The Otsego Herald for July 26, 1819, compiled, with comments:

By President John Adams

Quincy, (Mass.) June 8, 1819.

“The turpitude, the inhumanity, the cruelty, and the infamy of the African commerce in slaves, have been so impressively represented to the public, by the powers of eloquence, that nothing I could say would increase the just odium in which it is and ought to be held.

“Every measure of prudence, therefore ought to be assumed, for the eventual, total extirpation of slavery from the United States. If, however, humanity dictates the duty of adopting the most prudent measures for accomplishing so excellent a purpose, the same humanity requires that we should not inflict severer calamities on the objects of our commiseration than those which they at present endure, by reducing them to despair, or the necessity of robbery, plunder, assassination, and massacre, to preserve their lives.

“Some provision ought to be made for furnishing them employment or some means of furnishing them with the necessary comforts of life. The same humanity requires, that we should not by any rash or violent measures, expose the lives and property of our fellow-citizens who are so unfortunate as to be surrounded with these fellow creatures, by hereditary descent or by any other means, without their own fault.

“I have, though my whole life, held the practice of slavery in such abhorrence that I have never owned a negro, or any other slave, though I have lived for many years in times when the practice was not disgraceful; when the best men in this vicinity thought it not inconsistent with their characters, and when it cost me thousands of dollars for the labor and subsistence of freemen, which I might have saved by the purchase of negroes when they were very cheap.”


COMMENT: One of the most eloquent statements on slavery that I have ever read, especially as it comes from John Adams of Massachusetts, who served as president when all our other presidents, from Washington to Monroe, were from slaveholding Virginia, a state which at the time lived in large part by selling the children of slaves to the cotton plantation owners of the deep south.

A wonderful survival

Salem, (Mass) July 16

A black man, by the name of Peter Jackson, arrived here a few days since, on the ship Malabar ... from Bombay, after having been buried in the depths of the ocean, and administration taken out in consequence, upon his estate and all his worldly accounts settled in due and legal form. His story is this:

Peter was cook on board the Ceres ... on her voyage to Calcutta. In coming down the Calcutta river ... (she) was overtaken by a violent storm of wind, accompanied with thunder and lightning, which threw the brig on her beam ends, and at the same time she struck aground on the sand bar, and after passing over into deep water. she righted and proceeded on her voyage.

At the time when the Ceres was knocked down, Peter fell over board, and all exertions to recover him proved unavailing. ... Peter, having got hold of a steering sail boom which was thrown to him ... was floated down the river about seven miles. When the tide turned, he was carried up river again...and it having become dark, he passed the vessel without seeing it, or being seen by those on board.

After being in the water about twelve hours, exposed to the sharks and alligators ... he was providentially cast on shore at Calpee, having drifted upwards of thirty miles.

From Calpee he took passage on a ... ship to Bombay; where after waiting several months, he accidentally heard of a Salem ship being in port, on board of which he was received, and brought home a few nights since.

Almost the first person he met, after his landing, was one of his old shipmates, who shrunk from his proffered hand as from the ghost whom he had long since seen for the last time in the grasp of death — but was at length compelled to believe that he was not a mere shadow, but the real, substantial Peter, risen again from his watery grave.

COMMENT: Although this story must have been publicized widely, I have not found any other versions of it.

New steam mill

A new steam mill, on a small scale, has been recently put in operation in this city, by Mr. JUNIA CURTIS, on his improved plan of applying steam, which is much less complicated and far less expensive than the ordinary steam engine. ...The power of this machinery is sufficient to turn two run of stones, each of which will grind a bushel in five minutes, as we are told.

The expense of erecting a steam engine upon Mr. Curtis’s model, is said to be only one fifth of the expense of engines on the old model. ... This improvement must offer important advantages for milling upon the St. Lawrence, Ohio, and Mississippi, where sites for water mills are scarce.

The ingenious inventor has struggled with pecuniary difficulties for some time to carry his improvements into operation, and we hope he will now find suitable remuneration in the patronage of a liberal public. — Albany Argus

COMMENT: A claim has been made that it was a Major Junia Curtis (1774-1831) who “experimented with various kinds of boilers, propellers and paddlewheels” and who finally “placed a steam engine into a boat and propelled it by its own power.” — Syracuse Herald, May 15, 1927, in an article titled, “Who Invented the Steamboat.” It also claimed that Curtis was a brother-in-law of Robert Fulton (1765-1814), who is usually credited with the invention.

Death in Albany

The ... body of a man was found on Thursday last at Albany. In his pocket-book was written “Salmon Conant, of Oakham ... Mass.” He was about 30 years of age.

COMMENT: Salmon Conant was born in 1795.