Historical Plaque Links Past And Present
It was a peaceful ceremony about a turbulent era in Plattsburgh's history.
Around thirty people braved the gray sky and winter cold on Tuesday evening, February 16th, for the dedication of a historical plaque recently erected on the grounds of the First Presbyterian Church.
With words and pictures the panel mentions key events in the anti-slavery movement in Plattsburgh during the 19th century, explaining the connection to the Brinkerhoff Street church. This connection was discovered by Don Papson, president of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association (NCUGRHA), during his research into the activities of the underground railroad in this part of the state.
Slavery was abolished in 1827 in New York State but tensions still ran high between the two sides of the slavery issue. Some of the leading families in Clinton County had owned slaves.
At first a group of abolitionists was denied the right to meet at the Presbyterian Church. But that situation eventually turned around.
As the historical plaque explains:
"It was a moment of change in the community when the Clinton County Anti-Slavery Society convened in the First Presbyterian Church of Plattsburgh for its first annual meeting in August 1837. When the delegates arrived for the meeting, they had to enter through a doorway tarred by opponents of their cause. Just a few months earlier a prominent member of the congregation circulated a petition to protest against any abolitionist gatherings in Plattsburgh."
NCUGHRA and the leadership of the Presbyterian Church joined together during the ceremony to explain and comment on the history behind the interpretative panel.
Reverend Virginia Murray, right, interim pastor for the First Presbyterian Church, leads the gathering in a prayer giving thanks to those who fought for equality.
President of NCUGRHA, Don Papson, speaks about the protests
during the first annual meeting of the Clinton County Anti-Slavery
Society in 1837 at the Presbyterian Church. Two boys sang "Jim Crow"
beneath the windows and a retired judge proclaimed
that slavery should be perpetual.