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Ohio Archæological and Historical Society
Publications, Volume XX

Ohio Archæological and Historical Society Publications, Volume XX [1911], Page 269 [Click for larger image]Page 269

OBERLIN'S PART IN THE SLAVERY CONFLICT. WILBUR GREELEY BURROUGHS, A. M., OBERLIN, OHIO. Little did the Rev. John J. Shipherd, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Elyria, Ohio, realize that in the founding of Oberlin he was to change the destiny of a nation. He originated the plan in 1832. In November of the same year with his associate Philo P. Stewart, formerly a missionary to the Cherokees in Mississippi and at this time living with Shipherd at Elyria, he selected the site for Oberlin. (II); (26). At this time the question of slavery was not a practical issue before the people of the North. The anti-slavery element was not incorporated into the original constitution of Oberlin. Indeed, the "Oberlin Covenant," a document expressing the design of the school and the settlement, has no allusion whatever to slavery. There was a deep seated feeling against it4a but the American Colonization Society was supposed to present the only practicable means of operating to rid the land of the evil. The early inhabitants little dreamed that the discussion of slavery would be the first topic to disturb the quiet of their wilderness. It was due in great measure to the geographical location of Oberlin that she was able to play such an important part in the events which were to follow. Ohio was an influential State in the Union. She formed the connecting link between the East and the West. On the South she bordered on Slave Territory,—the States of Kentucky and Virginia. Ohio's sympathies were largely with the South; in fact her counties bordering on the Ohio River and for fifty miles northward were principally peopled from the Slave States. The interior counties of the State were occupied mainly by a population which took slight interest in public questions. It was therefore to the Western Reserve, covering twelve counties in the northeast part of the State, that the destiny of Ohio was committed. Here the Republican party was all powerful. Of influential factors on the Reserve, "no single, definite,

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