Fugitive Slave Bill

September 27, 1850

An Address  to The People of Massachusetts, by the Board of Managers of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society occupies the most of a full page, signed by Francis Jackson, Pres., and Edmund Quincy, Secretary.  The statement is a refutation of the bill at every one of its main legal points.  “But there are other and far higher and more important objections to this law, and the clause of the Constitution under which it is framed, than any or all of those which have been alluded to.  Even if we could be perfectly sure that none but those who are legally slaves would be returned to bondage – even if it was capable of demonstration, that under this law and constitutional provision, the rights of every free citizen would be protected – still, it would be morally wrong to support these laws.  Slaveholding is always wrong.  It is wrong to hold any man in slavery.  It is wrong to return or aid in returning a fugitive slave.  These things are wrong – the Constitution of the United States and law of 1850 to the contrary notwithstanding.  Not all the constitutions and laws of the universe can make wrong in the slightest degree right. No one hesitates to deny the right of anyone to hold us in slavery.  Every one admits that if we were slaves, it would be right to escape if we could, and wrong for anyone to force us back into slavery.  But if it is wrong for anyone to enslave us, or to force us back into slavery, it is just as great a wrong for us to enslave any one else, or to aid in returning any one else to slavery.  The soul of each man responds to the laws of God -‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’-‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ – and the slave is toiling on a Southern plantation, and the slave who manfully compassed his escape, are no less our neighbors than the friend whom we have known and loved since boyhood.  God is the common Father of us all. All men, black as well as white, are brethren.”