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Speech Extracts

_Containing Extracts from
Speeches, etc._

_At Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, England, May 12, 1846_

Mr. Douglass rose amid loud cheers, and said: I feel exceedingly
glad of the opportunity now afforded me of presenting the claims
of my brethren in bonds in the United States, to so many in
London and from various parts of Britain, who have assembled here
on the present occasion. I have nothing to commend me to your
consideration in the way of learning, nothing in the way of
education, to entitle me to your attention; and you are aware
that slavery is a very bad school for rearing teachers of
morality and religion. Twenty-one years of my life have been
spent in slavery--personal slavery--surrounded by degrading
influences, such as can exist nowhere beyond the pale of slavery;
and it will not be strange, if under such circumstances, I should
betray, in what I have to say to you, a deficiency of that
refinement which is seldom or ever found, except among persons
that have experienced superior advantages to those which I have
enjoyed. But I will take it for granted that you know something
about the degrading influences of slavery, and that you will not
expect great things from me this evening, but simply such facts
as I may be able to advance immediately in connection with my own
experience of slavery.

Now, what is this system of slavery? This is the subject of my
lecture this evening--what is the character of this institution?
I am about to answer the inquiry, what is American slavery? I do
this the more readily, since I have found persons in this country
who have identified the term slavery with that which I think it
is not, and in some instances, I have feared, in so doing, have
rather (unwittingly, I know) detracted much from the horror with
which the term slavery is contemplated. It is com-

[10] Mr. Douglass' published speeches alone, would fill two
volumes of the size of this. Our space will only permit the
insertion of the extracts which follow; and which, for
originality of thought, beauty and force of expression, and for
impassioned, indignatory eloquence, have seldom been equaled.

<318>mon in this country to distinguish every bad thing by the
name of slavery. Intemperance is slavery; to be deprived of the
right to vote is slavery, says one; to have to work hard is
slavery, says another; and I do not know but that if we should
let them go on, they would say that to eat when we are hungry, to
walk when we desire to have exercise, or to minister to our
necessities, or have necessities at all, is slavery. I do not
wish for a moment to detract from the horror with which the evil
of intemperance is contemplated--not at all; nor do I wish to
throw the slightest obstruction in the way of any political
freedom that any class of persons in this country may desire to
obtain. But I am here to say that I think the term slavery is
sometimes abused by identifying it with that which it is not.
Slavery in the United States is the granting of that power by
which one man exercises and enforces a right of property in the
body and soul of another. The condition of a slave is simply
that of the brute beast. He is a piece of property--a marketable
commodity, in the language of the law, to be bought or sold at
the will and caprice of the master who claims him to be his
property; he is spoken of, thought of, and treated as property.
His own good, his conscience, his intellect, his affections, are
all set aside by the master. The will and the wishes of the
master are the law of the slave. He is as much a piece of
property as a horse. If he is fed, he is fed because he is
property. If he is clothed, it is with a view to the increase of
his value as property. Whatever of comfort is necessary to him
for his body or soul that is inconsistent with his being
property, is carefully wrested from him, not only by public
opinion, but by the law of the country. He is carefully deprived
of everything that tends in the slightest degree to detract from
his value as property. He is deprived of education. God has
given him an intellect; the slaveholder declares it shall not be
cultivated. If his moral perception leads him in a course
contrary to his value as property, the slaveholder declares he
shall not exercise it. The marriage institution cannot exist
among slaves, and one-sixth of the population of democratic
America is denied its privileges by the law of the land. What is
to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of
its humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love
of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders
three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?--
what must be the condition of that people? I need not lift up
the veil by giving you any experience of my own. Every one that
can put two ideas together, must see the most fearful results
from such a state of things as I have just mentioned. If any of
these three millions find for themselves companions, and prove
themselves honest, upright, virtuous persons to each other, yet
in these <319>cases--few as I am bound to confess they are--the
virtuous live in constant apprehension of being torn asunder by
the merciless men-stealers that claim them as their property.
This is American slavery; no marriage--no education--the light of
the gospel shut out from the dark mind of the bondman--and he
forbidden by law to learn to read. If a mother shall teach her
children to read, the law in Louisiana proclaims that she may be
hanged by the neck. If the father attempt to give his son a
knowledge of letters, he may be punished by the whip in one
instance, and in another be killed, at the discretion of the
court. Three millions of people shut out from the light of
knowledge! It is easy for you to conceive the evil that must
result from such a state of things.

I now come to the physical evils of slavery. I do not wish to
dwell at length upon these, but it seems right to speak of them,
not so much to influence your minds on this question, as to let
the slaveholders of America know that the curtain which conceals
their crimes is being lifted abroad; that we are opening the dark
cell, and leading the people into the horrible recesses of what
they are pleased to call their domestic institution. We want
them to know that a knowledge of their whippings, their
scourgings, their brandings, their chainings, is not confined to
their plantations, but that some Negro of theirs has broken loose
from his chains--has burst through the dark incrustation of
slavery, and is now exposing their deeds of deep damnation to the
gaze of the christian people of England.

The slaveholders resort to all kinds of cruelty. If I were
disposed, I have matter enough to interest you on this question
for five or six evenings, but I will not dwell at length upon
these cruelties. Suffice it to say, that all of the peculiar
modes of torture that were resorted to in the West India islands,
are resorted to, I believe, even more frequently, in the United
States of America. Starvation, the bloody whip, the chain, the
gag, the thumb-screw, cat-hauling, the cat-o'-nine-tails, the
dungeon, the blood-hound, are all in requisition to keep the
slave in his condition as a slave in the United States. If any
one has a doubt upon this point, I would ask him to read the
chapter on slavery in Dickens's _Notes on America_. If any man
has a doubt upon it, I have here the "testimony of a thousand
witnesses," which I can give at any length, all going to prove
the truth of my statement. The blood-hound is regularly trained
in the United States, and advertisements are to be found in the
southern papers of the Union, from persons advertising themselves
as blood-hound trainers, and offering to hunt down slaves at
fifteen dollars a piece, recommending their hounds as the
fleetest in the neighborhood, never known to fail.
Adver<320>tisements are from time to time inserted, stating that
slaves have escaped with iron collars about their necks, with
bands of iron about their feet, marked with the lash, branded
with red-hot irons, the initials of their master's name burned
into their flesh; and the masters advertise the fact of their
being thus branded with their own signature, thereby proving to
the world, that, however damning it may appear to non-slavers,
such practices are not regarded discreditable among the
slaveholders themselves. Why, I believe if a man should brand
his horse in this country--burn the initials of his name into any
of his cattle, and publish the ferocious deed here--that the
united execrations of Christians in Britain would descend upon
him. Yet in the United States, human beings are thus branded.
As Whittier says--
. . . _Our countrymen in chains,
The whip on woman's shrinking flesh,
Our soil yet reddening with the stains
Caught from her scourgings warm and fresh_.

The slave-dealer boldly publishes his infamous acts to the world.
Of all things that have been said of slavery to which exception
has been taken by slaveholders, this, the charge of cruelty,
stands foremost, and yet there is no charge capable of clearer
demonstration, than that of the most barbarous inhumanity on the
part of the slaveholders toward their slaves. And all this is
necessary; it is necessary to resort to these cruelties, in order
to _make the slave a slave_, and to _keep him a slave_. Why, my
experience all goes to prove the truth of what you will call a
marvelous proposition, that the better you treat a slave, the
more you destroy his value _as a slave_, and enhance the
probability of his eluding the grasp of the slaveholder; the more
kindly you treat him, the more wretched you make him, while you
keep him in the condition of a slave. My experience, I say,
confirms the truth of this proposition. When I was treated
exceedingly ill; when my back was being scourged daily; when I
was whipped within an inch of my life--_life_ was all I cared
for. "Spare my life," was my continual prayer. When I was
looking for the blow about to be inflicted upon my head, I was
not thinking of my liberty; it was my life. But, as soon as the
blow was not to be feared, then came the longing for liberty. If
a slave has a bad master, his ambition is to get a better; when
he gets a better, he aspires to have the best; and when he gets
the best, he aspires to be his own master. But the slave must be
brutalized to keep him as a slave. The slaveholder feels this
necessity. I admit this necessity. If it be right to hold
slaves at all, it is right to hold <321>them in the only way in
which they can be held; and this can be done only by shutting out
the light of education from their minds, and brutalizing their
persons. The whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, the
blood-hound, the stocks, and all the other bloody paraphernalia
of the slave system, are indispensably necessary to the relation
of master and slave. The slave must be subjected to these, or he
ceases to be a slave. Let him know that the whip is burned; that
the fetters have been turned to some useful and profitable
employment; that the chain is no longer for his limbs; that the
blood-hound is no longer to be put upon his track; that his
master's authority over him is no longer to be enforced by taking
his life--and immediately he walks out from the house of bondage
and asserts his freedom as a man. The slaveholder finds it
necessary to have these implements to keep the slave in bondage;
finds it necessary to be able to say, "Unless you do so and so;
unless you do as I bid you--I will take away your life!"

Some of the most awful scenes of cruelty are constantly taking
place in the middle states of the Union. We have in those states
what are called the slave-breeding states. Allow me to speak
plainly. Although it is harrowing to your feelings, it is
necessary that the facts of the case should be stated. We have
in the United States slave-breeding states. The very state from
which the minister from our court to yours comes, is one of these
states--Maryland, where men, women, and children are reared for
the market, just as horses, sheep, and swine are raised for the
market. Slave-rearing is there looked upon as a legitimate
trade; the law sanctions it, public opinion upholds it, the
church does not condemn it. It goes on in all its bloody
horrors, sustained by the auctioneer's block. If you would see
the cruelties of this system, hear the following narrative. Not
long since the following scene occurred. A slave-woman and a
slaveman had united themselves as man and wife in the absence of
any law to protect them as man and wife. They had lived together
by the permission, not by right, of their master, and they had
reared a family. The master found it expedient, and for his
interest, to sell them. He did not ask them their wishes in
regard to the matter at all; they were not consulted. The man
and woman were brought to the auctioneer's block, under the sound
of the hammer. The cry was raised, "Here goes; who bids cash?"
Think of it--a man and wife to be sold! The woman was placed on
the auctioneer's block; her limbs, as is customary, were brutally
exposed to the purchasers, who examined her with all the freedom
with which they would examine a horse. There stood the husband,
powerless; no right to his wife; the master's right preeminent.
She was sold. He was next <322>brought to the auctioneer's
block. His eyes followed his wife in the distance; and he looked
beseechingly, imploringly, to the man that had bought his wife,
to buy him also. But he was at length bid off to another person.
He was about to be separated forever from her he loved. No word
of his, no work of his, could save him from this separation. He
asked permission of his new master to go and take the hand of his
wife at parting. It was denied him. In the agony of his soul he
rushed from the man who had just bought him, that he might take a
farewell of his wife; but his way was obstructed, he was struck
over the head with a loaded whip, and was held for a moment; but
his agony was too great. When he was let go, he fell a corpse at
the feet of his master. His heart was broken. Such scenes are
the everyday fruits of American slavery. Some two years since,
the Hon. Seth. M. Gates, an anti-slavery gentleman of the state
of New York, a representative in the congress of the United
States, told me he saw with his own eyes the following
circumstances. In the national District of Columbia, over which
the star-spangled emblem is constantly waving, where orators are
ever holding forth on the subject of American liberty, American
democracy, American republicanism, there are two slave prisons.
When going across a bridge, leading to one of these prisons, he
saw a young woman run out, bare-footed and bare-headed, and with
very little clothing on. She was running with all speed to the
bridge he was approaching. His eye was fixed upon her, and he
stopped to see what was the matter. He had not paused long
before he saw three men run out after her. He now knew what the
nature of the case was; a slave escaping from her chains--a young
woman, a sister--escaping from the bondage in which she had been
held. She made her way to the bridge, but had not reached, ere
from the Virginia side there came two slaveholders. As soon as
they saw them, her pursuers called out, "Stop her!" True to
their Virginian instincts, they came to the rescue of their
brother kidnappers, across the bridge. The poor girl now saw
that there was no chance for her. It was a trying time. She
knew if she went back, she must be a slave forever--she must be
dragged down to the scenes of pollution which the slaveholders
continually provide for most of the poor, sinking, wretched young
women, whom they call their property. She formed her resolution;
and just as those who were about to take her, were going to put
hands upon her, to drag her back, she leaped over the balustrades
of the bridge, and down she went to rise no more. She chose
death, rather than to go back into the hands of those christian
slaveholders from whom she had escaped.

Can it be possible that such things as these exist in the United
States? <323>Are not these the exceptions? Are any such scenes
as this general? Are not such deeds condemned by the law and
denounced by public opinion? Let me read to you a few of the
laws of the slaveholding states of America. I think no better
exposure of slavery can be made than is made by the laws of the
states in which slavery exists. I prefer reading the laws to
making any statement in confirmation of what I have said myself;
for the slaveholders cannot object to this testimony, since it is
the calm, the cool, the deliberate enactment of their wisest
heads, of their most clear-sighted, their own constituted
representatives. "If more than seven slaves together are found
in any road without a white person, twenty lashes a piece; for
visiting a plantation without a written pass, ten lashes; for
letting loose a boat from where it is made fast, thirty-nine
lashes for the first offense; and for the second, shall have cut
off from his head one ear; for keeping or carrying a club,
thirty-nine lashes; for having any article for sale, without a
ticket from his master, ten lashes; for traveling in any other
than the most usual and accustomed road, when going alone to any
place, forty lashes; for traveling in the night without a pass,
forty lashes." I am afraid you do not understand the awful
character of these lashes. You must bring it before your mind.
A human being in a perfect state of nudity, tied hand and foot to
a stake, and a strong man standing behind with a heavy whip,
knotted at the end, each blow cutting into the flesh, and leaving
the warm blood dripping to the feet; and for these trifles. "For
being found in another person's negro-quarters, forty lashes; for
hunting with dogs in the woods, thirty lashes; for being on
horseback without the written permission of his master, twenty-
five lashes; for riding or going abroad in the night, or riding
horses in the day time, without leave, a slave may be whipped,
cropped, or branded in the cheek with the letter R. or otherwise
punished, such punishment not extending to life, or so as to
render him unfit for labor." The laws referred to, may be found
by consulting _Brevard's Digest; Haywood's Manual; Virginia
Revised Code; Prince's Digest; Missouri Laws; Mississippi Revised
Code_. A man, for going to visit his brethren, without the
permission of his master--and in many instances he may not have
that permission; his master, from caprice or other reasons, may
not be willing to allow it--may be caught on his way, dragged to
a post, the branding-iron heated, and the name of his master or
the letter R branded into his cheek or on his forehead. They
treat slaves thus, on the principle that they must punish for
light offenses, in order to prevent the commission of larger
ones. I wish you to mark that in the single state of Virginia
there are seventy-one crimes for which a colored man may be
executed; while there are only three of <324>these crimes, which,
when committed by a white man, will subject him to that
punishment. There are many of these crimes which if the white
man did not commit, he would be regarded as a scoundrel and a
coward. In the state of Maryland, there is a law to this effect:
that if a slave shall strike his master, he may be hanged, his
head severed from his body, his body quartered, and his head and
quarters set up in the most prominent places in the neighborhood.
If a colored woman, in the defense of her own virtue, in defense
of her own person, should shield herself from the brutal attacks
of her tyrannical master, or make the slightest resistance, she
may be killed on the spot. No law whatever will bring the guilty
man to justice for the crime.

But you will ask me, can these things be possible in a land
professing Christianity? Yes, they are so; and this is not the
worst. No; a darker feature is yet to be presented than the mere
existence of these facts. I have to inform you that the religion
of the southern states, at this time, is the great supporter, the
great sanctioner of the bloody atrocities to which I have
referred. While America is printing tracts and bibles; sending
missionaries abroad to convert the heathen; expending her money
in various ways for the promotion of the gospel in foreign
lands--the slave not only lies forgotten, uncared for, but is
trampled under foot by the very churches of the land. What have
we in America? Why, we have slavery made part of the religion of
the land. Yes, the pulpit there stands up as the great defender
of this cursed _institution_, as it is called. Ministers of
religion come forward and torture the hallowed pages of inspired
wisdom to sanction the bloody deed. They stand forth as the
foremost, the strongest defenders of this "institution." As a
proof of this, I need not do more than state the general fact,
that slavery has existed under the droppings of the sanctuary of
the south for the last two hundred years, and there has not been
any war between the _religion_ and the _slavery_ of the south.
Whips, chains, gags, and thumb-screws have all lain under the
droppings of the sanctuary, and instead of rusting from off the
limbs of the bondman, those droppings have served to preserve
them in all their strength. Instead of preaching the gospel
against this tyranny, rebuke, and wrong, ministers of religion
have sought, by all and every means, to throw in the back-ground
whatever in the bible could be construed into opposition to
slavery, and to bring forward that which they could torture into
its support. This I conceive to be the darkest feature of
slavery, and the most difficult to attack, because it is
identified with religion, and exposes those who denounce it to
the charge of infidelity. Yes, those with whom I have been
laboring, namely, the old <325>organization anti-slavery society
of America, have been again and again stigmatized as infidels,
and for what reason? Why, solely in consequence of the
faithfulness of their attacks upon the slaveholding religion of
the southern states, and the northern religion that sympathizes
with it. I have found it difficult to speak on this matter
without persons coming forward and saying, "Douglass, are you not
afraid of injuring the cause of Christ? You do not desire to do
so, we know; but are you not undermining religion?" This has
been said to me again and again, even since I came to this
country, but I cannot be induced to leave off these exposures. I
love the religion of our blessed Savior. I love that religion
that comes from above, in the "wisdom of God, which is first
pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of
mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
I love that religion that sends its votaries to bind up the
wounds of him that has fallen among thieves. I love that
religion that makes it the duty of its disciples to visit the
father less and the widow in their affliction. I love that
religion that is based upon the glorious principle, of love to
God and love to man; which makes its followers do unto others as
they themselves would be done by. If you demand liberty to
yourself, it says, grant it to your neighbors. If you claim a
right to think for yourself, it says, allow your neighbors the
same right. If you claim to act for yourself, it says, allow
your neighbors the same right. It is because I love this
religion that I hate the slaveholding, the woman-whipping, the
mind-darkening, the soul-destroying religion that exists in the
southern states of America. It is because I regard the one as
good, and pure, and holy, that I cannot but regard the other as
bad, corrupt, and wicked. Loving the one I must hate the other;
holding to the one I must reject the other.

I may be asked, why I am so anxious to bring this subject before
the British public--why I do not confine my efforts to the United
States? My answer is, first, that slavery is the common enemy of
mankind, and all mankind should be made acquainted with its
abominable character. My next answer is, that the slave is a
man, and, as such, is entitled to your sympathy as a brother.
All the feelings, all the susceptibilities, all the capacities,
which you have, he has. He is a part of the human family. He
has been the prey--the common prey--of Christendom for the last
three hundred years, and it is but right, it is but just, it is
but proper, that his wrongs should be known throughout the world.
I have another reason for bringing this matter before the British
public, and it is this: slavery is a system of wrong, so blinding
to all around, so hardening to the heart, so corrupting to the
morals, so deleterious to religion, so <326>sapping to all the
principles of justice in its immediate vicinity, that the
community surrounding it lack the moral stamina necessary to its
removal. It is a system of such gigantic evil, so strong, so
overwhelming in its power, that no one nation is equal to its
removal. It requires the humanity of Christianity, the morality
of the world to remove it. Hence, I call upon the people of
Britain to look at this matter, and to exert the influence I am
about to show they possess, for the removal of slavery from
America. I can appeal to them, as strongly by their regard for
the slaveholder as for the slave, to labor in this cause. I am
here, because you have an influence on America that no other
nation can have. You have been drawn together by the power of
steam to a marvelous extent; the distance between London and
Boston is now reduced to some twelve or fourteen days, so that
the denunciations against slavery, uttered in London this week,
may be heard in a fortnight in the streets of Boston, and
reverberating amidst the hills of Massachusetts. There is
nothing said here against slavery that will not be recorded in
the United States. I am here, also, because the slaveholders do
not want me to be here; they would rather that I were not here.
I have adopted a maxim laid down by Napoleon, never to occupy
ground which the enemy would like me to occupy. The slaveholders
would much rather have me, if I will denounce slavery, denounce
it in the northern states, where their friends and supporters
are, who will stand by and mob me for denouncing it. They feel
something as the man felt, when he uttered his prayer, in which
he made out a most horrible case for himself, and one of his
neighbors touched him and said, "My friend, I always had the
opinion of you that you have now expressed for yourself--that you
are a very great sinner." Coming from himself, it was all very
well, but coming from a stranger it was rather cutting. The
slaveholders felt that when slavery was denounced among
themselves, it was not so bad; but let one of the slaves get
loose, let him summon the people of Britain, and make known to
them the conduct of the slaveholders toward their slaves, and it
cuts them to the quick, and produces a sensation such as would be
produced by nothing else. The power I exert now is something
like the power that is exerted by the man at the end of the
lever; my influence now is just in proportion to the distance
that I am from the United States. My exposure of slavery abroad
will tell more upon the hearts and consciences of slaveholders,
than if I was attacking them in America; for almost every paper
that I now receive from the United States, comes teeming with
statements about this fugitive Negro, calling him a "glib-tongued
scoundrel," and saying that he is running out against the
institutions and people of America. I deny the charge that I am
saying a word against the institutions of America, <327>or the
people, as such. What I have to say is against slavery and
slaveholders. I feel at liberty to speak on this subject. I
have on my back the marks of the lash; I have four sisters and
one brother now under the galling chain. I feel it my duty to
cry aloud and spare not. I am not averse to having the good
opinion of my fellow creatures. I am not averse to being kindly
regarded by all men; but I am bound, even at the hazard of making
a large class of religionists in this country hate me, oppose me,
and malign me as they have done--I am bound by the prayers, and
tears, and entreaties of three millions of kneeling bondsmen, to
have no compromise with men who are in any shape or form
connected with the slaveholders of America. I expose slavery in
this country, because to expose it is to kill it. Slavery is one
of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is
death. Expose slavery, and it dies. Light is to slavery what
the heat of the sun is to the root of a tree; it must die under
it. All the slaveholder asks of me is silence. He does not ask
me to go abroad and preach _in favor_ of slavery; he does not ask
any one to do that. He would not say that slavery is a good
thing, but the best under the circumstances. The slaveholders
want total darkness on the subject. They want the hatchway shut
down, that the monster may crawl in his den of darkness, crushing
human hopes and happiness, destroying the bondman at will, and
having no one to reprove or rebuke him. Slavery shrinks from the
light; it hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest its
deeds should be reproved. To tear off the mask from this
abominable system, to expose it to the light of heaven, aye, to
the heat of the sun, that it may burn and wither it out of
existence, is my object in coming to this country. I want the
slaveholder surrounded, as by a wall of anti-slavery fire, so
that he may see the condemnation of himself and his system
glaring down in letters of light. I want him to feel that he has
no sympathy in England, Scotland, or Ireland; that he has none in
Canada, none in Mexico, none among the poor wild Indians; that
the voice of the civilized, aye, and savage world is against him.
I would have condemnation blaze down upon him in every direction,
till, stunned and overwhelmed with shame and confusion, he is
compelled to let go the grasp he holds upon the persons of his
victims, and restore them to their long-lost rights.

_Dr. Campbell's Reply_

From Rev. Dr. Campbell's brilliant reply we extract the
following: FREDERICK DOUGLASS, the beast of burden," the portion
of "goods and chattels," the representative of three millions of
men, has been raised <328>up! Shall I say the _man?_ If there
is a man on earth, he is a man. My blood boiled within me when I
heard his address tonight, and thought that he had left behind
him three millions of such men.

We must see more of this man; we must have more of this man. One
would have taken a voyage round the globe some forty years back--
especially since the introduction of steam--to have heard such an
exposure of slavery from the lips of a slave. It will be an era
in the individual history of the present assembly. Our
children--our boys and girls--I have tonight seen the delightful
sympathy of their hearts evinced by their heaving breasts, while
their eyes sparkled with wonder and admiration, that this black
man--this slave--had so much logic, so much wit, so much fancy,
so much eloquence. He was something more than a man, according
to their little notions. Then, I say, we must hear him again.
We have got a purpose to accomplish. He has appealed to the
pulpit of England. The English pulpit is with him. He has
appealed to the press of England; the press of England is
conducted by English hearts, and that press will do him justice.
About ten days hence, and his second master, who may well prize
"such a piece of goods," will have the pleasure of reading his
burning words, and his first master will bless himself that he
has got quit of him. We have to create public opinion, or
rather, not to create it, for it is created already; but we have
to foster it; and when tonight I heard those magnificent words--
the words of Curran, by which my heart, from boyhood, has
ofttimes been deeply moved--I rejoice to think that they embody
an instinct of an Englishman's nature. I heard, with
inexpressible delight, how they told on this mighty mass of the
citizens of the metropolis.

Britain has now no slaves; we can therefore talk to the other
nations now, as we could not have talked a dozen years ago. I
want the whole of the London ministry to meet Douglass. For as
his appeal is to England, and throughout England, I should
rejoice in the idea of churchmen and dissenters merging all
sectional distinctions in this cause. Let us have a public
breakfast. Let the ministers meet him; let them hear him; let
them grasp his hand; and let him enlist their sympathies on
behalf of the slave. Let him inspire them with abhorrence of the
man-stealer--the slaveholder. No slaveholding American shall
ever my cross my door. No slaveholding or slavery-supporting
minister shall ever pollute my pulpit. While I have a tongue to
speak, or a hand to write, I will, to the utmost of my power,
oppose these slaveholding men. We must have Douglass amongst us
to aid in fostering public opinion.

The great conflict with slavery must now take place in America;
and <329>while they are adding other slave states to the Union,
our business is to step forward and help the abolitionists there.
It is a pleasing circumstance that such a body of men has risen
in America, and whilst we hurl our thunders against her slavers,
let us make a distinction between those who advocate slavery and
those who oppose it. George Thompson has been there. This man,
Frederick Douglass, has been there, and has been compelled to
flee. I wish, when he first set foot on our shores, he had made
a solemn vow, and said, "Now that I am free, and in the sanctuary
of freedom, I will never return till I have seen the emancipation
of my country completed." He wants to surround these men, the
slaveholders, as by a wall of fire; and he himself may do much
toward kindling it. Let him travel over the island--east, west,
north, and south--everywhere diffusing knowledge and awakening
principle, till the whole nation become a body of petitioners to
America. He will, he must, do it. He must for a season make
England his home. He must send for his wife. He must send for
his children. I want to see the sons and daughters of such a
sire. We, too, must do something for him and them worthy of the
English name. I do not like the idea of a man of such mental
dimensions, such moral courage, and all but incomparable talent,
having his own small wants, and the wants of a distant wife and
children, supplied by the poor profits of his publication, the
sketch of his life. Let the pamphlet be bought by tens of
thousands. But we will do something more for him, shall we not?

It only remains that we pass a resolution of thanks to Frederick
Douglass, the slave that was, the man that is! He that was
covered with chains, and that is now being covered with glory,
and whom we will send back a gentleman.

_To My Old Master, Thomas Auld_

SIR--The long and intimate, though by no means friendly, relation
which unhappily subsisted between you and myself, leads me to
hope that you will easily account for the great liberty which I
now take in addressing you in this open and public manner. The
same fact may remove any disagreeable surprise which you may
experience on again finding your name coupled with mine, in any
other way than in an advertisement, accurately describing my
person, and offering a large sum for my arrest. In thus dragging
you again before the public, I am aware that I shall subject
myself to no inconsiderable amount of censure. I shall probably
be charged with an unwarrantable, if not a wanton and reckless
disregard of the rights and properties of private life. There
are those north as well as south who entertain a much higher
respect for rights which are merely conventional, than they do
for rights which are personal and essential. Not a few there are
in our country, who, while they have no scruples against robbing
the laborer of the hard earned results of his patient industry,
will be shocked by the extremely indelicate manner of bringing
your name before the public. Believing this to be the case, and
wishing to meet every reasonable or plausible objection to my
conduct, I will frankly state the ground upon which I justfy{sic}
myself in this instance, as well as on former occasions when I
have thought proper to mention your name in public. All will
agree that a man guilty of theft, robbery, or murder, has
forfeited the right to concealment and private life; that the
community have a right to subject such persons to the most
complete exposure. However much they may desire retirement, and
aim to conceal themselves and their movements from the popular
gaze, the public have a right to ferret them out, and bring their
conduct before

[11] It is not often that chattels address their owners. The
following letter is unique; and probably the only specimen of the
kind extant. It was written while in England.

<331>the proper tribunals of the country for investigation. Sir,
you will undoubtedly make the proper application of these
generally admitted principles, and will easily see the light in
which you are regarded by me; I will not therefore manifest ill
temper, by calling you hard names. I know you to be a man of
some intelligence, and can readily determine the precise estimate
which I entertain of your character. I may therefore indulge in
language which may seem to others indirect and ambiguous, and yet
be quite well understood by yourself.

I have selected this day on which to address you, because it is
the anniversary of my emancipation; and knowing no better way, I
am led to this as the best mode of celebrating that truly
important events. Just ten years ago this beautiful September
morning, yon bright sun beheld me a slave--a poor degraded
chattel--trembling at the sound of your voice, lamenting that I
was a man, and wishing myself a brute. The hopes which I had
treasured up for weeks of a safe and successful escape from your
grasp, were powerfully confronted at this last hour by dark
clouds of doubt and fear, making my person shake and my bosom to
heave with the heavy contest between hope and fear. I have no
words to describe to you the deep agony of soul which I
experienced on that never-to-be-forgotten morning--for I left by
daylight. I was making a leap in the dark. The probabilities,
so far as I could by reason determine them, were stoutly against
the undertaking. The preliminaries and precautions I had adopted
previously, all worked badly. I was like one going to war
without weapons--ten chances of defeat to one of victory. One in
whom I had confided, and one who had promised me assistance,
appalled by fear at the trial hour, deserted me, thus leaving the
responsibility of success or failure solely with myself. You,
sir, can never know my feelings. As I look back to them, I can
scarcely realize that I have passed through a scene so trying.
Trying, however, as they were, and gloomy as was the prospect,
thanks be to the Most High, who is ever the God of the oppressed,
at the moment which was to determine my whole earthly career, His
grace was sufficient; my mind was made up. I embraced the golden
opportunity, took the morning tide at the flood, and a free man,
young, active, and strong, is the result.

I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds
upon which I have justified myself in running away from you. I
am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have
discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them. When
yet but a child about six years old, I imbibed the determination
to run away. The very first mental <332>effort that I now
remember on my part, was an attempt to solve the mystery--why am
I a slave? and with this question my youthful mind was troubled
for many days, pressing upon me more heavily at times than
others. When I saw the slave-driver whip a slave-woman, cut the
blood out of her neck, and heard her piteous cries, I went away
into the corner of the fence, wept and pondered over the mystery.
I had, through some medium, I know not what, got some idea of
God, the Creator of all mankind, the black and the white, and
that he had made the blacks to serve the whites as slaves. How
he could do this and be _good_, I could not tell. I was not
satisfied with this theory, which made God responsible for
slavery, for it pained me greatly, and I have wept over it long
and often. At one time, your first wife, Mrs. Lucretia, heard me
sighing and saw me shedding tears, and asked of me the matter,
but I was afraid to tell her. I was puzzled with this question,
till one night while sitting in the kitchen, I heard some of the
old slaves talking of their parents having been stolen from
Africa by white men, and were sold here as slaves. The whole
mystery was solved at once. Very soon after this, my Aunt Jinny
and Uncle Noah ran away, and the great noise made about it by
your father-in-law, made me for the first time acquainted with
the fact, that there were free states as well as slave states.
From that time, I resolved that I would some day run away. The
morality of the act I dispose of as follows: I am myself; you
are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What
you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both,
and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bond to you, or
you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me,
or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or
you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must
breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct
persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary
to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but
what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for
obtaining an _honest_ living. Your faculties remained yours, and
mine became useful to their rightful owner. I therefore see no
wrong in any part of the transaction. It is true, I went off
secretly; but that was more your fault than mine. Had I let you
into the secret, you would have defeated the enterprise entirely;
but for this, I should have been really glad to have made you
acquainted with my intentions to leave.

You may perhaps want to know how I like my present condition. I
am free to say, I greatly prefer it to that which I occupied in
Maryland. I am, however, by no means prejudiced against the
state as such. Its geography, climate, fertility, and products,
are such as to make it a very <333>desirable abode for any man;
and but for the existence of slavery there, it is not impossible
that I might again take up my abode in that state. It is not
that I love Maryland less, but freedom more. You will be
surprised to learn that people at the north labor under the
strange delusion that if the slaves were emancipated at the
south, they would flock to the north. So far from this being the
case, in that event, you would see many old and familiar faces
back again to the south. The fact is, there are few here who
would not return to the south in the event of emancipation. We
want to live in the land of our birth, and to lay our bones by
the side of our fathers; and nothing short of an intense love of
personal freedom keeps us from the south. For the sake of this,
most of us would live on a crust of bread and a cup of cold

Since I left you, I have had a rich experience. I have occupied
stations which I never dreamed of when a slave. Three out of the
ten years since I left you, I spent as a common laborer on the
wharves of New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was there I earned my
first free dollar. It was mine. I could spend it as I pleased.
I could buy hams or herring with it, without asking any odds of
anybody. That was a precious dollar to me. You remember when I
used to make seven, or eight, or even nine dollars a week in
Baltimore, you would take every cent of it from me every Saturday
night, saying that I belonged to you, and my earnings also. I
never liked this conduct on your part--to say the best, I thought
it a little mean. I would not have served you so. But let that
pass. I was a little awkward about counting money in New England
fashion when I first landed in New Bedford. I came near
betraying myself several times. I caught myself saying phip, for
fourpence; and at one time a man actually charged me with being a
runaway, whereupon I was silly enough to become one by running
away from him, for I was greatly afraid he might adopt measures
to get me again into slavery, a condition I then dreaded more
than death.

I soon learned, however, to count money, as well as to make it,
and got on swimmingly. I married soon after leaving you; in
fact, I was engaged to be married before I left you; and instead
of finding my companion a burden, she was truly a helpmate. She
went to live at service, and I to work on the wharf, and though
we toiled hard the first winter, we never lived more happily.
After remaining in New Bedford for three years, I met with
William Lloyd Garrison, a person of whom you have _possibly_
heard, as he is pretty generally known among slaveholders. He
put it into my head that I might make myself serviceable to the
cause of the slave, by devoting a portion of my time to telling
my own sorrows, and those of other slaves, which had come under
my observation. This <334>was the commencement of a higher state
of existence than any to which I had ever aspired. I was thrown
into society the most pure, enlightened, and benevolent, that the
country affords. Among these I have never forgotten you, but
have invariably made you the topic of conversation--thus giving
you all the notoriety I could do. I need not tell you that the
opinion formed of you in these circles is far from being
favorable. They have little respect for your honesty, and less
for your religion.

But I was going on to relate to you something of my interesting
experience. I had not long enjoyed the excellent society to
which I have referred, before the light of its excellence exerted
a beneficial influence on my mind and heart. Much of my early
dislike of white persons was removed, and their manners, habits,
and customs, so entirely unlike what I had been used to in the
kitchen-quarters on the plantations of the south, fairly charmed
me, and gave me a strong disrelish for the coarse and degrading
customs of my former condition. I therefore made an effort so to
improve my mind and deportment, as to be somewhat fitted to the
station to which I seemed almost providentially called. The
transition from degradation to respectability was indeed great,
and to get from one to the other without carrying some marks of
one's former condition, is truly a difficult matter. I would not
have you think that I am now entirely clear of all plantation
peculiarities, but my friends here, while they entertain the
strongest dislike to them, regard me with that charity to which
my past life somewhat entitles me, so that my condition in this
respect is exceedingly pleasant. So far as my domestic affairs
are concerned, I can boast of as comfortable a dwelling as your
own. I have an industrious and neat companion, and four dear
children--the oldest a girl of nine years, and three fine boys,
the oldest eight, the next six, and the youngest four years old.
The three oldest are now going regularly to school--two can read
and write, and the other can spell, with tolerable correctness,
words of two syllables. Dear fellows! they are all in
comfortable beds, and are sound asleep, perfectly secure under my
own roof. There are no slaveholders here to rend my heart by
snatching them from my arms, or blast a mother's dearest hopes by
tearing them from her bosom. These dear children are ours--not
to work up into rice, sugar, and tobacco, but to watch over,
regard, and protect, and to rear them up in the nurture and
admonition of the gospel--to train them up in the paths of wisdom
and virtue, and, as far as we can, to make them useful to the
world and to themselves. Oh! sir, a slaveholder never appears to
me so completely an agent of hell, as when I think of and look
upon my dear children. It is then that my feelings rise above my
control. I meant to have said more with respect to my own
prosperity and happiness, but thoughts and feel<335>ings which
this recital has quickened, unfit me to proceed further in that
direction. The grim horrors of slavery rise in all their ghastly
terror before me; the wails of millions pierce my heart and chill
my blood. I remember the chain, the gag, the bloody whip; the
death-like gloom overshadowing the broken spirit of the fettered
bondman; the appalling liability of his being torn away from wife
and children, and sold like a beast in the market. Say not that
this is a picture of fancy. You well know that I wear stripes on
my back, inflicted by your direction; and that you, while we were
brothers in the same church, caused this right hand, with which I
am now penning this letter, to be closely tied to my left, and my
person dragged, at the pistol's mouth, fifteen miles, from the
Bay Side to Easton, to be sold like a beast in the market, for
the alleged crime of intending to escape from your possession.
All this, and more, you remember, and know to be perfectly true,
not only of yourself, but of nearly all of the slaveholders
around you.

At this moment, you are probably the guilty holder of at least
three of my own dear sisters, and my only brother, in bondage.
These you regard as your property. They are recorded on your
ledger, or perhaps have been sold to human flesh-mongers, with a
view to filling our own ever-hungry purse. Sir, I desire to know
how and where these dear sisters are. Have you sold them? or are
they still in your possession? What has become of them? are they
living or dead? And my dear old grandmother, whom you turned out
like an old horse to die in the woods--is she still alive? Write
and let me know all about them. If my grandmother be still
alive, she is of no service to you, for by this time she must be
nearly eighty years old--too old to be cared for by one to whom
she has ceased to be of service; send her to me at Rochester, or
bring her to Philadelphia, and it shall be the crowning happiness
of my life to take care of her in her old age. Oh! she was to me
a mother and a father, so far as hard toil for my comfort could
make her such. Send me my grandmother! that I may watch over and
take care of her in her old age. And my sisters--let me know all
about them. I would write to them, and learn all I want to know
of them, without disturbing you in any way, but that, through
your unrighteous conduct, they have been entirely deprived of the
power to read and write. You have kept them in utter ignorance,
and have therefore robbed them of the sweet enjoyments of writing
or receiving letters from absent friends and relatives. Your
wickedness and cruelty, committed in this respect on your fellow-
creatures, are greater than all the stripes you have laid upon my
back or theirs. It is an outrage upon the soul, a war upon the
immortal spirit, and one for which you must give account at the
bar of our common Father and Creator.

The responsibility which you have assumed in this regard is truly
awful, and how you could stagger under it these many years is
marvelous. Your mind must have become darkened, your heart
hardened, your conscience seared and petrified, or you would have
long since thrown off the accursed load, and sought relief at the
hands of a sin-forgiving God. How, let me ask, would you look
upon me, were I, some dark night, in company with a band of
hardened villains, to enter the precincts of your elegant
dwelling, and seize the person of your own lovely daughter,
Amanda, and carry her off from your family, friends, and all the
loved ones of her youth--make her my slave--compel her to work,
and I take her wages--place her name on my ledger as property--
disregard her personal rights--fetter the powers of her immortal
soul by denying her the right and privilege of learning to read
and write--feed her coarsely--clothe her scantily, and whip her
on the naked back occasionally; more, and still more horrible,
leave her unprotected--a degraded victim to the brutal lust of
fiendish overseers, who would pollute, blight, and blast her fair
soul--rob her of all dignity--destroy her virtue, and annihilate
in her person all the graces that adorn the character of virtuous
womanhood? I ask, how would you regard me, if such were my
conduct? Oh! the vocabulary of the damned would not afford a
word sufficiently infernal to express your idea of my God-
provoking wickedness. Yet, sir, your treatment of my beloved
sisters is in all essential points precisely like the case I have
now supposed. Damning as would be such a deed on my part, it
would be no more so than that which you have committed against me
and my sisters.

I will now bring this letter to a close; you shall hear from me
again unless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of
you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery--as a
means of concentrating public attention on the system, and
deepening the horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of
men. I shall make use of you as a means of exposing the
character of the American church and clergy--and as a means of
bringing this guilty nation, with yourself, to repentance. In
doing this, I entertain no malice toward you personally. There
is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and
there is nothing in my house which you might need for your
comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should
esteem it a privilege to set you an example as to how mankind
ought to treat each other.

_I am your fellow-man, but not your slave_.

_Extract from a Lecture on Slavery, at Rochester,
December 1, 1850_

More than twenty years of my life were consumed in a state of
slavery. My childhood was environed by the baneful peculiarities
of the slave system. I grew up to manhood in the presence of
this hydra headed monster--not as a master--not as an idle
spectator--not as the guest of the slaveholder--but as A SLAVE,
eating the bread and drinking the cup of slavery with the most
degraded of my brother-bondmen, and sharing with them all the
painful conditions of their wretched lot. In consideration of
these facts, I feel that I have a right to speak, and to speak
_strongly_. Yet, my friends, I feel bound to speak truly.

Goading as have been the cruelties to which I have been
subjected--bitter as have been the trials through which I have
passed--exasperating as have been, and still are, the indignities
offered to my manhood--I find in them no excuse for the slightest
departure from truth in dealing with any branch of this subject.

First of all, I will state, as well as I can, the legal and
social relation of master and slave. A master is one--to speak
in the vocabulary of the southern states--who claims and
exercises a right of property in the person of a fellow-man.
This he does with the force of the law and the sanction of
southern religion. The law gives the master absolute power over
the slave. He may work him, flog him, hire him out, sell him,
and, in certain contingencies, _kill_ him, with perfect impunity.
The slave is a human being, divested of all rights--reduced to
the level of a brute--a mere "chattel" in the eye of the law--
placed beyond the circle of human brotherhood--cut off from his
kind--his name, which the "recording angel" may have enrolled in
heaven, among the blest, is impiously inserted in a _master's
ledger_, with horses, sheep, and swine. In law, the slave has no
wife, no children, no country, and no home. He can own nothing,
possess nothing, acquire nothing, but what must belong to
another. To <338>eat the fruit of his own toil, to clothe his
person with the work of his own hands, is considered stealing.
He toils that another may reap the fruit; he is industrious that
another may live in idleness; he eats unbolted meal that another
may eat the bread of fine flour; he labors in chains at home,
under a burning sun and biting lash, that another may ride in
ease and splendor abroad; he lives in ignorance that another may
be educated; he is abused that another may be exalted; he rests
his toil-worn limbs on the cold, damp ground that another may
repose on the softest pillow; he is clad in coarse and tattered
raiment that another may be arrayed in purple and fine linen; he
is sheltered only by the wretched hovel that a master may dwell
in a magnificent mansion; and to this condition he is bound down
as by an arm of iron.

From this monstrous relation there springs an unceasing stream of
most revolting cruelties. The very accompaniments of the slave
system stamp it as the offspring of hell itself. To ensure good
behavior, the slaveholder relies on the whip; to induce proper
humility, he relies on the whip; to rebuke what he is pleased to
term insolence, he relies on the whip; to supply the place of
wages as an incentive to toil, he relies on the whip; to bind
down the spirit of the slave, to imbrute and destroy his manhood,
he relies on the whip, the chain, the gag, the thumb-screw, the
pillory, the bowie knife the pistol, and the blood-hound. These
are the necessary and unvarying accompaniments of the system.
Wherever slavery is found, these horrid instruments are also
found. Whether on the coast of Africa, among the savage tribes,
or in South Carolina, among the refined and civilized, slavery is
the same, and its accompaniments one and the same. It makes no
difference whether the slaveholder worships the God of the
Christians, or is a follower of Mahomet, he is the minister of
the same cruelty, and the author of the same misery. _Slavery_
is always _slavery;_ always the same foul, haggard, and damning
scourge, whether found in the eastern or in the western

There is a still deeper shade to be given to this picture. The
physical cruelties are indeed sufficiently harassing and
revolting; but they are as a few grains of sand on the sea shore,
or a few drops of water in the great ocean, compared with the
stupendous wrongs which it inflicts upon the mental, moral, and
religious nature of its hapless victims. It is only when we
contemplate the slave as a moral and intellectual being, that we
can adequately comprehend the unparalleled enormity of slavery,
and the intense criminality of the slaveholder. I have said that
the slave was a man. "What a piece of work is man! How noble in
reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving how
express and admirable! In action <339>how like an angel! In
apprehension how like a God! The beauty of the world! The
paragon of animals!"

The slave is a man, "the image of God," but "a little lower than
the angels;" possessing a soul, eternal and indestructible;
capable of endless happiness, or immeasurable woe; a creature of
hopes and fears, of affections and passions, of joys and sorrows,
and he is endowed with those mysterious powers by which man soars
above the things of time and sense, and grasps, with undying
tenacity, the elevating and sublimely glorious idea of a God. It
is _such_ a being that is smitten and blasted. The first work of
slavery is to mar and deface those characteristics of its victims
which distinguish _men_ from _things_, and _persons_ from
_property_. Its first aim is to destroy all sense of high moral
and religious responsibility. It reduces man to a mere machine.
It cuts him off from his Maker, it hides from him the laws of
God, and leaves him to grope his way from time to eternity in the
dark, under the arbitrary and despotic control of a frail,
depraved, and sinful fellow-man. As the serpent-charmer of India
is compelled to extract the deadly teeth of his venomous prey
before he is able to handle him with impunity, so the slaveholder
must strike down the conscience of the slave before he can obtain
the entire mastery over his victim.

It is, then, the first business of the enslaver of men to blunt,
deaden, and destroy the central principle of human
responsibility. Conscience is, to the individual soul, and to
society, what the law of gravitation is to the universe. It
holds society together; it is the basis of all trust and
confidence; it is the pillar of all moral rectitude. Without it,
suspicion would take the place of trust; vice would be more than
a match for virtue; men would prey upon each other, like the wild
beasts of the desert; and earth would become a _hell_.

Nor is slavery more adverse to the conscience than it is to the
mind. This is shown by the fact, that in every state of the
American Union, where slavery exists, except the state of
Kentucky, there are laws absolutely prohibitory of education
among the slaves. The crime of teaching a slave to read is
punishable with severe fines and imprisonment, and, in some
instances, with _death itself_.

Nor are the laws respecting this matter a dead letter. Cases may
occur in which they are disregarded, and a few instances may be
found where slaves may have learned to read; but such are
isolated cases, and only prove the rule. The great mass of
slaveholders look upon education among the slaves as utterly
subversive of the slave system. I well remember when my mistress
first announced to my master that she had dis<340>covered that I
could read. His face colored at once with surprise and chagrin.
He said that "I was ruined, and my value as a slave destroyed;
that a slave should know nothing but to obey his master; that to
give a negro an inch would lead him to take an ell; that having
learned how to read, I would soon want to know how to write; and
that by-and-by I would be running away." I think my audience
will bear witness to the correctness of this philosophy, and to
the literal fulfillment of this prophecy.

It is perfectly well understood at the south, that to educate a
slave is to make him discontened{sic} with slavery, and to invest
him with a power which shall open to him the treasures of
freedom; and since the object of the slaveholder is to maintain
complete authority over his slave, his constant vigilance is
exercised to prevent everything which militates against, or
endangers, the stability of his authority. Education being among
the menacing influences, and, perhaps, the most dangerous, is,
therefore, the most cautiously guarded against.

It is true that we do not often hear of the enforcement of the
law, punishing as a crime the teaching of slaves to read, but
this is not because of a want of disposition to enforce it. The
true reason or explanation of the matter is this: there is the
greatest unanimity of opinion among the white population in the
south in favor of the policy of keeping the slave in ignorance.
There is, perhaps, another reason why the law against education
is so seldom violated. The slave is too poor to be able to offer
a temptation sufficiently strong to induce a white man to violate
it; and it is not to be supposed that in a community where the
moral and religious sentiment is in favor of slavery, many
martyrs will be found sacrificing their liberty and lives by
violating those prohibitory enactments.

As a general rule, then, darkness reigns over the abodes of the
enslaved, and "how great is that darkness!"

We are sometimes told of the contentment of the slaves, and are
entertained with vivid pictures of their happiness. We are told
that they often dance and sing; that their masters frequently
give them wherewith to make merry; in fine, that they have little
of which to complain. I admit that the slave does sometimes
sing, dance, and appear to be merry. But what does this prove?
It only proves to my mind, that though slavery is armed with a
thousand stings, it is not able entirely to kill the elastic
spirit of the bondman. That spirit will rise and walk abroad,
despite of whips and chains, and extract from the cup of nature
occasional drops of joy and gladness. No thanks to the
slaveholder, nor to slavery, that the <341>vivacious captive may
sometimes dance in his chains; his very mirth in such
circumstances stands before God as an accusing angel against his

It is often said, by the opponents of the anti-slavery cause,
that the condition of the people of Ireland is more deplorable
than that of the American slaves. Far be it from me to underrate
the sufferings of the Irish people. They have been long
oppressed; and the same heart that prompts me to plead the cause
of the American bondman, makes it impossible for me not to
sympathize with the oppressed of all lands. Yet I must say that
there is no analogy between the two cases. The Irishman is poor,
but he is not a slave. He may be in rags, but he is not a slave.
He is still the master of his own body, and can say with the
poet, "The hand of Douglass is his own." "The world is all
before him, where to choose;" and poor as may be my opinion of
the British parliament, I cannot believe that it will ever sink
to such a depth of infamy as to pass a law for the recapture of
fugitive Irishmen! The shame and scandal of kidnapping will long
remain wholly monopolized by the American congress. The Irishman
has not only the liberty to emigrate from his country, but he has
liberty at home. He can write, and speak, and cooperate for the
attainment of his rights and the redress of his wrongs.

The multitude can assemble upon all the green hills and fertile
plains of the Emerald Isle; they can pour out their grievances,
and proclaim their wants without molestation; and the press, that
"swift-winged messenger," can bear the tidings of their doings to
the extreme bounds of the civilized world. They have their
"Conciliation Hall," on the banks of the Liffey, their reform
clubs, and their newspapers; they pass resolutions, send forth
addresses, and enjoy the right of petition. But how is it with
the American slave? Where may he assemble? Where is his
Conciliation Hall? Where are his newspapers? Where is his right
of petition? Where is his freedom of speech? his liberty of the
press? and his right of locomotion? He is said to be happy;
happy men can speak. But ask the slave what is his condition--
what his state of mind--what he thinks of enslavement? and you
had as well address your inquiries to the _silent dead_. There
comes no _voice_ from the enslaved. We are left to gather his
feelings by imagining what ours would be, were our souls in his
soul's stead.

If there were no other fact descriptive of slavery, than that the
slave is dumb, this alone would be sufficient to mark the slave
system as a grand aggregation of human horrors.

Most who are present, will have observed that leading men in this
<342>country have been putting forth their skill to secure quiet
to the nation. A system of measures to promote this object was
adopted a few months ago in congress. The result of those
measures is known. Instead of quiet, they have produced alarm;
instead of peace, they have brought us war; and so it must ever

While this nation is guilty of the enslavement of three millions
of innocent men and women, it is as idle to think of having a
sound and lasting peace, as it is to think there is no God to
take cognizance of the affairs of men. There can be no peace to
the wicked while slavery continues in the land. It will be
condemned; and while it is condemned there will be agitation.
Nature must cease to be nature; men must become monsters;
humanity must be transformed; Christianity must be exterminated;
all ideas of justice and the laws of eternal goodness must be
utterly blotted out from the human soul--ere a system so foul and
infernal can escape condemnation, or this guilty republic can
have a sound, enduring peace.


_Extract from A Lecture on Slavery, at Rochester,
December 8, 1850_

The relation of master and slave has been called patriarchal, and
only second in benignity and tenderness to that of the parent and
child. This representation is doubtless believed by many
northern people; and this may account, in part, for the lack of
interest which we find among persons whom we are bound to believe
to be honest and humane. What, then, are the facts? Here I will
not quote my own experience in slavery; for this you might call
one-sided testimony. I will not cite the declarations of
abolitionists; for these you might pronounce exaggerations. I
will not rely upon advertisements cut from newspapers; for these
you might call isolated cases. But I will refer you to the laws
adopted by the legislatures of the slave states. I give you such
evidence, because it cannot be invalidated nor denied. I hold in
my hand sundry extracts from the slave codes of our country, from
which I will quote. * * *

Now, if the foregoing be an indication of kindness, _what is
cruelty_? If this be parental affection, _what is bitter
malignity_? A more atrocious and blood-thirsty string of laws
could not well be conceived of. And yet I am bound to say that
they fall short of indicating the horrible cruelties constantly
practiced in the slave states.

I admit that there are individual slaveholders less cruel and
barbarous than is allowed by law; but these form the exception.
The majority of slaveholders find it necessary, to insure
obedience, at times, to avail themselves of the utmost extent of
the law, and many go beyond it. If kindness were the rule, we
should not see advertisements filling the columns of almost every
southern newspaper, offering large rewards for fugitive slaves,
and describing them as being branded with irons, loaded with
chains, and scarred by the whip. One of the most telling
testimonies against the pretended kindness of slaveholders, is
the fact that uncounted numbers of fugitives are now inhabiting
the Dismal Swamp, preferring <344>the untamed wilderness to their
cultivated homes--choosing rather to encounter hunger and thirst,
and to roam with the wild beasts of the forest, running the
hazard of being hunted and shot down, than to submit to the
authority of _kind_ masters.

I tell you, my friends, humanity is never driven to such an
unnatural course of life, without great wrong. The slave finds
more of the milk of human kindness in the bosom of the savage
Indian, than in the heart of his _Christian_ master. He leaves
the man of the _bible_, and takes refuge with the man of the
_tomahawk_. He rushes from the praying slaveholder into the paws
of the bear. He quits the homes of men for the haunts of wolves.
He prefers to encounter a life of trial, however bitter, or
death, however terrible, to dragging out his existence under the
dominion of these _kind_ masters.

The apologists for slavery often speak of the abuses of slavery;
and they tell us that they are as much opposed to those abuses as
we are; and that they would go as far to correct those abuses and
to ameliorate the condition of the slave as anybody. The answer
to that view is, that slavery is itself an abuse; that it lives
by abuse; and dies by the absence of abuse. Grant that slavery
is right; grant that the relations of master and slave may
innocently exist; and there is not a single outrage which was
ever committed against the slave but what finds an apology in the
very necessity of the case. As we said by a slaveholder (the
Rev. A. G. Few) to the Methodist conference, "If the relation be
right, the means to maintain it are also right;" for without
those means slavery could not exist. Remove the dreadful
scourge--the plaited thong--the galling fetter--the accursed
chain--and let the slaveholder rely solely upon moral and
religious power, by which to secure obedience to his orders, and
how long do you suppose a slave would remain on his plantation?
The case only needs to be stated; it carries its own refutation
with it.

Absolute and arbitrary power can never be maintained by one man
over the body and soul of another man, without brutal
chastisement and enormous cruelty.

To talk of _kindness_ entering into a relation in which one party
is robbed of wife, of children, of his hard earnings, of home, of
friends, of society, of knowledge, and of all that makes this
life desirable, is most absurd, wicked, and preposterous.

I have shown that slavery is wicked--wicked, in that it violates
the great law of liberty, written on every human heart--wicked,
in that it violates the first command of the decalogue--wicked,
in that it fosters the most disgusting licentiousness--wicked, in
that it mars and defaces <345>the image of God by cruel and
barbarous inflictions--wicked, in that it contravenes the laws of
eternal justice, and tramples in the dust all the humane and
heavenly precepts of the New Testament.

The evils resulting from this huge system of iniquity are not
confined to the states south of Mason and Dixon's line. Its
noxious influence can easily be traced throughout our northern
borders. It comes even as far north as the state of New York.
Traces of it may be seen even in Rochester; and travelers have
told me it casts its gloomy shadows across the lake, approaching
the very shores of Queen Victoria's dominions.

The presence of slavery may be explained by--as it is the
explanation of--the mobocratic violence which lately disgraced
New York, and which still more recently disgraced the city of
Boston. These violent demonstrations, these outrageous invasions
of human rights, faintly indicate the presence and power of
slavery here. It is a significant fact, that while meetings for
almost any purpose under heaven may be held unmolested in the
city of Boston, that in the same city, a meeting cannot be
peaceably held for the purpose of preaching the doctrine of the
American Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created
equal." The pestiferous breath of slavery taints the whole moral
atmosphere of the north, and enervates the moral energies of the
whole people.

The moment a foreigner ventures upon our soil, and utters a
natural repugnance to oppression, that moment he is made to feel
that there is little sympathy in this land for him. If he were
greeted with smiles before, he meets with frowns now; and it
shall go well with him if he be not subjected to that peculiarly
fining method of showing fealty to slavery, the assaults of a

Now, will any man tell me that such a state of things is natural,
and that such conduct on the part of the people of the north,
springs from a consciousness of rectitude? No! every fibre of
the human heart unites in detestation of tyranny, and it is only
when the human mind has become familiarized with slavery, is
accustomed to its injustice, and corrupted by its selfishness,
that it fails to record its abhorrence of slavery, and does not
exult in the triumphs of liberty.

The northern people have been long connected with slavery; they
have been linked to a decaying corpse, which has destroyed the
moral health. The union of the government; the union of the
north and south, in the political parties; the union in the
religious organizations of the land, have all served to deaden
the moral sense of the northern people, and to impregnate them
with sentiments and ideas forever in conflict with what as a
nation we call _genius of American institutions_. Rightly
viewed, <346>this is an alarming fact, and ought to rally all
that is pure, just, and holy in one determined effort to crush
the monster of corruption, and to scatter "its guilty profits" to
the winds. In a high moral sense, as well as in a national
sense, the whole American people are responsible for slavery, and
must share, in its guilt and shame, with the most obdurate men-
stealers of the south.

While slavery exists, and the union of these states endures,
every American citizen must bear the chagrin of hearing his
country branded before the world as a nation of liars and
hypocrites; and behold his cherished flag pointed at with the
utmost scorn and derision. Even now an American _abroad_ is
pointed out in the crowd, as coming from a land where men gain
their fortunes by "the blood of souls," from a land of slave
markets, of blood-hounds, and slave-hunters; and, in some
circles, such a man is shunned altogether, as a moral pest. Is
it not time, then, for every American to awake, and inquire into
his duty with respect to this subject?

Wendell Phillips--the eloquent New England orator--on his return
from Europe, in 1842, said, "As I stood upon the shores of Genoa,
and saw floating on the placid waters of the Mediterranean, the
beautiful American war ship Ohio, with her masts tapering
proportionately aloft, and an eastern sun reflecting her noble
form upon the sparkling waters, attracting the gaze of the
multitude, my first impulse was of pride, to think myself an
American; but when I thought that the first time that gallant
ship would gird on her gorgeous apparel, and wake from beneath
her sides her dormant thunders, it would be in defense of the
African slave trade, I blushed in utter _shame_ for my country."

Let me say again, _slavery is alike the sin and the shame of the
American people;_ it is a blot upon the American name, and the
only national reproach which need make an American hang his head
in shame, in the presence of monarchical governments.

With this gigantic evil in the land, we are constantly told to
look _at home;_ if we say ought against crowned heads, we are
pointed to our enslaved millions; if we talk of sending
missionaries and bibles abroad, we are pointed to three millions
now lying in worse than heathen darkness; if we express a word of
sympathy for Kossuth and his Hungarian fugitive brethren, we are
pointed to that horrible and hell-black enactment, "the fugitive
slave bill."

Slavery blunts the edge of all our rebukes of tyranny abroad--the
criticisms that we make upon other nations, only call forth
ridicule, contempt, and scorn. In a word, we are made a reproach
and a by-word to a <347>mocking earth, and we must continue to be
so made, so long as slavery continues to pollute our soil.

We have heard much of late of the virtue of patriotism, the love
of country, &c., and this sentiment, so natural and so strong,
has been impiously appealed to, by all the powers of human
selfishness, to cherish the viper which is stinging our national
life away. In its name, we have been called upon to deepen our
infamy before the world, to rivet the fetter more firmly on the
limbs of the enslaved, and to become utterly insensible to the
voice of human woe that is wafted to us on every southern gale.
We have been called upon, in its name, to desecrate our whole
land by the footprints of slave-hunters, and even to engage
ourselves in the horrible business of kidnapping.

I, too, would invoke the spirit of patriotism; not in a narrow
and restricted sense, but, I trust, with a broad and manly
signification; not to cover up our national sins, but to inspire
us with sincere repentance; not to hide our shame from the
the{sic} world's gaze, but utterly to abolish the cause of that
shame; not to explain away our gross inconsistencies as a nation,
but to remove the hateful, jarring, and incongruous elements from
the land; not to sustain an egregious wrong, but to unite all our
energies in the grand effort to remedy that wrong.

I would invoke the spirit of patriotism, in the name of the law
of the living God, natural and revealed, and in the full belief
that "righteousness exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to
any people." "He that walketh righteously, and speaketh
uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that
shaketh his hands from the holding of bribes, he shall dwell on
high, his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks, bread
shall be given him, his water shall be sure."

We have not only heard much lately of patriotism, and of its aid
being invoked on the side of slavery and injustice, but the very
prosperity of this people has been called in to deafen them to
the voice of duty, and to lead them onward in the pathway of sin.
Thus has the blessing of God been converted into a curse. In the
spirit of genuine patriotism, I warn the American people, by all
that is just and honorable, to BEWARE!

I warn them that, strong, proud, and prosperous though we be,
there is a power above us that can "bring down high looks; at the
breath of whose mouth our wealth may take wings; and before whom
every knee shall bow;" and who can tell how soon the avenging
angel may pass over our land, and the sable bondmen now in
chains, may become the instruments of our nation's chastisement!
Without appealing to any higher feeling, I would warn the
American people, and the American govern<348>ment, to be wise in
their day and generation. I exhort them to remember the history
of other nations; and I remind them that America cannot always
sit "as a queen," in peace and repose; that prouder and stronger
governments than this have been shattered by the bolts of a just
God; that the time may come when those they now despise and hate,
may be needed; when those whom they now compel by oppression to
be enemies, may be wanted as friends. What has been, may be
again. There is a point beyond which human endurance cannot go.
The crushed worm may yet turn under the heel of the oppressor. I
warn them, then, with all solemnity, and in the name of
retributive justice, _to look to their ways;_ for in an evil
hour, those sable arms that have, for the last two centuries,
been engaged in cultivating and adorning the fair fields of our
country, may yet become the instruments of terror, desolation,
and death, throughout our borders.

It was the sage of the Old Dominion that said--while speaking of
the possibility of a conflict between the slaves and the
slaveholders--"God has no attribute that could take sides with
the oppressor in such a contest. I tremble for my country when I
reflect that God _is just_, and that his justice cannot sleep
forever." Such is the warning voice of Thomas Jefferson; and
every day's experience since its utterance until now, confirms
its wisdom, and commends its truth.


_Extract from an Oration, at Rochester, July 5, 1852_

Fellow-Citizens--Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called
upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to
do with your national independence? Are the great principles of
political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that
Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore,
called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar,
and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the
blessings, resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative
answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then
would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For
who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him?
Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would
not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so
stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the
hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude
had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like
that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as
an hart."

But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad
sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the
pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only
reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in
which you this day rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich
inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence,
bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The
sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought
stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is _yours_, not
mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters
into the grand illuminated <350>temple of liberty, and call upon
him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and
sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking
me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct.
And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a
nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by
the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable
ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and
woe-smitten people.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when
we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the
midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive,
required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us
mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing
the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not
remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultous joy, I hear the
mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous
yesterday, are to-day rendered more intolerable by the jubilant
shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully
remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my
right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the
roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their
wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason
most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before
God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is
AMERICAN SLAVERY. I shall see this day and its popular
characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there,
identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I
do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character
and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on
this Fourth of July. Whether we turn to the declarations of the
past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the
nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to
the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be
false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and
bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity
which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in
the name of the constitution and the bible, which are disregarded
and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with
all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to
perpetuate slavery--the great sin and shame of America! "I will
not equivocate; I will not excuse;" I will use the severest
language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that
any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is
not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, it is just in
this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to
make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue
more, and denounce less, would you persuade more and rebuke less,
your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit,
where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in
the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch
of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I
undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is
conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves
acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government.
They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of
the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the state of
Virginia, which, if committed by a black man (no matter how
ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while
only two of these same crimes will subject a white man to the
like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgement that the
slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being. The
manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact
that southern statute books are covered with enactments
forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the
slave to read or write. When you can point to any such laws, in
reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue
the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when
the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the
fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to
distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you
that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the
Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing,
planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools,
erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in
metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that, while we
are reading, writing, and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants,
and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers,
poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; that, while we
are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men--
digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific,
feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting,
thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and
children, and, above all, confessing and worshiping the
Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality
beyond the grave--we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he
is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared
it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a
question for republicans? <352>Is it to be settled by the rules
of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great
difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of
justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day in the
presence of Americans, dividing and subdividing a discourse, to
show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it
relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do
so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to
your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of
heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for _him_.

What! am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob
them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them
ignorant of their relations to their fellow-men, to beat them
with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their
limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at
auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to
burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to
their masters? Must I argue that a system, thus marked with
blood and stained with pollution, is wrong? No; I will not. I
have better employment for my time and strength than such
arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not
divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of
divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That
which is inhuman cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a
proposition! They that can, may! I cannot. The time for such
argument is past.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is
needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation's
ear, I would to-day pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule,
blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it
is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle
shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the
earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the
conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the
nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be
exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed
and denounced.

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a
day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year,
the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant
victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted
liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling
vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your
denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of
liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns,
your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade
and solemnity, <353>are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception,
impiety, and hypocrisy--a thin veil to cover up crimes which
would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the
earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, than are the
people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the
monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South
America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the
last, lay your facts by the side of the every-day practices of
this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting
barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a


_Extract from an Oration, at Rochester, July 5, 1852_

Take the American slave trade, which, we are told by the papers,
is especially prosperous just now. Ex-senator Benton tells us
that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the
fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of
the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in
all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy;
and millions are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid
traffic. In several states this trade is a chief source of
wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave
trade) _"the internal slave trade_." It is, probably, called so,
too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign
slave trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been
denounced by this government as piracy. It has been denounced
with burning words, from the high places of the nation, as an
execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this
nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa.
Everywhere in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign
slave trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the laws
of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it is
admitted even by our _doctors of divinity_. In order to put an
end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored
brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and
establish themselves on the western coast of Africa. It is,
however, a notable fact, that, while so much execration is poured
out by Americans, upon those engaged in the foreign slave trade,
the men engaged in the slave trade between the states pass
without condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave trade--the
American slave trade sustained by American politics and American
religion! Here you will see men and women reared like swine for
the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a
man-drover. They inhabit all our southern states. They
perambulate the country, and crowd the <355>highways of the
nation with droves of human stock. You will see one of these
human-flesh-jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife,
driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the
Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched
people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers.
They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill.
Mark the sad procession as it moves wearily along, and the
inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his
blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives.
There, see the old man, with locks thinned and gray. Cast one
glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders
are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the
brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen,
weeping, yes, weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she
has been torn. The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have
nearly consumed their strength. Suddenly you hear a quick snap,
like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain
rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream that
seems to have torn its way to the center of your soul. The crack
you heard was the sound of the slave whip; the scream you heard
was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered
under the weight of her child and her chains; that gash on her
shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to New Orleans.
Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms
of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of
American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated
forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that
scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun,
can you witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this
is but a glance at the American slave trade, as it exists at this
moment, in the ruling part of the United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave
trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often
pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot street,
Fell's Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the
slave ships in the basin, anchored from the shore, with their
cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them
down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart
kept at the head of Pratt street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents
were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing
their arrival through the papers, and on flaming hand-bills,
headed, "cash for negroes." These men were generally well
dressed, and very captivating in their manners; ever ready to
drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate <356>of many a slave
has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has
been snatched from the arms of its mothers by bargains arranged
in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive
them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a
sufficient number have been collected here, a ship is chartered,
for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile or to New
Orleans. From the slave-prison to the ship, they are usually
driven in the darkness of night; for since the anti-slavery
agitation a certain caution is observed.

In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often
aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps and the piteous cries of the
chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish
heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my
mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very
wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the
heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with
me in my horror.

Fellow citizens, this murderous traffic is to-day in active
operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my
spirit, I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the south;
I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered
humanity, on the way to the slave markets, where the victims are
to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the
highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly
broken, to gratify the lust, caprice, and rapacity of the buyers
and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.

_Is this the land your fathers loved?
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?_

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of
things remains to be presented. By an act of the American
congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in
its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and
Dixon's line has been obliterated; New York has become as
Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women, and
children as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution,
but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power
is coextensive with the star-spangled banner and American
christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-
hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for
the sportsman's gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human
decrees, the liberty and person of every man are <357>put in
peril. Your broad republican domain is a hunting-ground for
_men_. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely,
but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded
all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your
president, your secretary of state, your lords, nobles, and
ecclesiastics, enforce as a duty you owe to your free and
glorious country and to your God, that you do this accursed
thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have within the past two
years been hunted down, and without a moment's warning, hurried
away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating
torture. Some of these have had wives and children dependent on
them for bread; but of this no account was made. The right of
the hunter to his prey, stands superior to the right of marriage,
and to _all_ rights in this republic, the rights of God included!
For black men there are neither law, justice, humanity, nor
religion. The fugitive slave law makes MERCY TO THEM A CRIME;
and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge GETS TEN
DOLLARS FOR EVERY VICTIM HE CONSIGNS to slavery, and five, when
he fails to do so. The oath of an{sic} two villains is
sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most
pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of
slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no
witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound
by the law to hear but _one side_, and that side is the side of
the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let
it be thundered around the world, that, in tyrant-killing, king
hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America, the seats
of justice are filled with judges, who hold their office under an
open and palpable _bribe_, and are bound, in deciding in the case
of a man's liberty, _to hear only his accusers!_

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the
forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the
defenseless, and in diabolical intent, this fugitive slave law
stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if
there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the
baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in
this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and
feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him
at any suitable time and place he may select.


_Extract from a Speech Delivered before the A. A. S. Society, in
New York, May, 1853_

Sir, it is evident that there is in this country a purely slavery
party--a party which exists for no other earthly purpose but to
promote the interests of slavery. The presence of this party is
felt everywhere in the republic. It is known by no particular
name, and has assumed no definite shape; but its branches reach
far and wide in the church and in the state. This shapeless and
nameless party is not intangible in other and more important
respects. That party, sir, has determined upon a fixed,
definite, and comprehensive policy toward the whole colored
population of the United States. What that policy is, it becomes
us as abolitionists, and especially does it become the colored
people themselves, to consider and to understand fully. We ought
to know who our enemies are, where they are, and what are their
objects and measures. Well, sir, here is my version of it--not
original with me--but mine because I hold it to be true.

I understand this policy to comprehend five cardinal objects.
They are these: 1st. The complete suppression of all anti-slavery
discussion. 2d. The expatriation of the entire free people of
color from the United States. 3d. The unending perpetuation of
slavery in this republic. 4th. The nationalization of slavery to
the extent of making slavery respected in every state of the
Union. 5th. The extension of slavery over Mexico and the entire
South American states.

Sir, these objects are forcibly presented to us in the stern
logic of passing events; in the facts which are and have been
passing around us during the last three years. The country has
been and is now dividing on these grand issues. In their
magnitude, these issues cast all others into the shade, depriving
them of all life and vitality. Old party ties are broken. Like
is finding its like on either side of these great issues, and the
great battle is at hand. For the present, the best
representative of the slavery party in politics is the democratic
party. Its great head for the <359>present is President Pierce,
whose boast it was, before his election, that his whole life had
been consistent with the interests of slavery, that he is above
reproach on that score. In his inaugural address, he reassures
the south on this point. Well, the head of the slave power being
in power, it is natural that the pro slavery elements should
cluster around the administration, and this is rapidly being
done. A fraternization is going on. The stringent
protectionists and the free-traders strike hands. The supporters
of Fillmore are becoming the supporters of Pierce. The silver-
gray whig shakes hands with the hunker democrat; the former only
differing from the latter in name. They are of one heart, one
mind, and the union is natural and perhaps inevitable. Both hate
Negroes; both hate progress; both hate the "higher law;" both
hate William H. Seward; both hate the free democratic party; and
upon this hateful basis they are forming a union of hatred.
"Pilate and Herod are thus made friends." Even the central organ
of the whig party is extending its beggar hand for a morsel from
the table of slavery democracy, and when spurned from the feast
by the more deserving, it pockets the insult; when kicked on one
side it turns the other, and preseveres in its importunities.
The fact is, that paper comprehends the demands of the times; it
understands the age and its issues; it wisely sees that slavery
and freedom are the great antagonistic forces in the country, and
it goes to its own side. Silver grays and hunkers all understand
this. They are, therefore, rapidly sinking all other questions
to nothing, compared with the increasing demands of slavery.
They are collecting, arranging, and consolidating their forces
for the accomplishment of their appointed work.

The keystone to the arch of this grand union of the slavery party
of the United States, is the compromise of 1850. In that
compromise we have all the objects of our slaveholding policy
specified. It is, sir, favorable to this view of the designs of
the slave power, that both the whig and the democratic party bent
lower, sunk deeper, and strained harder, in their conventions,
preparatory to the late presidential election, to meet the
demands of the slavery party than at any previous time in their
history. Never did parties come before the northern people with
propositions of such undisguised contempt for the moral sentiment
and the religious ideas of that people. They virtually asked
them to unite in a war upon free speech, and upon conscience, and
to drive the Almighty presence from the councils of the nation.
Resting their platforms upon the fugitive slave bill, they boldly
asked the people for political power to execute the horrible and
hell-black provisions of that bill. The history of that election
reveals, with great clearness, the extent to which <360>slavery
has shot its leprous distillment through the life-blood of the
nation. The party most thoroughly opposed to the cause of
justice and humanity, triumphed; while the party suspected of a
leaning toward liberty, was overwhelmingly defeated, some say

But here is a still more important fact, illustrating the designs
of the slave power. It is a fact full of meaning, that no sooner
did the democratic slavery party come into power, than a system
of legislation was presented to the legislatures of the northern
states, designed to put the states in harmony with the fugitive
slave law, and the malignant bearing of the national government
toward the colored inhabitants of the country. This whole
movement on the part of the states, bears the evidence of having
one origin, emanating from one head, and urged forward by one
power. It was simultaneous, uniform, and general, and looked to
one end. It was intended to put thorns under feet already
bleeding; to crush a people already bowed down; to enslave a
people already but half free; in a word, it was intended to
discourage, dishearten, and drive the free colored people out of
the country. In looking at the recent black law of Illinois, one
is struck dumb with its enormity. It would seem that the men who
enacted that law, had not only banished from their minds all
sense of justice, but all sense of shame. It coolly proposes to
sell the bodies and souls of the blacks to increase the
intelligence and refinement of the whites; to rob every black
stranger who ventures among them, to increase their literary

While this is going on in the states, a pro-slavery, political
board of health is established at Washington. Senators Hale,
Chase, and Sumner are robbed of a part of their senatorial
dignity and consequence as representing sovereign states, because
they have refused to be inoculated with the slavery virus. Among
the services which a senator is expected by his state to perform,
are many that can only be done efficiently on committees; and, in
saying to these honorable senators, you shall not serve on the
committees of this body, the slavery party took the
responsibility of robbing and insulting the states that sent
them. It is an attempt at Washington to decide for the states
who shall be sent to the senate. Sir, it strikes me that this
aggression on the part of the slave power did not meet at the
hands of the proscribed senators the rebuke which we had a right
to expect would be administered. It seems to me that an
opportunity was lost, that the great principle of senatorial
equality was left undefended, at a time when its vindication was
sternly demanded. But it is not to the purpose of my present
statement to criticise the conduct of our friends. I am
persuaded that much ought to be left to the discretion of
<361>anti slavery men in congress, and charges of recreancy
should never be made but on the most sufficient grounds. For, of
all the places in the world where an anti-slavery man needs the
confidence and encouragement of friends, I take Washington to be
that place.

Let me now call attention to the social influences which are
operating and cooperating with the slavery party of the country,
designed to contribute to one or all of the grand objects aimed
at by that party. We see here the black man attacked in his
vital interests; prejudice and hate are excited against him;
enmity is stirred up between him and other laborers. The Irish
people, warm-hearted, generous, and sympathizing with the
oppressed everywhere, when they stand upon their own green
island, are instantly taught, on arriving in this Christian
country, to hate and despise the colored people. They are taught
to believe that we eat the bread which of right belongs to them.
The cruel lie is told the Irish, that our adversity is essential
to their prosperity. Sir, the Irish-American will find out his
mistake one day. He will find that in assuming our avocation he
also has assumed our degradation. But for the present we are
sufferers. The old employments by which we have heretofore
gained our livelihood, are gradually, and it may be inevitably,
passing into other hands. Every hour sees us elbowed out of some
employment to make room perhaps for some newly-arrived emigrants,
whose hunger and color are thought to give them a title to
especial favor. White men are becoming house-servants, cooks,
and stewards, common laborers, and flunkeys to our gentry, and,
for aught I see, they adjust themselves to their stations with
all becoming obsequiousness. This fact proves that if we cannot
rise to the whites, the whites can fall to us. Now, sir, look
once more. While the colored people are thus elbowed out of
employment; while the enmity of emigrants is being excited
against us; while state after state enacts laws against us; while
we are hunted down, like wild game, and oppressed with a general
feeling of insecurity--the American colonization society--that
old offender against the best interests and slanderer of the
colored people--awakens to new life, and vigorously presses its
scheme upon the consideration of the people and the government.
New papers are started--some for the north and some for the
south--and each in its tone adapting itself to its latitude.
Government, state and national, is called upon for appropriations
to enable the society to send us out of the country by steam!
They want steamers to carry letters and Negroes to Africa.
Evidently, this society looks upon our "extremity as its
opportunity," and we may expect that it will use the occasion
well. They do not deplore, but glory, in our misfortunes.

But, sir, I must hasten. I have thus briefly given my view of
one aspect of the present condition and future prospects of the
colored people of the United States. And what I have said is far
from encouraging to my afflicted people. I have seen the cloud
gather upon the sable brows of some who hear me. I confess the
case looks black enough. Sir, I am not a hopeful man. I think I
am apt even to undercalculate the benefits of the future. Yet,
sir, in this seemingly desperate case, I do not despair for my
people. There is a bright side to almost every picture of this
kind; and ours is no exception to the general rule. If the
influences against us are strong, those for us are also strong.
To the inquiry, will our enemies prevail in the execution of
their designs. In my God and in my soul, I believe they _will
not_. Let us look at the first object sought for by the slavery
party of the country, viz: the suppression of anti slavery
discussion. They desire to suppress discussion on this subject,
with a view to the peace of the slaveholder and the security of
slavery. Now, sir, neither the principle nor the subordinate
objects here declared, can be at all gained by the slave power,
and for this reason: It involves the proposition to padlock the
lips of the whites, in order to secure the fetters on the limbs
of the blacks. The right of speech, precious and priceless,
_cannot, will not_, be surrendered to slavery. Its suppression
is asked for, as I have said, to give peace and security to
slaveholders. Sir, that thing cannot be done. God has
interposed an insuperable obstacle to any such result. "There
can be _no peace_, saith my God, to the wicked." Suppose it were
possible to put down this discussion, what would it avail the
guilty slaveholder, pillowed as he is upon heaving bosoms of
ruined souls? He could not have a peaceful spirit. If every
anti-slavery tongue in the nation were silent--every anti-slavery
organization dissolved--every anti-slavery press demolished--
every anti slavery periodical, paper, book, pamphlet, or what
not, were searched out, gathered, deliberately burned to ashes,
and their ashes given to the four winds of heaven, still, still
the slaveholder could have _"no peace_." In every pulsation of
his heart, in every throb of his life, in every glance of his
eye, in the breeze that soothes, and in the thunder that
startles, would be waked up an accuser, whose cause is, "Thou
art, verily, guilty concerning thy brother."


_Extracts from a Lecture before Various Anti-Slavery Bodies, in
the Winter of 1855_

A grand movement on the part of mankind, in any direction, or for
any purpose, moral or political, is an interesting fact, fit and
proper to be studied. It is such, not only for those who eagerly
participate in it, but also for those who stand aloof from it--
even for those by whom it is opposed. I take the anti-slavery
movement to be such an one, and a movement as sublime and
glorious in its character, as it is holy and beneficent in the
ends it aims to accomplish. At this moment, I deem it safe to
say, it is properly engrossing more minds in this country than
any other subject now before the American people. The late John
C. Calhoun--one of the mightiest men that ever stood up in the
American senate--did not deem it beneath him; and he probably
studied it as deeply, though not as honestly, as Gerrit Smith, or
William Lloyd Garrison. He evinced the greatest familiarity with
the subject; and the greatest efforts of his last years in the
senate had direct reference to this movement. His eagle eye
watched every new development connected with it; and he was ever
prompt to inform the south of every important step in its
progress. He never allowed himself to make light of it; but
always spoke of it and treated it as a matter of grave import;
and in this he showed himself a master of the mental, moral, and
religious constitution of human society. Daniel Webster, too, in
the better days of his life, before he gave his assent to the
fugitive slave bill, and trampled upon all his earlier and better
convictions--when his eye was yet single--he clearly comprehended
the nature of the elements involved in this movement; and in his
own majestic eloquence, warned the south, and the country, to
have a care how they attempted to put it down. He is an
illustration that it is easier to give, than to take, good
advice. To these two men--the greatest men to whom the nation
has yet given birth--may be traced the two great facts of the
present--the south triumphant, and the north humbled. <364>Their
names may stand thus--Calhoun and domination--Webster and
degradation. Yet again. If to the enemies of liberty this
subject is one of engrossing interest, vastly more so should it
be such to freedom's friends. The latter, it leads to the gates
of all valuable knowledge--philanthropic, ethical, and religious;
for it brings them to the study of man, wonderfully and fearfully
made--the proper study of man through all time--the open book, in
which are the records of time and eternity.

Of the existence and power of the anti-slavery movement, as a
fact, you need no evidence. The nation has seen its face, and
felt the controlling pressure of its hand. You have seen it
moving in all directions, and in all weathers, and in all places,
appearing most where desired least, and pressing hardest where
most resisted. No place is exempt. The quiet prayer meeting,
and the stormy halls of national debate, share its presence
alike. It is a common intruder, and of course has the name of
being ungentlemanly. Brethren who had long sung, in the most
affectionate fervor, and with the greatest sense of security,

_Together let us sweetly live--together let us die,_

have been suddenly and violently separated by it, and ranged in
hostile attitude toward each other. The Methodist, one of the
most powerful religious organizations of this country, has been
rent asunder, and its strongest bolts of denominational
brotherhood started at a single surge. It has changed the tone
of the northern pulpit, and modified that of the press. A
celebrated divine, who, four years ago, was for flinging his own
mother, or brother, into the remorseless jaws of the monster
slavery, lest he should swallow up the Union, now recognizes
anti-slavery as a characteristic of future civilization. Signs
and wonders follow this movement; and the fact just stated is one
of them. Party ties are loosened by it; and men are compelled to
take sides for or against it, whether they will or not. Come
from where he may, or come for what he may, he is compelled to
show his hand. What is this mighty force? What is its history?
and what is its destiny? Is it ancient or modern, transient or
permanent? Has it turned aside, like a stranger and a sojourner,
to tarry for a night? or has it come to rest with us forever?
Excellent chances are here for speculation; and some of them are
quite profound. We might, for instance, proceed to inquire not
only into the philosophy of the anti-slavery movement, but into
the philosophy of the law, in obedience to which that movement
started into existence. We might demand to know what is that law
or power, which, at different times, disposes the minds of men to
this or that particular object--now for peace, and now for war--
now for free<365>dom, and now for slavery; but this profound
question I leave to the abolitionists of the superior class to
answer. The speculations which must precede such answer, would
afford, perhaps, about the same satisfaction as the learned
theories which have rained down upon the world, from time to
time, as to the origin of evil. I shall, therefore, avoid water
in which I cannot swim, and deal with anti-slavery as a fact,
like any other fact in the history of mankind, capable of being
described and understood, both as to its internal forces, and its
external phases and relations.

[After an eloquent, a full, and highly interesting exposition of
the nature, character, and history of the anti-slavery movement,
from the insertion of which want of space precludes us, he
concluded in the following happy manner.]

Present organizations may perish, but the cause will go on. That
cause has a life, distinct and independent of the organizations
patched up from time to time to carry it forward. Looked at,
apart from the bones and sinews and body, it is a thing immortal.
It is the very essence of justice, liberty, and love. The moral
life of human society, it cannot die while conscience, honor, and
humanity remain. If but one be filled with it, the cause lives.
Its incarnation in any one individual man, leaves the whole world
a priesthood, occupying the highest moral eminence even that of
disinterested benevolence. Whoso has ascended his height, and
has the grace to stand there, has the world at his feet, and is
the world's teacher, as of divine right. He may set in judgment
on the age, upon the civilization of the age, and upon the
religion of the age; for he has a test, a sure and certain test,
by which to try all institutions, and to measure all men. I say,
he may do this, but this is not the chief business for which he
is qualified. The great work to which he is called is not that
of judgment. Like the Prince of Peace, he may say, if I judge, I
judge righteous judgment; still mainly, like him, he may say,
this is not his work. The man who has thoroughly embraced the
principles of justice, love, and liberty, like the true preacher
of Christianity, is less anxious to reproach the world of its
sins, than to win it to repentance. His great work on earth is
to exemplify, and to illustrate, and to ingraft those principles
upon the living and practical understandings of all men within
the reach of his influence. This is his work; long or short his
years, many or few his adherents, powerful or weak his
instrumentalities, through good report, or through bad report,
this is his work. It is to snatch from the bosom of nature the
latent facts of each individual man's experience, and with steady
hand to hold them up fresh and glowing, enforeing, with all his
power, their acknowledgment and practical adoption. If there be
but _one_ <366>such man in the land, no matter what becomes of
abolition societies and parties, there will be an anti-slavery
cause, and an anti-slavery movement. Fortunately for that cause,
and fortunately for him by whom it is espoused, it requires no
extraordinary amount of talent to preach it or to receive it when
preached. The grand secret of its power is, that each of its
principles is easily rendered appreciable to the faculty of
reason in man, and that the most unenlightened conscience has no
difficulty in deciding on which side to register its testimony.
It can call its preachers from among the fishermen, and raise
them to power. In every human breast, it has an advocate which
can be silent only when the heart is dead. It comes home to
every man's understanding, and appeals directly to every man's
conscience. A man that does not recognize and approve for
himself the rights and privileges contended for, in behalf of the
American slave, has not yet been found. In whatever else men may
differ, they are alike in the apprehension of their natural and
personal rights. The difference between abolitionists and those
by whom they are opposed, is not as to principles. All are
agreed in respect to these. The manner of applying them is the
point of difference.

The slaveholder himself, the daily robber of his equal brother,
discourses eloquently as to the excellency of justice, and the
man who employs a brutal driver to flay the flesh of his negroes,
is not offended when kindness and humanity are commended. Every
time the abolitionist speaks of justice, the anti-abolitionist
assents says, yes, I wish the world were filled with a
disposition to render to every man what is rightfully due him; I
should then get what is due me. That's right; let us have
justice. By all means, let us have justice. Every time the
abolitionist speaks in honor of human liberty, he touches a chord
in the heart of the anti-abolitionist, which responds in
harmonious vibrations. Liberty--yes, that is evidently my right,
and let him beware who attempts to invade or abridge that right.
Every time he speaks of love, of human brotherhood, and the
reciprocal duties of man and man, the anti-abolitionist assents--
says, yes, all right--all true--we cannot have such ideas too
often, or too fully expressed. So he says, and so he feels, and
only shows thereby that he is a man as well as an anti-
abolitionist. You have only to keep out of sight the manner of
applying your principles, to get them endorsed every time.
Contemplating himself, he sees truth with absolute clearness and
distinctness. He only blunders when asked to lose sight of
himself. In his own cause he can beat a Boston lawyer, but he is
dumb when asked to plead the cause of others. He knows very well
whatsoever he would have done unto himself, but is quite in doubt
as to having the <367>same thing done unto others. It is just
here, that lions spring up in the path of duty, and the battle
once fought in heaven is refought on the earth. So it is, so
hath it ever been, and so must it ever be, when the claims of
justice and mercy make their demand at the door of human
selfishness. Nevertheless, there is that within which ever
pleads for the right and the just.

In conclusion, I have taken a sober view of the present anti-
slavery movement. I am sober, but not hopeless. There is no
denying, for it is everywhere admitted, that the anti-slavery
question is the great moral and social question now before the
American people. A state of things has gradually been developed,
by which that question has become the first thing in order. It
must be met. Herein is my hope. The great idea of impartial
liberty is now fairly before the American people. Anti-slavery
is no longer a thing to be prevented. The time for prevention is
past. This is great gain. When the movement was younger and
weaker--when it wrought in a Boston garret to human apprehension,
it might have been silently put out of the way. Things are
different now. It has grown too large--its friends are too
numerous--its facilities too abundant--its ramifications too
extended--its power too omnipotent, to be snuffed out by the
contingencies of infancy. A thousand strong men might be struck
down, and its ranks still be invincible. One flash from the
heart-supplied intellect of Harriet Beecher Stowe could light a
million camp fires in front of the embattled host of slavery,
which not all the waters of the Mississippi, mingled as they are
with blood, could extinguish. The present will be looked to by
after coming generations, as the age of anti-slavery literature--
when supply on the gallop could not keep pace with the ever
growing demand--when a picture of a Negro on the cover was a help
to the sale of a book--when conservative lyceums and other
American literary associations began first to select their
orators for distinguished occasions from the ranks of the
previously despised abolitionists. If the anti-slavery movement
shall fail now, it will not be from outward opposition, but from
inward decay. Its auxiliaries are everywhere. Scholars,
authors, orators, poets, and statesmen give it their aid. The
most brilliant of American poets volunteer in its service.
Whittier speaks in burning verse to more than thirty thousand, in
the National Era. Your own Longfellow whispers, in every hour of
trial and disappointment, "labor and wait." James Russell Lowell
is reminding us that "men are more than institutions." Pierpont
cheers the heart of the pilgrim in search of liberty, by singing
the praises of "the north star." Bryant, too, is with us; and
though chained to the car of party, and dragged on amidst a whirl
of <368>political excitement, he snatches a moment for letting
drop a smiling verse of sympathy for the man in chains. The
poets are with us. It would seem almost absurd to say it,
considering the use that has been made of them, that we have
allies in the Ethiopian songs; those songs that constitute our
national music, and without which we have no national music.
They are heart songs, and the finest feelings of human nature are
expressed in them. "Lucy Neal," "Old Kentucky Home," and "Uncle
Ned," can make the heart sad as well as merry, and can call forth
a tear as well as a smile. They awaken the sympathies for the
slave, in which antislavery principles take root, grow, and
flourish. In addition to authors, poets, and scholars at home,
the moral sense of the civilized world is with us. England,
France, and Germany, the three great lights of modern
civilization, are with us, and every American traveler learns to
regret the existence of slavery in his country. The growth of
intelligence, the influence of commerce, steam, wind, and
lightning are our allies. It would be easy to amplify this
summary, and to swell the vast conglomeration of our material
forces; but there is a deeper and truer method of measuring the
power of our cause, and of comprehending its vitality. This is
to be found in its accordance with the best elements of human
nature. It is beyond the power of slavery to annihilate
affinities recognized and established by the Almighty. The slave
is bound to mankind by the powerful and inextricable net-work of
human brotherhood. His voice is the voice of a man, and his cry
is the cry of a man in distress, and man must cease to be man
before he can become insensible to that cry. It is the righteous
of the cause--the humanity of the cause--which constitutes its
potency. As one genuine bankbill is worth more than a thousand
counterfeits, so is one man, with right on his side, worth more
than a thousand in the wrong. "One may chase a thousand, and put
ten thousand to flight." It is, therefore, upon the goodness of
our cause, more than upon all other auxiliaries, that we depend
for its final triumph.

Another source of congratulations is the fact that, amid all the
efforts made by the church, the government, and the people at
large, to stay the onward progress of this movment, its course
has been onward, steady, straight, unshaken, and unchecked from
the beginning. Slavery has gained victories large and numerous;
but never as against this movement--against a temporizing policy,
and against northern timidity, the slave power has been
victorious; but against the spread and prevalence in the country,
of a spirit of resistance to its aggression, and of sentiments
favorable to its entire overthrow, it has yet accomplished
nothing. Every measure, yet devised and executed, having for its
object the suppression <369>of anti-slavery, has been as idle and
fruitless as pouring oil to extinguish fire. A general rejoicing
took place on the passage of "the compromise measures" of 1850.
Those measures were called peace measures, and were afterward
termed by both the great parties of the country, as well as by
leading statesmen, a final settlement of the whole question of
slavery; but experience has laughed to scorn the wisdom of pro-
slavery statesmen; and their final settlement of agitation seems
to be the final revival, on a broader and grander scale than ever
before, of the question which they vainly attempted to suppress
forever. The fugitive slave bill has especially been of positive
service to the anti-slavery movement. It has illustrated before
all the people the horrible character of slavery toward the
slave, in hunting him down in a free state, and tearing him away
from wife and children, thus setting its claims higher than
marriage or parental claims. It has revealed the arrogant and
overbearing spirit of the slave states toward the free states;
despising their principles--shocking their feelings of humanity,
not only by bringing before them the abominations of slavery, but
by attempting to make them parties to the crime. It has called
into exercise among the colored people, the hunted ones, a spirit
of manly resistance well calculated to surround them with a
bulwark of sympathy and respect hitherto unknown. For men are
always disposed to respect and defend rights, when the victims of
oppression stand up manfully for themselves.

There is another element of power added to the anti-slavery
movement, of great importance; it is the conviction, becoming
every day more general and universal, that slavery must be
abolished at the south, or it will demoralize and destroy liberty
at the north. It is the nature of slavery to beget a state of
things all around it favorable to its own continuance. This
fact, connected with the system of bondage, is beginning to be
more fully realized. The slave-holder is not satisfied to
associate with men in the church or in the state, unless he can
thereby stain them with the blood of his slaves. To be a slave-
holder is to be a propagandist from necessity; for slavery can
only live by keeping down the under-growth morality which nature
supplies. Every new-born white babe comes armed from the Eternal
presence, to make war on slavery. The heart of pity, which would
melt in due time over the brutal chastisements it sees inflicted
on the helpless, must be hardened. And this work goes on every
day in the year, and every hour in the day.

What is done at home is being done also abroad here in the north.
And even now the question may be asked, have we at this moment a
single free state in the Union? The alarm at this point will
become more general. <370>The slave power must go on in its
career of exactions. Give, give, will be its cry, till the
timidity which concedes shall give place to courage, which shall
resist. Such is the voice of experience, such has been the past,
such is the present, and such will be that future, which, so sure
as man is man, will come. Here I leave the subject; and I leave
off where I began, consoling myself and congratulating the
friends of freedom upon the fact that the anti-slavery cause is
not a new thing under the sun; not some moral delusion which a
few years' experience may dispel. It has appeared among men in
all ages, and summoned its advocates from all ranks. Its
foundations are laid in the deepest and holiest convictions, and
from whatever soul the demon, selfishness, is expelled, there
will this cause take up its abode. Old as the everlasting hills;
immovable as the throne of God; and certain as the purposes of
eternal power, against all hinderances, and against all delays,
and despite all the mutations of human instrumentalities, it is
the faith of my soul, that this anti-slavery cause will triumph.

Frederick Douglass

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