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Gradual Emancipation:  Civitas, in The Genius of Universal Emancipation, 1830


                 Beginning in 1821, Benjamin Lundy published the Genius of Universal Emancipation in various locations, including Ohio, Tennessee, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. During his time in Baltimore in the late 1820s and early 1830s, William Lloyd Garrison worked as Lundy’s partner on the newspaper. Lundy endorsed colonization of freed slaves in Africa, while Garrison quickly came to embrace immediate emancipation and racial equality within the United States.




The Genius of Universal Emancipation, Vol. [1, No. 1] (April 1830), pp. 7-8.





                 Slavery being acknowledged in every section of the Union as an evil, and the foreign slave trade denounced as piracy by the National Legislature, it is believed to be incumbent upon the good citizens of our republic to make every constitutional effort to eradicate it from our soil. The friends of universal emancipation had, from the foundation of our government, been unceasing in their entreaties with the slave-holding states, to abolish a system of oppression and outrage, palpably at variance with the spirit of our original compact. Proposition after proposition have been made, emanating from the most patriotic and philanthropic intentions. Scheme after scheme have been proposed, originating in wisdom, and practicable and pacific in their operations. Numerous appeals have been sent forth, addressed to the feelings and understanding of the oppressors of their fellow-men. Still the voice of truth and justice is unheeded—and a fixed determination proclaimed, to pursued the unhallowed course, regardless of the laws of God and man. [p. 8] There yet remains another mode of appeal, viz: to the pecuniary interests of the slave-holder. It is the right, it is the duty of every christian [sic] philanthropist, to abstain from the use of such produce, as is wrung from the unrewarded toil of mankind. That the slave is degraded to the level of a mere beast of burden, the statutes of the south have amply shown, being by them denonminated “goods and chattels [sic].”


                 Under these considerations, we deem it a duty to call your attention to the subject, with the hope that you will candidly and coolly inquire whether you can consistently with your conscience, strengthen the hands of those who are enslaving your own species, by purchasing their commodities.


                 Although the foreign Slave Trade is, by law, abolished—yet the Domestic Traffic is as henious [sic] and destructive of human happiness. The dearest ties of social relationship are as heartlessly torn asunder, within the jurisdiction of our boastedly “free country,” as under Brazilian or Spanish despotism. Whatever you may have known of the appalling scenes witnessed on the coast of Africa, may be pointed out in our own favoured country. As little regard is paid here to the wailings of bereft parents, and the cries of innocent children dragged away to interminable bondage, as there. We beseech you to ponder these things—bring them home to your own happy firesides—ask yourselves as parents, brothers, sisters, what would be your emotions, were the perpetrators of rapine and murder to break in upon your homes, brutally bear you off to some distant land, put you up at the public market to be sold to the highest bidder, and wantonly separate husband from wife, brother from brother, and sister from sister, and forever deny you the inalienable rights of man, by the imposition of regulations suited only to the beasts that perish?


                 We believe, from evidence which to us is conclusive, that the real interests of the slave-holder would to him be more secure, were he to change his slaves into hired freemen. That the expenses of free-labour are less, compared with its profits, than those of slave-labour. That the happiness and safety of our beloved country can be alone perpetuated by the entire abolition of slavery. These propositions, however, we leave for the present, with the view of drawing your attention to the main object, viz:  The use of the produce of the labor of freemen, in preference to that of slaves.


                 Although you may enquire, individually: “Of what benefit can my abstinence be to the great body of slaves?” Yet . . . if each member of the community, unfavorable to slavery, would exercise his will, and refuse to partake of the gains of oppression, the existence of slavery among us would shortly be looked upon with general abhorence [sic].—In truth, we should fearlessly claim for ourselves the glorious character of “a nation of freemen.” . . .


                 Cotton fabrics being more necessary for the convenience of the female part of the community, we look to our republican matrons and daughters for the most efficient co-operation. It is measurably with them to decide this all important subject. It is with them to say whether or not the heart of woman is less sympathising [sic], in this nation, than among their transatlantic sisters; whose efforts, in England, are accomplishing much towards destroying West-Indian slavery. In the city of Philadelphia is witnessed the powerful influence of a “Female Association” to whom we are largely indebted for the advancement of our cause. We fervently hope that the annunciation of this fact will induce thousands to unite in breaking in pieces the shackles of the slave, and redeeming our common country from an evil which must eventually, if not removed, bring upon as anarchy, revolution, and a train of horrors, consistent with the just judgments of an offended God.



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