Part One

The Organized Educational Activities of
Negro Literary Societies, 1828-1846



In 1830 there were 319,599 free Negroes in the United States.1 Between the years 1830 and 1840, these Negroes were forced to organize into groups of various kinds because of the conditions which faced them in the different sections of the United States. This situation was due mainly to the strict enforcement of rigid laws which limited the freedom of the free Negro—laws were made partly because of the fear on the part of the whites of such servile insurrections as Gabriel's insurrection in Virginia in 1800, the Denmark Vesey insurrection in South Carolina in 1822, and the Nat Turner insurrection in Virginia in 1831. Other reasons which forced Negroes to organize were the efforts of the American Colonization Society to remove them from this country, antipathy towards them on the part of most whites and slaves, the activities of the slave dealers who sent many free persons into slavery and the idea prevalent among whites that they were an "indolent and shiftless" group. As a result, several types of organizations flourished among them.

As early as 1787, a beneficial society was organized in Philadelphia. It seems to have been the first organized society in Negro life. The birth of this society was due to the activities of Absalom Jones and Richard Allen.2 It was not established, however, for literary purposes, but for mutual aid to its members in distress. Soon after the organization of this society other beneficial organizations appeared in the various cities, which were named after prominent Negroes. One of these was "The United Daughters of Allen." Others were named after friends of the Negro race, such as "The Male Garrison Association"; and still others were named after white organizations of a similar type, such as "The Humane Mechanics Society."3 In addition to beneficial societies, Negroes had organized themselves into Bible, missionary and moral reform societies in an effort to develop a religious and moral consciousness among themselves. Temperance, tract, educational and welfare societies were organized also for their individual social values. Numerous societies of these types were found in the larger cities of the East and Middle States.

About 1832, Negroes formed antislavery societies among their own group which were in many cases

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Negro Population, 1790-1915. Washington: Govt. Printing Office, 1918. p. 53.

2 William Douglass, Annals of the First African Church in the United States of America. Philadelphia: King and Baird, 1862. p. 15. George Bragg, The First Negro Organization-The Free African Society. Baltimore: The author, 1924. p. 7.

3 Pennsylvania Society for the Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, The Present State and Condition of the Free People of Color in the city of Philadelphia and Adjoining Districts. Philadelphia: Merrihew and Gunn, 1836, p. 26.

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auxiliary bodies to the white anti-slavery societies. The Massachusetts General Colored Association, of which Thomas Dalton was President and William C. Nell, Vice-President, sent Joshua Easton, as a delegate to the annual meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society with a letter asking that the Massachusetts General Association be made an auxiliary society to the New England Anti-Slavery Society.4 Although separate Negro anti-slavery societies existed in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Connecticut, and New Jersey,5 there was a strong feeling against the organization of Negro anti-slavery societies on the part of both white and colored persons. This was due to the fact that the establishment of Negro anti-slavery societies seemed to defeat one of the purposes of the anti-slavery societies which was to destroy prejudice against the Negro. On the other hand, the names of many Negro men and women appear in the reports of the white anti-slavery societies as members and officers who worked fervently for the abolition of slavery.

These societies flourished in Northern cities where free Negroes were most numerous and where the laws did not limit their freedom at all times. Here, there were newspapers and magazines, white and colored, which printed reports of their activities, It was possible to hold conventions for the purpose of exchanging ideas and for raising money in one city with the delegates present from many other cities. Speeches could be made and pamphlets distributed without molestation. In the South there were no newspapers liberal enough to publish the activities of free Negroes. Laws were enforced in several Southern states which limited or forbade immigration and emigration of free Negroes. The laws of Mississippi in 1830 punished by death persons of color circulating "seditious" pamphlets.6 In 1835, Amos Dresser, an active Negro member of the Ohio Abolition Society was arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, and charged with circulating pamphlets among slaves to incite them to insurrection. The Committee of Vigilance consisting of sixty-two citizens tried him and found him guilty. He was punished with a beating, forced to leave the city and to leave behind most of his belongings.7 According to Dresser's Narrative, published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, there was no law existing in Tennessee at the time forbidding the sale of Bibles and religious tracts, and the distribution of anti-slavery pamphlets. He also stated that he had given to "no person of color, bond or free any pamphlets."8 The establishment of anti-slavery organizations and other societies shows that the free Negroes were concerned and active in their own betterment. The purpose of these organizations extended beyond the objectives of the literary societies.


The evolution of the early American Negro literary societies, which like the

4 New England Anti-Slavery Society. First Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the New England Anti-Slavery Society presented Jan. 9, 1833. Boston: Garrison and Knapp, 1833. p. 7.

5 Reports of the American Anti-Slavery Society, 1834-1838. New York: William S. Dorr, 1835-1838.

6 John C. Hurd, The Law of Freedom and Bondage in the United States. Boston: Little and Brown & Co., 1862. V. 2, p. 147.

7 Amos Dresser, Narrative of Amos Dresser. New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1836. p. 15.

8 Ibid., p. 6.

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other organizations were expressions of the free Negro's impulses toward organization and improvement, forms an interesting chapter in the cultural and educational history of the American Negro. They began to appear over one hundred years ago when certain Negroes living in Northern cities took definite steps to improve their mental and moral condition through the medium of these societies. These organizations were known not only as literary societies, but also as debating and reading-room societies.

Some of the expressed reasons for the organization of these institutions were the stimulation of reading and the spreading of useful knowledge by providing libraries and reading rooms, the encouragement of expressed literary efforts by providing audiences as critics and channels of publication for their literary productions and the training of future orators and leaders by means of debates. Thus, their activities as a whole were educational. Apart from this, there were certain existing conditions inherent in the race relations of the times which led to the establishment of these societies. The Reverend Theodore S. Wright, a prominent Negro of the day, was thrown out of a white literary meeting of the Alumni of Nassau Hall in New York City.9 The presence of Negroes in white literary organizations was not wanted. Even in Massachusetts, often referred to as the "birthplace of freedom," this condition was true. In New Bedford, Massachusetts, Charles Sumner and Ralph Waldo Emerson recalled their engagements to speak at a Lyceum when they learned that colored patrons were not to share the same privileges as the white members.10 At Lynn, Massachusetts, there was opposition to Charles Lenox Remond, a Negro lecturer, who was to address a white group.11 New institutions were formed in these places as a result of this discrimination. Thus, Negroes began to form societies of their own, in which they could have fuller and freer discussions and freedom of activity and control. A list of the more important societies which flourished during this period follows:

Negroes Literary Societies Listed by States and Cities With Dates of Formation

Demosthenian Institute, 1837.
Edgeworth Society. Before, 1837.
Female Literary Society, 1831.
Gilbert Lyceum, 1841.
Library Company of Colored Persons, 1833.
Minerva Literary Association, 1934.
Philadelphia Association for Moral and Mental Improvement of the People of Color, 1835.
Reading Room Society, 1828. Rush Library and Debating Society, 1836.
Theban Literary Society, 1831.
Young Men's Literary and Moral Reform Society of Pittsburgh and Vicinity, 1837.
New York City

Female Literary Society. Before, 1836.
Ladies Literary Society, 1834.
New York African Clarkson Society, 1829.

9 American Anti-Slavery Society, Fourth Annual Report. New York: William S. Dorr. 1837. p. 110.

10 William C. Nell, The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution. Boston: R. F. Wallcut. 1855. p. 114.

11 Ibid., p. 115.

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New York Garrison Literary Association, 1834.
New York Philomathean Society, 1830.
Phoenix Society, 1833.


Literary Societies (two). Before 1843.


Debating Society. Before 1837.
Young Ladies Literary Society. Before 1837.


Literary Society. Before 1837.


Debating Society. Before 1843.
Ladies Literary and Dorcas Society, 1833.


Debating Society. Before 1843.


Debating Society. Before 1837.
Literary Society. Before 1837.
Mental and Moral Improvement Society. Before 1837.



Adelphic Union for the Promotion of Literature and Science, 1836.
Afric-American Female Intelligence Society, 1832.
Boston Philomathean Society, 1836.
Thompson Literary and Debating Society. Before 1835.
Young Men's Literary Society. Before 1845.

New Bedford

Debating Society. Before 1837.



Literary and Religious Institution, 1834.



Literary Society, 1833.
Debating Society. Before 1837.



Tyro and Literary Association 1832.



Young Men's Mental Improvement Society for the Discussion Of Moral and Philosophical Questions of all kinds. Before 1835.
Phoenix Society. Before 1835.


Debating Society. Before 1837.
Literary Society. Before 1837.
Washington Conventional Society, 1834.



Literary Society. Before 1843.


Literary Society. Before 1843.



Young Men's Lyceum and Debating Society. Before 1846.


The free Negroes in Philadelphia seem to have taken the lead in the establishment of literary societies among Negroes. On the evening of March 20, 1828, a group of free men of color gathered together to organize a society that in some way would have as its purpose "the mental improvement of the people of color in the neighborhood of Philadelphia."12 William Whipper, one of the most prominent Negroes of the day, was the guiding spirit of the

Educational societies were organized much earlier than the literary societies. Their efforts embodied some of those of the literary societies, in that they spread "useful knowledge" and collected books for the use of the members. See the Constitution of the Pittsburgh African Education Society, Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. V. 9., p. 115.

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group. In a short address to the men present, he urged them not to sit, "as idle spectators to the movement being carried on by nations to improve themselves," but because of their limited opportunities to "feel bound to open an institution to which they may repair and qualify themselves for future usefulness." A committee was formed to draw up a constitution for the society which was to be known as the "Reading Room Society" for young men in Philadelphia. The library was to consist of some books treating on the subject of ancient, modern, and ecclesiastical history, the Laws of Pennsylvania, The Freedom's Journal, The Genius of Universal Emancipation, and other works. For reasons which are not given all books, "chimerical or visionary," were to be excluded.13 The public received benefits from this organization,' as well as the members. This is evidenced in the appointment of William Whipper, the Secretary, at a meeting held May 2, 1828 to deliver to the public an address on the evening of May 12th, in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Lombard Street.14

From Whipper's address, we learn that members of the society were required to have certain moral qualifications in order to secure the protection and welfare of the society. Monthly dues and an initiation fee were exacted. All of the money received except that which went for wood, light, and rent was to be expended for the purpose of securing books. These books were to be placed in the care of a librarian who was instructed that "it shall be the duty to deliver to said members alternately such books as they shall demand with strict regard that no member shall keep a book out of the library longer than a week, without paying a fine prescribed in the constitution, unless an apology for sickness, or absence be given-those shall be the only excuses."15 Meetings were held weekly, at-which time members returned and received books. At the meetings they read and expressed among themselves whatever sentiments they may have received from their readings.

Early in the year 1832, William Lloyd Garrison addressed the Female and Literary Society of Philadelphia. He found the group a most interesting and alert one, and writing of it in the Liberator said: "If the traducers of the Negro race could be acquainted with the Moral worth, just refinement, and large intelligence of this association their mouths would be hereafter dumb." The members of this organization met every Tuesday night for the purpose of "mental improvement in moral and literary pursuits." The majority of the ladies wrote original literary pieces which were placed anonymously in a box and later criticized. The society in 1832 was composed of about twenty members, having been organized in 1831.

Garrison was so favourably impressed with the society that he took with him several of the compositions written by these ladies with the idea of publishing them, not only for their merit, but with the hope that other ladies living in other cities would organize into similar groups. A poem

13 Freedom's Journal. New York. 1828. V. 2. p. 98.

14 Ibid., p. 83.

15 Ibid., p. 306.

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called "Farewell" and signed by "Ada," one of the members of this society, appeared in the Liberator for June 30, 1832.16 In October of the same year, an "Address to the Female Literary Association of Philadelphia on their First Anniversary" by a member was published in the Liberator.17 There appeared also in the Liberator for January 2, 1832, an article entitled "Emigration to Mexico" and was signed by "A Colored Female of Philadelphia." Scattered through the files of the Liberator are found many poems and essays written by members of this society and by members of other female societies organized in other cities. For the most part these writings were signed with just a forename, pseudonym, or simply by "A Lady of Color." This makes the identification of the authors difficult, if not impossible.

There had existed since 1731, a Library Company in Philadelphia, which had its beginning in the "Junto Club" founded by Benjamin Franklin "for literary and scientific discussion, the reading of original essays, poems, etc." It was called the "club of mutual improvement" and was the forerunner of subscription libraries in the United States. This Library Company is still in existence today.18 The colored people of Philadelphia, no doubt, attempted to form an organization similar to this one, for on January 1, 1833 the Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons was established. Nine members were present at its formation and signed its constitution. The society composed of free colored males grew very rapidly in membership and soon after its establishment applied to the legislature for an act of incorporation, which was granted in 1836.19 The following announcement to the public concerning the society appeare in the Genius of Universal Emancipation for May 1833.

From the U.S. Gazette

To the Public,

We, the people of color of this city being deeply impressed with the necessity of promoting among our youth, a proper cultivation for literary pursuits and improvement of the faculties and powers of their minds, deem it necessary to state, for the information of our friends, wherever situated, that we have succeeded in organizing an institution under the title of the "Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons."

It will be perceived that this is not a mere fractional effort, the design of any single society among us, of which we are proud, it can with truth be said there are many, all having originated for our mutual benefit and improvement; neither is it sectarian, but its fractures are such as to embrace the entire population of the City and County of Philadelphia, as its name imports.

In accordance with which we most respectfully appeal to the friends of science and the people of color, for such books and other donations as will facilitate the object of this institution.

The following individuals are duly authorized to solicit and receive such donations in behalf of said company, as a liberal and enlightened public feel disposed to bestow, viz: Robert C. Gordon, Jr., 212 S. Seventh St., Frederick A. Hinton, 82 S. Fourth St., James Needham, 12 N. Fourth St., Daniel B. Brownhill, 15 Arch St., Thomas Butler, 6 S. Eighth St., Wm. S. Gordon, 99 Callowhill St., David CoIly, Ninth above Coates St., Junius C. More,

Liberator. Boston. Garrison and Knapp, 1832. Vol. 2, p. 103.

17 Ibid., p. 306.

18 George M. Abbott, A Short History of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: 1913. p. 3.

19 Joseph Wilson, Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia. (By a Southerner.) Philadelphia: Merrihew and Thompson, 1841. p. 98.

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Passyunk Road; Morris Brown, Jr., 241 Shippen St.20

The main object of this society was to build up a collection of useful books on every subject for the benefit of its members and to enlighten the group by means of weekly lectures on literary and scientific subjects. The lectures were given by the members of the society and others from the first week in October to the following May of each year.21 Books were made accessible with comparatively little cost. A systematic order for reading was adopted by those interested. To stimulate reading and research a series of debates was introduced. These debates gave the members practice in the art of public speaking. From time to time the society received books, pamphlets, and maps as gifts. By 1838, the library had 600 volumes and the society had about 150 members who took an active part in the organization. 22 The Right Reverend Bishop White of the Protestant Episcopal Church was a frequent contributor to the collection. There was an admission fee to the society of one dollar and a monthly assessment of twenty-five cents. The meetings were held in the basement of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church.23

An editorial appeared in the Genius of Universal Emancipation during the year 1833 which summed up the progress of the colored people of Philadelphia and credited them with the establishment of libraries, reading rooms, and debating societies. According to the editorial, a gentleman who was present at the regular meeting of one of the debating clubs included the following information in his report: "Discussions were conducted with a degree of spirit and propriety and displayed a cogency and acuteness of reasoning, and an elevation and elegance of language for which he was little prepared. The subjects of discussion generally relate to their own rights and interests and frequently result in decisions from which the prejudiced mind of the white man would startle and shrink with apprehension." The editorial further states:

They are numerous [the societies], united and bitterly conscious of their degradation and their power. To this let the pride, the independence and ambition which science ever imparts be added, and -the consequences though beyond the reach of conjecture would doubtless be such as to involve the character, and condition of the whole country.24

The Minerva Literary Association organized in October 1834, with thirty ladies present at its first meeting, was immediately a successful organization and from all indications seems to have been a real "school for the encouragement and promotion of polite literature." The programs consisted of "readings and recitations of original and selected pieces, together with appropriate matters." Many of the essays and other original productions, in both prose and poetry which were written by these ladies, were of sufficient merit to be used in the Poets Corner and other publications of the day. These ladies held their meetings weekly.25

20 Genius of Universal Emancipation. Washington, D.C., 1833, 3d. series. V. 3, p. 103.

21 Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania, op. cit., 1833, v. 11, p. 186.

22 Pennsylvania Society for the Promotion of the Free People of Color of the City of Philadelphia, op. cit., p. 30.

23 Wilson, op. cit., p. 99-100.

24 Genius of Universal Emancipation. op. cit., v. 3, p. 90.

25 Wilson, op. cit., p. 108.

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On December 16, 1836 the Rush Library and Debating Society was founded in Philadelphia and was incorporated March 1, 1837. Seven men were responsible for its formation and they had in mind the same purposes as those who had formed the Philadelphia Library Company.26 In 1838 there were forty-one members who belonged to it, and the library contained 132 volumes.27 By 1841, its library had 200 volumes. The books were all useful although of a miscellaneous character. Regular meetings were held in Salter's Hall.28

The Demosthenian Institute, formed at the home of John P. Burr, January 10, 1837, was organized primarily to prepare its members for the public platform. Addresses were made, discussions took place and questions were answered in the presence of the members. The members had planned that the society should be made into a preparatory school until the members had gained sufficient confidence and experience to fit them for public appearances. In 1841 this organization had forty-two members, and the library contained over one hundred scientific and historical works. The Demosthenian Shield, a weekly paper, first published on June 29, 1841, was the organ of the society. Its subscription list numbered over one thousand persons before the first issue appeared.29 According to Wilson, it had a neat typographical appearance and it showed dignity and ability in the editorial department.

No information seems available concerning the possible existence of any printed organs for the other literary societies,30 although a poem "To George Thompson" "By a Lady of Philadelphia" was reprinted in Human Rights, which had been taken from The Struggler, "a newspaper edited in Philadelphia by an Association of Colored men."31 This would seem to indicate that The Struggler was an organ of one of the literary societies.

At a meeting of the Council of the Philadelphia Association for the Moral and Mental Improvement of the People of Color, held in Philadelphia June 5th to June 9th, 1837, much attention was given to the "mental state" of the Negro. This association which was incorporated on February 28, 1835, met annually with delegates coming from the various churches, literary and beneficial societies.32 Among the various resolutions submitted at a meeting held in 1837 was one which called for a survey to be made by a committee of the number of children who were members of their respective churches and who attended daily and weekly schools. Other committees were appointed to ascertain and report on the number and names of moral, literary, and beneficial societies in the City

26 Ibid., p. 101.

27 Pennsylvania Society for the Promotion of the Abolition of Slavery. Present State and Condition of the People of Color. op. cit., p. 3.

28 Wilson, op. cit., p. 102.

29 Wilson, op. cit., pp. 105-106.

30 There is no mention of any other such publications in I G. Penn. The Afro-American press and its Editors, 1891; F. G. Detweiler, The Negro Press in the United States, 1922; or in Charles S. Johnson's article "The Rise of the Negro Magazine," Journal of Negro History, v. 13, 1928.

31 Human Rights, New York. Published for the American Anti-Slavery Society. V. 1, No. 5. Nov. 1835.

32 Minutes and Proceedings of the Philadelphia Council of the Philadelphia Association for the Moral and Mental Improvement of the People of Color. (June 5th-9th, 1837.) Philadelphia: Merrihew and Gunn, 1837, p. 14.

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of Philadelphia, in order to have a historical record of the instruments that were being used to elevate the colored people.33 Other committees were to correspond with similar societies organized in other cities in order to determine the educational progress of the people. Reports were to be made from time to time through the newspapers concerning the progress of the various groups.

James Forten, in addressing the American Moral Reform Society on August 17, 1837, at its first annual meeting, stated that there was then in existence many literary societies.34 Mr. Forten remarked that many were creditably conducted by females. He said further that he was gratified to see so large a number of "respectable females collected together," at the meeting of the ladies literary society which was called the "Edgeworth Society," all uniting in one grand purpose, the diffusion of knowledge; to hear them reading and reciting in a manner that would reflect honor upon the community. Concerning the Library Company Forten said:

It is gaining strength every day and it has a well supplied stock of books collected from the most useful and varied productions of the age. It has received the countenance and approbation of the most choice, intellectual and influential of our citizens; and as a mark of their esteem for us they have contributed liberally to our reading department. The main object of the literary societies is to accomplish an intellectual and moral reformation.

Forten spoke also of the advantages of reading, and suggested subjects that would yield profitable information.35

The American Moral Reform Society and the Council of the Philadelphia Association for the Moral and Mental Improvement of the People of Color were not organized primarily to consider the educational advancement of the Negro, but they encouraged and supported the educational efforts of the Negro.36 In nearly all of the Negro organizations which were established for the moral elevation of the race, there can be found the advocacy of educational improvement in some form.

The Gilbert Lyceum, which was organized for literary and scientific purposes, seems to have been the first and only society which admitted individuals of both sexes. The society was named after the man who had first suggested its formation. The initial meeting took place on January 31, 1841 under the leadership of Robert Douglass, Jr., a Philadelphia painter of some note. Among the twelve persons present at the first meeting were Joseph Cassey, John C. Bowers, Robert Purvis, Sarah M. Douglass and Harriet Purvis.37 A series of lectures was delivered before the group, which for the most part was well attended. In 1841, there were forty-one members who belonged to the lyceum. It is stated that these members planned to collect a cabinet of minerals and curiosities for their organization.

The free people of color, as a whole, owe some of their educational progress to the efforts of these societies. A re-

33 Ibid., p. 6.

34 Minutes and Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting of the American Moral Reform Society. (Held in Philadelphia ... 14th to 19th of August, 1837.) Philadelphia: Merrihew and Gunn, 1937, p. 42.

35 Ibid., pp. 43-44.

36 The Board of Managers of this Society published The National Reformer. Edited by William Whipper. V. 1 appeared in 1839.

37 Wilson, op. cit., p. 110.

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port made in 1836 on the condition of the Negroes who lived in the Districts of Southwark and Northern Liberties, shows that out of 2,560 adults 1,030 could read and 92 could write; and that there were 970 children out of 1,945 who could read. The Negroes supported the following number of churches at this time: 6 Methodist, 2 Presbyterian, 3 Baptist, and 1 Lutheran. In addition to the literary societies, they maintained sixty beneficial societies, two tract societies, two Bible societies, two temperance societies and one moral reform society. Their combined property holdings were valued at $200,000.38 Similar efforts were successful in the organization of societies in the cities of New York, Boston, Hartford, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Providence; and in the East and West this movement developed rapidly.


In New York City, Rochester, and other cities in the State of New York similar endeavors were made to form literary societies and debating clubs for the purpose of self-education. The young women, in particular, in these cities who organized these groups frequently combined the desire to learn with the desire to perform work of an altruistic nature in behalf of those in slavery, as well as for the many destitute Negro children.

In 1829, in New York City, one year after the organization of the first literary society in Philadelphia, the New York African Clarkson Society, composed of the young men of the city was established. On the evening of April 23, 1834, the society celebrated its fifth anniversary and from the published reports it appears to have been a great occasion. The affair was held in theAbyssinia Baptist Church, with tickets of admission available at six cents The members of the society arrived on this particular evening in a body and seated themselves together on the rostrum. The program consisted for the, most part, of music, furnished by a union band, speech-making and the' reading of the constitution. The young men sang The Clarkson Ode, which was composed probably when the society was organized and was as follows:

With joyful hearts join hand in hand,
And celebrate the Clarkson band.
This day by legislative aid,
A corporate body made.
Prosperity attend our band,
And gratitude this will demand:
And let out thankful lays be heard,
On every April twenty-third.

The church was filled with spectators and it was said that the members who were present were proud of their organization on this occasion.39

The leading literary society in New York City was the New York Philomathean Society which was organized in 1830.40 At a later period in 1843, this society developed into the Odd Fellow's Lodge and became the Philomathean Lodge, No. 646.41 These facts seem to indicate that the members of the society were all men. The Philomathean Society was "devoted to the improvement of literature and useful

38 The Emancipator. New York: R. G. Williams. V. 2, Nov. 10, 1836, p. 112.

39 Emancipator, op. cit., v. 2, May 6, 1834. (Frequently there is no pagination given on the newspapers. It will be given where found.)

40 Colored American. New York: R. Sears. V. 1. No. 27. July 8, 1837.

41 Charles H. Brooks, A History and Manual of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in America. Philadelphia: 1893, p. 21.

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knowledge." In 1837 it had acquired about six hundred volumes for its circulating library. It solicited donations of books and money to be used for the purchase of books and for subscriptions to periodicals. The society asked that books be loaned to the library and it promised that they would be well cared for and returned when wanted.42 At a meeting held August 18, 1837, the society decided that members of all literary institutions of color would be admitted to all of its meetings, with the exception of the business meeting, and that they would be permitted to take part in the general debates43

42 Colored American, op. cit., v. 1, No. 27, July 8, 1837.

43 Ibid., v. 1, No. 31, August 5, 1837.

[end of part one]

SOURCE: Porter, Dorothy B. “The Organized Educational Activities of Negro Literary Societies, 1828-1846,” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. V, no. 4, Oct. 1936, pp. 555-576.

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