In ancient times the city of Detroit and vicinity had slaves among its inhabitants. The old citizens generally purchased them from marauding bands of Indians, who hod captured the negro slaves in their war depredations on plantations. Many were thus brought from Virginia, New York, and Indiana, and sold to the inhabitants of Detroit, sometimes for nominal prices. Among our old citizens who were slaveholder's in the olden times, were tho late Major Joseph Campau, George McDongall, James Duporon Baby, Abbott & Finchley, and several others. The negro slaves were well treated by their owners. Many of those poor captives when sold and released were at once well taken care of by our ancient inhabitants. Sometimes the price of a negro slave was regulated according to his intrinsic value, but the price was quite high for those days. For instance: A negro boy named Frank, aged 12 years, the property of the late Phillip Jonciere, of Belle Fontaine, now Springwells, was sold on the 22d day of October, 1793, by William Roe, acting auctioneer, to the late Hon. James Duporon Baby, for the sum of £213, New York currency, equal to $532.50 of our money. Mr. Baby being the highest bidder, he, Frank, was adjudged to him for the benefit of Mr. Joucier's estate.

In the records of baptism of St. Anne's Church, several persons of color we find recorded as having received the sacrament of baptism, and, in the absence of family names we find that the names of "Margaret," for instance, a negress, "unknown" would be entered in the absence of her regular family name; several instances of this kind are entered in the old records. During the administration of tho Governor and Judges of the Territory of Michigan, several negroes received donation lots. Among them was a well known negro named "Pompey," the property of the late James Abbott. As a class the negroes were esteemed by our ancient population; many of them could speak the French language fluently, especially those living with their French masters. But little cruelty was practiced by their owners. There was no Wendell Phillips nor any Lloyd Garrison, nor any "higher law doctrine," expounded in those days to disturb the mind of the slave or the slaveholder. Every one lived in arcadian simplicity and contentment. The negro was satisfied with his position, and rendered valuable services to his master, and was ever ready to help him against the treacherous Indians. During the war of 1812 several of them accompanied their masters to the battlefield, and materially helped their masters and the troops.

By an ordinance enacted by Congress, dated July 13, 1787, entitled "An act for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio river," there was a clause in Article VI, saying that "there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes." This was a safeguard by Congress to prevent the extension of slavery northwest of the Ohio river. Notwithstanding this wise provision our ancestors paid but little attention to it, for whenever a spruce negro was brought by the Indians he was sure to find a purchaser at a reasonable price. Most every prominent man in those days had a slave or two, especially merchants trading with the Indians.

Detroit and vicinity was a heaven to the slave compared to the Southern States, although slavery was carried on a moderate scale here, there being no cotton or rice fields to employ them in, their labor being on the plantations near Detroit, or at their masters' houses. The master, once attached to his "Sambo' a great price would have to be paid to buy him.

The late Judge May had a slave-woman who had come to his hands for a debt owed him by one Grauchin. This faithful slave served the Judge some 25 years. Mr. Joseph Campau, an extensive trader in those days, had as many as ten slaves at different times. Among them was a young negro named "Crow," who was quite a favorite of Mr. C., who had him dressed in scarlet, a contrast with his color. This negro, to the amusement of the inhabitants of the old town, used to ascend old St. Anne's Church steeple and there perform some of his gymnastic tricks. He was supple and clastic as a circus-rider, He had boon purchased at Montreal by Mr. Campau. He was afterwards drowned from one of Mr. C.'s batteaux. "Hannah," another intelligent colored woman, was purchased at Montreal by Mr. 0. This faithful slave, after serving him several years, married "Patterson," also a slave. "Mulot," one of the most honest and faithful of all slaves, also belonged to Mr. Campau, who very often employed him as confidential clerk. This slave died but a few years ago at a very advanced age, respected and esteemed for his great integrity and fidelity.

The slave "Tetro" was among the favorites of Maj. Campau. He, too, was as faithful and as honest as tho day was long.

The late Gen. John R. Williams also possessed a slave, named "Hector." He, too, was faithful and trustworthy. In the year 1831 Daniel Leroy, Olmstead Chamberlain, and Gideon 0. Whittemore sold to Col. Mack, Gen. Williams, and Maj. Campau tho newspaper called the Oakland Chronicle, the office being transferred hero, and the well known slave "Hector" was placed in charge of it. When the late Col. Sheldon McKnight entered to take possession ho was fiercely resisted by "Hector," who showed fight, and the Colonel had to retreat. This paper was afterward merged into the Free Press of this city.

Ann Wyley, a former slave, suffered the extreme penalty of the law for having stolen six guinea's from the firm of Abbott & Finchly. She was sentenced to death by a justice of the peace, and buried on the spot where St. Anne's Church now stands, which ground was used as a place of burial in early days; and when, in 1817, the foundations of the church were being excavated for, the body of this unfortunate woman was found, face downward. It was supposed that she was in a trance at the time of her burial. This incident was related to me by an old lady, some years ago, who knew all about tho facts, and who has since died.

The late Joseph Drouillard, of Petite Cote, Canada, had two daughters. Upon the marriage of one of them to tho grandfather of your humble servant she received a farm; the other received two slaves as her marriage portion. This goes to show that the negro in those days was considered a chattel. Several of our French farmers on both sides of the river had one or more of them. Many anecdotes can be related of Africa's sons among our ancestors, and they as a class were well cared for and educated by their kind masters. I could digress and go into more details, but the present sketch will suffice to show our modern philanthropists that the slaves here in Detroit were as well treated as the families in which their lot had been cast. The question may be asked: "How did slavery die out here?" The owners of slaves, after having received their services for a number of years generally would liberate them, or sometimes sell them to parties outside of the Territory. When the celebrated ordinance of 1787 was extended over the Northwest, Michigan assumed for the first time the first grade of government, and the laws of Congress were put in force, no more slaves were afterward allowed to be brought into tho Territory, and slavery was known no more here!



Know all men by these presents: That I, James May of Detroit, for and in consideration of the sum of forty-five pounds, New York currency, to me in hand paid by John Askin, Esqr., of Detroit, the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge to be fully satisfied and paid, have sold and delivered, and by these presents, in plain and open market, do bargain, sell, and deliver unto the said John Askin, Esqr., a certain negro man, Pompey by name, to have and to hold the said negro unto the said John Askin, Esqr., his heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns forever; and I, the said James May, for my heirs, executors, and assigns, against all manner of person or persons, shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presents.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this nineteenth day of October, in tho year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four.

In presence of

Robert Stevens
I do hereby make over my whole right, title, and interest in the above mentioned negro man Pompey to Mr. James Donnolson of this place for the sum of fifty pounds, New York currency, the receipt of which I do hereby acknowledge, as witness my hand and seal at Detroit, this third day of January, 1795.
Witness, William McClintock.

Michigan Historical Collections Vol 1 1877 By Michigan Historical Commission, Michigan State Historical Society,
Pioneer and Historical Society of the State of Michigan, Michigan Pioneer


Chapter XX - By William Stocking
The City of Detroit Michigan 1701 - 1922 The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co


Although the ordinance of 1787 dedicated the Northwest Territory to freedom from both Indian and negro slavery, both existed in Michigan for some time after that, as an aftermath of the British rule. The few Indian slaves were mostly captives from the Pawnee Tribe, frequently mentioned in the early records as "Pani slaves.” The original source of supply of negro slaves was southern plantations from which marauding bands of Indians brought fugitives. The number in bondage at one time was never large, though most of the leading families were in possession of one or more of this class. They were generally employed as house servants or personal attendants, and in the War of 1812 several accompanied their masters into the field. Joseph Campau, George McDougall, James Duperon Baby, James Abbott, Judge James May, Gen. John K. Williams and John Askin are among those mentioned in the early annals as possessing this kind of property. In 1792 the Canadian authorities forbade the further importation of slaves, but the order was not strictly observed. After the surrender of the forts in 1790, in spite of the ordinance of 1787, slaves were still held in accordance with the stipulation in the Jay Treaty that the inhabitants should be protected in their property. Slavery, however, whether Indian or negro, was a very minor incident in the life of the town. It gradually died out and the sentiment not only of Detroit but of all southern Michigan became in time quite hostile to it. The Constitution of 1835 expressly prohibited slavery in the state. In 1837 one of the first antislavery societies in the west was organized in Detroit. It was short-lived, but the feeling that gave rise to it had already found expression in two very practical ways, passive resistance to the enforcement of the existing fugitive slave law and active aid to fugitives escaping from the South.


There was a large body of men in tho North, and Michigan had its full share of them, who were law abiding in most respects but who were uncompromisingly hostile to the Fugitive Slave Law. That act was legally adopted and was of unquestioned constitutionality. But the “Higher Law" doctrine hold by these men was that congressional enactment could not make binding upon the conscience nor the acts of citizens a law which was in itself morally wrong. They considered the whole slavery system an iniquity, and the fugitive slave law as not only wrong in principle, but as harsh in its terms and wantonly cruel, irritating, mischievous and unjust in the methods of its enforcement. In some states they sought to destroy its efficacy by personal liberty laws, but as individuals they simply disobeyed it. For the most part, however, they did not counsel revolution, secession nor armed resistance. Many of them supplemented the higher law by the doctrine of "passive resistance."

If a man of this type knew of a fugitive concealed in Detroit or making his way to Canada he did not consider it a part of his duty to inform the United States marshal of that fact. If he was caught aiding or abetting the escape of the fugitive he would not resist arrest. If he was imprisoned he would bear it with composure. But as God was his judge no power on earth could make him assist to enforce a law which he considered morally wrong and an outrage upon the rights of man. The attempts made in Detroit to enforce the old Fugitive Slave Law led to a few very dramatic events, and had much to do with the enactment of the severer law of 1850.


Runaway slaves frequently found their way to Detroit, generally with the view of crossing over to Canada, though some took the risk of remaining here. Among the latter were Thornton Blackburn and his wife who ran away from their master at Louisville, Kentucky, and came to Detroit in tho year 1830. The husband labored for Thomas Coquillard until the summer of 1833, when his master, having obtained information of the whereabouts of his two slaves, sent his agent to this city to claim them as “fugitives from labor.” After a trial before Justice Chipman, the runaways were delivered into the custody of Sheriff John M. Wilson, and lodged in the jail, which then stood where the downtown public library now (1920) stands. This occurred on Saturday; and, on the following Monday, the slaves were to be delivered on board tho steamer "Ohio,” which had been delayed two days beyond her usual time to receive them. Wilson and his deputy, Lemuel Goodell, were, each to receive 850 for the safe delivery of the fugitives at the dock, at the foot of Randolph Street, then the leading business point in the city. On Sunday Mrs. Blackburn was visited in the jail by two friends, Mrs. Madison J. Lightfoot. and Mrs. George French. The latter exchanged clothes with Mrs. Blackburn, who walked out of the jail unsuspected. Mrs. French was released from her voluntary incarceration on a writ of habeas corpus, was subsequently rearrested, but finally escaped to Canada. When being taken from jail to the boat on the Monday following his arrest Blackburn himself was rescued by a mob of colored men and their friends, rushed out Gratiot Avenue, then around the city to the Rouge and across the river to Sandwich. In the melee attending the rescue one negro was shot and the sheriff sustained a fractured skull, his teeth were knocked out and he was otherwise injured.

There was great excitement over this event which was afterwards known as the “First Negro Insurrection.” The military were at once called out. A company of horsemen, with General Williams at their head, patrolled tho streets. Bugles were sounded, and the firebells added to the alarm. The announcement was made at every corner that "the niggers have risen and the sheriff is killed.” Every colored man and woman found in the streets was arrested and lodged in the jail, which was crowded to the door. Those who were innocent of participating in the riot were set free on giving bail for their good behavior. Those who could not give the proper security were kept in prison. The guilty ones were fined in various sums, or sentenced to work on the streets, with ball and chain at their feet. The more guilty had to work and pay a fine in addition. Lightfoot was confined three days, because he was supposed to know who gave Blackburn the pistol, and refused to tell. French made tracks for Windsor. Mrs. Lightfoot was fined 825 for being "the prime mover in the riot.” This she never denied although the real leader was a one-handed barber named Cook. Blackburn and his wife were arrested on the other side, detained for a while, then released and went to Amherstburg. They finally moved to Toronto where Blackburn became prominent and acquired considerable property. Ten years later he took the risk of going in disguise to Louisville and stole his mother from slavery.


The contemporary records give accounts of fugitive slaves rescued from their southern pursuers, though no others quit* so dramatic as the Blackburn case. There were always bright and resourceful blacks and plenty of their white friends ready to aid in baffling the slave hunters and the latter complained that even the local officials were either indifferent or obstructive. One of the last cases under the old law, the Cromwell-Dunn case, illustrated both these phases. Robert Cromwell, a young colored man, left his master, David Dunn of St. Louis, taught school for some years in Indiana and then moved to Detroit. Dunn learned of his whereabouts, came to Detroit, and secured his arrest and detention in the United States courthouse. Cromwell, however, was aided to escape to Windsor, while Dunn was himself arrested, under Michigan law, on the charge of abduction. In default of the high bail demanded he remained in jail six months before his case came to trial and then barely escaped conviction. The ultimate result of this case was not so favorable to the fugitives in general. Dunn was a man of political prominence in Missouri, on intimate terms with Sen. Thomas H. Benton and the recital of his experiences had much to do with the enactment of The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

One of the first Cases brought under that law was that of Silas Rose. He had escaped from slavery in Kentucky and had lived in Detroit several years. After the law went into effect he was betrayed by a fellow workman on the Woodbridge farm, was tried in the United States Court and remanded to his former master. Preparations were made to resist his rendition, the Scott Guards were called out and there was every indication of a serious conflict. But a more peaceful course was adopted. A subscription paper was headed by General Cass and money enough was raised to purchase Hose’s freedom. The enactment of the second Fugitive Slave Law, that of 1850, had a depressing effect upon the colored people of Detroit. Many of them sacrificed their property to get away, not knowing how soon they might be carried back into slavery, and it was found necessary by the leading men of the community to assure them that the danger was more imaginary than real. But a set use of security could hardly be established among them. The aiding of fugitives to escape, however, continued to prosper, the number of fugitives crossing at this point became larger than ever, as many as forty-three having been run over in one night, and if the negroes were afraid to live in Detroit, the slave- hunters also gave the place a wide berth. Isolated minor eases of slave arrests happened from time to time, but little excitement attended them, and no more slaves were returned from this point.


During this whole period Detroit people took a very active part in the fugitive slave rescue work that went under the name of “The Underground Railroad.” This secret line of communication between Kentucky and Canada had many ramifications and devious routes. The principal “way stations” in Michigan were White Pigeon, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Marshall. Dependable “agents” were at all these stations. The most successful one was Erastus Hussey, a Quaker, living in Battle Creek, who in the course of his long service aided 1,300 fugitives to escape. Charles T. Gorham, a leading citizen of Marshall, was once tried and fined for his participation in the work. Zachariah Chandler headed a paper with a subscription for paying the fine, but Mr. Gorham preferred to settle with the court out of his own funds. In Detroit the shrewd and efficient “agent" was George DeBaptist, a colored man, and associated with him was another well known colored resident, William Lambert. DeBaptist began his rescue work in 1829, when as a mere lad he aided a fugitive to escape from Richmond, Virginia. In 1838 he because the station agent at Madison, Indiana, which was one of the main crossing points from the slave to the free states. He remained there eight years and during that period he started 108 fugitives toward the north in his own wagon, besides assisting many times that number in other ways. After eight years at Madison ho moved to Detroit and continued the work there. The following is condensed from an account once given by Mr. DeBaptist to the writer of the methods pursued in the rescue work: The principal stations on the Ohio river were Cincinnati and Madison from these there were lines extending through the South. From the Ohio River, a chain of stations, a short distance apart, extended to White Pigeon in this state. The fugitives were generally the most intelligent negroes of the South. Frequently they were nearly white, and some were pure white. Agents of the road were constantly traveling in all the southern states. It was their business to convey passengers as far as the Ohio. On the arrival of a fugitive near that river, notice was sent to agents on this side. As it was not safe to write in any letter any intimation of the business of the road, secret means of communication wore devised. For instance, Mr. DeBaptist would receive a letter stating: “There is a chance to purchase a horse that will suit your purpose. He is a mahogany bay, young, well broken, large and is just the thing for a minister. You can see him on Tuesday afternoon. Price $100.” From this letter, the agent would understand that a large mulatto, who was a church member, desired his aid to escape north; that he would be at the station in Louisville, Tuesday night, and that he had $100 to pay his expense. If the letter had described a light brown filly, he would have known that the fugitive was a light colored girl. If it was said that the price would be cheap, he would know that the fugitive had no money, or hut very little, and must be provided for by the railroad company. Or the letter would state that "I have secured for you a pair of black and tan pups- good ratters, but young. They will be ready for you next Monday.” That would mean two fugitive children. Sometimes the writer would state that the animals, whatever they were, would be sent across the river. In that case, on the night of the day mentioned, the agent, or one or more friends, would go down to the bank of the Ohio, after dark, a wagon in waiting a mile or two away, and lie perhaps for hours, at the water's edge, listening for the sound of muffled oars, which were always used to propel a skiff across the river. On landing, the fugitive would be put in charge of runners, to take from station to station, either in wagons, on foot, or on horseback. Often the horse’s feet would 1>c muffled, by having the shoes removed, and sometimes by wrapping a bit of carpet over each hoof.

But crossing the Ohio River, which was well guarded by a patrol on the Kentucky shore, and by fugitive slave-hunters, on the lookout for a reward, on the northern shore, was a difficult business. To attempt the feat with a skiff was a dangerous experiment, since, if the skiff were captured, all who were in it would be liable to imprisonment, if white and, if colored, to be sold into slavery. Consequently other means were resorted to, by which the passage was made on the steamboats. Generally the white agents, dressed to represent a southern planter, or a merchant, would get on board the boat at Louisville, or even further down the river, and secure a stateroom. Immediately on purchasing his ticket, he would inquire anxiously of the clerk of the boat if a boy, or a woman, as the case might be, had brought a bundle aboard for him. The clerk would answer no. The agent would anxiously expect such a messenger. Another agent on the bank, catching a signal, would notify the fugitive who would presently board the boat, with a bundle of clothes, bearing tho card of some well known clothing-house, or with a basket of clean linen, and inquire for “Massa Delmar,” or whatever name was given by the agent. The agent would recognize his bundle, and proceed to point out his stateroom. The fugitive, having slyly received the key, would go boldly to the stateroom, and lock himself in. The agent would linger outside, in the cabin, or on deck, play cards, or join in conversation with passengers, and not go to his state- room at all, or until very late at night. When the boat arrived at Cincinnati, or some other good stopping place, a southern passenger, with his servant, would land, or the fugitive would slip off alone. Frequently women were employed to bring away women in this way. Agents rarely or never spoke to each other, and never spoke to the fugitives in their care in the presence of others. If any one should turn traitor, or be discovered and arrested, nobody could suspect the others of ever having known him.

One of the principal "passenger depots” upon the northern end of the underground railroad in Detroit was that conducted by Seymour Finney, a native of New York state, who came to Michigan in 1834. Mr. Finney was a tailor by trade and followed this vocation in Detroit until 1838, when ill health forced him to seek other occupations, among them being that of hotel-keeper. It was in this connection that he became of service to the fugitive slaves. In the year 1850 he purchased a site at the corner of Woodward and Gratiot avenues, where later stood the Finney House; he also bought the lot at the corner of Griswold and State streets, where now stands the Detroit Savings Hank building, and here he erected a commodious barn which he operated in connection with his tavern, then known as the Temperance Hotel. Being strongly sympathetic with the cause of the escaping slaves, Mr. Finney employed every means to assist those that were sent to him across the river into Canada. His barn served as a hiding-place for the negroes until they could reach the river bank, whence they either swam across or were transported in small boats, invariably at night. Hundreds were taken care of in this way by Mr. Finney and his descendants relate that many of the black men, in their gratitude, assumed his name after reaching Canada. Many times, when hi* hotel housed the pursuing slave-masters, he was “accommodating” the pursued in the nearby barn.

There were countless variations in the methods of reaching Detroit, every story almost constituting a separate romance. If a fugitive once reached this city he was comparatively safe. There were plenty of sympathizing friends hero with sure places of concealment, and secret means of getting across the river. The fugitives who settled in this part of Canada, between 1840 and 1860 were counted by the hundreds.


In 1863 came an anti-negro riot that was not connected with the slavery question. At that time there had arisen a bitter feeling against the negroes in many northern cities. Many democratic papers had been charging that the war was caused by the Abolitionists. They pointed to the negro as the cause of all the sufferings of the nation. They declaimed against the draft that was then approaching and stirred up a feeling against, the provost, marshal who was then preparing for carrying out that measure. Many of them sympathized with the Knights of the Golden Circle and other secret disloyal associations that had correspondents here, and in many ways they inflamed the passions and prejudices of the mob. The city was close to the Canadian refuge of deserters, bounty jumpers and fugitives from the impending draft. Thursday, February 26th, a man named William Faulkner, having a trifle of negro blood in his veins, was arrested charged with having outraged the person of a girl named Mary Brown. Though young, she was even then of doubtful reputation and afterwards became a prostitute and common thief. The first day set for the trial the proceedings were prevented by a mob which assaulted Faulkner when on his way from the jail to the court room, and he was barely rescued from their hands and returned to jail. The next day the trial proceeded, and on the testimony of the girl Faulkner was convicted and sentenced to prison for life. Attempts were made by the mob to secure his person for the purpose of lynching, but those were frustrated by a squad of soldiers from the provost marshall’s office. The mob then turned against other negro residents. Black men, women and children were savagely attacked, and houses were pillaged and set on fire. In the course of the day and evening thirty-five houses were burned, two persons were killed, four others received pistol wounds, a dozen or more others were maimed or disfigured for life, while many fled to Canada for safety. The local military companies wore called out and five companies of the volunteer army were brought from camp at Ypsilanti. By midnight order was restored. Faulkner always strenuously maintained his innocence and his claim came to be generally accepted, as the girl also confessed that it was a "put tip” job. But he remained in prison for seven years, when he was pardoned by Governor Baldwin.


The plans for John Brown’s raid were matured in this city. He arrived here with fourteen slaves from Missouri in the summer of 1859. It happened that Frederick Douglass was lecturing in this city the same evening that Brown arrived. After the lecture the leaders of the insurrectionary movement got together in the house of William Webb, on Congress Street, near St. Antoine Street, and arranged the plan for the raid on the South, which broke out prematurely at Harper’s Ferry. Leading colored people of Detroit and Chatham were present at the meeting. Douglass objected to Brown’s plan, which originally was to make raids on single plantations until he had collected a force of about 1,000 slaves, and then swoop down on the large towns and cities, collecting force and material as he progressed. Brown became angry, and asked Douglass if he was a coward, and referred to his successes in Kansas as an augury of the Virginia campaign. Douglass replied that he was not a coward, and would give material aid to the plan even if he did not approve of it, or did not go himself. George DeBaptist also disapproved of the plan, but proposed a gunpowder plot, by which some of the largest churches in the South would be blown up on a fixed Sunday. Brown objected to that plan on the score of humanity, asserting that by his plan not a hundred lives would be lost, his intention being not to shed blood unless it became absolutely necessary. DeBaptist still urged radical measures, declaring that Brown’s plan would fail, and perhaps cause the loss of a million of lives before the troubles likely to ensue would be ended. He cited in support of his position the fact that the Nat. Turner insurrection, in 1831, by which fifty-three white lives were lost, had the effect of causing the next Virginia Legislature to consider a bill for the gradual emancipation of the slaves, which bill was lost by only two votes.

Ossawatomie’s counsel finally prevailed, and the only favor, besides money and advice, that he asked of his Detroit friends, was to furnish him one man, which they did—a Chathamite. The news of the disturbance at Harper’s Ferry, which took the nation with so much surprise, was perfectly well understood by the colored people of this city. They anticipated the event, since one Foster had divulged in Washington the plans of Brown, who, in consequence, was obliged either to abandon his enterprise or precipitate matters. He chose the latter alternative, though aware that he was taking a desperate chance.


Thursday, February 7, 1870, was a memorable day for the colored people in Detroit, for on that day the full citizenship that the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution brought them was commemorated. The celebration called out moat of the colored people in the city, and many from Windsor and Sandwich, with a host of sympathizing white friends. The national flag was displayed on the post office and many private buildings. In the procession with which the celebration opened were a squad of the metropolitan police, the full band of the Twenty-eighth United States Infantry, one hundred and fifty members of the Union League, the Youths Mental Improvement Company, colored members of the Masonic fraternity, officers and speakers of the day, the Light Guard Hand, a chariot carrying twenty-nine girls representing the twenty-nine states that ratified the amendment, and hundreds of citizens on foot. On the banners that were carried in the procession were portraits of William Lloyd Garrison, Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, President Grant, President Lincoln, Senator Revels and John Brown. There were many appropriate inscriptions, and George De Baptist displayed on his place of business n “Notice to all stockholders of the Underground Railroad, This office is dosed. Hereafter all stockholders will receive dividends according to their merits.”

At the opera house where the exercises were held the veteran William Lambert presided, and Governor Baldwin made the opening address. Letters were read from William Lloyd Garrison, Sen. Carl Schurz, Sen. Jacob M. Howard who framed the fifteenth amendment, Frederick Douglass and others. A poem was read by J. Madison Bell, of Toledo, " the colored poet of America.” The orator of the day was John D. Richards, an associate of DeBaptist and Lambert in the earlier struggles of the race, and one of the best known and most talented colored men in the West. Other speakers were William A. Howard and William Jennison.

The exercises were continued in the evening at Merrill Hall, where the first address was by Lewis Clark of Canada, the "George Harris” of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin," and congratulatory speeches were made by about a dozen others, both white and colored. The celebration, taking it all together, was one of the most notable and most interesting ever held in the city, and the colored people of Detroit thus entered upon their new duties and privileges with high hope and keen anticipation.