Truisms

William Lloyd Garrison

January 08, 1831

1. All men are born equal, and entitled to protection, excepting those whose skins are black and hair woolly; or, to prevent mistake, excepting Africans, and their descendants.

2. If white men are ignorant and depraved, they ought freely to receive the benefits of education; but if black men are in this condition, common sense dictates that they should be held in bondage, and never instructed.

3. He who steals a sheep, or buys one of a thief, deserves severe punishment. He who steals a negro, or buys him of a kidnapper, is blameless. Why? Because a sheep can be eaten, and a negro cannot; because he has a black fleece, and it a white one; (1) because the law asserts that this distinction is just—and law, we all know, is founded in equity; and because pure benevolence actuates in the one case, and downright villany [sic] in the other.

4. The color of the skin determines whether a man has a soul or not. If white, he has an immortal essence; if black, he is altogether beastly. Mulattoes, however, derive no benefit from this rule.

5. The blacks ought to be held in fetters, because they are too stupid to take care of themselves; at least, we are not so stupid as to suffer them to make the experiment.

6. To kidnap children on the coast of Africa is a horrid crime, deservedly punishable with death; but he who steals them, in this country, as soon as they are born, performs not merely an innocent but a praiseworthy act.

7. In Africa, a man who buys or sells another, is a monster of hell. In America, he is an heir of heaven.

8. A man has a right to heap unbounded execration upon the foreign slave trade, and the abettors thereof; but if he utter a sentiment derogatory to the domestic traffic, or to those who assist in the transportation of victims, he is to be imprisoned for publishing a libel, and sentenced to pay a fine of not less than one thousand dollars.

9. He who calls American slaveholders tyrants, is a fool, a fanatic, or a madman; but if he apologise for monarchical governments, or an hereditary aristocracy, set him down as a tory, and a traitor to his country.

10. There is not the least danger of a rebellion among the slaves; and even if they should revolt en masse, what could they do? Their united physical force would be utterly contemptible.

11. None but fanatics or idiots desire immediate abolition. If the slaves were liberated at once, our throats would be cut, and our houses pillaged and burnt!

12. Our slaves must be educated for freedom. Our slaves must never learn the alphabet, because knowledge would teach them to throw off their yoke.

13. People at the north have no right to alleviate physical suffering, or illumine spiritual darkness, at the south; but they have a right to assist the Greeks, or the Hindoos, or any foreign nation.

14. Were the slaves, goaded to desperation, to rise against their masters, the free states are constitutionally bound to cut their throats! “The receiver is as bad as the thief.” The free states receive and consume the productions of slave labor! The District of Columbia is national property: slavery exists in that District! Yet the free states are not involved in the guilt of slavery!

15. A white man, who kills a tyrant, is a hero, and deserves a monument. If a slave kill his master, he is a murderer, and deserves to be burnt.

16. The slaves are kept in bondage for their own good. Liberty is a curse to the free people of color—their condition is worse than that of the slaves! Yet it would be very wicked to bind them with fetters for their good!

17. The slaves are contented and happy. If sometimes they are so ungrateful or deluded as to abscond, it is pure philanthropy that induces their masters to offer a handsome reward for their detection.

18. Blacks have no intellect. The laws, at the south, which forbid their instruction, were not enacted because it was supposed these brutes had brains, or for the sake of compliment, but are owing simply to an itch for superfluous legislation.

19. Slaves are held as property. It is the acme of humanity and justice, therefore, in the laws, to recognise them also as moral agents, and punish them in the most aggravated manner, if they perpetrate a crime; though they cannot read, and have neither seen nor known the laws!

20. It is foolish and cruel for an individual to denounce slavery; because the more he disturbs the security of the masters, the more vindictive will be their conduct toward the slaves. For the same reason, we ought to prefer the products of slave labor to those of free; as the more wealthy masters become, the better they will be enabled to feed and clothe their menials.

21. To deny that a man is a christian or republican, who holds slaves and dooms their children to bondage, is most uncharitable and in-consistent.

22. To say that a clerical slavite is bound to follow his own precepts, or to obey the seventh and tenth commandments, is preposterous.

23. To doubt the religious vitality of a church, which is composed of slaveholders, is the worst species of infidelity.

24. The Africans are our slaves—not because we like to oppress, or to make money unjustly—but because Noah’s curse must be fulfilled, and the scriptures obeyed.

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