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(1857) Charles Lenox Remond, “An Anti-Slavery Discourse”

By 1857 “Bleeding Kansas’ and the Dred Scott Decision had intensified sectional tensions over slavery and moved the nation closer to civil war. Against that backdrop, Charles Lenox Remond, on July 10, 1857, addressed the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society where he joined a growing chorus of abolitionists led by William Lloyd Garrison who called the dissolution of the Union with slaveholders. His address appears below.

Mr. President, and Ladies and Gentlemen: I hardly need inform those who are gathered together here to-day, that I take some satisfaction in responding to the kind invitation of the Committee of Massachusetts A. S. Society, for more reasons, perhaps, than would at first appear to many who are present. We have been informed, by the gentleman who preceded our respected president (Mr. Jackson), that this is a repetition of eighty years’ standing of the demonstration of the American people on the side of liberty and independence. The reason why I, above all others, take pleasure in coming to this platform, is not to exhibit, if I may so express myself, the commonplace idea of a colored man’s speaking in public, nor is it the grateful associations that may appear to other minds, on another account, or for other reasons, but it is that I may have the satisfaction of saying, in a word, that I hold all demonstrations on this day, outside of the gatherings similar to the one of which we form a part, as so many mockeries and insults to a large number of our fellow-countrymen. To-day there are, on the Southern plantations, between three and four millions, to whom the popular Fourth of July in the United States of America is a most palpable insult; and to every white American who has any sympathy whatever with the oppressed, the day is also a mockery. Why, sir, I have been informed, since I came into this grove, that on this platform sit one or two men recently from Virginia, known and owned there as slaves. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, and I ask this audience, what must be the emotion of these men, who are now on

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