1843 Platform of the Liberty Party

Adopted in Convention, 30 August 1843, Buffalo, N. Y.

  1. RESOLVED,  That human brotherhood is a cardinal principle Of true democracy, as well as of pure Christianity, which spurns all inconsistent limitations; and neither the political party which repudiates it, nor the political system which is not based upon it, can be truly democratic or permanent.
  2. RESOLVED,  That the Liberty party, placing itself upon this broad principle, will demand the absolute and unqualified divorce of the general government from slavery, and also the restoration of equality of rights among men in every state where the party exists, or may exist.
  3. RESOLVED,  That the Liberty party has not been organized for any temporary purpose by interested politicians, but has arisen from among the people in consequence of a conviction, hourly gaining ground, that no other party in the country represents the true principles of American liberty, or the true spirit of the constitution of the United States.
  4. RESOLVED,  That the Liberty party has not been organized merely for the overthrow of slavery; its first decided effort must, indeed, be directed against slaveholding as the grossest and most revolting manifestation of despotism, but it will also carry out the principle of equal rights into all its practical consequences and applications, and support every just measure conducive to individual and social freedom.
  5. RESOLVED,  That the Liberty party is not a sectional party but a national party; was not originated in a desire to accomplish a single object, but in a comprehensive regard to the great interests of the whole country; is not a new party, nor a third party, but is the party of 1776, reviving the principles of that memorable era, and striving to carry them into practical application.
  6. RESOLVED,  That it was understood in the times of the declaration and the constitution, that the existence of slavery in some of the states was in derogation of the principles of American liberty, and a deep stain upon the character, of the country, and the implied faith of the states and the nation was pledged that slavery should never be extended beyond its then existing limits, but should be gradually, and yet, at no distant day, wholly abolished by state authority.
  7. RESOLVED,  That the faith of the states and the nation thus pledged, was most nobly redeemed by the voluntary abolition of slavery in several of the states, and by the adoption of the ordinance of 1787, for the government of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, then the only territory in the United States, and consequently the only territory subject in this respect to the control of Congress, by which ordinance slavery was forever excluded from the vast regions which now compose the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and the territory of Wisconsin, and an incapacity to bear up any other than freemen was impressed on the soil itself.
  8. RESOLVED,  That the faith of the states and the nation thus pledged, has been shamefully violated by the omission, on the part of many of the states, to take any measures whatever for the abolition of slavery within their respective limits; by the continuance of slavery in the District of Columbia, and in the territories of Louisiana and Florida; by the legislation of Congress; by the protection afforded by national legislation and negotiation of slaveholding in American vessels, on the high seas, employed in the coastwise Slave Traffic; and by the extension of slavery far beyond its original limits, by acts of Congress admitting new slave states into the Union.
  9. RESOLVED,  That the fundamental truths of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, was made the fundamental law of our national government, by that amendment of the constitution which declares that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
  10. RESOLVED,  That we recognize as sound the doctrine maintained by slaveholding jurists, that slavery is against natural rights, and strictly local, and that its existence and continuance rests on no other support than state legislation, and not on any authority of Congress.
  11. RESOLVED,  That the general government has, under the constitution, no power to establish or continue slavery anywhere, and therefore that all treaties and acts of Congress establishing, continuing or favoring slavery in the District of Columbia, in the territory of Florida, or on the high seas, are unconstitutional, and all attempts to hold men as property within the limits of exclusive national jurisdiction ought to be prohibited by law.
  12. RESOLVED,  That the provisions of the constitution of the United States which confer extraordinary political powers on the owners of slaves, and thereby constituting the two hundred and fifty thousand slaveholders in the slave states a privileged aristocracy; and the provision for the reclamation of fugitive slaves from service, are anti-republican in their character, dangerous to the liberties of the people, and ought to be abrogated.
  13. RESOLVED,  That the practical operation of the second of these provisions is seen in the enactment of the act of Congress respecting persons escaping from their masters, which act, if the construction given to it by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania be correct, nullifies the habeas corpus acts of all the states, takes away the whole legal security of personal freedom, and ought, therefore, to be immediately repealed.
  14. RESOLVED,  That the peculiar patronage and support hitherto extended to slavery and slaveholding, by the general government, ought to be immediately withdrawn, and the example and influence of national authority ought to be arrayed on the side of liberty and free labor.
  15. RESOLVED,  That the practice of the general government, which prevails in the slave states, of employing slaves upon the public works, instead of free laborers, and paying aristocratic masters, with a view to secure or reward political services, is utterly indefensible and ought to be abandoned.
  16. RESOLVED,  That freedom of speech and of the press, and the right of petition, and the right of trial by jury, are sacred and inviolable; and that all rules, regulations and laws, in derogation of either, are oppressive, unconstitutional, and not to be endured by a free people.
  17. RESOLVED,  That we regard voting, in an eminent degree, as a moral and religious duty, which, when exercised, should be by voting for those who will do all in their power for immediate emancipation.
  18. RESOLVED,  That this convention recommend to the friends of liberty in all those free states where any inequality of rights and privileges exists on account of color, to employ their utmost energies to remove all such remnants and effects of the slave system.

WHEREAS,  The constitution of these United States is a series of agreements, covenants or contracts between the people of the United States, each with all, and all with each; and,

WHEREAS,  It is a principle of universal morality, that the moral laws of the Creator are paramount to all human laws; or, in the language of an Apostle, that “we ought to obey God rather than men;” and

WHEREAS,  The principle of common law—that any contract, covenant, or agreement, to do an act derogatory to natural right, is vitiated and annulled by its inherent immorality—has been recognized by one of the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, who in a recent case expressly holds that “any contract that rests upon such a basis is void;” and

WHEREAS,  The third clause of the second section of the fourth article of the constitution of the United States, when construed as providing for the surrender of a fugitive slave, does “rest upon such a basis,” in that it is a contract to rob a man of a natural right—namely, his natural right to his own liberty—and is therefore absolutely void.  Therefore,

  1. RESOLVED,  That we hereby give it to be distinctly understood by this nation and the world, that, as abolitionists, considering that the strength of our cause lies in its righteousness, and our hope for it in our conformity to the laws of God, and our respect for the rights of man, we owe it to the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, as a proof of our allegiance to Him, in all our civil relations and offices, whether as private citizens, or public functionaries sworn to support the constitution of the United States, to regard and to treat the third clause of the fourth article of that instrument, whenever applied to the case of a fugitive slave, as utterly null and void, and consequently as forming no part of the constitution of the United States, whenever we are called upon or sworn to support it.
  2. RESOLVED,  That the power given to Congress by the constitution, to provide for calling out the militia to suppress insurrection, does not make it the duty of the government to maintain slavery by military force, much less does it make it the duty of the citizens to form a part of such military force; when freemen unsheathe the sword it should be to strike for liberty, not for despotism.
  3. RESOLVED,  That to preserve the peace of the citizens, and secure the blessings of freedom, the legislature of each of the free states ought to keep in force suitable statutes rendering it penal for any of its inhabitants to transport, or aid in transporting from such state, any person sought to be thus transported, merely because subject to the slave laws of any other state; this remnant of independence being accorded to the free states by the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Prigg v. the state of Pennsylvania.