William Lloyd Garrison.

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

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and mode of emancipation ?

Because they, upon whose necks they are standing, are

30. Why ought the North to mind its own business, and
cease interfering with the question of Southern slavery ?

Because the slaves are black.

31. Why has the cause of emancipation been ' thrown
back at least a century ' by the rash intermeddling of the
abolitionists ?

Because the victims are black.

We have thus given thirty-one replies to those who assail
our principles and measures — that is, one reply, unanswer-
able and all-comprehensive, to all the cavils, complaints,
criticisms, objections and difiiculties which swarm in each
State in the Union, against our holy enterprise. The vic-
tims arc BLACK ! ' That alters the case ! ' There is not an
individual in all this country, who is not conscious before
God, that if the slaves at the South should be to-day mirac-
ulously transformed into men of white complexion, to-mor-


row the abolitionists would be recognised and cheered as
the best friends of their race ; their principles would be
eulogised as sound and incontrovertible, and their measures
as rational and indispensable ! Then, indeed, immediate
emancipation would be the right of the slaves, and the duty
of the masters !

Is it not so ? Who has ever heard any complaints made
against those who have denounced Turkish oppression,
Russian oppression, or the oppression of the mother coun-
try ' in the times that tried men's souls ' ? Every thing may
be said and done against those who enslave white men, and
it is all very proper. But wo to those, who, in relation to
human rights, will imitate God, and be no respecter of
men's complexions and persons ! What does all this prove,
but that the men who are so furiously assailing abolitionists
and their sacred cause, (making all due allowances for those
who know not what they do,) are the basest of all hypo-
crites — the shameless enemies of men on account of their
color — the libellers of the wisdom and goodness of God in
the creation of man ?

In behalf of this large and brilliant assembly — of a
host of ardent friends and advocates of universal emanci-
pation, unavoidably absent on this occasion — I proffer to
you, our honored guest, George Thompson, the strongest

* Delivered at the Farewell Soiree, in Assembly Hall, Boston,
June 16, 1851.



expressions of personal regard, and the warmest aspirations
for your health and happiness.

On the eve of embarking for your native land, after a
sojourn of more than eight months among us, it will prove
equally gratifying and instructive to take a brief survey of
the object and result of your visit to the United States, char-
acterised, as it has been, by so many anomalous circum-
stances and remarkable events.

Your object has been one of disinterested and godlike
philanthropy — to assist, by all righteous instrumentalities,
in the extirpation of the most comprehensively cruel and
detestable system of slavery that ever defied the living God,
or reduced man to the condition of a brute. In this you
have shown a regard for the honor, prosperity, perpetuity
and glory of this republic, deserving of its eternal grati-
tude, but of which an overwhelming majority of our native
population seem to be utterly destitute. Instead of being
inimical to our theory or form of government, or to the
institutions which generally exist among us, you have con-
stantly enforced the radical truths which are embodied in
the Declaration of Independence, and fairly awarded to us
all that justice and truth warrant. Your single purpose has
been to exhibit the guilt of man claiming property in man ;
to open your mouth in the cause of all such as are appointed
to destruction; to vindicate the right of man to be free;
and to assert the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of
the Human Race. If you have arraigned the political
parties of the country, or the government itself, or the
leaders of the people, or the popular religion, it has been
solely on the ground of their pro-slavery character and
position. You have raised no other issue; and in no
instance have you had any respect unto persons, or mani-
fested any party or sectarian bias, or evinced any foreign
prejudice or predilection.


You came to us without solicitation, moved by your own
benevolent and noble impulses, on your own responsibility,
at your own hazard, representing no organization at home
or abroad, in the spirit of an apostle, with the fidelity of a
prophet, with the courage of a martyr.

On your part, it was no untried experiment. A former
visit, — never to be forgotten in the history of this slave-
holding republic, — fully revealed to you the terrible su-
premacy of the Slave Power over the whole extent of our
national domains — the insults, outrages, perils, to which
the uncompromising friend of the slave must be subjected.
You had ' counted the cost ' once and again. Instead of
being received as a friend, you knew you would be treated
as an enemy. All that a venal press and a time-serving
pulpit could do to make you an object of detestation, you
anticipated they would do. You came to us with your life
in your hands ; and it is by the help of God, not by the
protection of men, that you continue to this day. An
example of such moral heroism is of more service to the
world than all the gold of California.

In a variety of aspects, your visit has been of immense
service. It has served as a probe to test the comparative
soundness or corruption of the body politic. It has proved
that the guilt of this country is colossal, and equalled only
by its cowardice. Your presence has terrified the nation
far more than an invading army could have done, because

' 'T is conscience that makes cowards of them all.'

Many have been your assailants behind your back, but no
one has ventured to confront you, face to face. A Clay,
a Cass, a Dickinson, have not deemed you unworthy
of their notice, on the floor of the Senate chamber, and have
done what they could, by their malicious attacks and great
influence, lo cause your life to be forfeited, if you could not


be driven from the country. Cowardice is ever the com-
panion of ruffianism. Such conduct is a confession of
guilt. You are but one ; but then you represent that cause,
in the service of which, ' one can chase a thousand, and two
put ten thousand to flight.' You are but one ; and yet
twenty millions of people are disquieted because of your
sojourn among them. It is not that you are the bravest,
the strongest, or the most eloquent of men ; they can match
you in power of persuasion, power of argument, power of
appeal, in a good cause ; but with the foul, inhuman, detesta-
ble system of slavery to vindicate on principle, they can do
nothing better than to call for the suppression of speech,
and deny the right of investigation.

Your visit has been warranted by the missionary enter-
prise from the apostolic age to the present time. If it is
right to assail idolatry in India, it cannot be wrong to
denounce slavery in America. If, by foreign interference,
it is laudable to seek the suppression of cannibalism in New
Zealand, then, by foreign interference, similarly evinced, it
is equally praiseworthy to seek the abolition of the traffic in
human flesh in Carolina or Georgia. The popular objection
to your course, that you are a foreigner, and therefore have
no right to meddle with any thing in this country, is alone
sufficient to stamp with hypocrisy the religious professions
of the people. Christ is the Universal Reformer. With
him and his disciples, ' the field is the world.' In him ' there
is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Barbarian nor Scythian,
neither male nor female, neither bond nor free, but all are
one.' It is his mission to overturn, and overturn, and over-
turn, — to put down all rule and all authority, — and to break
in pieces and consume all the kingdoms of the earth.
Against him are still arrayed ' principalities and powers,
and spiritual wickedness in high places.' You have vindi-
cated the universality of Christianity, by asserting and


maintaining your right, in the name of Christ, to arraign
injustice and tyranny wherever they exist in the world.
Whoever denies that right, or interferes with its freest exer-
cise, is not a Christian. Whoever taunts another with being
a foreigner, or seeks to render him odious on account of his
foreign birth, is not a Christian. No government has a
right to claim exemption from foreign criticism ; and none
will claim such exemption, unless it be tainted with corrup-
tion or stained with blood. It is the natural prerogative of
every human being to circumnavigate the globe, and inter-
rogate evil customs, wicked laws, despotic governments, a
spurious religion, and denounce them, in the name of God
the Creator, Christ the Redeemer, and Man the Sufferer. It
may be attended with odium, persecution, and all the terrors
of martyrdom ; but it is a prerogative none the less inherent
and sacred. Take it away, and the redemption of the
world becomes impracticable. ' Go ye into all the world,' —
not excepting the United States of America, — ' and preach
the gospel to every creature,' is still a Christian obligation.

To show that you are desirous that your own country
should be rebuked for its injustice, as well as the United
States, I quote your own words, from a lecture delivered by
you in Manchester, in 1841, in opposition to the Corn
Laws : —

* The people of America are fully justified in uttering their loud
complaints against our present system. They have just ground for
accusation and recrimination. It is with peculiar appropriateness
that our friend from America, wearing the complexion of millions
who are in bondage, appears before us to-night, and tells us, '* if we
would emancipate the slave, abolish the Corn Laws." I welcome
THE REBUKES OF AMERICA. If xoe have a free trade in nothing else,
let us have one in mutual and loholesome reynonstrances. I would that
every packet that sets sail from the bay of Boston, or New York,
or the mouth of the Mississippi, should bear over the billows a
solemn protest and a faithful rebuke, on the subject of our inconsistency


ayid our guilt. The monopolists of freedom in the slave States may
well taunt us with being monopolists of food in our own country,
When we cry, ** Abolish your slavery ! " they may well cry,
•• Abolish your Corn Laws ! " When we send them from Lanca-
shire a memorial praying for mercy to the slave, they may justly
utter the voice of rebuke, and say, '« Base hypocrites ! keep your
remonstrance at home ; your cotton smells of blood ! " (Loud
cheers.) Welcome, then, every voice, every note of warning and
recrimination. I trust the time is coming when both systems shall
fall ; when liberty shall be proclaimed in America, and cheap food
be the portion of our own starving children. Let the cause of food
and freedom go together. From this time forth, let the Anti-Corn
Law cause and the Anti-Slavery cause be indissolubly united.
(Cheers.) They are both founded in justice ; alike, they have
respect to the happiness and well-being of millions, and to the
honor of the two great nations whose crying abuses they are
intended to extirpate. I rejoiced when I heard Mr. Ilemond give
his solemn pledge, thus publicly, that he would discuss the ques-
tion of slavery in his own country upon Anti-Corn Law grounds.
He returns, therefore, to the land of his birth, as our missionary.
Let him lift up his voice boldly, and it is no uninfluential one ; and
let him tell his countrymen to give us no peace, until we have sicept away
our own domestic abomination. And let him tell his countrymen,
also, that they shall enjoy no rest, until the abomination which
maketh desolate the plains of the South is exterminated, and there
breathes not a captive within the limits of their proud republic'
(Loud cheers.)

Your visit has helped to redeem Christianity from the stains
that have been cast upon it, in this country, by its treacher-
ous professors. They have made it subservient to the most
infamous purposes. They have taken its sacred mantle,
and spread it over ' the abomination that maketh desolate.'
You have exhibited it in its primitive purity, loveliness and
grandeur, as utterly and eternally opposed to every form of

Your visit has given a new and powerful impulse to the
anti-slavery movement, and thus has shortened the period of


bondage for the millions who are waiting for deliverance.
The knowledge of it has been carried to the remotest ham-
lets : it has shaken the nation. If it has excited afresh the
fury of the oppressor, it has quickened the zeal of the
advocate of the oppressed. If it has led, in a few instan-
ces, to disgraceful disturbances, it has almost uniformly
been attended with brilliant omens and signal victories.
Wherever you have had an opportunity to speak for your-
self, — to vindicate your right to be heard, and the glorious
cause you have espoused — you have uniformly secured the
esteem, respect, confidence and assent of your auditors.
The base attempts of satanic presses to prevent your being
listened to, have served as a powerful stimulant to public
curiosity : and the more the people have been told to stay
away from your meetings, the more they have resolved not
to do so, but to hear impartially for themselves. The
understandings you have enlightened, the hearts you have
affected, the prejudices you have overcome, the obstacles
you have surmounted, the triumphs you have won, constitute
an aggregation of influences and results that cannot be

Your visit and labors, though geographical and specific,
have had a world-wide bearing. Slavery in this republic
obscures its otherwise glorious characteristics, gives to des-
potism throughout the globe its most formidable weapon,
obstructs the progress of freedom universally, strengthens
every throne, and sanctions every act of governmental usur-
pation. The oppressed and starving millions in Europe have
cause to bestow upon you their benediction for what you
have done here, not less than the millions of chattel slaves
at the South. Instead of forgetting their claims, you have
never labored more effectually in their behalf. They will
never accuse you of being indifferent to their deliverance.
The accusation comes from those, and those only, who jus-


tify the enslavement of the colored population in America,
and care nothing for the degradation of the laboring popula-
tion of Europe, except as a matter of cant and hypocrisy.
Such are ever ready to strain at a gnat, while they readily
swallow ' a whole caravan of camels.'

We address you in the language of commendation, not
as a matter of form or in the spirit of flattery, but because
you have been ' among the faithless, faithful found.' Of
the tens of thousands of your own countrymen who have
come to these shores, either as visitors or residents, scarcely
one in a thousand, whatever his anti-slavery pretensions at
home, has failed to do homage to the all-prevailing pro-
slavery sentiment of the land. You have been, here, every
thing you claimed to be at home ; you have said to our faces
severer things than you have ever uttered behind our backs ;
you have despised all threats, rejected all overtures, tram-
pled on all temptations, spurned all bribes. In this, it is
true, you have only done your duty ; but, contrasted with
the cowardly, time-serving course of nearly all who come
to us from the old world, your conduct is calculated to
excite the joy of angels and the admiration of all the inflex-
ibly good in the universe. And for such conduct is the
award to be given in the day of final account — ' Well done,
good and faithful servant ! '

On your return home, if you are asked, whether the
American Union will stand or fall in this conflict, answer, it
is not for you to prophesy. If they ask you, whether
slavery is destined to be abolished, answer, on the veracity
of God, Yes ! By the undying wants and irresistible im-
pulses of nature, Yes ! By the instincts and aspirations of
the human soul. Yes !

♦ The end will come — it will not wait —
Chains, yokes and scourges have their date;
Slavery itself shall pass away,
And be a talc of yesterday ! '


Proclaim to the people of England, that as Slavery and
Christianity were found incompatible together in the West
India Islands, it is equally true in America, that they are
utterly irreconcilable ; that as the missionaries were either
banished from Jamaica or cast into prison, and their chapels
torn down, so, in the slave States of America, every faithful
witness for God against slavery is subjected to the Lynch
code, and compelled to flee for his life ; in the immediate
presence of the Slave Power, no man can testify against it
in the name of Christ, without risk of martyrdom.

Conjure, therefore, all Christian denominations, as one,
in Great Britain, to renew and multiply their testimonies
against our gigantic slave system ; to declare that a church
which sanctions or connives at the existence of chattel
slavery cannot be the church of Christ, but is apostate in
spirit and practice ; and to refuse to give the right hand of
Christian fellowship to those who claim or justify property
in man. Tell them this is the infidelity, all the infidelity,
of the American abolitionists.

And now, in giving you our farewell benediction, we
cherish the hope that our separation is for a very brief sea-
son. Come to us again, in the spirit of peace and of lib-
erty, as the way shall be opened to you by the guidings of
Providence. Long may your life be preserved, to be the
terror of tyrants and the hope of the oppressed. The bless-
ings of those who are perishing are resting upon your
head : with these are mingled the best wishes and warmest
aspirations of every true lover of liberty, whose motto is —

* Patient, firm and persevering —

God speed the right !
Ne'er th' event nor danger fearing —

God speed the right !
Pains, nor toils, nor trials heeding,
And in Heaven's own time succeeding —

God speed the right ! '


€n K SiBtingtiisjiFi 5lknratc cf ^^nxh

The conquerors of the earth have had their day —

Their fame lies weltering in a bloody shroud ;
As Crime and Desolation haste away,

So fade their glory and their triumphs proud.
Great advocate ! a fairer wreath is thine,

Base Envy cannot soil, nor Time destroy ;
Thou art enlisted in a cause divine,

Which yet shall fill all earth and heaven with joy.
To calm the passions of a hostile world ;

To make content and happiness increase ;
In every clime to see that flag unfurled,

Long since uplifted by the Prince of Peace ;
This is thy soul's desire, thy being's aim,
No barrier can impede, no opposition tame.

How fall Fame's pillars at the touch of Time !

How fade, like flowers, the memories of the dead !
How vast the grave that swallows up a clime !

How dim the light by ancient glory shed !
One generation's clay enwraps the next,

And dead men are the aliment of earth ;
« Passing away ! ' is Nature's funeral text,

Uttered coeval with Creation's birth.
I mourn not, care not, if my humble name.

With my frail body, perish in the tomb ;
It courts a heavenly, not an earthly fame,

That through eternity shall brightly bloom ; —
Write it within thy Book of Life, O Lord,
And, in ' the last great day,' a golden crown award !



There are some very worthy men, who are gravely try-
ing to convince this slaveholding and slave-trading nation,
that it has an Anti-Slavery Constitution, if it did but know
it — always has had it since it was a nation — and so design-
ed it to he from the beginning ! Hence, all slaveholding

/ under it is illegal, and ought in virtue of it to be forthwith
abolished by act of Congress. As rationally attempt to con-
vince the American people that they inhabit the moon, and
' run upon all fours,' as that they have not intelligently,
deliberately and purposely entered into a covenant, by
which three millions of slaves are now held securely in bond-
age ! They are not to be let off so easily, either by indig-
nant Heaven or outraged Earth ! To tell them that, for

y three score years, they have misunderstood and misinter-
preted their own Constitution, in a manner gross and dis-
torted beyond any thing known in human history ; that
Washington, Jefferson, Adams, all who framed that Consti-

-' tution — the Supreme Court of the United States, and all its
branches, and all other Courts — the national Congress and
all State Legislatures — have utterly perverted its scope and
meaning — is the coolest and absurdest thing ever heard of

X beneath the stars! No, not thus are they to be allowed to
escape hot censure and unsparing condemnation. They
have committed no blunder; they have not erred through
stupidity ; they have not been misled by any legal sophis-
try. They are verily guilty of the most atrocious crimes,
and have sinned against the clearest light ever vouchsafed
to any people. They have designedly ' framed mischief
by a law,' and consigned to chains and infamy an inoffensive
and helpless race. Hence, it is not an error in legal interpre-
tation that they are to correct, but they are to be arraigned


as criminals of the deepest dye, warned of tlic wmlii to
come, and urged to the immediate confession and abandon-
ment of this great ' besetting sin.' ' Now, tliercfore, go to,
speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusa-
lem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I frame evil
against you, and devise a device against you ; return ye
now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and
your doings good.'

Some are unwilling to admit the possibility of legalizing
slavery, because of its foul and monstrous character. But
what iniquity may not men commit by agreement ? and
what obligations so diabolical, that men may not promise to
perform them to the letter ? To say that men have no right
to do wrong is a truism ; to intimate that they have not the
power to do so is an absurdity. If they have the power, it
is possible for them to use it ; and no where do they use it
with more alacrity, or on a more gigantic scale, than in the
United States.

' To ascertain the meaning of the Constitution,' we are^
told, ' we are to subject it, as we do any other law, to the
strict rules of legal interpretation. It seems to us that this
statement is extremely fallacious. The Constitution is not a^
statute, but a union, a C03IPAct formed between separate
and independent colonies, with conflicting interests and
diverse sentiments, to be reconciled in the best manner pos-
sible, by concession and compromise, for the attainment of
a common object — their own safety and welfare against a
common enemy. What those concessions and compromises
were, all knew when the compact was framed and adopted ;
they related to the prosecution of the foreign slave trade for
twenty years, to the allowance of a slave representation in
Congress, to the hunting of fugitive slaves, and to the suppres-
sion of domestic insurrections, for the special benefit of the
slave States ; and to direct taxation and the navigation laws, in


behalf of the free States. The Constitution of the United
States, then, is a form of government, having special pow-
ers and prerogatives of its own — created under great emer-
gencies and with peculiar features — unlike any thing in
ancient or modern times ; a form of government, we reite-
rate, not a legislative enactment, but under which, and by
authority of which, laws are to be passed, but never to
be interpreted to the subversion of the government, or by a
higher standard ! The people of this country have bound
^' themselves by an oath to have no other God before them
than a Constitutional God, which their own hands have
made, and to which they demand homage of every one born
or resident on the American soil, on peril of imprisonment
- or death ! His fiat is ' the supreme law of the land.'

It is said, that with the intention of the framers of the
Constitution, we do not need to concern ourselves, ' any

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 23 of 33)