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The Underground Railroad In Hudson County - Part Thirteen

By Alexander Maclean

Edited by GET NJ, Copyright 2002

The anti-slavery tendency of the new party caused it to be known as the Black Republican party.

The general feeling in Jersey City was adverse to the slaves and to abolitionists. The anti-slavery sentiment was confined to the Whig party, political organization that outlived its usefulness. The dissolution of the Whigs gave birth to a new party that drew elements from the old to create a strong organization.

The anti-slavery tendency of the new party caused it to be known as the Black Republican party. In the beginning, it attracted all the animosity which had been concentrated on the abolitionists. There was such a predominance of pro-slavery sentiment in Jersey City that it even affected the churches. These closed their doors to all who wished to speak for the slaves or who denounced the attitude of Congress and the Courts in connection with the Fugitive Slave law. The revulsion of sentiment produced by the outrageous methods used in enforcing the law ,and especially by the decision in the Dred Scott case, made recruits for the abolitionists.

This change in public sentiment created a desire for a new church where freedom would be the keynote. This led to the organization of a Church Society under Congressional rules in 1857. Out of this came the Tabernacle, a church that filled a very important part in Jersey City's history for a couple of decades. The number of persons who sympathized with this movement was growing at that time, but the number of those who were willing to assume the risks involved in openly espousing the cause, was small. The temporary organization worshipped in hired halls: first in the Lyceum, then in Park Hall, in Franklin Hall, and back to the Lyceum, finally, to the old church at the corner of Grove and Montgomery Streets. It was only through the courtesy of the Hedding M. E. Church that a church edifice was procured to install the first pastor of the Congregational Church. It was not till May, 1863, that the congregation completed its building. The Tabernacle became the most popular church in the city. By that time the great war had changed the opinions of the people. Every family had representatives at the front with the colors and every church in the city ahd a flag flying to attest to its loyalty to the Union.

When the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued, the need for an Underground Railway had forever ceased.

Final Chapter

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