Garrison vs. Calhoun
The two excerpts below represent contrasting viewpoints concerning slavery
before the Civil War.
The first is by noted Abolitionist leader, William Lloyd
Garrison, and is clearly an angry attack on slavery and Southerners.
is by South Carolina Senator, John C. Calhoun, who defends slavery and expresses
Southern attitudes towards Abolitionism and secession.
William Lloyd Garrison on the Death of John Brown
John Brown of Kansas was a militant abolitionist who attempted to use force to
free the slaves in the South. On the night of October 16, 1859, Brown and a
small band of followers seized the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The
weapons were to be used by his "army of emancipation." They took 60 hostages
and held out against the local militia, but were then attacked by U.S. Marines
under the command of Col. Robert E. Lee (who would later command the
Confederate Armies). Two of Brown's sons and ten others were killed in the
fighting. Brown was wounded and taken prisoner. He was tried by the
Commonwealth of Virginia and convicted of treason, murder and inciting slaves
to rebellion. He was sentenced to death and hanged on December 2, 1859. On
that day in Boston, America's best known Abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison,
delivered this highly charged tribute honoring Brown by advocating that the
North should secede from the South to end slavery.
God forbid that we should any longer continue the accomplices of thieves and
robbers, of men-stealers and women-whippers! We must join together in the name
of freedom. As for the Union--where is it and what is it? In one-half of it no
man can exercise freedom of speech or the press--no man can utter the words of
Washington, of Jefferson, of Patrick Henry--except at the peril of his life; and
Northern men are everywhere hunted and driven from the South if they are
supposed to cherish the sentiment of freedom in their bosoms. We are living
under an awful despotism--that of a brutal slave oligarchy. And they threaten to
leave us if we do not continue to do their evil work, as we have hitherto done
it, and go down in the dust before them! Would to heaven they would go! It would
only be the paupers clearing out from the town, would it not? But, no, they do
not mean to go; they mean to cling to you, and they mean to subdue you. But will
you be subdued?
I tell you our work is the dissolution of this slavery-cursed Union, if we would
have a fragment of our liberties left to us! Surely between freemen, who believe
in exact justice and impartial liberty, and slaveholders, who are for cleaning
down all human rights at a blow, it is not possible there should be any Union
whatever. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" The slaveholder
with his hands dripping in blood--will I make a compact with him? The man who
plunders cradles--will I say to him, "Brother, let us walk together in unity?"
The man who, to gratify his lust or his anger, scourges woman with the lash till