Citizens All: African Americans in Connecticut 1700-1850
Transatlantic Slave TradeConnecticut StoriesAbout The Project
Connecticut Stories
Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and AbolitionYale University
Enslaved Africans in the Colony of Connecticut
William Lanson's "Notice" to Columbian Register
Columbian Register (New Haven, CT)
March 14, 1829

In 1811, the Reverend Timothy Dwight, President of Yale College, had praised the work of William Lanson and his brothers as "honourable proof of the character which they sustain, both for capacity, and integrity, in the view of respectable men." By the end of the 1820s such praise had all but vanished. Connecticut's old guard had been overturned, and Lanson found himself beset financially and attacked and ridiculed in the newly emergent mass press. The Democratic Columbian Register, especially, routinely lampooned Lanson and the local black community, yet Lanson would often engage the Register in a vigorous defense of his character and actions.

In this document Lanson outlines his efforts in providing both employment and moral guidance to the less fortunate members of his community, a role entirely in keeping with the paternalism practiced by Dwight and expected of others, but entirely out of keeping with the virulent racism of the 1820s and '30s.