Boston New-England anti-slavery convention. 10th.

Address of the New-England anti-slavery convention to the slaves of the United States; online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryBoston New-England anti-slavery convention. 10thAddress of the New-England anti-slavery convention to the slaves of the United States; → online text (page 1 of 2)
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Assembled in Convention, from all parts of New-Eng-
land, in Faneuil Hall, the Old Cradle of Liberty, in
the oily of Boston, we, the friends of universal eman-
cipation — the enemies of slavery, whether at home or
abroad — your advocates and defenders — would im-
prove this opportunity to address to you words of sym-
pathy, of consolation, of encouragement and hope.

We wish you to know who you are — by whom and
for what purpose you were created — who are your op-
pressors, and what they profess to receive as self-evi-
dent truths, in regard to the rights of man — who are
your friends, and in what manner they stand ready to
aid you — what has been effected in your cause, within
the last ten years, in the United States — and what is
the prospect of your emancipation from chains and ser-

In tlie first place, then, you are men — created in the
same divine image as all other men — as good, as noble,
as free, by birth and destiny, as your masters — as much
entitled to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,'
as those who cruelly enslave you — made but a little
lower than the angels of heaven, and destined to an
immortal state of existence — equal members of the
great human family. These truths you must believe
and understand, if you desu-e to have your chains brok-
en, and your oppression come to a speedy end.

Know this, also, that God never made a slave master,
nor a slave. He abhors cruelty and injustice in every
form, and his judgments have been poured out on those
nations that have refused to let the oppressed go free.
He pities all who are sighing in bondage, and will work
out their redemption, at whatever cost to those who are
crushing them in the dust. He ' has made of one blood
all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth'
— not to war with each other — not to defraud, degrade,
torment, persecute, or oppress each other — but to enjoy
equal rights and perfect liberty, to love and do good to
each other, to dwell together in unity, lie is no re-
specter of persons, but has given to all the stamp of his
divinity, and his tender mercies are over all the works
of his hands. ' Thus saith the Lord, Execute judgment
and righteousness, and deliver the s{)oilcd out of the
hand of the oppressor; and do no wrong, do no violence
to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither
shed innocent blood.' Such is your Creator, Father,
and God.

Your masters say that you are an inferior race ; that
you were born to be slaves ; that it is by the w^ill and
direction of God, that you are held in captivity. Your
religious teachers declare that the Bible (which they
call the word of God) sanctions slavery, and requires
you to submit to it as of righful authority. Believe
them not I They all speak falsely, and the truth is not
in them. They libel the character of God, and pervert
the teachings of the Bible in the most awful manner.
They combine to take from you all your hard earnings ;
they cover your bodies with stripes ; they will not allow
you to obtain light and knowledge ; they call you their
property, and sell you and your children'at auction, as
they do their cattle and swine. If they will steal, will
they not lie ? Listen not to what they tell you. They
are the enemies of God and man. Their religion is of
Beelzebub, the prince of devils ; not of Jesus, the Son
of God. As long as they keep you in slavery, they defy
Jehovah, reject Christ, and grieve the Holy Spirit.

God made you to be free — free as the birds that
cleave the air, or sing on the branches — free as the
sunshine that gladdens the earth — free as the winds
that sweep over sea and land ; — free at your birth, free
during yonr whole life, free to-day, this hour, this mo-
ment ! He has given you faculties to be improved, and
souls to live forever. He has made you to glorify him
in your bodies and spirits, to be happy here and hereaf-
ter, and not to be a degraded and miserable race Your
masters have no more right to enslave you, than you
have to enslave them — to sell your children, and lace-
rate your bodies, and take your lives, than you have to
inflict these outrages on them and theirs. The com-
plexion of your masters is no better than yours — a
black skin is as good as a white one. It is for you to
say when, or where, or for whom you will work ; where
you will go, or in wliat part of the country or the world
you will reside. If your masters prevent you from do-
ing as you wish, they rob 3'ou of an inahenable right,
and your blood will be required at their hands. If you
submit unresistingly to their commands, do it for Christ's
sake, (who died the just for the unjust,) and not because
they claim a rightful authority over you — for they have
no such authority.

Your masters tell us that you do not wish to be free ;
that you are contented and happy as slaves; that you
are much attached to their persons, and ready to lay
down your lives to save them from harm ; that you have
an abundance of good clothes, good food, and all that
you need to make your situation comfortable ; that your
tasks are hght, and easily performed ; and that you are
much better off than such of your number as have been
liberated from bondage. We do not believe one word
that they say. We know, from the natural desire for
liberty that bums in the bosom of every human being —
from the horribly unjust code of laws by which you are
governed — from the attempts of slaves, in all countries,
to obtain their freedom by insurrection and massacre —

from the vigilance with which all yonr movements are
watched, as though yon only waited for an op])ortiinity
to strike an effectual blow for your rights — from the
testimony of thousands of slaves, who have escaped to
the North and to Canada — from the numerous adver-
tisements, in sonthern newspapers, of rnnaways from
the plantations — that yonr masters are trying to deceive
us. We are sure that your situation is a dreadful one,
and that there is nothing in the world 3^ou desire so
much ns liberty.

We know that you are driven to the field like beasts,
under the lash of cruel overseers or drivers, and there
compelled to toil from earliest dawn till late at night:
that you do not have sufficient clothing or food ; that
you have no laws to protect you from the most terrible
punishment your masters may choose to inflict on your
persons; that many of your bodies are covered with
scars, and branded with red hot irons; that you arc con-
stantly liable to receive wounds and bruises, stripes,
mutilations, insults and outrages innumerable ; that your
groans are borne to us on every southern breeze, your
tears are falling thick and fast, your blood is flowing
continually ; that you are regarded as four-footed beasts
and creeping things, and bouglit and sold with farming
utensils and household furniture. We know all these
things, and a great deal more, in regard to your condition.

Who, O unhappy countrymen, are your oppressors ?
They are the descendants of those, who, in 1770, threw
off the British yoke, and for seven years waged war
against a despotic power, until at length they secured
their independence. In a certain Declaration which
they published to the world, at that period, and which
is now read and subscribed to on the fourth of July an-
nually, they said — ' We hold these truths to be self-
evident — that all men are created equal ; that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ;
that among these are life, hberty, and the pursuit of
happiness : — That, to secure these rights, governments

are instituted among men, deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed; that whenever any
form of government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the right of the })eople to alter or aboHsh it, and to
institute a new government, laying its foundation on
such principles, and organizing its powers in such form,
as to them shall seem most likety to effect their safety
and happiness. . . . When a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evin-
ces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism,
it is their risht, it is their duty, to THKOW OFF
SUCH GOVERNMENT, and to provide new guards
for their future security.'

In acknowledging the tmths set forth in this Declara-
tion to be self-evident, your masters, in reducing you to
slavery, are condemned as hypocrites and liars, out of
their own mouths. By precept and example, they de-
clare that it is both your right and your duty to wage
war against them, and to wade through their blood, if
necessary, to secure your own freedom. They glor}^ in
the revolutionary war, and greatly honor the names of
those heroes who took up arms to destroy their oppres-
sors. One of those heroes — Patrick Henry, of Vir-
ginia — exclaimed, ' Give me liberty, or give me death 1 '
Another — Joseph Warren, of Massachusetts — said,
* My sons, scorn to be slaves I ' Their ciy was,

' Hereditary bondsmen ! know ye not,
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow? '

When, a few years since, the Poles rose in insurrection
against the Russian power — and the Greeks rushed to
the strife of blood against their Turkish oppressors —
and the South Americans broke in pieces the Spanish
yoke, and made themselves free and independent —
your masters, in common with all the people of the
North, cheered them on to the conflict, and sent them
banners and arms to enable them to triumph in the
cause of liberty — exclaiming,

* O, where 's the slave, so lowly,
Condemned to chains unholy,
Who, could he burst his bonds at first,
"Would pine beneath them slowly ? '

Yet, should you attempt to regain your freedom in
the same manner, you would be branded as murderers
and monsters, and slaughtered without mercy ! But
the celebrated Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, has truly
said that, in such a contest, the Almighty has no attri-
bute which can take side with your oppressors ; and,
though a slaveholder himself, he was forced many years
ago to exclaim, in view of your enslavement, — * I trem-
ble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that
his justice cannot sleep forever; that considering num-
bers, nature, and natural means only, a revolution of
the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is
among possible events ; that it may become probable
by supernatural inteference I' And he concluded by
expressing the hope that the way was ' preparing, un-
der the auspices of Heaven, for a total emancipation,
and that this was disposed, in the order of events, to be
with the consent of the masters, rather than by their ex-

Thomas Jefferson wrote in this manner more than
sixty years since. At that ])criod, your number was a
little more than half a million ; now it is more than
two miUions and a half Sad and dreary has been your
existence up to the present hour ; and, doubtless, you
have almost given up all hope of ever celebrating the
day of jubilee — your own emancipation — on this side
of the grave.

Take courage ! Be filled with hope and comfort ! —
Your redemption draws nigh, for the Lord is mightily at
work in your behalf Is it not frequently the darkest
before day-break? The word has gone forth that you
shall be delivered from your chains, and it has not been
spoken in vain.

Although you have many enemies, yet you have also


many friends — warm, faithful, sympathizing, devoted
friends — who will never abandon your cause ; who are
pledged to do all in their power to break your chains ;
who are laboring to effect your emancipation without
delay, in a peaceable manner, without the shedding of
blood; who regard you as brethren and countrymen,
and fear not the frowns or threats of your masters. —
They call themselves abolitionists. They have already
suffered much, in various parts of the country, for re-
buking those who keep you in slavery — for demanding
your immediate liberation — for revealing to the people
the horrors of your situation — for boldly opposing a cor-
rupt public sentiment, by which you are kept in the
great southern prison-house of bondage. Some of them
have been beaten with stripes ; others have been strip-
ped, and covered with tar and feathers ; others have
had their property taken from them, and burnt in the
streets ; others have had large rewards offered by your
masters for their seizure ; others have been cast into
jails and penitentiaries ; others have been mobbed and
lynched with great violence ; others have lost their re-
putation, and been ruined in their business; others have
lost their lives. All these, and many other outrages of
an equally grievous kind, they have suffered for your
sakes, and because they are your friends. They cannot
go to the South, to see and converse with you, face to
face ; for, so ferocious and bloody-minded are your task-
masters, they would be put to an ignominious death as
soon as discovered. Besides, it is not necessary that
they should incur this peril; for it is solely by the aid
of the people of the North, that you are held in bonci-
age, and, therefore, they find enough to do at home, to
make the people here your friends, and to break up all
connexion with the slave system. They have proved
themselves to be truly courageous, insensible to danger,
superior to adversity, strong in principle, invincible in
argument, animated by the spirit of impartial benevo- .
lence, unwearied in devising ways and means for your


deliverance, the best friends of the whole country, the
noblest champions of the human race. Ten years ago,
they were so few and feeble as only to excite universal
contempt; now they number in their ranks, hundreds
of thousands of the people. Then, they had scarcely
a single anti-slavery society in operation ; now they
have thousands. Then, they had only one or two pres-
ses to plead your cause ; now they have multitudes. —
They are scattering all over the land their newspapers,
books, pamphlets, tracts, and other publications, to hold
up to infamy the conduct of your oppressors, and to
awaken sympathy in your behalf They are continual-
ly holding anti-slavciy meetings in all parts of the free
States, to tell the people the story of your wrongs. —
Wonderful has been the change eilected in public feel-
ing, under God, through their instrumentality. Do not
fear that they will grow weary in your service. They
are confident of success, in the end. They know that
the Lord Almighty is with them — that truth, justice,
right, are with them — that you are with them. They
know, too, that your masters are cowardly and weak,
through conscious wrong-doing, and already begin to
falter in their course. Lift up your heads, O ye despair-
ing slaves I Yet a little while, and your chains sliall
snap asunder, and you shall be tortured and plundered
no more I Then, fatliers and mothers, your children
shall be yours, to bring tlicm up in the nurture and ad-
monition of the Lord. Then, husbands and wives, now
torn from each other's arms, you shall be reunited in the
flesh, and man then shall no longer dare to put asunder
those whom God hath joined together. Then, brothers
and sisters, you shall be sold to the remorseless slave
speculator no more, but dwell together in unity. * God
hasten that joyful day I ' is now the daily prayer of

The weapons \vith which the abolitionists seek to ef-
fect your deliverance are not bowie knives, pistols,
swords, guns, or any other deadly implements. They


consist of appeals, warnings, rebukes, arguments and
facts, addressed to the understandings, consciences and
hearts of the peo})le. Many of your friends beheve
that not even those who are o})pressed, whether their
skins are white or black, can shed the blood of their
oppressors in accordance with the will of God ; while
many others beheve that it is right for the oppressed to
rise and take their liberty by violence, if they can
secure it in no other manner ; but they, in common with
all your friends, believe that every attempt at insurrec-
tion would be attended with disaster and defeat, on your
part, because you are not strong enough to contend with
the military power of the nation ; consequently, their
advice to you is, to be patient, long-suftering, and sub-
missive, yet awhile longer — trusting that, by the bless-
ing of the Most High on their labors, you will yet be
emancipated without shedding a drop of your masters'
blood, or losing" a drop of your own.

The abolitionists of the North are the only true and
unyielding friends on whom you can rely. They will
never deceive nor betray you. They have made your
cause their own, and they mean to be true to them-
selves and to you, whatever may be the consequence.
They are continually increasing in number, in influence,
in enterprise and determination; and, judging from the
success which has already attended their measures, they
anticipate that, in a comparatively short period, the en-
tire North will receive you with open arms, and give
you shelter and protection, as fast as you escape from
the South. "We, who now address you, are united with
them in spirit and design. We glory in the name of
abolitionists, for it signifies friendship for all who are
pining in servitude. We advise you to seize every op-
portunity to escape from your masters, and, fixing your
eyes on the North star, travel on until you reach a land of
liberty. You are not the property of your masters. God
never made one human being to be owned by another.
Your right to be free, at any moment, is undeniable ; and


it is your duty, Avhenever you can, peaceably to escape
from the plantations on which you are confined, and as-
sert your manhood.

Already, within a few years, twenty thousand of your
number have successfully run away, many of whom
are now residing at the North, but a very large propor-
tion of whom are living in Canada, enjoying safety and
freedom under the British flag. To that country, the
slave-hunters dare not go ; nor will they much longer dare
to come to the North, in pursuit of fugitive slaves. But,
while we thus invite and encourage you to transform
yourselves from things into men by flight, we would coun-
sel you to use the utmost caution in attempting to escape;
for many dangers yet lurk in the path of every fugitive,
and should any of you be caught, you know that your fate
would be a terrible one. Still, wo assure you that there
are now thousands in the free States to succor you,
where, a few years since, scarcely an individual could
be found to hide the outcast. If you come to us, and
are hungry, we will feed you ; if thirsty, we will give
you drink; if naked, we will clothe you; if sick, we
will administer to your necessities; if in prison, we will
visit you ; if you need a hiding-place from the face of
the pursuer, we will provide one that even blood-hounds
cannot scent out. This is the pledge we sacredly give
to you.

We are not in favor of sending you to Africa, for we
regard you as fellow-countrymen, and, with few excep-
ceptions, you have a right to claim this as your native
land, for you were born on its soil. We do not, there-
fore, make your removal out of the country a condition
of freedom, but demand for you all that we claim for
ourselves — liberty, equal rights, equal privileges.

Your masters threaten that, if we do not stop plead-
ing your cause, and assailing their slave system, they
will dissolve the Union. Such a dissolution has for us
no terrors ; for we regard it as far })referable to a per-
petuity of slavery. Such a dissolution you would have


no occasion to lament ; for it would enable you to ob-
tain your freedom and independence in a single day. —
Your masters are only two hundred and fifty thousand
in number; you are nearly three millions; and what
could they do, if they should be abandoned to their fate
by the North ? If it were not now for the compact ex-
isting between the free and the slave States, by which
the wdiole militaiy power of the nation is pledged to sup-
press all insurrections, you would have long ere this
been free. Your blood is the cement which binds the
American Union together ; your bodies are crushed be-
neath the massy weight of this Union ; and its repeal
or dissolution would ensure the downfall of slavery. —
We tell your masters that we shall not be intimidated
by their threats, but shall continue to expose their guilt,
to rebuke their oppression, to agitate the public mind,
to demand your release, until there shall be none to help
them, and they be separated from all political and re-
ligious connexion with the people of the North — or
(what we most earnestly desire as a matter of choice)
until liberty be proclaimed throughout all the land unto
all the inhabitants thereof, wiih the hearty consent of
the whole people.

Done in Faneuil Hall, May 31, 1843.

William A. White,
Eliza J. Kenny, ^ Secretaries.

Wai. p. Atkinson,


To John Tyler, President of the United States.

Sir : — With all the respect due- to the President of
the United States — with no intention or wish to give "
yon any personal aflront — but animated by the spirit of
liberty, which impels us to seek the emancipation of all
who are pining in slavery — we, the undersigned, in-
habitants of New-England, desire to improve the op-
portunity presented by yonr visit to the metropolis of
Massachusetts, to beseech you, in the sacred name of
God, as an act of simple justice, as a duty which you
are solemnly bound to discharge, instantly to liberate all
your slaves, and to restore to them those inalienable
rights, of wiiich they have been unjustly deprived from
their birth.

The existence of slavery in this republic is at war
with all its ])rinciples and professions — a dark stain on
its character — a visible curse on its prosperity — a hor-
rible anomaly, which sul)jects the American people
to the rebuke and opprol)rium of the old world — and
a dangerous clement in our national organization, the
speedy removal of which is essential to the ])reserva-
tion of the Union. It fills us with grief and shame as
American citizens. We should deem ourselves un-
worthy of the name, if we did not seek its immediate
annihilation bv every lawful and christian instrumen-


Sir, you are a slaveholder I Though you occupy the
highest office in the gift of the people, yet you are a
slaveholder I You subscribe to the declaration of inde-
pendence, in which it is explicitly declared to be a self-
evident truth, that the Creator has given to every hu-
man being an inalienable right to liberty; yet you are a
slaveholder ! You have sworn to support the Constitu-
tion of the United States, the design of which, accord-
ing to its preamble, is * to estabhsh justice, and secure
the blessings of liberty ' to the people ; yet you are a
slaveholder ! You profess to believe in the Christian
religion, which requires that every man should love his
neighbor as himself, and do to others what he would
have them do to him ; yet you are a slaveholder ! In
yoHr messages to Congress you have denounced the Af-
rican slave trade as ])iracy, and, consequently all who
enslave Africans as pirates ; yet you are a slaveholder !
You have come from Washington to Boston, expressly
to join with a great multitude of your fellow-country-
men in celebrating the completion of the Bunker Hill
monument, which has been erected to commemorate
the heroic deeds and to perpetuate the memories of
those who bled and died in the cause of human liberty;
yet you are a slaveholder I

Sir, we know not how to manifest a deeper interest
in your welfare, or a higher regard for your reputation,
or more fervent love for our country, than to ask you to
break the chains of your slaves, and thus practically to
■acknowledge the rights of man. Such a beneficent ex-
ample, set by you as the Chief Magistrate of this great
republic, would go far, very far, toward effecting the en-
tire abohtion of slavery, and consequently, the emanci-
pation of nearly three millions of the American people-
It might subject you, temporarily, to the ridicule of the
heartless, the curses of the profane, the contempt of the


Online LibraryBoston New-England anti-slavery convention. 10thAddress of the New-England anti-slavery convention to the slaves of the United States; → online text (page 1 of 2)