previous next
[461] You may say he borrowed it — true enough — from the lips of a woman on the other side of the Atlantic; but he was the only American whose moral nature seemed, just on the edge of life, so perfectly open to duty and truth that it answered to the far-off bugle-note, and proclaimed it instantly as a complete solution of the problem.

Young men, you have no conception of the miracle of that insight; for it is not given to you to remember with any vividness the blackness of the darkness of ignorance and indifference which then brooded over what was called the moral and religious element of the American people. When I think of him, as Melanchthon said of Luther, “day by day grows the wonder fresh” at the ripeness of the moral and intellectual life that God gave him at the very opening.

You hear that boy's lips announcing the statesman-like solution which startled politicians and angered Church and people. A year afterwards, with equally single-hearted devotion, in words that have been so often quoted, with those dungeon doors behind him, he enters on his career. In January, 1831, then twenty-five years old, he starts the publication of the Liberator, advocating the immediate abolition of slavery; and with the sublime pledge, “I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to speak or write with moderation. I will not equivocate; I will not excuse; I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard.”

Then began an agitation which for the marvel of its origin, the majesty of its purpose, the earnestness, unselfishness, and ability of its appeals, the vigor of its assault, the deep national convulsion it caused, the vast and beneficent changes it wrought, and its wide-spread, indirect influence on all kindred moral question, is without

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
January, 1831 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: