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´╗┐Title: Abolition Fanaticism in New York - Speech of a Runaway Slave from Baltimore, at an Abolition - Meeting in New York, Held May 11, 1847
Author: Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Abolition Fanaticism in New York - Speech of a Runaway Slave from Baltimore, at an Abolition - Meeting in New York, Held May 11, 1847" ***




HELD MAY 11, 1847.




  At the Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society,


The following Report will show to Marylanders, how a runaway slave
talks, when he reaches the Abolition regions of the country. This
presumptive negro was even present at the London World's Temperance
Convention, last year; and in spite of all the efforts of the American
Delegates to prevent it, he palmed off his Abolition bombast upon an
audience of 7000 persons! Of this high-handed measure he now makes his
boast in New-York, one of the hot-beds of Abolitionism. The Report is
given exactly as published in the New-York Tribune. The reader will
make his own comments.

Mr. DOUGLASS was introduced to the audience by WM. LLOYD GARRISON,
Esq., President of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and, upon taking
the platform, was greeted with enthusiastic and long-continued
applause by the vast concourse which filled the spacious Tabernacle
to overflowing. As soon as the audience became silent, Mr. D. with, at
first, a slight degree of embarrassment, addressed them as follows:

"I am very glad to be here. I am very glad to be present at this
Anniversary--glad again to mingle my voice with those with whom I have
stood identified, with those with whom I have labored, for the last
seven years, for the purpose of undoing the burdens of my brethren,
and hastening the day of their emancipation.

I do not doubt but that a large portion of this audience will be
disappointed, both by the _manner_ and the _matter_ of what I shall
this day set forth. The extraordinary and unmerited eulogies which have
been showered upon me, here and elsewhere, have done much to create
expectations which, I am well aware, I can never hope to gratify. I am
here, a simple man, knowing what I have experienced in Slavery, knowing
it to be a bad system, and desiring, by all Christian means, to seek its
overthrow. I am not here to please you with an eloquent speech, with a
refined and logical address, but to speak to you the sober truths of a
heart overborne with gratitude to God that we have in this land, cursed
as it is with Slavery, so noble a band to second my efforts and the
efforts of others in the noble work of undoing the Yoke of Bondage, with
which the majority of the States of this Union are now unfortunately

Since the last time I had the pleasure of mingling my voice with the
voices of my friends on this platform, many interesting and even trying
events have occurred to me. I have experienced, within the last eighteen
or twenty months, many incidents, all of which it would be interesting
to communicate to you; but many of these I shall be compelled to pass
over at this time, and confine my remarks to giving a general outline of
the manner and spirit with which I have been hailed abroad, and welcomed
at the different places which I have visited during my absence of
twenty months.

You are aware, doubtless, that my object in going from this country, was
to get beyond the reach of the clutch of the man who claimed to own me
as his property. I had written a book giving a history of that portion
of my life spent in the gall and bitterness and degradation of Slavery,
and in which I also identified my oppressors as the perpetrators of some
of the most atrocious crimes. This had deeply incensed them against me,
and stirred up within them the purpose of revenge, and my whereabouts
being known, I believed it necessary for me, if I would preserve my
liberty, to leave the shores of America, and take up my abode in some
other land, at least until the excitement occasioned by the publication
of my Narrative had subsided. I went to England, Monarchical England, to
get rid of Democratic Slavery, and I must confess that, at the very
threshold, I was satisfied that I had gone to the right place. Say what
you will of England--of the degradation--of the poverty--and there is
much of it there--say what you will of the oppression and suffering
going on in England at this time, there is Liberty there--there is
Freedom there, not only for the white man, but for the black man also.
The instant I stepped upon the shore, and looked into the faces of the
crowd around me, I saw in every man a recognition of my manhood, and an
absence, a perfect absence, of everything like that disgusting hate with
which we are pursued in this country. [Cheers.] I looked around in vain
to see in any man's face a token of the slightest aversion to me on
account of my complexion. Even the cabmen demeaned themselves to me
as they did to other men, and the very dogs and pigs of old England
treated me as a man! I cannot, however, my friends, dwell upon this
anti-Prejudice, or rather the many illustrations of the absence of
Prejudice against Color in England--but will proceed, at once, to defend
the Right and Duty of invoking English aid and English sympathy for the
overthrow of American Slavery, for the education of Colored Americans,
and to forward in every way, the interests of humanity; inasmuch as the
right of appealing to England for aid in overthrowing Slavery in this
country, has been called in question, in public meetings and by the
press, in this city.

I cannot agree with my friend Mr. Garrison in relation to my love and
attachment to this land. I have no love for America, as such; I have no
patriotism. I have no country. What country have I? The Institutions
of this country do not know me--do not recognize me as a man. I am
not thought of, spoken of, in any direction, out of the Anti-Slavery
ranks, as a man. I am not thought of or spoken of, except as a piece
of property belonging to some _Christian_ Slaveholder, and all the
Religious and Political Institutions of this Country alike pronounce
me a Slave and a chattel. Now, in such a country as this I cannot have
patriotism. The only thing that links me to this land is my family, and
the painful consciousness that here there are 3,000,000 of my fellow
creatures groaning beneath the iron rod of the worst despotism that
could be devised even in Pandemonium,--that here are men and brethren
who are identified with me by their complexion, identified with me
by their hatred of Slavery, identified with me by their love and
aspirations for Liberty, identified with me by the stripes upon their
backs, their inhuman wrongs and cruel sufferings. This, and this only,
attaches me to this land, and brings me here to plead with you, and
with this country at large, for the disenthrallment of my oppressed
countrymen, and to overthrow this system of Slavery which is crushing
them to the earth. How can I love a country that dooms 3,000,000 of my
brethren, some of them my own kindred, my own brothers, my own sisters,
who are now clanking the chains of Slavery upon the plains of the South,
whose warm blood is now making fat the soil of Maryland and of Alabama,
and over whose crushed spirits rolls the dark shadow of Oppression,
shutting out and extinguishing forever the cheering rays of that bright
Sun of Liberty, lighted in the souls of all God's children by the
omnipotent hand of Deity itself? How can I, I say, love a country thus
cursed, thus bedewed with the blood of my brethren? A Country, the
Church of which, and the Government of which, and the Constitution of
which are in favor of supporting and perpetuating this monstrous system
of injustice and blood? I have not, I cannot have, any love for this
country, as such, or for its Constitution. I desire to see it overthrown
as speedily as possible and its Constitution shivered in a thousand
fragments, rather than this foul curse should continue to remain as now.
[Hisses and cheers.]

In all this, my friends, let me make myself understood. I do not hate
America as against England, or against any other country or land. I love
Humanity all over the globe. I am anxious to see Righteousness prevail
in all directions. I am anxious to see Slavery overthrown here; but, I
never appealed to Englishmen in a manner calculated to awaken feelings
of hatred or disgust, or to inflame their prejudices toward America as a
nation, or in a manner provocative of national jealousy or ill-will; but
I always appealed to their conscience--to the higher and nobler feelings
of the people of that country, to enlist them in this cause. I always
appealed to their manhood, that which preceded their being Englishmen,
(to quote an expression of my friend Phillips,) I appealed to them as
men, and I had a right to do so. They are men, and the Slave is a man,
and we have a right to call upon all men to assist in breaking his
bonds, let them be born when and live where they may.

But it is asked, 'What good will this do?' or 'What good has it done?'
'Have you not irritated, have you not annoyed your American friends and
the American people rather than done them good?' I admit that we have
irritated them. They deserve to be irritated. I am anxious to irritate
the American people on this question. As it is in physics, so in morals,
there are cases which demand irritation and counter-irritation. The
conscience of the American public needs this irritation, and I would
_blister it all over from centre to circumference_, until it gives signs
of a purer and a better life than it is now manifesting to the world.

But why expose the sins of one nation in the eyes of another? Why
attempt to bring one people under the odium of another people? There
is much force in this question. I admit that there are sins in almost
every country which can be best removed by means confined exclusively
to their immediate locality. But such evils and such sins pre-suppose
the existence of a moral power in their immediate locality sufficient
to accomplish the work of renovation. But, where, pray, can we go to
find moral power in this nation sufficient to overthrow Slavery? To what
institution, to what party shall we apply for aid? I say we admit that
there are evils which can be best removed by influences confined to
their immediate locality. But in regard to American Slavery it is not
so. It is such a giant crime, so darkening to the soul, so blinding
in its moral influence, so well calculated to blast and corrupt all
the humane principles of our nature, so well adapted to infuse its
own accursed spirit into all around it, that the people among whom
it exists have not the moral power to abolish it. Shall we go to the
Church for this influence? We have heard its character described. Shall
we go to Politicians or Political Parties? Have they the moral power
necessary to accomplish this mighty task? They have not. What are they
doing at this moment? Voting supplies for Slavery--voting supplies for
the extension, the stability, the perpetuation of Slavery in this land.
What is the press doing? The same. The pulpit? Almost the same. I do
not flatter myself that there is moral power in the land sufficient to
overthrow Slavery, and I welcome the aid of England. And that aid will
come. The growing intercourse between England and this country, by
means of steam navigation, the relaxation of the protective system in
various countries in Europe, gives us an opportunity to bring in the
aid, the moral and Christian aid of those living on the other side of the
Atlantic. We welcome it in the language of the resolution. We entreat
our British friends to continue to send their remonstrances across the
deep against Slavery in this land. And these remonstrances will have
a powerful effect here. Sir, the Americans may tell of their ability,
and I have no doubt they have it, to keep back the invader's hosts,
to repulse the strongest force that its enemies may send against this
country. It may boast, and _rightly_ boast of its capacity to build its
ramparts so high that no foe can hope to scale them--to render them so
impregnable as to defy the assaults of the world. But, sir, there is one
thing it cannot resist, come from what quarter it may. It cannot resist
TRUTH. You cannot build your forts so strong, nor your ramparts so
high, nor arm yourselves so powerfully, as to be able to withstand the
overwhelming MORAL SENTIMENT against Slavery now flowing into this land.
For example: Prejudice against Color is continually becoming weaker
in this land; and why? Because the whole European Continent denounces
this sentiment as unworthy a lodgment in the breast of an enlightened
community. And the American abroad dares not now, even in a public
conveyance, to lift his voice in defence of this disgusting prejudice.

I do not mean to say that there are no practices abroad which deserve
to receive an influence, favorable to their extermination, from America.
I am most glad to know that Democratic Freedom--not the bastard Democracy
which, while loud in its protestations of regard for Liberty and
Equality, builds up Slavery, and, in the name of Freedom fights the
battles of Despotism--is making great strides in Europe. We see, abroad,
in England especially, happy indications of the progress of American
principles. A little while ago England was cursed by a Corn monopoly--by
that giant monopoly which snatched from the mouths of the famishing Poor
the bread which you sent from this land. The community--the _people_ of
England demanded its destruction, and they have triumphed! We have aided
them, and they aid us, and the mission of the two nations, henceforth,
is _to serve each other_.

Sir, it is said that, when abroad, I misrepresented my country on this
question. I am not aware of any misrepresentation. I stated facts and
facts only. A gentleman of your own City, Rev. Dr. Cox, has taken
particular pains to stigmatize me as having introduced the subject of
Slavery illegitimately into the World's Temperance Convention. But what
was the fact? I went to that Convention, not as a Delegate--I went into
it by the invitation of a Committee of the Convention. I suppose most
of you know the circumstances, but I wish to say one word in relation to
the spirit and the principle which animated me at that meeting. I went
into it at the invitation of the Committee, and spoke not only at their
urgent request, but by public announcement. I stood on the platform on
the evening referred to, and heard some eight or ten Americans address
the 7,000 people assembled in that vast Hall. I heard them speak of the
Temperance movement in the land. I heard them eulogize the Temperance
Societies in the highest terms, calling on England to follow their
example (and England may follow them with advantage to herself;) but
I heard no reference made to the 3,000,000 of people in this country
who are denied the privilege, not only of Temperance, but of all other
Societies. I heard not a word of the American Slaves, who, if seven
of them were found together at a Temperance meeting or any other
place, would be scourged and beaten by their cruel tyrants. Yes,
nine-and-thirty lashes is the penalty required to be inflicted by the
law if any of the Slaves get together in a number exceeding seven, for
any purpose, however peaceable or laudable. And while these American
gentlemen were extending their hands to me, and saying, 'How do you do,
Mr. Douglass? I am most happy to meet you here,' &c. &c. I knew that, in
America, they would not have touched me with a pair of tongues. I felt,
therefore, that that was the place and the time to call to remembrance
the 3,000,000 of Slaves, whom I aspired to represent on that occasion.
I did so, not maliciously, but with a desire, only, to subserve the best
interests of my race. I besought the American Delegates who had at first
responded to my speech with shouts of applause, when they should arrive
at home, to extend the borders of their Temperance Societies, so as to
include the 500,000 Colored People in the Northern States of the Union.
I also called to mind the facts in relation to the mob that occurred in
the City of Philadelphia in the year 1842. I stated these facts to show
to the British public how difficult it is for a colored man in this
country to do anything to elevate himself or his race from the state
of degradation in which they are plunged; how difficult it is for him
to be virtuous or temperate, or anything but a menial, an outcast.
You all remember the circumstances of the mob to which I have alluded.
A number of intelligent, philanthropic, manly colored men, desirous
of snatching their colored brethren from the fangs of intemperance,
formed themselves into a procession and walked through the streets of
Philadelphia with appropriate banners, and badges, and mottoes. I stated
the fact that that procession was not allowed to proceed far, in the
City of Philadelphia--the American City of Brotherly Love, the city of
all others loudest in its boasts of freedom and liberty--before these
noble-minded men were assaulted by the citizens, their banners torn in
shreds and themselves trampled in the dust, and inhumanly beaten, and
all their bright and fond hopes and anticipations in behalf of their
friends and their race blasted by the wanton cruelty of their white
fellow citizens. And all this was done for no other reason than that
they had presumed to walk through the streets with Temperance banners
and badges, like human beings.

The statement of this fact caused the whole Convention to break forth
in one general expression of intense disgust at such atrocious and
inhuman conduct. This disturbed the composure of some of our American
representatives, who, in serious alarm, caught hold of the skirts of
my coat, and attempted to make me desist from my exposition of the
situation of the colored race in this country. There was one Doctor of
Divinity there--the ugliest man that I ever saw in my life--who almost
tore the skirts of my coat off, so vehement was he in his _friendly_
attempts to induce me to yield the floor. But fortunately the audience
came to my rescue, and demanded that I should go on, and I did go on,
and, I trust, discharged my duty to my brethren in bonds and the cause
of Human Liberty, in a manner not altogether unworthy the occasion.

I have been accused of _dragging_ the question of Slavery into the
Convention. I had a right to do so. It was the _World's_ Convention--not
the Convention of any sect or number of sects--not the convention of any
particular Nation--not a man's nor a woman's Convention, not a black
man's nor a white man's Convention, but the _World's_ Convention, the
convention of ALL, _black_ as well as _white_, _bond_ as well as _free_.
And I stood there, as I thought, a representative of 3,000,000 of men
whom I had left in rags and wretchedness to be devoured by the accursed
Institution which stands by them, as with a drawn sword, ever ready to
fall upon their devoted and defenceless heads. I felt, as I said to Dr.
Cox, that it was demanded of me by Conscience, to speak out boldly in
behalf of those whom I had left behind. [Cheers.] And, sir, (I think I
may say this, without subjecting myself to the charge of egotism) I deem
it very fortunate for the friends of the Slave, that Mr. Garrison and
myself were there just at that time. Sir, the Churches in this country
have long repined at the position of the Churches in England on the
subject of Slavery. They have sought many opportunities to do away the
prejudices of the English Churches against American Slavery. Why, sir,
at this time there were not far from Seventy Ministers of the Gospel
from Christian America, in England, pouring their leprous pro-slavery
distilment into the ears of the people of that country, and by their
prayers, their conversation and their public speeches, seeking to darken
the British mind on the subject of Slavery, and to create in the English
public the same cruel and heartless apathy that prevails in this country
in relation to the Slave, his wrongs and his rights. I knew them by
their continuous slandering of my race, and at this time, and under
these circumstances, I deemed it a happy interposition of God, in behalf
of my oppressed, and misrepresented, and slandered people, that one of
their number should be able to break his chains and burst up through the
dark incrustations of malice and hate and degradation which had been
thrown over them, and stand before the British public to open to them
the secrets of the prison-house of bondage in America. [Cheers.] Sir,
the Slave sends no Delegates to the Evangelical Alliance. [Cheers.]
The Slave sends no Delegates to the World's Temperance Convention.
Why? Because chains are upon his arms, and fetters fast bind his
limbs. He must be driven out to be sold at auction by some _Christian_
Slaveholder, and the money for which his soul is bartered must be
appropriated to spread the Gospel among the Heathen.

Sir, I feel it is good to be here. There is always work to be done.
Slavery is everywhere. Slavery goes out in the Cambria and comes back in
the Cambria. Slavery was in the Evangelical Alliance, looking saintly
in the person of Rev. Doctor Smythe; it was in the World's Temperance
Convention, in the person of Rev. Mr. Kirk. Dr. Marsh went about saying,
in so many words, that the unfortunate Slaveholders in America were so
peculiarly situated, so environed by uncontrollable circumstances that
they could not liberate their slaves; that if they were to emancipate
them they would be, in many instances, cast into prison. Sir, it did
me good to go around on the heels of this gentleman. I was glad to
follow him around for the sake of my country, for the country is not,
after all, so bad as Rev. Dr. Marsh represented it to be. My fellow
countrymen, what think ye he said of you, on the other side of the
Atlantic? He said you were not only pro-Slavery, but that you actually
aided the Slaveholder in holding his Slaves securely in his grasp; that,
in fact, you compelled him to be a Slaveholder. This I deny. You are not
so bad as that. You do not compel the Slaveholder to be a Slaveholder.

And Rev. Doctor Cox, too, talked a great deal over there, and among
other things, he said that 'many Slave-holders--dear Christian
men!--were sincerely anxious to get rid of their slaves;' and to show
how difficult it is for them to get rid of their human chattels, he put
the following case: A man living in a State, the laws of which compel
all persons emancipating their slaves to remove them beyond its limits,
wishes to liberate his slaves; but he is too poor to transport them
beyond the confines of the State in which he resides; therefore he
cannot emancipate them--he is necessarily a slaveholder. But, sir, there
was one fact, which I happened, fortunately, to have on hand just at
that time, which completely neutralized this very affecting statement of
the Doctor's. It so happens that Messrs. Gerrit Smith and Arthur Tappan
have advertised for the especial benefit of this afflicted class of
Slaveholders, that they have set apart the sum of $10,000, to be
appropriated in aiding them to remove their emancipated Slaves beyond
the jurisdiction of the State, and that the money would be forthcoming
on application being made for it; but _no such application was ever
made_. This shows that however truthful the statements of these
gentlemen may be concerning the things of the world to come, they are
lamentably reckless in their statements concerning things appertaining
to this world. I do not mean to say that they would designedly tell that
which is false; but they did make the statements which I have ascribed
to them.

And Doct. Cox and others charge me with having stirred up warlike
feeling while abroad. This charge, also, I deny. The whole of my
arguments and the whole of my appeals, while I was abroad, were in favor
of any thing else than war. I embraced every opportunity to propagate
the principles of Peace while I was in Great Britain. I confess,
honestly, that were I not a Peace man, were I a believer in fighting
at all, I should have gone through England, saying to Englishmen, _as_
Englishmen, 'There are 3,000,000 of men across the Atlantic who are
whipped, scourged, robbed of themselves, denied every privilege, denied
the right to read the Word of the God who made them, trampled under
foot, denied all the rights of human beings; go to their rescue;
shoulder your muskets, buckle on your knapsacks, and in the invincible
cause of Human Rights and Universal Liberty, go forth, and the laurels
which you shall win will be as fadeless and as imperishable as the
eternal aspirations of the human soul after that Freedom which every
being made after God's image instinctively feels is his birthright.'
This would have been my course had I been a war man. That such was not
my course, I appeal to my whole career while abroad to determine.

  Weapons of war we have cast from the battle:
    TRUTH is our armor--our watchword is LOVE;
  Hushed be the sword, and the musketry's rattle,
    All our equipments are drawn from above.
          Praise then the God of Truth,
          Hoary age and ruddy youth.
          Long may our rally be
          Love, Light and Liberty;
    Ever our banner the banner of Peace."

Mr. Douglass took his seat in the midst of the most enthusiastic and
overwhelming applause in which the whole of the vast assembly appeared
heartily to join.

[Transcriber's Note: This text has been transcribed from Library of
Congress scans of a pamphlet printed in Baltimore MD which has minor
damage at the outer lower corners. Because no other copies of this exact
pamphlet are available, the obscured text has been supplied from the
same edition of the New York (Daily) Tribune which is referred to as
the source in the pamphlet's introductory paragraph: "Country, Conscience,
and the Anti-Slavery Cause: An Address Delivered in New York, New York,
May 11, 1847." New York Daily Tribune, 13 May 1847.]

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