William Lloyd Garrison.

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

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* Allusion is here made to a foreign mountebank, who was at
that time (the fall of 1835) peregrinating through the country, and
exhibiting himself as * the man-monkey.'


Inirg nf IBdrnmK*

Our noble advocate and friend,
Thy presence here we hail !
But, O ! our feelings to express,
The strongest words must fail I
Yet still accept a gateful song —

Our blessings on thee rest —
For thou hast pleaded well the cause
Of all who are oppressed.


Thy love of liberty extends
To every race and clime ;
Thy hatred of oppression burns
To the remotest time :

In thee the slave a champion finds,

Intrepid, faithful, strong.
Though scorn and wrath assail thy course,
And perils round thee throng.


While traffickers in human flesh

Their teeth upon thee gnash ;
While for thy precious life they hunt,
Who wield the gory lash ;
While their abettors here conspire

To howl and mob thee down ;
Thou need'st no higher meed of praise —
Can'st wear no brighter crown !

* After an absence of fifteen years, George Thompson again vis-
ited the United States, and on the evening of Nov. 18th, 1850, was
enthusiastically welcomed by a crowded assembly of the colored
citizens of Boston, for which occasion this Song was written.



All noble spirits of the past —
Saints, martyrs, heroes true —
All of the present, loving God

And man, the wide earth through —
Are with thee in this trial-hour,*

To strengthen and applaud —
And angel voices cheer thee on.
In th' name of Christ, our Lord !


The ransomed bondmen of the isles
Thy name shall shout with pride ;
And India's plundered millions bless
Their champion, true and tried ;

And England's crushed and toiling poor,

Columbia's fettered race, —
Thy memory ever shall revere,
Thy brow with laurels grace.


Once more we greet thee with delight,

Remembering ♦ auld lang syne,'
And pray kind Heaven may richly smile,
Through life, on thee and thine !
We offer thee a grateful song —
Our blessings on thee rest —
For thou hast pleaded well the cause
Of all who are oppressed !

* Notwithstanding so long a period had elapsed since Mr.
Thompson first came to the United States, the pro-slavery spirit
of the land was exceedingly alarmed and terrified at his presence ;
and, during his sojourn of seven months, constantly endeavored to
prevent his being heard, by mobocratic violence ; but he triumphed
over all opposition, and returned home, carrying with him the bene-
dictions of a host of admiring friends.


Wnxh nf (!?iirnurngmrEt tn tliB (DfiirBssr^i,

I NEVER rise to address a colored audience, without feel-
ing ashamed of my own color ; ashamed of being identified
with a race of men, who have done you so much injustice,
and who yet retain so large a portion of your brethren in
servile chains. To make atonement, in part, for this con-
duct, I have solemnly dedicated my health, and strength,
and life, to your service. I love to plan and to work for
your social, intellectual, and spiritual advancement. My
happiness is augmented with yours : in your sufferings I

Henceforth I am ready, on all days, on all convenient
occasions, in all suitable places, before any sect or party, at
whatever peril to my person, character or interest, to plead
the cause of my colored countrymen in particular, or of
human rights in general. For this purpose, there is no day
too holy, no place improper, no body of men too inconsid-
erable to address. For this purpose, I ask no church to
grant me authority to speak — I require no ordination — I am
not careful to consult Martin Luther, or John Calvin, or His
Holiness the Pope. It is a duty, which, as a lover of justice,
I am bound to discharge ; as a lover of my fellow-men, I
ought not to shun ; as a lover of Jesus Christ, and of his
equalizing, republican and benevolent precepts, I rejoice to

Your condition, as a people, has long attracted my atten-
tion, secured my efforts, and awakened in my breast a flame
of sympathy, which neither the winds nor waves of opposi-
tion can ever extinguish. It is the lowness of your estate,
in the estimation of the world, which exalts you in my eyes.
It is the distance that separates you from the blessings and
privileges of society, which brings you so closely to my


affections. It is the unmerited scorn, reproach and persecu-
tion of your persons, by those whose complexion is colored
like my own, which command for you my sympathy and
respect. It is the fewness of your friends — the mul-
titude of your enemies — that induces me to stand forth in
your defence.

Countrymen and Friends ! I wish to gladden your hearts,
and to invigorate your hopes. Be assured, your cause is
going onward, right onward. The signs of the times do
indeed show forth great and glorious and sudden changes in
the condition of the oppressed. The whole firmament is
tremulous with an excess of light ; the earth is moved out
of its place ; the wave of revolution is dashing in pieces
ancient and mighty empires ; the hearts of tyrants are begin-
ning to fail them for fear, and for looking forward to those
things which are to come upon the earth. There is

* A voice on every wave,

A sound on every sea !
The watchword of the brave,
The anthem of the free !
Where'er a wind is rushing,
Where'er a stream is gushing,

The swelling sounds are heard.
Of man to freeman calling,
Of broken fetters falling —
And, like the carol of a cageless bird.
The bursting shout of Freedom's rallying word ! '

Let this be an occasion of joy. Why should it not be so .''
Is not the heaven over your heads, which has so long been
clothed in sackcloth, beginning to disclose its starry principali-
ties, and illumine your pathway ? Do you not see the pitiless
storm, which has so long been pouring its rage upon you,
breaking away, and a bow of promise, as glorious as that
which succeeded the ancient deluge, spanning the sky, — a


token that, to the end of time, the billows of prejudice and
oppression shall no more cover the earth, to the destruction
of your race ; but seed-time and harvest shall never fail,
and the laborer shall eat the fruit of his hands ? Is not your
cause developing like the spring ? Yours has been a long and
rigorous winter. The chill of contempt, the frost of adver-
sity, the blast of persecution, the storm of oppression — all
have been yours. There was no sustenance to be found —
no prospect to delight the eye, or inspire the drooping
heart — no golden ray to dissipate the gloom. The waves
of derision were stayed by no barrier, but made a clear
breach over you. But, now — thanks be to God ! that dreary
winter is rapidly hastening away. The sun of humanity is
going steadily up, from the horizon to its zenith, growing
larger and brighter, and melting the frozen earth beneath its
powerful rays. The genial showers of repentance are soft-
ly falling upon the barren plain ; the wilderness is budding
like the rose ; the voice of joy succeeds the notes of wo ;
and hope, like the lark, is soaring upwards, and warbling
hymns at the gate of heaven.

And this is but the outbursting of spring. What, think
you, shall be the summer and autumn ?

« Then shall the trembling mourner come,
And bind his sheaves, and bear them home ;
The voice, long broke with sighs, shall sing,
And heaven with hallelujahs ring ! '

This is but ' the twilight, the dim dawn ' of day. What,
then, shall be the brightness of the day itself? These are
but a few drops of mercy. What shall be the full shower,
the rolling tide ? These are but crumbs of comfort, to pre-
vent you wholly from perishing. What shall be the bounti-
ful table ?

Why should this not be an occasion of joy, instead of


sorrow ? Listen to those trumpet tones which come swell-
ing on the winds of the Atlantic, and which shall bring an
echo from every harp in heaven ! If there is joy in that
blissful abode over one sinner that repenteth, how mighty
and thrilling must it be over a repentant nation ! And Great
Britain is that nation. Her people are humbling themselves
before God, and before those whom they have so long held
in bondage. Their voices are breaking, in peals of thunder,
upon the ear of Parliament, demanding the immediate and
utter overthrow of slavery in all the colonies ; and in obedi-
ence to their will, the mandate is about being issued by Par-
liament, which shall sever at a blow the chains of eight
hundred thousand slaves ! What heart can conceive, what
pen or tongue describe, the happiness which must flow
from the consummation of this act ? That cruel lash, which
has torn so many tender bodies, and is dripping with inno-
cent blood ; that lash, which has driven so many human vic-
tims, like beasts, to their unrequited toil ; that lash, whose
sounds are heard from the rising of the sun to its decline,
mingled with the shrieks of bleeding sufferers ; that lash is
soon to be cast away, never again to wound the flesh, or
degrade those who are made in the image of God. And
those fetters of iron, which have bound so many in ignomin-
ious servitude, and wasted their bodies, and borne them down
to an untimely grave, shall be shivered in pieces, as the
lightning rends the pine, and the victims of tyranny leap
forth, ' redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irre-
sistible genius of universal emancipation.' And that dark-
ness, which has for so many generations shrouded the minds
of the slaves — making them like the brutes that perish —
shall give way to the light of freedom and religion, O, how
transforming the change ! In contemplating it, my imagina-
tion overpowers the serenity of my soul, and makes lan-
guage seem poor and despicable.


Cheers for Great Britain ! cheers for her noble men and
women ! cheers for the bright example which they arc set-
ting to the world ! cheers for their generous sympathy in the
cause of the oppressed in our own country !

Why should we not rejoice this evening, brethren ? Find
we nothing at home to raise our drooping spirits, to invigo-
rate our hopes, and to engage our efforts ? Have we made
no progress, either in self-improvement, or in the cause
of bleeding humanity ? Are there no cheering signs of the
times, in our moral sky, upon which we may fix our joyful
gaze ?

Look, in the first place, at the abolition standard — more
gorgeous and spirit-stirring than the star-spangled banner —
floating high in the air ! Fresh is the breeze that meets it !
bright are the sunny rays which adorn it ! Around it thou-
sands are gathering, with high and holy courage, to contend,
not with carnal but spiritual weapons, against the powers of
darkness. O, the loftiness of that spirit which animates
them ! It towers above the Alps, it pierces beyond the
clouds. O, the intensity of that flame of brotherly love
which burns within their breasts ! It never can burn out —
nor can many waters extinguish it. O, the stability of that
faith which sustains them under all their toils and trials ! It
is firmer than the foundations of the earth — it is strong as
the throne of God. O, the generous daring of that moral
principle which inspires their hearts and governs their
actions ! Neither reproach nor persecution, neither wealth
nor power, neither bolts nor bars, neither the gibbet nor the
stake, shall be able to subdue it. Yes, my colored country-
men, these are the men — ay, and the women, too, who have
espoused your cause. And they will stand by it, until
life be extinct. They will not fail in strength, or faith,
or courage, or zeal, or action. Loud as the tempest of
oppression may rage around them, above it shall their rally-


ing cry be heard in the thunder-tone of heaven. Dark as
their pathway may be, it shall blaze with the light of truth
in their possession. Numberless as may be the enemies
who surround them, they will not retreat from the field ; for
He who is mightier than legions of men and devils is the
captain of their salvation, and will give them the victory. I
know your advocates well — I know the spirit which actuates
them. Whether they reside in the East, or West, or North,
they have but one object — their hearts are stirred with the
same pulsation ; their eye is single, their motives are pure.
Tell me not of the bravery and devotedness of those whose
life-blood reddened the plains of Marathon, poured out in
defence of liberty. Tell me not of the Spartan band, with
Leonidas at their head, who defended the pass of Thermo-
pylae against a Persian host. I award to them the meed of
animal courage ; but the heroism of blood and carnage is as
much below the patient endurance of wrong, and the cheer-
ful forgiveness of injury, as the earth is below the sky — it
is as often displayed by brute animals as by men. With
infinitely higher satisfaction, with a warmer glow of emula-
tion, with more intense admiration, do I contemplate the
abolition phalanx in the United States, who are maintaining
your cause, unflinchingly, through evil report — for the good
report is yet to come — and at the imminent peril of their
lives ; and, what is dearer than life, the sacrifice of their
reputation. If ever there was a cause which established the
disinterestedness and integrity of its supporters, yours is
that cause. They who are contending for the immediate
abolition of slavery, the destruction of its ally, the Ameri-
can Colonization Society, and the bestowal of equal rights
and privileges upon the whole colored population, well knew
what would be the consequences of their advocacy to them-
selves. They knew that slander would blacken their char-
acters with infamy ; that their pleadings would be received


with ridicule and reproach ; that persecution would assail
them on the right hand and on the left ; that the dungeon
would yawn for their bodies ; that the dagger of the assas-
sin would gleam behind them ; that the arm of power would
be raised to crush them to the earth ; that they would be
branded as disturbers of the peace, as fanatics, madmen and
incendiaries ; that the heel of friendship would be lifted^
against them, and love be turned into hatred, and confidence
into suspicion, and respect into derision ; that their worldly
interests would be jeoparded, and the honor and emoluments
of office would be withheld from their enjoyment. Knowing
all this, still they dare all things, in order to save their
country by seeking its purification from blood. Will the
base and the servile accuse them of being actuated by a
hope of reward ? Reward ! It is the reward which cal-
umny gives to virtue — the reward which selfishness bestows,
upon benevolence ; but nothing of worldly applause, or
fame, or promotion. Yet they have a reward — and who-
will blame them for coveting it ? It is the gratitude of the
suffering and the oppressed — the approbation of a good con-
science — the blessing of the Most High.

* Tempt them with bribes, you tempt in vain ;
Try them with fire, you'll find them true.'

To deter such souls from tlieir purposes, or vanquish
them in combat, is as impossible as to stop the rush of the
ocean when the spirit of the storm rides upon its mountain
billows. They are hourly increasing in number and strength,
and going on from conquering to conquer. Convert after
convert, press after press, pulpit after pulpit, is subdued, and
enlisted on the side of justice and freedom.

A grave charge is brought against me, that I am exciting
your rage against the whites, and filling your minds with
revengful feelings ? Is this true .? Have not all my addresses


and appeals to you had just the contrary effect upon your
minds ? Have they not been calculated to make you bear
all your trials and difficulties in the spirit of Christian resig-
nation, and to induce you to return good for evil ? Where
is the calumniator who dares to affirm that you have been
turbulent and quarrelsome since I began my labors in your
behalf? Where is the man who is so ignorant as not to
know or perceive that, as a people, you are constantly
improving in knowledge and virtue ? No, brethren ; you
will bear me a unanimous testimony, that I have not implant-
ed in your minds any malice towards your persecutors, but,
on the contrary, forgiveness of injuries. And I can as truly
aver that, in all my intercourse with you as a people, I have
not seen or heard any thing of a malignant or revengeful
spirit. No : yours has been eminently a spirit of resignation
and faith, under the most aggravating circumstances.

I will notice but one other charge which the enemies of
our cause have brought against me. It is, that I am unduly
exciting your hopes, and holding out to your view prospects
of future happiness and respectability which can never be
realized in this country. Pitiful complaint ! Because I have
planted a solitary rose, as it were, in the wilderness of suf-
fering in which your race has so long wandered, to cheer
your drooping hearts, I am sharply reproved for giving even
this little token of good things to come — by those, too, who
make loud professions of friendship for you, that is, if you
will go to Liberia, but who are constantly strewing in your
path briars and thorns, and digging pits into which you may
stumble to rise no more. These querulous complainants,
who begrudge every drop of comfort which falls upon your
thirsty lips, as a miser mourns the loss of a penny, seem to
forget or discard the promise of Jehovah, that ' the wilder-
ness shall bud and blossom like the rose.' I have faith to
believe that this promise will ultimately be fulfilled, even in


this land of republicanism and Christianity. Surely I may
be pardoned, when so many are endeavoring to break down
all your rising hopes and noble aspirations, if I urge you
not to despair, for the day of redemption will assuredly
come. Nay, I may still be forgiven, if I transcend the limits
of probability, and suffer my imagination to paint in too
glowing colors the recompense which is to be yours; since,
strive as I may, I can scarcely hope to equalize the heart-
crushing discouragements and assaults made by your ene-

All things considered, you have certainly done well, as a
body. There are many colored men whom I am proud to
rank among my friends ; whose native vigor of mind is
remarkable ; whose morals are unexceptionable ; whose
homes are the abode of contentment, plenty and refinement.
For my own part, when I reflect upon the peculiarities of
your situation; what indignities have been heaped upon your
heads ; in what utter dislike you are generally held even by
those who profess to be the ministers and disciples of Christ ;
and how difficult has been your chance to arrive at respect-
ability and affluence, I marvel greatly, not that you are no
more enlightened and virtuous, but that you are not like
wild beasts of the forests. I fully coincide with the senti-
ment of Mr. Jefferson, that the men must be prodigies who
can retain their manners and morals under such circumstan-
ces. Surely, you have a right to demand an equal position
among mankind.

O, if those whose prejudices against color are deeply root-
ed — if the asscrtcrs of the natural inferiority of the people
of color, would but even casually associate with the victims
of their injustice, and be candid enough to give merit its
due, they could not long feel and act as they now do. Their
prejudices would melt like frost-work before the blazing sun ;
their unbelief would vanish away, their contempt be turned


into admiration, their indifference be roused to benevolent
activity, and their disHke give place to friendship. Keeping
aloof from your society, ignorant of the progress which you
are making in virtue, knowledge and competence, and
believing all the aspersions of malice which are cast upon
your character, they at length persuade themselves that you
are utterly worthless, and nearly akin to the brute creation.
Cruel men ! cruel w'omen ! thus hastily and blindly to pass
condemnation upon those who deserve your compassion, and
are worthy of your respect !

Be this your encouragement, in view of our separation.
Although absent from you in body, I shall still be with you
in spirit. I go away, not to escape from toil, but to labor
more abundantly in your cause. If 1 may do something for
your good at home, I hope to do more abroad. In the mean
time, I beseech you fail not, on your part, to lead quiet and
orderly lives. Let there be no ground whatever for the
charge which is brought against you by your enemies, that
you are turbulent and rude. Let all quarrelling, all dram-
drinking, all profanity, all violence, all division, be confined
to the white people. Imitate them in nothing but what is
clearly good, and carefully shun even the appearance of
evil. Let them, if they will, follow the devices and perform
the drudgery of the devil ; but be ye perfect, even as your
heavenly Father is perfect. Conquer their aversion by moral
excellence ; their proud spirit by love ; their evil acts by acts
of goodness ; their animosity by forgiveness. Keep in your
hearts the fear of God, and rejoice even in tribulation ; for
the promise is sure, that all things shall work together for
good to those who love His name.

As for myself, whatever may be my fate — whether I fall
in the spring-time of manhood by the hand of the assassin,
or be immured in a Georgia cell, or be permitted to live to
a ripe old age — I know that the success of your cause is


not dependant upon my existence. I am but as a drop in
the ocean, which, if it be separated, cannot be missed.

My own faith is strong — my vision, clear — my consola-
tion, great. ' Who art thou, O great mountain ? Before
Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain : and he shall bring
forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace,
grace unto it.' Let us confidently hope, that the day is at
hand, when we shall be enabled to celebrate not merely the
abolition of the slave trade by law but in fact, and the libe-
ration of every descendant of Africa, wherever one exists in
bondage under the whole heavens.

Whether a persecuted child of thine
Thou deign to own, my lovely native place,*
In characters that Time cannot efface.

Thy worth is graved upon this heart of mine.

Forsake me not in anger, nor repine
That with this nation I am in disgrace :
From ruthless bondage to redeem my race,

And save my country, is my great design.

How much soe'er my conduct thou dost blame,
(For Hate and Calumny belie my course,)

My labors shall not sully thy fair fame ;
But they shall be to thee a fountain-source

Of joyfulness hereafter — when my name
Shall e'en from tyrants a just tribute force.

* Kbwbdbypobt, Mass.



The names of Clarkson and Wilberforce will, to the
end of time, be watchwords in the mouths of the friends of
bleeding humanity. Venerable men ! they live, as yet, to
receive the benedictions of a grateful people ! Would they
were present on this occasion, to receive our individual
thanks and gratulations ! How would their dim eyes rekindle
with light, and their feeble pulse rise to a strong vibration,
and their almost passive hearts beat joyfully with emotion,
could they see a portion of that persecuted people, for whom
they have toiled for so long a period, assembled together
under such happy auspices, presenting such an appearance
of comfort, safety and pleasure, to celebrate a deed which
they, under God, successfully consummated ! Were they
before me, I would address them after this manner : —

Benefactors of mankind ! thrice welcome to the shores
of America ! welcome to the land in which the infant Lib-
erty was born, whose tread is now shaking the nations ! wel-
come to a seat with those for whose improvement and
protection you have spent a long life, enduring shame and
reproach, perilling * your health and reputation and lives,
seeking no reward but the approbation of your consciences
and the smiles of Heaven, never tiring in your arduous
labors, never faltering in feebleness of faith, never diverted
from the object of your pursuit! Suffer me to present to

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 13 of 33)