In the month of May 1830, forty years ago, I was lying in the jail in Baltimore for bearing an uncompromising testimony against certain Northern participants in the domestic slave trade. I need not say that my imprisonment, so far from operating as a discouragement, gave powerful impetus to my anti-slavery zeal, and led me still more feelingly to remember those in bonds as being bound with them:-
Eternal spirit of the chainless mind,
Brightest in dungeons Liberty! thou art,
For there thy habitation is the heart,--
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consigned,--
To fetters and the damp vault's dayless gloom,--
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind."
From that time to the completion of the anti-slavery struggle through trials and perils which only those who were called to meet them can ever fully realize, I do not remember an hour when my faith in its final triumph wavered. From the depth of my soul I declared, at the start.
Opposition and abuse, and slander and prejudice, and judicial tyrrany are like oil to the flame of my enthusiasm. I am not dismayed, I am not disheartened but bolder and more confident than ever. Let the courts condemn me to fine and imprisonment for denouncing oppression, am I to be frightened by dungeons and chains? Can they humble my spirit? Do I not remember that I am an American freeman? and as such and what is more, a being accountable to God. I will not hold my peace while a single slave remains to be set free." This was not said in a boastful spirit, for it was by the help fo God that I was enabled to stand in the evil day, and by that same Divine strength and trust were the great body of Abolitionists sustained in every emergency. "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us when they had swallowed us up quick when their wrath was kindled against us then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gove over our soul.'
O ye ransomed millions! rejoice and give glory to God that not a slave remains in the house of bondage: that there is to be no more buying and selling of human flesh on the auction block, no more hunting of fugitive slaves, no more rending asunder husbands and wives and parents and children, no more forcing to unpaid toil under the lash of a driver, no more abrogating the marriage institution, no more punishment for attempting to learn the alphabet.' Freedom is yours to enjoy and maintain yours by natural right and the grace of God as well as by the decree of the nation constitutionally secured, yours with all its responsibilities and duties, its manifold blessings and sublime possibilities, yours without bloodshed, or violence or any disorder whatever or any desire for retaliation, yours to advance in wisdom and knowledge in skill and enterprise, in wealth and prosperity.
Citizenship is yours, with political enfranchisement whereby you are to help decide what shall be the laws for the common defence and the general welfare, and ultimately to obtain a fair share of the honors and emoluments of public life. In this hour of jubilation I will not pause to give you any counsel as to your future course. I have no misgiving on that score. You have been the best behaved people in the past under the most terrible provocations, and why should any doubt as to your behavior hereafter, under all the favorable conditions of freedom and equality.' I believe you are destined to rise high in the scale of civilization and to take a prominent part in our national affairs. Indeed in view of your liberated and enfranchised condition it may be truly affirmed that since the Declaration of Independence was published to the world, never has our country been so powerful as now, never so reputable and influential as now in the eyes of the world. Hence, we have all reason to be glad as to the present, and hopeful as to the future, for the interests of the North are as the interests of the South, and the institutions of one section of the country essentially like those of every other.
I rejoice that the South will now have unlimited means for growth in population, in education, in enterprise, in invention, in literature, in the arts and sciences, in material prosperity. Henceforth may every blessing be vouchsafed to her through the removal of slavery so that as her depression has been deplorable her exaltation shall be glorious! Such has ever been the desire of my heart and the aim of all my labors. Yours, rejoicingly,
WM. LLOYD GARRISON.