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The Garies and Their Friends   By:

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Frank J. Webb


Preface by Harriet Beecher Stowe










The book which now appears before the public may be of interest in relation to a question which the late agitation of the subject of slavery has raised in many thoughtful minds; viz. Are the race at present held as slaves capable of freedom, self government, and progress?

The author is a coloured young man, born and reared in the city of Philadelphia.

This city, standing as it does on the frontier between free and slave territory, has accumulated naturally a large population of the mixed and African race.

Being one of the nearest free cities of any considerable size to the slave territory, it has naturally been a resort of escaping fugitives, or of emancipated slaves.

In this city they form a large class have increased in numbers, wealth, and standing they constitute a peculiar society of their own, presenting many social peculiarities worthy of interest and attention.

The representations of their positions as to wealth and education are reliable, the incidents related are mostly true ones, woven together by a slight web of fiction.

The scenes of the mob describe incidents of a peculiar stage of excitement, which existed in the city of Philadelphia years ago, when the first agitation of the slavery question developed an intense form of opposition to the free coloured people.

Southern influence at that time stimulated scenes of mob violence in several Northern cities where the discussion was attempted. By prompt, undaunted resistance, however, this spirit was subdued, and the right of free inquiry established; so that discussion of the question, so far from being dangerous in Free States, is now begun to be allowed in the Slave States; and there are some subjects the mere discussion of which is a half victory.

The author takes pleasure in recommending this simple and truthfully told story to the attention and interest of the friends of progress and humanity in England.

(Signed) H.B. Stowe.


August 17, 1857.


I have been requested by one who has long known the deep interest I have ever taken in the cause of Freedom, and in the elevation of the coloured race, to supply a few lines of introduction to Mr. Webb's book.

It was the intention of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe to introduce this work to the British public, but I am truly sorry to learn that a severe domestic affliction, since her return to America, has postponed the fulfilment of her promise.

I am, however, able to state her opinion of the book, expressed in a letter to one of her friends.

She says: "There are points in the book of which I think very highly. The style is simple and unambitious the characters, most of them faithfully drawn from real life, are quite fresh, and the incident, which is also much of it fact, is often deeply interesting.

"I shall do what I can with the preface. I would not do as much unless I thought the book of worth in itself . It shows what I long have wanted to show; what the free people of colour do attain , and what they can do in spite of all social obstacles."

I hope and trust that Mr. Webb's book will meet with all the success to which its own merit, and the great interest of the subject, so well entitle it. On this, Mrs. Stowe's authority is naturally of the greatest weight; and I can only lament that this prefatory notice does not come accompanied with her further remarks and illustrations.

4, Grafton street, July 29, 1857.

Note. Since the above was written, the preface by Mrs. Stowe has been received. It was deemed best, however, to still retain the introduction so kindly given by Lord Brougham, whose deep interest in the freedom and welfare of the African race none feel more grateful for than does the author of the following pages... Continue reading book >>

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