Moses, Salmon
Autograph Letter Signed, Hoosick Falls, New York, March 5, 1841 to his sister, Betsey Hilburt, Medina County, Ohio, discussing Alexander Crummell's Rejection from the General Theological Seminary.

Folio, 8 pages, folded, some minor wear and soiling, few small holes at fold intersections, neatly inscribed in ink, very good.

Letter which discusses the case of Alexander Crummell (1819-1898) clergyman, activist, and Pan-Africanist, who was rejected from admission to General Theological Seminary in New York City on racial grounds. The writer, Salmon Moses, attempts to present the "facts" of the case, filtered through the words and equivocations of Benjamin T. Onderdonk, of the General Theological Seminary, who attempts to justify his conduct in the case: however, the modern reader can discern the real reason behind Crummell's rejection from the Seminary: his race.

"Dear Sister,

Having received during the fall of 1839 the 179th No. of that vile calumniating fanatical sink of pollution under the name of Emancipator with your name attached to it and three large indexes pointing to a slanderous attack on the Church of the Living God ... I consider myself bound to vindicate her rights whenever assailed & having received the facts of the case of Crummel from the Bishop of our Diocese than whom perhaps no man stands higher for true piety, truth and veracity I consider it my duty to make you acquainted with the facts of the case that you may see for your self the course resorted to by the editors of that paper & some others to deceive and delude those who are so simple as to read their productions ...

... The individual whose name was erased by me from the list of candidates, as above mentioned, is Alexander Crummell, a colored young man. He was admitted by me as a candidate for orders in Novr. last. The expediency of colored candidates applying for admission into the Theological Seminary was frequently the subject of conversation between Mr. Crummell, his pastor, the Rev. Peter Williams, & myself. I uniformly expressed myself to this effect: - That I had personaly no objections to a colored candidate having the advantages of the seminary; but that the subject was one of very peculiar delicacy, and in the consideration of which great prudence was necessary in order to avoid the doing of serious injury to colored persons, where it was intended to benefit them; that considerations of the highest & holiest nature required that the subject should not be allowed to agitate our ecclesiastical bodies; that it was one in which the comfort, happiness, and best interests of the colored people required that they should repose much confidence in their friends; & that if he would leave that matter to me I would see that it was disposed of in such way as, all things considered, should be most for his comfort & his interests...

... Soon after, appearances seemed clearly to indicate that notwithstanding the wishes & efforts of the best friends of the Church to keep the abolition question & kindred exciting questions, out of our ecclesiastical bodies there was a determination in certain quarters to make this case the occasion for forcing them upon us. In this case I felt that a high responsibility devolved upon myself, and determined, by God's grace not to shrink from it. I wrote to Mr. C & informed that there were two conditions indispensable in order to allowing him to withdraw his request - still before me - to have his name erased from the list of candidates for orders. The first was, that he should make public the regret, that he had expressed to me, that his name had been coupled with a newspaper attack upon the Church, in order that he might be exculpated by the church, & saved from the imputation of retaining among my candidates a young man of a factious, disorderly & self important spirit. The second condition was that he should promise to adopt no course or measure, as a candidate for orders without my consent and approbation. In reply he denied having ever expressed regret at the use which had been made of his name! & in reference to my second condition, professed in general terms, much willingness to submit to all counsels, admonitions & regulations which the canons subject him or which his peculiar relations evidently require. This general obligation was previously upon him & he had grossly violated it. The developments of character which this whole process had brought to light would certainly have justified me in removing Mr. C. by an act of discipline from among the candidates for orders, ..."

Alexander Crummell was the son of Boston Crummell, a self-emancipated black born in Africa, and Charity Hicks, an African American whose family had lived free in the United States for several generations. He received his early education at New York's African Free School and at Canal Street High School, both operated by African American clergymen.In 1835 Crummell and several other teenagers, including his friends Thomas Sidney and Henry Highland Garnet, enrolled in a new academy for black students in Canaan, New Hampshire, but angry whites destroyed the school soon after it opened. Crummell completed his secondary education at the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York. Run by black and white abolitionists, Oneida combined studies of the classics with manual labor - a simultaneously intellectual and practical approach to life that Crummell would employ the rest of his life.

Graduating from Oneida in 1839, Crummell applied to the General Theological Seminary in New York City with the hope of becoming an Episcopal priest. He was rejected because of his race. He studied theology on his own and with ministers throughout New England, and worked with black parishioners in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. At several regional and national conventions for African Americans, he advocated for blacks to help themselves, for the abolition of slavery, and for the establishment of colleges for African Americans - and for the achievement of these goals within the framework of Christian morality. In 1844 Crummell was ordained an Episcopal priest, and he was soon ministering to a congregation of poor blacks in New York. Unable to raise the money to build a church, he left for Great Britain in 1848 with the hope of raising funds.

Relatively free from the effects of racial prejudice and enjoying a sympathetic audience of liberals, Crummell later referred to his time in Great Britain as one of the high points of his life. He first spent three years traveling the country and raising money for his church; during this time he also prepared with a tutor to enter Cambridge University. In 1851 he was admitted to Queen's College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1853.

He left England shortly after graduating for Liberia, where he lectured broadly on the importance of black leaders and black institutions. He initially was little interested in the native population but ultimately founded churches throughout the country and became headmaster of a school in Cape Palmas. He hoped the school would train the future leaders of the nation, and throughout the rest of his life he espoused that one of the higher duties of American and African blacks was the "redemption," both religious and intellectual of their African brothers.

Crummell took Liberian citizenship and subsequently made several trips to the United States to encourage emigration to Liberia and to raise money for Liberian causes. In the late 1860s Liberia entered a turbulent period, after the assassination of the Liberian President, Crummell fearing for his life, returned to the United States in 1872, settling in Washington, D.C. where he founded a church ministering to a black congregation.

He later exhorted educated blacks to serve as a vanguard for the betterment of the race. Simultaneously he urged vocational training for most blacks. In this he anticipated the great debate in the next century between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, for whom Crummell was a role model. Beginning in 1895 Crummell taught theology at Howard University. In 1897 he founded the American Negro Academy in an effort to give shape to black intellectualism and to counter the rising discrimination and segregation of the late nineteenth century. He died the following year.

See American National Biography, volume 5, pp., 820-822