William Lanson's "Notice" to Columbian
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.