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Chapter 5: Bennington and the Journal of the Times—1828-29.

Garrison edits this new paper in Bennington, Vt., in advocacy of the reelection of President John Quincy Adams, but also begins in it his first warfare on slavery. Lundy visits him and engages him as associate editor of the genius. Returning to Boston, Garrison delivers an anti-slavery Fourth of July address at Park-St. Church, with a perfunctory approval of Colonization: and then removes to Baltimore.

The exciting Presidential campaign of 1828 had already begun, when Mr. Garrison received an invitation from a committee of prominent citizens of Bennington, Vermont, who visited Boston for the purpose of seeing him, to edit a paper which they proposed to establish in that town in advocacy of the reelection of John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson; the Gazette, the existing local paper, having practically gone over to the Jackson party. As Vermont was strongly for Adams, and as Bennington, though in an extreme corner of the State, was politically a very important town, the need of an Administration paper there was felt to be imperative. Mr. Garrison, while no very warm admirer of Mr. Adams personally, had still a well-founded dread of the election of Jackson and its consequent effect upon American politics, and he readily consented to a six months engagement on condition that he should have the liberty of advocating in the columns of the paper not only the reelection of Adams, but Anti-Slavery, Temperance, Peace, and Moral Reform as well. ‘It was a very 1 singular kind of political paper,’ he said, ‘but they gave me carte blanche, and I agreed to undertake the enterprise.’ Arrangements were made with Mr. Henry S. Hull, an acquaintance of his, to print it, and on Friday, the 3d of October, 1828, the first number of the Journal of the Times was issued, a well-printed sheet of four pages, with [102] six columns to the page.2 The editor recurred to his favorite quotation from Cicero; and ‘Reason shall prevail with us more than Popular Opinion’ was placed as the permanent motto of the paper, below the heading. The contents were attractively arranged, the first page being devoted to selections under the general heads ‘Moral,’ ‘Education,’ ‘Temperance,’ ‘Slavery,’ ‘Political,’ etc. Foreign and domestic news occupied the second page; editorials, communications, and a general summary of news the third, and poetry, miscellany, and advertisements the fourth. Contrary to the usual habit of giving editorials larger type and better display than other matter, Mr. Garrison set his articles in smaller type than the average, and still found himself cramped for space. His first bow to the Vermont public was made in the following Salutatory, in which the prime motive for establishing the paper seems to have been the last in the editor's thoughts.

To the public.

We this day present the first number of the Journal of3 the Times, for public approval and patronage. It is proper, therefore, at the commencement of our enterprise, that we should explain the motives by which we are actuated, the objects which we shall pursue, and the principles upon which we base our faith.

This shall be done briefly—for one article in our creed is, that practice is better than profession, and the fulfilment of a promise worth more than the contract itself;—hence we have issued no prospectus, nor solicited a single subscription, nor made any provision for an extensive support. Our paper shall be sustained by its merits, or it shall perish, even though the sympathy of friendship should open its coffers for our relief; and therefore we choose, in looking to the people of this county for encouragement, to place this sheet in their hands before we ask them to subscribe. Our terms and our pretensions are before them. [103]

In the first place, the Journal shall be independent, in the broadest and stoutest signification of the term; it shall be trammelled by no interest, biassed by no sect, awed by no power. Of all diminutive objects that creep on the face of the earth, that bask in God's sunshine, or inhale the rich atmosphere of life—of all despicable and degraded beings, a time-serving, shuffling, truckling editor has no parallel; and he who has not courage enough to hunt down popular vices, to combat popular prejudices, to encounter the madness of party, to tell the truth and maintain the truth, cost what it may, to attack villainy in its higher walks, and strip presumption of its vulgar garb, to meet the frowns of the enemy with the smiles of a friend, and the hazard of independence with the hope of reward, should be crushed at a blow if he dared to tamper with the interests, or speculate upon the whims of the public. Look at our motto—watch us narrowly in our future course—and if we depart one tittle from the lofty sentiment which we have adopted as our guide, leave us to a speedy annihilation.

Secondly. We have three objects in view, which we shall pursue through life, whether in this place or elsewhere— namely, the suppression of intemperance and its associate vices, the gradual emancipation of every slave in the republic, and the perpetuity of national peace. In discussing these topics, what is wanting in vigor shall be made up in zeal.

Thirdly. Education will be another prominent object of our attention; not that kind, however, which is found in our colleges alone—not the tinsel, the frippery, and the incumbrance of classical learning, so called—but a popular, practical education, which will make science familiar to the mechanic, and the arts of easy attainment, and which will best promote public virtue by the extension of general knowledge.

Fourthly. The encouragement of national industry will form another of our purposes. We are friends, even to enthusiasm, to what is significantly styled the ‘American System.’ We wish to see a manufactory by the side of every suitable stream, and, if possible, the entire amount of cotton that may be grown in the country made into good, substantial fabrics for home consumption and exportation. Every day's experience teaches this whole people that their interests are best promoted by the erection of national houses of industry; that Providence has made them necessarily dependent on no other country for the comforts of life; and that the great secret of national aggrandizement [104] consists in improving their natural advantages, and exploring their own resources.

Finally. We have started the Journal with the conviction that, to be well and permanently supported, it need only merit support. We are satisfied, moreover, that the public voice is nearly unanimous in favor of this establishment. This county has probably a population of twenty thousand,—nineteentwen-tieths of whom are friendly to the reelection of John Quincy Adams; but their confidence has been abused, their views misrepresented, their feelings insulted; they have had no organ through which to express their desires, or hold communications with other sections of the country; they have been upbraided with apostasy, with treachery, with insincerity; and they have in their meekness borne till endurance has passed its bounds, and the pen of the slanderer become intolerable.

We come, then, in the name, and to supply the wants, of the people. Be ours the task, not to rake open the smouldering embers of party, but to extinguish them; not to nourish animosities, but to encourage the growth of liberal principles; not to fight with the shadows of things which are dead, but with existing evils of national magnitude; not to give sound for sense, or roaring for argument; not to inflame, but to heal; not to swagger and brag about our exclusive patriotism, but to enlarge the number of patriots; not to divide the community, but to unite all hearts.

Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Editor. Henry S. Hull, Proprietor.

In another column, on the editorial page, an indignant denial was given to a report, said to have been industriously circulated in Bennington and the neighboring villages, that the Journal was to be influenced by a sect and controlled by a party. ‘The blockheads who have had the desperate temerity to propagate this falsehood,’ declared the editor, ‘have yet to learn our character. We should like to see the man, or body of men, the single sect or particular party, that would dare to chalk out our limits, or dictate our words, or hold us accountable for the soundness of our faith, or the spirit of our doctrines. The bare insinuation of such an attempt, where we are known, would be met with derision. We conduct a hireling press!—we shall see.’ [105]

Four weeks later, under the head of ‘Advice to Advisers,’ he made this further announcement:

‘The Editor of the Journal will receive advice gratuitously4 upon subjects relating to law, physic, and divinity—upon the best mode of fattening swine, and raising good crops of potatoes and turnips; but he begs leave most respectfully to decline any instruction as to the manner in which this paper should be conducted. If he were to gratify the different tastes, and adopt the different views of those few censors who presume to think that they best understand the duties of an editor, it is not probable that the public would be better satisfied with the result; and it is certain that every scrutator must have his separate sheet, embodying his separate notions. It is desirable that the motto of this paper should receive more attention, as it has not been hastily adopted, and will not be abandoned.’

He could not repress, at the outset, an expression of his regret that for the first six weeks the exigencies of the Presidential campaign would require him to devote so much space to politics, to the exclusion of other themes that were becoming dear to his heart; and it took the form of an apology, as if his readers must also regret the necessity:

‘We have dipped rather deeply into politics, this week,’ he5 wrote, ‘and must continue to do so a few weeks longer. The crisis which determines an event of greater magnitude and solemnity than has agitated this country since the formation of the Constitution, is rapidly approximating to a close; and it is proper that the people should read, reflect and inquire, before they give their final great decision. When the election is over, our literary and moral departments will exhibit a fulness and excellence commensurate to their importance.’

His promise with reference to the political course of the paper was faithfully kept, and the gentlemen who had invited him to come and vindicate Bennington and the State from the imputation of Jacksonism had no reason to complain of the heartiness with which he advocated the claims of Mr. Adams, or the vigor with which he denounced General Jackson and his followers. Jackson's high-handed and arbitrary acts in Louisiana [106] and Florida, his brutal murder of Indian prisoners in the latter Territory, his warlike tastes, his duelling propensities, and especially his sinfulness as a slaveholder and slave-trader, were all dwelt upon, and the demoralization sure to follow upon his accession to the Presidency and his introduction of the spoils system in our politics was predicted. Warning was also given of his certain hostility to any plan for the prohibition of slavery in the District of Columbia, rendering unavailing for four or eight years any efforts in that direction, and his defeat was urged, if only for that consideration. Mr. Adams's reelection was always assumed and predicted, and his able and successful administration warmly eulogized; but that the result was, after all, deemed doubtful, is evident from a brief editorial paragraph, entitled ‘Some Cause for Thankfulness,’ which appeared a few days before the election:

‘Whatever may be the result of the present tremendous6 conflict, we shall thank God on our bended knees that we have been permitted to denounce, as unworthy of the suffrages of a moral and religious people, a man whose hands are crimsoned with innocent blood, whose lips are full of profanity, who looks on “blood and carnage with philosophic composure” —a slaveholder, and, what is more iniquitous, a buyer and seller of human flesh—a military despot, who has broken the laws of his country—and one whose only recommendations are that he has fought many duels—filled many offices, and failed in all—achieved the battle of New Orleans, at the expense of constitutional rights—and that he possesses the fighting propensities and courage of a tiger. We care not how numerous may be his supporters: to be in the minority against him would be better than to receive the commendations of a large and deluded majority.’

After the election returns had indicated the overwhelming success of the Democrats and the election of Jackson, Mr. Garrison reviewed the result and its probable consequences, in three dignified articles, under the title of ‘The Politician’; the key to his treatment of the7 matter being given in the extract from Junius prefixed [107] to them. ‘I believe there is no man, however indifferent about the interests of this country, who will not readily confess that the situation to which we are now reduced, whether it has arisen from the violence of faction, or from an aberration of government, justifies the most melancholy apprehensions, and calls for the exertion of whatever wisdom or vigor is left among us.’ Some lines in blank verse, ‘To the American People,’ signed ‘A. O. B.,’ expressed in more impassioned phrase the editor's grief at the national disgrace. Beginning,

Where is your wisdom fled—or sense of shame—8
Or boasted virtue, strong in every siege?
Doth valor teach the head or mend the heart?
Is ignorance to legislate and rule,
And crime but lead the way to high renown?

he concluded with,

My country! oh my country! I could weep,
In agony of soul, hot, bloody tears
To wipe away the blemish on your name,
Fix'd foully by one fatal precedent.

The slavery question engaged his attention from the outset, and the flame kindled by Lundy now burned without cessation, and with ever-increasing intensity. In the very first number of the Journal, Mr. Garrison proposed the formation of anti-slavery societies in Vermont, and spoke of the ‘importance of petitioning Congress this session, in conjunction with our Southern brethren, for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.’ A few weeks later he recommended ‘the immediate 9 formation of an anti-slavery society in every considerable town in the twelve free States, for the purpose (among other things) of providing means for the transportation of such liberated slaves and free colored people as are desirous of emigrating to a more genial clime’; arguing that ‘if the Southern slaveholders will consent to part with their “property” without recompense, every other section of the Union is bound, by the principles of equity and interest, to sacrifice some money for the removal of the [108] curse.’ The scales of Colonization had not yet fallen from his eyes, but he went no further in support of the scheme than to make the above recommendation. His practical work, to petition Congress for the abolition of slavery in the nation's capital, was at once vigorously undertaken. In his second number he referred to the petition presented to Congress at its last session, signed by more than a thousand residents of the District (including all the District Judges), praying for abolition ‘at such time and in such manner as Congress might deem expedient,’ and suggested that a meeting of the citizens of Bennington should be immediately convened, to consider the subject. Acknowledging the receipt of a communication on slavery, he said: ‘It is time that a10 voice of remonstrance went forth from the North, that should peal in the ears of every slaveholder like a roar of thunder. . . . For ourselves, we are resolved to agitate this subject to the utmost; nothing but death shall prevent us from denouncing a crime which has no parallel in human depravity; we shall take high ground. The alarm must be perpetual.’

Four weeks later (November 7), and four days before the Presidential election, he succeeded in convening a meeting of citizens at the Academy, at which the following petition, written by himself, was read and adopted, and copies were ordered to be sent to the several towns in the State for signature, and to the newspapers for insertion. The Chairman of the meeting was Daniel Church, Esq., and the Secretary, James Ballard, the Principal of the Seminary, between whom and Mr. Garrison a warm friendship had sprung up.

To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of11 the United States of America, in Congress assembled:

The petition of the subscribers, inhabitants of the State of Vermont, humbly suggests to your honorable bodies the propriety of adopting some measures for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. [109]

Your petitioners deem it unnecessary to attempt to maintain, by elaborate arguments, that the existence of slavery is highly detrimental to the happiness, peace and prosperity of that nation in whose bosom and under whose auspices it is nourished; and especially, that it is inconsistent with the spirit of our government and laws. All this is readily admitted by every patriot and Christian. But the time has come when the sincerity of our professions should be evinced not by words merely.

The toleration of slavery in the District of Columbia, it is conceived, can be justified on no tenable grounds. On the contrary, so long as it continues, just so long will it be a reproach to our national character. This District is the property of the nation; its internal government, therefore, is a matter that concerns every individual. We are ashamed, when we know that the manacled slave is driven to market by the doors of our Capitol, and sold like a beast in the very place where are assembled the representatives of a free and Christian people.

On this subject, it is conceived, there can be no collision of. sentiment. The proposed abolition will interfere with no State rights. Beyond this District, Congress has no power to legislate—so far, at least, as slavery is concerned; but it can, by one act, efface this foul stain from our national reputation. It is gratifying to believe, that a large majority of the inhabitants residing in the District, and also of our more Southern brethren, are earnest for the abolition.

Your petitioners ask of your honorable bodies to liberate the slave as soon as his interest and welfare shall demand it. Your own wisdom and humanity will best suggest the manner in which his bonds may be safely broken.

Your petitioners deem it preposterous, that, while there is one half of the States in which slavery does not exist, and while a large majority of our white population are desirous of seeing it extirpated, this evil is suffered to canker in the vitals of the republic. We humbly pray your honorable bodies, therefore, not to let the present session of Congress pass, without giving this subject a serious and deliberate consideration.

And, as in duty bound, we will ever pray.

As all postmasters at that time enjoyed the franking privilege, and mail-matter could be sent to or by them free of postage, it involved no pecuniary burden [110] beyond the cost of paper to supply every postmaster in the State with a copy of this petition, with the request that he would obtain as many signatures in his town as convenient, or request the minister of the parish to do so, and return the same to the Editor of the Journal of the Times by or before the middle of December. That Mr. Garrison did not wait for the Bennington citizens to meet and endorse the petition before he sent it to the postmasters seems probable from the date appended to this request—October 20, 1828,—more than a fortnight before the meeting at the Academy. The postmasters in most of the towns responded nobly, and although some of the larger places, like Burlington, Montpelier, and Brattleboro, sent no returns, Mr. Garrison had the satisfaction of transmitting to the Representative of his 12 district in Congress a petition bearing 2352 names as the voice of Vermont in favor of freedom,—probably the most numerously-signed petition on the subject offered during that session. It was promptly presented on the13 day of its receipt (January 26, 1829), and referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia.

While hopeful that Congress would give the subject favorable consideration (and the passage by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, by a nearly unanimous vote, of a resolution requesting their Senators and Representatives in Congress to vote for abolition indicated Northern sympathy with the measure), Mr. Garrison foresaw the wrathful denunciations which the proposition would receive from the Southern members.

‘It requires no spirit of prophecy,’ he said, ‘to predict that14 it will create great opposition. An attempt will be made to frighten Northern “dough-faces,” as in the case of the Missouri question. There will be an abundance of furious declamation, menace and taunt. Are we therefore to approach the subject timidly—with half a heart—as if we were treading on forbidden ground? No, indeed—but earnestly, fearlessly, as becomes men who are determined to clear their country and themselves from the guilt of oppressing God's free and lawful creatures.’


The debate in Congress occurred on the 6th of January, 1829, when the Hon. Charles Miner, of Pennsylvania, introduced in the House of Representatives a preamble setting forth the iniquities and horrors of the slave-trade as carried on in the District, and the power and duty of Congress to legislate concerning it; and proposed resolutions that the Committee on the District be instructed to inquire into the subject, to provide such amendments to existing laws as should seem to them just, and furthermore to consider the expediency of providing by law for the gradual abolition of slavery itself therein. Mr. Miner supported his motion in an eloquent speech, and both resolutions were subsequently adopted by heavy majorities,—that on the slave-trade receiving two-thirds of the votes cast; and the other, concerning gradual emancipation, 114 votes against 66 in opposition. The friends of emancipation derived great encouragement from this, and felt mortified that any Northern members should have voted against the resolutions. Mr. Garrison was prompt to denounce and pillory the three New England representatives who were recreant to their duty, namely, Mr. Ripley of15 Maine and Mr. Harvey of New Hampshire, who voted against the consideration of the question, and Mr. Mallary of Vermont, who alone among the New England members opposed by his vote the resolution in favor of gradual emancipation in the District. The caustic comments of the Bennington editor on their action so stung Messrs. Ripley and Mallary that they addressed 16 personal letters to him in explanation and defence of it; but he declined to accept their excuses as valid, and branded Ripley and Harvey as Northern ‘dough-faces.’ Other New England newspapers echoed his indignant protest.

The report of the Committee to whom the resolutions were referred was presented on the 29th of January,17 and betrayed at once the determination of the South to allow no interference whatsoever with slavery in the District. [112] All agitation of the subject was deprecated as mischievous and tending to insubordination and restlessness on the part of the slaves, ‘who would otherwise remain comparatively happy and contented’; emancipation in the District would disturb the stability of affairs not only in the adjoining slave States, but throughout the South; the inhabitants of the District ought not to be deprived of the rights of property which had been theirs under the laws of Virginia and Maryland. Moreover, the traffic in slaves constantly going on in the District was actually beneficial, in that the transportation of slaves to the South was one way of gradually diminishing the evil complained of; ‘and although violence might sometimes be done to their feelings in the separation of families, yet it should be some consolation to those whose feelings were interested in their behalf, to know that their condition was more frequently bettered, and their minds [made] happier by the exchange’! ‘It is precisely such a paper,’ declared Mr. Garrison in his18 review of it, ‘as one might naturally suppose would be presented to a club of slaveholders assembled together to quiet their consciences by arguing that the existence of the evil would be less hazardous and demoralizing than its removal’; and he pronounced it ‘the most refined cruelty, the worst apology for the most relentless tyranny.’ It was a crushing blow to all further effort at that session. One month later, Andrew Jackson and the Democratic party came into power, and Congress passed no further resolutions in favor of freedom in the District until the secession of the South made it possible for a Northern Congress to remove the blot of slavery from the nation's capital.

Slave-hunting on Northern soil was so common an occurrence in 1828 that the frequent recapture and return to bondage of the poor fugitives excited scarcely any notice, and even such tragedies as the attempted suicide,19 at Rochester, N. Y., of one who preferred death to slavery, and the execution, in southern Pennsylvania, of [113] another for having killed the wretch who had captured and was carrying him back to the South, were mentioned in the briefest manner and without comment. The North submitted without protest to the obligations imposed upon it by the slave-catching clause of the Constitution and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. In alluding to the anti-Masonic excitement then agitating the country, in consequence of the disappearance of Morgan, Mr. Garrison exclaimed: ‘All this fearful commotion has20 arisen from the abduction of one man. More than two millions of unhappy beings are groaning out their lives in bondage, and scarcely a pulse quickens, or a heart leaps, or a tongue pleads in their behalf. 'Tis a trifling affair, which concerns nobody. Oh for the spirit that now rages, to break every fetter of oppression!’

There was not a dull or unattractive number of the Journal of the Times, and a perusal of its file inclines one to believe the assertion of Horace Greeley that it was21 ‘about the ablest and most interesting newspaper ever issued in Vermont.’ One column was always devoted to the subject of Temperance, and in his second number Mr. Garrison urged the claims to support of the National Philanthropist, which had now reverted to Mr. Collier's hands, and was in danger of sinking. His interest in the local temperance society was also manifested. The subject of war and the exertions of William Ladd22 in behalf of peace were frequently alluded to in the Journal, as they had been in the Philanthropist and Free Press; Mr. Ladd having visited and spoken in Newburyport while Mr. Garrison was editing the latter paper, and found in him a ready listener. Much space [114] was devoted also to the movement with which, as has been already stated, he heartily sympathized, against carrying the mails on the Sabbath. His orthodoxy 23 betrayed itself in this and in other ways, and an incidental reference to the ‘novel, illogical, subtle, and 24 inconclusive arguments’ of a discourse of Rev. John Pierpont's, to which he had listened some months before, elicited a letter from that gentleman, who felt that injustice had been done him. Mr. Garrison not only printed the letter, but gave copious extracts from the discourse, with comments, at the same time declaring that he enthusiastically admired everything in Mr. Pierpont but his theology. ‘As a beautiful, finished, and elegant writer, I know not his superior in the twenty-four States; and his taste in poetry and literature is before any other man's.’ Mr. Pierpont having thanked him for his manliness in sending him a copy of the Journal containing the strictures in question, the editor replied: ‘I have never said aught in print against any individual without transmitting to him a copy of my remarks—and I never shall.’

That he went regularly to church each Sunday is to be inferred from this paragraph in the Journal:

‘We have suffered for two or three Sabbaths excessively25 from the cold—and so have many others. Two stoves, and no fire, led us to conclude that the Irishman's plan had been adopted, who, on learning one stove saved half the wood, said he would buy two and save the whole. Provision, we are glad to learn, has been made for warming the meeting-house, and people may now attend worship without suffering from the cold.’

Mr. Garrison's muse was active during these fall and winter months, and no less than fifteen pieces of verse by ‘A. O. B.’—sonnets, blank verse, etc.—appeared in the poetry column between October and March, besides a longer poem on his birthday (supposed to be his twenty-fourth, but really his twenty-third), which followed an editorial on the same theme. One of the sonnets was inscribed to his spectacles, and celebrated [115] their praise, and most of the other pieces were amatory, descriptive, sentimental, or patriotic. Mrs. Hemans continued to be a never-failing source of poetic supply, but only four poems by Whittier appeared, the poet being now engaged in editing the American Manufacturer at Boston, a paper which had been recently established by Mr. Collier in the interest of manufactures and the ‘American System.’ He had accepted the position by the advice of Mr. Garrison, and though he received scarcely any other compensation than his board at ‘Parson Collier's,’ he did not regret the experience, as it opened the way to other and more congenial editorial engagements. ‘Our friend Whittier,’ wrote Mr. 26 Garrison, in introducing a poem of his, ‘seems determined to elicit our best panegyrics, and not ours only, but also those of the public. His genius and situation no more correspond with each other than heaven and earth. But let him not despair. Fortune will come, ere long, “with both hands full.” ’ Another young editor who was noticed and commended in the Journal was George D. Prentice, then conducting the New England Weekly Review at Hartford, in which he was, a year later, to be succeeded by Whittier; but while praising his vigor and independence, Mr. Garrison also criticized the tendency to coarseness which even then betrayed itself in his writings.

The winter which he spent in Bennington was a very happy one to Mr. Garrison. He was relieved, from the outset, of all pecuniary responsibility and anxiety, the gentlemen who had invited him there assuming the financial risks of the enterprise, while they gave him absolute discretion and independence in the editorial management of the Journal. The literary merit of the paper, and the fearless and aggressive tone of its leading articles, attracted instant attention, and it was speedily recognized by the editorial fraternity as one of the ablest and best of the country newspapers. Beginning without a subscriber, it counted six hundred on its list at the end [116] of the first week, which indicated the dissatisfaction felt towards the recreant Gazette. The latter paper sought to ridicule the ‘Boston man’ who had been imported to start an opposition paper, and made the most of the prejudice which some of the Vermonters felt towards the city upstart who had presumed to come and enlighten them as to their duties, and who was thought to be over-nice in matters of dress;27 but the editor of the Journal rarely deigned to notice the attacks on his paper, and never those on himself. He quickly won friends whose admiration and love he never lost, and who attached themselves to him with the loyal devotion which characterized those who followed his leadership in after years. Chief among these, as already mentioned, was James Ballard, the Principal of the ‘Bennington English and Classical Seminary for Young Gentlemen and Ladies,’ an institution which was the pride of the town, and which attracted pupils from a considerable distance. He was ‘a man born to impress and inspire,’ and a most successful teacher, combining28 firmness with gentleness, physical with moral courage, enthusiasm and energy with a tender, affectionate, and deeply religious nature. The two men were irresistibly attracted to one another, and spent much time together, discussing projects for the advancement of the race; and when Mr. Ballard had a controversy with the Academy Committee, which led to his retiring and setting up a rival establishment, the Journal warmly sustained his cause.29

Mr. Garrison's home in Bennington was at the boardinghouse of Deacon Erwin Safford, which was patronized [117] chiefly by pupils of the Seminary from abroad, and was near his office, on the stage road to Troy. The printingoffice of the Journal faced the village green, and its front windows looked eastward, across the valley in which lies the village of East Bennington, to the great wall of the Green Mountains, while the rear windows commanded a view of the beautiful Mount Anthony. Ever a passionate lover of nature, Mr. Garrison's enthusiasm over the scenery around Bennington could scarcely find expression in words. His spirits were exuberant, and he seemed each week to be more in love with his adopted State, and to regard his removal to Vermont as a wise and fortunate step. ‘For moral worth, virtue and 30 diligence,’ he exclaimed, ‘we would not exchange it for any State out of New England’; and he praised the Vermont people as possessed of ‘large, sound, roundabout sense,’ and declared that ‘a more hardy, independent, frank, generous race do not exist.’ To a correspondent who had expressed fears about the climate, he declaimed in a manner which would have done credit to a native:

‘Our Vermont climate against the world for a better! . . .31 O, there's nothing comparable to our clear blue sky, arching the high and eternal ramparts of nature which tower up on every side:—talk as you may of the dreamy, unsubstantial atmosphere of Italy, and the more vigorous one of Switzerland.—And, moreover, such stars! so large, and gorgeous, and soul-overpowering—painting the heavens with such glorious and never-fading colors! We have been so long habituated to look up through the congregated smokes of a city, and to see such dirty and discolored clouds, with here and there a fainting star just visible over the top of some tall spire or elongated chimney, that here we inhabit another clime, and behold another creation. The competition of a few moments with one of our mountain gales, as it comes sweeping down to the plain, rough and kind as the heart of a Yankee, will put every drop of blood in motion, and strengthen every limb.’

And he apostrophized the Green Mountains in the following sonnet: [118]

Stupendous monuments of God's right hand!32
Lifting your summits upwards to the skies,
And holding converse with their mysteries,—
There dress'd in living garniture ye stand,
The pride and wonder of our native land.
My soul is welling to my very eyes—
My every pulse leaps with a strange surprise,
As now your huge dimensions I command.
O! ye do shame the proudest works of Art,—
Tower, temple, pyramid and chiselled pile;
For these are but the pigmy feats of Toil,
The playthings of Decay—But ye impart
Lessons of infinite wisdom to the heart,
And stand in nature's strength, which Time cannot despoil.

So inspiring was the free mountain air that all worthy and noble objects seemed easy and possible of accomplishment, and when, at the beginning of 1829, Mr. Garrison indulged in a retrospect of the past year, and looked forward to the work of the new one, the election of Jackson was the only shadow upon the picture, and all else was bright and cheering to his vision.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Lundy at Baltimore was anxiously watching the course of his young disciple, whose heart he had seemed to touch, and whose soul he had kindled, beyond that of any other man whom he had encountered in all his pilgrimages, north, south, east, or west. There is a pathetic picture of his past disappointments and his present anxious hope in the greeting which he gave the Journal of the Times in the Genius:

The editor of this paper has shewn a laudable disposition33 to advocate the claims of the poor distressed African upon our sympathy and justice; and if he continue to do so, his talents will render him a most valuable coadjutor in this holy undertaking. Greatly, indeed, shall we rejoice, if even one, faithful, like “Abdiel,” can be “among the faithless found,” who, after having professed loudly, have generally abandoned their post, and left the unfortunate negro to his fate. There are many who are ready to acknowledge—O yes, they will acknowledge (good honest souls!) with due frankness and alacrity—that something should be done for the abolition of slavery. They will, [119] also, pen a paragraph—perhaps an article, or so—and then— the subject is exhausted!! They cannot, for the lives of them, discover how the condition of the colored race can be meliorated by their exertions—(neither can any one else, unless they make themselves acquainted with the subject, and muster up virtue and courage to act, as other reformers have done)—and they retire from the field of labor, many of them, ere one drop of sweat has earned the trifling reward of a cent. We will not, however, pursue this part of the subject, lest our friend Garrison may think that we are about to insinuate a vote of censure against him, in anticipation! In truth, we do hope that he will remain true to the cause. Though he may not adopt the language which the immortal Cowper puts in the mouth of his perfect patriot, viz.:

In Freedom's field advancing his firm foot,34
He plants it on the line that Justice draws,
And will prevail, or perish in her cause;

still, we trust he will always be found on the side of humanity, and actively engaged in the holy contest of virtue against vice— philanthropy against cruelty—liberty against oppression. We also hope and trust that, unlike many others, he will be enabled to see that argument and useful exertion, on the subject of African Emancipation, can never be exhausted until the system of slavery itself be totally annihilated. As well might a lukewarm reformer have queried the Apostle Paul, in his days, relative to the exhausting of his argument, as for a short-sighted philanthropist to propound a similar question respecting the abolition of slavery now.

‘We make the foregoing extract,’ rejoined Mr. 35 Garrison, in copying it in the Journal, ‘for the purpose of assuring the editor that our zeal in the cause of emancipation suffers no diminution. Before God and our country, we give our pledge that the liberation of the enslaved Africans shall always be uppermost in our pursuits. The people of New England are interested in this matter, and they must be aroused from their lethargy as by a trumpet-call. They shall not quietly slumber while we have the management of a press, or strength to hold a pen.’

Lundy was soon convinced by the frequency and fervor of Mr. Garrison's articles on slavery, and by his [120] energy in circulating the petitions to Congress, that his baptism in the faith was complete, and he resolved to invite him to come to Baltimore and assist him in the publication of the Genius. So, taking his staff in hand, he walked all the way from Baltimore to Bennington, to lay his plans before Mr. Garrison.36 He proposed that the Genius should be enlarged and changed from a monthly to a weekly paper, and that the younger partner should be the resident editor, and conduct the paper while he (Lundy) travelled through the country to obtain subscribers for it. The appeal was successful, and Garrison, accepting the call with all the solemnity with which Lundy urged it upon him, agreed to leave Bennington at the expiration of his engagement and prepare himself for the new enterprise.

Among his last editorials in the Journal were two vigorous articles in review of the correspondence which had just taken place between President Adams and 37 certain prominent Federalists of Boston, relative to the imputed disposition of their party leaders to favor the separation of New England from the rest of the Union during the years 1808-1814; the correspondence being copied in full in the Journal. The articles are noteworthy only as showing that his interest in the old feuds of the Federal party had by no means died out, for he now warmly sustained the cause of the Boston gentlemen against the more or less well-founded accusations of the retiring President.

The number for March 27, 1829, completed the sixth month of the Journal, and the editor's ‘Valediction’ appeared in it without previous note or intimation of any kind as to his intended retirement. We give it in full: [121]

Hereafter the editorial charge of this paper will devolve on another person. I am invited to occupy a broader field, and to engage in a higher enterprise: that field embraces the whole country—that enterprise is in behalf of the slave population.

To my apprehension, the subject of slavery involves interests of greater moment to our welfare as a republic, and demands a more prudent and minute investigation, than any other which has come before the American people since the Revolutionary struggle—than all others which now occupy their attention. No body of men, on the face of the earth, deserve their charities, and prayers, and united assistance, so much as the slaves of this country; and yet they are almost entirely neglected. It is true, many a cheek burns with shame in view of our national inconsistency, and many a heart bleeds for the miserable African; it is true, examples of disinterested benevolence and individual sacrifices are numerous, particularly in the Southern States; but no systematic, vigorous and successful measures have been made to overthrow this fabric of oppression. I trust in God that I may be the humble instrument of breaking at least one chain, and restoring one captive to liberty: it will amply repay a life of severe toil.

It has been my aim to make the Journal of the Times actively philanthropic and uniformly virtuous; neither to lessen its dignity by vain trifling and coarse witticism, nor to impair its interest by a needless austerity of tone and blind inaptitude of matter; but rather to judiciously blend innocent amusement with excellent instruction. I have endeavored to maintain a motto which is superior to the prevailing errors and mischievous maxims of the age. Reason has prevailed with me more than popular opinion. In portraying the criminality and disastrous tendency of War—in exposing the complicated evils of Intemperance, and advocating the principle of entire abstinence—in denying the justice and lawfulness of Slavery—in defending the Sabbath from a violation by law—the weight of public sentiment has been against me. This nation is not eminently pacific in its principles—the recent triumph of the sword over the pen gives clear 38 demonstration of this fact. It is not sober in its habits—and proofs are multiplied all over the land, in every city, town and village, in every accidental gathering of large bodies of men together, and in almost every family. It is not willing to abandon its traffic in human flesh—or the foul blemish upon its reputation would no longer remain,—an immense shadow covering the [122] sunlight of our fame. It is not virtuous in its practices—or the Sabbath would be respected by its officers and representatives.

I look upon the station of an editor as a proud and responsible one. It should never be filled by a political adventurer or a loose moralist. It is not beneath the dignity of the highest and most gifted man among us. For many years, indeed, its reputation has been sullied by the conduct, character, and principles of many who have aspired to fill it; but a new race of editors, with better qualifications and nobler views, are entering the ranks. The rapid growth of public intelligence demands a corresponding improvement of the press. An idle or lethargic conductor of a newspaper is a dead weight upon community. Men of industry are wanted, who will sustain every moral enterprise, and diffuse a healthful influence far and wide, and fearlessly maintain the truth.

The first number of this paper was issued without a subscriber or the previous circulation of any prospectus. It has now completed six months of its existence. Its patronage is very respectable, and accessions to the subscription list are made weekly. Whatever may have been its faults or merits, no pains will hereafter be spared to make it worthy of a wide circulation. I recommend its industrious and enterprising proprietor to the substantial encouragement of a generous people.39

My task is done. In all my efforts, I have sought the approbation of the wise and good. Whether it has been won or lost, my conscience is satisfied.

The last act of the retiring editor was to commend to his readers the speech made by Henry Clay at a dinner given him in Washington on the termination of his service as Secretary of State, in which he had reflected severely on the incoming President. ‘Henry Clay,’ he declared, ‘at this moment stands on a higher eminence than he ever before occupied. His attitude is sublime— his front undaunted—his spirit unsubdued. It is impossible to read his noble speech without mingled emotions of pride, indignation, reverence, and delight.’ And he thereupon proceeded to nominate him as a candidate [123] for the next Presidential term, saying, ‘We believe nothing but death can prevent his election.’

The Gazette was of course exultant over the departure of the rival editor, and the labors of ‘My Lloyd Garrison’ were reviewed in a satirical communication signed ‘A Yankee.’40 ‘Lest unworthy motives should be attributed to us,’ said the writer, ‘we think proper to declare beforehand our high admiration of his talents, and entire confidence in his integrity and patriotism.’ And then followed this bit of description:

‘My Lloyd is a young man, and an immigrant from the41 “Bay State.” A pair of silver-mounted spectacles ride elegantly across his nose, and his figure and appearance are not unlike that of a dandy. He is, withal, a great egotist, and, when talking of himself, displays the pert loquacity of a blue-jay. . . . In regard to the affairs of the world, My Lloyd labors under a strange delusion, insomuch that he has taken upon himself to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, reform the judiciary and militia of the State, and last, though not least, to impart the graces of a Boston dandy to the unpolished natives of our happy State.’

These parting gibes elicited no more attention from their subject than had others which appeared earlier, accusing him of coming to breed strife in Bennington, and styling him ‘Lloyd Garrulous’; and as soon as he could close up his affairs he started for Boston.42

Arrived there (in April, 1829), he again went to Mr. Collier's boarding-house to remain awhile, Lundy having meanwhile gone to Hayti with twelve emancipated slaves from Maryland, who had been entrusted to him for transportation to and settlement in that country. [124]

The Philanthropist was now edited, and ably edited, by William Goodell (who had removed from Providence to Boston in order to merge his Investigator with it), and was printed by James Brown Yerrinton.43 Mr. Goodell had become thoroughly aroused on the slavery question, and he and Mr. Garrison took many a walk together on Boston Common, discussing anti-slavery projects. They also called upon a number of prominent ministers to secure their cooperation in the cause, and were sanguine in their expectations of important assistance from them.44

In June, Mr. Garrison accepted an invitation from the Congregational societies of the city to deliver a Fourth of July address at Park-Street Church, in the interests of the Colonization Society, and announced as his theme, ‘Dangers to the Nation.’ Ten days before the Fourth a malicious attempt to annoy and embarrass him was made, which he described in the following letter to a friend in Newburyport:

W. L. Garrison to Jacob Horton.45

Boston, Saturday, June 27, 1829.
My Dear Jacob: I am very reluctantly obliged to solicit a46 favor of you, which, if granted, shall be cancelled in a few weeks.

On Wednesday, the clerk of a militia company, (a poor, worthless scamp,) presented a bill of $4, for failure of appearance on May muster, and at the choice of officers. The fact is, I had been in the city but a fortnight, from my Vermont residence, when the notification came; and, as I expected to leave in a very short time, I neglected to get a certificate of my incapacity to train on account of short-sightedness. Moreover, [125] though I have been repeatedly warned since I first came to the city in 1826, yet never, until now, have I been called upon to pay a fine, or to give any reasons for my non-appearance; and I therefore concluded that I should again be let alone.

I told the fellow the circumstances of the case—that I had never trained—that my sight had always excused me—and that, in fine, I should not pay his bill. He wished me a ‘good morning,’ and in the course of the day sent a writ by the hands of a constable, charging me to appear at the Police Court on the 4th of July, and shew cause why I refused to pay the fine! Of course, there is no alternative but to ‘shell out,’ or to fee a lawyer to get me clear, which would be no saving in expense.

The writ and fine will be $5 or $6. I have not a farthing by me, and I shall need a trifle for the 4th. Can you make it convenient to loan me $8, for two or three weeks? I am pained to make this request, but my present dilemma is unpleasant.47

My address, for the Fourth, is almost completed; and, on the whole, I am tolerably well satisfied with the composition. The delivery will occupy me, probably, a little over an hour—too long, to be sure, for the patience of the audience, but not for the subject. I cannot condense it. Its complexion is sombre, and its animadversions severe. I think it will offend some, though not reasonably. The assembly bids fair to be overwhelming. My very knees knock together at the thought of speaking before so large a concourse. What, then, will be my feelings in the pulpit?

The public expectation, I find, is great. I am certain it will be disappointed; but I shall do my best. You shall know the result.

Rev. Mr. Pierpont honored me with a visit a few days since. He is an accomplished man, and his friendship worth cultivating. He has promised to give [me] an original ode for that day; and says he shall take a seat in some corner of Parkstreet [126] Church to hear the address—a thing that he has not done for many years.

I expect to get a journeyman's berth immediately after the 4th; but, if I do not, I shall take the stage for Newburyport, and dig on at the case for Mr. Allen. I am somewhat in a hobble, in a pecuniary point of view, and must work like a tiger. My fingers have not lost their nimbleness, and my pride I have sent on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

By answering this on Tuesday, by the driver, you will confer another obligation on

Yours, with much affection,

Direct to me at No. 30, Federal-St., Boston.

It is to be presumed that the desired loan was promptly made, for at four o'clock on the afternoon of July 4, Mr. Garrison rose to address an audience which filled Park-Street Church and included Whittier, Goodell, and John Pierpont, whose spirited hymn (‘With thy pure dews and rains’) was ready for the occasion. It was sung now under the direction of Lowell Mason; and was heard afterwards at many an anti-slavery meeting during the48 thirty years conflict, besides being included in some church hymnals, in which the following stinging verses must have made it especially serviceable and effective:

Hearest thou, O God, those chains,
     Clanking on Freedom's plains,
By Christians wrought!
     Them who those chains have worn,
Christians from home have torn,
     Christians have hither borne,
Christians have bought!

Cast down, great God, the fanes
     That, to unhallowed gains,
Round us have risen—
     Temples whose priesthood pore
Moses and Jesus o'er,
     Then bolt the black man's door,
The poor man's prison!


Mr. Garrison's Address, which must have occupied considerably more than an hour in delivery, was subsequently printed in the National Philanthropist and Investigator of July 22 and 29, and has thus been preserved to show the fulness and maturity of the orator's powers in this, his twenty-fourth year, and his thorough moral and intellectual equipment for the warfare upon which he now deliberately entered. Its importance in this view must justify the considerable extracts from it which are here given, beginning with his opening sentences:

It is natural that the return of a day which established the49 liberties of a brave people should be hailed by them with more than ordinary joy; and it is their duty as Christians and patriots to celebrate it with signal tokens of thanksgiving.

Fifty-three years ago, the Fourth of July was a proud day for our country. It clearly and accurately defined the rights of man; it made no vulgar alterations in the established usages of society; it presented a revelation adapted to the common sense of mankind; it vindicated the omnipotence of public opinion over the machinery of kingly government; it shook, as with the voice of a great earthquake, thrones which were seemingly propped up with Atlantean pillars; it gave an impulse to the heart of the world, which yet thrills to its extremities.

The orator then proceeded to speak of the degeneracy of the national jubilee, from an occasion distinguished for rationality of feeling and purity of purpose to a day marked by reckless and profligate behavior, vain boasting, and the foolish assumption that no dangers could ever assail or threaten the republic. To him the prevalence of infidelity, the compulsory desecration of the ‘holy Sabbath,’ the ravages of intemperance, the profligacy of the press, the corruptness of party politics, were all sources of danger and causes for alarm; and he briefly considered them before he took up slavery, the main theme of his discourse. His words relating to political corruption are neither trite nor inapt now:

I speak not as a partisan or an opponent of any man or measures, when I say, that our politics are rotten to the core. [128] We boast of our freedom, who go shackled to the polls, year after year, by tens, and hundreds, and thousands! We talk of free agency, who are the veriest machines—the merest automata—in the hands of unprincipled jugglers! We prate of integrity, and virtue, and independence, who sell our birthright for office, and who, nine times in ten, do not get Esau's bargain—no, not even a mess of pottage! Is it republicanism to say, that the majority can do no wrong? Then I am not a republican. Is it aristocracy to say, that the people sometimes shamefully abuse their high trust? Then I am an aristocrat. It is not the appreciation, but the abuse of liberty, to withdraw altogether from the polls, or to visit them merely as a matter of form, without carefully investigating the merits of candidates. The republic does not bear a charmed life: our prescriptions administered through the medium of the ballotbox—the mouth of the political body—may kill or cure, according to the nature of the disease and our wisdom in applying the remedy. It is possible that a people may bear the title of freemen who execute the work of slaves. To the dullest observers of the signs of the times, it must be apparent that we are rapidly approximating to this condition. . . .

But there is another evil, which, if we had to contend against nothing else, should make us quake for the issue. It is a gangrene preying upon our vitals—an earthquake rumbling under our feet—a mine accumulating materials for a national catastrophe. It should make this a day of fasting and prayer, not of boisterous merriment and idle pageantry—a day of great lamentation, not of congratulatory joy. It should spike every cannon, and haul down every banner. Our garb should be sackcloth—our heads bowed in the dust—our supplications, for the pardon and assistance of Heaven.

Last week this city was made breathless by a trial of considerable magnitude. The court chamber was inundated for hours, day after day, with a dense and living tide which swept along like the rush of a mountain torrent. Tiers of human bodies were piled up to the walls, with almost miraculous condensation and ingenuity. It seemed as if men abhorred a vacuum equally with Nature: they would suspend themselves, as it were, by a nail, and stand upon air with the aid of a peg. Although it was a barren, ineloquent subject, and the crowd immense, there was no perceptible want of interest—no evidence of impatience. The cause was important, involving the reputation of a distinguished citizen. There was a struggle for [129] mastery between two giants—a test of strength in tossing mountains of law. The excitement was natural.50

I stand up here in a more solemn court, to assist in a far greater cause; not to impeach the character of one man, but of a whole people; not to recover the sum of a hundred thousand dollars, but to obtain the liberation of two millions of wretched, degraded beings, who are pining in hopeless bondage—over whose sufferings scarcely an eye weeps, or a heart melts, or a tongue pleads either to God or man. I regret that a better advocate had not been found, to enchain your attention and to warm your blood. Whatever fallacy, however, may appear in the argument, there is no flaw in the indictment; what the speaker lacks, the cause will supply.

Sirs, I am not come to tell you that slavery is a curse, debasing in its effect, cruel in its operation, fatal in its continuance. The day and the occasion require no such revelation. I do not claim the discovery as my own, that “all men are born equal,” and that among their inalienable rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Were I addressing any other than a free and Christian assembly, the enforcement of this truth might be pertinent. Neither do I intend to analyze the horrors of slavery for your inspection, nor to freeze your blood with authentic recitals of savage cruelty. Nor will time allow me to explore even a furlong of that immense wilderness of suffering which remains unsubdued in our land. I take it for granted that the existence of these evils is acknowledged, if not rightly understood. My object is to define and enforce our duty, as Christians and Philanthropists.

On a subject so exhaustless, it will be impossible, in the moiety of an address, to unfold all the facts which are necessary to its full development. In view of it, my heart swells up like a living fountain, which time cannot exhaust, for it is perpetual. Let this be considered as the preface of a noble work, which your inventive sympathies must elaborate and complete.

I assume as distinct and defensible propositions,

I. That the slaves of this country, whether we consider their moral, intellectual or social condition, are preeminently entitled to the prayers, and sympathies, and charities, of the [130] American people; and their claims for redress are as strong as those of any Americans could be in a similar condition.

II. That, as the free States—by which I mean nonslave-holding States—are constitutionally involved in the guilt of slavery, by adhering to a national compact that sanctions it; and in the danger, by liability to be called upon for aid in case of insurrection; they have the right to remonstrate against its continuance, and it is their duty to assist in its overthrow.

III. That no justificative plea for the perpetuity of slavery can be found in the condition of its victims; and no barrier against our righteous interference, in the laws which authorize the buying, selling and possessing of slaves, nor in the hazard of a collision with slaveholders.

IV. That education and freedom will elevate our colored population to a rank with the white—making them useful, intelligent and peaceable citizens.

In the first place, it will be readily admitted, that it is the duty of every nation primarily to administer relief to its own necessities, to cure its own maladies, to instruct its own children, and to watch over its own interests. He is “worse than an infidel” who neglects his own household, and squanders his earnings upon strangers; and the policy of that nation is unwise which seeks to proselyte other portions of the globe at the expense of its safety and happiness. Let me not be misunderstood. My benevolence is neither contracted nor selfish. I pity that man whose heart is not larger than a whole continent. I despise the littleness of that patriotism which blusters only for its own rights, and, stretched to its utmost dimensions, scarcely covers its native territory; which adopts as its creed the right to act independently, even to the verge of licentiousness, without restraint, and to tyrannize wherever it can with impunity. This sort of patriotism is common. I suspect the reality, and deny the productiveness, of that piety which confines its operations to a particular spot—if that spot be less than the whole earth; nor scoops out, in every direction, new channels for the waters of life. Christian charity, while it “begins at home,” goes abroad in search of misery. It is as copious as the sun in heaven. It does not, like the Nile, make a partial inundation, and then withdraw; but it perpetually overflows, and fertilizes every barren spot. It is restricted only by the exact number of God's suffering creatures. But I mean to say, that, while we are aiding and instructing foreigners, we ought not to forget our own degraded countrymen; that neither [131] duty nor honesty requires us to defraud ourselves that we may enrich others.

The condition of the slaves, in a religious point of view, is deplorable, entitling them to a higher consideration, on our part, than any other race; higher than the Turks or Chinese, for they have the privileges of instruction; higher than the Pagans, for they are not dwellers in a gospel land; higher than our red men of the forest, for we do not bind them with gyves, nor treat them as chattels.

And here let me ask, What has Christianity done, by direct effort, for our slave population? Comparatively nothing. She has explored the isles of the ocean for objects of commiseration; but, amazing stupidity! she can gaze without emotion on a multitude of miserable beings at home, large enough to constitute a nation of freemen, whom tyranny has heathenized by law. In her public services they are seldom remembered, and in her private donations they are forgotten. From one end of the country to the other, her charitable societies form golden links of benevolence, and scatter their contributions like raindrops over a parched heath; but they bring no sustenance to the perishing slave. The blood of souls is upon her garments, yet she heeds not the stain. The clankings of the prisoner's chains strike upon her ear, but they cannot penetrate her heart.

I have said that the claims of the slaves for redress are as strong as those of any Americans could be, in a similar condition. Does any man deny the position? The proof, then, is found in the fact, that a very large proportion of our colored population were born on our soil, and are therefore entitled to all the privileges of American citizens. This is their country by birth, not by adoption. Their children possess the same inherent and unalienable rights as ours, and it is a crime of the blackest dye to load them with fetters.

Every Fourth of July, our Declaration of Independence is produced, with a sublime indignation, to set forth the tyranny of the mother country, and to challenge the admiration of the world. But what a pitiful detail of grievances does this document present, in comparison with the wrongs which our slaves endure! In the one case, it is hardly the plucking of a hair from the head; in the other, it is the crushing of a live body on the wheel—the stings of the wasp contrasted with the tortures of the Inquisition. Before God, I must say, that such a glaring contradiction as exists between our creed and practice the annals of six thousand years cannot parallel. In view of it, I [132] am ashamed of my country. I am sick of our unmeaning declamation in praise of liberty and equality; of our hypocritical cant about the unalienable rights of man. I could not, for my right hand, stand up before a European assembly, and exult that I am an American citizen, and denounce the usurpations of a kingly government as wicked and unjust; or, should I make the attempt, the recollection of my country's barbarity and despotism would blister my lips, and cover my cheeks with burning blushes of shame.

Will this be termed a rhetorical flourish? Will any man coldly accuse me of intemperate zeal? I will borrow, then, a ray of humanity from one of the brightest stars in our American galaxy, whose light will gather new effulgence to the end of time. “This, sirs, is a cause that would be dishonored and betrayed if I contented myself with appealing only to the understanding. It is too cold, and its processes are too slow for the occasion. I desire to thank God that, since he has given me an intellect so fallible, he has impressed upon me an instinct that is sure. On a question of shame and honor—liberty and oppression—reasoning is sometimes useless, and worse. I feel the decision in my pulse: if it throws no light upon the brain, it kindles a fire at the heart.” . . .

I come to my second proposition:—the right of the free51 States to remonstrate against the continuance, and to assist in the overthrow of slavery.

This, I am aware, is a delicate subject, surrounded with many formidable difficulties. But if delay only adds to its intricacy, wherefore shun an immediate investigation? I know that we, of the North, affectedly believe that we have no local interest in the removal of this great evil; that the slave States can take care of themselves, and that any proffered assistance, on our part, would be rejected as impertinent, dictatorial or meddlesome; and that we have no right to lift up even a note of remonstrance. But I believe that these opinions are crude, preposterous, dishonorable, unjust. Sirs, this is a business in which, as members of one great family, we have a common interest; but we take no responsibility, either individually or collectively. Our hearts are cold—our blood stagnates in our veins. We act, in relation to the slaves, as if they were something lower than the brutes that perish.

On this question, I ask no support from the injunction of Holy Writ, which says:— “therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” I throw aside the common [133] dictates of humanity. I assert the right of the free States to demand a gradual abolition of slavery, because, by its continuance, they participate in the guilt thereof, and are threatened with ultimate destruction; because they are bound to watch over the interests of the whole country, without reference to territorial divisions; because their white population is nearly double that of the slave States, and the voice of this overwhelming majority should be potential; because they are now deprived of their just influence in the councils of the nation; because it is absurd and anti-republican to suffer property to be represented as men, and vice versa.52 Because it gives the South an unjust ascendancy over other portions of territory, and a power which may be perverted on every occasion. . . .

Now I say that, on the broad system of equal rights, this monstrous inequality should no longer be tolerated. If it cannot be speedily put down—not by force, but by fair persuasion; if we are always to remain shackled by unjust Constitutional provisions, when the emergency that imposed them has long since passed away; if we must share in the guilt and danger of destroying the bodies and souls of men, as the price of our Union; if the slave States will haughtily spurn our assistance, and refuse to consult the general welfare; then the fault is not ours if a separation eventually take place. . . .

It may be objected, that the laws of the slave States form insurmountable barriers to any interference on our part.

Answer. I grant that we have not the right, and I trust not the disposition, to use coercive measures. But do these laws hinder our prayers, or obstruct the flow of our sympathies? Cannot our charities alleviate the condition of the slave, and perhaps break his fetters? Can we not operate upon public sentiment, (the lever that can move the moral world,) by way of remonstrance, advice, or entreaty? Is Christianity so powerful that she can tame the red men of our forests, and abolish the Burman caste, and overthrow the gods of Paganism, and liberate lands over which the darkness of Superstition has lain for ages; and yet so weak, in her own dwelling-place, that she can make no impression upon her civil code? Can she contend successfully with cannibals, and yet be conquered by her own children?

Suppose that, by a miracle, the slaves should suddenly become white. Would you shut your eyes upon their sufferings, and calmly talk of Constitutional limitations? No; your [134] voice would peal in the ears of the taskmasters like deep thunder; you would carry the Constitution by force, if it could not be taken by treaty; patriotic assemblies would congregate at the corners of every street; the old Cradle of Liberty would rock to a deeper tone than ever echoed therein at British aggression; the pulpit would acquire new and unusual eloquence from our holy religion. The argument, that these white slaves are degraded, would not then obtain. You would say, it is enough that they are white, and in bondage, and they ought immediately to be set free. You would multiply your schools of instruction, and your temples of worship, and rely on them for security. . . .

But the plea is prevalent, that any interference by the free States, however benevolent or cautious it might be, would only irritate and inflame the jealousies of the South, and retard the cause of emancipation. If any man believes that slavery can be abolished without a struggle with the worst passions of human nature, quietly, harmoniously, he cherishes a delusion. It can never be done, unless the age of miracles return. No; we must expect a collision, full of sharp asperities and bitterness. We shall have to contend with the insolence, and pride, and selfishness, of many a heartless being. But these can be easily conquered by meekness, and perseverance, and prayer.

Sirs, the prejudices of the North are stronger than those of the South;—they bristle, like so many bayonets, around the slaves;—they forge and rivet the chains of the nation. Conquer them, and the victory is won. The enemies of emancipation take courage from our criminal timidity. They have justly stigmatized us, even on the floor of Congress, with the most contemptuous epithets. We are (they say) their “white slaves,” 53 afraid of our own shadows, who have been driven back to the wall again and again; who stand trembling under their whips; who turn pale, retreat, and surrender, at a talismanic threat to dissolve the Union. . . .

It is often despondingly said, that the evil of slavery is beyond our control. Dreadful conclusion, that puts the seal of death upon our country's existence! If we cannot conquer the monster in his infancy, while his cartilages are tender and his limbs powerless, how shall we escape his wrath when he goes [135] forth a gigantic cannibal, seeking whom he may devour? If we cannot safely unloose two millions of slaves now, how shall we bind upwards of twenty millions at the close of the present century? But there is no cause for despair. We have seen how readily, and with what ease, that horrid gorgon, Intemperance, has been checked in his ravages. Let us take courage. Moral influence, when in vigorous exercise, is irresistible. It has an immortal essence. It can no more be trod out of existence by the iron foot of time, or by the ponderous march of iniquity, than matter can be annihilated. It may disappear for a time; but it lives in some shape or other, in some place or other, and will rise with renovated strength. Let us, then, be up and doing. In the simple and stirring language of the stout-hearted Lundy, “all the friends of the cause must go to work, keep to work, hold on, and never give up.”

If it be still objected, that it would be dangerous to liberate the present race of blacks;

I answer—the emancipation of all the slaves of this generation is most assuredly out of the question. The fabric, which now towers above the Alps, must be taken away brick by brick, and foot by foot, till it is reduced so low that it may be overturned without burying the nation in its ruins. Years may elapse before the completion of the achievement; generations of blacks may go down to the grave, manacled and lacerated, without a hope for their children; the philanthropists who are now pleading in behalf of the oppressed, may not live to witness the dawn which will precede the glorious day of universal emancipation; but the work will go on—laborers in the cause will multiply—new resources will be discovered— the victory will be obtained, worth the desperate struggle of a thousand years. Or, if defeat follow, woe to the safety of this people! The nation will be shaken as if by a mighty earthquake. A cry of horror, a cry of revenge, will go up to heaven in the darkness of midnight, and re-echo from every cloud. Blood will flow like water—the blood of guilty men, and of innocent women and children. Then will be heard lamentations and weeping, such as will blot out the remembrance of the horrors of St. Domingo. The terrible judgments of an incensed God will complete the catastrophe of republican America.

And since so much is to be done for our country; since so many prejudices are to be dispelled, obstacles vanquished, interests secured, blessings obtained; since the cause of emancipation [136] must progress heavily, and meet with much unhallowed opposition,—why delay the work? There must be a beginning, and now is a propitious time—perhaps the last opportunity that will be granted us by a long-suffering God. No temporizing, lukewarm measures will avail aught. We must put our shoulders to the wheel, and heave with our united strength. Let us not look coldly on and see our Southern brethren54 contending single-handed against an all-powerful foe—faint, weary, borne down to the earth. We are all alike guilty. Slavery is strictly a national sin. New-England money has been expended in buying human flesh; New-England ships have been freighted with sable victims; New-England men have assisted in forging the fetters of those who groan in bondage.

I call upon the ambassadors of Christ everywhere to make known this proclamation: “Thus saith the Lord God of the Africans, Let this people go, that they may serve me.” I ask them to “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” —to light up a flame of philanthropy that shall burn till all Africa be redeemed from the night of moral death, and the song of deliverance be heard throughout her borders.

I call upon the churches of the living God to lead in this great enterprise.55 If the soul be immortal, priceless, save it from remediless woe. Let them combine their energies, and systematize their plans, for the rescue of suffering humanity. Let them pour out their supplications to heaven in behalf of the slave. Prayer is omnipotent: its breath can melt adamantine rocks—its touch can break the stoutest chains. Let anti-slavery charity-boxes stand uppermost among those for missionary, tract and educational purposes. On this subject, Christians have been asleep; let them shake off their slumbers, and arm for the holy contest.

I call upon our New-England women to form charitable associations to relieve the degraded of their sex. As yet, an [137] appeal to their sympathies was never made in vain. They outstrip us in every benevolent race. Females are doing much for the cause at the South; let their example be imitated, and their exertions surpassed, at the North.

I call upon our citizens to assist in establishing auxiliary colonization societies in every State, county and town. I implore their direct and liberal patronage to the parent society.

I call upon the great body of newspaper editors to keep this subject constantly before their readers; to sound the trumpet of alarm, and to plead eloquently for the rights of man. They must give the tone to public sentiment. One press may ignite twenty; a city may warm a State; a State may impart a generous heat to a whole country.

I call upon the American people to enfranchise a spot over which they hold complete sovereignty; to cleanse that worse than Augean stable, the District of Columbia, from its foul impurities. I ask them to sustain Congress in any future efforts to colonize the colored population of the States. I conjure them to select those as Representatives who are not too ignorant to know, too blind to see, nor too timid to perform their duty.

I will say, finally, that I despair of the republic while slavery exists therein. If I look up to God for success, no smile of mercy or forgiveness dispels the gloom of futurity; if to our own resources, they are daily diminishing; if to all history, our destruction is not only possible, but almost certain. Why should we slumber at this momentous crisis? If our hearts were dead to every throb of humanity; if it were lawful to oppress, where power is ample; still, if we had any regard for our safety and happiness, we should strive to crush the Vampire which is feeding upon our life-blood. All the selfishness of our nature cries aloud for a better security. Our own vices are too strong for us, and keep us in perpetual alarm; how, in addition to these, shall we be able to contend successfully with millions of armed and desperate men, as we must eventually, if slavery do not cease?

At the conclusion of Mr. Garrison's address Mr. Plumly, an agent of the American Colonization Society, briefly urged its claims to support, and a collection in aid of it was taken up; but, beyond what is quoted above, the orator of the day said nothing in favor of the Society, except to commend the infant colony of Liberia. [138]

The Boston American Traveller of three days later contained a notice of the discourse, in which the orator was described as ‘of quite a youthful appearance, and habited in a suit of black, with his neck bare, and a broad linen collar spread over that of his coat. His prefatory remarks were rendered inaudible by the feebleness of his utterance; but, as he advanced, his voice was raised, his confidence was regained, and his earnestness became perceptible.’ The Traveller's abstract of his remarks was so meagre and imperfect, that Mr. Garrison felt it necessary to correct and extend it in a letter to the Courier, and this evoked a scurrilous and abusive attack from an anonymous correspondent of the Traveller, who accused him of slandering his country and libelling the Declaration of Independence. The editorial columns joined in the abuse, of which, however, Mr. Garrison took no further notice, and within a few days he left the city, probably going to Newburyport for a brief visit, before his departure for Baltimore to join Lundy.

1 Proceedings Am. A. S. Soc'y, Third Decade, p. 121.

2 The printed page measured 13x 18 1/2 inches, and the subscription price was two dollars a year.

3 Jour. of the Times, Oct. 3, 1828.

4 Jour. of the Times, Oct. 31, 1828.

5 Ibid., Oct. 3, 1828.

6 Jour. of the Times, Oct. 31, 1828.

7 Ibid., Nov. 28, Dec. 5 and 19, 1828.

8 Jour. of the Times, Dec. 19, 1828.

9 Ibid., Dec. 5, 1828.

10 Jour. of the Times, Oct. 10, 1828.

11 Ibid., Nov. 14, 1828.

12 Jour. of the Times, Jan. 23, 1829.

13 Ibid., Feb. 6, 1829.

14 Ibid., Nov. 21, 1828.

15 James W. Ripley. Jonathan Harvey. Rollin C. Mallary.

16 Jour. of the Times, Feb. 20, Mar. 6, 1829.

17 Ibid., Mar. 6, 1829.

18 Jour. of the Times, Mar. 20, 1829.

19 Ibid., Oct. 31, Dec. 12, 1828.

20 Jour. of the Times, Feb. 6, 1829.

21 American Conflict, 1.115.

22 William Ladd, a native of Exeter, N. H. (1778), graduate of Harvard College (1797), and for a number of years a sea-captain, devoted himself during the last eighteen years of his life (1823-1841) to the advocacy of the Peace cause, and was largely instrumental in establishing the American Peace Society in 1828. See his Memoir by John Hemmenway, Boston, 1872, and Mrs. Child's “Letters from New York,” 1st series, p. 212. Mr. Garrison addressed a sonnet to this ‘great advocate’ (Lib. 1.39), but more intimate acquaintance led to the judgment, ‘He is a good-natured man, but somewhat superficial’ (Ms., spring of 1833, to Henry E. Benson).

23 Ante, p. 84.

24 Jour. of the Times, Oct. 31, 1828.

25 Ibid., Dec. 5, 1828.

26 Jour. of the Times, Dec. 5, 1828.

27 ‘I remember Mr. Garrison at the time he was in Bennington. He was then in the beauty and strength of early manhood. He dressed in a black dress coat, black trousers, white vest, and walked as erect as an Indian’ (James A. Briggs, in N. Y. Evening Post, August 5, 1879).

28 Ellis's Life of E. H. Chapin, pp. 26-30.

29 Mr. Ballard was one of the first subscribers to the Liberator, a Vice-President of the Vermont Anti-Slavery Society, and one of the Secretaries of the New England Anti-Slavery Convention held in Boston May 24, 1836. He subsequently became a Congregational minister, and died in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jan. 7, 1881.

30 Jour. of the Times, Nov. 14, 1828.

31 Ibid., Nov 28, 1828.

32 Jour. of the Times, Feb. 13, 1829.

33 G. U. E., Dec. 13, 1828.

34 Table-Talk, lines 16-18, freely altered.

35 Jour. of the Times, Jan 16, 1829.

36 The precise date of Lundy's visit to Bennington cannot be determined, nor is it of consequence; but that given in Lundy's Life (November, 1828) is clearly wrong, and the volume is generally untrustworthy as to dates. So far as can be judged from Lundy's letters in the Journal of the Times, and from other evidence, the visit was probably made early in 1829. The publication of the Genius was suspended, with the issue of January 3, 1829, for eight months.

37 Morse's Life of J. Q. Adams, pp. 217-220.

38 Gen. Jackson's election.

39 The Journal of the Times survived Mr. Garrison's departure only three months, No. 38 being the last one issued.

40 It was written by John S. Robinson, who became Governor of Vermont in 1853,—the only Democratic Governor the State ever had.

41 Vt. Gazette, Mar. 31, 1829.

42 The route in those days was by stage to Brattleboroa, thence down the Connecticut valley to Greenfield, and thence by way of Worcester to Boston; and the journey on this occasion was an unusually severe and difficult one, owing to the deep drifts which still remained from a tremendous snow-storm that had covered all New England and the Middle States several feet deep the previous month. The stage ride to Brattleboroa occupied the first day, and the horses broke through the snow and fell so many times that they became terrified and exhausted.

43 Afterwards (1841-1865) the printer of the Liberator.

44 See Fourth Annual Report Mass. A. S. Society, 1836, p. 57, and Goodell's “Slavery and Anti-slavery,” p. 401. The Philanthropist and Investigator was temporarily suspended at the end of August, 1829, for want of funds. Two months later its publication was resumed, the Genius of Temperance having been united with it, and in July of the following year it was removed to New York; but after a time Mr. Goodell was compelled to relinquish the publication, owing to inadequate support.

45 Mr. Horton had married Mr. Garrison's old friend and playmate, Harriet Farnham.

46 Ms., now (1885) in possession of Thos. Mack, Boston.

47 Mr. Garrison also gave an account of this experience in the Genius of Universal Emancipation of Sept. 16, 1829 (p. 14), with the following declaration of principles: ‘I am not professedly a Quaker; but I heartily, entirely and practically embrace the doctrine of non-resistance, and am conscientiously opposed to all military exhibitions. I now solemnly declare that I will never obey any order to bear arms, but rather cheerfully suffer imprisonment and persecution. What is the design of militia musters? To make men skilful murderers. I cannot consent to become a pupil in this sanguinary school.’

48 No. 798 in Adams and Chapin's Hymns for Christian Devotion.

49 Nat. Philanthropist and Investigator, July 22, 1829; Selections from the Writings of W. L. G., pp. 44-61.

50 The case was that of Farnum, Executor of Tuttle Hubbard, vs. Brooks, and was heard in the Mass. Supreme Court. The ‘two giants’ in opposition were William Wirt, ex-Attorney-General of the United States, and Daniel Webster. Wirt's eloquence made a great impression. (Boston Traveller, June 23, 30, 1829; Columbian Centinel, June 27.)

51 Nat. Philan. and Investigator, July 29, 1829.

52 By the three-fifths representation clause of the Federal Constitution, Art. I., Sec. II., 3.

53 In Henry Adams's Life of John Randolph we read (p. 281): ‘On another occasion, he [Randolph] is reported as saying of the people of the North, ‘We do not govern them by our black slaves, but by their own white slaves.’’

54 An allusion to the few anti-slavery societies among the Friends in some of the Southern States.

55 So Daniel Webster, in his Plymouth oration, Dec. 22, 1820, of the African slave-trade and of New-England complicity with it: ‘I invoke the ministers of our religion, that they proclaim its denunciation of these crimes, and add its solemn sanctions to the authority of human laws. If the pulpit be silent whenever or wherever there may be a sinner bloody with this guilt within the hearing of its voice, the pulpit is false to its trust’ (Works, 1.46).

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