William Lloyd Garrison
January 10, 1845
Tyrants of the old world! contemners of the rights of man! disbelievers in human freedom and equality! enemies of mankind! console not yourselves
with the delusion, that REPUBLICANISM and the AMERICAN UNION are synonymous terms—or that the downfall of the latter will be the extinction of the former, and, consequently, a proof of the incapacity of the people for self-government, and a confirmation of your own despotic claims! Your thrones must crumble to dust; your sceptre of dominion drop from your powerless hands; your rod of oppression be broken; yourselves so vilely abased, that there shall be “none so poor to do you reverence.” The will of God, the beneficent Creator of the human family, cannot always be frustrated. It is his will that every form of usurpation, every kind of injustice, every device of tyranny, shall come to nought; that peace, and liberty, and righteousness, shall “reign from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth”; and that, throughout the earth, in the fulness of a sure redemption, there shall be “none to molest or make afraid.” Humanity, covered with gore, cries with a voice that pierces the heavens. “His will be done!” Justice, discrowned by the hand of violence, exclaims in tones of deep solemnity, “HIS WILL BE DONE!” Liberty, burdened with chains, and driven into exile, in thunder-tones responds, “HIS WILL BE DONE!”
Tyrants! know that the rights of man are inherent and unalienable, and therefore, not to be forfeited by the failure of any form of government, however democratic. Let the American Union perish; let these allied States be torn with faction, or drenched in blood; let this republic realize the fate of Rome and Carthage, of Babylon and Tyre; still those rights would remain undiminished in strength, unsullied in purity, unaffected in value, and sacred as their Divine Author. If nations perish, it is not because of their devotion to liberty, but for their disregard of its requirements. Man is superior to all political compacts, all governmental arrangements, all religious institutions. As means to an end, these may sometimes be useful, though never indispensable; but that end must always be the freedom and happiness of man, INDIVIDUAL MAN. It can never be true that the public good requires the violent sacrifice of any, even the humblest citizen; for it is absolutely dependent on his preservation, not destruction. To do evil that good may come, is equally absurd and criminal. The time for the overthrow of any government, the abandonment of any alliance, the subversion of any institution, is, whenever it justifies the immolation of the individual to secure the general welfare; for the welfare of the many cannot be hostile to the safety of the few. In all agreements, in all measures, in all political or religious enterprises, in all attempts to redeem the human race, man, as an individual, is to be held paramount: —
“Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.”
The doctrine, that the end sanctifies the means, is the maxim of profligates and impostors, of usurpers and tyrants. They who, to promote the cause of truth will sanction the utterance of a falsehood are to be put in the category of liars. So, likewise, they who are for trampling on the rights of the minority, in order to benefit the majority, are to be registered as the monsters of their race. Might is never right, excepting when it sees in every human being, “a man and a brother,” and protects him with a divine fidelity. It is the recognition of these truths, the adoption of these principles, which alone can extirpate tyranny from the earth, perpetuate a free government, and cause the dwellers in every clime, “like kindred drops, to mingle into one.”
Tyrants! confident of its overthrow, proclaim not to your vassals that the AMERICAN UNION is an experiment of Freedom, which, if it fail, will forever demonstrate the necessity of whips for the backs, and chains for the limbs of the people. Know that its subversion is essential to the triumph of justice, the deliverance of the oppressed, the vindication of the BROTHERHOOD OF THE RACE. It was conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity; and its career has been marked by unparalleled hypocrisy, by high-handed tyranny, by a bold defiance of the omniscience and omnipotence of God. Freedom indignantly disowns it, and calls for its extinction; for within its borders are three millions of Slaves, whose blood constitutes its cement, whose flesh forms a large and flourishing branch of its commerce, and who are ranked with four-footed beasts and creeping things. To secure the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, it was agreed, first, that the African slave-trade, —till that time, a feeble, isolated colonial traffic, — should for at least twenty years be prosecuted as a national interest under the American flag, and protected by the national arm; —secondly, that a slaveholding oligarchy, created by allowing three-fifths of the slave population to be represented by their taskmasters, should be allowed a permanent seat in Congress;—thirdly, that the slave system should be secured against internal revolt and external invasion, by the united physical force of the country; —fourthly, that not a foot of national territory should be granted, on which the panting fugitive from Slavery might stand, and be safe from his pursuers—thus making every citizen a slave-hunter and slave-catcher. To say that this “covenant with death” shall not be annulled—that this “agreement with hell” shall continue to stand—that this “refuge of lies” shall not be swept away—is to hurl defiance at the eternal throne, and to give the lie to Him who sits thereon. It is an attempt, alike monstrous and impracticable, to blend the light of heaven with the darkness of the bottomless pit, to unite the living with the dead, to associate the Son of God with the prince of evil.
Accursed be the AMERICAN UNION, as a stupendous republican imposture!
Accursed be it, as the most frightful despotism, with regard to three millions of the people, ever exercised over any portion of the human family!
Accursed be it, as the most subtle and atrocious compromise ever made to gratify power and selfishness!
Accursed be it, as a libel on Democracy, and a bold assault on Christianity!
Accursed be it, as stained with human blood, and supported by human sacrifices!
Accursed be it, for the terrible evils it has inflicted on Africa, by burning her villages, ravaging her coast, and kidnapping her children, at an enormous expense of human life, and for a diabolical purpose!
Accursed be it, for all the crimes it has committed at home—for seeking the utter extermination of the red men of its wildernesses—and for enslaving one-sixth part of its teeming population!
Accursed be it, for its hypocrisy, its falsehood, its impudence, its lust, its cruelty, its oppression!
Accursed be it, as a mighty obstacle in the way of universal freedom and equality!
Accursed be it, from the foundation to the roof, and may there soon not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down!
Henceforth, the watchword of every uncompromising abolitionist, of every friend of God and liberty, must be, both in a religious and political sense-”NO UNION WITH SLAVEHOLDERS!”
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