William Lloyd Garrison.

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

. (page 6 of 33)
Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 6 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

into their breasts, would make them doubly valuable to the
masters as free laborers ; and

Because, if compensation is to be given at all, it should be
given to the outraged and guiltless slaves, and not to those
who have plundered and abused them.

We regard as delusive, cruel and dangerous, any scheme
of expatriation which pretends to aid, cither directly or indi-


rectly, in the emancipation of the slaves, or to be a substitute
for the immediate and total abolition of slavery.

We fully and unanimously recognise the sovereignty of
each State, to legislate exclusively on the subject of the
slavery which is tolerated whhin its limits ; we concede that
Congress, under the present national compact, has no right
to interfere with any of the slave States, in relation to this
momentous subject :

But we maintain that Congress has a right, and is solemnly
bound, to suppress the domestic slave trade between the sev-
eral States, and to abolish slavery in those portions of our
territory which the Constitution has placed under its exclu-
sive jurisdiction.

We also maintain that there are, at the present time, the
highest obligations resting upon the people of the free States
to remove slavery by moral and political action, as prescrib-
ed in the Constitution of the United States. They are now
living under a pledge of their tremendous physical force, to
fasten the galling fetters of tyranny upon the limbs of mil-
lions in the Southern States ; they are liable to be called at
any moment to suppress a general insurrection of the slaves ;
they authorize the slave owner to vote for three-fifths of his
slaves as property, and thus enable him to perpetuate his
oppression ; they support a standing army at the South for its
protection ; and they seize the slave, who has escaped into
their territories, and send him back to be tortured by an
enraged master or a brutal driver. This relation to slavery
is criminal, and full of danger : it must be broken up.

These are our views and principles — these our designs
and measures. With entire confidence in the overruling jus-
tice of God, we plant ourselves upon the Declaration of our
Independence and the truths of Divine Revelation, as upon
the Everlasting Rock.

We shall organize Anti-Slavery Societies, if possible, in
every city, town and village in our land.


We shall send forth agents to lift up the voice of remon-
strance, of warning, of entreaty, and of rebuke.

We shall circulate, unsparingly and extensively, anti-
slavery tracts and periodicals.

We shall enlist the pulpit and the press in the cause of
the suffering and the dumb.

We shall aim at a purification of the churches from all
participation in the guilt of slavery.

We shall encourage the labor of freemen rather than that
of slaves, by giving a preference to their productions : and

We shall spare no exertions nor means to bring the whole
nation to speedy repentance.

Our trust for victory is solely in God. We may be per-
sonally defeated, but our principles never! Truth, Justice,
Reason, Humanity, must and will gloriously triumph. Al-
ready a host is coming up to the help of the Lord against
the mighty, and the prospect before us is full of encourage-

Submitting this Declaration to the candid examination of
the people of this country, and of the friends of liberty
throughout the world, we hereby affix our signatures to it ;
pledging ourselves that, under the guidance and by the help
of Almighty God, we will do all that in us lies, consistently
with this Declaration of our principles, to overthrow the
most execrable system of slavery that has ever been witness-
ed upon earth ; to deliver our land from its deadliest curse ;
to wipe out the foulest stain which rests upon our national
escutcheon ; and to secure to the colored population of the
United States, all the rights and privileges which belong to
them as men, and as Americans — come what may to our
persons, our interests, or our reputation — whether we live
to witness the triumph of Liberty, Justice and Humanity,
or perish untimely as martyrs in this great, benevolent, and
holy cause.

Done at Philadelphia, December 6th, A. D. 1833.


BnUmtinn nf iHtimieKtB

SEPTEMBER 18, 19 AND 20, 1838.

Assembled in Convention, from various sections of the
American Union, for the promotion of peace on earth and
good will among men, we, the undersigned, regard it as due
to ourselves, to the cause which we love, to the country in
which we live, and to the world, to publish a Declaration,
expressive of the principles we cherish, the purposes we
aim to accomplish, and the measures we shall adopt to carry
forward the work of peaceful and universal reformation.

We cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human govern-
ment ; neither can we oppose any such government, by a
resort to physical force. We recognize but one King and
Lawgiver, one Judge and Ruler of mankind. We are bound
by the laws of a kingdom which is not of this world ; the
subjects of which are forbidden to fight ; in which Mercy
and Truth are met together, and Righteousness and Peace
have kissed each other ; which has no state lines, no national
partitions, no geographical boundaries ; in which there is no
distinction of rank, or division of caste, or inequality of sex ;
the officers of which are Peace, its exactors Righteousness,
its walls Salvation, and its gates Praise ; and which is destin-
ed to break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms.

Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind.
We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other
lands. The interests, rights, and liberties of American citi-
zens are no more dear to us, than are those of the whole
human race. Hence, we can allow no appeal to patriotism,
to revenge any national insult or injury. The Prince of
Peace, under whose stainless banner we rally, came not to
destroy, but to save, even the worst of enemies. He has


left US an example, that we should follow his steps. ' God
commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us.'

We conceive, that if a nation has no right to defend itself
against foreign enemies, or to punish its invaders, no individ-
ual possesses that right in his own case. The unit cannot
be of greater importance than the aggregate. If one man
may take life, to obtain or defend his rights, the same license
must necessarily be granted to communities, states, and
nations. If he may use a dagger or a pistol, they may
employ cannon, bomb-shells, land and naval forces. The
means of self-preservation must be in proportion to the mag-
nitude of interests at stake, and the number of lives exposed
to destruction. But if a rapacious and blood-thirsty soldiery,
thronging these shores from abroad, with intent to commit
rapine and destroy life, may not be resisted by the people
or magistracy, then ought no resistance to be offered to
domestic troublcrs of the public peace, or of private security.
No obligation can rest upon Americans to regard foreigners
as more sacred in their persons than themselves, or to give
them a monopoly of wrong-doing with impunity.

The dogma, that all the governments of the world are
approvingly ordained of God, and that the powers that be
in the United States, in Russia, in Turkey, are in accordance
with His will, is not less absurd than impious. It makes the
impartial Author of human freedom and equality, unequal
and tyrannical. It cannot be affirmed, that the powers that
be, in any nation, arc actuated by the spirit, or guided by
the example of Christ, in the treatment of enemies : there-
fore, they cannot be agreeable to the will of God : and,
therefore, their overthrow, by a spiritual regeneration of
their subjects, is inevitable.

We register our testimony, not only against all wars,
whether offensive or defensive, but all preparations for war ;


against every naval ship, every arsenal, every fortification ;
against the militia system and a standing army ; against
all military chieftains and soldiers ; against all monuments
commemorative of victory over a foreign foe, all trophies
won in battle, all celebrations in honor of military or naval
exploits ; against all appropriations for the defence of a
nation by force and arms on the part of any legislative body ;
against every edict of government, requiring of its subjects
military service. Hence, we deem it unlawful to bear arms,
or to hold a military office.

As every human government is upheld by physical strength,
and its laws are enforced virtually at the point of the bayonet,
we cannot hold any office which imposes upon its incumbent
the obligation to do right, on pain of imprisonment or death.
We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legis-
lative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics,
worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot
occupy a seat in the legislature, or on the bench, neither
can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such

It follows, that we cannot sue any man at law, to compel
him by force to restore any thing which he may have wrong-
fully taken from us or others ; but, if he has seized our coat,
we shall surrender up our cloak, rather than subject him to

We believe that the penal code of the old covenant. An
eye for an eye, and a tooth for a^ tooth, has been abrogated
by Jesus Christ ; and that, under the new covenant, the for-
giveness, instead of the punishment of enemies, has been
enjoined upon all his disciples, in all cases whatsoever. To
extort money from enemies, or set them upon a pillory, or
cast them into prison, or hang them upon a gallows, is obvi-
ously not to forgive, but to take retribution. ' Vengeance is
mine — I will repay, saith the Lord.'


The history of mankind is crowded with evidences, prov-
ing that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regenera-
tion ; that the sinful disposition of man can be subdued only
by love ; that evil can be exterminated from the earth only
by goodness ; that it is not safe to rely upon an arm of flesh,
upon man, whose breath is in his nostrils, to preserve us from
harm ; that there is great security in being gentle, harmless,
long-suffering, and abundant in mercy ; that it is only the
meek who shall inherit the earth, for the violent, who resort
to the sword, shall perish with the sword. Hence, as a
measure of sound policy, of safety to property, life, and
liberty, of public quietude and private enjoyment, as well as
on the ground of allegiance to Him who is King of kings,
and Lord of lords, we cordially adopt the non-resistance
principle ; being confident that it provides for all possible
consequences, will ensure all things needful to us, is armed
with omnipotent power, and must ultimately triumph over
every assailing force.

We advocate no Jacobinical doctrines. The spirit of jaco-
binism is the spirit of retaliation, violence and murder. It
neither fears God, nor regards man. We would be filled
with the spirit of Christ. If we abide by our principles, it
is impossible for us to be disorderly, or plot treason, or par-
ticipate in any evil work : we shall submit to every ordinance
of man, for the Lord's sake ; obey all the requirements of
government, except such as we deem contrary to the com-
mands of the gospel ; and in no wise resist the operation of
law, except by meekly submitting to the penalty of disobe-

But, while we shall adhere to the doctrines of non-resist-
ance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a
moral and spiritual sense, to speak and act boldly in the
cause of God ; to assail iniquity in high j)laccs and in low
places; to apply our principles to all existing civil, j)olitica!,


legal, and ecclesiastical institutions; and to hasten the time,
when the kingdoms of this world shall become the king-
doms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign
for ever.

It appears to us a self-evident truth, that, whatever the
gospel is designed to destroy at any period of the world,
being contrary to it, ought now to be abandoned. If, then,
the time is predicted, when swords shall be beaten into
•plough-shares, and spears into pruning-hooks, and men shall
inot learn the art of war any more, it follows that all who
manufacture, sell, or wield those deadly weapons, do thus
array themselves against the peaceful dominion of the Son
of God on earth.

Having thus briefly, but frankly, stated our principles and
purposes, we proceed to specify the measures we propose to
adopt, in carrying our object into effect.

We expect to prevail through the foolishness of preach-
ing — striving to commend ourselves unto every man's con-
science, in the sight of God. From the press, we shall
promulgate our sentiments as widely as practicable. We
shall endeavor to secure the co-operation of all persons, of
whatever name or sect. The triumphant progress of the
cause of Temperance and of Abolition in our land, through
the instrumentality of benevolent and voluntary associations,
encourages us to combine our own means and efforts for the
promotion of a still greater cause. Hence we shall employ
lecturers, circulate tracts and publications, form societies,
and petition our state and national governments in relation
to the subject of Universal Peace. It will be our leading ob-
ject to devise ways and means for effecting a radical change
in the views, feelings and practices of society respecting
the sinfulness of war, and the treatment of enemies.

In entering upon the great work before us, we are not
unmindful that, in its prosecution, we may be called to test


our sincerity, even as in a fiery ordeal. It may subject us
to insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death itself. We
anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresen-
tation, calumny. Tumults may arise against us. The
ungodly and violent, the proud and pharisaical, the ambitious
and tyrannical, principalities and powers, and spiritual wick-
edness in high places, may combine to crush us. So they
treated the Messiah, whose example we arc humbly striving
to imitate. If we suffer with him, we know that we shall
reign with him. We shall not be afraid of their terror,
neither be troubled. Our confidence is in the Lord Almighty,
not in man. Having withdrawn from human protection,
what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the world ?
We shall not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which
is to try us, as though some strange thing had happened unto
us ; but rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's
sufferings. Wherefore, we commit the keeping of our
souls to God, in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. ' For
every one that forsakes houses, or brethren, or sisters, or
father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for Christ's
sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit ever-
lasting life.'

Firmly relying upon the certain and universal triumph of
the sentiments contained in this Declaration, however for-
midable may be the opposition arrayed against them, in
solemn testimony of our fahh in their divine origin, we
hereby affix our signatures to it ; commending it to the reason
and conscience of mankind, giving ourselves no anxiety as
to what may befall us, and resolving, in the strength of the
Lord God, calmly and meekly to abide the issue.


3[^iitrinfem ml (Cjiristiiinitti—lDSMtli ml 3m3.

Since the disastrous termination of the struggle for liberty
and independence on the part of the Italian people, all eyes
are fastened upon Hungary, bravely coping with the colossal
powers of Austria and Russia, and as yet undismayed and
unconquered. Her final triumph, in the present sanguinary
conflict, is possible, but not at all probable. In the course
of another month, authentic intelligence will doubtless be
received, that, like Rome, she no longer contends with her
oppressors, but submits to wear the yoke and drag the chain
of a degrading servitude.

A great national emergency usually lifts from obscurity
to eminence, men of extraordinary genius, talent, courage,
self-sacrifice, patriotism, piety. Hungary has at the head of
her forces three notable chieftains — Kossuth, Bem, Georgy.
Of these, Kossuth appears to be the Washington. His pres-
ence electrifies, his appeals inspire his countrymen, with
almost magical effect. What he proposes, they ratify —
what he desires, they execute — where he leads or points
the way, they ' rush to glory or the grave ' — with a prompt-
itude, an obedience, a valor, unsurpassed in the history of

As specimens of the power of his genius and the elo-
quence of his rhetoric, read the proclamations from his pen
to his countrymen. They are of a peculiar type, and singu-
larly imbued with a religious sentiment, without the appear-
ance of eccentricity or cant. ' Our trust is in the God of
righteousness' — 'We can hope in nothing but a just God
and our own strength' — ' God has chosen us to redeem the
people from physical bondage by our victory, as Christ has
redeemed humanity from spiritual bondage ' — ' God is just ;
his power is almighty ; he hallows the battle-field for the


weak, and the strength of the mighty and the wicked is
broken' — 'God of our fathers, and God of the nations!
God of the warriors of Arpad ! O Father ! Father of our
fathers ! Hallow their dust with Thy grace, that the ashes
of my fallen heroic brethren may rest in peace ! Leave us
not, great God of battles ! ' Such are the constant declara-
tions and invocations of Kossuth, designed alike to animate
the hearts of the Hungarians, and to secure the benediction
of Heaven. It is impossible to describe their effect on the
popular mind.

Kossuth is, unquestionably, a sublime specimen of what
the world calls ' patriotism.' He is a model ' patriot.' To
his country, he gives himself unreservedly ; to effect its free-
dom from the Austrian yoke, he has suffered every thing but
death, and stands ready to offer up his life at any moment ;
in its independence will be realized his highest aspirations.
The press is every where extolling his virtues, and ranking
him among the foremost heroes of the world. Whether he
succeed or fail, he has associated his name with that of Tell,
of Wallace, of Hamden, of Washington ; and his memory
will be cherished by succeeding generations.

What then ? Is Kossuth worthy of imitation ? Is his
example such as should be held up for universal acceptance ?
Is his spirit truly noble, expansive, sublime ? Is his piety of
a genuine quality, neither tinctured with fanaticism, nor sul-
lied by passion ? He calls upon his countrymen to seize the
axe, the scythe, the sword, the firebrand, every weapon of
death and destruction within their reach, and wield them
with exterminating effect against their Austrian and Russian
invaders. What then ? Is war justifiable ? Is there, can
there be, such a thing as a justifiable war? Is it true
that we may do evil, that good may come — that the end
sanctifies the means — that Hungary is reduced to such an
extremity, that she is not only innocent, but deserving of



praise, in destroying her enemies ? What is war ? Is it
not the opposite of peace, as slavery is of liberty, as sin is
of holiness, as Belial is of Christ ? And is slavery some-
times to be enforced — is sin in cases of emergency to be
committed — is Belial occasionally to be preferred to Christ,
as circumstances may require ? These are grave questions,
and the redemption of the world is dependant on the answers
that may be given to them.

What is this Hungarian war in its features and effects ?
Wherein does it differ from any other war, animated by the
spirit of hatred and revenge, and prosecuted by a resort to
murderous weapons? Is not human blood flowing like
water — are not the wounded, dying and dead, multiplying
like the withered leaves of autumn at the touch of frost —
are not homes made desolate, and firesides voiceless, and
fields barren ? On the score of forbearance, kindness, mag-
nanimity, wherein do the Hungarians exceed their enemies ?
They nehher give nor ask for quarter. Their weapons of
defence are the weapons with which they are assailed — the
weapons of tyranny in all ages !

* Ah ! you overlook the wide difference that exists between
the conflicting parties ! The object of Hungary is laudable
and noble — her freedom and independence ! That of Aus-
tria is tyrannous and diabolical — the subjection of Hungary
to her iron will ! '

No, I do not forget, but admit the fact. It is because I
remember it, that I groan in spirit to see a good object
defended by the same weapons and the same measures as
those which are used to uphold a bad object. The better
the object, the less need, the less justification there is to
behave as they do, who have one that is altogether execra-
ble. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, is not the way
to redeem or bless our race. Sword against sword, cannon
against cannon, army against army, is it thus that love and


good-will are diffused through the world, or that right con-
quers wrong ? Why not, then, seek by falsehood to coun-
teract falsehood — by cruelty to terminate cruelty — by sin
to abolish sin ? Can men gather grapes from thorns, or figs
from thistles ?

Hungary has already sustained a frightful loss of life, and
the dead bodies of her people cover her soil. She is endur-
ing all the horrors of a merciless war, and how shall these
be depicted ? And what if she fail in this unequal strife >
Kossuth tells his countrymen, that, in case of defeat, they
must fall a prey to famine — for their ruthless invaders, as
they stalk murderously onward, leave slaughter, flame, mis-
ery and famine in their track, and wherever they appear,
ploughing and sowing are useless. He warns them that, if
they allow themselves to be conquered, they must be pre-
pared to experience all imaginable tribulation. Already,
' the enemy has ravaged everything with fire and sword.
How many cities and villages has not his flaming torch laid
in ashes ! '

This is the Hungarian view of this dreadful conflict. But
the Austrian is scarcely less appalling. The sufferings of
the allied invaders have been indescribably severe, and their
losses at least as great as those whom they are endeavoring
to subjugate. It is our duty to remember the fate of all who
are involved in this war, whether they are on the right or on
the wrong side ; for they are all brothers by creation, mem-
bers of the same great human family, and under the most
sacred obligations to love and do good to each other. Our
computation must include all the suffering and evil that arc
the legitimate consequences of the war, on both sides, or we
shall fail to see it as it is.

The piety of Kossuth is of that kind which is calculated
to impress the superstitious, to satisfy the patriotic, to stimu-
late the revengful, to mislead the unreflecting. In the i)rim-


itive meaning of the language, it has ' the form of godh'ness,
but without the power thereof.' It assumes that God is on
the side of the oppressed : that is true. It assumes that he
is pleased to see them engaged in deadly strife with their
oppressors, and that he is the ' God of battles,' strengthening
the arm of the physically weak to contend successfully in
the cause of freedom against the tyrannically strong : and
here is the delusion. It cannot be true, as a moral proposi-
tion, that if it is wrong to inflict injuries, it is right to retali-
ate when they are inflicted. It cannot be true, that He who
' causes his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and
his rain to fall on the just and on the unjust,' sanctions a
bloody revenge.

What shall we say of the spirit of the Hungarian patriot ?
He invokes his countrymen to 'arm with axe or scythe,
with clubs, with stones' — 'rise in the rear, and cut down
the Cossacks ' — ' give the enemy no rest at night, fall upon
him suddenly, and hide every kind of provisions, that he
may perish with hunger' — 'burn the houses about their
heads, so that the savage hordes may become a prey to the

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 6 of 33)