Cazenovia's most important moment in national history will be celebrated on Friday Aug. 20. The public is invited to commemorate the 160th anniversary of Cazenovia's Fugitive Slave Law convention. A commemmorative plaque will be dedicated at 4 p.m. Friday Aug. 20 at 9 Sullivan Street (currently Cherry Valley apartments and site of the 1850 convention). At 7:30 p.m. "An Evening of Celebration in Word and Song," featuring the Honorable Hugh Humphreys as master of ceremonies and Fred Morsell as Frederick Douglass, will be held at the Catherine Cummings Theatre at Cazenovia College, Lincklaen Street. The events are presented by The Committee to Commemorate the 160th Anniversary of the Great Cazenovia Fugitive Slave Law Convention. For more information on the events, contact Sarah Webster at 655-8632. The following original newspaper accounts--so thoroughly researched by Humphreys in his 1994 article for Madison County Heritage - "Agitate! Agitate! Agitate! The Great Cazenovia Fugitive Slave Law Convention and its Rare Daguerreotype" - bring the convention and the pre-Civil War political turbulence in Cazenovia and the nation to life.
Last week's Cazenovia Republican reprinted excerpts from the controversial "Letter to the Slaves" as read by Gerrit Smith at the Convention in 1850. "Except for the North Star and the Smith-supported Liberty Party Press, no other paper has been located that unequivocally supported the Letter to the Slaves," said Humphries.
Frederick Douglass writing in the North Star
"...there is nothing, we apprehend, in the whole proceedings of the Cazenovia Convention which will attract more universal attention, or which will be more universally condemned by a corrupt and slavery-bound press, than the able address emanating from the fugitive slaves in attendance, and addressed to their enslaved brothers and sisters at the south. That address will cause a howl to go up from all the bloodhounds our land." -- September 5, 1850