January 4, 1847: Sarah Wheeler writes about slavery

On this day in Duluth in 1847, future Duluth pioneer Sara Wheeler wrote about slavery. Born Sarah Caroline Brewster in 1828, Wheeler was a direct descendant of William “Elder” Brewster, who came over on the Mayflower. Later that year she would marry Henry Wheeler at New Diggings, Wisconsin, and the couple eventually made their way to St. Paul. In 1856 Sarah, with three small children in tow, travelled to the town of Oneota (now part of West Duluth) following Henry, who had walked there to set up the first sawmill at the head of the lakes. Here’s what she had to say about slavery ten months before her marriage: “America may boast of her free republican government, of her civil and religious institutions, but there is one dark spot upon her otherwise bright picture. I mean slavery. It is the greatest curse that ever was permitted to rest upon our beloved land. It is of no use to try to palliate or excuse it. It cannot be done. It is of too great importance to be passed over in silence, it is a disgrace to our country to pretend to be a free and independent people, when at the same time a portion of her inhabitants are bowed down under the oppressors’ yoke. It is high time that something was done. We cannot expect the blessing of God upon us until we change our course in this respect. Let us be up and doing lest the blood of their souls be found in our skirts. We have indulged in sleep too long, while the cries and groans of the poor African have been ascending up to heaven. Let us do what we can to instruct them in the way of truth and may the time speedily come when America shall redeem her character and rank amongst the other civilized nations of the globe.” Read more about Sara Wheeler and her family here.

Sara Wheeler. (Image: Tom Wheeler)

Subscribe to This Day in Duluth!

You cannot copy content of this page