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´╗┐Title: No Compromise with Slavery - An Address Delivered to the Broadway Tabernacle, New York
Author: Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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No Compromise with Slavery.

FEBRUARY 14, 1854,



LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: An earnest espousal of the Anti-Slavery cause
for a quarter of a century, under circumstances which have served in a
special manner to identify my name and labours with it, will shield me
from the charge of egotism, in assuming to be its exponent--at least
for myself--on this occasion. All that I can compress within the
limits of a single lecture, by way of its elucidation, it shall be my
aim to accomplish. I will make a clean breast of it. You shall know
all that is in my heart pertaining to Slavery, its supporters, and

Of necessity, as well as of choice, I am a "Garrisonian"
Abolitionist--the most unpopular appellation that any man can have
applied to him, in the present state of public sentiment; yet, I am
more than confident, destined ultimately to be honourably regarded by
the wise and good. For though I have never assumed to be a
leader--have never sought conspicuity of position, or notoriety of
name--have desired to follow, if others, better qualified, would go
before, and to be lost sight of in the throng of Liberty's adherents,
as a drop is merged in the ocean; yet, as the appellation alluded to
is applied, not with any reference to myself invidiously, but to
excite prejudice against the noblest movement of the age, in order
that the most frightful system of oppression ever devised by human
ingenuity and wickedness may be left to grow and expand to the latest
generation--I accept it as the synonym of absolute trust in God, and
utter disregard of "that fear of man which bringeth a snare"--and so
deem it alike honourable and praiseworthy.

Representing, then, that phase of Abolitionism which is the most
contemned--to the suppression of which, the means and forces of the
Church and the State are most actively directed--I am here to defend
it against all its assailants as the highest expediency, the soundest
philosophy, the noblest patriotism, the broadest philanthropy, and the
best religion extant. To denounce it as fanatical, disorganising,
reckless of consequences, bitter and irreverent in spirit, infidel in
heart, deaf alike to the suggestions of reason and the warnings of
history, is to call good evil, and evil good; to put darkness for
light, and light for darkness; to insist that Barabbas is better than
Jesus; to cover with infamy the memories of patriarchs and prophets,
apostles and martyrs; and to inaugurate Satan as the God of the
universe. If, like the sun, it is not wholly spotless, still, like the
sun, without it there is no light. If murky clouds obscure its
brightness, still it shines in its strength. If, at a seems to wane to
its final setting, it is only to reveal itself in the splendour of a
new ascension, unquenchable, glorious, sublime.

Let me define my positions, and at the same time challenge any one to
show wherein they are untenable.

I. I am a believer in that portion of the Declaration of American
Independence in which it is set forth, as among self-evident truths,
"that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Hence, I am an Abolitionist.
Hence, I cannot but regard oppression in every form--and most of all,
that which turns a man into a thing--with indignation and abhorrence.
Not to cherish these feelings would be recreancy to principle. They
who desire me to be dumb on the subject of Slavery, unless I will open
my mouth in its defence, ask me to give the lie to my professions, to
degrade my manhood, and to stain my soul. I will not be a liar, a
poltroon, or a hypocrite, to accommodate any party, to gratify any
sect, to escape any odium or peril, to save any interest, to preserve
any institution, or to promote any object. Convince me that one man
may rightfully make another man his slave, and I will no longer
subscribe to the Declaration of Independence. Convince me that liberty
is not the inalienable birthright of every human being, of whatever
complexion or clime, and I will give that instrument to the consuming
fire. I do not know how to espouse freedom and slavery together. I do
not know how to worship God and Mammon at the same time. If other men
choose to go upon all-fours, I choose to stand erect, as God designed
every man to stand. If, practically falsifying its heaven-attested
principles, this nation denounces me for refusing to imitate its
example, then, adhering all the more tenaciously to those principles,
I will not cease to rebuke it for its guilty inconsistency.
Numerically, the contest may be an unequal one, for the time being;
but the Author of liberty and the Source of justice, the adorable God,
is more than multitudinous, and he will defend the right. My crime is,
that I will not go with the multitude to do evil. My singularity is,
that when I say that Freedom is of God, and Slavery is of the devil, I
mean just what I say. My fanaticism is, that I insist on the American
people abolishing Slavery, or ceasing to prate of the rights of man.
My hardihood is, in measuring them by their own standard, and
convicting them out of their own mouths.

    "Woe to the rebellions children, saith the Lord, that take
    counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but
    not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.

    That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my
    mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh,
    and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

    Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the
    enact in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.

    Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a
    book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:

    That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children
    that will not hear the law of the Lord.

    Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy
    not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things;
    prophesy deceits; get you out of the way, turn aside out of
    the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before

    Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel: Because ye
    despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness,
    and stay thereon:

    Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to
    fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh
    suddenly, at an instant."

II. Notwithstanding the lessons taught us by Pilgrim Fathers and
Revolutionary Sires, at Plymouth Rock, on Bunker Hill, at Lexington,
Concord and Yorktown; notwithstanding our Fourth of July celebrations,
and ostentatious displays of patriotism; in what European nation is
personal liberty hold in such contempt as in our own? Where are there
such unbelievers in the natural equality and freedom of mankind? Our
slaves outnumber the entire population of the country at the time of
our revolutionary struggle. In vain do they clank their chains, and
fill the air with their shrieks, and make their supplications for
mercy. In vain are their sufferings portrayed, their wrongs rehearsed,
their rights defended. As Nero fiddled while Rome was burning, so the
slaveholding spirit of this nation rejoices, as one barrier of liberty
after another is destroyed, and fresh victims are multiplied for the
cotton-field and the auction-block. For one impeachment of the slave
system, a thousand defences are made. For one rebuke of the
man-stealer, a thousand denunciations of the Abolitionists are heard.
For one press that bears a faithful testimony against Slavery, a score
are ready to be prostituted to its service. For one pulpit that is not
"recreant to its trust," there are ten that openly defend slaveholding
as compatible with Christianity, and scores that are dumb. For one
church that excludes the human enslaver from its communion table,
multitudes extend to him the right hand of religious fellowship. The
wealth, the enterprise, the literature, the politics, the religion of
the land, are all combined to give extension and perpetuity to the
Slave Power. Everywhere to do homage to it, to avoid collision with
it, to propitiate its favour, is deemed essential--nay, _is_ essential
to political preferment and ecclesiastical advancement. Nothing is so
unpopular as impartial liberty. The two great parties which absorb
nearly the whole voting strength of the Republic are pledged to be
deaf, dumb and blind to whatever outrages the Slave Power may attempt
to perpetrate. Cotton is in their ears--blinds are over their
eyes--padlocks are upon their lips. They are as clay in the hands of
the potter, and already moulded into vessels of dishonour, to be used
for the vilest purposes. The tremendous power of the Government is
actively wielded to "crush out" the little Anti-Slavery life that
remains in individual hearts, and to open new and boundless domains
for the expansion of the Slave system. No man known or suspected to be
hostile to "the Compromise Measures, including the Fugitive Slave
Law," is allowed to hope for any office under the present
Administration. The ship of State is labouring in the trough of the
sea--her engine powerless, her bulwarks swept away, her masts gone,
her lifeboats destroyed, her pumps choked, and the leak gaining
rapidly upon her; and as wave after wave dashes over her, all that
might otherwise serve to keep her afloat is swallowed by the
remorseless deep. God of heaven! if the ship is destined to go down
"full many a fathom deep," is every soul on board to perish? Ho! a
sail! a sail! The weather-beaten, but staunch ship Abolition,
commanded by the Genius of Liberty, is bearing toward the wreck, with
the cheering motto, inscribed in legible capitals, "WE WILL NOT
FORSAKE YOU!" Let us hope, even against hope, that rescue is not
wholly impossible.

To drop what is figurative for the actual. I have expressed the belief
that, so lost to all self-respect and all ideas of justice have we
become by the corrupting presence of Slavery, in no European nation is
personal liberty held at such discount, as a matter of principle, as
in our own. See how clearly this is demonstrated. The reasons adduced
among us in justification of slaveholding, and therefore against
personal liberty, are multitudinous. I will enumerate only a dozen of
these: 1. "The victims are black." 2. "The slaves belong to an
inferior race." 3. "Many of them have been fairly purchased." 4.
"Others have been honestly inherited." 5. "Their emancipation would
impoverish their owners." 6. "They are better off as slaves then they
would be as freemen." 7. "They could not take care of themselves if
set free." 8. "Their simultaneous liberation would be attended with
great danger." 9. "Any interference in their behalf will excite the
ill-will of the South, and thus seriously affect Northern trade and
commerce." 10. "The Union can be preserved only by letting Slavery
alone, and that is of paramount importance." 11. "Slavery is a lawful
and constitutional system, and therefore not a crime." 12. "Slavery is
sanctioned by the Bible; the Bible is the word of God; therefore God
sanctions Slavery, and the Abolitionists are wise above what is

Here, then, are twelve reasons which are popularly urged in all parts
of the country, as conclusive against the right of a man to himself.
If they are valid, in any instance, what becomes of the Declaration of
Independence? On what ground can the revolutionary war, can any
struggle for liberty, be justified? Nay, cannot all the despotisms of
the earth take shelter under them? If they are valid, then why is not
the jesuitical doctrine, that the end sanctifies them, and that it is
right to do evil that good may come, morally sound? If they are valid,
then how does it appear that God is no respecter of persons? or how
can he say, "All souls are mine"? or what is to be done with Christ's
injunction, "Call no man master"? or with what justice can the same
duties and the same obligations (such as are embodied in the Decalogue
and the gospel of Christ) be exacted of chattels as of men? But they
are not valid. They are the logic of Bedlam, the morality of the
pirate ship, the diabolism of the pit. They insult the common sense
and shock the moral nature of mankind. Take them to Europe, and see
with what scorn they will be universally treated! Go, first, to
England, and gravely propound them there; and the universal response
will proudly be, in the thrilling lines of Cowper,

    "Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
    Inhale our air, that moment they are free!
    They touch our country, and their shackles fall!"

Every Briton, indignant at the monstrous claim, will answer, in the
emphatic words of Brougham: "Tell me not of rights; talk not of the
property of the planter in his slaves! I deny the right--I acknowledge
not the property! The principles, the feelings of our nature, rise in
rebellion against it. Be the appeal made to the understanding or to
the heart, the sentence is the same that rejects it." And Curran, in
words of burning eloquence, shall reply: "I speak in the spirit of the
British law, which makes liberty commensurate with, and inseparable
from, the British soil--which proclaims, even to the stranger and the
sojourner, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated
by the genius of universal emancipation. No matter in what language
his doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion an Indian
or an African sun may have burnt upon him; no matter in what
disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter
with what solemnities he may have been offered upon the altar of
Slavery; the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the
altar and the god sink together in the dust--his spirit walks abroad
in its own majesty--his body swells beyond the measure of his chains,
and he stands redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled, by the
irresistible genius of universal emancipation."

Again--take these slaveholding pleas to Scotland and from the graves
of the dead and the homes of the living, they shall be replied to in
thunder-tones in the language of Burns: "A man's a man, for all that."

    "Who would be a traitor knave?
    Who would fill a coward's grave?
    Who so base as be a slave?
      Let him turn and flee!"

Pass over to Ireland, and there repeat those excuses for Slavery, and
eight million voices shall reply, in the words of Thomas Moore:

    "To think that man, thou just and loving God!
    Should stand before thee with a tyrant's rod,
    O'er creatures like himself, with souls from Thee,
    Yet dare to boast of perfect liberty!
    Away! away! I'd rather hold my neck
    By doubtful tenure from a Sultan's beck,
    In climes where liberty has scarce been nam'd,
    Nor any right but that of ruling claim'd,
    Than thus to live where boasted Freedom waves
    Her fustian flag in mockery over slaves!"

And the testimony of O'Connell, in behalf of all Ireland, shall pass
from mouth to mouth: "I am an Abolitionist. I am for speedy, immediate
Abolition. I care not what caste, creed or colour, Slavery may assume.
Whether it be personal or political, mental or corporeal, intellectual
or spiritual, I am for its instant, its total Abolition. I am for
justice, in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the
living God." "Let none of the slave-owners, dealers in human flesh,
dare to set a foot upon our free soil!" "We are all children of the
same Creator, heirs of the same promise, purchased by the blood of the
same Redeemer--and what signifies of what caste colour or creed we may
be? It is our duty to proclaim that the cause of the negro is our
cause, and that we will insist upon doing away, to the best of our
human ability, the stain of Slavery, not only from every portion of
this mighty empire, but from the whole face of the earth." "Let the
American Abolitionists be honoured in proportion as the slaveholders
are execrated."

Pass over to the Continent, even into Papal-ridden Italy, and there
urge the popular pleas in defence of slaveholding, and, from the
Vatican, Pope Gregory XVI. shall reply: "We urgently invoke, in the
name of God, all Christians, of whatever condition, that none
henceforth dare to subject to Slavery, unjustly persecute, or despoil
of their goods, Indians, Negroes, or other classes of men, or to be
accessories to others, or furnish them aid or assistance in so doing;
and on no account henceforth to exercise that inhuman traffic, by
which Negroes are reduced to Slavery, as if they were not men, but
automata or chattels, and are sold in defiance of all the laws of
justice and humanity, and devoted to severe and intolerable labours."

Proceed to Austria, and there defend the practice of reducing men to
Slavery, and the Austrian code shall proclaim: "Every man, by right of
nature, sanctioned by reason, must be considered a free person. Every
slave becomes free from the moment he touches the Austrian soil, or an
Austrian ship."

Finally, enter the Tunisian dominions, and there urge the claim of
property in man, and Musheer Ahmed Bashaw Bey shall reply: "We declare
that all slaves that shall enter our kingdom, by land or by sea,
shall be free; and further order, that every one born a slave in our
dominions shall be considered as free from the very instant of his
birth, and that he shall neither be sold nor bought."

Thus do I prove that, in regard to personal liberty--the right of
every man to the ownership of his own body--even Italy, Austria and
Tunis are in advance of this boasted Republic, and put it to open

III. The Abolitionism which I advocate is as absolute as the law of
God, and as unyielding as His throne. It admits of no compromise.
Every slave is a stolen man; every slaveholder is a man-stealer. By no
precedent, no example, no law, no compact, no purchase, no bequest, no
inheritance, no combination of circumstances, is slaveholding right or
justifiable. While a slave remains in his fetters, the land must have
no rest. Whatever sanctions his doom must be pronounced accursed. The
law that makes him a chattel is to be trampled under foot; the compact
that is formed at his expense, and cemented with his blood, is null
and void; the church that consents to his enslavement is horribly
atheistical; the religion that receives to its communion the enslaver
is the embodiment of all criminality. Such, at least, is the verdict
of my own soul, on the supposition that I am to be the slave; that my
wife is to be sold from me for the vilest purposes; that my children
are to be torn from my arms, and disposed of to the highest bidder,
like sheep in the market. And who am I but a man? What right have I
to be free, that another man cannot prove himself to possess by
nature? Who or what are my wife and children, that they should not be
herded with four-footed beasts, as well as others thus sacredly
related? If I am white, and another is black, complexionally, what

    "Does, then, th' immortal principle within
    Change with the casual colour of the skin?
    Does matter govern spirit? or is mind
    Degraded by the form to which 'tis joined?"

What if I am rich, and another is poor--strong, and he is
weak--intelligent, and he is benighted--elevated, and he is depraved?
"Have we not one Father? Hath not one God created us?"

    "How rich, how poor, how abject, how august,
    How complicate, how wonderful is man!
    Distinguished link in being's endless chain,
    Midway from nothing to the Deity!
    A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt;
    Though sullied and dishonoured, still divine!"

Such is man, in every clime--above all compacts, greater than all
institutions, sacred against every outrage, priceless, immortal!

By this sure test, every institution, every party, every form of
government, every kind of religion, is to be tried. God never made a
human being either for destruction or degradation. It is plain,
therefore, that whatever cannot flourish except at the sacrifice of
that being, ought not to exist. Show me the party that can obtain
supremacy only by trampling upon human individuality and personal
sovereignty, and you will thereby pronounce sentence of death upon it.
Show me the government which can be maintained only by destroying the
rights of a portion of the people; and you will indicate the duty of
openly revolting against it. Show me the religion which sanctions the
ownership of one man by another, and you will demonstrate it to be
purely infernal in its origin and spirit.

No man is to be injured in his person, mind, or estate. He cannot be,
with benefit to any other man, or to any state of society. Whoever
would sacrifice him for any purpose is both morally and politically
insane. Every man is equivalent to every other man. Destroy the
equivalent, and what is left? "So God created man in his own
image--male and female created he them." This is a death-blow to all
claims of superiority, to all charges of inferiority, to all
usurpation, to all oppressive dominion.

But all three declarations are truisms. Most certainly; and they are
all that is stigmatized as "Garrisonian Abolitionism." I have not, at
any time, advanced an ultra sentiment, or made an extravagant demand.
I have avoided fanaticism on the one hand, fully on the other. No man
can show that I have taken one step beyond the line of justice, or
forgotten the welfare of the master in my anxiety to free the slave.
Why, citizens of the Empire State, did you proclaim liberty to all in
bondage on your soil, in 1827, and forevermore? Certainly, not on the
ground of expediency, but of principle. Why do you make slaveholding
unlawful among yourselves? Why is it not as easy to buy, breed,
inherit, and make slaves in this State, compatible with benevolence,
justice, and right, as it is in Carolina or Georgia? Why do you
compel the unmasked refugee from Van Dieman's Land to sigh for "a
plantation well stocked with healthy negroes in Alabama," and not
allow him the right to own and flog slaves in your presence? If
slaveholding is not wrong under all circumstances, why have you
decreed it to be so, within the limits of your State jurisdiction?
Nay, why do you have a judiciary, a legislative assembly, a civil
code, the ballot box, but to preserve your rights as one man? On what
other ground, except that you are men, do you claim a right to
personal freedom, to the ties of kindred, to the means of improvement,
to constant development, to labour when and for whom you choose, to
make your own contracts, to read and speak and print as you please, to
remain at home or travel abroad, to exercise the elective franchise,
to make your own rulers? What you demand for yourselves, in virtue of
your manhood, I demand for the enslaved at the South, on the same
ground. How is it that I am a madman, and you are perfectly rational?
Wherein is my ultraism apparent? If the slaves are not men; if they do
not possess human instincts, passions, faculties and powers; if they
are below accountability, and devoid of reason; if for them there is
no hope of immortality, no God, no heaven, no hell; if, in short, they
are, what the Slave Code declares them to be, rightly "deemed, sold,
taken, reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the
hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors,
administrators and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and
purposes whatsoever;" then, undeniably, I am mad, and can no longer
discriminate between a man and a beast. But, in that case, away with
the horrible incongruity of giving them oral instruction, of teaching
them the catechism, of recognising them as suitably qualified to be
members of Christian churches, of extending to them the ordinance of
baptism, and admitting them to the communion table, and enumerating
many of them as belonging to the household of faith! Let them be no
more included in our religious sympathies or denominational statistics
than are the dogs in our streets, the swine in our pens, or the
utensils in our dwellings. It is right to own, to buy, to sell, to
inherit, to breed, and to control them, in the most absolute sense.
All constitutions and laws which forbid their possession ought to be
so far modified or repealed as to concede the right.

But, if they are men; if they are to run the same career of
immortality with ourselves; if the same law of God is over them as
over all others; if they have souls to be saved or lost; if Jesus
included them among those for whom he laid down his life; if Christ is
within many of them "the hope of glory;" then, when I claim for them
all that we claim for ourselves, because we are created in the image
of God, I am guilty of no extravagance, but am bound, by every
principle of honour, by all the claims of human nature, by obedience
to Almighty God, to "remember them that are in bonds as bound with
them," and to demand their immediate and unconditional emancipation.

I am "ultra" and "fanatical," forsooth! In what direction, or
affecting what parties? What have I urged should be done to the
slaveholders? Their punishment as felons of the deepest dye? No. I
have simply enunciated in their ear the divine command, "Loose the
bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, break every yoke, and let
the oppressed go free," accompanying it with the cheering promises,
"Then shall thy light rise obscurity, and thy darkness be as the
noon-day. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy
soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a
watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not. And
they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou
shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be
called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell
in." Yet, if I had affirmed that they ought to meet the doom of
pirates, I should have been no more personal, no more merciless, than
is the law of Congress, making it a piratical act to enslave a native
African, under whatever pretence or circumstances; for in the eye of
reason, and by the standard of eternal justice, it is as great a crime
to enslave one born on our own soil, as on the coast of Africa; and
as, in the latter case, neither the plea of having fairly purchased or
inherited him, nor the pretence of seeking his temporal and eternal
good, by bringing him to a civilized and Christian country, would be
regarded as of any weight, so, none of the excuses offered for
slaveholding in this country are worthy of the least consideration.
The act, in both cases, is essentially the same--equally inhuman,
immoral, piratical. Oppression is not a matter of latitude or
longitude; here excusable, there to be execrated; here to elevate the
oppressor to the highest station, there to hang him by the neck till
he is dead; here compatible with Christianity, there to be branded and
punished as piracy. "He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he
be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." So reads the
Mosaic code, and by it every American Slaveholder is convicted of a
capital crime. By the Declaration of Independence, he is pronounced a
man-stealer. As for myself, I have simply exposed his guilt, besought
him to repent, and to "go and sin no more."

What extravagant claim have I made in behalf of the slaves? Will it be
replied, "Their immediate liberation!" Then God, by his prophet, is
guilty of extravagance! Then Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the
Declaration of Independence, and all who signed that instrument, and
all who joined in the Revolutionary struggle, were deceivers in
asserting it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed by
their Creator with an inalienable right to liberty! The issue is not
with me, but with them, and with God. What! is it going too far to
ask, for those who have been outraged and plundered all their lives
long, nothing but houseless, penniless, naked freedom! No compensation
whatever for their past unrequited toil; no redress for their
multitudinous wrongs; no settlement for sundered ties, bleeding
backs, countless lacerations, darkened intellects, ruined souls! The
truth is, complete justice has never been asked for the enslaved.

How has the slave system grown to its present enormous dimensions?
Through compromise. How is it to be exterminated? Only by an
uncompromising spirit. This is to be carried out in all the relations
of life--social, political, religious. Put not on the list of your
friends, nor allow admission to your domestic circle, the man who on
principle defends Slavery, but treat him as a moral leper. "If an
American addresses you," said Daniel O'Connell to his countrymen,
"find out at once if he be a slaveholder. He may have business with
you, and the less you do with him the better; but the moment that is
over, turn from him as if he had the cholera or the plague--for there
is a moral cholera and a political plague upon him. He belongs not to
your country or your clime--he is not within the pale of civilization
or Christianity." On another occasion he said: "An American gentleman
waited upon me this morning, and I asked him with some anxiety, 'What
part of America do you come from?' 'I came from Boston.' Do me the
honour to shake hands; you came from a State that has never been
tarnished with Slavery--a State to which our ancestors fled from the
tyranny of England--and the worst of all tyrannies, the attempt to
interfere between man and his God--a tyranny that I have in principle
helped to put down in this country, and wish to put down in every
country upon the face of the globe. It is odious and insolent to
interfere between a man and his God; to fetter with law the choice
which the conscience makes of its mode of adoring the eternal and
adorable God. I cannot talk of toleration, because it supposes that a
boon has been given to a human being, in allowing him to have his
conscience free. It was in that struggle, I said, that your fathers
left England; and I rejoice to see an American from Boston; but I
should be sorry to be contaminated by the touch of a man from those
States where Slavery is continued. 'Oh,' said he, 'you are alluding to
Slavery though I am no advocate for it, yet, if you will allow me, I
will discuss that question with you.' I replied, that if a man should
propose to me a discussion on the propriety of picking pockets, I
would turn him out of my study, for fear he should carry his theory
into practice. 'And meaning you no sort of offence; I added, 'which I
cannot mean to a gentleman who does me the honour of paying me a civil
visit, I would as soon discuss the one question with you as the other.
The one is a paltry theft.

    'He that steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
    'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands'--

but he who thinks he can vindicate the possession of one human being
by another--the sale of soul and body--the separation of father and
mother--the taking of the mother from the infant at her breast, and
selling the one to one master, and the other to another--is a man whom
I will not answer with words--nor with blows, for the time for the
latter has not yet come.'"

If such a spirit of manly indignation and unbending integrity pervaded
the Northern breast, how long could Slavery stand before it? But where
is it to be found? Alas! the man whose hands are red with blood is
honoured and caressed in proportion to the number of his victims;
while "he who departs from evil makes himself a prey." This is true,
universally, in our land. Why should not the Slave Power make colossal
strides over the continent? "There is no North." A sordid, truckling,
cowardly, compromising spirit, is everywhere seen. No insult or
outrage, no deed of impiety or blood, on the part of the South, can
startle us into resistance, or inspire us with self-respect. We see
our free coloured citizens incarcerated in Southern prisons, or sold
on the auction-block, for no other crime than that of being found on
Southern soil; and we dare not call for redress. Our commerce with the
South is bound with the shackles of the plantation--"Free-Trade and
Sailors'-Rights" are every day violated in Southern ports; and we
tamely submit to it as the slave does to the lash. Our natural,
God-given right of free speech, though constitutionally recognised as
sacred in every part of the country, can be exercised in the
slaveholding States only at the peril of our lives. Slavery cannot
bear one ray of light, or the slightest criticism. "The character of
Slavery," says Gov. Swain, of North Carolina, "is not to be
discussed"--meaning at the South. But he goes beyond this, and adds,
"We have an indubitable right to demand of the Free States to suppress
such discussion, totally and promptly." Gov. Tazewell, of Virginia,
makes the same declaration. Gov. Lumpkin, of Georgia, says: "The
weapons of reason and argument are insufficient to put down
discussion; we can therefore hear no argument upon the subject, for
our opinions are unalterably fixed." And he adds, that the Slave
States "will provide for their own protection, and those who speak
against Slavery will do well to keep out of their bounds, or they will
punish them." The Charleston _Courier_ declares, "The gallows and the
stake (_i.e._ burning alive and hanging) await the Abolitionists who
shall dare to appear in person among us." The Colombia _Telescope_
says: "Let us declare through the public journals of our country, that
the question of Slavery is not and shall not be open to discussion;
that the system is too deep-rooted among us, and must remain forever;
that the very moment any private individual attempts to lecture us
upon its evils and immorality, and the necessity of putting means in
operation to secure us from them, in the same moment his tongue shall
be cut out and cast upon the dunghill." The Missouri _Argus_ says:
"Abolition editors in slave States will not dare to avow their
opinions. It would be instant death to them." Finally, the New Orleans
_True American_ says: "We can assure those, one and all, who have
embarked in the nefarious scheme of abolishing Slavery at the South,
that lashes will hereafter be spared the backs of their emissaries.
Let them send out their men to Louisiana; they will never return to
tell their suffering, but they shall expiate the crime of interfering
in our domestic institutions, by being burned at the stake." And
Northern men cower at this, and consent to have their lips padlocked,
and to be robbed of their constitutional right, aye, and their natural
right, while travelling Southward; while the lordly slaveholder
traverses the length and breadth of the Free States, with open mouth
and impious tongue, cursing freedom and its advocates with impunity,
and choosing Plymouth Rock, and the celebration of the landing of the
Pilgrims upon it, as the place and the occasion specially fitting to
eulogize Slavery and the Fugitive Slave Bill!

    "Now, by our fathers' ashes! where's the spirit
      Of the true-hearted and th' unshackled gone?
    Sons of old freemen! do we but inherit
            Their _names_ alone?

    "Is the old Pilgrim spirit quenched within us,
      Stoops the proud manhood of our souls so low,
    That Passion's wile or Party's lure can win us
            To silence now?"

Whatever may be the guilt of the South, the North is still more
responsible for the existence, growth and extension of Slavery. In her
hand has been the destiny of the Republic from the beginning. She
could have emancipated every slave, long ere this, had she been
upright in heart and free in spirit. She has given respectability,
security, and the means of sustenance and attack to her deadliest foe.
She has educated the whole country, and particularly the Southern
portion of it, secularly, theologically religiously; and the result
is, three millions and a half of slaves, increasing at the appalling
rate of one hundred thousand a year, three hundred a day, and one
every five minutes--the utter corruption of public sentiment, and
general skepticism as to the rights of man--the inauguration of Mammon
in the place of the living God--the loss of all self-respect, all
manhood, all sense of shame, all regard for justice--the Book styled
holy, and claimed to be divinely inspired, everywhere expounded and
enforced in extenuation or defence of slaveholding, and against the
Anti-Slavery movement--colour-phobia infecting the life-blood of the
people--political profligacy unparalleled--the religious and the
secular press generally hostile to Abolitionism as either infidel or
anarchical in its spirit and purpose--the great mass of the churches
with as little vitality as a grave-yard--the pulpits, with rare
exceptions, filled with men as careful to consult the popular will as
though there were no higher law--synods, presbyteries, general
conferences, general assemblies, buttressing the slave power--the
Government openly pro-slavery, and the National District the
head-quarters of slave speculators--fifteen Slave States--and now, the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the consecration of five
hundred thousand square miles of free territory forever to the service
of the Slave Power!

And what does all this demonstrate? That the sin of this nation is not
geographical--is not specially Southern--but deep-seated and
universal. "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." We
are "full of wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores." It proves,
too, the folly of all plasters and palliatives. Some men are still
talking of preventing the spread of the cancer, but leaving it just
where it is. They admit that, constitutionally, it has now a right to
ravage two-thirds of the body politic--but they protest against its
extension. This in moral quackery. Even some, whose zeal in the
Anti-Slavery cause is fervent, are so infatuated as to propose no
other remedy for Slavery but its non-extension. Give it no more room,
they say, and it may be safely left to its fate. Yes, but who shall
"bell the cat?" Besides, with fifteen Slave States, and more than
three millions of Slaves, how can we make any moral issue with the
Slave Power against its further extension? Why should there not be
twenty, thirty, fifty Slave States, as well as fifteen? Why should not
the star-spangled banner wave over ten, as well as over three millions
of Slaves? Why should not Nebraska be cultivated by Slave labour, as
well as Florida or Texas? If men, under the American Constitution, may
hold slaves at discretion and without dishonour in one-half of the
country, why not in the whole of it? If it would be a damning sin for
us to admit another Slave State into the Union, why is it not a
damning sin to permit a Slave State to remain in the Union? Would it
not be the acme of effrontery for a man, in amicable alliance with
fifteen pickpockets, to profess scruples of conscience in regard to
admitting another pilfering rogue to the fraternity? "Thou that
sayest, A man should not steal, dost thou steal," or consent, in any
instance, to stealing? "If the Lord be God, serve Him; but if Baal,
then serve him." The South may well laugh to scorn the affected moral
sensibility of the North against the extension of her slave system. It
is nothing, in the present relations of the States, but sentimental
hypocrisy. It has no stamina--no back-bone. The argument for
non-extension is an argument for the dissolution of the Union. With a
glow of moral indignation, I protest against the promise and the
pledge, by whomsoever made, that if the Slave Power will seek no more
to lengthen its cords and strengthen its stakes, it may go unmolested
end unchallenged, and survive as long as it can within its present
limits. I would as soon turn pirate on the high seas as to give my
consent to any such arrangement. I do not understand the moral code of
those who, screaming in agony at the thought of Nebraska becoming a
Slave Territory, virtually say to the South: "Only desist from your
present designs, and we will leave you to flog, and lacerate, and
plunder, and destroy the millions of hapless wretches already within
your grasp. If you will no longer agitate the subject, we will not."
There is no sense, no principle, no force in such an issue. Not a
solitary slaveholder will I allow to enjoy repose on any other
condition than instantly ceasing to be one. Not a single slave will I
leave in his chains, on any conditions, or under any circumstances. I
will not try to make as good a bargain for the Lord as the Devil will
let me, and plead the necessity of a compromise, and regret that I
cannot do any better, and be thankful that I can do so much. The
Scriptural injunction is to be obeyed: "Resist the devil, and he will
flee from you." My motto is, "No union with slaveholders, religiously
or politically." Their motto is "Slavery forever! No alliance with
Abolitionists, either in Church or State!" The issue is clear,
explicit, determinate. The parties understand each other, and are
drawn in battle array. They can never be reconciled--never walk
together--never consent to a truce--never deal in honeyed
phrases--never worship at the same altar--never acknowledge the same
God. Between them there is an impassable gulf. In manners, in morals,
in philosophy, in religion, in ideas of justice, in notions of law, in
theories of government, in valuations or men, they are totally

I would to God that we might be, what we have never been--a united
people; but God renders this possible only by "proclaiming liberty
throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." By what
miracle can Freedom and Slavery be made amicably to strike hands? How
can they administer the same Government, or legislate for the same
interests? How can they receive the same baptism, be admitted to the
same communion-table, believe in the same Gospel, and obtain the same
heavenly inheritance? "I speak as unto wise men; judge ye." Certain
propositions have long since been ceded to be plain, beyond
contradiction. The apostolic inquiry has been regarded as equally
admonitory and pertinent: "What concord hath Christ with Belial? or
what fellowship hath light with darkness?" Fire and gunpowder, oil and
water, cannot coalesce; but, assuredly, these are not more
antagonistical than are the elements of Freedom and Slavery. The
present American Union, therefore, is only one in form, not in
reality. It is, and it always has been, the absolute supremacy of the
Slave Power over the whole country--nothing more. What sectional
heart-burnings or conflictive interests exist between the several Free
States? None. They are homogeneous, animated by the same spirit,
harmonious in their action as the movement of the spheres. It is only
when we come to the dividing line between the Free States and the
Slave States that shoals, breakers and whirlpools beset the ship of
State, and threaten to engulf or strand it. Then the storm rages loud
and long, and the ocean of popular feeling is lashed into fury.

While the present Union exists, I pronounce it hopeless to expect any
repose, or that any barrier can be effectually raised against the
extension of Slavery. With two thousand million dollars' worth of
property in human flesh in its hands, to be watched and wielded as one
vast interest for all the South--with forces never divided, and
purposes never conflictive--with a spurious, negro-hating religion
universally diffused, and everywhere ready to shield it from
harm--with a selfish, sordid, divided North, long since bereft of its
manhood, to cajole, bribe and intimidate--with its foot planted on
two-thirds of our vast national domains, and there unquestioned,
absolute and bloody in its sway--with the terrible strength and
boundless resources of the whole country at its command--it cannot be
otherwise than that the Slave Power will consummate its diabolical
purposes to the uttermost. The Northwest Territory, Nebraska, Mexico,
Cuba, Hayti, the Sandwich Islands, and colonial possessions in the
tropics--to seize and subjugate these to its accursed reign, and
ultimately to re-establish the foreign Slave Trade as a lawful
commerce, are among its settled designs. It is not a question of
probabilities, but of time. And whom will a just God hold responsible
for all these results? All who despise and persecute men on account of
their complexion; all who endorse a slaveholding religion as genuine;
all who give the right hand of Christian fellowship to men whose hands
are stained with the blood of the slave; all who regard material
prosperity as paramount to moral integrity, and the law of the land as
above the law of God; all who are either hostile or indifferent to the
Anti-Slavery movement; and all who advocate the necessity of making
compromises with the Slave Power, in order that the Union may receive
no detriment.

In itself, Slavery has no resources and no strength. Isolated and
alone, it could not stand an hour; and, therefore, further aggression
and conquest would be impossible.

Says the Editor of the Marysville (Tenn.) _Intelligencer_, in an
article on the character and condition of the slave population:

    "We of the South are emphatically surrounded by dangerous
    class of beings--degraded, stupid savages--who, if they could
    but once entertain the idea that immediate and unconditional
    death would not be their portion, would re-enact the St.
    Domingo tragedy. But the consciousness, with all their
    stupidity, that a ten-fold force, superior in discipline, if
    not in barbarity, would gather from the four corners of the
    United States and slaughter them, keeps them in subjection.
    _But, to the non-slaveholding States, particularly, we are
    indebted for a permanent safeguard against insurrection._
    Without their assistance, the while population of the South
    would be too weak to quiet that insane desire for liberty
    which is ever ready to act itself out with every rational

In the debate in Congress on the resolution to censure John Quincy
Adams, for presenting a petition for the dissolution of the Union, Mr.
Underwood, of Kentucky, said:

    "They (the South) were the weaker portion, were in the
    minority. _The North could do what they pleased with them_;
    they could adopt their own measures. All he asked was, that
    they would let the South know what those measures were. One
    thing he knew well; that State, which he in part represented,
    had perhaps a deeper interest in this subject than any other,
    except Maryland and a small portion of Virginia. And why?
    Because he knew that to dissolve the Union, and separate the
    different States composing the confederacy, making the Ohio
    River and the Mason and Dixon's line the boundary line, _he
    knew as soon as that was done, Slavery was done_ in Kentucky,
    Maryland and a large portion of Virginia, and it would extend
    to all the States South of this line. _The dissolution of the
    Union was the dissolution of Slavery._ It has been the common
    practice for Southern men to get up on this floor, and say,
    'Touch this subject, and we will dissolve this Union as a
    remedy.' _Their remedy was the destruction of the thing which
    they wished to save_, and any sensible man could see it. If
    the Union was dissolved into two parts, the slave would cross
    the line, and then turn round and curse the master from the
    other shore."

The declaration of Mr. Underwood as to the entire dependence of the
slave masters on the citizens of the nominally Free States to guard
their plantations, and secure them against desertion, is substantially
confirmed by Thomas D. Arnold, of Tennessee, who, in a speech on the
name subject, assures us that they are equally dependent on the North
for _personal protection_ against their slaves. In assigning his
reasons for adhering to the Union, Mr. Arnold makes use of the
following language:

    "The Free States had a majority of 44 in that House. Under the
    new census, they would have 53. The cause of the slaveholding
    States was getting weaker and weaker, and what were they to
    do? He would ask his Southern friends what the South had to
    rely on, if the Union were dissolved? Suppose the dissolution
    could be peaceably effected (if that did not involve a
    contradiction in terms), what had the South to depend upon?
    _All the crowned heads were against her. A million of slaves
    were ready to rise and strike for freedom at the first tap of
    the drum._ If they were cut loose from their friends at the
    North (friends that ought to be, and without them, the South
    had no friends), _whither were they to look for protection_?
    How were they to sustain an assault from England or France,
    with the cancer at their vitals? The more the South reflected,
    the more clearly she must see that she has a deep and vital
    interest in maintaining the Union."

These witnesses can neither be impeached nor ruled out of Court, and
their testimony is true. While, therefore, the Union is preserved, I
see no end to the extension or perpetuity of Chattel Slavery--no hope
for peaceful deliverance of the millions who are clanking their chains
on our blood-red soil. Yet I know that God reigns, and that the slave
system contains within itself the elements of destruction. But how
long it is to curse the earth, and desecrate his image, he alone
foresees. It is frightful to think of the capacity of a nation like
this to commit sin, before the measure of its iniquities be filled,
and the exterminating judgments of God overtake it. For what is left
us but "a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation"? Or
is God but a phantom, and the Eternal Law but a figment of the
imagination? Has an everlasting divorce been effected between cause
and effect, and is it an absurd doctrine that, as a nation sows, so
shall it also reap? "Wherefore, hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful
men that rule this people: Because ye have said, We have made a
covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the
overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for
we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid
ourselves: Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Judgment will I lay to
the line, and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep
away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the
hiding-place: And your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your
agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge
shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it."

These are solemn times. It is not a struggle for national salvation;
for the nation, as such, seems doomed beyond recovery. The reason why
the South rules, and North falls prostrate in servile terror, is
simply this: With the South, the preservation of Slavery is paramount
to all other considerations--above party success, denominational
unity, pecuniary interest, legal integrity, and constitutional
obligation. With the North, the preservation of the Union is placed
above all other things--above honour, justice, freedom, integrity of
soul, the Decalogue and the Golden Rule--the Infinite God himself. All
these she is ready to discard for the Union. Her devotion to it is the
latest and the most terrible form of idolatry. She has given to the
Slave Power a _carte blanche_, to be filled as it may dictate--and if,
at any time, she grows restive under the yoke, and shrinks back aghast
at the new atrocity contemplated, it is only necessary for that Power
to crack the whip of Disunion over her head, as it has done again and
again, and she will cower and obey like a plantation slave--for has
she not sworn that she will sacrifice everything in heaven and on
earth, rather than the Union?

What then is to be done? Friends of the slave, the question is not
whether by our efforts we can abolish Slavery, speedily or
remotely--for duty is ours, the result is with God; but whether we
will go with the multitude to do evil, sell our birthright for a mess
of pottage, cease to cry aloud and spare not, and remain in Babylon
when the command of God is, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be
not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
Let us stand in our lot, "and having done all, to stand." At least, a
remnant shall be saved. Living or dying, defeated or victorious, be it
ours to exclaim, "No compromise with Slavery! Liberty for each, for
all, forever! Man above all institutions! The supremacy of God over
the whole earth!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                   |
    |                                                           |
    | Page  7: Eurpean replaced with European                   |
    | Page  9: justication replaced with justification          |
    | Page 26: appaling replaced with appalling                 |
    |                                                           |
    | On page 16 there is a partially blocked word in the       |
    | scanned image. From the context it is very likely that    |
    | the word is 'demand':                                     |
    |                                                           |
    |  "I have not, at any time, advanced an ultra sentiment,   |
    |  or made an extravagant ----nd. I have avoided            |
    |  fanaticism on the one hand, fully on the other."         |
    |                                                           |

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