William Lloyd Garrison.

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

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sign to be hurled to t^ie ground, and it was instantly broken
into a thousand fragments by the infuriated poj)ulace. O,
lamentable departure from duty — O, shameful outrage upon
private property — by one who had sworn, not to destroy,
but to protect property — not to pander to the lawless
desires of a mob, however ' wealthy and respectable,' but
to preserve the public peace. The act was wholly unjusti-
fiable. The Mayor might have as lawfully surrendered me
to the tender mercies of the mob, or ordered the building
itself to be torn down, in order to propitiate them, as to
have removed that sign. Perhaps — nay, probably, he was
actuated by kind intentions ; probably he hoped that he
should thereby satisfy the ravenous appetites of these
human cormorants, and persuade them to retire ; probably
he trusted thus to extricate me from danger. But the
sequel proved that he only gave a fresh stimulus to popular
fury ; and if he could have saved my life, or the *vhole city
from destruction, by that single act, still he ought not to
have obeyed the mandate of the mob — no indeed! He
committed a public outrage in the presence of the lawless
and disobedient, and thus strangely expected to procure obe-
dience to and a respect for the law ! lie behaved disorderly
before rebels, that he might restore order among them !
Mr. Henry Williams and Mr. John L. Dimmock also
deserve severe reprehension for their forwardness in taking
down the sign. The offence, under such circumstances, was
very heinous. The value of the article destroyed was of
no consequence ; but the principle involved in its surrender
and sacrifice is one upon which civil government, private
property and individual liberty depend.

The sign being demolished, the cry for ' Garrison ! ' was
renewed, more loudly than ever. It was now apparent,
that the multitude would not disperse until I had left the
building ; and as egress out of the front door was impossi-
ble, the Mayor and his assistants, as well as some of my
friends, earnestly besought me to effect my escape in the
rear of the building. At this juncture, an abolition brother,
whose mind had not been previously settled on the j)cacc
question, in his anguish and alarm for my safety, and in
view, of the helplessness of the civil authority, said — 'I


must henceforth repudiate the principle of non-resistance.
When the civil arm is powerless, my own rights are trodden
in the dust, and the lives of my friends are put in imminent
peril by ruffians, I will hereafter stand ready to defend myself
and them at all hazards.' Putting my hand upon his
shoulder,'! said, ' Hold, my dear brother ! You know not
what spirit you are of. Of what value or utility are the
principles of peace and forgiveness, if we may repudiate
them in the hour of peril and suffering ? Do you wish to
become like one of those violent and blood-thirsty men who
are seeking my life ? Shall we give blow for blow, and
array sword against sword ? God forbid ! I will perish
sooner than raise my hand against any man, even in self-
defence, and let none of my friends resort to violence for
my protection. If my life be taken, the cause of emanci-
pation will not suffer. God reigns — his throne is undis-
turbed by this storm — he will make the wrath of man to
praise him^ and the remainder he will restrain — his omnip-
otence will at length be victorious.'

Preceded by my faithful and beloved friend Mr. J

E- C , I dropped from a back window on to a shed,

and narrowly escaped falling headlong to the ground. We
entered into a carpenter's shop, through which we attempted
to get into Wilson's Lane, but found our retreat cut off by
the mob. They raised a shout as soon as we came in sight,
but the proprietor promptly closed the door of his shop, kept
them at bay for a time, and thus kindly afforded me an
opportunity to find some other passage. I told Mr. C. it
would be futile to attempt to escape — I would go out to the
mob, and let them deal with me as they might elect ; but he
thought it was my duty to avoid them, as long as possible.
We then went up stairs, and finding a vacancy in one
corner of the room, I got into it, and he and a young lad
piled up some boards in front of me, to shield me from
observation. In a few minutes, several ruffians broke into
the chamber, who seized Mr. C. in a rough manner, and led
him out to the view of the mob, saying, 'This is not Garri-
son, but Garrison's and Thompson's friend, and he says he
knows where Garrison is, but won't tell.' Then a shout of
exultation was raised by the mob, and what became of him
I do not know ; thdugh, as I was immediately discovered, I


presume he escaped without material injury. On seeing
me, three or four of the rioters, uttering a yell, furiously
dragged me to the window, with the intention of hurlin"- me
from that height to the ground ; but one of them relented,
and said — 'Don't let us kill him outright.' So they drew
me backhand coiled a rope about my body — probably to
drag me through the streets. I bowed to the mob, and
requesting them to wait patiently until I could descend, went
down upon a ladder that was raised for that purpose. I
fortunately extricated myself from the rope, and was seized
by two or three of the leading rioters, powerful and athletic
men, by whom I was dragged along bareheaded, (for my
hat had been knocked off and cut in pieces on the spot,)
a friendly voice in the crowd shouting, ' He shan't be hurt !
He is, an American ! ' This seemed to excite sympathy
in the breasts of some others, and they reiterated the same
cry. Blows, however, were aimed at my head by such as
were of a cruel spirh, and at last they succeeded in tearing
nearly all my clothes from my body. Thus was I dragged
through Wilson's Lane into State street, in the rear of the
City Hall, over the ground that was stained with the blood
of the first martyrs in the cause of Liberty and Independ-
ence, in the memorable massacre of 1770 ; and upon
which was proudly unfurled, only a few years since, with
joyous acclamations, the beautiful banner presented to the
gallant Poles by the young men of Boston ! What a scan-
dalous and revolting contrast ! My offence was in pleading
for liberty — liberty for my enslaved countrymen, colored
though they be — liberty of speech and of the press for
ALL ! And upon that ' consecrated spot,' I was made an
object of derision and scorn, some portions of my person
being in a state of entire nudity.

They proceeded with me in the direction of the City Hall,
the cry being raised, ' To the Common ! ' whether to give
me a coat of tar and feathers, or to throw me into the pond,
was problematical. As we approached the south door, the
Mayor attempted to protect me by his presence ; but as he
was unassisted by any show of authority or force, lie was
quickly thrust aside ; and now came a tremendous rush on
the part of the mob to prevent my entering the hall. For
a time, the conflict was desperate ; but at length a rescue


was effected by a posse that came to the help of the Mayor,
by whom I was carried up into the Mayor's room.

In view of my denuded condition, one individual in the
Post Office below stairs kindly lent me a pair of pantaloons ;
another, a coat; a third, a stock; a fourth, a cap — &c.
After a brief consultation, (the mob densely surrounding the
City Hall, and threatening the safety of the Post Office,)
the Mayor and his advisers said my life depended upon com-
mitting me to jail, ostensibly as a disturber of the peace ! !
Accordingly, a hack was go't in readiness at the door ;
and, supported by Sheriff Parkman and Ebenezer Bailey,
Esq., (the Mayor leading the way,) I was put into it
without much difficulty, as I was not at first identified in my
new garb. But now a scene occurred that baffles the power
of description. As the ocean, lashed into fury by the spirit
of the storm, seeks to whelm the adventurous bark beneath
its mountain waves, so did the mob, enraged by a series of
disappointments, rush like a whirlwind upon the frail vehicle
in which I sat, and endeavor to drag me out of it. Escape
seemed a physical impossibiUty. They clung to the
wheels — dashed open the doors — seized hold of the
horses — and tried to upset the carriage. They were, how-
ever, vigorously repulsed by the police — a constable sprang
in by my side — the doors were closed — and the driver,
lustily using his whip upon the bodies. of his horses and the
heads of the rioters, happily made an opening through
the crowd, and drove at a tremendous speed for Leverett
street. But many of the rioters followed even whh superior
swiftness, and repeatedly attempted to arrest the progress of
the horses. To reach the jail by a direct course was found
impracticable ; and after going in a circuitous direction, and
encountering many ' hair-breadth 'scapes,' we drove up to
this new and last refuge of liberty and life, when another
desperate attempt was made to seize me by the mob, but in
vain. In a few moments, I was locked up in a cell, safe
from my persecutors, accompanied by two delightful asso-
ciates, — a good conscience and a cheerful mind. In the
course of the evening, several of my friends came to my
grated window, to sympathize and confer with me, with
whom I held a strengthening conversation until the hour of
retirement, when I threw myself upon my prison-bed, and


slept tranquilly. In the morning, I inscribed upon the walls
of my cell, with a pencil, the following lines :

' Wm. Lloyd Garrison was put into this cell on Wednesday
afternoon, Oct. 21, 1835, to save him from the violence of a
"respectable and influential" mob, who sought to destroy
him for preaching the abominable and dangerous doctrine,
that " all men arc created equal," and that all oppression is
odious in the sight of God. " Hail, Columbia ! " Cheers
for the Autocrat of Russia, and the Sultan of Turkey !

' Reader, let this inscription remain till the last slave in
this despotic land be loosed from his fetters.'

' When peace within the bosom reigns,

And conscience gives th' approving voice ;
Though bound the human form in chains,
Yet can the soul aloud rejoice.

' 'Tis true, my footsteps are confined —

I cannot range beyond this cell ; —
But what can circumscribe my mind?

To chain the winds attempt as Avell ! '

* Confine me as a prisoner — but bind me not as a slave.
Punish me as a criminal — but hold me not as a chattel.
Torture me as a man — but drive me not like a beast.
Doubt my sanity — but acknowledge my immortality.'

In the course of the forenoon, after passing through the
mockery of an examination, for form's sake, before Judge
Whitman, I was released from prison ; but, at the earnest
solicitation of the city authorities, in order to tranquillize
the public mind, I deemed it proper to leave the city for a
few days, accompanied by my wife, whose shuation was
such as to awaken the strongest solicitude for her life.

My thanks are due to SiicrifF Parkman, for various acts
of politeness rfnd kindness ; as also to Sheriff Sumner, Mr.
Coolidge, Mr. Andrews, and several other gentlemen.

I have been thus minute in describing the rise, progress
and termination of this disgraceful riot, in order to prevent
(or rather to correct) false representations and exaggerated
reports respecting it and myself. It is proper lo subjoin a
few reflections.


1. The outrage was perpetrated in Boston — the Cradle
of Liberty — the city of Hancock and Adams — the head-
quarters of refinement, literature, intelligence and religion !
No comments can add to the infamy of this fact.

2. It was perpetrated in the open daylight of heaven, and
was therefore most unblushino; and darins; in its features.

3. It was against the friends of human freedom — the
liberty of speech — the right of association — and in sup-
port of the vilest slavery that ever cursed the world.

4. It was a dastardly assault of thousands upon a small
body of helpless females.

5. It was planned and executed, not by the rabble, or the
working-men, but by ' gentlemen of property and standing
from all parts of the city ' ; and now, that time has been
afforded for reflection, it is still either openly justified or
coldly disapproved by the 'higher classes,' and exultation
among them is general throughout the city.

6. It is virtually approved by all the daily presses, except
the Daily Advocate and the Daily Reformer. These inde-
pendent presses have spoken out in a tone worthy of the
best days of the revolution.

7. It is evidently winked at by the city authorities. No
efforts have been made to arrest any of the rioters. The
Mayor has made no public appeal to the citizens to preserve
order ; nor has he given any assurance that the right of free
discussion shall be enjoyed without molestation ; nor did he
array any military force against the mob, or attempt to dis-
perse them, except by useless persuasion ; on the contrary,
he complied with their wishes in tearing down the anti-
slavery sign. He was chairman, too, of the pro-slavery
meeting in Faneuil Hall, at which Washington was cheered
for having been a slaveholder !

What will be the effect of this riot } Will it cause one
abolitionist to swerve from the faith } Will it prevent either
men or women from assembling together, tcT devise ways
,and means for the destruction of the slave system > Will
it stop the freedom of discussion } Will it put down the
Liberator } Will it check the growth of the anti-slavery
cause .? Will it slacken my efforts .? No ! It will have a
contrary effect. It will humble the pride of this city ; it
will rouse up and concentrate all that is left of the free


spirit of our fatliers ; it will excite sympathy for the perse-
cuted, and indignation against the persecutors ; it will niulti-
ply sterling converts to our doctrines ; it will increase the
circulation of anti-slavery writings ; it will substitute a thou-
sand agitators in the place of one, and make the discussion
of slavery paramount to all other topics ; it will make the
triumph of truth over error, and of liberty over oppression,
and of law* over jacobinism, and of republicanism over
aristocracy, more signal and glorious ; it will enable the most
blind to see that the existence of Southern slavery is incom-
patible with the exercise of the rights and privileges of
Northern freemen ; and it will nerve my arm to strike
heavier blows than ever upon the head of the monster
Oppression. We give our enemies their choice of weap-
ons, and conquer them easily. The truth that we utter is
impalpable, yet real : it cannot be thrust down by brute
force, nor pierced with a dagger, nor bribed with gold, nor
overcome by the application of a coat of tar and feathers.
The CAUSE that we espouse is the cause of human liberty,
formidable to tyrants, and dear to the oppressed, throughout
the world — containing the elements of immortality, sublime
as heaven, and far-reaching as eternity — embracing every
interest that appertains to the welfare of the bodies and
souls of men, and sustained by the omnipotence of the Lord
Almighty. The principles that we inculcate are those of
equity, mercy and love, as set forth in the glorious gospel of
the blessed God — without partiality and without hypocrisy,
and full of good fruits. In the midst of tribulation, there-
fore, we rejoice, and count it all honor to suffer in the cause
of our dear Redeemer. ' God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble : Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be
carried into the midst of the sea.' ' Gird thy sword upon
thy thigh, O Most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty ;
and in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth, and
meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach
thee terrible things.'



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


Thursday Evening, Oct. 22, 1835.

My Dear Friend and Fellow-Laborer in the Cause
OF Freedom for Two Millions Two Hundred and
Fifty Thousand American Slaves : *

Since despatching the few hasty lines which I wrote you
on receipt of the news of yesterday's proceedings in Boston,
I have yielded to a strong impulse to address you a longer
communication, more fully expressive of the views and feel-
ings whh which the signs of the times have inspired me. I
despair, however, of finding words to express adequately the
deep sympathy I cherish with you in the midst of your trials
and persecutions, and the feelings of my soul, as I contem-
plate passing events, and follow out to its ultimate results
the headlong wickedness of this generation. Surely, we can
enter somewhat into the experience of the lamenting prophet,
when he exclaimed, ' O that my head were waters, and mine
eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for
the sins of this people ! '

How unutterably affecting is a view of the present aspect
of the country ! The enslavement of the colored population
seems to be but one of a hideous host of evils, threatening
in their combined influence the overthrow of the fairest
prospects of this wide republic. Of the abolition of slavery
I feel certain. Its doom is sealed. I read it in the holy and
inflexible resolves of thousands who are coming up to the
contest with the spirit of martyrs, and in the strength and
under the leadership of Jehovah. I read it in the blind fury
and unmitigated malignity of Southern tyrants and their
Northern participants in crime. I read it in the gathering
frown and bursting indignation of Christendom. The con-
summation of our hopes draws nigh. The times are preg-
nant with great events. America must witness another rev-
olution, and the second will be far more illustrious in its
results than the first. The second will be a moral revolution ;
a struggle for higher, holier, more catholic, more patriotic
principles : and the weapons of our warfare will not be car-


nal, but mighty through God to the pulHng down of- strong
holds. During the progress of this latter revolution will be
witnessed the advent of ' Liberty,' in the true sense of that
now much abused and perverted name :

* O spring to light, auspicious babe, be born ! '

While, however, I have no fears respecting the ultimate
effectuation of the object so dear to our hearts, I have many
fears for the perpetuity of this nation as a Republic, for the
continuance of these States as a Union, for the existence of
that Constitution, which, properly respected and maintained,
would bless the country and the world. These fears do not
arise from any tendency to such results in the principles of
abolition in themselves considered. Those principles are
conservative of the peace, and happiness, and security of
the nation ; and, if voluntarily acted upon, would heal many
of the feuds and animosities which have endangered the
integrity of the Union. My fears are founded upon the
symptoms, every where exhibited, of an approach to mob-
supremacy, and consequent anarchy. In every direction I
see the minority prostrate before the majority ; who, despite
of law, the Constitution, and natural equity, put their heel
upon the neck of the weaker portion, and perpetrate every
enormity in the name of ' public opinion.' ' Public opin-
ion ' is at this hour the demon of oppression, harnessing to
the ploughshare of ruin, the ignorant and interested oppo-
sers of the truth, in every section of this heaven-favored, l3ut
mob-cursed land. Already the Constitution lies prostrate —
an insulted, wounded, impotent form. A thousand hands are
daily uplifted to send assassin daggers to its heart. Look
on the pages of the daily press, and say, if traitors to liberty
and the Constitution are not sedulously schooling a hood-
winked multitude to commit a suicidal act upon their own
boasted freedom ' Count (if they can be counted) the dis-
turbances occurring all over the land, and say, is not mob-
supremacy the order of the day ? Where is the freedom of
speech ? where the right of association ? where the securi-
ty of national conveyances? where the inviolability of per-
sonal liberty ? where the sanctity of the domestic circle ?
where the protection of property ? where the prerogatives


of the judge? where the trial by jury? Gone, or fast dis-
appearing. The minority in every place speak, and write,
and meet, and walk, at the peril of their lives. I speak not
now exclusively of the Anti- Abolition mania, which has
more recently displayed itself with all its froth and foam,
and thirst for spoliation and blood. I have in mind the Anti-
Mormonism of Missouri, and its accompanying heart-rending
persecutions — the ^w^i-Anti-Mason:c fury, with the abduc-
tion of Morgan, and its other grim features of destruction
and death — the burning zeal of Anti-Temperance, '^dth its
bonfires and effigies, and its innumerable assaults upon per-
sons and property — the Anti-Gambling and the Anti-Insur-
rection tragedies of Southern States, wilh their awful waste
of human life, and the frequent sacrifice of the blood of
innocent victims. But time would fail to tell of Anti-Whig,
and Anti- Jackson, and Anti-Convent, and Anti-Bank, and
Anti-Kean, and Anti-Anderson, and Anti-Graham, and Anli-
Joel Parker, and Anti-Cheever, and Anti-Colored School,
and Anti-House of Ill-fame riots, with all the other anti-men
and anti-women, anti-black, and anti-red, and anti-meat, and
anti-drink riots, and mobs, and persecutions, which have dis-
tinguished this age and land of revivals, and missions, and
Bible Societies, and educational operations, and liberty, and
independence, and equality ! Suffice it to say, that, for some
years past, all who have dared to act, or think aloud, in
opposition to the will of the majority, have held their prop-
erty and being dependent on the clemency of a mob.
Were I a citizen of this country, and did there seem no
escape from such a dreadful state of things — if I did not,
on behalf of the righteous and consistent, (for, thank God,
there are thousands of such, who cease not day nor night to
weep and pray for their country,) hope and believe for
brighter days and better deeds, I should choose to own the
dominion of the darkest despot that ever sealed the lips of
truth, or made the soul of a slave tremble at his glance. If
I must be a slave, if my lips must wear a padlock, if I must
crouch and crawl, let it be before an hereditary tyrant. Let
me see around me the symbols of royalty, the bayonets of
a standing army, the frowning battlements of a Bastile. Let
me breathe the air of a country where the divine right of
kings to govern wrong is acknowledged and respected. Let


me know what is the sovereign will and pleasure of the one
man I am taught to fear and serve. Let me not see my
rights, and property, and liberties, scattered to the same
breeze that floats the flag of freedom. Let me not be sac-
rificed to the demon of despotism, while laying hold upon
the horns of an altar dedicated to ' Feeedo3i and Equali-
ty ! ' I hope, however, for the best ; I trust to see the peo-
ple saved from their infatuation and madness. I look very
much to the spread of anti-slavery principles for the salva-
tion of the country, for they are the principles of righteous
government — they are a foundation for order, and peace,
and just laws, and equitable administration ; and those who
embrace them will be likely to act wisely and righteously
upon other great questions.

A MOB IN Boston ! ! and such a mob ! ! ! Thirty ladies
completely routed, and a board 6 feet by 2 utterly demol-
ished by 3000 or 4000 respectable ruffians — in broad day-
light and broad-cloth ! Glorious achievement ! and, as it
deserved to be — regularly Gazetted ! Indeed, this noble
army of gentlemanly savages had all the customary adjuncts
of civilized warfare. There were ' Posts,' and ' Sentinels,'
and ' Couriers,' and ' Gazettes,' and a ' Homer,' too, to
celebrate their praise !

A mob in Boston ! The birth-place of the revolution —
the Cradle of Liberty ! A mob in Washington (!) Street,
Boston, TO PUT DOWN free discussion !

' Hung be the heavens with black ! '

Shrouded in midnio;ht be the height of Bunker ! Let the
bells of the Old South and Brattle Street be mu tiled, and let
the knell of the country's boasted honor and liberty be rung !
Ye hoary veterans of the revolution ! clothe yourselves in

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 30 of 33)