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Abolitionists Quotes

They Said It

"Fellow citizens, pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?...What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour."

- Frederick Douglass, on what the Fourth of July means to the slave, 185235
"[Slaves] ought to be taxed but not represented, any more than our oxen or horses."

- Silas Lee, Maine politician, 178836
"Our country is the world; our countrymen are all mankind."

- masthead of William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, 183137
"...slavery had been the condition of all ancient culture, that Christianity approved servitude, and that the law of Moses had both assumed and positively established slavery....It is the order of nature and of God that the being of superior faculties and knowledge, and therefore of superior power, should control and dispose of those who are inferior. It is as much in the order of nature that men should enslave each other as that other animals should prey upon each other."

- Southerner Thomas Roderick Dew, 183238
"[Slavery is] something so very contradictory to Humanity, that I am really ashamed of my Country whenever I hear of it; & if ever I bid adieu to Virginia, it will be from that cause alone."

- Virginia planter Robert Beverley, 176139
"Introduced among us by violence, notoriously ignorant, degraded and miserable, mentally diseased, brokenspirited [sic], acted upon by no motive to honorable exertions, scarcely reached in their debasement by the heavenly light, [free blacks] wander unsettled and unbefriended [sic] through our land, or sit indolent, abject and sorrowful, by the streams which witness their captivity." – The African Repository, the journal of the American Colonization Society, 182540"Old John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave / While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save / But though he lost his life in struggling for the slave / His truth is marching on / Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on! / Oh, soldiers of freedom, then strike while strike you may / The deathblow of oppression in a better time and way / For the dawn of old John Brown was brightened into day / And his truth is marching on / Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on!"

- lyrics of "John Brown's Body," an abolitionist song that became a popular tune among Union soldiers during the Civil War; Julia Ward Howe rewrote the lyrics to compose "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"41

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