What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?


Undoubtedly, some of you may have heard of this speech before. It tends to make the rounds on July 4 every year. However, its message should not be relegated to just this particular holiday. Douglass speaks to the very heart of America’s racial and civics issues. The issues he raises were problematic then and they still are today. From Oscar Grant to Trayvon Martin to the striking down of key components of the voting rights act, America still has failed to extend the full rights of citizenship to people of color. I hope that you will take the time to read this brilliant oration. I can only imagine the courage it took to speak these words aloud a full decade before emancipation. Let his words resound in the hearts and minds of all who read them.


What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

by Frederick  Douglass July 5, 1852 in Rochester, New York

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens: He who  could address this  audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves  than I have.  I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any   assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than  I do  this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the  exercise of my  limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which  requires much  previous thought and study for its proper performance. I  know that apologies of  this sort are generally considered flat and  unmeaning. I trust, however, that  mine will not be so considered. Should  I seem at ease, my appearance would much  misrepresent me. The little  experience I have had in addressing public  meetings, in country  schoolhouses, avails me nothing on the present  occasion.

The papers and placards say, that I am to deliver a 4th [of] July  oration.  This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for it  is true that I  have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful  Hall, and to address  many who now honor me with their presence. But  neither their familiar faces,  nor the perfect gage I think I have of  Corinthian Hall, seems to free me from  embarrassment.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this  platform and  the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is  considerable—and the  difficulties to be overcome in getting from the  latter to the former, are by no  means slight. That I am here to-day is,  to me, a matter of astonishment as well  as of gratitude. You will not,  therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to  say. I evince no elaborate  preparation, nor grace my speech with any high  sounding exordium. With  little experience and with less learning, I have been  able to throw my  thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to  your patient  and generous indulgence, I will proceed to lay them before  you.

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It  is the  birthday of your National Independence, and of your political  freedom. This, to  you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated  people of God. It carries your  minds back to the day, and to the act of  your great deliverance; and to the  signs, and to the wonders, associated  with that act, and that day. This  celebration also marks the beginning  of another year of your national life; and  reminds you that the Republic  of America is now 76 years old. I am glad,  fellow-citizens, that your  nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good  old age for a man,  is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score  years and ten  is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their  years  by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the   beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of  childhood.  I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought,  and hope is much  needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the  horizon. The eye of the  reformer is met with angry flashes, portending  disastrous times; but his heart  may well beat lighter at the thought  that America is young, and that she is  still in the impressible stage of  her existence. May he not hope that high  lessons of wisdom, of justice  and of truth, will yet give direction to her  destiny? Were the nation  older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the  reformer’s brow  heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of  its  prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that   America is young. Great streams are not easily turned from channels,  worn deep  in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and  stately majesty,  and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the  earth with their  mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and  fury, and bear away, on  their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of  years of toil and hardship. They,  however, gradually flow back to the  same old channel, and flow on as serenely  as ever. But, while the river  may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave  nothing behind but the  withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the  abyss-sweeping  wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with  nations.

Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the  associations  that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is  that, 76 years ago, the  people of this country were British subjects.  The style and title of your  “sovereign people” (in which you now glory)  was not then born. You were under  the British Crown. Your fathers  esteemed the English Government as the home  government; and England as  the fatherland. This home government, you know,  although a considerable  distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its  parental  prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints,   burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise,  right and  proper.

But, your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of  this day, of  the infallibility of government, and the absolute character  of its acts,  presumed to differ from the home government in respect to  the wisdom and the  justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They  went so far in their  excitement as to pronounce the measures of  government unjust, unreasonable, and  oppressive, and altogether such as  ought not to be quietly submitted to. I  scarcely need say,  fellow-citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully  accords with  that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part  would  not be worth much to anybody. It would, certainly, prove nothing, as to   what part I might have taken, had I lived during the great controversy  of 1776.  To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is  exceedingly easy.  Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the  noble brave, can  flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards  the American Colonies. It  is fashionable to do so; but there was a time  when to pronounce against  England, and in favor of the cause of the  colonies, tried men’s souls. They who  did so were accounted in their  day, plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels,  dangerous men. To side  with the right, against the wrong, with the weak against  the strong, and  with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit,  and the  one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of   liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your  fathers. But,  to proceed.

Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated by the home  government, your  fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit,  earnestly sought redress. They  petitioned and remonstrated; they did so  in a decorous, respectful, and loyal  manner. Their conduct was wholly  unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer  the purpose. They saw  themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness  and scorn. Yet  they persevered. They were not the men to look back.

As the sheet anchor takes a firmer hold, when the ship is tossed  by the  storm, so did the cause of your fathers grow stronger, as it  breasted the  chilling blasts of kingly displeasure. The greatest and  best of British  statesmen admitted its justice, and the loftiest  eloquence of the British  Senate came to its support. But, with that  blindness which seems to be the  unvarying characteristic of tyrants,  since Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned  in the Red Sea, the British  Government persisted in the exactions complained  of.

The madness of this course, we believe, is admitted now, even by  England;  but we fear the lesson is wholly lost on our present ruler.

Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and  if they did  not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They  felt themselves the  victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in  their colonial capacity. With  brave men there is always a remedy for  oppression. Just here, the idea of a  total separation of the colonies  from the crown was born! It was a startling  idea, much more so, than we,  at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and  the prudent (as has  been intimated) of that day, were, of course, shocked and  alarmed by it.

Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably,  ever have a  place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any  great change, (no  matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong  to be redressed by it),  may be calculated with as much precision as can  be the course of the stars.  They hate all changes, but silver, gold and  copper change! Of this sort of  change they are always strongly in  favor.

These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and  the  appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a  more modern,  though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find  in our papers,  applied to some of our old politicians.

Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and  powerful;  but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations  against it, the  alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the  country with it.

On the 2d of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress, to the  dismay of the  lovers of ease, and the worshipers of property, clothed  that dreadful idea with  all the authority of national sanction. They did  so in the form of a  resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions,  drawn up in our day whose  transparency is at all equal to this, it may  refresh your minds and help my  story if I read it.  “Resolved, That  these united colonies are, and of right,  ought to be free and  Independent States; that they are absolved from all  allegiance to the  British Crown; and that all political connection between them  and the  State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved.”

Citizens, your fathers made good that resolution. They succeeded;  and to-day  you reap the fruits of their success. The freedom gained is  yours; and you,  therefore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. The  4th of July is the  first great fact in your nation’s history—the very  ring-bolt in the chain of  your yet undeveloped destiny.

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to  celebrate and  to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the  Declaration of  Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your  nation’s destiny; so,  indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in  that instrument are saving  principles. Stand by those principles, be  true to them on all occasions, in all  places, against all foes, and at  whatever cost.

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening  clouds may be  seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance,  disclose to the leeward  huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn,  that chain broken, and all is  lost. Cling to this day—cling to it, and  to its principles, with the grasp of a  storm-tossed mariner to a spar at  midnight.

The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an  interesting  event. But, besides general considerations, there were  peculiar circumstances  which make the advent of this republic an event  of special attractiveness.

The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime.

The population of the country, at the time, stood at the  insignificant  number of three millions. The country was poor in the  munitions of war. The  population was weak and scattered, and the country  a wilderness unsubdued.  There were then no means of concert and  combination, such as exist now. Neither  steam nor lightning had then  been reduced to order and discipline. From the  Potomac to the Delaware  was a journey of many days. Under these, and  innumerable other  disadvantages, your fathers declared for liberty and  independence and  triumphed.

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of  this  republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave  men. They  were great men too—great enough to give fame to a great age.  It does not often  happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a  number of truly great men. The  point from which I am compelled to view  them is not, certainly, the most  favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate  their great deeds with less than  admiration. They were statesmen,  patriots and heroes, and for the good they  did, and the principles they  contended for, I will unite with you to honor  their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests;  and,  though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will  concede that  it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it  ought to command  respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life  for his country, is a  man whom it is not in human nature to despise.  Your fathers staked their lives,  their fortunes, and their sacred honor,  on the cause of their country. In their  admiration of liberty, they  lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful  submission to  bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from  agitating against  oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they  knew its limits. They  believed in order; but not in the order of  tyranny. With them, nothing was  “settled” that was not right. With them,  justice, liberty and humanity were  “final”; not slavery and oppression.  You may well cherish the memory of such  men. They were great in their  day and generation. Their solid manhood stands  out the more as we  contrast it with these degenerate times.

How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their  movements! How  unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship  looked beyond the  passing moment, and stretched away in strength into  the distant future.  They  seized upon eternal principles, and set a  glorious example in their defense.  Mark them!

Fully appreciating the hardship to be encountered, firmly  believing in the  right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny  of an on-looking world,  reverently appealing to heaven to attest their  sincerity, soundly comprehending  the solemn responsibility they were  about to assume, wisely measuring the  terrible odds against them, your  fathers, the fathers of this republic, did,  most deliberately, under the  inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a  sublime faith in the  great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep the  corner-stone of  the national superstructure, which has risen and still rises in  grandeur  around you.

Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes  are met with  demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants  wave exultingly on  the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even  Mammon seems to have  quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing  fife and the stirring drum  unite their accents with the ascending peal  of a thousand church bells. Prayers  are made, hymns are sung, and  sermons are preached in honor of this day; while  the quick martial tramp  of a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all  the hills,  valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion one  of  thrilling and universal interests nation’s jubilee.

Friends and citizens, I need not enter further into the causes  which led to  this anniversary. Many of you understand them better than I  do. You could  instruct me in regard to them. That is a branch of  knowledge in which you feel,  perhaps, a much deeper interest than your  speaker. The causes which led to the  separation of the colonies from the  British crown have never lacked for a  tongue. They have all been taught  in your common  schools, narrated at your  firesides, unfolded from your  pulpits, and  thundered from your legislative  halls, and are as  familiar to you as household words. They form the staple of  your  national poetry and eloquence.

I remember, also, that, as a people, Americans are remarkably  familiar with  all facts which make in their own favor. This is esteemed  by some as a national  trait—perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact,  that whatever  makes for the  wealth or for the reputation of Americans,  and can be had cheap! will be found  by Americans. I shall not be  charged with slandering Americans, if I say I  think the American side of  any question may be safely left in American  hands.

I leave, therefore, the great deeds of your fathers to other  gentlemen whose  claim to have been regularly descended will be less  likely to be disputed than  mine!


My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted  time with God and his cause is the ever-living now.

“Trust no future, however pleasant, Let the dead past bury its dead;  Act, act in the living present, Heart within, and God  overhead.”

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the  present and  to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds  which can be gained  from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time,  the important time. Your  fathers have lived, died, and have done their  work, and have done much of it  well. You live and must die, and you must  do your work. You have no right to  enjoy a child’s share in the labor  of your fathers, unless your children are to  be blest by your labors.  You have no right to wear out and waste the  hard-earned fame of your  fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us  that men seldom  eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse  some  folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one.  There  are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It  was  fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to  boast, we have  “Abraham to our father,” when they had long lost  Abraham’s faith and spirit.  That people contented themselves under the  shadow of Abraham’s great name,  while they repudiated the deeds which  made his name great. Need I remind you  that a similar thing is being  done all over this country to-day? Need I tell  you that the Jews are not  the only people who built the tombs of the prophets,  and garnished the  sepulchres of the righteous? Washington could not die till he  had broken  the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price  of  human blood, and the traders in the bodies and souls of men, shout—“We  have  Washington to our father.” Alas! that it should be so; yet so it  is.

“The evil that men do, lives after them, The good is oft-interred with  their bones.”

“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national  independence?”

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to  speak  here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your  national  independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and  of natural  justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence,  extended to us? and am  I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble  offering to the national altar,  and to confess the benefits and express  devout gratitude for the blessings  resulting from your independence to  us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative  answer could  be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my  task be light, and my  burden easy and delightful. For who is there so  cold, that a nation’s sympathy  could not warm him? Who so obdurate and  dead to the claims of gratitude, that  would not thankfully acknowledge  such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and  selfish, that would not give  his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s  jubilee, when the  chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not  that man. In a  case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame  man leap  as an hart.”

But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense  of the  disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this  glorious  anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the  immeasurable distance  between us. The blessings in which you, this day,  rejoice, are not enjoyed in  common. The rich inheritance of justice,  liberty, prosperity and independence,  bequeathed by your fathers, is  shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that  brought life and healing to  you, has brought stripes and death to me. This  Fourth [of] July is  yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a  man in fetters  into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him  to join  you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do   you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so,  there is a  parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is  dangerous to copy the  example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to  heaven, were thrown down by  the breath of the Almighty, burying that  nation in irrecoverable ruin! I can  to-day take up the plaintive lament  of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when  we  remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst  thereof. For  there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a  song; and they who  wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one  of the songs of Zion. How  can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?  If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,  let my right hand forget her cunning. If  I do not remember thee, let my tongue  cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the  mournful  wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday,  are, to-day,  rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach  them. If I do  forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding  children of sorrow this  day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and  may my tongue cleave to the  roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass  lightly over their wrongs, and to  chime in with the popular theme, would  be treason most scandalous and shocking,  and would make me a reproach  before God and the world. My subject, then  fellow-citizens, is AMERICAN  SLAVERY. I shall see, this day, and its popular  characteristics, from  the slave’s point of view. Standing, there, identified  with the American  bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to  declare, with all  my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never  looked  blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the   declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the  conduct of  the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is  false to the past,  false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to  be false to the future.  Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding  slave on this occasion, I will,  in the name of humanity which is  outraged, in the name of liberty which is  fettered, in the name of the  constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded  and trampled upon,  dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the  emphasis I can  command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery—the great  sin and  shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will  use  the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape  me  that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is  not at  heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, it is just in  this  circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a  favorable  impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and  denounce less, would  you persuade more, and rebuke less, your cause  would be much more likely to  succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain  there is nothing to be argued. What  point in the anti-slavery creed  would you have me argue? On what branch of the  subject do the people of  this country need light? Must I undertake to prove  that the slave is a  man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The  slaveholders  themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their  government.  They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of  the  slave.  There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia, which, if   committed by a black man, (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him  to the  punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will  subject a white man  to the like punishment. What is this but the  acknowledgement that the slave is  a moral, intellectual and responsible  being? The manhood of the slave is  conceded. It is admitted in the fact  that Southern statute books are covered  with enactments forbidding,  under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of  the slave to read or  to write. When you can point to any such laws, in  reference to the  beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood  of the  slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when   the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles  that  crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, their  will I  argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the  Negro   race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing,  planting and reaping,  using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting  houses, constructing bridges,  building ships, working in metals of  brass, iron, copper, silver and gold;  that, while we are reading,  writing and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants  and secretaries,  having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors,  editors,  orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of   enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing  the  whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side,  living,  moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as  husbands, wives and  children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping  the Christian’s God, and  looking hopefully for life and immortality  beyond the grave, we are called upon  to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he  is the  rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it.  Must I argue the  wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for  Republicans? Is it to be  settled by the rules of logic and  argumentation, as a matter beset with great  difficulty, involving a  doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard  to be understood?  How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans,  dividing, and  subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to  freedom? speaking of it relatively, and positively, negatively, and   affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to  offer an  insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the  canopy of heaven,  that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob  them of  their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant  of their  relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to  flay their flesh  with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt  them with dogs, to sell  them at auction, to sunder their families, to  knock out their teeth, to bum  their flesh, to starve them into obedience  and submission to their masters?  Must I argue that a system thus marked  with blood, and stained with pollution,  is wrong? No! I will not. I  have better employments for my time and strength  than such arguments  would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not  divine; that God  did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are  mistaken? There is  blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman,  cannot be divine! Who can  reason on such a proposition? They that can,  may; I cannot. The time for such  argument is past.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is  needed. O!  had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I  would, to-day, pour  out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting  reproach, withering sarcasm,  and stern rebuke. For it is not light that  is needed, but fire; it is not the  gentle shower, but thunder. We need  the storm, the whirlwind, and the  earthquake. The feeling of the nation  must be quickened; the conscience of the  nation must be roused; the  propriety of the nation must be startled; the  hypocrisy of the nation  must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man  must be proclaimed  and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day  that  reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross  injustice and  cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your  celebration is a sham;  your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your  national greatness, swelling  vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty  and heartless; your denunciations of  tyrants, brass fronted impudence;  your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow  mockery; your prayers and  hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your  religious parade,  and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception,  impiety, and  hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a  nation  of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more  shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at  this very  hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the  monarchies and  despotisms of the old world, travel through South  America, search out every  abuse, and when you have found the last, lay  your facts by the side of the  everyday practices of this nation, and you  will say with me, that, for  revolting barbarity and shameless  hypocrisy, America reigns without a  rival.


Take the American slave-trade, which, we are told by the papers,  is  especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the  price of  men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show  that slavery is in  no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of  American institutions. It  is carried on in all the large towns and  cities in one-half of this  confederacy; and millions are pocketed every  year, by dealers in this horrid  traffic. In several states, this trade  is a chief source of wealth. It is  called (in contradistinction to the  foreign slave-trade) “the internal slave  trade.” It is, probably, called  so, too, in order to divert from it the horror  with which the foreign  slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since  been denounced by  this government, as piracy. It has been denounced with  burning words,  from the high places of the nation, as an execrable traffic. To  arrest  it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost,   on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak  of  this foreign slave-trade, as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike  to the laws  of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is  admitted even by  our DOCTORS OF DIVINITY. In order to put an end to it,  some of these last have  consented that their colored brethren (nominally  free) should leave this  country, and establish themselves on the  western coast of Africa! It is,  however, a notable fact that, while so  much execration is poured out by  Americans upon those engaged in the  foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the  slave-trade between the  states pass without condemnation, and their business is  deemed  honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the  American  slave-trade, sustained by American politics and America  religion. Here you will  see men and women reared like swine for the  market. You know what is a  swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover.  They inhabit all our Southern  States. They perambulate the country, and  crowd the highways of the nation,  with droves of human stock. You will  see one of these human flesh-jobbers,  armed with pistol, whip and  bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men,  women, and children,  from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These  wretched  people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are  food for the cotton-field, and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad  procession,  as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives  them. Hear his  savage yells and his blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries  on his affrighted  captives! There, see the old man, with locks thinned  and gray. Cast one glance,  if you please, upon that young mother, whose  shoulders are bare to the  scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the  brow of the babe in her arms.  See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping,  yes! weeping, as she thinks of the  mother from whom she has been torn!  The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow  have nearly consumed their  strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the  discharge of a rifle;  the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously;  your ears are  saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the  center of  your soul! The crack you heard, was the sound of the slave-whip; the   scream you heard, was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed  had  faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on  her  shoulder tells her to move on. Follow the drove to New Orleans.  Attend the  auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women  rudely and  brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of American  slave-buyers. See this drove  sold and separated forever; and never  forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from  that scattered multitude. Tell  me citizens, WHERE, under the sun, you can  witness a spectacle more  fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the  American  slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the   United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American  slave-trade is a  terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often  pierced with a sense of its  horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell’s  Point, Baltimore, and have watched  from the wharves, the slave ships in  the Basin, anchored from the shore, with  their cargoes of human flesh,  waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the  Chesapeake. There was,  at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of  Pratt Street, by  Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and  county in  Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on  flaming  “hand-bills,” headed CASH FOR NEGROES. These men were generally well   dressed men, and very captivating in their manners. Ever ready to drink,  to  treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the  turn of a  single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms  of its mother by  bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive  them,  chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient  number have been  collected here, a ship is chartered, for the purpose of  conveying the forlorn  crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave  prison to the ship, they are  usually driven in the darkness of night;  for since the antislavery agitation, a  certain caution is observed.

In the deep still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused  by the  dead heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs  that passed  our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I  was often consoled,  when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to  hear her say that the custom  was very wicked; that she hated to hear the  rattle of the chains, and the  heart-rending cries. I was glad to find  one who sympathized with me in my  horror.

Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active  operation in  this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit, I see  clouds of dust  raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding  footsteps; I hear the  doleful wail of fettered humanity, on the way to  the slave-markets, where the  victims are to be sold like horses, sheep,  and swine, knocked off to the  highest bidder. There I see the tenderest  ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify  the lust, caprice and rapacity of the  buyers and sellers of men. My soul  sickens at the sight.

“Is this the land your Fathers loved,  The freedom which they toiled to  win?  Is this the earth whereon they moved?  Are these the graves they  slumber in?”

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains  to be presented.

By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old,  slavery has been  nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form.  By that act, Mason &  Dixon’s line has been obliterated; New York has  become as Virginia; and the  power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women,  and children as slaves remains no  longer a mere state institution, but  is now an institution of the whole United  States. The power is  co-extensive with the Star-Spangled Banner and American  Christianity.  Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where  these are,  man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman’s gun. By that  most  foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every   man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for  men.  Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for  men guilty of  no crime. Your lawmakers have commanded all good citizens  to engage in this  hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of  State, your lords, nobles, and  ecclesiastics, enforce, as a duty you owe  to your free and glorious country,  and to your God, that you do this  accursed thing. Not fewer than forty  Americans have, within the past two  years, been hunted down and, without a  moment’s warning, hurried away  in chains, and consigned to slavery and  excruciating torture. Some of  these have had wives and children, dependent on  them for bread; but of  this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to  his prey stands  superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this  republic,  the rights of God included! For black men there are neither law,   justice, humanity, not religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes MERCY TO  THEM, A  CRIME; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American JUDGE  GETS TEN DOLLARS  FOR EVERY VICTIM HE CONSIGNS to slavery, and five, when  he fails to do so. The  oath of any two villains is sufficient, under  this hell-black enactment, to  send the most pious and exemplary black  man into the remorseless jaws of  slavery! His own testimony is nothing.  He can bring no witnesses for himself.  The minister of American justice  is bound by the law to hear but one side; and  that side, is the side of  the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually  told. Let it be  thundered around the world, that, in tyrant-killing,  king-hating,  people-loving, democratic, Christian America, the seats of justice  are  filled with judges, who hold their offices under an open and palpable   bribe, and are bound, in deciding in the case of a man’s liberty, hear  only his  accusers!

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the  forms of  administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the  defenseless, and in  diabolical intent, this Fugitive Slave Law stands  alone in the annals of  tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be  another nation on the globe, having  the brass and the baseness to put  such a law on the statute-book. If any man in  this assembly thinks  differently from me in this matter, and feels able to  disprove my  statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and  place he  may select.


I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of  Christian  Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country  were not stupidly  blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would  so regard it.

At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment  of civil and  religious liberty, and for the right to worship God  according to the dictates  of their own consciences, they are utterly  silent in respect to a law which  robs religion of its chief  significance, and makes it utterly worthless to a  world lying in  wickedness. Did this law concern the “mint, anise and  cummin”—abridge  the fight to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to  engage in  any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder  of  a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church,  demanding  repeal, repeal, instant repeal! And it would go hard with that  politician who  presumed to solicit the votes of the people without  inscribing this motto on  his banner. Further, if this demand were not  complied with, another Scotland  would be added to the history of  religious liberty, and the stern old  Covenanters would be thrown into  the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every  church door, and heard  from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more  quarter than was  shown by Knox, to the beautiful, but treacherous queen Mary of  Scotland.  The fact that the church of our country, (with fractional  exceptions),  does not esteem “the Fugitive Slave Law” as a declaration of war  against  religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as  a  form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle,  requiring  active benevolence, justice, love and good will towards man.  It esteems  sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing;  solemn meetings above  practical righteousness. A worship that can be  conducted by persons who refuse  to give shelter to the houseless, to  give bread to the hungry, clothing to the  naked, and who enjoin  obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy, is a  curse, not a  blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as  “scribes,  Pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and   have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and  faith.”


But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the  wrongs of the  slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has  made itself the  bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American  slave-hunters. Many of  its most eloquent Divines. who stand as the very  lights of the church, have  shamelessly given the sanction of religion  and the Bible to the whole slave  system. They have taught that man may,  properly, be a slave; that the relation  of master and slave is ordained  of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to  his master is clearly  the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ;  and this  horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism!  welcome  anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those  Divines! They  convert the very name of religion into an engine of  tyranny, and barbarous  cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in  this age, than all the infidel  writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and  Bolingbroke, put together, have done!  These ministers make religion a  cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither  principles of right  action, nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of  God of its  beauty, and leave the throng of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive  form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs.  It is  not that “pure and undefiled religion” which is from above, and  which is “first  pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of  mercy and good fruits,  without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” But a  religion which favors the  rich against the poor; which exalts the proud  above the humble; which divides  mankind into two classes, tyrants and  slaves; which says to the man in chains,  stay there; and to the  oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be  professed and  enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God  a  respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in  the  dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm  to be true  of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land  and nation—a  religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority  of inspired wisdom,  we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of  God. In the language of  Isaiah, the American church might be well  addressed, “Bring no more vain  ablations; incense is an abomination unto  me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the  calling of assemblies, I cannot  away with; it is iniquity even the solemn  meeting. Your new moons and  your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a  trouble to me; I am  weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I  will hide mine  eyes from you. Yea! when ye make many prayers, I will not hear.  YOUR  HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek   judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the   widow.”

The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with  what it is  doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when  viewed in  connection with its ability to abolish slavery. The sin of  which it is guilty  is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert  Barnes but uttered what the  common sense of every man at all observant  of the actual state of the case will  receive as truth, when he declared  that “There is no power out of the church  that could sustain slavery an  hour, if it were not sustained in it.”

Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday school, the  conference  meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and  tract associations of  the land array their immense powers against  slavery and slave-holding; and the  whole system of crime and blood would  be scattered to the winds; and that they  do not do this involves them  in the most awful responsibility of which the mind  can conceive.

In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to  spare the  church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a  thing be done? We  are met on the threshold of our efforts for the  redemption of the slave, by the  church and ministry of the country, in  battle arrayed against us; and we are  compelled to fight or flee. From  what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a  fire so deadly upon our  ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern  pulpit? As the  champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology  have  appeared-men, honored for their so-called piety, and their real  learning.  The LORDS of Buffalo, the SPRINGS of New York, the LATHROPS of  Auburn, the  COXES and SPENCERS of Brooklyn, the GANNETS and SHARPS of  Boston, the DEWEYS of  Washington, and other great religious lights of  the land, have, in utter denial  of the authority of Him, by whom the  professed to he called to the ministry,  deliberately taught us, against  the example or the Hebrews and against the  remonstrance of the Apostles,  they teach “that we ought to obey man’s law  before the law of God.”

My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be  supported, as  the “standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ,”  is a mystery which I  leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the  American church, however, let it  be distinctly understood that I mean  the great mass of the religious  organizations of our land. There are  exceptions, and I thank God that there  are. Noble men may be found,  scattered all over these Northern States, of whom  Henry Ward Beecher of  Brooklyn, Samuel J. May of Syracuse, and my esteemed  friend on the  platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that upon  these  men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and   zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave’s redemption  from  his chains.


One is struck with the difference between the attitude of the  American  church towards the anti-slavery movement, and that occupied by  the churches in  England towards a similar movement in that country.  There, the church, true to  its mission of ameliorating, elevating, and  improving the condition of mankind,  came forward promptly, bound up the  wounds of the West Indian slave, and  restored him to his liberty. There,  the question of emancipation was a high[ly]  religious question. It was  demanded, in the name of humanity, and according to  the law of the  living God. The Sharps, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the  Buxtons,  and Burchells and the Knibbs, were alike famous for their piety, and  for  their philanthropy. The anti-slavery movement there was not an  anti-church  movement, for the reason that the church took its full share  in prosecuting  that movement: and the anti-slavery movement in this  country will cease to be  an anti-church movement, when the church of  this country shall assume a  favorable, instead or a hostile position  towards that movement. Americans! your  republican politics, not less  than your republican religion, are flagrantly  inconsistent. You boast of  your love of liberty, your superior civilization,  and your pure  Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as  embodied  in the two great political parties), is solemnly pledged to support  and  perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You  hurl  your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria,  and pride  yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you  yourselves consent to be  the mere tools and bodyguards of the tyrants of  Virginia and Carolina. You  invite to your shores fugitives of  oppression from abroad, honor them with  banquets, greet them with  ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them,  protect them, and pour  out your money to them like water; but the fugitives  from your own land  you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot and kill. You glory in  your  refinement and your universal education yet you maintain a system as   barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation—a  system begun  in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty.  You shed tears over  fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her  wrongs the theme of your poets,  statesmen and orators, till your gallant  sons are ready to fly to arms to  vindicate her cause against her  oppressors; but, in regard to the ten thousand  wrongs of the American  slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and  would hail him as an  enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the  subject of  public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for   France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of  liberty  for the enslaved of America. You discourse eloquently on the  dignity of labor;  yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence,  casts a stigma upon  labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of  British artillery to throw off a  threepenny tax on tea; and yet wring  the last hard-earned farthing from the  grasp of the black laborers of  your country. You profess to believe “that, of  one blood, God made all  nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth,”  and hath  commanded all men, everywhere to love one another; yet you notoriously  hate, (and glory in your hatred), all men whose skins are not colored  like  your own. You declare, before the world, and are understood by the  world to  declare, that you “hotel these truths to be self evident, that  all men are  created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain  inalienable  rights; and that, among these are, life, liberty, and the  pursuit of  happiness”; and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which,  according to your  own Thomas Jefferson, “is worse than ages of that  which your fathers rose in  rebellion to oppose,” a seventh part of the  inhabitants of your country.

Fellow-citizens! I will not enlarge further on your national   inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your   republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your   Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts  your  politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes  your name a  hissing, and a by word to a mocking earth. It is the  antagonistic force in your  government, the only thing that seriously  disturbs and endangers your Union. It  fetters your progress; it is the  enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of  education; it fosters pride; it  breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters  crime; it is a curse to  the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it,  as if it were the  sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a  horrible  reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is   nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of  God,  tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the  weight of twenty  millions crush and destroy it forever!


But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I  have now  denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the  Constitution of the  United States; that the right to hold and to hunt  slaves is a part of that  Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers  of this Republic.

Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before,  your fathers  stooped, basely stooped  “To palter with us in a double  sense: And keep the  word of promise to the ear, But break it to the  heart.”

And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them  to be, they  were the veriest imposters that ever practiced on mankind.  This is the  inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape. But I  differ from those  who charge this baseness on the framers of the  Constitution of the United  States. It is a slander upon their memory, at  least, so I believe. There is not  time now to argue the constitutional  question at length—nor have I the ability  to discuss it as it ought to  be discussed. The subject has been handled with  masterly power by  Lysander Spooner, Esq., by William Goodell, by Samuel E.  Sewall, Esq.,  and last, though not least, by Gerritt Smith, Esq. These  gentlemen have,  as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from  any  design to support slavery for an hour.

“[L]et me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the  Constitution were  intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a  slave-holding instrument, why  neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave  can anywhere be found in it.”

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which, the  people of the  North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed  upon, as that of the  pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that  instrument I hold there is  neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the  hateful thing; but, interpreted  as it ought to be interpreted, the  Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT.  Read its preamble, consider  its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the  gateway? or is it in  the temple? It is neither. While I do not intend to argue  this question  on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat  singular  that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and   adopters, a slave-holding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding,  nor  slave can anywhere be found in it. What would be thought of an  instrument,  drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the  city of Rochester  to a track of land, in which no mention of land was  made? Now, there are  certain rules of interpretation, for the proper  understanding of all legal  instruments. These rules are well  established. They are plain, common-sense  rules, such as you and I, and  all of us, can understand and apply, without  having passed years in the  study of law. I scout the idea that the question of  the  constitutionality or unconstitutionality of slavery is not a question  for  the people. I hold that every American citizen has a fight to form  an opinion  of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to  use all honorable  means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without  this fight, the liberty  of an American citizen would be as insecure as  that of a Frenchman.  Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the  constitution is an object to which  no American mind can be too  attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He  further says, the  constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is  meant for  the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens.  Senator Berrien tell us that the Constitution is the fundamental law,  that  which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which  every citizen  has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The  testimony of Senator  Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be  named, who are everywhere  esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the  constitution. I take it, therefore,  that it is not presumption in a  private citizen to form an opinion of that  instrument.

Now, take the constitution according to its plain reading, and I  defy the  presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other  hand it will be  found to contain principles and purposes, entirely  hostile to the existence of  slavery.

I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some  future period  I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this  subject a full and  fair discussion.

“Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture  I have  this day  presented of the state of the nation,  I do not  despair of  this  country.”

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I  have this  day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of  this country.  There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work  The downfall of  slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and  the doom of slavery is  certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began,  with hope. While drawing  encouragement from the Declaration of  Independence, the great principles it  contains, and the genius of  American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by  the obvious  tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same  relation to  each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up  from  the surrounding world, and trot round in the same old path of its  fathers  without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long  established  customs of hurtful character could formerly fence  themselves in, and do their  evil work with social impunity. Knowledge  was then confined and enjoyed by the  privileged few, and the multitude  walked on in mental darkness. But a change  has now come over the affairs  of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become  unfashionable. The  arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city.  Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes  its  pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind,  steam, and  lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide,  but link nations  together. From Boston to London is now a holiday  excursion. Space is  comparatively annihilated. Thoughts expressed on one  side of the Atlantic are,  distinctly heard on the other. The far off  and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in  grandeur at our feet. The Celestial  Empire, the mystery of ages, is being  solved. The fiat of the Almighty,  “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its  force. No abuse, no outrage  whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide  itself from the  all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China  must be  seen, in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet   unwoven garment. “Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God.” In the  fervent  aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every  heart join in  saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee The wide world o’er When from their  galling chains set free, Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee, And  wear the yoke of tyranny Like brutes no more. That year will come, and  freedom’s reign, To man his plundered fights again Restore.

God speed the day when human blood  Shall cease to flow! In every  clime be understood, The claims of human brotherhood, And each return  for evil, good, Not blow for blow; That day will come all feuds to  end. And change into a faithful friend  Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour, When none on earth  Shall  exercise a lordly power, Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower; But all to  manhood’s stature tower, By equal birth! THAT HOUR WILL, COME, to  each, to all, And from his prison-house, the thrall  Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive, With head, and heart, and hand I’ll  strive, To break the rod, and rend the gyve, The spoiler of his prey  deprive- So witness Heaven! And never from my chosen post, Whate’er  the peril or the cost, Be driven.



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