Rebuke of New Bedford Lyceum by Emerson and Sumner

From the New York Evangelist 


We really never thought to see in the heart of good old New-England, such a deplorable and disgraceful exhibition of illiberal prejudice against people of color, as has been afforded in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  The people of New Bedford have done what they could to disgrace the whole Bay State, by denying the privilege of   membership in their Lyceum to all black persons, and permitting them to hear the lectures only on condition of confining themselves to a particular part of the house.  Although there was a strong protesting minority against this disgraceful proscription, yet the majority persisted in it.

But we learn, on the other hand, from the New York Tribune, that in consequence of this mean procedure, two of the most prominent lecturers engaged for the season, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Sumner, have refused to speak to such an assembly.  ‘They have declined addressing an audience whose test of merit, or right to the privileges of a citizen, consists not in intelligence or good character, but in the color of the skin.’

This is truly delightful.  We thank Messrs. Emerson and Sumner, and congratulate them as lecturers, on the opportunity which their positions gave them of so nobly and severely rebuking the proud and mean spirit of New-Bedford Lyceum.  What a monstrous inconsistency between such a spirit and the profession of hatred against slavery!.

                                                                  (Liberator, Dec. 19, 1845,, pg 2)