William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, January 1, 1831
my recent tour for the purpose of exciting the minds of the people by a series
of discourses on the subject of slavery, every place that I visited gave fresh
evidence of the fact, that a greater revolution in public sentiment was to be
effected in the free states - and particularly in
New-England than at the south. I found contempt more bitter, opposition more
active, detraction more relentless, prejudice more stubborn, and apathy more
frozen, than among the slave owners themselves. Of course there were individual
exceptions to the contrary.
This state of things afflicted, but did not dishearten me. I determined, at every hazard, to lift up the standard of emancipation in the eyes of the nation, within sight of
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; . . . tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; - but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest I will not equivocate - I will not excuse - I will not retreat a single inch - AND I WILL BE HEARD....
And here I close with this fresh dedication: "Oppression! I have seen thee, face to face,
And met thy cruel eye and cloudy brow; But thy soul-withering glance I fear not now - For dread to prouder feelings doth give place Of deep abhorrence! Scorning the disgrace Of slavish knees that at thy footstool bow, I also kneel - but with far other bow Do hail thee and thy herd of hirelings base: - I swear, while life-blood warms my throbbing veins, Still to oppose and thwart, with heart and hand Thy brutalizing sway - till Africa's chains Are burst, and Freedom rules the rescued land, Trampling Oppression and his iron rod: Such is the vow I take - SO HELP ME GOD!