C[harles] A. Hammond to Frederick Douglass, March 11, 1853
Letter from C. A. Hammond.
DEAR DOUGLASS:—In your paper of 18th inst., I notice a recommendation of N. Y. Central College, in which, after noticing some of its excellencies, the writer very complacently adds: "And here, if nowhere else, sectarianism is unknown." Now, to those anti-sectarians who have long mourned over the sectarian influences that have exerted so baleful an influence upon that Institution, the above item would be, were it true, as good "news in a far country." For my own part, hardly any news of a similar character would be more truly pleasing and grateful, than a knowledge of the fact-if it were a fact—that sectarianism, against which, when a student there, I fought with all the zeal and power of which I was capable; and for my opposition, to which I was at one time threatened with expulsion, was at length cast out of the hearts of the practice of the managers of McGrawville College.
But there is, I fear, reason to believe that, instead of forsaking the ugly thing, the sectarian who published that notice has quieted his awakened conscience and convictions with the delusion that the monster evil does not exist. If Satan can once deceive the sons of men into a disbelief of his existence, he will be better able to bring them into subservience to his desires. And the same is true of sectarianism. No man is less likely to be converted from this great evil and sin, than he who, while snugly entwined in the folds of the demon, persuades himself that he has no existence, or at least, that he is far removed from his neighborhood, if, indeed, he lives at all. Perhaps he being deceived into the belief that those who would warn him of his danger, are themselves the victims of the monster. There have been cases of insane persons, who, when told of hallucination, have stoutly denied the fact, and insisted that those who thought them in a deranged state of mind, were themselves the victims of insanity. Nothing is easier than to retort without a shadow of proof, the charge of being guilty of the same crime. For instance, take the following extracts:
Lamenting the presence of this great evil in a school which embraced, to a certain extent, some of the reform measures of the day. Considerable effort has been made within the past year, to exercise the demon sectarianism from N. Y. Central College. Now let us see how those efforts have been received by these people, among whom, "if nowhere else, sectarianism is unknown." Says the same writer quoted above, in communication in the American Baptist, of Oct. 7, 1852, "There has never been a "sectarian" sermon delivered in the College Chapel until the anti-sectarian one by brother Stow, of the Free Church in Peterboro, the Sabbath before our last commencement. Brother Fox, of Preble, and brother Gerrit Smith, have both spoken on the same side, and we have the promise of Prof. Tillinghast, that he will show us his opinion. Whether it will end here, I do not know, for we hold to "free discussion."
It may be well to remark, en passant, that both Messrs. Caldwell and Tillinghast are, unless they have changed very recently, "Close Communion" Baptists of the "Free Mission" School, who would invite to the "Lord's Table" (which, in such case, however, is not the Lord's, but a Baptist table) none but "Baptists." There is, so far as I know, and I have been quite familiar with the state of things at McGrawville, no congrega-
tion which spread the Supper on the plan of inviting "all Christians," and none others.—There are three sectarian denominations in the place, a little village of a few hundred inhabitants; and a meeting has been held at the College Chapel, composed, it is true, of persons of difference views in regard to baptism, and various other subjects; but they have not met as "the church in McGrawville" on the basis of Christian character; neither have they partaken of the Supper in the manner specified above; at least, not unless a change has taken place within a few months, of which the proper evidence is wanting. Would that it were not. Here follows an extract from the same paper just quoted from, signed "Era," supposed to be the production of the afore-mentioned Prof. Tillinghast. After a labored and strangely inconsistent effort to neutralize the effect of the inculcation of the principles of Christian union or anti-sectarianism, as taught at McGrawville by Gerrit Smith, &c., he says: "I know of no sectarian banner unless it be that recently raised by Stow, Fox, Smith, &c." Now, in view of the fact that McGrawville College was originally established by the "Baptist Free Mission Society," and though the ostensible management and control of it afterwards passed into the hands of an association-still, as that association is mainly composed of "Close Communion Baptists," and as the trustees and officers, excepting perhaps the teachers are mainly of that sectarian denomination, it does look a little like putting on an anti-sectarian mask, in order to secure anti-sectarian students and funds for the Corresponding Secretary to come out and announce that there, "if nowhere else, sectarianism was unknown." If you are unwilling to enter an anti-sectarian port without hoisting an anti-sectarian banner, friends, would it not be a little more manly to carry the same banner when sailing under a Baptist one?
C. S. HAMMOND.