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22   ABBOTT'S MONTHLY for MAY, 1931

and emigrated to the "Black Belt" of the South, that he might better, by precept and example, promulgate his views as to the equality of man. He purchased a plantation of some three thousand acres in Adams County, Mississippi, bought slaves, raised cotton and became a successful planter. He frequently purchased slaves, but he never sold one. His dealings and his conduct, which were always four-square, won for him the respect of his fellow citizens.

He lived, however, somewhat under suspicion, because of his altruistic ideas. This Southland then was practically a virgin soil, and it yielded abundantly. While the slaves did the work, the white people were the executives, the masters, the absolute rulers. They enjoyed living, and they saw no reason why they should disturb good enough conditions. Dr. Hamilton's ideas found no root in this uncongenial soil.

His mother's health, never strong since his father's death, was growing weaker. He returned to his Green Mountains to visit her, perhaps for the last time. She expectantly awaited his coming, and lingered a while after his return. He settled her estate, appropriately marked her resting place, and bidding farewell to the friends of his boyhood, began the return journey.

While riding through the mountains of Virginia, one hot afternoon, he stopped to rest his horse in the shade of a great tree that stood by the trail. A slave trader coming up also stopped in the shade. He was leading a slave boy by a rope tied to the boy's wrist, and thrown over the pommel of the saddle. The boy, covered with dust, was crying. 

"What's the matter with the boy?" the doctor inquired.

"Oh! I don't know," the stranger answered. "He seems to be a natural born crier, and he can't keep up when I trot."

"Perhaps you go too fast," the doctor suggested.

"His owner said he had just sold his mother a few days ago," the trader continued, "and the boy cried so for her that they could not console him. So he offered him to me at what I thought was a bargain."

"What will you take for him?" the doctor asked, looking the boy over. His eyes showed a chronic inflammation, and he had a severe cold.

"A hundred dollars," the trader replied.

DR. HAMILTON bought the boy. When they were drawing up the bill of sale they asked him what his name was. All they could understand, between sobs, was George, and his name was so written. He was saddle colored, square faced, had open frank eyes, a firm mouth, and was about six years old.

The doctor put the boy on the horse in front of him and at the nearest cabin gave him a bath and washed his eyes. At the first opportunity he bought the boy a new pair of jeans and a shirt. In a few days the boy was feeling much better and began to talk some.

"What is your full name, my lad?" the doctor asked.

"George Washington, sir," the boy proudly answered.

"How did you get that name?" the doctor said in surprise.

The boy replied, tears coming to his eyes, "My mother often told me what a good man George Washington was, sir, and she gave me his name. She said she wanted me to grow to be a good man like him."

"Did your mother know George Washington?"

"No, sir, she never saw him, but she could read, and at night she read to me about him."

Such was the beginning of the friendship between this master and his slave. These two riding their horse over the hills and across the prairies, were forerunners of a great movement, even as the tiniest mountain stream wends its way to the river to help form the undercurrent that will carry it to the ocean.

ABOUT the year 1830, the doctor, discouraged and disheartened, decided to abandon his experiment, and to seek more congenial surroundings elsewhere. No one showed him any sympathy for his advanced ideas, or in any way gave him aid and comfort. He sold his estate and took his twenty-eight slaves up the Mississippi and across Ohio.

At Cincinnati he manumitted every one of them and went their freed men's bond. Some went out into Ohio, but many of them went farther North to get as far away as possible from old conditions.

An old couple, who had served the Doctor as butler and housekeeper in Mississippi, wanted to go with their master. He was a widower and he needed them, so he consented. His wife, also his friend and counsellor since boyhood, died on the plantation in Adams County. This may have been largely the reason why the doctor became so disheartened and discouraged.

George Washington was about eleven years old, quick, faithful and courteous. As good a slave boy as ever walked the Southland. He had become very useful, and the doctor had grown to depend on him somewhat, and the attachment between them was strong. He wanted to go with the master too. He pleaded and begged, and the doctor himself, being loath to lose him, and remembering how inconsolable the boy was when his mother was taken from him, granted his request.

The four of them, after various hardships, located near the village of Gullom, now Otterville, in Greene County, now Jersey County, Illinois.

Gullom lay in a sort of pocket about ten miles from the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Here the doctor purchased a section of land for the homestead, and practiced medicine.

The old couple, when the doctor tried to persuade them to accept pay for their services, insistently refused it, saying, "No, Massa, you keep the money and put us in the ground nice, when we go."

FRIENDSHIP
BY ANTONIO JARVIS
In stubborn soil that yields but scant return
We plant a seed which calls for constant care;
And moisten it with tears. We seldom share
The task of nursing this small plant or learn
Through bitter nights, and days of promise shorn
What cancer often makes it brown and bare
Before the summer brings blue days and fair,
And golden fruits upon its branches burn
So rarely may men reap where they have sown,
That kings this treasured fruit cannot command.
Besides poor Damon's hut profusely grown
It scorns to grace the Tyrant's pampered land
The seeds of friendship are unselfish hearts
And mutual love, and trust, the peerless fruit.



for May, 1931    

[[image]]
[[caption]] Hamilton Primary School, Otterville, Illinois, founded by Dr. Silas Hamilton.This was the first absolutely free school in America, admitting students of all races. The Hamilton monument, erected by George Washington, the former slave, to his dead master, Dr. Hamilton, is shown in front of the building. [[/caption]]

GEORGE WASHINGTON also refused to accept pay for his services, and in so refusing gave proof of the influence of his environment on the development of his character. His reply was, "Master, I want to serve you without pay as long as you live. At best I can never repay your kindness and generosity. My board and clothes and some schooling is all I will accept, Master."

It then became the doctor's intention to educate the boy and send him to Liberia as a missionary to his own race. This plan was thwarted, however, by the death of the doctor on November 19th, 1834. At the time of his death Dr. Hamilton was the largest landed proprietor in this section of Illinois, as well as one of its foremost citizens. 

His will, dated October 20, 1834, made the following provision:

"Believing in the very great importance of primary schools, and desiring that my friends and relatives in this neighborhood should receive the benefit of them, I give and bequeath four thousand dollars for the establishment of a primary school, viz.: two thousand dollars to be appropriated for the erection of a building suitable for a school and a place of public worship, and two thousand dollars to constitute a fund for the support of a teacher." He also left George Washington a bequest of three thousand dollars.

The school building, built of stone, was erected in 1835 and was known as the "Stone School House." Its fame extended beyond the limits of its environment and even beyond the boundaries of Illinois. Many immigrants came from the East to settle where they could enjoy the privileges of this free school. Before they reached the eastern boundary of the State the "Stone School House" was known, and they were directed toward it. It is known that it was the first absolutely free (free as to tuition and free to any one to attend) school in Illinois, probably in America, and that means in the world. By its character it admitted all regardless of age, color or previous conditions of servitude. It was incorporated in 1839 by special act of the General Assembly of Illinois, as the Hamilton Primary School. It was given a district four miles square, and the trustees were given authority to use the township and common school funds due said district to assist in the support of the school. 

The first floor of the building was divided into to school rooms and a hall leading to the second floor, which was used for Sunday School, church and other public gatherings. The Baptist Church, of which George Washington was a member, occupied the second floor for its regular services, from the time of its erection until the completion of its own church building in 1872. The first seats were slabs, smooth side up, and no backs. At the time of the erection of the building there was no meeting house for public worship, in the county. Religious services were held in private houses, at camp meetings or in the open air. The building was taken down
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