William Lloyd Garrison.

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

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Shall burst their chains, and stand in dignity sublime.


I care not, tyrants ! for your strength or power.
Your savage mien, your more than savage rage ;

It is for you, not for myself, to cower ;

Sustained by Truth and Right, I dare engage
Your fierce array, and single combat wage.

In Freedom's cause one shall a thousand chase.
And two ten thousand drive from off the stage :

The brave are never found among the base —
"Where Innocence is bold. Guilt hides his crimson face !


"What is before me. Lord, is known to thee ;
To me all is unknown, except thy will,


That I in all things should obedient bt?,

Come weal or woe, come present good or ill-
Nor fear those who the body only kill.

Thy will is mine, and let thy will be done !
Thy light and love my spirit sweetly fill : —

Following with zeal the footsteps of thy Son,
With martyrs I rejoice the Christian race to run.

E'en to this hour, to public gaze I stand,
An object feared, rejected, and abhorred ;

And for ray labors to redeem the land.
Reproach and infamy are my reward :
But time shall justice unto me accord.

To him, who, for Thy sake, takes up his cross,
Thy promises are rich and sure, O Lord ! —

Fire from th' adulterate ore extracts but dross,
But the pure gold sustains, and can sustain, no loss.


Courage, O friends ! a thousand fields are won !

Ten thousand foes lie prostrate in the dust !
Your task, though onerous, is nearly done ;

Still in the Lord Jehovah be your trust,

And victory crowns you, for your cause is just !
All yokes and manacles shall yet be riven ;

The monster Slavery shall die accursed ;
Sweet freedom to the pining thrall be given.
And a grand jubilee be kept by Earth and Heaven !


[From the Boston Liberator of November 7, 1835. ]


I SHALL give, as far as 1 am capable, an exact and faithful
account of the ruthless disturbances which took place in
Boston on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 21st, and by which this
city was suddenly transformed into an infuriated pandemo-
nium. It is the most disgraceful event that has ever marred
the character of Bostonians, whether reference be made to
the time of its occurrence, or to the cause which was as-
sailed, or to those who stood obnoxious to violent treatment.
The recent pro-slavery meeting in Faneuil Hall supported
the theory of despotism, and the tumultuous assembly of
Wednesday carried it mXo practice — trampling all law and
order, the Constitution and personal liberty, public decorum
and private decency, common humanity and Christian cour-
tesy, into the dust. The light of day did not cause a blush,
nor the certainty of exposure restrain from indecent and
barbarous behavior, nor profession or station deter ' re-
spectable, wealthy and influential citizens ' from enacting
the part of ruffians and anarchists. All distinctions (except-
ing that of color^ to the honor of the black man be it
recorded) were blended, for the purpose of gagging the
advocates of freedom, and infusing new strength into tlie
arm of the remorseless scourger of Woman at the South.
The merchant and the aristocrat — the wealthy and the
learned — the * respectable ' and the 'influential' — the
professor and the profane — were all huddled together in


thick and formidable array, with every variety of feeling,
but with one prevalent design, namely, to insult, annoy and
disperse the Female Anti-Slavery meeting, (brave, gentle-
manly, chivalric men !) and to tar-and-feather, or put to
death, George Thompson or myself! Was it not a sub-
lime spectacle to behold four or five thousand genteel ruffians
courageously assembling together, to achieve so hazardous
an exploit as the putting to flight one man and thirty
defenceless females ?

As the scenes of the last week are historically connected
with those of the present, it is necessary to recapitulate
them, in order that the beginning and the end of the late
tumult may be seen at a glance by the reader ; and that
Boston, the boasted Cradle of Liberty, may obtain every
particle of that infamous renown which she has so dearly
earned, and of which she seems so insanely covetous.

The Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society has been in
operation about three years, humbly aiding with its prayers
and limited means the cause of bleeding humanity, and
gradually increasing both in number and efficiency. Its
members are industrious, estimable, intellectual and devout
women, and exemplary mothers, wives and daughters. He
who sneers at them, knowing their true character, must be
destitute of honor, virtue and benevolence ; and he who
aims to suppress their association must first drag them to
the stake, and consume then; to ashes, before he can suc-
ceed. They are worthy to be ranked with the females of
Great Britain, to whose untiring effi^rts eight hundeed
THOUSAND slaves in the Bntish Colonies are mainly indebted
for their emancipation — and what higher praise need be
given ? Hear what the great Irish champion of freedom —
the fearless and eloquent O'Connell — said, in relation to the
merits of the women, in his sublime and spirit-stirring speech,
delivered in Exeter Hall, London, July 13, 1833 :

» I have, however, moments of exquisite delight. I remember
that 1,500,000 of the people of this country have joined in petition-
ing Parliament for the total and immediate abolition of slaver}'.
(Cheers.) O, blessings upon them ! Every age, every station,
nay, every sex, has united in these petitions. THE \YOMEN OE
ENGLAND HAVE LED THE WAY; and imdcr the banners
of the maids and matrans of Englandy proud must that Individ-


ual be, who shall have an opportunity of telling them, " A( ymir
command we have doni our duty, and slavery is at ax end!"
(Cheers.^ A ruffian in this country taunted the females who signed
the petitions, In- calling them the Dorothys, and Tabiihas, and
Priscillas. I stigmatized him as a rufhan, in my place in Parlia-
ment ; and I stigmatize him as such licrc. (Loud cheers.) '

The constitutional period for holding the annual meeting
of the Society occurred last week ; and, accordingly, the
Secretary gave public notice that the meeting would be held
on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 14, at Congress Hall, and
that an address would be delivered on the occasion by
George Thompson, at the request of the Society. It did
not occur to the members, (but, surely, their forgetfulness is
a pardonable offence,) that they were not competent to con-
duct their own business, or to choose a speaker to address
them, without suitable instructions from the upholders of
Southern slavery ; and that they were solemnly bound to
inquire of the editorial creatures who manage the Commer-
cial Gazette, and Atlas, and Courier, and Centinel, — when,
where, and how to assemble, and whom to invite to be pre-
sent, and the proper manner of conducting their meeting.
They felt perfectly able to transact all the business of the
Society, independently of the assistance of profligate and
impudent intermeddlers ; nor could they readily believe
that any thing in the shape of a man could be so lost to
shame, or so great a dastard, as to assail their meeting in
broad daylight, or threaten the personal safety of any of
their number.

It was summarily stated in the Liberator of last week,
that the reading of their notice from some of the pulpits on
the preceding Sabbath excited the amiable fury and holy
horror of many a hypocrite and pharisee — of those who
take tithe of mint, anise and cummin, and neglect the
weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and fliith —
in the various congregations; — that the Commercial
Gazette, Courier, and Centinel, of Tuesday, put forth
violent and seditious articles respecting the meeting, for tiie
purpose of inflaming the worst passions of a slavery-loving
community against it; — that, in consequence of the furious
tone of those papers, and the alarming symptoms of a riot,
the lessee of Congress Hall felt it to be his duty, as the


only chance of preserving his property from destruction,
publicly to forbid the Society occupying the hall; — that,
being thus unexpectedly deprived of a place in which to
assemble, the Society advertised in the morning papers of
Wednesday, that the meeting was necessarily postponed
until further notice ; — that, notwithstanding their advertise-
ment, a crowd of ' respectable and well-dressed ' disturbers
of the public peace gathered tumultuously around the hall,
vainly hoping to seize Mr. Thompson, that they might vent
their murderous spite upon his person ; — that, being falsely
told that the Society was holding its meeting at liitchie Hall,
thither they rushed with frantic joy, and finding a meeting
■of the Ladies' Moral Reform Society convened together in
the hall, they behaved so infamously as to cause its disper-
sion ; — that, in the sequel, the Mayor made his appearance,
and succeeded in causing the riotous ' gentlemen of re-
spectability and influence ' to withdraw, by assuring them
that the object of their hatred was not in the city — &c. &c.
This unmanly, impertinent and anomalous procedure
failed to intimidate the members of the Female Anti-Slavery
Society, or to convince them that they ought not to hold
their annual meeting, agreeably to the precept of their Con-
stitution. They were made of sterner stuff, and had too
clear an apprehension of the duty which they owed to God,
their country, and the perishing slaves, to be driven from a
lawful and holy purpose by an irruption of Goths and Van-
dals upon their assembly. To retreat, under such circum-
stances, would savor of apostacy from the cross of Christ ;
and to be passive, would seem to argue an imbecilhy of
<mind, a lack of Christian faith, or a sacrifice of principle.
They were not requested, by their shameless assailants, to
^postpone or suspend their meeting for a limited time, on the
«core of expediency ; but they were virtually commanded
to desist, at once and for ever, on the ground of brutal
authority, from their Christ-like design to bind up the
hroken-hearted, to open the prison-doors, and to set the cap-
tive free. They were threatened as slaves, not kindly
advised as equals. They had no other alternative, therefore,
than to move steadily onward to the Regular discharge of
their duty, or to be branded as recreants to a cause which
they had pledged to support, under all circumstances, and


through all perils. Accordingly, they gave public informa-
tion to the ladies of Boston, that their meeting would be
held in the Anti-Slavery Hall, 46, Washington street, on
Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 21, at 3 o'clock, and that sev-
eral addresses might be expected on the occasion. It was
not advertised that Mr. Thompson - ould attend, nor was
his presence deemed to be essential or expedient, either by
himself or the Society. He therefore left the city on Tues-
day, that there might be no pretext for causing an interrup-
tion of the meeting on the ensuing day. The aspect of
things looked tranquil until Wednesday morning, when
inflammatory articles appeared in some of the daily papers,
and it was stated that several store-keepers, in the immedi-
ate vicinity of the hall, had petitioned the Mayor and Alder-
men to suppress the meetino", as it might endanger their
property by causing a riot! Yes, to accommodate their sel-
fishness, they declared that the liberty of speech, and the
right to assemble in an associated capacity peaceably
together, should be unlawfully and forcibly taken away from
an estimable portion of the' community, by the officers of
our city — the humble servants of the people! Benedict
Arnold's treachery to the cause of liberty and his bleeding
country was no worse than this. As properly might they
have petitioned for leave to slaughter every man who should
venture to maintain the exploded doctrine, that all men are
created equal. Such sordid men would sell their country
for less than thirty pieces of silver, under favorable circum-
stances. If they felt that the safety of their goods would
be endangered by the contemplated' meeting, — or, rather,
by the ruffians who had conspired to break it up, — they-
had an unquestionable right to warn the city authorities of
the fact, and to demand a'dequate protection, but not to ask
for the suppression of a benevolent and lawful meeting. Of
course, — however much inclined they might have been, in
spirit, to comply with so daring a request, — the Mayor and
Aldermen comprehended the limitation of their authority
too well, and had too much respect even for the equivocal
patriotism of the people, to interpose their authority. A
seditious and blood-thirsty placard, — printed, I presume, at
the office of the Commercial Gazette, — was circulated
through the city, stating that * the infamous foreign scoun-


drel, Thompson,' would hold forth in the Anti-Slavery Hall,
in the afternoon ; that ' the present was a fair opportunity
for the friends of the Union to snake him out "■ ; and that ' a
purse of 8100 had been raised by a number of patriotic
citzens to reward the individual who should first lay violent
hands upon him, so that he might be brought to the tar-
kettle before dark.' In consequence of the inflammatory
state of the public mind, the Mayor, Theodoee Lyman, sent
a deputy to the Anti-Slavery Office, to ascertain whether
Mr. Thompson contemplated addressing the meeting ; for, if
he did not, the Mayor said he wished to be enabled to apprise
the multitude of the fact, and thus induce them to retire —
or, if he did, the Mayor was anxious seasonably to enrol an
efficient constabulary force to protect the meeting and pre-
serve order. As this information was asked, not as a matter
of right, but seemingly with just intentions, 1 sent word to
the Mayor, that the Female Anti-Slavery Society could not
feel obligated, at any man's bidding, either to suppress or to
publish the names of those whom they had invited to speak at
their meeting ; but, as I trusted that his request was made in
the spirit of kindness, and not of impertinence or domina-
tion, I felt not only willing but desirous to inform him, that
Mr. Thompson was not in the city, nor would he be present
at the meeting, and that he might make proclamation to that
effect to all who should assemble for riotous purposes.

As the meeting was to commence at 3 o'clock, P. M., I
went to the hall about twenty minutes before that time.
Perhaps a hundred individuals had already gathered around
the street door and opposite to the building, and their number
was rapidly augmenting. On ascending into the hall, I
found about fifteen or twenty ladies assembled, sitting with
serene countenances, and a crowd of noisy intruders
(mostly young men) gazing upon them, through whom I
urged my way with considerable difficulty. ' That's Garri-
son,' was the exclamation of some of their number, as I
quietly took my seat. Perceiving they had no intention of
retiring, I went to them and calmly said — ^Gentlemen,
perhaps you are not aware that this is a meeting of the
Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, called and intended
exclusively for ladies, and those only who have been invited
to address them. Understanding this fact, you will not be


SO rude or indecorous as to thrust your presence upon this
meeting. If, gentlemen^'' I pleasantly continued, ' any of you
are ladies — in disguise — why, only apprise me of the
fact, give me your names, and I will introduce you to the
rest of your sex, and you can take seats among them
accordingly.' I then sat down, and, for a few moments,
their conduct was more orderly. However, the stair-way
and upper door of the hall were soon densely filled with a
brazen-faced crew, whose behavior grew more and more
indecent and outrageous. Perceiving that it would be im-
practicable for me, or any other person, to address the
ladies ; and believing, as I was the only male abolitionist in
the hall, that my presence would serve as a pretext for the
mob to annoy the meeting, I held a short colloquy with the
excellent President of the Society, telling her that I would
withdraw, unless she particularly desired me to stay. It
was her earnest wish that I would retire, as well for my
own safety as for the peace of the meeting. She assured
me that the Society would resolutely but calmly proceed to
the transaction of its business, and leave the issue with God.
I left the hall accordingly, and would have left the building,
if the stair-case had not been crowded to excess. This
being impracticable, I retired into the Anti-Slavery Office,
(which is separated from the hall by a board partition,)
accompanied by my friend, Mr. Charles C. Burleigh. It was
deemed prudent to lock the door, to prevent the mob from
rushing in and destroying our publications.

In the mean time, the crowd in the street had augmented
from a hundred to thousands. The cry was for 'Thomp-
son ! Thompson ! ' — but the Mayor had now arrived, and,
addressing the rioters, he assured them that Mr. Thompson
was not in the city, and besought them to disperse. As
well might he have attempted to propitiate a troop of raven-
ous wolves. None went away — but the tumult continued
momentarily to increase. It was apparent, therefore, that
the hostility of the throng was not concentrated upon Mr.
Thompson, but that it was as deadly against the Society and
the Anti-Slavery cause. This fact is worthy of special
note — for it inconlestably proves that the object of these
' respectable and influential ' rioters was to put down the


cause of emancipation, and that Mr. Thompson merely
furnished a pretext for their lawless acts !

Let not any, therefore, who are disposed to be friendly to
our cause, suppose that Mr. Thompson is the chief, or even
the slightest obstacle in the way of its triumph, or that his
departure would bring popularity and repose to the aboli-
tionists. Is James G. Birney, or Theodore D. Weld, or
William Jay, or Arthur Tappan, treated more tenderly than
George Thompson by the enemies of liberty ? No. Their
grand design, then, is not simply to drive an English phi-
lanthropist from our shores, but to maltreat, gag and enslave
American, native-born Citizens ! The struggle is
between Right and Wrong — Liberty and Slavery — Chris-
tianity and Atheism — Northern Freemen and Southern
Taskmasters. The great question to be settled is not merely
whether 2,000,000 slaves in our land shall be immediately
or gradually emancipated — or whether they shall be colo-
nized abroad or retained in our midst ; but whether freedom
is with us — THE People of the United States — a
reality or a mockery ; — whether the liberty of speech and of
the press, purchased with the toils and sufferings and pre-
cious blood of our fathers, is still to be enjoyed, unques-
tioned and complete — or whether *padlocks are to be put
upon our lips, gags into our mouths, and shackles upon that
great palladium of human rights, the press; — whether the
descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers, the sons of those who
fell upon Bunker Hill, and the plains of Lexington and
Concord, are to fashion their thoughts and opinions, and to
speak or be dumb, and to walk freely or with a chain upon
their spirit, and to stand upright or to crook the knee, and to
obey Jehovah or worship Mammon, at the bidding of South-
ern slave-drivers and oppressors ; — whether the truths of
the Declaration of Independence are still to be acknowl-
edged as ' self-evident,' and valuable beyond all price — or
whether they are to be regarded as ingenious fictions and
mere ' rhetorical flourishes'; — whether Equity, and Law,
and Public Order, are to be enforced, irrespective of politi-
cal or religious opinions — or whether Jacobinism, Anarchy
and Confusion are to reign in our midst, to the prostration
of all that makes life a blessing and society desirable ; —


wiiclber citizens, guiltless of crime, arc to walk without
molestation, and to repose without danger, and to assemble
together without hindrance — or whether tiiey arc to be
seized with impunity by lawless ruffians, dragged ignomini-
ously through the streets, thrust into prison, and forced to
fly from the endearments of home, for self-preservation.
Nay, more. It is a question of life and death to this nation —
of Christian freedom and abject bondage — that we have
now to decide. I rejoice, and thank God, tliat it assumes
such a shape, and is presented at such a crisis. The peo-
ple — blinded and misled for a time — will in the end see
and decide aright. Wo, then, to their deceivers! A tide
of indignation shall sweep them from the high places of
power, and sink them into the lowest depths of infamy.
New England will settle this question — for herself, the
nation, and the world. Ere long, I have faith to believe,

♦ From her Green Mountains to the Sea,
One voice shall thunder — We are free.''

But even if the sun of her own liberty has set for ever, still,
the discussion of this great question can never be suppressed,
so long as a single abolitionist is left alive upon her soil.
Slaughter-houses must be erected in every town and village,
and the scenes of the French revolution be re-enacted ;
and men and women, and children even, put to death by
human butchers, until the earth be drunk with blood, and
the slain cease to find a covering for their multilated bodies.
The victims are ready to he sacrificed — throughout.- the
Commonwealth, and all over the land — a noble company
of martyrs ! Is Boston prepared to commence the work of
extermination 1

Notwithstanding the presence and frantic behavior of the
rioters in the hall, the meeting of the Society was regularly
called to order by the President.* . She then read a select
and an exceedingly appropriate portion of Scri|)ture, and
offered up a fervent prayer to God for direction and succor,
and the forgiveness of enemies and revilers. It was an

* The lute Miss Mauy Paukku.


awful, sublime and soul-thrilling scene — enough, one would
suppose, to melt adamantine hearts, and make even fiends
of darkness stagger and retreat. Indeed, the clear, untrem-
ulous tone of voice of that Christian heroine in prayer,
occasionally awed the ruffians into silence, and was heard
distinctly even in the midst of their hisses, yells and
curses — for they could not long silently endure the agony
of conviction, and their conduct became furious. They
now attempted to break down the partition, and partially
succeeded ; but that little band of women still maintained
their ground unshrinkingly, and endeavored to transact their

An assault was now made upon the door of the office,
the lower panel of which was instantly dashed to pieces.
Stooping down, and glaring upon me as 1 sat at the desk,
writing an account of the riot to a distant friend, the ruffians
cried out — 'There he is! That's Garrison! Out whh
the scoundrel ! ' &c. &c. Turning to Mr. Burleigh I said —
'You may as well open the door, and let them come in and
do their worst.' But he, whh great presence of mind, went
out, locked the door, put the key into his pocket, and by his
admirable firmness succeeded in keeping the office safe.

Two or three constables having cleared the hall and stair-
case of the mob, the Mayor came in and ordered the ladies
to desist, assuring them that he could not any longer guar-
antee protection, if they did not take immediate advantage
of the opportunity to retire from the*building. Accordingly,
they adjourned, to meet at the house of one of their num-
ber, for the completion of their business ; but as they passed
through the crowd, thej^ were greeted with taunts, hisses,
and cheers of mobocratic triumph,, from ' gentlemen of
property and standing from all parts of the city.' Even their
absence did not diminish the throng. Thompson was not
there — the ladies were not there — but ' Garrison is
there ! ' was the cry. ' Garrison ! Garrison ! We must
have Garrison ! Out with him ! Lynch him ! ' These
and numberless other exclamations arose from the multitude.
For a moment, their attention was diverted from me to
the Anti-Slavery sign, and they vociferously demanded its
possession. It is pamful to state, that the Mayor promptly
complied with their demand ! So agitated and alarmed had


he become, that, in very weakness of spirit, he ordered the

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 29 of 33)