The Address of the
Southern and Western Liberty Convention,
Held at Cincinnati, June 11 and 12, 1845,
To the People of the United States.
With Notes by a Citizen of Pennsylvania.
This work may be cited as Salmon P. Chase, “The Address of the Southern and Western Liberty Convention,” in Anti-slavery Addresses of 1844 and 1845 by Salmon Portland Chase and Charles Dexter Cleveland, ed. C. D. C. (London: Sampson Low, Son, and Martson, 1867), pp. 75–125. The notes from the citizen of Pennsylvania have been omitted from this online version.
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HAVING assembled in Convention as friends of Constitutional Liberty, who believe the practice of slaveholding to be inconsistent with the fundamental principles of Republicanism, of Religion, and of Humanity, we think it our duty to declare frankly to you, our fellow citizens, the views which we hold, the principles by which we are governed, and the objects which we desire, by your co-operation, to accomplish. We ask and expect from you a candid and respectful hearing. We are not a band of fanatics, as some foolishly imagine, and others slanderously assert, bent on the overthrow of all Government  and all Religion. We are citizens of the United States, having our homes in the West and the Southwest, some in the Slave states, and some in the Free, bound to our country by the most endearing ties and the most solemn obligations, ﬁlled with the most ardent desires for her prosperity and glory, and resolved, so far as in us lies, to carry forward and perfect the great work of individual, social, and civil elevation which our fathers nobly began.
THE American Revolution was not a mere political accident. It was an inevitable result of a long train of causes, all conspiring to make men impatient of oppression. It was a necessary battle in the progress of the great conﬂict between Despotism and Freedom, between the Aristocratic and the Democratic principle.
Our fathers so regarded it. They claimed for themselves no new or peculiar rights: they only demanded security in the enjoyment of those rights to which, as descendants of Englishmen, they were entitled under the Great Charter: to which, as men, they were entitled under the grant of the Creator. They asserted the equal right of all men to the immunities which they claimed for themselves. It was impossible that they should not see and feel the gross inconsistency of the practice of slaveholding with their avowed political faith. The writings of the Revolutionary period afford the amplest evidence  that they did perceive and feel it. But slavery was already in the country, interwoven with domestic habits, pecuniary interests, and legal rights. It existed under the sanction of the laws of the several colonies beyond the reach of the direct legislation of Congress. The consequences of an immediate affranchisement [sic] of the enslaved were, also, generally dreaded. Our fathers, therefore, conﬁned themselves to general declarations of the great doctrine of equal rights, which lies at the basis of all just government; and without directly interfering with the legislation of any particular member of the confederacy, endeavoured to establish the national Government and Policy upon such principles as would bring about, at length, the desired result of Universal Freedom.
We solicit your particular attention, fellow citizens, to this statement. It has been the practice of many to represent the American government as the patron and guardian of slavery. Some have even dared to say that it was the purpose of the founders of the government that it should fulﬁl this ofﬁce. We join issue with all such persons. We denounce all such representations as libels upon the great men who won and bequeathed to us the precious heritage of Free Institutions. We insist that from the assembling of the First Congress in 1774, until its ﬁnal organization under the existing constitution in 1789, the American Government was anti-slavery in its character and policy.
 The importance of this position, and the probability that this address will be read by some who have not examined it, justify the appropriation of some space to the proof of it.
WE therefore invite your attention to a memorable act of the First Congress, which assembled in 1774. The Non-Importation, Non-Consumption, and Non-Exportation Agreement of that illustrious body, signed in their individual and representative capacities, by the delegates of all the represented colonies, and promulgated to the world as the solemn act of United America, contained this remarkable clause:—“We will neither import nor purchase any slave imported after the ﬁrst day of December next: after which time we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels or sell our commodities or manufactures to those who may be concerned in it.” The entire agreement of which this clause was part was not, indeed, intended to be of perpetual obligation: yet the singularly emphatic phraseology of this part of it manifests clearly enough the understanding of the delegates as to the obligation they assumed for themselves and for the country. It was, in fact, a deliberate national vow and covenant against all trafﬁc in human beings, and was so understood by the people at large. Virginia proceeded, soon after, to abolish the slave  trade by a solemn act of legislation, and her example was followed by all or nearly all the States.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
TWO years afterwards, the Declaration of Independence was promulgated to the world. In a single sentence of this great Act, our fathers imbodied [sic] the fundamental principles on which they proposed to establish the free government of the United States. “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In these words, for the ﬁrst time in the history of the world, was the doctrine of the inalienable RIGHT of every man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, solemnly proclaimed As THE BASIS OF A NATIONAL POLITICAL FAITH. This declaration pledged its authors, and the nation which made it its own, by adoption, to eternal hostility to every form of despotism and oppression. With this declaration inscribed upon their banners, they went into the war of the Revolution, invoking the attestation of the “Supreme Judge of the world” to the rectitude of their purposes.
After a protracted and dubious struggle, the independence of the American Republic was at length achieved, and the attention of Congress was turned to the establishment and extension of free institutions. Beyond the Alleghany Mountains, then the  western limit of civilization, stretched a vast territory, untrodden except by the savage, but destined, in the hope and faith of the patriots of the Revolution, to be the seat of mighty states. To this territory, during the war just terminated, various States had set up conﬂicting claims: while the Congress had urged upon all, the cession of their several pretensions for the common good. The recommendations of Congress prevailed. Among the States which signalized their patriotism by the cession of claims to Western Territory, Virginia was pre-eminently distinguished, both by the magnitude of her grant and the spirit in which it was made. The claim of Virginia comprehended almost all that is now Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. She yielded it all, almost with no other condition than that the territory should be disposed of for the common beneﬁt, and ﬁnally erected into Republican States. The absence of all stipulations in behalf of slavery in these cessions, and especially in that of Virginia, furnishes strong evidence of the prevalence of anti-slavery sentiment at that day. But the action of Congress, in relation to the territory thus acquired, supplies decisive proof.
ORDINANCE OF 1787.
IT was in 1787 that Congress promulgated the celebrated Ordinance for the Government of the Territory north-west of the river Ohio. In this ordinance, for the purpose of “extending the fundamental  principles of civil and religious liberty; * * to ﬁx and establish those principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions, and governments, which for ever thereafter should be formed in said territory,” Congress established “certain articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the territory to remain for ever unalterable, unless by common consent.” One of these articles of compact declared that there should be “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes;” providing, however, that the right of retaking fugitives from service should be preserved to the citizens of the original States. This ordinance was adopted by the unanimous vote of all the States, there being but a single individual negative, which was given by a member from New York. Upon the question of excluding slavery, we may fairly assume that there was entire unanimity.
It seems to us impossible to conceive of a more signiﬁcant indication of National Policy. The Congress was about to ﬁx for ever the relation of ﬁve future States to the question of slavery. Under the inﬂuence of the liberal opinions of 1776, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and Pennsylvania, had already abolished or had taken measures for abolishing slavery within their limits. It was expected that other Atlantic States would follow their  example. The creation of ﬁve non-slaveholding States in the West would evidently secure a permanent majority on the side of Freedom against Slavery. There was, at that time, no other national territory, out of which slaveholding States could be carved: nor was there any thought of acquiring territory with such an object. And yet the votes of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia were given, and unanimously given, for the positive exclusion of slavery from all the vast region now possessed by Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and for the virtual restriction of the right of reclaiming fugitive servants to cases of escape from the original States. There was very little compromise here. There was clear, unqualiﬁed, decisive action in the fulﬁlment and in renewal of the solemn pledge given in 1774, reiterated in 1776, and in pursuance of the settled national policy of restricting slavery to the original States, and of excluding it from all national territory and from all new States.
It is to be borne in mind that neither in this ordinance, nor in the national acts which preceded it, did the Congress undertake to legislate upon the actual personal relations of the inhabitants of the original States. They sought to impress upon the national character and the national policy the stamp of Liberty; but they did not, so far as we can see, attempt to interfere with the internal arrangements  of any State, however inconsistent those arrangements might be with that character and policy. They expected, however, and they had reason to expect, that slavery would be excluded from all places of national jurisdiction, and that whatever in the arrangements of particular States savoured of despotism and oppression, and especially that the system of slavery, which concentrates in itself the whole essence and all the attributes of despotism and oppression, would give way before the steady action of the national faith and the national policy.
Such was the state of opinion when the Convention for framing the Constitution of the United States assembled. The ordinance of 1787, which was the most signiﬁcant and decisive expression of this opinion, was promulgated while the Constitution-Convention was in session. The Constitution, therefore, is to be examined with reference to the public acts which preceded it, and the prevalent popular sentiment.
AND the ﬁrst thing which arrests the attention of the inquirer is the remarkable preamble which is preﬁxed to the operative clauses of the instrument, in which the objects to be attained by it are particularly enumerated.—These are, “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings  of liberty.” It would be singular, indeed, if a constitution adopted for such objects, and under such circumstances, should be found to contain guaranties of slavery. We should expect, on the contrary, that, although the national government created by it, might not be directly authorized to act upon the slavery already existing in the States, all power to create or continue the system by national sanction would be carefully withheld, and some safeguards would be provided against its further extension. And such, in our judgment, was the true effect of the Constitution. We are not prepared to deny, on the one hand, that several clauses of the instrument were intended to refer to slaves; nor to admit, on the other, all the consequences which the friends of slavery would deduce from these clauses. We abstain from these questions. It is enough for our purpose, that it seems clear that neither the framers of the Constitution, nor the people who adopted it, intended to violate the pledges given in the Covenant of 1774, in the Declaration of 1776, in the Ordinance of 1787; that they did not purpose to confer on Congress or the General Government any power to establish, or continue, or sanction slavery anywhere; that, if they did not intend to authorize direct national legislation for the removal of the slavery existing in particular States under their local laws, they did intend to keep the action of the national government free from all connection with the  system; to discountenance and discourage it in the States; and to favour the abolition of it by State authority—a result, then, generally expected; and, ﬁnally, to provide against its further extension by conﬁning the power to acquire new territory, and admit new States to the General Government, the line of whose policy was clearly marked out by the ordinance and preceding public acts.
We cannot think that any unprejudiced student of the Constitution, examining it in the light of precedent action, and contemporary opinion, can arrive at any other conclusion than this. No amendment of the Constitution would be needed to adapt it to the new condition of things, were every State in the Union to abolish slavery forthwith. There is not a line of the instrument which refers to slavery as a national institution, to be upheld by national law. On the contrary, every clause which ever has been or can be construed as referring to slavery, treats it as the creature of State law, and dependent wholly upon State law for its existence and continuance. So careful were the framers of the Constitution to negative all implied sanction of slaveholding, that not only were the terms “slave,” “slavery,” and “slaveholding” excluded, but even the word “servitude,” which was at ﬁrst inserted to express the condition, under the local law, of the persons who were to be delivered up, should they escape from one State into another, was, on motion of Mr. Randolph of  Virginia, stricken out, and “service” unanimously inserted, “the former being thought to express the condition of slaves, and the latter the obligation of free persons.”
That such was the general understanding of the people will be the more manifest if we extend our examination beyond the Constitution as originally adopted, to the amendments subsequently incorporated into it. One of these amendments, as originally proposed by Virginia, provided that “no freeman should be deprived of life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land,” and was copied, substantially, from the English Magna Charta. Congress altered the phraseology by inserting, in lieu of the words quoted, “no PERSON shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW;” and, thus altered, the proposed amendment became part of the Constitution. We are aware that it has been held by distinguished authority, that the section of the amended Constitution, which contains this provision, operates as a limitation only on national and not upon State legislation. Without controverting this opinion here, it is enough to say that, at the least, the clause prohibits the General Government from sanctioning slaveholding, and renders the continuance of slavery, as a legal relation, in any place of exclusive national jurisdiction, impossible.
For, what is slavery? It is the complete and  absolute subjection of one person to the control and disposal of another person, by legalized force. We need not argue that no person can be, rightfully, compelled to submit to such control and disposal. All such subjection must originate in force; and, private force not being strong enough to accomplish the purpose, public force, in the form of law, must lend its aid. The Government comes to the help of the individual slaveholder, and punishes resistance to his will, and compels submission. THE GOVERNMENT, therefore, in the case of every individual slave, is THE REAL ENSLAVER, depriving each person enslaved of all liberty and all property, and all that makes life dear, without imputation of crime or any legal process whatsoever. This is precisely what the Government of the United States is forbidden to do by the Constitution. The Government of the United States, therefore, cannot create or continue the relation of master and slave. Nor can that relation be created or continued in any place, district, or territory, over which the jurisdiction of the National Government is exclusive; for slavery cannot subsist a moment after the support of the public force has been withdrawn.
We need not go further to prove that slaveholding in the States can have no rightful sanction or support from national authority, but must depend wholly upon State law for existence and continuance.
 We have thus proved, from the Public Acts of the Nation, that, up to the time of the adoption of the Constitution, the people of the United States were an anti-slavery people; that the sanction of the national approbation was never given, and never intended to be given, to slaveholding; that, on the contrary, the Government of the United States was expressly forbidden to deprive any person of liberty, without due legal process; and that the policy of excluding slavery from all national territory, and restricting it within the limits of the original States, was early adopted and practically applied.
SENTIMENTS OF DISTINGUISHED MEN OF THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD.
PERMIT us now, fellow citizens, to call your attention to the recorded opinions of the Patriots and Sages of the Revolutionary Era; from which you will learn that many of them, so far from desiring that the General Government should sanction slavery or extend its limits, were displeased that it was not, in terms, empowered to take action for its ﬁnal extinction in the States, and that almost all looked forward to its ﬁnal removal by State authority with expectation and hope.
The Preamble of the Abolition Act of Pennsylvania of 1780, exhibits clearly the state of many minds. “Weaned,” says the General Assembly, “by a long course of experience from those narrow prejudices and partialities we had imbibed, we  ﬁnd our hearts enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards men of all conditions and nations; and we conceive ourselves, at this particular period, extraordinarily called upon by the blessing we have received, to manifest the sincerity of our professions and to give a substantial proof of our gratitude.”
The sentiments of Mr. Jefferson are too well known to justify large quotations from his writings. We invite, however, your attention to two sentences; and will observe, in passing, that his opinions were shared by almost every Virginian of distinguished patriotism or ability.
In his Notes on Virginia, he said: “I think a change already perceptible since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave is rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way, I hope, preparing, under the auspices of Heaven, for a total emancipation; and that is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.”
On another occasion he said: “Nobody wishes more ardently than I to see an abolition not only of the trade, but of the condition of slavery; and certainly nobody will be more willing to encounter every sacriﬁce for that object.”
In a letter to John F. Mercer, George Washington said: “I never mean, unless some particular circumstances should compel me to it, to possess  another slave by purchase; it being among my ﬁrst wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country may be abolished by law.”
In a letter to Sir John Sinclair, assigning reasons for the depreciation of Southern lands, he said: “There are in Pennsylvania laws for the gradual abolition of slavery, which neither Virginia nor Maryland have at present, but which nothing is more certain than that they must have, and at a period not remote.”
General Lee of Virginia, in his “Memoirs on the Revolutionary War,” remarked, “The Constitution of the United States, adopted lately with so much difﬁculty, has effectually provided against this evil, (the slave-trade,) after a few years. It is much to be lamented, that, having done so much in this way, a provision had not been made for the gradual abolition of slavery.”
Judge Tucker, of Virginia, in a letter to the General Assembly of that State, in 1796, recommending the abolition of slavery, and speaking of the slaves in Virginia, said: “Should we not at the time of the Revolution have loosed their chains and broken their fetters? or, if the difﬁculties and dangers of such an experiment prohibited the attempt during the convulsions of a revolution, is it not our duty to embrace the ﬁrst moment of constitutional health and vigour to effectuate so desirable an  object, and to remove from us a stigma with which our enemies will never fail to upbraid us, nor our consciences to reproach us?”
Luther Martin, of Maryland, left the Convention before the Constitution was ﬁnally completed. He opposed its adoption, and assigned, in his report to the Maryland legislature, as a leading reason for his opposition, the absence from the instrument of express provisions against slavery. He said that it was urged in the Convention, “that by the proposed system we were giving the General Government full and absolute power to regulate commerce, under which general power it would have a right to restrain or totally prohibit the slave-trade; it must, therefore, appear to the world absurd and disgraceful to the last degree, that we should except from the exercise of that power the only branch of commerce which is unjustiﬁable in its nature, and contrary to the rights of mankind:—that, on the contrary, we ought rather to prohibit expressly in our Constitution the further importation of slaves, and to authorize the General Government, from time to time, to make such regulations as should be thought most advantageous for the gradual abolition of slavery, and the emancipation of the slaves which are already in the States.”
James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, signed the Constitution, taking a very different view of its provisions, bearing upon slavery, from that of Mr. Martin, but agreeing with him entirely as to  slavery itself. In the Ratiﬁcation Convention of Pennsylvania, speaking of the clause relating to the power of Congress over the slave-trade after twenty years, he said: “I consider this clause as laying the foundation for banishing slavery out of this country. It will produce the same kind of gradual change which was produced in Pennsylvania: the NEW STATES, which are to be formed, will be under the control of Congress in this particular, and SLAVERY WILL NEVER BE INTRODUCED AMONG THEM. It presents us with the pleasing prospect that the rights of mankind will be acknowledged and established throughout the Union.”
In the Ratiﬁcation Convention of Massachusetts, Gen. Heath declared that “Slavery was CONFINED TO THE STATES NOW EXISTING: it could not be extended. By their ordinance Congress had declared that THE NEW STATES should be republican, and have no slavery.”
In the Ratiﬁcation Convention of North Carolina, Mr. Iredell, afterwards a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, observed, “When the entire abolition of slavery takes place, it will be an event which must be pleasing to every generous mind and every friend of human nature.”
In the Ratiﬁcation Convention of Virginia, Mr. Johnson said, “The principle of emancipation has  begun since the revolution. Let us do what we will, it will come round.”
In the course of the debate in the Congress of 1789, the ﬁrst under the Constitution, on a petition against the slave-trade, Mr. Parker, of Virginia, remarked, that “he hoped Congress would do all that lay in their power to restore human nature to its inherent privileges, and, if possible, wipe off the stigma which America laboured under. The inconsistency in our principles, with which we are justly charged, should be done away, that we may show by our actions the pure beneﬁcence of the doctrine which we held out to the world in our Declaration of Independence.” In the same debate Mr. Brown, of North Carolina, observed, “The emancipation of the slaves will be effected in time: it ought to be a gradual business; but he hoped Congress would not precipitate it to the great injury of the Southern States.” And Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, complained, “That it was THE FASHION OF THE DAY to favour the liberty of the slaves.”
These citations might be indeﬁnitely multiplied, but we forbear. Well might Mr. Leigh, of Virginia, remark, in 1832, “I thought, till very lately, that IT WAS KNOWN TO EVERYBODY, that during the revolution, and for many years after, the abolition of slavery was a favourite topic with many of our ablest statesmen, who entertained, with respect, all the schemes which wisdom or  ingenuity could suggest for accomplishing the object.”
THE CONSEQUENCES EXPECTED TO FOLLOW SUCH ACTS AND OPINIONS.
FELLOW CITIZENS: The public acts, and the recorded opinions of the fathers of the revolution are before you. Let us pause here. Let us reﬂect what would have been the condition of the country had the original policy of the nation been steadily pursued, and contrast what would have been with what is.
At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, had become nonslaveholding States. By the ordinance of 1787, provision had been made for the erection of ﬁve other non-slaveholding States. The admission of Vermont and the District of Maine, as separate States, without slavery, was also anticipated. There was no doubt that New York and New Jersey would follow the example of Pennsylvania. Thus it was supposed to be certain that the Union would ultimately embrace at least fourteen Free states, and that slavery would be excluded from all territory thereafter acquired by the nation, and from all States created out of such territory.
This was the true understanding upon which the Constitution was adopted. It was never imagined that new Slave states were to be admitted; unless,  perhaps, which seems probable, it was contemplated to admit the western districts of Virginia and North Carolina, now known as Kentucky and Tennessee, as States, without any reference to the slavery already established in them. In no event, to which our fathers look forward, could the number of Slave states exceed eight, while it was almost certain that the number of Free states would be at least fourteen. It was never supposed that slavery was to be a cherished interest of the country, or even a permanent institution of any State. It was expected that all the States, stimulated by the examples before them, and urged by their own avowed principles recorded in the Declaration, would, at no distant day, put an end to slavery within their respective limits. So strong was this expectation, that JAMES CAMPBELL, in an address at Philadelphia, before the Society of the Cincinnati, in 1787, which was attended by the Constitution Convention, then in session, declared, “The time is not far distant when our sister States, in imitation of our example, shall turn their vassals into freemen.” And Jonathan Edwards predicted in 1791, that, in ﬁfty years from this time, it will be as disgraceful for a man to hold a negro slave, as to be guilty of common robbery or theft.
It cannot be doubted that, had the original policy and original principles of the Government been adhered to, this expectation would have been realized. The example and inﬂuence of the  General Government would have been on the side of freedom. Slavery would have ceased in the District of Columbia immediately upon the establishment of the Government within its limits. Slavery would have disappeared from Louisiana and Florida upon the acquisition of those territories by the United States. No laws would have been enacted, no treaties made, no measures taken for the extension or maintenance of slavery. Amid the rejoicings of all the free, and the congratulations of all friends of freedom, the last fetter would, ere now, have been stricken from the last slave, and the principles and institutions of liberty would have pervaded the entire land.
HOW different—how sadly different are the facts of history! LUTHER MARTIN complained, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, “that when our own liberties were at stake, we warmly felt for the common rights of men: the danger being thought to be passed which threatened ourselves, we are daily growing more and more insensible to those rights.” This insensibility continued to increase, and prepared the way for the encroachments of the political Slave power, which originated in the three-ﬁfths rule of the Constitution. This rule, designed, perhaps, as a censure upon slavery, by denying to the Slave states the full representation to which their population would entitle them,  has had a very different practical effect. It has virtually established in the country an aristocracy of slaveholders. It has conferred on masters the right of representation for three-ﬁfths of their slaves. The representation from the Slave states in Congress has always been from one-ﬁfth to one-fourth greater than it would have been, were freemen only represented. Under the ﬁrst apportionment, according to this rate, a district in a Free state, containing thirty thousand free inhabitants, would have one representative. A district in a Slave state, containing three thousand free persons and forty-ﬁve thousand slaves, would also have one. In the ﬁrst district a representative could be elected only by the majority of ﬁve thousand votes: in the other, he would need only the majority of ﬁve hundred. Of course, the representation from Slave states, elected by a much smaller constituency, and bound together by a common tie, would generally act in concert, and always with special regard to the interests of masters whose representatives in fact they were. Every aristocracy in the world has sustained itself by encroachment, and the aristocracy of slaveholders in this country has not been an exception to the general truth. The nation has always been divided into parties, and the slaveholders, by making the protection and advancement of their peculiar interests the price of their political  support, have generally succeeded in controlling all. This inﬂuence has greatly increased the insensibility to human rights, of which MARTIN indignantly complained. It has upheld slavery in the District of Columbia and in the Territories, in spite of the Constitution: it has added to the Union six Slave states created out of national Territories: it has usurped the control of our foreign negotiation, and domestic legislation: it has dictated the choice of the high ofﬁces of our Government at home, and of our national representatives abroad: it has ﬁlled every department of executive and judicial administration with its friends and satellites: it has detained in slavery multitudes who are constitutionally entitled to their freedom: it has waged unrelenting war with the most sacred rights of the free, stiﬂing the freedom of speeches and of debate, setting at naught the right of petition, and denying in the Slave states those immunities to the citizens of the free, which the Constitution guarantees: and, ﬁnally, it has dictated the acquisition of an immense foreign territory, not for the laudable purpose of extending the blessings of freedom, but with the bad design of diffusing the  curse of slavery, and thereby consolidating and perpetuating its own ascendancy.
WHAT WE MEAN TO DO.
AGAINST this inﬂuence, against these infractions of the Constitution, against these departures from the national policy originally adopted, against these violations of the national faith originally pledged, we solemnly protest. Nor do we propose only to protest. We recognize the obligations which rest upon us as descendants of the men of the revolution, as inheritors of the institutions which they established, as partakers of the blessings which they so dearly purchased, to carry forward and perfect their work. We mean to do it, wisely and prudently, but with energy and decision. We have the example of our fathers on our side. We have the Constitution of their adoption on our side. It is our duty, and our purpose, to rescue the Government from the control of the slaveholders; to harmonize its practical administration with the provisions of the Constitution, and to secure to all, without exception, and without partiality, the rights which the Constitution guarantees. We believe that slaveholding, in the United States, is the source of numberless evils, moral, social, and political; that it hinders social progress; that it embitters public and private intercourse; that it degrades us as individuals, as States, and as a nation; that it holds back our country from a  splendid career of greatness and glory. We are, therefore, resolutely, inﬂexibly, at all times, and under all circumstances, hostile to its longer continuance in our land. We believe that its removal can be effected peacefully, constitutionally, without real injury to any, with the greatest beneﬁt to all.
HOW WE MEAN TO DO IT.
WE propose to effect this by repealing all legislation, and discontinuing all action, in favor of slavery, at home and abroad; by prohibiting the practice of slaveholding in all places of exclusive national jurisdiction, in the District of Columbia, in American vessels upon the seas, in forts, arsenals, navy yards; by forbidding the employment of slaves upon any public work; by adopting resolutions in Congress, declaring that slaveholding, in all States created out of national territories, is unconstitutional, and recommending to the others the immediate adoption of measures for its extinction within their respective limits; and by electing and appointing to public station such men, and only such men as openly avow our principles, and will honestly carry out our measures.
The constitutionality of this line of action cannot be successfully impeached. That it will terminate, if steadily pursued, in the utter overthrow of slavery at no very distant day none will doubt. We adopt it, because we desire, through, and by the Constitution, to attain the great ends which the  Constitution itself proposes, the establishment of justice, and the security of liberty. We insist not, here, upon the opinions of some, that no slaveholding, in any State of the Union, is compatible with a true and just construction of the Constitution; nor upon the opinions of others, that the Declaration of Independence, setting forth the creed of the nation, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with an inalienable right of liberty, must be regarded as the common law of America, antecedent to, and unimpaired by the Constitution; nor need we appeal to the doctrine that slaveholding is contrary to the supreme law of the Supreme Ruler, preceding and controlling all human law, and binding upon all legislatures in the enactment of laws, and upon all courts in the administration of justice. We are willing to take our stand upon propositions generally conceded:—that slaveholding is contrary to natural right and justice; that it can subsist nowhere without the sanction and aid of positive legislation; that the Constitution expressly prohibits Congress from depriving any person of liberty without due process of law. From these propositions we deduce, by logical inference, the doctrines upon which we insist. We deprecate all discord among the States; but do not dread discord so much as we do the subjugation of the States and the people to the yoke of the slaveholding oligarchy. We deprecate the dissolution  of the Union as a dreadful political calamity; but if any of the States shall prefer dissolution to submission to the Constitutional action of the people on the subject of slavery, we cannot purchase their alliance by the sacriﬁce of inestimable rights, and the abandonment of sacred duties.
Such, fellow citizens, are our views, principles, and objects. We invite your co-operation in the great work of delivering our beloved country from the evils of slavery. No question half so important as that of slavery engages the attention of the American people. All others, in fact, dwindle into insigniﬁcance in comparison with it. The question of slavery is, and, until it shall be settled, must be, the paramount moral and political question of the day. We, at least, so regard it; and, so regarding it, must subordinate every other question to it.
It follows, as a necessary consequence, that we cannot yield our political support to any party which does not take our ground upon this question.
THE DIFFERENT PARTIES.
1. The Democratic Party.
WHAT, then, is the position of the political parties of the country in relation to this subject? One of these parties professes to be guided by the most liberal principles. “Equal and exact justice to all men;” “equal rights for all men;” “inﬂexible  opposition to oppression,” are its favourite mottoes. It claims to be the true friend of popular government, and assumes the name of Democratic. Among its members are, doubtless, many who cherish its professions as sacred principles, and believe that great cause of Freedom and Progress is to be served by promoting its ascendancy. But when we compare the maxims of the so-called Democratic party with its acts, its hypocrisy is plainly revealed. Among its leading members we ﬁnd the principal slaveholders the chiefs of the oligarchy. It has never scrupled to sacriﬁce the rights of the Free states, or of the people, to the demands of the Slave power. Like Sir Pertinax McSycophant, its northern leaders believe that the great secret of advancement lies in “bowing well.” No servility seems too gross, no self-degradation too great, to be submitted to. They think themselves well rewarded, if the unity of the party be preserved, and the spoils of victory secured. If, in the distribution of these spoils, they receive only the jackall’s [sic] share, they content themselves with the reﬂection that little is better than nothing. They declaim loudly against all monopolies, all special privileges, all encroachments on personal rights, all distinctions founded upon birth, and compensate themselves for these efforts of virtue, by practising the vilest oppression upon all their  countrymen, in whose complexions the slightest trace of African derivation can be detected.
Profoundly do we revere the maxims of true Democracy; they are identical with those of true Christianity, in relation to the rights and duties of men as citizens. And our reverence for Democratic principles is the precise measure of our detestation of the policy of those who are permitted to shape the action of the Democratic party. Political concert with that party, under its present leadership, is, therefore, plainly impossible. Nor do we entertain the hope, which many, no doubt, honestly cherish, that the professed principles of the party will, at length, bring it right upon the question of slavery. Its professed principles have been the same for nearly half a century, and yet the subjection of the party to the Slave power is, at this moment, as complete as ever. There is no prospect of any change for the better, until those democrats whose hearts are really possessed by a generous love of liberty for all, and by an honest hatred of oppression, shall manfully assert their individual independence, and refuse their support to the panders of slavery.
2. The Whig Party.
There is another party which boasts that it is conservative in its character. Its watchwords are “a tariff,” “a banking system,” “the Union as it is.” Among its members, also, are many sincere  opponents of slavery; and the party itself, seeking aid in the attainment of power, and anxious to carry its favorite measures, and bound together by no such professed principles as secure the unity of the Democratic party, often concedes much to their anti-slavery views. It is not unwilling, in those States and parts of States where anti-slavery sentiment prevails, to assume an anti-slavery attitude, and claim to be an anti-slavery party. Like the Democratic party, however, the Whig party maintains alliances with the slaveholders. It proposes, in its national conventions, no action against slavery. It has no anti-slavery article in its national creed. Among its leaders and champions in Congress, and out of Congress, none are so honored and trusted as slaveholders in practice and in principle. Whatever the Whig party, therefore, concedes to anti-slavery, must be reluctantly conceded. Its natural position is conservative. Its natural line of action is to maintain things as they are. Its natural bond of union is regard for interests rather than for rights. There are, doubtless, zealous opponents of slavery, who are also zealous Whigs; but they have not the general conﬁdence of their party; they are under the ban of the slaveholders; and in any practical anti-slavery movement, as, for example, the repeal of the laws which sanction slaveholding in the District of Columbia, would meet the determined opposition of a large and most inﬂuential section  of the party, not because the people of the Free states would be opposed to the measure, but because it would be displeasing to the oligarchy and fatal to party unity. We are constrained to think, therefore, that all expectation of efﬁcient anti-slavery action from the Whig party, as now organized, will prove delusive. Nor do we perceive any probability of a change in its organization, separating its anti-slavery from its pro-slavery constituents, and leaving the former in possession of the name and inﬂuence of the party. With the Whig party, therefore, as at present organized, it is as impossible for us, whose mottoes are “Equal Rights and Fair Wages for all,” and “the Union as it should be,” to act in alliance and concert, as it is for us so to act with the so-called Democratic party. We cannot choose between these parties for the sake of any local or partial advantage, without sacriﬁcing consistency, self-respect, and mutual conﬁdence. While we say this, we are bound to add, that were either of these parties to disappoint our expectations, and to adopt into its national creed as its leading articles, the principles which we regard as fundamental, and enter upon a course of unfeigned and earnest action against the system of slavery, we should not hesitate, regarding, as we do, the question of slavery as the paramount question of our day and nation, to give to it our cordial and vigorous support, until slavery should be no more.
 With what party, then, shall we act? Or shall we act with none? Act, in some way, we must: for the possession of the right of suffrage, the right of electing our own law-makers and rulers, imposes upon us the corresponding duty of voting for men who will carry out the views which we deem of paramount importance and obligation. Act together we must; for upon the questions which we regard as the most vital we are fully agreed. We must act then; act together; and act against slavery and oppression. Acting thus, we necessarily act as a party; for what is a party, but a body of citizens, acting together politically, in good faith, upon common principles, for a common object? And if there be a party already in existence, animated by the same motives, and aiming at the same results as ourselves, we must act with and in that party.
THE LIBERTY PARTY.
THAT there is such a party is well known. It is the Liberty party of the United States. Its principles, measures, and objects we cordially approve. It founds itself upon the great cardinal principle of true Democracy and of true Christianity, the brotherhood of the Human Family. It avows its purpose to wage implacable war against slaveholding as the direst form of oppression, and then against every other species of tyranny and injustice. Its views on the subject of slavery in this country are, in the main, the same as those which we have set  forth in this address. Its members agree to regard the extinction of slavery as the most important end which can, at this time, be proposed to political action; and they agree to differ as to other questions of minor importance, such as those of trade and currency, believing that these can be satisfactorily disposed of, when the question of slavery shall be settled, and that, until then, they cannot be satisfactorily disposed of at all.
The rise of such a party as this was anticipated long before its actual organization, by the single-hearted and patriotic Charles Follen, a German by birth, but a true American by adoption and in spirit. “If there ever is to be in this country,” he said in 1836, “a party that shall take its name and character, not from particular liberal measures or popular men, but from its uncompromising and consistent adherence to freedom—a truly liberal and thoroughly republican party, it must direct its ﬁrst decided effort against the grossest form, the most complete manifestation of oppression; and, having taken anti-slavery ground, it must carry out the principle of Liberty in all its consequences. It must support every measure conducive to the greatest possible individual and social, moral, intellectual, religious, and political freedom, whether that measure be brought forward by inconsistent slaveholders or consistent freemen. It must embrace the whole sphere of human action; watching and opposing the slightest illiberal and anti-republican  tendency, and concentrating its whole force and inﬂuence against slavery itself, in comparison with which every other species of tyranny is tolerable, and by which every other is strengthened and justiﬁed.”
Thus wrote Charles Follen in 1836. It is impossible to express better the want which enlightened lovers of liberty felt of a real Democratic party in the country—Democratic not in name only, but in deed and in truth. In this want, thus felt, the Liberty party had its origin, and so long as this want remains otherwise unsatisﬁed, the Liberty party must exist; not as a mere Abolition party, but as a truly Democratic party, which aims at the extinction of slavery, because slaveholding is inconsistent with Democratic principles; aims at it, not as an ultimate end, but as the most important present object; as a great and necessary step in the work of reform; as an illustrious era in the advancement of society, to be wrought out by its action and instrumentality. The Liberty party of 1845 is, in truth, the Liberty party of 1776 revived. It is more: It is the party of Advancement and Freedom, which has, in every age, and with varying success, fought the battles of Human Liberty, against the party of False Conservatism and Slavery.
 WILL YOU NOT JOIN IT?
AND now, fellow citizens, permit us to ask, whether you will not give to this party the aid of your votes, and of your counsels? Its aims are lofty, and noble, and paciﬁc; its means are simple and unobjectionable. Why should it not have your co-operation?
ARE you already anti-slavery men? Let us ask, is it not far better to act with those with whom you agree on the fundamental point of slavery, and swell the vote and augment the moral force of anti-slavery, rather than to act with those with whom you agree only on minor points; and thus, for the time, swell a vote and augment an inﬂuence which must be counted against the Liberty movement, in the vain hope that those with whom you thus act now, will, at some indeﬁnite future period, act with you for the overthrow of slavery? There are, perhaps, nearly equal numbers of you in each of the pro-slavery parties, honestly opposed to each other on questions of trade, currency, and extension of territory, but of one mind on the great question of slavery; and yet you suffer yourselves to be played off against each other by parties which agree in nothing except hostility to the great measure of positive action against slavery, which seems to you, and is, of paramount importance. What can you gain by this course? What may you not gain by  laying your minor difference on the altar of duty, and uniting as one man, in one party, against slavery? Then every vote would tell for freedom, and would encourage the friends of liberty to fresh efforts. Now every vote, whether you intend it so or not, tells for slavery, and operates as a discouragement and hindrance to those who are contending for equal rights. Let us entreat you not to persevere in your suicidal, fratricidal course; but to renounce at once all pro-slavery alliances, and join the friends of liberty. It is not the question now whether a Liberty party shall be organized; it is organized and in the ﬁeld. The real question, and the only real question, is: Will you, so far as your votes and inﬂuence go, hasten or retard the day of its triumph?
ALL MEN OF THE FREE STATES!
ARE you men of the Free states? And have you not suffered enough of wrong, of insult, and of contumely, from the slaveholding oligarchy? Have you not been taxed enough for the support of slavery? Is it not enough that all the powers of the government are exerted for its maintenance, and that all the Departments of the Government are in the hands of the Slave power? How long  will you consent by your votes to maintain slavery at the seat of the National Government, in violation of the Constitution of your country, and thus give your direct sanction to the whole dreadful system? How long will you consent to be represented in the National Councils by men who will not dare to assert their own rights or yours in the presence of an arrogant aristocracy; and, in your State Legislatures, by men whose utmost height of courage and manly daring, when your citizens are imprisoned, without allegation of crime, in Slave states, and your agents, sent for their relief, are driven out, as you would scourge from your premises an intrusive cur, is to PROTEST and submit? Rouse up, men of the Free states, for shame, if not for duty! Awake to a sense of your degraded position. Behold your President, a slaveholder; his cabinet composed of slaveholders or their abject instruments; the two Houses of Congress submissive and servile; your representatives with foreign nations, most of them slaveholders; your supreme administrators of justice, most of them slaveholders; your ofﬁcers of the army and navy, most of them slaveholders. Observe the results. What numerous appointments of pro-slavery citizens of Slave states to national employments! What careful exclusion of every man who holds the faith of Jefferson and Washington in respect to slavery,  and believes with Madison “that it is wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea of property in man,” from national ofﬁces of honor and trust! What assiduity in negotiations for the reclamation of slaves, cast, in the Providence of God, on foreign shores, and for the extension of the markets of cotton, and rice, and tobacco, ay, and of men! What zeal on the judicial bench in wresting the Constitution and the law to the purposes of slaveholders, by shielding kidnappers from merited punishment, and paralyzing State legislation for the security of personal liberty! What readiness in legislation to serve the interests of the oligarchy by unconstitutional provisions for the recovery of fugitive slaves, and by laying heavy duties on slave-labor products, thereby compelling non-slaveholding laborers to support slaveholders in idleness and luxury! When shall these things have an end? How long shall servile endurance be protracted? It is for you, fellow citizens, to determine. The shameful partiality to slaveholders and slavery which has so long prevailed, and now prevails, in the administration of the government, will cease when you determine that it shall cease, and act accordingly.
 ALL NON-SLAVEHOLDERS OF THE SLAVE STATES!
ARE you non-slaveholders of the Slave states? Let us ask you to consider what interest you have in the system of slavery. What beneﬁts does it confer on you? What blessings does it promise to your children? You constitute the vast majority of the population of the Slave states. The aggregate votes of all the slaveholders do not exceed one hundred and ﬁfty thousand, while the votes of the non-slaveholders are at least six hundred thousand, supposing each adult male to possess a vote. It is clear, therefore, that the continuance of slavery depends upon your suffrages. We repeat, what interest have you in supporting the system?
THE FRUITS OF SLAVERY.
SLAVERY diminishes your population and hinders your prosperity. Compare New York with Virginia, Ohio with Kentucky, Arkansas with Michigan, Florida with Iowa. Need we say more?
It prevents general education. It is not the interest of slaveholders that poor non-slaveholders should be educated. The census of 1840 reveals the astounding facts that more than one-seventeenth  of the white population in the Slave states are unable to read or write, while not a hundred and ﬁftieth part of the same class in the Free are in the same condition, and that there are more than twelve times as many scholars at public charge in the Free states as in the Slave states.
It paralyzes your industry and enterprise. The census of 1840 also disclosed the fact that the Free states, with two millions and a quarter inhabitants more, and ninety-eight millions acres less than the Slave states, produce annually, in value, from mines, thirty-three millions dollars more; from the forests, eight millions dollars more; from ﬁsheries, nine millions dollars more; from agriculture, forty millions dollars more; from manufactures, one hundred and ﬁfty-one millions dollars more. At the same time, the capital invested in commerce by the Free states exceeds the capital similarly invested in the Slave states by more than one hundred millions of dollars; and the tonnage of the former exceeds the tonnage of the latter by more than a thousand millions tons! This enormous disparity, which will strike attention the more forcibly when it is considered that much of the capital employed in the Slave states is owned in the Free, can be ascribed to no cause except slavery.
 It degrades and dishonors labor. In what country did an aristocracy ever care for the poor? When did slaveholders ever attempt to improve the condition of the free laborer? “White negroes” is the contemptuous term by which Robert Wickliffe, of Kentucky, designated the free laborers of his State. He saw no distinction between them and slaves, except that the former may be converted into voters. Chancellor Harper, of South Carolina, teaches that, “so far as the mere laborer has the pride, the knowledge or the aspiration of a freeman, he is unﬁtted for his situation.” And he likens the laborer “to the horse or the ox,” to whom it would be ridiculous to attempt to impart “a cultivated understanding or ﬁne feeling.” Governor McDufﬁe, in a message to the legislature of South Carolina, went so far as to say that “the institution of domestic slavery supersedes the necessity of an order of nobility, and the other appendages of an hereditary system of government.” Of course the slaveholders are the noble, and you, the non-slaveholders, are the ignoble, of this social system.
Slavery corrupts the religion and destroys the morals of a community. We need not repeat Jefferson’s strong testimony. In a message to the legislature of Kentucky, some years since, the Governor said, “We long to see the day when the law will assert its majesty, and stop the wanton destruction of life which almost daily occurs within  the jurisdiction of this Commonwealth.” And the Governor of Alabama, in a message to the legislature of that State, said, “Why do we hear of stabbings and shootings, almost daily, in some part or other of our State?” A Judge in New Orleans, in an address on the opening of his court, observed, “Without some powerful and certain remedy our streets will become butcheries, overﬂowing with the blood of our citizens.” These terrible pictures are drawn by home pencils. Can communities prosper when religion and morality furnish no stronger restraints on violence and passion?
Slavery is a source of most deplorable weakness. What a panic is spread by the bare suggestion of a servile insurrection! And how completely are the slaveholding States at the mercy of any invading foe who will raise the standard of emancipation! In the revolutionary war, according to the secret journals of Congress, South Carolina was “unable to make any effectual efforts with militia, by reason of the great proportion of citizens necessary to remain at home to prevent insurrection among the negroes, and to prevent the desertion of them to the enemy.” We need not say that if the danger of insurrection was then great, it would be, circumstances being similar, tenfold greater now.
 Slavery seeks to deprive non-slaveholders of political power. In Virginia and South Carolina especially, has this policy been most steadily and successfully pursued. In South Carolina the political power of the State is lodged in the great slaveholding districts by the Constitution, and to make assurance doubly sure, it is provided, in that instrument, that no person can be a member of the legislature unless he owns ﬁve hundred acres of land and ten slaves, or an equivalent in additional land. The right of voting for electors of President and Vice-President is, in South Carolina, conﬁned to members of the legislature; consequently, in that State no non-slaveholder can have a voice in the selection of the ﬁrst and second ofﬁcers of the Republic. In Virginia the slave population is considered the basis of political power, and the preponderance of representation is given to those districts in which there is the largest slave population. The House of Representatives consists of one hundred and thirty-four members, of whom ﬁfty-six are chosen by the counties west of the Blue Ridge, and seventy-eight by the counties east. The Senate consists of thirty-two members, of whom thirteen are assigned to the western, and nineteen to the eastern counties. Already the free white population west of the Blue Ridge exceeds the same class east in number, but no change in the population can affect this distribution of political power, designed to secure and preserve the ascendancy  of the slaveholders, who chieﬂy reside east of the Ridge, so long as the Constitution remains unchanged.
THESE, non-slaveholders of the Slave states, are the fruits of slavery. You surely can have no reason to love a system which entails such consequences. Yet it lives by your sufferance. You have only to speak the word at the ballot-box, and the system falls. Will you be restrained from speaking that word by the consideration that the enslaved will be beneﬁted as well as yourselves? or by the selﬁsh expectation that you may yourselves become slaveholders hereafter, and so be admitted into the ranks of the aristocracy? If such considerations withhold you, we bid you beware lest you prepare a bitter retribution for yourselves, and ﬁnd, to your mortiﬁcation and shame, that a patent of nobility, written in the tears and blood of the oppressed, is a sorry passport to the approbation of mankind.
WE would appeal, also, to slaveholders themselves. We would enter at once within the lines of selﬁsh ideas and mercenary motives, and appeal to your consciences and your hearts. You know that the  system of slaveholding is wrong. Whatever theologians may teach and cite Scripture for, you know—all of you who claim freedom for yourselves and your children as a birthright precious beyond all price, and inalienable as life—that no person can rightfully hold another as a slave. Your courts, in their judicial decisions, and your books of common law in their elementary lessons, rise far above the precepts of most of your religious teachers, and declare all slaveholding to be against natural right. You feel it to be so. God has so made the human heart, that, in spite of all theological sophistry and pretended Scripture proofs, you cannot help feeling it to be so. There is a law of sublimer origin and more awful sanction than any human code, written, in ineffaceable characters, upon every heart of man, which binds all to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them. And where is there one of all your number who would exchange conditions with the happiest of all your slaves? Produce the man! And until he is produced, let theological apologists for slaveholding keep silence. Most earnestly would we entreat you to listen to the voice of conscience and obey the promptings of humanity. We are not your enemies. We do not pretend to any superior virtue; or that we, being in your circumstances, would be likely to act differently from you. But we are all fellow citizens of the same great Republic. We feel slaveholding to be a  dreadful incubus upon us, dishonoring us in the eyes of foreign nations; nullifying the force of our example of free institutions; holding us back from a glorious career of prosperity and renown; sowing broadcast the seeds of discord, division, disunion: and we are anxious for its extinction. With Jefferson, we tremble for our country, when we “remember that God is just, and that his justice cannot sleep for ever.” With Washington, we believe “that there is but one proper and effectual mode by which the extinction of slavery can be accomplished, and that is, by legislative authority; and this, so far as our suffrages will go, shall not be wanting.”
We would not invade the Constitution; but we would have the Constitution rightly construed and administered according to its true sense and spirit. We would not dictate the mode in which slavery shall be attacked in particular States; but we would have it removed at once from all places under the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Government, and also, have immediate measures taken, in accordance with constitutional rights and the principles of justice, for its removal from each State by State authority. In this work we ask your co-operation. Shall we ask in vain? Are you not convinced that the almost absolute monopoly of the ofﬁces and the patronage of the government, and the almost exclusive control of its legislation and executive and judicial administration,  by slaveholders, and for the purposes of slavery, is unjust to the non-slaveholders of the country? Can you blame us for saying that we will no longer sanction it? Are you not satisﬁed, to use the language of one of your own number, “that slavery is a cancer, a slow consuming cancer, a withering pestilence, an unmitigated curse?” And can you wonder that we should be anxious, by all just, and honorable, and constitutional means, to effect its extinction in our respective States, and to conﬁne it to its constitutional limits? Are you not fully aware that the gross inconsistency of slaveholding with our professed principles astonishes the world, and makes the name of our country a mock, and the name of liberty a by-word? And can you regret that we should exert ourselves to the utmost to redeem our glorious land and her institutions from just reproach, and, by illustrious acts of mercy and justice, place ourselves, once more, in the van of Human Progress and Advancement?
TO ALL FRIENDS OF LIBERTY, AND OF OUR COUNTRY’S BEST INTERESTS.
FINALLY, we ask all true friends of liberty, of impartial, universal liberty, to be ﬁrm and steadfast. The little handful of voters, who, in 1840, wearied of compromising expediency, and despairing  of anti-slavery action by pro-slavery parties, raised anew the standard of the Declaration, and manfully resolved to vote right then and vote for freedom, has already swelled to a GREAT PARTY, strong enough, numerically, to decide the issue of any national contest, and stronger far in the power of its pure and elevating principles. And if these principles be sound, which we doubt not, and if the question of slavery be, as we verily believe it is, the GREAT QUESTION of our day and nation, it is a libel upon the intelligence, the patriotism, and the virtue of the American people to say that there is no hope that a majority will not array themselves under our banner. Let it not be said that we are factious or impracticable. We adhere to our views because we believe them to be sound, practicable, and vitally important. We have already said that we are ready to prove our devotion to our principles by co-operation with either of the other two great American Parties, which will openly and honestly, in State and National Conventions, avow our doctrines and adopt our measures, until slavery shall be overthrown. We do not, indeed, expect any such adoption and avowal by either of those parties, because we are well aware that they fear more, at present, from the loss of slaveholding support than from the loss of anti-slavery co-operation. But we can be satisﬁed with nothing less, for we will compromise no longer; and, therefore, must of necessity  maintain our separate organization as the true Democratic Party of the country, and trust our cause to the patronage of the people and the blessing of God!
Carry then, friends of freedom and free labor, your principles to the ballot-box. Let no difﬁculties discourage, no dangers daunt, no delays dishearten you. Your solemn vow that slavery must perish is registered in heaven. Renew that vow! Think of the martyrs of truth and freedom; think of the millions of the enslaved; think of the other millions of the oppressed and degraded free; and renew that vow! Be not tempted from the path of political duty. Vote for no man, act with no party politically connected with the supporters of slavery. Vote for no man, act with no party unwilling to adopt and carry out the principles which we have set forth in this address. To compromise for any partial or temporary advantage is ruin to our cause. To act with any party, or to vote for the candidates of any party, which recognizes the friends and supporters of slavery as members in full standing, because in particular places or under particular circumstances, it may make large professions of anti-slavery zeal, is to commit political suicide. Unswerving ﬁdelity to our principles; unalterable determination to carry those principles to the ballot-box at every election; inﬂexible and unanimous support of those, and  only those, who are true to those principles, are the conditions of our ultimate triumph. Let these conditions be fulﬁlled, and our triumph is certain. The indications of its coming multiply on every hand. The clarion trump of freedom breaks already the gloomy silence of slavery in Kentucky, and its echoes are heard throughout the land. A spirit of inquiry and of action is awakened everywhere. The assemblage of the convention, whose voice we utter, is itself an auspicious omen. Gathered from the North and the South, and the East and West, we here unite our counsels, and consolidate our action. We are resolved to go forward, knowing that our cause is just, trusting in God. We ask you to go forward with us, invoking His blessing who sent His Son to redeem mankind. With Him are the issues of all events. He can and He will disappoint all the devices of oppression. He can, and we trust He will, make our instrumentality efﬁcient for the redemption of our land from slavery, and for the fulﬁlment of our fathers’ pledge in behalf of freedom, before Him and before the world.