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“ [407] being in involuntary bondage as his property, is, according to Scripture (Exodus, 21.16), a man-stealer.” 1

Lucretia Mott—like the clever school-teacher she had been—suggested one or two rhetorical amendments which were obvious improvements. ‘When our friends2 felt,’ she said years afterwards, with her quaint humor, ‘that they were planting themselves on the truths of Divine Revelation, and on the Declaration of Independence, as an Everlasting Rock, it seemed to me, as I heard it read, that the climax would be better to transpose the sentence, and place the Declaration of Independence first, and the truths of Divine Revelation last, as the Everlasting Rock; and I proposed it. I remember one of the younger members, Daniel E. Jewett, turning to see what3 woman there was there who knew what the word “transpose” meant.’

The formal act of signing the Declaration must, the shortening daylight admonished, be put off till the morrow. On Friday morning, ‘Samuel J. May rose to read it for the last time.4 His sweet, persuasive voice faltered with the intensity of his emotions as he repeated the ’

1 This interpolation was distasteful to Mr. Garrison at the time and ever afterwards. It was ‘taking off the edge’ of the allegation. ‘That weakens instead of strengthening it. It raises a Biblical question. It makes the rights of man depend upon a text. Now, it matters not what the Bible may say, so far as these rights are concerned. They never originated in any parchment, are not dependent upon any parchment, but are in the nature of man himself, written upon the human faculties and powers by the finger of God’ (Speech at 3d Decade [1863] Proceedings, p. 23). John Quincy Adams denied that the allegation was either true or just, in spite of the attempted sanction from Scripture—perhaps because of it ( “Memoirs,” July 14, 1839). So, the next year, in a letter to a gentleman in Brooklyn: ‘The American Anti-Slavery Society, composed of men not holding a single slave, undertaking to coax and reason five millions of their fellowcitizens into the voluntary surrender of twelve hundred millions of their property, and commencing their discourse to the heart by proclaiming every holder of a man in bondage a man-stealer, doomed by the Mosaic law to be stoned to death, is also, to the eye of a rational observer, a very curious show’ (Lib. 10.56).

2 Proceedings, at 3d Decade, p. 42.

3 Ante, p. 394.

4 Whittier, Atlantic Monthly, Feb., 1874, p. 171. It had just before been read by Dr. Cox, who had meanwhile engrossed the Declaration (Second Decade Proceedings, pp. 9, 10). The original document is now in the possession of the New York Historical Society.

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