William Lloyd Garrison.

Selections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. online

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Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 1 of 33)
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' 0, my brethren ! I liaA'C told
Most EITTEK TRUTH, but witliout bittciTiess.
Nor deem my zeal or factious or mis-timed;
For never can true courage dwell with them,
Who, playiiij,^ tricks with Conscience, dare not look
At their own vices.' — Colefidgk.










Peepace, -....-.. 5

Exposure of the American Colonization Society, - - - - 13

The Dangers of the Nation, - - - 44

Commencement of the Liberator, - - - - - - 62

, "Universal Emancipation, .-.. - 64

Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention, - 66

Declaration of Sentiments of the American Peace Convention, - - 72

Patriotism and Christianity — Kossuth and Jesus, - - - - 78

The Practical Working of Non-Resistance, - - - - 86

True Courage, -.. - - -88

War Essentially Wrong, - - - 89

The Powers that be are ordained of God, - - - - 91

Holy Time, - .-...- 98

j Penal Observance of the Sabbath, - - . - - - - 98

I Worship, - - - - - - - ■• 115

The True Church, - - - - 115

The American Union, - - • - - - - - 116

Persecution, - - - - - - - - 120

Liberty, - ...... 120

*^ Harsh Language — Retarding the Cause, - - - - - 121

Song of the Abolitionist, - - - 134

Sonnet to Liberty, - - - - - - - 135

No Compromise with Slavery, - - - 136

On Completing my Thirty-Fifth Year, - - - - - 142

Letter to Honorable Pelcg Sprague, - - - 143

Departure of George Thompson for England, - - - - 157

Song of Welcome, -. - ..- I6I

Words of Encouragement to the Oppressed, - - - - 163

To My Birth-Place, . - ...- 173

Tribute to Clarkson and Wilberforce, - - - - -174

Sonnet to Tliomas Clarkson, - - - 177

Vindication of the Liberator, - - - - - - 178

Sonnet to the New Year, ...... 1^

Extracts from a Fourtli of July Oration, - - - - - 188

To Saiuucl J. Jfay, - - - - 200

The Great Apostate, - - - - - - - 201

The Crisis, -..-.. - 220

=^ Divine Authority of the Bible, - - - - - - 221



The Guiltless Prisoner, - - - 230

Freedom of the Miiid, - - - - 230

•'- Claims and Position of the Clergy, - - - 231

On the Death of a Friend, - - - - - . . 237

Free Spcecli and Free Inquiry, - - - 238

To My First-Born, - - - - - - - 261

Oaths and Affirmations, - - - 263

Harriet Martineau, - - - - - - - 272

To Elizabeth Pease, of Darlington, England, - - - - 272

Mr. Webster's Speech at Bunker Hill, - - - - - 273

To Benjamin Lundy, - - - ... . . 283

To the Memory of the Same, - - - - - - 283

Forgiveness of Injuries, - - - - 284

Sonnet, - - - - - 286

•^ Complexional Prejudice, - - - 286

A Short Catechism, adapted to all parts of the United States, - - 289

Farewell Address to George Thompson, - - - - 292

To a Distinguished Advocate of Peace, - - - - - 301

Earthly Fame, -.-.-.. 301

The United States Constitution, - - - - - -302

The Triumph of Freedom, -... - 316

The Anti-Slavery Platform, - - - - - - 317

To an Eloquent Advocate of Indian Eights, - - - - 325

West India Emancipation, - - - - - - 326

West India Emancipation, - - - 359

Independence Day, - - - - - - - 360

To Kossuth, - ... - . - 363

Hope for the Enslaved, - - - - - - - 367

To Isaac T. Hopper, - - - - 368

May Day, - . - ... 369

Dedicatory Lines to Liberty, - - - 371

Appendix —

Triumph of Mobocracy in Boston, - - - - - 373

Letter from George Thompson, - - - 390

To William Lloyd Garrison, - - - - - - 401

The American Colonization Society, - - - ' - 401

Hon. Peleg Sprague, - - - - - - - 415

Having been the first publicly to unfurl the banner of
Immediate and Unconditional Emancipation in this
country, and to expose the true character, tendency and
design of the American Colonization Society, as the
handmaid of Slavery, it is not surprising that, for a period
of more than twenty years, (occupied unceasingly and
uncompromisingly in advocating the cause of a people
' meted out and trodden under foot,') William Lloyd
Garrison has been subjected to every kind of popular
odium, misrepresentation, and abuse. Nor is it singular,
that, in view of the religious sanctions which have been
thrown around the horrible slave system. North and South,
(and, therefore, the necessity imposed upon him to arraign
and expose the American church and clergy as stained
with blood and deeply polluted,) he has been every where
stigmatized as a heretic and an ' infidel,' by the same class
and in the spirit which cried out against Jesus, that he was
' not of God, because he did not keep the Sabbath day,'
and accused him of having a devil. The mode of attack-
ing the true Reformer is essentially the same in every age :
he is ever at first pronounced guilty of heresy and sedi-
tion, though no one is more loyal or more orthodox than


himself — orthodox in his regard for the truth, and loyal
in his support of a righteous government. It is the infat-
uation of those, who are terrified and inflamed at his ap-
pearance, to imagine, that if they can succeed in destroying
liis reputation, or, more certainly still, his life, the cause
which he espouses will sink with him out of sight, and
out of the world, for ever. Hence their eagerness for
his crucifixion — justifying themselves by the plea, 'We
have a law, and by that law he ought to die ' — ' It is better
that one man should die, than that the whole nation should

' The man is thought a knave or fool,

Or bigot plotting crime,
Who, for the advancement of his kind,

Is wiser than his time.
Tor him the hemlock shall distil ;

For him the axe be bared ;
For him the gibbet shall be built ;

For him the stake prepared ;
Him shall the scorn and wrath of men

Pursue with deadly aim ;
And malice, envy, spite and lies.

Shall desecrate his name ;
But Truth shall conquer at the last,

For round and round we run,
And ever the right comes uppcraaost,

And ever is justice done.'

Of the thousands who have joined in the absurd outcries
against Mr. Garrison, it may be safely presumed that
many of them, being entirely devoid of candor, have yet


to read the first sentence he has ever written, on any
subject; while many others have had no opportunity to
obtain his sentiments, embodied in a convenient form, who,
nevertheless, honestly suppose that what they have heard so
constantly reiterated against him must be true. For the
sake of the latter class, in particular, as well as to subserve
the cause of Reform in general, it has been deemed
advisable to make the following Selections from the
Writings of Mr. Garrison ; containing, as they do, his
severest denunciations, his strongest impeachments, and
his most radical sentiments touching the various reform-
atory enterprises in which his feelings are so deeply en-
listed. It is a volume both for his friends and his enemies ;
for the latter, to reveal to them the folly and injustice
of their treatment of one whose spirit breathes only of
'peace on earth and good will towards men,' whatever
their clime and complexion ; and for the former, to strength-
en and animate them in their cooperative labors for the
advancement of that glorious period, when Liberty shall
be proclaimed throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants

We purposely abstain from making any comments of
our own on the career of Mr. Garrison, by whom praise
is subordinated to principle, to whom censure gives no
uneasiness, and whose characteristic language (uttered
in the midst of fiery trials) has uniformly been — 'Is the
inquiry made, how do I bear up under my adversities ? I
answer — like the oak — like the Alps — unshaken, storm-
proof. Opposition, and abuse, and slander, and prejudice,


and judicial tyranny, are like oil to the flame of my zeal.
I am not discouraged, but more confident than ever. Am I
to be frightened by dungeons and chains? I will not hold
my peace. The cause is worthy of the loftiest ambition
and the noblest genius. To it I am wedded, as long as I
shall have a pen to wield, or a voice to speak. Poverty
may assail me with her hungry whelps ; Persecution may
light its fires ; Slander may spit out her venom ; and
Judicial Power attempt to intimidate ; all will be in vain.
Wherever oppression, fraud and violence exist, I am for
exposing to merited infamy the robber and the tyrant ;
wherever there is a virtuous struggle for liberty, there
is my heart.' Whether this language was uttered in the
spirit of self-inflation or bombast, or whether it emanated
from a sincere and earnest mind, let the rise and progress
of the Anti-Slavery enterprise, since it was uttered, de-

If Mr. Garrison has had the most formidable opposition
to contend with, and received an unequalled amount of
abuse, he has also been greatly cheered and strengthened
by the generous appreciation and warm commendations of
the friends of impartial freedom, on both sides of the
Atlantic ; such, for example, as are embodied in the follow-
ing poetical effusions, elicited by a kindred sympathy for
the enslaved on the part of their authors. They are here-
with appended, not merely on account of their personal tes-
timonies, but also because of their intrinsic excellence, both
as to style and sentiment.




' Sometime afterward, it "was reported to me by the city officers, that they had
ferreted out the paper and its editor. His office was an obscure hole; his only
visible auxiliary a negro boy; and his supporters a few very insignificant persona,
of all colors.' — Letter of IIon. H. G. Otis.

In a small chamber, friendless and unseen,

Toiled o'er his types one poor, unlearned young man ;

The place was dark, unfurnitured and mean,
Yet there the freedom of a race began.

Help came but slowly ; surely, no man yet

Put lever to the heavy world with less ;
What need of help ? — He knew how types were set,

He had a dauntless spirit and a press.

Such earnest natures are the fiery pith,

The compact nucleus round which systems grow ;

Mass after mass becomes inspired therewith,
And whirls impregnate with the central glow.

Truth ! O Freedom ! how are ye still born

In the rude stable, in the manger nursed !
What humble hands unbar those gates of morn,

Through which the splendors of the new day burst !:

What ! shall one monk, scarce known beyond his cell,
Front Rome's far-reaching bolts, and scorn her frown V

Brave Luther answered, Yes ! — that thunder's swell
Rocked Europe, and discharmed the triple crown.

' Whatever can be known of earth, we know,'

Sneered Europe's wise men, in their snail-shells curled ;

No ! said one man in Genoa ; and that No
Out of the dark created this New World.

Who is it will not dare himself to trust ?

Wlio is it hath not strength to stand alone ?
Who is it thwarts and bilks tlie inward must?

He and his works like sand from earth arc blown.




'T IS not that deeds like thine need my poor praise,

When, though commending not each word of strife,

I yet would thank thee for thy manly lil'e,
Thou rugged Luther of these latter days!
! when will men look through thine ardent phrase

To the true depth of that devoted heart,

Where selfish hope or fear had never part
To swerve thee, Avith the crowd, from Truth's plain ways !
When that day comes, thy brothers, wiser grown,

Shall reverence struggling man's true friend in thee.
Thy life of stern devotion shall atone

For some few words that seemed too rough to be,
And they shall grave upon thy funeral stone,

' This man spoke truth, and helped us to grow free ! '

Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Thy God has cast thee in a noble mould,
And poured thy fabric full of living soul,
That fills, informs, and animates the whole,

As if we saw a visioned form unrolled !

And thou go'st forward with Ithuriel's spear,
To combat with the evils of the world ;
And thy keen falchion-shafts on high arc hurled,

To fill Oppression with a deadly fear,
And drive him from his hold in Freedom's land,
Where he has marshalled forth a mail-clad band.

Armed Avitli the scourge of torture. Like a knight
Who battled for the Cross in days of old,
With Truth thy shield, go forward, and be bold,

And may God aid thee in the glorious fight !




cUipnstirf nf tljB amBrimtt (Cnlnm|ntinE Inririq.

In attacking the system of slavery, I clearly foresaw all
that has happened to me. I knew, at the commencement,
that my motives would be impeached, my warnings ridiculed,
my person persecuted, my sanity doubted, my life jeop-
arded : but the clank of the prisoner's chains broke upon
my ear — it entered deeply into my soul — I looked up to
Heaven for strength to sustain me in the perilous work of
emancipation — and my resolution was taken.

In opposing the American Colonization Society, I have
also counted the cost, and as clearly foreseen the formidable
opposition which will be arrayed against me. Many of the
clergy are enlisted in its support : their influence is power-
ful. Men of wealth and elevated station are among its
contributors : wealth and station are almost omnipotent.
The press ha5 been seduced into its support : the press is a
potent engine. Moreover, the Society is artfully based
upon and defended by popular prejudice ; it takes advantage


of wicked and preposterous opinions, and hence its success.
These things grieve, they cannot deter me. ' Truth is
mighty, and will prevail.' It is able to make falsehood
blush, tear from hypocrisy its mask, annihilate prejudice,
overthrow persecution, and break every fetter.

I am constrained to declare, with the utmost sincerity,
that I look upon the Colonization scheme as inadequate in
its design, injurious in its operation, and contrary to sound
principle ; and the more scrupulously I examine its preten-
sions, the stronger is my conviction of its sinfulness. Nay,
were Jehovah to speak in an audible voice from his holy
habitation, I am persuaded that his language would be,
' Who hath required this at your hands ? '

It consoles me to believe that no man, who knows me
personally or by reputation, will suspect the honesty of my
skepticism. If I were politic, and intent only on my own
preferment or pecuniary interest, I should swim with the
strong tide of public sentiment, instead of breasting its pow-
erful influence. The hazard is too great, the labor too bur-
densome, the remuneration too uncertain, the contest too
unequal, to induce a selfish adventurer to assail a combina-
tion so formidable. Disinterested opposition and sincere
conviction, however, are not conclusive proofs of individual
rectitude ; for a man may very honestly do mischief, and
not be aware of his error. Indeed, it is in this light I view
many of the friends of African colonization. I concede to
them benevolence of purpose and expansiveness of heart;
but, in my opinion, they are laboring under the same delu-
sion as that which swayed Saul of Tarsus — persecuting the
blacks even unto a strange country, and verily believing
that they are doing God service. I blame them, neverthe-
less, for taking this mighty scheme upon trust ; for not per-
ceiving and rejecting the monstrous doctrines avowed by the
master spirits in this crusade ; and for feeling so indifferent


to the moral, political and social advancement of the free
people of color in this, their only leghimate home.

In the progress of this discussion, I shall have occasion to
use very plain, and sometimes very severe language. This
would be an unpleasant task, did not duty imperiously
demand its application. To give offence I am loath, but
more to hide or modify the truth. I shall deal with the
Society in its collective form — as one body — and not with
individuals. While I shall be necessitated to marshal indi-
vidual opinions in review, I protest, ab origine, against the
supposition, that indiscriminate censure is intended, or that
every friend of the Society cherishes similar views. He to
whom my reprehension does not apply, will not receive it.
It is obviously impossible, in attacking a numerous and mul-
tiform combination, to exhibit private dissimilarities, or in
every instance to discriminate between the various shades
of opinion. It is sufficient that exceptions are made. My
warfare is against the American Colonization Society.
If I shall identify its general, preponderating, and clearly
developed trails, it must stand or fall as they shall prove
benevolent or selfish.

I bring to this momentous investigation an unbiased mind,
a lively sense of accountability to God, and devout aspira-
tions for divine guidance.

It is only about two years since I was induced to examine
the claims of the Colonization Society upon the patronage
and confidence of the nation. I went to this examination
with a mind biased by preconceived opinions favorable to
the Society, and rather for the purpose of defending it
against opposition than of bringing it into disrepute. Every
thing, apart from its principles, was calculated to secure my
friendship. Nothing but its revolting features could have
induced me to turn loathingly away from its embrace. I
had some little reputation to sustain ; many of my friends


were colonizationists ; I saw that eminent statesmen and
honorable men were enhsted in the enterprise ; the great
body of the clergy gave their unqualified support to it ;
every Fourth of July, the charities of the nation were secured
in its behalf; wherever I turned my eye in the free States,
I saw nothing but unanimity ; wherever my ear caught a
sound, I heard nothing but excessive panegyric. No indi-
vidual had ventured to blow the trumpet of alarm, or exert
his energies to counteract the influence of the scheme. If
an assailant had occasionally appeared, he had either fired
a random shot and retreated, or found in the inefHciency of
the Society the only cause for hostility. It was at this crisis,
and with such an array of motives before me to bias my
judgment, that I resolved to make a close and candid exam-
ination of the subject.

I went, first of all, to the fountain head — to the African
Repository and the Reports of the Society. I was not long
in discovering sentiments which seemed to me as abhorrent
to humanity as contrary to reason. I perused page after
page, first with perplexity, then with astonishment, and final-
ly with indignation. I found little else than sinful palliations,
fatal concessions, vain expectations, exaggerated statements,
unfriendly representations, glaring contradictions, naked ter-
rors, deceptive assurances, unrelenting prejudices, and un-
christian denunciations. I collected together the publications
of auxiliary societies, in order to discern some redeeming
traits ; but I found them marred and disfigured with the
same disgusting details. I courted the acquaintance of emi-
nent colonizationists, that I might learn how far their private
sentiments agreed with those which were so offensive in
print ; and I found no dissimilarity between them. I listened
to discourses from the pulpit in favor of the Society ; and
the same moral obliquities were seen in minister and peo-


These discoveries affected my mind so deeply that I could
not rest. I endeavored to explain away the meaning of
plain and obvious language; I made liberal concessions for
good motives and unsuspicious confidence ; I resorted to
many expedients to vindicate the disinterested benevolence
of the Society ; but I could not rest. The sun in its mid-day
splendor was not more clear and palpable to my vision, than
the anti-christian and anti-republican character of this asso-
ciation. It was evident to me that the great mass of its
supporters at the North did not realize its dangerous tendency.
They were told that it was designed to effect the ultimate
emancipation of the slaves — to improve the condition of the
free people of color — to abolish the foreign slave trade — to
reclaim and evangelize benighted Africa — and various other
marvels. Anxious to do something for the colored popula-
tion — they knew not what — and having no other plan pre-
sented to their view, they eagerly embraced a scheme which
was so big with promise, and which required of them noth-
ing but a small contribution annually. Perceiving the fatal-
ity of this delusion, I was urged by an irresistible impulse
to attempt its removal. I could not turn a deaf ear to the
cries of the slaves, nor throw off the obligations which my
Creator had fastened upon me. Yet, in view of the inequal-
ities of the contest, of the obstacles which towered like
mountains in my path, and of my own littleness, I trembled,
and exclaimed in the language of Jeremiah, — 'Ah, Lord
God ! behold I cannot speak : for I am a child.' But I was
immediately strengthened by these interrogations : ' Is any
thing too hard for the Lord > ' Is Error, though unwittingly
supported by a host of good men, stronger than Truth ?
Are Right and Wrong convertible terms, dependant upon
popular opinion ? Oh, no ! Then I will go forward in the
strength of the Lord of hosts — in the name of Truth — and
under the banner of Right. As it is not by might nor by


power, but by the Spirit of God, that great moral changes
are effected, I am encouraged to fight valiantly in this good
cause, believing that I shall 'come off conqueror' — yet not
I, but Truth and Justice. It is in such a contest that one
shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.
' The Lord disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that
their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the
wise in their own craftiness ; and the counsel of the froward
is carried headlong.' 'Because the foolishness of God is
wiser than men ; and the weakness of God is stronger than

Probably I may be interrogated by individuals, — ' Why do
you object to a colony in Africa ? Are you not willing peo-
ple should choose their own places of residence ? And if
the blacks are willing to remove, why throw obstacles in
their path, or deprecate their withdrawal ? All go volunta-
rily : of what, then, do you complain ? Is not the colony
at Liberia in a flourishing condition, and expanding beyond
the most sanguine expectations of its founders ? '

Pertinent questions deserve pertinent answers. I say,
then, in reply, that I do not object to a colony, in the ab-
stract — to use the popular phraseology of the day. In other
words, I am entirely willing men should be as free as the
birds in choosing the time when, the mode how, and the
place to which they shall migrate. The power of locomotion
was given to be used at will : as beings of intelligence and

< The world is all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.*

The emigration from New-England to the far West is con-
stant and large. Almost every city, town or village suffers
annually by the departure of some of its adventurous inhab-
itants. Companies have been formed to go and possess the
Oregon territory — an enterprise hazardous and unpromising


in the extreme. The old States are distributing their popu-
lation over the whole continent, with unexampled fruitful-
ness and liberality. But why this restless, roving, unsatisfied
disposition ? Is it because those who cherish it are treated
as the ofTscouring of all flesh, in the place of their birth }
or because they do not possess equal rights and privileges
with other citizens ? or because they are the victims of incor-
rigible hate and prejudice ? or because they are told that
they must choose between exilement and perpetual degrada-
tion ? or because the density of population renders it impos-
sible for them to obtain preferment and competence here ?
or because they are estranged by oppression and scorn ? or
because they cherish no attachment to their native soil, to
the scenes of their childhood and youth, or to the institutions

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 1 of 33)