Frank Freeman's Barber Shop
Rev. Baynard R. Hall, D.D.
New York: Charles Scribner, 1852



  EVERYTHING, reader, has its use; although some things are used in very unexpected ways; spider-webs, for instance, lately used by star-gazers! And every man may be put to some use, even if he never meant to serve his generation that way; thus a negro slave answers one end, and a free negro another; while both are rendered very profitable to their several owners. The ancient black Douglas answered one end, and the modern another. Doubtless we best answer the intention of our existence when we benevolently help others; but folks will often use a fellow for mere scaffolding; and when the building is completed, he will be unceremoniously kicked off like a cracked and dirty plank, and all the way from the very highest story. The man has been used. The honest chap—the ninny!—supposed he was going up finely in the world; and so he was—but only to come down a little faster than be rose.


  Many a negro has left one sort of task master for another; the latter wishing to work him a spell in a new style. When he was slave in name, he used to work till half-past two, P. M., and after that, he was free in fact to work for himself till cock-crow next morning; but the same negro when free in name, was at liberty to work all the time and starve at that. He used to pick raw cotton and sing all the time; now he picks wrought and overdone cotton, and nasty enough it is, and out of very dirty gutters while he grunts along like a dispirited pig wondering where he is to find swill to-day! And when the free slave hears the bands play "Hail! Columbia!" he wonders why they mock at him in the gutter; and strange as the largest liberty men think, the poor negro thinks of the boat-song and wishes he was at home again!

  True—a class of talented negroes and quadroons may be found, who, perfectly understanding the games, do, and will succeed among emancipators, and with them share the proceeds. This class, when slaves, were ever ready "to curse God and die," hating the Bible and its author, because the latter admits slavery in his Providence, and the former advises "servants to obey their masters,"—and such, when fugitives, can make speeches fit for the Truth Teller and curse a slaveholder all over, as if they were the head of a church! And even after the


exhibitions are over; and these come back from edifying folks across the, seas, filling them brimful of wrath and scorn for the southern parts of our land; and inspiring a lofty pity for all North America, save the country of New England; and after waking up synods to an insolent meddling with their betters, these natural religionists can write for papers, and serve on secret agencies; and show runaways the road to Freedonia and what to do with the spoils; and excite, and lead, and countenance mobs black or white, or both, how to balk a sheriff and resist a fugitive slave law.

  Whether this all subserves the cause of freedom; hastens general emancipation; meliorates slavery; elevates free blacks; conciliates enemies; and links the hands and hearts of all the good and patriotic—men of this class and their admirers never inquire. Possibly they do not care. Separate, individual, personal freedom, honor, success, happiness, station, emolument, outweigh general and patriotic considerations. To advance selfish ends, these would be careless if the white race was extinct; and while staying among that race they do little else than growl and show their teeth, showing a willingness to pitch into them the first fair chance. Of course such can be used by the ultra-men, because the whole fraternity is equally selfish and soulless, as all ultraisn, is from its very nature; for ultraism would grasp


all power, all influence, all glory, all the booty and spoils; whereas the medium folks are content with portions. The latter give as well as take; the former keep all they get and get all they can—and are then as growlly and savage as before! Ultra-emancipators would be lords over masters; and if they are sceptical about a special providence, they claim heaven as specially on their side—and only wonder heaven does not get as angry as themselves!

  Hence, with such, negroism is as white as alabaster; and is made auxiliary to all political, ecclesiastical and secular interests. By it one man gets into the Assembly, and another into Congress; this one intends to be governor, and that president. One speculator, by it, sells lands; another a house for anti-slavery purposes. It obtains subscribers for books; and agencies for men out of employment or wishing to travel. And, on this black ground, frothy chaps figure as orators; and come to be regarded as the first chop philanthropists of the age. And here, even music condescends to furnish quartetters to sing for the good of the slaves, and put money enough into their own pockets to "buy themselves a farm."

  When the intelligent reader considers these hints expressed and implied, if, now some few months since the famous meeting recorded in our foregoing chapter, he has lost, rather suddenly, sight of our hero Mr. Frank Freeman, be will not be so greatly


surprised. This "colored gentleman from the South" flamed out quite a sun—and, in truth, a sun where the white suns were only stars, and ill-boding at that: but what has gone with the light? Why, Frank, my friend, rose too far north; his circle was too near the—pole; he rose only to go down again! Indeed, rising and flaming and immediately going under the horizon he soon discovered was likely to be his sole movement and business. And you plainly perceive, my friend, the cause of this—do you not?

  First, Frank was too honest, too benevolent, too disinterested, too honorable, too religious, according to old orthodoxy—he was not up to the moral movement of his day.

  Secondly, Frank was not a—runaway: he did not approve the leg-bail offered as security to masters: hence the runaway negroes, full blooded, and blooded in fractions, hated and deserted him.

  Thirdly, Frank wanted a country and a nation: he did not want to be isolated and dependent: he would not beg and cringe.

  Fourthly, Frank would not—steal.

  Fifthly, Frank would not—murder.

  Lastly, and overwhelmingly, Frank was too jet-black.

  Reader! after all, abolitionists have poetry lurking in their souls. A story, to produce a good and full effect, must be adorned with beautiful quadroons.


Saxon blood must deepen the modest flush of their bleached cheeks; raven locks must pour a flood of silky hair over their women's rounded and taper shoulders, and over their swelling busts. Sylph forms must glide on small feet and delicate ancles.

  Your own wives, your own daughters—in all save complexion—must win on your sympathy and love! White men and women must have, not abstract virtues, but material and substantive forms, that may be admired, loved, caressed; and if their like can be found—may be married! The deep coal black—the genuine negro—maugre his soul's excellencies—will not take!

  If, then, this book be a hit—(of course in the bookseller-sense, not at anybody)—either the public is less poetical than usual, or the book sells on its merits.

  Our black man—Frank Freeman—could have plead law, practiced medicine, preached sermons, taught schools, been a candidate; but there were no openings: white persons had monopolized the things: and owing to the unfortunate and perhaps wicked prejudices of the whites, they preferred whites, in all these cases. And Frank had not the bad taste to condemn in our race, what he felt was proper and natural in his own.

  He would have been book-keeper, or clerk, or partner in mercantile establishments: he would have


been cashier or president in a bank: he would have sailed a ship, or been supercargo; but some difficulty unforseen by the sagacious Doctor Sharpinton, always forbade!

  He would have taken half pay, at last, as an agent in the employ of the Philanthropic Society, and similar associations for the good of man: for, after a year and a half, his commission and salary ended together; and new offices were given to white or whitish persons, and offices with larger stipends.

  What could be done! As a desperate chance, he finally tried to borrow money—not for his own use—but only some $5000!—to pay for himself and Carrie! Simple-hearted Frank!—how green! But repulsed in all directions, and often rebuked he betook himself to the Minister of Christ. Sure, hope is in him, "influenced by that gospel which he so eloquently preaches," as Scrawney, now in the assembly, once said. Yet, alas! Dr. Ananias Sharpinton not only bluntly refused all help in the matter, but distinctly stated that he was conscientiously and decidedly opposed to having such a man as Leamington paid a dollar, even if the money was in Mr. Freeman's hands!—it would be the utter relinquishment and abandoning of the Philanthropic Society's first and fundamental principle; for it would encourage slaveholders in their wickedness, and would acknowledge their right to hold men as pro-


perty! It would do harm, and he concluded his severe rebuke, by saying, "he was surprised and, felt a little hurt," at Mr. Freeman's unwarrantable hope and proposition.

  At this Mr. Freeman, in turn, was very much surprised and hurt pretty "considerable;" indeed, we are sorry to say,—but it must be said,—Mr. F. became actually very angry; and answered the divine so very irreverently—wholly forgetting the color, rank and offices of the Doctor—that a right down quarrel ensued between the parties; hence at some ill-timed thrust at Mr. Leamington, made by the Emancipator, Mr. F. turned in a very menancing way upon him and fiercely told the venerable president of the Philanthropic Society—that he was—


  On this outrageous insult being offered, the Doctor pointed to the door, and exclaimed quite as angrily and as loudly as Mr. F.,

  "Begone out of my house, you impudent nigger!"

  This most unfortunate altercation, of course, dissolved in an instant, and for ever, the connexion between "the nigger" and the Philanthropic Society! We have no information to be relied on here—yet many suspected the president was glad to be rid of "the second Washington," and the Society never condescended to buy Mr. F. back. Mr. F. had just returned from his European tour, where be had been


made to cut a pretty large figure to the wonder and approbation of the Moral Professors and Artists and Amateurs: but now in about a month after this deplorable rupture of social and official relations, was seen in Chesnut Street, Philadelphia, and near to the principal hotel of that fashionable street—

  A pole wound with a painted ribbon of black and white, and a sign with this lettering:

  "Frank Freeman, Barber and Hair-dresser."

  Under this sign was a smaller—a sheet of black tin lettered in white—

  "Mrs. Carrie Freeman does Washing and Ironing. Ladies' Dresses done in the first style."


  Hail! Frank! thou art still an honest and good man; but the worldly greatness philanthropism promised thee, has ended