I would like well to hear
your Tyrtaean speeches,
of that rare quality that,
-nonresistant as you are -
drives men to break heads.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Letter to May
26 August 1856

Samuel J. May

Rev. Samuel J. May

Samuel J. May was born in Boston, and came to Syracuse in 1845 as pastor of the (Unitarian) Church of the Messiah. His congregation, now named May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, still exist in Syracuse, and maintains a website at www.rway.com/mmuus.

May in Later LifeActive in the underground railroad in Boston and Syracuse, May was an agent for various anti-slavery societies. In Syracuse he was involved in many of the areas most important anti-slavery events, including the 1851 Rescue of Jerry. May was also an early advocate of women's rights. His 1846 sermon on the subject was later reprinted as Woman's Rights Pamphlet #1.

The University of Michigan Digital Library provides a searchable version of May's Some Recollections on Our Anti-Slavery Struggle.

NY History Net is exploring the development of a full-blown May website. Suggestions for content are welcome at Info@NYHistory.com.

Tyr was the Norse god of battles.
Images of May (and the letter from Emerson) are from his papers found in the
Anti-Slavery Collection in the Carl A. Kroch Library at Cornell University.

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