But such motives barely, if at all, influenced the Abolitionists.
No element of professionalism entered into their work.
They were not particularly religious.
They neither very greatly reverenced nor feared the Church
, whose leaders they often accused of a hankering for the “flesh-pots” that induced them to lead their followers into Egypt
, rather than out of it. They were partly moved by a hatred of slavery and its long train of abuses that was irrepressible, and which to most persons was incomprehensible, and partly by a love for their fellows in distress that was so insistent as to make them forget themselves.
Their impulses seemed to be largely intuitive, if not instinctive, and if called upon for a philosophical explanation they could not have given it.
In such a struggle for freedom and natural human rights as was carried on by the Abolitionists against tremendous odds and through a term covering many long years, it does seem to the writer of this essay that mortal heroism reached its height.
Nor am I by any means alone in the opinion just expressed.
As far back as 1844, when the Abolitionists were few in number and the objects of almost savage persecution in every part of our country, the Earl
, who, in his day was one of the most capable leaders of British public opinion, declared that they were engaged “in fighting a battle without a parallel in the history of ancient or modern heroism.”
I am moved to write the story of the Abolitionists, partly because it is full of romantic interest, and partly because justice demands it. Those doughty