God forbid that we should any longer continue the accomplices of
thieves and robbers, of men-stealers and women-whippers! We must join together
in the name of freedom.
As for the Union--where is it and what is it?
In one-half of it no man can exercise freedom of speech or the press--no
man can utter the words of Washington, of Jefferson, of Patrick Henry--except
at the peril of his life; and Northern men are everywhere hunted and driven
from the South if they are supposed to cherish the sentiment of freedom
in their bosoms.
We are living under an awful despotism--that of a brutal slave oligarchy.
And they threaten to leave us if we do not continue to do their evil work,
as we have hitherto done it, and go down in the dust before them!
Would to heaven they would go! It would only be the paupers clearing
out from the town, would it not? But, no, they do not mean to go; they
mean to cling to you, and they mean to subdue you. But will you be subdued?
I tell you our work is the dissolution of this slavery-cursed Union,
if we would have a fragment of our liberties left to us! Surely between
freemen, who believe in exact justice and impartial liberty, and slaveholders,
who are for cleaning down all human rights at a blow, it is not possible
there should be any Union whatever. "How can two walk together except
they be agreed?"
The slaveholder with his hands dripping in blood--will I make a compact
with him? The man who plunders cradles--will I say to him, "Brother,
let us walk together in unity?" The man who, to gratify his lust or
his anger, scourges woman with the lash till the soil is red with her blood--will
I say to him: "Give me your hand; let us form a glorious Union?"
No, never--never! There can be no union between us: "What concord
hath Christ with Belial?" What union has freedom with slavery? Let
us tell the inexorable and remorseless tyrants of the South that their
conditions hitherto imposed upon us, whereby we are morally responsible
for the existence of slavery, are horribly inhuman and wicked, and we cannot
carry them out for the sake of their evil company.
By the dissolution of the Union we shall give the finishing blow
to the slave system; and then God will make it possible for us to form
a true, vital, enduring, all-embracing Union, from the Atlantic to the
Pacific--one God to be worshipped, one Saviour to be revered, one policy
to be carried out--freedom everywhere to all the people, without regard
to complexion or race--and the blessing of God resting upon us all! I want
to see that glorious day!
Now the South is full of tribulation and terror and despair, going
down to irretrievable bankruptcy, and fearing each bush an officer! Would
to God it might all pass away like a hideous dream! And how easily it might
What is it that God requires of the South to remove every root of
bitterness, to allay every fear, to fill her borders with prosperity? But
one simple act of justice, without violence and convulsion, without danger
and hazard. It is this: "Undo the heavy burdens, break every yoke,
and let the oppressed go free!" Then shall thy light break forth as
the morning, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. Then shalt thou
call and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say: "Here
"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."
How simple and how glorious! It is the complete solution of all the
difficulties in the case. Oh, that the South may be wise before it is too
late, and give heed to the word of the Lord! But, whether she will hear
or forbear, let us renew our pledges to the cause of bleeding humanity,
and spare no effort to make this truly the land of the free and the refuge
of the oppressed!
"Onward, then, ye fearless band,
Heart to heart, and hand to hand;
Yours shall be the Christian's stand,
Or the martyr's grave."
William Lloyd Garrison - December 2, 1859