Manuscript Collections Relating to Slavery
Charles Sumner’s The Anti-Slavery Enterprise, 1855
Draft and published version of the speech delivered in New York on May 9, 1855 by Charles Sumner (1811-1874), United States senator from Massachusetts and campaigner against slavery.

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First Draft Transcript of First Draft Published Text
In the autumn of 1835, on the 21st Oct an association of ladies, known as the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, was summoned to meet in an upper story of No. 44 Washington St. -- in this good city of Boston & it was announced that several addresses were to be delivered on the occasion.  The room was small & the company expected was not large.  Sometime before the appointed hour, the door was surrounded by a loud & tumultuous crowd, who saluted the members, as they came, with all manner of vileness, & afterwards, during the prayers with which the proceedings commenced, actually hurled missiles at the lady presiding, &, finally by force & clamor, which were unchecked by the Mayor, dispersed the assembly.  Intruders insolently seized the papers of the Society, & hurled them out of the windows into the street where they were madly destroyed. The
simple sign on the building, bearing the words “Anti-Slavery Rooms” was next wrenched from its place & torn to splinters. The fury of the crowd, which now blocked the street with its uncounted numbers, next directed itself upon Mr. Lloyd Garrison, -- known as the editor of the Liberator & the originator of the Anti-Slavery Enterprise […] –ruthlessly seized this peaceable citizen, & with a haltar [sic] about his neck, amidst savage threats, dragged him through the streets, until at last, guilty only of loving liberty, if not […], too well, he was lodged in the common jail for protection against an infuriate multitude.

The press of Boston, which had already stimulated this dismal transaction, now palliated it. The riotous crowd, which fastened a stigma upon our city, & wrote a new page
in the book of martyrdom, was politely termed an assemblage of “gentlemen of property & standing.” And one newspaper went so far as to say, “we consider the whole transaction as the triumph of the law over lawless violence & the love of order over an attempt to produce riot & confusion.” Thus spoke the Boston Daily Advertiser! Another, after describing the meeting of Abolitionists, said, “it became the duty of those in whose hands the public authorities of a city or town are vested to prevent such meetings by the strong arm of the law.”

Since then a change has taken place. Instead of that small company of women, counted by tens, we have now this mighty assembly, counted by thousands; instead of that humble apartment, the mere ap-
pendage of a printing office, where, as in the manger itself, Truth was cradled, we have now this beautiful hall, ample in its proportions & adorned by art; instead of a profane & clamorous mob, beating at our gates, hurling our papers out of the windows into the street & tearing the sign with the name “Anti-Slavery” into splinters – even as the insane populace of Paris once tore the body of the regicide Ravaillac – we now have peace & harmony at our unguarded doors, ruffled only by a generous contest to participate in this occasion; & instead of a hostile press, denouncing our attempts [as “rascally” & intolerable] – appealing directly to mob rule & even declaring that such meetings should be prevented by the strong arm of the law, we find
now kindly notices, encouraging words & a generous God-speed.

Here is a great fact, worth of notice & memory; for it attests the first stage of victory. Slavery, in all its many-sided wrong still continues, but here in Boston freedom of discussion is secured. And this I say, is the first stage of victory; herald of the transcendent future.
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;

Prepare the way! a God, a God appears!
A God! a God! the vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim th’ approaching Deity.
Nor is there anything peculiar in the trials to which our cause has been exposed. Thus in all ages has Truth been encountered. At first persecuted, gagged, silenced, crucified, she has cried out from the prison, from the torture, from the stake, from the
cross, until at last her voice has been heard. And when that voice is heard, whether in the earthquake tones of civil dissension – or in the calmness of ordinary speech such as I now employ – or in that still small utterance, inaudible to the common ear, then is the beginning of Victory. “Give me where to stand & I will move the world” said Archimedes; and Truth asks no more than did the master of geometry. Aye.
Viewed in this aspect, the present occasion rises above any ordinary course of lectures, or any political meeting or service of the pulpit even. It is the inauguration of Freedom. From this time forward her voice of warning & command cannot be silenced. The sensitive sympathies of wealth may once again recognize property in man; the watchful press itself may fail; but the vantage ground of free discussion cannot be lost. On this I now take my stand. In undertaking to give expression to the thoughts suggested by the occasion, I am not insensible to the responsibility which I assume. Fully to herald our great cause would task an angel’s tongue. I can speak only in the plain words of an honest heart.
According to the invitation of your committee I was to make an address introductory to the present course of lectures; but was prevented by ill-health. And now at the close of this course I am to say what I failed to say at its beginning. Standing now upon the mount of vision, the whole field of our great controversy is spread before me. There is no point, no topic, no fact, no matter, no reason, no argument, touching the question between Slavery & Freedom which is not now open. Of all these I might, perhaps, aptly select some one & confine myself to its development. But I should not in this way best satisfy the seeming requirement of the occasion. Out of the occasion, then, I shall speak, & discarding any special or individual topic, shall aim to review the whole field & exhibit its metes & bounds.
My subject will be the necessity, practicability & dignity if the Anti-Slavery Enterprise with glimpses at the practical duties of the North. By the Anti-Slavery enterprise I do not mean the efforts of any restricted circle sect or party, but the cause itself, in all its forms & degrees & under all its names – whether inspired by the pulpit, the press, the economist or the politician – whether in the early persistent & comprehensive demands of Garrison, the gentle utterances of Channing or in the strictly constitutional endeavors of others now actually sharing the public councils of our country. To complete this review, under the different aspects proposed I shall not hesitate to meet the objections, which have been urged against this enterprise, so far at least as I am aware of them.
First. I begin with the necessity of the Anti-Slavery Enterprise. This necessity appears in a simple statement of the wrong of Slavery, as defined by existing laws. A wrong so grievous & unquestionable should not be allowed to continue. For the honor of human nature & for the good of all concerned it should at once cease to exist. On this proposition, as a cornerstone, I found the necessity of the Anti-Slavery Enterprise. I do not dwell on the many tales which come from the house of bondage; or the bitter sorrow there endured; or the flesh galled by the manacle or spurting blood under the lash; or the human form mutilated by the knife or seared by red hot iron; or the ferocious scent of bloodhounds in chase of human prey; or the sale of fathers & mothers, of
Husbands & wives, of infants, brothers & sisters at the auction block; or the prostration of all rights, all ties & even all hopes; or the deadly injury to morals, in substituting concubinage for marriage & changing the whole land of slavery into a byeword of shame, only fully pictured by the language of Dante when he called his own degraded country a House of Ill Fame; & last of all on the pernicious influence, upon the master as well as the slave, shewing itself too often, by his own confession, in rudeness of manners & character, & especially in that blindness which renders him insensible to the wrong he upholds, while he, ________ so perfect is his misery,
Not once perceives his foul disfigurement
But boasts himself more comely than before.
On these things I do not dwell, although volumes are at hand, of unquestionable facts & of illustrative story, so just & happy as to vie with fact, out of which I might draw until like Macbeth, you had supped full of horror.
But all these I put aside; because I do not regard them of moment, in exhibiting the true character of slavery; but because I desire to present the cause on grounds above all impeachment, question or suspicion – even from slave masters themselves. Not on triumphant story, not even on undisputable fact do I now accuse Slavery but on its character as revealed in its own simple definition of itself. Out of its own mouth do I condemn it. By the law of Slavery man created in the image of God is impiously divested of his human character, & declared to be a chattel. That this statement may not seem to be without precise authority, I quote
the laws of two different states. The Civil Code of Louisiana thus defines a slave:

This is enough. Again I repeat in this plain & authentic definition is enfolded the whole gigantic outrage, by which a man is converted into a chattel – a person is
changed into a thing – a soul is transmuted into merchandize. According to this very definition the slave is held simply for the good of his master, to whose behests his life & labor are devoted, & by whom he may be bartered, leased, mortgaged, bequeathed, invoiced, shipped as cargo, stored as goods, sold on execution & knocked off at public auction. The slave may seem to have a wife; but she is not his own. She belongs to his master. He may seem to have a child; but the child is not his own. It belongs to his master. He may long for knowledge, that he may be aided in his communion with the world & with Heaven; but the master may forbid this sacred pursuit. Thus is the slave robbed not merely of privileges; but of himself; not merely of money & labor, but of wife & children; not merely of earthly hope but lf all those divine aspirations that spring from the fountain of light. He is not merely
loaded with burthens but changed into a beast of burthen; not merely restrained in liberty, but totally deprived of it; not merely curtailed in rights, but absolutely stripped of them; not merely exposed to personal cruelty, but deprived of his character as a person; not merely compelled to involuntary labor, but degraded to be a rude instrument; not merely abridged in his comforts, but wrested from his place in the human family. Such, I say, is the impious law of Slavery.
But it is said that slave-holders are humane & that slaves are treated with kindness. These allegations I put aside as I have already put aside the illustrations of slavery. I rely simply upon the letter of the law & do not go beyond what is there nominated. The masses of rules are not better than their laws. Nor is it reasonable to infer – whatever may be the eminence of individual virtue – that the masses of slave-holders are better than
the law of Slavery itself. And since this law gives to them irresponsible control over the slave, with power to bind & to scourge; to separate families; to ravish the infant from its mother’s breast, the wife from the husband’s arms, it is natural to suppose that such atrocities are sanctioned by them. And just so long as this law exists that inference must continue. Cease, then, to blazon the humanity of slave-holders. Tell me not of the kindness with which this cruel law is tempered to its unhappy subjects. Tell me not of the sympathy which overflows from the mansion of the master to the cabin of the slave. In vain you assert these instances. In vain you shew that these are individuals who do not share the wickedness of the law. But the law still endures.
The institution of Slavery, which it defines & upholds continues to defy Public Opinion, & within the limits of our Republic, upwards of three millions of human beings, guilty only of a skin not colored like our own, are left the victims of its irresponsible power.
On the testimony of slave-holders, solemnly speaking in the law itself, I now arraign Slavery, as an outrage upon man & his creation. A wrong so transcendent, so loathsome, so direful must be encountered whoever [sic] it can be reached & the battle must be continued until the field is entirely won. Freedom & Slavery can hold no divided empire; nor can there be any true repose until Freedom is every where established.
To the necessity of the Anti-Slavery Enterprise there are two & only two vital objections; one founded on the alleged distinction of race & the other on the alleged sanction of Slavery by Christianity. All other objections are of an inferior character & are directed only at the practicability of our enterprise. Of these two leading objections let me briefly speak. (1) And, first, of the alleged distinction of race. This assumes two different forms, one founded on a prophetic malediction in the Old Testament, & the other on the professed observation of science. Its importance is apparent in the obvious fact that, unless such difference be clearly established, every argument by which our own freedom is vindicated – every applause awarded to the successful rebellion of our fathers – every condemnation directed against
the enslavement of our white fellow citizens, by Algerine corsairs, will plead trumpet-tongued against the deep condemnation of Slavery, whether white or black.
It is said that the Africans are the property of Ham, the son of Noah – that Canaan on of Ham’s sons was cursed by Noah to be the servant of servants -- & that by Canaan we are to understand Ham’s posterity in general, who are accordingly devoted by God to unending Slavery. Such is the argument often put forth & more than once directly addressed to myself. Indeed, I have been assured, in conversation & letter that it would be in vain to press the abolition of Slavery until this argument was answered. The simple text of the Old Testament are these:

I need do little more than read these words in order to expose the transparent absurdity. But I am tempted to add that in order to justify Slavery by this maledic-
tion it will be necessary to prove five different propositions. First, that all the posterity of Canaan were devoted to Slavery. Secondly, that the African is truly descended from Canaan. Thirdly, that each of the descendants of Shem & Japheth has a right to reduce the African to Slavery. And, fourthly, that every slave-master is truly descended from Shem or Japheth. This simple analysis shews the absurdity of the attempt to found this revolting assertion on
Any successive title, long & dark Drawn from the musty rolls of Noah’s ark
The narrow bigotry, which could find comfort in these texts, has been lately exalted by the suggestion of science, that the different races of men do not spring from a single pair, but from many distinct stocks, according to their several characteristics; & it has been audaciously argued that the African is
so far inferior as to lose all title to that freedom which is the birthright of the lordly white. Now I have neither time nor disposition on this occasion to discuss the question of the unity of races. It may be that the different races of men proceeded from different stocks; but there is but one great Human Family, in which Caucasian & African, Chinese & Indian are all brothers, children of one Father & heirs to one happiness – while on earth & in heaven. Star-eyed science cannot shake this everlasting truth. It may exhibit peculiarities in the African by which he is clearly distinguished from the Caucasian. It may presume to find in his physical form & intellectual character a stamp of permanent inferiority. But, by no reach of learning, by no torture of facts, & by no effrontery of dogma, can it shew that he is not a man. And as a man he stands before you, an unquestionable member of the Human Family & entitled to all the rights of man. You can claim nothing for your-

"God has made of one blood all the nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth."
self, as man, which you must not accord to him. Life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness – which you proudly declare to be your own God-given rights & to the support of which your fathers pledged their lives, fortunes & sacred honor – are his by the same immortal title that they are yours.
2 From the objection founded on the alleged difference of race I now pass to the other founded on the alleged sanction of Slavery by Xtianity [i.e. Christianity]. And here I shall not stop to consider the precise interpretation of the oft-quoted phrase, servants, obey your masters; nor seek to weigh any such imperfect injunction in the scales against those grand commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. Surely in the life & teachings of the Savior, devoted to the elevation of man & tenderly watchful even of little children, human ingenuity can find no just sanction of an institution which turns man into a thing, annuls marriage & puts little children on the
auction-block. If to any one these things seem to be Xtian it will be only because they have first secured license in his own soul. Men are prone to draw from certain disconnected texts a confirmation of their own personal prejudices or […]. And I venture to say that whoever finds any sanction of Slavery in the Gospel finds there simply a reflection of himself. With regret, though not with astonishment I learn that a Boston divine has sought to throw the seamless mantle of Christ over this shocking wrong. But I am patient, & see clearly how vain will be his effort, when I call to mind that as late as the close of the last century, another divine, with similar […] – Revd Thomas Thompson, Master of Arts – wrote a book to prove, that “the African trade for negro slaves is consistent with the principles of humanity & revealed religion”; & thinking of these things I ask with Shakespeare
___________ In religion What damned error, but some sober brow Will bless it & approve it with a text?
The great stress is now laid on the contract [?] of St Paul as shewn in his epistle to Philemon. Here are the simple words
Out of this affectionate epistle Slavery & Slave-Hunting have been elaborately vindicated, & St Paul himself has been made a whipper – in of the hounds which have tracked the fugitive […]. Without stopping for any minute criticism, it will be sufficient if I call attention to two things, apparent on the face. First, it does not certainly appear that Onesimus had been a slave of Philemon, though he had been a servant. Secondly, in sending him back St Paul announces him as “not now a servant, but above a servant,
a brother beloved," he says to his correspondent, "If thou count me, therefore, a partner, receive him as myself. If in these words of benediction any one can find an apology for hurling a fellow man back into the den of American slavery, I envy him neither his intelligence or his piety.

Surely I am right in stripping from Slavery its assumed garb of Xtianity; & here I leave the first head of my address, assuming against all objections the necessity of the Anti-Slavery enterprise.
Secondly, I now come to consider the practicability of the Anti-Slavery enterprise. And here the way is easy. In shewing its necessity I have already demonstrated its practicability, for the first includes the latter, as the the [sic] greater includes the less. What even is necessary must be practicable. By a tyrannical decree the Israelites were compelled to make bricks without straw; but it is not according to the way of a benevolent Providence, that any one should be constrained to do what cannot be done. What must be done, can be done. Again, the Anti-Slavery enterprise is necessary because it is right; &, whatever is right is practicable.
I know well the little faith of the world in the triumph of principles, & can easily imagine the despair with which our object is regarded; but not on this account
am I disheartened. Sir Thomas Browne wished for some new difficulty in Xtian belief, that his faith might have a new victory, & an eminent enthusiast went so far as to say Credo quia impossibile; I believe because it is impossible. But no such exalted faith is now required. There is in our object no impossibility, nor is there any difficulty which cannot be overcome. If to any one it seems impossible because it is too beautiful, let me say that it is too beautiful not to be possible.

But descending from these summits of principle let me shew precisely what we aim to accomplish. In stating our object is practicability will be apparent. It does not assume in any way to change human nature, or to place any individual in a sphere to which he is not adapted. It does not assert that a race degraded
for generations under the iron heel of Slavery can be lifted at once into all the privileges of an American citizen. But it does confidently assume that every man, without distinction of color, is entitled to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness; & it does with equal confidence assert that every individual, who bear [sic] the human form, should at once be recognized as man. I know not when this is done of […] yet other trials through which the African must pass; but this I know, the Anti-Slavery enterprise will then have triumphed, & the institution of Slavery, as defined by existing law, will no longer shock mankind.
And how shall this be done? The first essential requisite is that the question shall be frankly & openly confronted. Do not put it aside. Do not blink it out of sight. Approach it. Contemplate it. Study it. Deal with it. Let the illumination of speech, conversation & the press rest upon it. As Slavery is calmly regarded, it will be confessed that it is indefensible, & the remedy will be applied.
It is sometimes admitted by its supporters that its abuses should be lopped off. Alas! It is these very abuses which constitute its vital elements without which it would not be. Lop off its abuses & Slavery will disappear. And all this is practicable. The slave can be divested of his character as a chattel & reinstated as a person. Is not this practicable? He can be struck from the list of merchandize & enrolled in the human family. Is not this practicable?
He can be protected in the marriage relation. Is not this practicable? He can be protected in the parental relation. Is not this practicable? He can be endowed with a right to acquire knowledge. Is not this practicable? He can be secured an interest in his own labor. Is not this practicable? To say that all these are not practicable would be a scandal upon mankind. And just in proportion as these things are accomplished will the “abuses” which constitute Slavery disappear, & the institution itself, cease to exist. The African, whatever may be his precise condition, will no longer be the slave over whose sorrows & hardships the world is at times fiercely indignant & at times painfully sad.
In accomplishing this result the question arises to what extent, if any, compensation
should be allowed to the slave-master. Clearly if the question were determined by absolute justice, not the master, but the slaves, would be entitled to compensation; for it is the slaves who for generations have been despoiled of the fruits of their toil, which have gone to enrich their masters. Besides it seems hardly reasonable to make compensation for an abandonment of those “abuses” which constitute the life of Slavery. By what tariff could it be regulated? For instance, a certain sum must be allowed in consideration of the marriage relation secured; another for securing the parental; & still another for the privilege of acquiring knowledge. I allude to these things rather to shew the difficulties of the question than to express an opinion; though I must confess that the satisfaction at seeing the friend of Slavery in flight would make me build, even if necessary, a bridge of gold.
The practicability of the Anti-Slavery Enterprise has been constantly questioned, often so superficially as to be answered at once. I shall not stop to consider the allegation founded on considerations of economy; for this is all exploded by the official tables of the Census; nor the argument, that the slaves are not prepared for Freedom, &, therefore, should not be precipitated into this condition; for this is no better than the ancient Greek folly which would not allow a son to go into water until he had learned to swim. But as against the necessity of the Anti-Slavery Enterprise, there were two chief objections, so also against its practicability are there two; the first founded on the alleged evils of the Anti-Slavery enterprise, & the second on the alleged danger to masters from Emancipation.
1. It is common, among the partisans of Slavery, to allege that the Anti-Slavery enterprise has actually retarded the cause of the slave; & this paradoxical accusation finds countenance here with those who willingly lap themselves in seeming apology for indifference or tergiversation. Nothing can be more unfounded.
"Our opponents" says Burke, in reference to a similar accusation, "take a ground which is very absurd, but very common in modern practice, & very wicked – which is to attribute the ill-effect of ill-judged conduct to the arguments that had been used to dissuade from it." This is an old device, which has been instinctively employed by the adversaries of every reform, until it has ceased even to be plausible. Pamphlets have been written in England to prove that the Bible Society was undermining the Church & encouraging infidelity. The promotion of education there has been charged with fostering crime, idleness & immorality. The patrons of vaccination were accused of spreading disease & death among the people. The friends of peace, while urging upon the
nations, the human precepts of Xtianity, have been arraigned as promoters of war. And, lastly, to give an instance precisely in point, the West India planters declared, while the Anti-Slavery enterprise was still pending in England, that the exertions of Wilberforce & Baxter tended to increase the hardships of the slave, even to the extent of riveting anew his chains. Thus there is no failure in precedent for the imputations to which we are exposed.

For myself, I do not doubt that our enterprise has produced an irritation among slave-masters, which to superficial observers may seem inconsistent with success; but this is the nature that unhealthy effort of a diseased body to purge itself of its impurities. It is, perhaps, too much to expect that men
in this condition will reason calmly – that they will see things as they really are -- & will kindly acknowledge the good that has been accomplished. But still the work proceeds. "Though it burn our own dwelling who does not venerate fire," says the Hindoo proverb; & the Anti-Slavery enterprise, with all its alleged evils, is entitled to a similar regard.

It has already touched the national heart & made large numbers abandon early prejudice, while they confessed the grandeur of the cause. It has aroused the whole country, as never before, not merely to a sentiment against Slavery, such as prevailed with our fathers; but to a
deep undying conviction of its wrong, and of our duty to leave no effort unattempted for its removal. With the sympathy of all Xtendom [i.e. Christendom] as its allies, it has encompassed the slave-master by a moral blockade, invisible to the eye but more potent than navies, from which there can be no escape except in final capitulation. Already there are signs of change. Newspapers, in the land of slavery, profess indignation at the hunt of fugitives, with blood-hounds. In common speech, as well as in writing, the bondman is now politely called a servant, not a slave; thus, by this gentler term, concealing & condemning the true relation. Only lately propositions have been introduced into the legislatures of different states & recommended by governors, to mitigate the law of Slavery; & almost while I speak, I have received copies of memorials, addressed to the legislatures of Virginia & of North Carolina, asking for the slave three things – the protection of the marriage relation
-- the protection of the parental relation – & the privilege of acquiring knowledge – which indeed, it will be monstrous to refuse, but which if conceded will go far to remove the institution we condemn. Other signs are found in the increased comfort of the slave – in the attention to his wants & in the fact that he dwells now more than ever under the keen observation of a wakeful Public Opinion, which will not allow his wrongs to pass without condemnation. Such are some of the positive tokens that the Anti-Slavery enterprise has not damaged the cause of the slave.
2. But the Anti-Slavery enterprise is said to fail in practicability, because of the alleged danger to the master. This objection sometimes boldly takes the form, that the slave, if released from his present condition, would cut his master’s throat.

Here is another paradox, which assumes that the African, when treated justly, will shew a vindictiveness, which he does not exhibit when treated unjustly; that when elevated by the blessings of freedom he will develop an appetite for blood which he never manifested when crushed by the curse of bondage. At present the slave sees his wife & infant torn from him – sees his labor appropriated by another – sees himself shut out from the light of knowledge – sees himself & his offspring doomed to a servitude from which there is no redemption; & still
his master sleeps secure. Will the master sleep less secure when the slave no longer smarts under these revolting atrocities? It is trifling with your reason & with the hour to argue this question.

But there is an example which I ought not to neglect. In the British West Indies, the experiment has been tried with complete success. By virtue of a single act of Parliament, upwards of 800,000 slaves stepped forth as freedmen. Amidst this mass was a leaven [?] of only 131,000 whites, situated in different proportions on the different islands. And this disproportion has increased rather than diminished. In Jamaica, the largest of these possessions, there are now upwards of 400,000 Africans, & only 37,000 whites; in Barbadoes, the next largest possession, there are 120,000 Africans, & only 75,000 whites; in St Lucia 19,500 Africans & only 600 whites; in Tobago 14,000 Africans, & only 122 whites; in Montserrat 6000 Africans & only 150 whites; & in the Grenadines upwards of 6000 Africans, & less
than 50 whites. And yet in all these places the authorities attest the good behavior of the Africans. Sir Lionel Smith, the governor of Jamaica, in his speech to the Assembly, declared that their conduct "proves how well they deserved the boon of Freedom." Another governor, of another view, dwells on the "peculiarly rare instances of the commission of grave or sanguinary crimes among the emancipated portions of these islands"; & the Queen of England in a speech from the throne has announced that the complete & final emancipation of the Africans has “taken place without any disturbance of public order & tranquility.” In this example I find new confirmation of the principle that the highest safety is in doing right.
Thirdly, the Anti-Slavery Enterprise, which I have shewn to be at once necessary & practicable, is commended also by its inherent dignity.

Its object is benevolent; nor is there, in the dreary annals of the Past, a single enterprise which stands forth more clearly & indisputably entitled to this character. This simple statement will commend itself to every candid mind. But there is another circumstance which furnishes touching testimony to its evidence [?]. It is to benefit the lowly, when your eyes have never seen, & who are ignorant even of your labors. On these accounts, it must take its place among those works properly called philanthropic – the title when justly applied of highest honor on earth. "I take goodness in this sense" says Lord Bacon in his Essays, "the affecting of the weal of men, which is what the Grecians call Phi-
lanthropeia – of all virtues & of qualities of the mind the greatest, being the character of the Deity; without it man is a busy, mischievous wretched thing, no better than a kind of vermin." Lord Bacon was right. And to the Anti-Slavery enterprise belongs the palm which he awards to goodness.

In other aspects its dignity is apparent. It concerns the cause of Freedom, which from the earliest days has been the darling of history. By all the memories of the Past; by the stories of childhood & the studies of youth; by every example of virtue; by every aspiration for the good & true; by the fame of the martyrs welling through all time; by the praise lavished upon our Father, we are summoned to this work. Unless Freedom be an illusion & benevolence and error, we cannot resist the appeal. But our cause is nobler even than that of our fathers, inasmuch as it is more exalted to struggle for the Freedom of
others than for our own.
Its practical importance gives to it an additional eminence. Whether measured by the number of beings it seeks to benefit; by the wrongs it hopes to relieve; or by the difficulties which beset it; by the political relations it affects; or by the ability & character it has enlisted, the cause of the slave assumes proportions of grandeur which dwarf all other interests in our broad country. In its presence the intrigues of party, the machinations of politicians, the combinations [?] of office-seekers sink below even their ordinary level. At this time among us there is little else which can tempt to the exposed steeps of public life an honest man, who wishes, by something that he has done, to leave the world better than he found it. There is little else which can afford any other satisfaction which an honest man should covet. Nor is there any cause which so surely promises final success.
It is written that in the last days there shall be scoffers; & even this philanthropic cause [above …] is not free from their aspersions. These have mainly assumed two forms, first, hard words, & secondly imputations upon the standing of those who are engaged in it.

1. The hard words are manifold as the passion & prejudice of the speakers; but they generally resolve themselves into a charge of "fanaticism." For myself in such a cause I am not disturbed by any such aspersions; nor by hard words of any kind. I do not forget how in other days these have been employed. The great William of Orange, the Washington of Europe was branded as "a perjurer & real pest of society", & not to dwell on general instances that the efforts for the abolition
of the slave-trade was characterized on the floor of parliament, by one eminent speaker as "visionary & delusive"; by another as "mischievous"; & the next men engaged in this resform were arraigned by the favored Col. Tarleton "as a junta of sectaries, sophists, enthusiasts & fanatics," &, by no less a person than the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William 4th as "either fanatics or hypocrites" in one of which classes he declared that he ranked Wilberforce. Impartial history with immortal pen has redeemed these impassioned judgments; & it would be well for the good name of their authors, had they never been uttered. The hard words so often leveled at American Abolitionists will do less harm to them than to these unhappy men, who, in an evil hour, send them forth.
2. But besides hard words the taunt is often launched, that the presenters of the Anti-Slavery enterprise are without the authority which comes from the high places of Church & State. In presence of the genius & character which is now devoted to this cause, this fact might well be questioned. But even all this if true, it is only according to the example of history. Rejected often by the rich & powerful […], by the favorites of fortune & place, must [?] find shelter with the poor & […]. It is such as these that most freely welcome moral truth in its most immediate application to the concerns of life. It is not the dweller amidst the glare of the world, but the humble & lowly, who most clearly perceive such truth; as the watchers placed in the depth of a well, may observe the stars which are obscured to those who live in the effulgence of noon. Free from the prejudices of self-interest, or of a class – free from the cares & temptations of wealth or power – dwelling in the mediocrity of common
life, they discern the new signal, they surrender themselves unreservedly to the new summons. The Saviour knew this. He did not call upon the Priest or Levite or Pharisee, to follow him; but upon the humble fishermen by the sea of Galilee.

Here I conclude what I have to say of the Necessity, Practicability & Dignity of the Anti-Slavery Enterprise. It now remains that I should commend this cause to your faithful & zealous support; this brings me precisely to the consideration of our duties here at home as freemen of the North. Thank God! At last there is a North.
In opposing Slavery some content themselves by charitable contributions to the redemption of slaves. To this object they give up their means, & thus seek to silence the monitions of conscience. I would not discountenance any form of activity by which human freedom , even in a single case, may be secured. But I desire to say that such conduct – too often accompanied by a pharisaical pretension in strange contrast with the petty performance – can not be considered an essential aid to the Anti-Slavery enterprise. Not in this way can any impression be made on an evil so vast as Slavery. In the Scandinavian mythology, the god Thor, whose feats of strength surpassed those of Hercules, was challenged to drain a simple cup dry. He applied it to his lips, & with superhuman capacity, drank; but the water did not recede even the rim, till at last the God abandoned
the effort. His failure was explained, when he learned that the cup had communicated by an invisible connection, with the vast Ocean, out of which it was perpetually supplied. And just so will these occasions of charity, though encountered by large means, always continue, for they communicate with the Black Sea of Slavery, out of which they will be perpetually supplied, but which itself will remain unaffected by the effort. Private means may cope with individual necessities; but they are powerless to redress the evils of a wicked institution. Charity is limited & local; the evils of Slavery are infinite & every where. It is not enough then, by an occasional contribution, to ransom a slave. Earnest efforts must be directed against the institution, which makes slaves.
And here the question occurs, which is so often pressed in argument or in taunt, What have we of the North to do with Slavery? Now, without stopping to enlarge on our obvious duties, as members of the Human Family, who cannot be justly indifferent to any human wrong, it will be sufficient if I say, that, as citizens of the U. States, anxious for the good name, the repose & the prosperity of the Republic, that it may be a blessing & not a curse to mankind, there is nothing among all its diversified interests, with which at this moment we have so much to do; nor is there anything with regard to which our duty is so irresistibly clear. I do not dwell on the scandal of Slavery in the national territories – the District of Columbia & on the high seas beneath the national flag, all of which one outside of State limits & within the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress, where you & I & every freeman of the North are compelled to share
the outrage, & help to bind the chain. To dislodge Slavery from these usurped footholds under the Constitution & thus at once to relieve ourselves from a grievous responsibility & to begin the great work of Emancipation, is an object worthy of an exalted ambition. But before this can be commenced Slavery must be dislodged from the North itself, thus relieving us from a grievous responsibility here at home & emancipating ourselves. Emancipation in the Slave States can be achieved only by first emancipating the Free States. Aye, Sir! Emancipation of the blacks must be preceded by the emancipation of the whites.
With all its excess of numbers, wealth & intelligence, the North is now the vassal of an oligarchy, whose single inspiration comes from Slavery. According to the recent census the slave-holders are only 347,000; & this comparatively small body now dominates over the country, controls the government, bestows office & determines all things. With a watchfulness that never sleeps & an activity that never tires – with as many eyes as Argus & as many arms as Briareus the Slave Power asserts its perpetual insatiable supremacy; now threatens to wrest Cuba from Spain by violent war or hardly less violent purchase; now hankering for another slice of Mexico, in order to give new scope to Slavery; now proposing once more to open the hideous heaven-defying slave-trade & thus to replenish its shambles with human flesh; & now by the
lips of an eminent senator, asserting an audacious claim to the whole group of the West Indies, whether held by Holland, Spain, france or England, as “our Southern Islands,” while it assails the independence of Hayti & stretches its treacherous ambition even to the distant valley of the Amazon.
And this giant strength of the Slave-Power is used with the heartlessness of a giant. By a cruel enactment, which has no source in the Constitution, which defies every principle of justice, which outrages humanity & which rebels against God, the Free States are made a hunting-ground for slaves, & good citizens, educated in their churches, are compelled to watch & lead the hunt.
And still the question is asked, What have we at the North to do with Slavery? Beyond all question, two things must be done at once. First, the Slave-power must be overthrown.
But, without waiting for this event, there is something which must be done at once within our own borders. "A lie" says Carlyle, "should be trampled out & extinguished forever"; & nothing less should be done with a wicked enactment. The Fugitive Slave Bill must be made a dead letter; not by violence; not even by hasty conflict between jurisdictions; but by an aroused Public Opinion, which shall blast with contempt, indignation & abhorrence all who consent to be its agents. The Slave-trader, who drags his victim from Africa is loathed as a monster; but I defy any acuteness of reason to shew the moral difference between hi act & that of the man who drags his victim from the free soil of Massachusetts. A few puny persons, calling themselves the Congress of the U.S. cannot turn into white black or wrong into right; they can-
not reverse the irreversible law of God; they cannot make him wicked who hunts a slave on the burning sands of Congo & him virtuous who hunts a slave in the colder streets of Boston; nor can they distinguish between the Bill of Sale by which the unhappy African was originally sold, & the certificate of the Commissioner, by which he was reduced anew to bondage. In the light of morals [?] both are equally bad, & consistency requires that the condemnation which is now the doom of the one should also be the lot of the other.

One man’s virtue becomes the standard of excellence for all; & there is now at your door a simple citizen whose example may be a […] to all who believe this act to be of any binding obligation – whether […], magistrate or commissioner. Better be a door-keeper
of the House of the Lord, than a dweller in the tents of the ungodly; better far, be the door-keeper of this Temple of Liberty, than the dweller of any office, which shall constrain you to be a Hunter of men. For myself let me say, that I can imagine no office, no salary, no consideration, which I would not gladly forego rather than become in any way an agent in enslaving my brother-man. Where for me would be comfort & solace after such a work! In dreams & in waking hours, in solitude & in the street, in the study of the open book & in conversation with the world, wherever I turned, there my victim would stare me in the face; while from the distant rice-fields & sugar plantations of the South, his cries beneath the vindictive lash, his moans at the thought of Liberty once his now alas! Ravished away, would pursue me, repeating the tale of his fearful doom & sounding, forever sounding in my ears, "Thou art the man."
But I am admonished that I must close.
In the warfare with Slavery, there is a place for every argument, as there is a place for every man. As on the broad shield of Achilles, wrought by divine art, was pictured every form of human activity, so in this cause, which is the shield of Freedom, whatever man can do, by deed or speech, may find its place. One person may act against Slavery in one way, & another in another way; but all must act. Here is room for the strength of Luther & the sweetness of Melanchthon; for the wisdom of age & the ardor of youth; for the learning of the scholar & the aspiration of the poet; for the judgment of the statesman & the eloquence of the orator; for the exhortation of the preacher & the testimony of the lawyer; for the various energy of the citizen & the abounding sympathy of woman. Providence acts through individuals; the stone itself is worn away by drops of water; & no man
Mr. President & […] I am admonished that I must cease. Far have I trespassed already upon your generous patience; But there are other things which still press for utterance. Something would I say of the agts. [i.e. arguments] by which our cause is commended; something also of the appeal it makes to men of every class & […]; & something also of Union among all as a vital necessity.
is so humble as to be excused from joining the work. I know not if our object can be soon accomplished. I know not, Sir, if you & I can live to see, in our land, the vows of the Father at length fulfilled, as the last fetter falls from the limbs of the last slave. By I do know beyond all doubt or question that this enterprise must go on; that in its irresistible current, it will absorb schools, colleges, churches, the intelligence, the moral sense & the religious aspirations of the land; & that all who now stand in its way or speak evil of it are laying up for their children, if not for themselves, days of sorrow & shame.
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