An 1863 letter from William Lloyd Garrison worrying that New York riots would prompt similar responses in the "volcanic" North.
Boston, July 14, 1863.
Enclosed, you will find the notice for the 1st of August celebration at Abington. Also, the disclaimer of Conway's mischievous overture to Mason, by the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Both for insertion in this week's Standard. You will see that we have tried to deal with poor Conway as tenderly as possible. The most astonishing thing of it all is, that, in the first sentence of his letter, he tells two falsehoods, in order to assume to be duly empowered to negotiate with Mason! He certainly meant well, but he acted upon the vicious maxim of the Jesuits, that "the end sanctifies the means"—the end being, in this case, to make Mason avow that, not even to ensure independence, will the Confederacy
consent to the abolition of slavery. Let us trust it may be all "overruled for Good." Should you copy that portion of the proceedings of the Framingham celebration, July 4th, which relates to Mason and Conway, (and I think it would be well for you to do so,) please alter where I say of Conway, "he has put himself on his back," by substituting, "he has put himself in a tight place." We are slowly getting the particulars of the horrible excesses of the mob in your city, whose example is very likely to be imitated in degree at least, in all our great cities. I shall not be surprised to hear that both the Standard and Independent offices have been sacked. To-day, there are symptoms that a riot is brewing in this city; and, should it break out with violence, it would naturally seek to vent its fury upon such as Phillips and myself, and upon our dwellings. The whole North is volcanic.
I have no doubt that all this is understood and provided for at Richmond—that there is a perfect understanding between the leading rebels and the leading copperheads—and that they both mean to conflagrate and shed blood to any extent at the North, rather than to have President Lincoln succeed in putting down the rebellion at the cost of slavery. My heart bleeds to think of the poor, unoffending colored people of New York, outraged, plundered, murdered by the demons in human shape who now hold mastery over New York. "How long, O Lord, how long?"
How sad the fate of Superintendent Kennedy! How honorably he deserves to be remembered for the manner in which he aimed to discharge the responsible duties of his position!
Yous, without wavering,
Wm. Lloyd Garrison.