Rufus King and other Anti-Slavery Leaders

American Minute with Bill Federer

William Jay, son of the First Supreme Court Chief Justice, helped found the American Bible Society in 1818, New York City’s Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, drafting its constitution.

William Jay was the first judge of New York’s Westchester County, 1820 to 1842, but was removed on account of his strong anti-slavery views.

His son, John Jay, who helped found the Republican Party, was manager of the New York Young Men’s Anti-Slavery Society in 1834.

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story helped establish the illegality of the slave trade in the Amistad case, 1844, which was portrayed in the 1997 movie “Amistad,” directed by Steven Spielberg.

Salmon P. Chase coined the slogan of the Free Soil Party, “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men.” A prominent member of the new Republican Party, he was appointed Chief Justice by Lincoln, where he defended so many escaped slaves that he was nicknamed “Attorney-General of Fugitive Slaves.”

Cassius Marcellus Clay heard William Lloyd Garrison speak while a student at Yale and became an abolitionist, helping to found the Republican Party. He served three terms as a Kentucky Representative till he lost due to his strong anti-slavery views.

In 1843, pro-slavery Democrats attacked him and shot him in the chest, but he was able to fight them off with his Bowie knife.

Clay began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper in 1845 called the True American. He received death threats and had to barricade his newspaper office doors. A mob broke in and stole his printing equipment.

In 1849, while making an anti-slavery speech, he was attacked, beaten, stabbed, and almost shot, till he fought off his attackers.

Cassius Marcellus Clay pressured Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. As Minister to Russia, Clay helped negotiate the U.S. purchase of Alaska.

Another anti-slavery leader was Rufus King, born MARCH 24, 1755.

Rufus King was a Harvard graduate who was an aide to General Sullivan during the Revolutionary War. At 32 years old, Rufus King was one of the youngest signers of the U.S. Constitution.

He later served as U.S. Minister to England, U.S. Senator from New York, and was a candidate for U.S. President.

In a speech made before the Senate at the time Missouri was petitioning for statehood, Rufus King stated:

“I hold that all laws or compacts imposing any such condition as slavery upon any human being are absolutely void because they are contrary to the law of nature, which is the law of God.”


Bill FedererSelf-Educated American contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.