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Over My Shoulder #3: from William Lloyd Garrison’s On the Constitution and the Union, December 29, 1832

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 19 years ago, in 2005, on the World Wide Web.

You know the rules. Here’s the quote. This week’s is not bus reading; it’s plane reading. Also a source for transcriptions for the Fair Use Repository (a note about that shortly). I give you a passage from William Lloyd Garrison’s On the Constitution and the Union, from The Liberator of December 29, 1832:

There is much declamation about the sacredness of the compact which was formed between the free and slave states, on the adoption of the Constitution. A sacred compact, forsooth! We pronounce it the most bloody and heaven-daring arrangement ever made by men for the continuance and protection of a system of the most atrocious villany ever exhibited on earth. Yes–we recognize the compact, but with feelings of shame and indignation, and it will be held in everlasting infamy by the friends of justice and humanity throughout the world. It was a compact formed at the sacrifice of the bodies and souls of millions of our race, for the sake of achieving a political object–an unblushing and monstrous coalition to do evil that good might come. Such a compact was, in the nature of things and according to the law of God, null and void from the beginning. No body of men ever had the right to guarantee the holding of human beings in bondage. Who or what were the framers of our government, that they should dare confirm and authorise such high-handed villany–such flagrant robbery of the inalienable rights of man–such a glaring violation of all the precepts and injunctions of the gospel–such a savage war upon a sixth part of our whole population?–They were men, like ourselves–as fallible, as sinful, as weak, as ourselves. By the infamous bargain which they made between themselves, they virtually dethroned the Most High God, and trampled beneath their feet their own solemn and heaven-attested Declaration, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights–among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They had no lawful power to bind themselves, or their posterity, for one hour–for one moment–by such an unholy alliance. It was not valid then–it is not valid now. Still they persisted in maintaining it–and still do their successors, the people of Massachussetts, of New-England, and of the twelve free States, persist in maintaining it. A sacred compact! A sacred compact! What, then, is wicked and ignominious?

–William Lloyd Garrison (1832), On the Constitution and the Union, from William Lloyd Garrison and the Fight Against Slavery: Selections from The Liberator. Edited with an Introduction by William E. Cain. The Bedford Series in History and Culture.

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