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then pastor of the only church of colored people in the town, to establish a school of a higher grade, a sort of a collegiate institute, for colored youth, on a plot of ground purchased for this purpose, in the extreme southwestern part of the city,
, wholly unoccupied then by dwellings. As soon as the project became known, a strong opposition arose, and an intense excitement was kindled in the community. The determination was declared to prevent its accomplishment. A public meeting of the citizens was called to concentrate and express public sentiment against the project, which was represented as threatening disgrace to the community, and disaster to the college. The greater part of those in high civil position were united in strong hostility to the plan, and some of them took a leading part in the meeting ; at which its only defender was Rev. S. S. Jocelyn, who, as one of its authors, was assailed with a torrent of opposition, and even personal abuse. In that meeting, Mr. Baldwin, though then a young man, and having no connection with the plan or its authors, arose, and endeavored to stem what he considered the evil current. There was a disposition to refuse him a hearing, and to prevent his speaking, by hissing and disturbance. But he said calmly and firmly that he trusted that his fellow citizens would allow him his right to be heard on that question of public interest; and he went on to speak ably and eloquently of the rightfulness and wisdom of favoring, and of the wrongfulness and impolicy of opposing, a plan for the education of a class of persons, who most of all needed its elevating influences, and most of all were precluded from them.
Another instance of a similar kind occurred in the year 1835. It was a time in the history of the country, never to be remembered without a blush, when, in various parts of the land, mobs against those called abolitionists were doing their deeds of destruction and murder, and even torture-when a colored man was burned at the stake in St. Louis; when the press of Elijah P. Lorejoy was destroyed at Alton, and his life was taken; when Pennsylvania Hall was burned in Philadelphia, and Lucretia Mott, “ that peerless woman,” as she was called by Dr. Channing, was rudely assailed; when a citizen of Boston was led
through its streets with a halter around his neck by a mob of “gentlemen of property and standing." Public meetings had been held in many places in all parts of the Northern States, presided over and conducted by men of high repute, in which resolutions were passed, of sympathy with slaveholders on account of the assaults made by word and argument on their peculiar institution, and of opposition to all discussion of the abolition of slavery. A public meeting of this kind was called in New Haven for the purpose of expressing public sentiment by similar resolutions. Mr. Baldwin had looked on this course of events with great anxiety; and he regarded such resolutions as a virtual and perilous denial of a right essential to the defense and progress of truth, righteousness, and freedom, and essential to the security and prosperity of free government, the right of free discussion. He determined to go to the meeting and express his sentiments on the subject. When that determination was known, his friends, legal, political, and personal, remonstrated with him. They urged that, however right his sentiments might be, it would be not only perilous to his reputation and usefulness, but utterly vain, to throw himself against a temporary civil whirlwind. He considered these remonstrances deliberately and earnestly. Yet his convictions of duty were unshaken, and he resolved to go to the meeting and carry out his purpose. After the resolutions had been read, and several speeches had been made in their favor and enthusiastically received, he rose and began to express his dissent. A disturbance was at once commenced. He proceeded. The disturbance increased, and it was manifest that there was a de. terinination to hiss him down, and prevent his speaking. With that intense energy of which he was so capable, he brought his clenched hands down on the desk before him, and exclaimed in resistless tone and manner, “I WILL BE HEARD.”
And he was heard. The resolutions, of course, were passed. But his manly and truthful speech was not in vain. A pause of reflection was given to the storm; many eyes were opened; and the tone of public sentiment was modified.
Another instance, of a different kind, occurred, when the question was pending of his reölection to the Senate of the
United States. Undoubtedly he had a strong desire for reëlection. This desire, though he never expressed it, was manifest to his friends. He had enjoyed his senatorial life. Its duties suited his style of mind, attainment, and character. He evidently appreciated his fitness for the place, and thought that therein he could best serve his country. But there was only a bare majority of Whigs in the Legislature. And some of them scrupled about voting for him, under an apprehension that in certain contingencies his course would not accord with the principles and policy of the party. Governor Baldwin's friends knew, from his previous expressions in conversation with them, that such an apprehension was groundless, and that all that was necessary to secure his reëlection was, that he should put upon paper, for use among the members of the Legislature, what he had expressed to them ; and accordingly they proposed and urged that he should do it. But he firmly and persistently refused. He would not thus put himself in the position of a seeker for the office. And he said that such a written expression would be considered in the light of a pledge, and that it was a principle, which he judged to be sound and obligatory, that a member of a deliberative body should have a mind untrammeled by pledges, and free to come to such conclusions as truth and evidence would produce. The result was, that he was not reëlected : a result which he must have regarded as quite probable, but which could not make him swerve from a principle which he had intelligently and conscientiously adopted.
It may justly be added, that the political opponents of Governor Baldwin, whatever they may have thought of his political positions and principles, have never questioned his moral courage, the purity of his motives, or his lofty superiority to all mean policy and all selfish considerations.
The reserve and reticence which were marked characteristics of Governor Baldwin, made him appear to those who did not know him somewhat distant and formal in manner, and perhaps produced on many the impression of coldness, which, however, did him great injustice. Kindness of heart, sensitiveness to' the suffering of those about him and readiness to relieve its
forwardness to give pleasure and confer happiness everywhere within his reach, were fundamental traits of his character. His tenderness of feeling extended itself even to the brute creation, so that he could never willingly hurt or permit to be hurt any living creature, and was full of attentions to the domestic animals, the birds of the garden, and the like. He never failed to hang out liberally over his grounds in the early spring materials for the birds to build their nests with, and has sometimes, when a late snow had covered the ground, caused broad paths to be shoveled all about his yard and garden, that they might have access to their accustomed sources of food. During the sickness of a pet animal of one of his children, he has night after night got up from his bed and gone down to give it water or help it to an easier position. This same softness of heart, deeper and stronger than mere politeness, was at the foundation of his uniform liberality, urbanity, and courtesy, to which all who ever came in personal contact with him will bear willing witness.
It now only remains to speak of Governor Baldwin's religious character.
Governor Baldwin never made any direct expression of his religious feelings-his views and hopes respecting himself-to any one; not, as it is believed, because his feelings were not engaged on that subject, or because they were not evangelical. He was very reticent as to his personal feelings on all subjects, and especially on the sacred subject of his relations to God. Many years since, (about twenty years), thinking it my duty, as his pastor, to endeavor to ascertain his religious condition, and to offer any aid that I could afford by private counsel, I sought an interview with him at his office. He treated me with marked civility and kindness. He said that he had great respect for Christianity, and for its ordinances and ministers. He assured me that religion was a subject to which he was not indifferent, and which he did not neglect. But he added, , that he felt an utter inability to express his personal feelings on that subject; and was compelled to request his friends, who were anxious to know them, to judge of them by his course of life. Judging by this method, the one who has known him best, and who knows, if any one does, what practical Christianity is, has been convinced for many years that he was a Christian man—that his extraordinary devotion to the right included his relations to God, as well as his relations to men; and that his conscientious regard to duty was the result of the essential religious principle, the principle of obedience to the will and authority of God. I have, myself, for some years past, believed that to be true, and that Governor Baldwin has regarded himself as a Christian. The inquiry, which has naturally arisen, whether he has not relied on his own righteousness, for acceptance with God, has been satisfied by various indications that he believed in the gospel as it is—the gospel which reveals salvation by Christ alone, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. One of these indications was told me by a witness, a Christian friend of mine, not now among the living. More than twenty-five years ago, one of Governor Baldwin's sons, a lad of eight years, was drawing nigh to death. The father stood by his sick and dying child, and directed him to Christ, and exhorted him to put his trust in Christ. This, in one of his sincerity and mental integrity, is decisive evidence that he believed, not in any system of self-righteousness, but in Christ as the Saviour of men. It has been evident that Governor Baldwin has frequently had the subject of professing religion in his thoughts, and I have no doubt that he has been kept from it by the fact, that it involved that expression and publicity of his personal feelings, for which he felt, as he stated it, an utter inability.
In his recent fatal sickness he has received all its events with entire submission, and with the meekness of a child. Everything has been accepted as right. He has had evident satisfaction in the reading of the divine word; and prayer offered daily at his bedside has been to him a manifest comfort and pleasure.
He breathed his life away at last so gently that it was hardly known when he had gone. He has gone--and gone, we