Ohio History Journal

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Marius Racine Robinson, one of the more important figures

of the antislavery movement in Ohio, has been more or less lost

from public view. Neither the Dictionary of American Biography,

the National Cyclopaedia of Biography, nor any of the standard

biographical dictionaries list his name, yet in the rise of abolition-

ism in Ohio he played a great part, as agent, editor, organizer,

and propagandist -- a career perhaps not equal to that of his friend

and mentor Theodore Weld, but a major one nonetheless, and

one of longer duration. Like that of Weld, Stanton, Thome,

Birney, and others prominent in the antislavery controversy, Rob-

inson's work in the movement illustrates and reinforces the thesis

that abolitionism, particularly beyond the Alleghenies, was a

moral, religious crusade, closely connected with and stemming

from the evangelistic revivalism of the eighteen-thirties. Further,

a note on his life and work recalls once more the turbulent days

when Ohio was becoming the fountainhead of abolitionism in the


Robinson was born in Dalton, Massachusetts, July 29, 1806,1

Following the westward lines of migration familiar to the early

nineteenth century, his parents moved to Orville, Chautauqua

County, New York, ten years later. Both parents were rigid Pres-

byterians, the "bluest of the blue," and Marius' boyhood was

marked by stern Calvinistic training. Doubts of his salvation and

thoughts of his damnation threw him frequently, as a boy, into

protracted fits of gloom and depression. His mother, an inflexible

and stern woman, held plans for his entrance into the ministry,

and, possibly more than his father, left an indelible stamp upon

his character. At fifteen, however, a new force entered the boy's


1 Biographical data, unless otherwise noted, is drawn from two incomplete sketches,

written by his wife Emily, among the Robinson manuscripts in the Western Reserve

Historical Society collections, Cleveland, and from a brief account by H. C. Boyle, the

Salem (Ohio) Daily News, July 31, 1897.