought that there was a class of people in this country, and in every country, ready to foster wars—fought by others—so that they might benefit economically. May also said that when people became aware of how little their feelings, rights, and interests were cared for by those who, "play with their bodies the dread game of battle, I am fully persuaded that the people will refuse to be used, and abused, and used up to gratify the pride, the ambition, the avarice, the revenge of the few.'11
Members of the Syracuse Unitarian Church May served were not unprepared for May's stand. In March and April 1846, May had given a series of evening sermons on specific aspects of a commitment to peace. Then, May noted: What effect the sermons have had I do not know, but believe they have led many in this community to think and to converse together on the subject.12
A year before, when May was a candidate to be minister in Syracuse, he also delivered a speech on peace. Many of his activist friends were then recruiting people to sign Antislavery Peace Pledges against the possibility of a war to annex slaveholding Texas. The organizer of the effort, William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the abolitionist paper, The Liberator, wrote May a letter from Boston in l845: "A short time since, I received a Syracuse newspaper... complaining of a peace discourse delivered by you, as though it were a very treasonable affair. I read it with a smile to know that you were determined to be faithful...All is lost where the truth is surrendered.13 May spoke out strongly during his ministerial candidating week on the social issues he cared about. He knew that any church he served needed to know that they were associating themselves with controversial commitments, "I intended they should clearly understand whom they were calling, if they called me." They voted unanimously to issue the call.14
For May, peace activism was a family tradition as well as a personal interest. His father, Joseph May, was one of the founding members of the Massachusetts Peace Society. May's father joined this first of American peace organizations because he was influenced by Noah Worchester, a minister who preached a sermon against the War of 1812, wrote a small book called A Solemn Review of War, and published a quarterly magazine, The Friend of Peace.15 As a student, Sam May made an appointment to see Worchester, his mentor-at-a-distance, and they became friends as well as information sharers.16
Samuel May's peace commitment was expressed yet again during commemoration services at the Syracuse City Hall for John Brown in December 1859. Even when war between northern and southern states seemed so near, May asserted and promoted a resolution stating that action to eliminate reasons for conflict was possible.17
Known for being a radical who was persistently outspoken in his views, Samuel J. May was also renowned for listening to new viewpoints. In addition, he was skilled in helping others to listen and act in new ways. When he heard William Lloyd Garrison give a speech in 1830, May was deeply affected by a new vision "unstopped by prejudice of color," which could see outrages clearly as "wrongs done to our common humanity—to brothers and sisters." May said that Garrison's words gave a new direction to his thoughts and a new purpose to his ministry.18 May adapted his next sermon to let people know they could no longer accept slavery as a given in society. What he said was so shocking to his hearers that they gathered in clusters afterward. The minister informed the visiting May that he would not be invited to preach from that pulpit again. Only one woman, came up to him in support, stating: Mr. May, I thank you. What a shame it is that I, who have been a constant attendant from my childhood in this or some other Christian Church, am obliged to confess that today, for the first time, I have heard from the pulpit pleas for the oppressed, the enslaved millions in our land."19
After that, few ministers dared to exchange pulpits with May. Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the few to do so. May's philanthropic father and friends told May that he had irreparably harmed his career.20 The American Unitarian Association omitted May's penciled in additions on slavery when they reprinted the controversial sermon.21
May is credited with persuading the most prominent liberal minister of the time, William Ellery Channing, to break his silence about slavery. When Channing protested that the virulent language used by Garrison was offensive, May answered that the realities being described were more despicable than any language used. 22 In speaking out, May became a leading member of a group of radicals who began to advocate the immediate abolition position first proposed by the British abolitionist Elizabeth Heyrick in 1824.23 This view was so threatening to the monied order that abolitionists accurately described some of the mobs that attacked them as consisting of well-dressed men of property and standing. May, too, experienced the danger of mobs five times. Securing places that would hold abolition meetings was difficult.24
The right of abolitionist societies to organize and to speak at all was threatened through pressure by Southern States. As a result, May spoke to the state legislature of Massachusetts in 1836, to dissuade them from outlawing abolition societies. He countered criticism of abolitionist materials as incendiary documents meant to stir slave revolts. Instead, he portrayed them as directed, because of the right of free speech, to northern audiences. He defended their value as adding to the social good by providing accurate information on a matter of prime public concern. May's friend, former President John Quincy Adams, also fought that abolition petitions not be "gagged" in Congress.25
In the course of the next twelve years, May felt forced to leave two churches because of racial intolerance. He was not the only abolitionist to suffer career setbacks or disruption of a religious community. His friend Lydia Maria Child, who wrote the Thanksgiving season song "Over the River and Through the Woods," suffered several losses after she published one of the first exposes on slavery based on notices common in Southern newspapers. She lost the subscribers of the children's magazine she edited.26 In addition, she wrote to May that she lost friendships and the library privileges extended to her even though she was a woman.27
During Prudence Crandall's unpopular attempts to teach a private school integrated by Sarah Harris and then a school for Black girls in Canterbury, Connecticut, May often traveled from his home in the next town to support her vision of fully developing every individual's capacities. During this campaign, May followed a pattern he established in deflecting religious criticism against Unitarians. He utilized every means of communication then available. It was a pattern he maintained during many other controversies. He wrote letters, appeared at public meetings (or set up alternative ones), wrote newspaper articles and arranged for pamphlet printing.28 May tried hard to counter fears and frightening rumors about lower property values, integrated marriages, and threats to social order, with reason and an open minded attitude. He downplayed conflict. After Garrison's castigating headline "HEATHENISM OUTDONE," Prudence Crandall conveyed May's advice "that you and the cause will gain many friends in this town and vicinity if you treat the matter with perfect mildness."29
When he was not granted direct access for his point of view in the local public or religious press, May turned to alternatives, such as William Lloyd Garrison's paper, The Liberator. The letter or article would appear, with the additional news that it had been censored. In the case of Prudence Crandall, May found local media unwilling to print his point of view. He attracted a sponsor and recruited an editor to begin publication of an alternative newspaper, The Unionist.30
May's negotiating rather than adversary approach did not relieve the townspeople of responsibility for their actions, however. When a rabble-rousing politician tried to utilize their acquaintanceship to stop May's involvement, May made the encounter public. When passage of a state law made the school illegal, May helped to make his opponents' strength a weakness. He and all other supporters refused to post bond when Crandall was arrested for violating the state law, though many townspeople asked them to do so. Instead, May whitewashed a cell and had a comfortable bed brought from his house six miles away. The result was an effective media event. The story of incarcerating an idealistic female teacher in a murderer's jail cell made newspaper headlines all over the country.31
After eighteen months of harassment and isolation, ninety panes of glass in the integrated school were smashed one night. Samuel May reluctantly made the announcement that the school would close, "because the house would not be protected by the guardians of the town." He said: The words blistered my lips, my bosom glowed with indignation. I felt ashamed of Canterbury, ashamed of Connecticut, ashamed of my country, ashamed of my color.32
Soon after, May left the Brooklyn Church when they forbade antislavery meetings in the building. But these incidents did have a good effect. Reformers who spoke in the area in later years stated that they found more openness there, than they found elsewhere.33
Samuel J. May was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia 34 and was General Agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society for a year.35 Then, and on as many other occasions as he could create, he pointed out that acceding to the continuation of slavery blighted the values and lives of the slave owner, the enslaved, and all bystanders—however distant. Accepting such a cruel system meant becoming personally responsible for and involved in its present injustice. He also urged change beyond considerations of temporary economic loss and any false vision of gradualism. He said that willing relinquishment of inordinate advantages was necessary.36 Many of these ideas became the content of a petition against slavery signed by one hundred and seventy Unitarian ministers which appeared in 1845.37
Charles Lenox Remond, a free Black abolitionist was invited to attend a special event at the church May ministered in South Scituate, Massachusetts in 1842. When Remond arrived, he was surprised to see a large audience listening to children of the parish as they recited antislavery poetry, letters and speeches. Asked to speak, Remond thanked May and the parents and friends whose encouragement was shown by their presence. In a letter to Garrison, he reported, "I frankly confessed the scene was so new in kind and character in our pro-slavery country that I scarcely knew how to express myself." It was also a dramatic contrast to the absence of such sentiments and action in other public forums: And what a burning shame it is, that many of the pieces on the subject of slavery and the slave-trade, contained in different school books, have been lost sight of, or been subject to the pruning knife of the slaveholding expurgatorial system!38
Remond alluded to the increasing lack of traditional Southern sentiments regretting slavery, a point May sometimes made in his speeches.39 Instead, adamant advocacy of the slavery system was increasing in the face of criticism and political battles. 40 Thus, the abolitionists were maintaining and extending the range of thought available to the public by providing information not easily accessible elsewhere. In addition, by acting together regardless of race or denomination in a common cause, the abolitionists modeled a new degree of social respect and cooperation. While Sam May debated the Wesleyan minister Luther Lee in a vigorous series at night, they worked together by day to form a local antislavery chapter. Though their doctrinal theories clashed, their reform interests bound them together in common action.41
In speaking out, after passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, May stated that he believed in civil disobedience. He referred men and women to a book called The Higher Law. May did not see how hypocritically following an unjust law promoted changing the law. Instead, history showed that there was value in some degree of active dissent. Some committed people should object and refuse to follow an unjust law, so that the rest of the community could be exposed to the choices involved and arrive at a sense of what was, in truth, appropriate. In terms of antislavery, he noticed: What would the effect on the minds of Mr. Webster and others, who have used "all their personal and official influence" to procure the enactment, and enforce obedience to this Fugitive Slave Law...if it should be known, that we, the people of Central New York, who have protested so loudly against it, were nevertheless every where consenting to obey it, in all its provisions? ... if we will only become..."the bloodhounds"...They care not how much we bark and howl...42 May trusted that the goodness of people could be cultivated, and that the flexibility in the democratic system led to positive development.
The event for which May is most remembered is the Jerry Rescue which took place on October 1st, l851. It was the release of a cooper, who was an escaped slave, by a Syracuse crowd. He had been taken into custody by the authorities to be returned to his owner in accord with the Fugitive Slave Act. May visited him in jail and assured him that he would be rescued. 43 When May made a speech after the rescue, he did not mention the hard years of work done by many speakers, like escaped slave Rev. Loguen of the A.M.E. Zion Church, a leader of the underground railroad in Syracuse.44 Nor did May mention the planning meeting at which it was decided that rescuers would crowd around the police so closely that no violence was possible. The last thing May said as they were leaving was, "If anyone is injured in this fray, I hope it may be one of our party."45
Instead, praising the public response which aided the Jerry Rescue, May credited the crowd that gathered in witness to the crisis: The citizens of Syracuse and Onondaga County did not, on the 1st of October, violate the law; they set at naught an unrighteous, cruel edict; they trampled upon tyranny... when the people saw a man dragged through the streets, chained and held down in a cart...only because he had assumed to be what God made him to be, a man and not a slave—when this came to be known throughout the streets, there was a mighty throbbing of the public heart; an all but unanimous uprising against the outrage. There was no concert of action except that to which common humanity impelled the people. Indignation flashed from eye to eye...Quickened, roused, urged on by this almost universal denunciation of the outrage upon freedom, some men, more ardent, less patient or cautious than the rest, broke through the slight partition between the victim and his liberty; struck off the chains that bound him; and gave him "a God speed"...If that were sinful, then there were few if any saints in all our town that night. If that were treason, there were few patriots here...46
This is not to claim that public support was unanimous. At least 677 citizens signed the call to a meeting of protest. Opposing newspapers called the incident "the Jerry Riot."47 But much of the political leadership of the city had announced they would not enforce such a law,48 while Daniel Webster had declared they would be forced to obey.49 Supportive public sentiment proved strong enough to promote dismissal of all trials.
Women's Rights Education
May became involved in woman's rights through his interest in abolition. After one of his earliest abolition presentations, a woman pointed out parallels in women's subjugation to men.50 Women were some of the earliest writers and most active fundraisers for the abolition movement.51 Listing leading figures as mentors for women just becoming active, May noted "They have been traduced, reviled, persecuted, but nothing has deterred them from advocation of the rights of humanity."52
Twenty years earlier however, when Angelina and Sarah Grimke from South Carolina started to speak out in public against slavery, May's prejudices were alarmed. Though he had accepted Quaker minister Lucretia Mott's advice to the founding meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society,53 May took for granted the Biblical injunction against women speaking out in meeting (I Corinthians, verse 14). Troubled, he went to listen and to see for himself. He approved what the Grimkes said and saw their efforts as useful enough to immediately invite them to speak at the church he served in South Scituate, Massachusetts in 1832.54 Despite conservative clerical censure of them, May stood by women's right to speak out and lead meetings. He continued to do so even when some leaders acted on their threats to split the abolition movement over the issue.55 May also asked fellow ministers to invite women speakers.56
Twenty years later, in 1852, May again faced the issue of women's right to speak—in the Temperance movement. In Albany, and then in Syracuse, Samuel J. May supported Susan B. Anthony's alternative meeting—though she and Amelia Bloomer were also being criticized in the newspapers for their peculiar manner of dressing in bloomers.57 As a result, May was castigated and defended in local newspapers for months.58
Early in his career in Syracuse, May preached on the need in society for women's full political participation and right to vote since they were excluded from the process of a state constitutional convention.59 This was two years before the famous Seneca Falls Women's Rights convention. For the sermon, which became the first of the women's rights tracts, May used many ideas he gained from Boston Unitarian Lydia Maria Child's "Letters from New York."60 He was also influenced by philosophical writings of Sarah Grimke,61 other women who were colleagues in activism, and British feminists62 in this and in many other speeches, articles, and letters on women's rights until he was in his seventies. In articles and at conventions, he became known for advocating "mothers of state" as well as "fathers of state," noting: A State or Church that excludes women from its councils, is like a family without a mother, in a condition of half orphanage.63
In addition, May utilized the technique of role reversal to dramatically point out that what seemed so radical, was merely a common sense view with many implications: Would you have women leave their homes, neglect their children and household duties that they may take part in the management of public affairs? No, nor would I encourage men to do this wrong they often do. The family is the most important institution on earth and never should be neglected for the service of state by male or female.64
The tenor and range of May's support is seen in an interchange of letters sent while arrangements were being made for the Third National Women's Rights Convention, which took place in Syracuse.
West Brookfield. August 20, 1852
Dear Mr. May
The time for our Woman's Convention is drawing near—you know that we want to make it tell gloriously for the cause of human freedom—and to this end we want the best helpers, on that occasion. We want Gerrit Smith. This very name & approving presence will do us good. Now will you use your influence to secure his attendance? May be, some members of the Control Committee has written him, but we are so scattered and have so little concert of action that I do not know whether he has been invited.
At all events it will be safe for you to ask urge him to be present. I suppose you will make the notice of the convention spread widely in your vicinity by hand-bills at the time, and by the newspapers before hand—We must cover the expenses by money raised at the convention.
Yours for the Cause
On the back of this letter, May wrote to Gerrit Smith:
Syracuse Aug 25
You will see by the within that there are others besides myself who depend upon your being at the Woman's Rights Convention. I trust you will not fail us. That Convention must be just what it should be. There must be no failure & you will come, you must come prepared to give a noble response in behalf of our sex to the just demands of the other -
I hope the Convention will be duly advertised in the papers of Madison County.
Samuel J. May
Antoinette Brown is to preach in my pulpit on the evening of the 1st Sunday of September.66
It was during this time period that May also appeared at meetings of the New York Teacher's Association to urge that women and blacks be admitted to all departments of education equally.
After the Civil War, when the proposal to enfranchise women at the same time as black men was rejected, Samuel May became an organizer for women's suffrage. This was, for him, a third wave of women's rights activism.
Writing a letter to the convention of a new women's rights organization, May reported that a series of talks in Syracuse indicated "quite a revival of interest in this great subject." Concretely, within three weeks after Lucy Stone spoke on "Women's Rights," a petition for the enfranchisement of women was sent to Congress. It was signed by over 1,700 adult residents of the city. Then at ten weekly meetings at the City Hall, "the subject was publicly discussed with earnestness by speakers on both sides, before always large and sometimes crowded audiences." He planned to organize another series on the subject for the fall and invited Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone to participate in evening meetings. He stated: we will promise them two or three able, gentlemanly opponents who are sincere in thinking our doctrines erroneous—and who will give them an opportunity fully to vindicate those doctrines in every particular.67
In advocating women's rights, May again encouraged strong advocacy of an unpopular point of view, but created opportunities for the moderating effects of public debate. As he had in the education, peace, and abolition movements, May modeled and promoted a new vision of democratic citizen. In displaying the new reality of men seriously listening to the public proclamations and acting upon the ideas of women, May pioneered new societal attitudes which were often reported on by the press. Not only unpatronizingly receptive to suffragists' ideas and a public advocate of them, May was willing to change his accustomed patterns of behavior. Unlike most other men, he was willing to credit women for major ideas, accept public correction by women of him, and was willing to share leadership with them—in what he called the most radical movement of all.68
Promoting democratic ideals in the mid-nineteenth century, prompted Samuel J. May to engage in educational efforts among adults to encourage more inclusive attitudes and increased democratic participation. In the peace, abolition, and women's rights movements, Samuel Joseph May became an influential figure who was attentive to underclass insights and was affected by radical ideas. Despite the costs of advocating unpopular ideas, May publicly affirmed the new principles he accepted. May also extended speaking and publicizing opportunities to fellow radicals to encourage expanded public consciousness. Thus, he fostered new social debate and provided an authoritative voice on the need for changes which encouraged greater justice, public participation, and self-fulfillment. He acted on behalf of the lower classes by peace activism, of black Americans by abolition activism, and of women by suffrage activism. It is significant that as his activism in each movement progressed, he also advocated the need for increased public forums and educational structures to sustain opportunities for each group. May's importance is that he led a critical and committed life, "accepting both the power and peril of discourse, engaging in a battle for truth with a conscious preference for the oppressed."69
1 Mumford, Thomas J. Life of Samuel J. May, (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1873). As a divinity student, May went to Henry Ware, Sr. concerned about his sense of doubt. Rather than being dismissed from the school, he was affirmed for thinking and encouraged to always seek the truth. He states, "This conversation not only comforted and strengthened me at the time, but has had an effect upon the conduct and character of my life ever since. I have never been afraid to pursue any inquiry after the truth, however it might seem to endanger long cherished opinions," 45-48.
2 May, Samuel J., "Jesus the Best Teacher of his Religion: A Discourse Delivered before the graduating class of the Cambridge Theological School, July 11, 1847." Boston: Wm. Crosby & H.P. Nichols, 1847, 9.
3 Ibid, 9. May spoke during the year that the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard was established.
4 Ibid, 10.
5 Mumford, ibid., notes that May was a winter teacher while in college and seminary, 48-9. In his first parish, he served on the school committee and instituted local and statewide reforms to upgrade the educational level of teachers, pp.14-19. Additional details are found in a memorial service for a teacher, May's "Sermon preached at Hingham, March 19, 1837." Hingham, Connecticut: Press of J. Farmer, 1837, 22. At the suggestion of Mr. Horace Mann, he also served as the principal of the Lexington Normal School for two years. Mumford, 71-82. May's "Memoir of Cyrus Pierce, First Principal of the First State Normal School in the United States," appeared in Barnard's American Journal of Education, December 1857. Previously, May had given such addresses at: (1) The first state convention on education in Connecticut in 1833, which he cites in this speech; (2) "The Importance of our Common Schools," was delivered to the American Institute of Instruction, Proceedings, August 15, 16, 17, 1843. Ticknor & Co., printer, 1844; (3) "The Education of the Faculties and the Proper Employment of Young Children," appears in Lectures delivered before the American Institute of Instruction, August, 1846 (Ticknor & Co., printer, 1847). In the 1850's, May appeared with Susan B. Anthony at several meetings of the New York State Teacher's Association, to urge for schools integrated in all departments by women and black students. In the 1860's, May served as President of the Board of Education of Syracuse, New York. His advocacy led to the vote to abolish corporal punishment in the city's schools.
6 May, Samuel J. "The Revival of Education: An Address to the Normal Association," Bridgewater, Massachusetts, August 8, 1855. Syracuse, New York: J.G.K. Truair, 1855, 36.
7 Ibid., 20-21.
9 Syracuse Daily Star, June 17 and 18, 1846.
10 Syracuse Daily Star, June 19, 1846.
11 Syracuse Daily Star, June 24, 1846.
12 May, Samuel J., Church Record book, May Memorial Unitarian Society, Syracuse, New York, April 12, 1846.
13 Garrison, William Lloyd, Letters of William Lloyd Garrison. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1971, v.3, 303.
14 In Memorium: Samuel Joseph May. Syracuse: Journal Office, 1871, 21-22.
15 Worcester, Noah. "A Solemn Review of War," (No. 36), Undated (19th century) Pamphlet Series. Boston: APS.
16 Mumford, op.cit., 48.
17 Galpin, W. Freeman, "Samuel Joseph May: God's Core Boy," New York State Historical Association, September 29, 1939, 144-146.
18 Mumford, op.cit., 141.
19 Ibid., 145.
20 Johnson, Oliver, William Lloyd Garrison and His Times, (Boston: B.B. Russell, 1880) 90. Johnson reports that on Sunday evening May 29, 1831, Emerson "had the courage to open his pulpit for the delivery of an anti-slavery sermon by the Rev. Samuel J. May."
21 May, Samuel Joseph, "On Prejudice," Boston: The American Unitarian Association, 1830.
22 May, Samuel Joseph, Some Recollections of Our Antislavery Conflict, (Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co., 1869) 171-175.
23 Heyrick, Elizabeth, Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition (London: Knight & Bagster, 1824).
24 May, Samuel J., "Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Reformation," The Christian Register, November 16, 1867, v.46, no. 46.
25 Pease, William H. and Jane H. "Samuel J. May: Civil Libertarian," Cornell Library Journal, Autumn, 1967, 14-17.
26 May, "Speech," quoted in Stanton, Elizabeth Cady and Anthony, Susan B., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. I, 480.
27 Meltzer, Milton and Holland, Patricia, Lydia Maria Child: Selected Letters 1817-1880 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982).
28 May, Samuel J., "The Right of Colored People to Education, Vindicated. Letter to Andrew T. Judson, Esq. and others in Canterbury, Remonstrating with them on their Unjust and Unjustifiable procedure Relative to Miss Prudence Crandall and Her School for Colored Females," (Brooklyn, Connecticut: Advertiser Press, 1833).
29 Lutz, Alma, Crusade for Freedom: Women of the Antislavery Movement, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968) 34.
30 May, Some Recollections...op cit.,61-64.
31 May, ibid., 54-57.
32 Ibid., 71.
33 Johnson, op.cit., 127.
34 "Thirtieth Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society," Proceedings, 1863.
35 May, Recollections, op. cit.
36 May, Samuel J. "A Discourse on Slavery in the United States," delivered in Brooklyn, (Connecticut), July 3, 1831. Boston: Garrison and Knapp, 1832.
37 "Protest Against American Slavery by One Hundred and Seventy Unitarian Ministers," New York Tribune, October 7, 1845. In Recollections, S. J. May points out that his contemporary, Sam May, Jr., spearheaded this effort.
38 Meltzer, Milton, In Their Own Words: A History of the American Negro 1619-1865, (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1964) 82.
39 May, Samuel J., "Liberty or Slavery the Only Question," Oration delivered on the Fourth of July, 1856 at Jamestown, New York. Syracuse: J.G.K. Truair, Printer. Daily Journal Office, 1856.
40 Gillespie, Neal C., The Collapse of Orthodoxy: The Intellectual Ordeal of George Frederick Holmes, (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1972) 78-198.
41 Mumford, op.cit., 193.
42 May, Samuel J., "Speech of the Rev. Samuel J. May to the Convention of Citizens of Onondaga County, in Syracuse, on the 14th of October, 1851." Syracuse: Agan & Summers, Standard Office, 1851.
43 Sperry, Earl Evelyn, "The Jerry Rescue," Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, 1924, 43.
44 May, Recollections, op. cit., 377.
45 May, Samuel J., "Speech of the Rev. Samuel J. May to the Convention of Citizens of Onondaga County," in Syracuse on 14th of October 1851.
46 "Bulletin", Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, New York, October 1961, 5-12.
47 Sperry, op.cit., 19.
48 May, Samuel J., "The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims," revised, New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861, 9.
49 May, Samuel J., "Letter to Women's Rights Convention," Worcester, Massachusetts, October 23, 1850, Proceedings. Boston: Prentiss & Sawyer, 1851.
50 Pease, Jane H. and William H., "The Role of Women in the Anti-Slavery Movement," The Canadian Historical Association, 1967, 174-175.
51 Stanton, Elizabeth Cady and Anthony, Susan B. History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. I.
52 "Thirtieth Anniversary," op.cit.
53 May, Recollections, 233-237.
54 Ibid. 41.
55 Chadwick, John White, ed., A Life for Liberty: Anti-Slavery & Other Letters of Sallie Holley (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1899) 17.
56 Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Anthony, Susan B., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. I, 476-490.
57 W.L., "Analysis of the Rev. Mr. Ashley's Discourse, Entitled `The Christian's Duty Towards the Propagators of Error'" Syracuse Daily Standard, November 23, 1852.
58 May, Samuel J. "The Enfranchisement of Women, the Rights and Conditions of Women Considered," sermon preached in Syracuse, November 1846. Reprinted as "The Rights and Conditions of Women," Women's Rights Tracts, No.1, 1853.
59 Child, Lydia Maria, "Letters from New York," XXXIV, January 1843, in Parker, Gail, ed., The Oven Birds: American Women on Womanhood 1820-1920, (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books) 89-96.
60 Grimke, Sarah M., "Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman," (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970 reprint).
61 It is probable that Lucretia Mott's avid interest in Mary Wollestonecraft's work was mentioned in conversation and that May read Mott's copy of her work. See Cromwell, Otelia, Lucretia Mott (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1958) 28-29 and Hallowell, Anna Davis, James and Lucretia Mott: Life and Letters, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.,1890) 186, 357.
62 Stanton, op. cit.
63 May, "The Enfranchisement of Women: The Rights and Conditions of Women Considered," in The Church of the Messiah, November 8, 1846. Syracuse: Stoddard & Babcock, 1846, 10.
64 Stone, Lucy, "Letter to Samuel J. May." Gerritt Smith Collection, Arendts Library, Syracuse University.
65 May, Samuel J., "Letter to Gerrit Smith," August 25, 1852. Gerritt Smith Collection, Arendts Library, Syracuse University.
66 May, Samuel J., "Letter to the President, Secretary, and members of the American Equal Rights Association," May 11, 1869, The Revolution, 323.
67 Proceedings of the Women's Rights Convention, Syracuse: J.E. Masters, 1852.
68 Welsh, Sharon, Communities of Resistance and Solidarity: A Feminist Theology (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1985) 90. As cited in Weeler, Kathleen, "Review," Journal Of Education, v.168, no. 2, 1986, 144.