Points of Light by Dr. Milt Sernett
This “Points of Light” column will offer reflections on the long journey that the American abolitionists and their allies took during the crusade for freedom.
On the evening of January 1, 1863. Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists, black and white, had assembled at Tremont Temple in Boston. They were awaiting word that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. A line of wires had been strung to Tremont Temple from the telegraph office, so that, as Douglass wrote in his autobiography (Life and Times, 1882), the crowd might get “the first flash of the electric wires announcing the ‘new departure’” without delay. “Eight, nine, ten o’clock came and went,” Douglass recalled, “and still no word.” A shadow fell upon the expectant throng.
Then a man rushed in shouting, “It is coming! It is on the wires!” “The effect of the announcement was startling beyond description . . . joy and gladness exhausted all forms of expression from shouts of praise, to sobs and tears.” This was one of the bright moments in the long journey from slavery to freedom. Come along with us now as we explore that journey in greater detail.
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Peterboro N.Y. 13134
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