The Liberator (Boston, Massachusetts),

January 14, 1832




        It seems that some of the slaveholders are imitating the example of the “Incendiary” Liberator, and actually discoursing about the gradual emancipation of their slaves.  Strange that they wish to disturb so embarrassing a question! Strange that they are so resolutely determined to create an excitement!  Strange that they pursue a course of conduct so well calculated to make their slaves uneasy!  Certainly they ought to be indicted forthwith, and a reward of five thousand dollars offered for each of their heads.  Cruel, cruel men! seriously talking of breaking the fetters of their happy and loving slaves, and casting them upon the cold charities of the world; what infatuation!  This must never be; if this emancipation should take place, out throats would be cut, our houses pillaged and burnt, and the land given over to desolation.  Indeed, the mischief that would result from such a step is inconceivable! Why then take it?  The slaves don’t wish to be free; they feel more contented and are far better off than laboring classes of Great Britain and France; they will not leave their indulgent drivers and gentle masters unless driven away by force!


        Irony aside.  So excessive is the terror of the people of the south in view of the inevitable results of their oppression, that they begin to feel the necessity of checking the growth of the slave system.  While we rejoice to see them in some measure [p. 153] brought to a sane state of mind, we are free to acknowledge that we cannot place the slightest reliance upon any measure they may propose for the mitigation of the evil.  They will never voluntarily emancipate their slaves, unless at the same time they can drive them form the country.  As for gradual abolition, it is a delusion which first blinds and then destroys...


Henry Irving Tragle, The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831: A Compilation of Source Material (Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1971), 152-153.