An Address to Free Colored Americans HTML version

man of feeling," says a Southern gentleman, "cast his thoughts
over this land of slavery, think of the nakedness of some, the
hungry yearnings of others, the wailings and wo, the bloody cut of
the keen lash, and the frightful scream that rends the very skies—
and all this to gratify lust, pride, avarice, and other depraved
feelings of the human heart. THE WORST IS NOT GENERALLY
KNOWN. Were all the miseries and horrors of slavery to burst at
once into view, a peal of seven-fold thunder could scarce strike
greater alarm." (Swain's Address, 1830.)
We can readily believe this testimony to the physical sufferings of
the slave: we apprehend these most easily, because all of us are
alive to bodily pain, whilst few comparatively appreciate the
mental and spiritual degradation
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to which our oppressed brethren are subjected; yet this is the most
appalling feature of American bondage. Slavery seizes a rational
and immortal being crowned by Jehovah with glory and honor, and
drags him down to a level with the beasts that perish. It makes him
a thing, a chattel personal, a machine to be used to all intents and
purposes for the benefit of another, without reference to the good,
the happiness, or the wishes of the man himself. It introduces
violence and disorder, where God established harmony and peace.
It would annihilate the individual worth and responsibility
conferred upon man by his Creator. It deprives him of the power of
self-improvement, to which he is bound by the unchangeable laws
of his Maker. It prevents him from laboring in a sphere to which
his capacities are adapted. It abrogates the seventh commandment,
by annulling the obligations of marriage, and obliging the slaves to
live in a state of promiscuous intercourse, concubinage, and
adultery; thus setting at nought an institution established by
Jehovah himself, and designed to promote the happiness and virtue
of his creatures. It dooms its victims to ignorance, and
consequently to vice. "I think I may safely assert," says Mr.
Moore, "that ignorance is the inseparable companion of slavery,
and that the desire of freedom is the inevitable consequence of