Garrison Speech

December 16, 1859

This is the speech at Tremont Temple, December 2.  “I do not rise, on this occasion, to define my position (laughter); that, I believe, Virginia and the south clearly understand, and I as clearly understand theirs.  Between us there is an “irrepressible conflict”, (applause), and I am for carrying it on until it is finished in victory or in death. (renewed applause).  For thirty years I have been endeavoring to effect, by peaceful, moral, and religious instrumentalities, the abolition of American slavery; and, if possible, I hate slavery thirty times more than I did than when I began, and I am thirty times more, if possible, an abolitionist of the most uncompromising character.”   (Loud applause.)

In his speech, Garrison commends the character of Brown, comments on the mockery of the trial.  “Was John Brown justified in his attempt? Yes, if Washington was in his; if Warren and Hancock were in theirs.  If men are justified in striking a blow for freedom, when the question is one of a threepenny tax on tea, then, I say, they are a thousand times more justified, when it is to save fathers, mothers, wives and children from the slave-coffle and the auction-block, and to restore them to their God- given rights…..A word  upon the subject of  Peace.  I am a non-resister  — a believer in the inviolability of human life, under all circumstances; I, therefore, in the name of God, disarm John Brown, and every slave at the South. ….I disarm, in the name of God, every slaveholder and tyrant in the world…..yet, as a peace man —  an ‘ultra’ peace man  –I am prepared to say , ‘Success to every  slave insurrection at the South, and in every slave country.  And I do not see how I compromise or stain my peace profession in making that declaration. Whenever there is a contest between the oppressed and the oppressor, –the weapons being equal between the parties, — God knows that my heart must be with the oppressed, and always against the oppressor.  Therefore, whenever commenced, I cannot but wish success to all slave insurrections. ….Rather than see men wearing their chains in a cowardly and servile spirit, I would, as an advocate of peace, much rather see them breaking the head of the tyrant with their chains. ….”

Included in this edition is the speech of Wendell Phillips, and others, and items about John Brown meetings on the Cape, in New Bedford, and elsewhere.