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Full text of "Constitution of the ... anti-slavery society"

CONSTITUTION 



OF THE 



ASTTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY, 



BOSTON: 

PRINTED BY ISAAC KNAPP, 

25,CORNHILL. 



1838 



res- 75"^*-. 5V«o.6 



CONSTITUTION, &C 



PKEAMBLE. 

Whereas, we believe that Slavery is contra- 
ry to the precepts of Christianity, dangerous to 
the liberties of the country, and ought immedi^ 
ately to be abolished ; and whereas, we believe 
that the citizens of New England not only have 
the right to protest against it, but are under the 
highest obligation to seek its removal by a moi> 
al influence ; and whereas, we believe that the 
free people of color are unrighteously oppress- 
ed, and stand in need of our sympathy and be- 
nevolent co-operation ; therefore, recognizing 
the inspired declaration that God ' hath made of 
one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all 
the face of the earth,' and in obedience to our 
Savior's golden rule, 'all things whatsoever ye 
would that men should do to you, do ye even 
so to them ;' we agree to form ourselves into a 
Society, and to be governed by the following 

CONSTITUTION. 

Article 1. This society shall be called the 



Anti-Slavery Society, and shall be auxiliary to 



the 



Anti- Slavery Society. 

Art. 2. The object of the Society shall be, 
to endeavor by all means sanctioned by law, 
humanity, and religion, to effect the abolition 
of Slavery in the United States ; to improve 
the character and condition of the free people 
of color, to inform and correct public opinion in 
relation to their situation and rights, and obtain 
for them equal civil and political rights and 
privileges with the whites. 

Art. 3. Any person by signing the Consti 
tution, and paying to the Treasurer 
annually, shall be considered a member of the 
Society. 

Art. 4. The officers of the Society shall be 
a President, Vice President, a Secretary, a 
Treasurer, and Counsellors, who shall be 

elected annually, by ballot, and shall hold their 
respective offices until others are chosen. 

Art. 5. The foregoing officers shall consti- 
tute a Board of Managers, to whom shall be 
entrusted the disposition of the funds, and the 
management of the concerns of the Society. 

Art. 6. There shall be a public meeting of 
the Society annually, on the . 

of , at which the 

Board of Managers shall make a Eeport of 
their doings for the past year, and of the in- 
come, expenditures, and funds of the Society. 



Art. 7. The President shall preside at all 
meetings of the Society and of the Board of 
Managers, or in his absence one of the" Vice 
Presidents, or in their absence a President pro 
tern. 

Art. 8. The Secretary shall receive and 
keep all communications or publications directed 
to the Society, and shall correspond with any 
other bodies or individuals, according to the di- 
rections of the Society or the Managers, 

Art. 9. The Secretary shall notify all meet- 
ings of the Society and of theBoard of Mana- 
gers, and keep the records of the same. 

Art. 10. The Treasurer shall collect the 
subscriptions and donations to the Society, hold 
all its funds, and make payments according to 
the directions of the Society ; he shall keep a 
true account of the same, and render a state- 
ment to accompany the Annual Eeport of the 
Societ}'. 

Art. 11. This Constitution may be altered 
at the Annual Meeting for the choice of offi- 
cers, provided the amendments proposed to be 
made, have been submitted to the Board of 
Managers, in writing, previously. 



DECLARATION 

OF THE 

ANTI-SLAVERY CONVENTION. 

ASSEMBLED IN PHILADELPHIA, DECEMBER 4, 1S33. 



The Convention, assembled in the city of Philadelphia 
to organize a National Anti-Slavery Society, promptly seize 
the opportunity to promulgate the following DECLARA- 
TION OF SENTIMENTS, as cherished by them in rela- 
tion to the enslavement of one-sixth portion of the Ameri- 
can people. 

More than fifty-seven years have elapsed since a band of 
patriots convened in this place, to devise measures for the 
deliverance of this country from a foreign yoke. The cor- 
ner stone upon which they founded the Temple of Free- 
dom was broadly this — 'that all men are created equal; 
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inali- 
enable rights; that among these are life, LIBERTY, and 
the pursuit of happiness. 5 At the sound of their trumpet- 
call, three millions of people rose up as from the sleep of 
death, and rushed to the strife of blood ; deeming it more 
glorious to die instantly as freemen, than desirable to live 
one hour as slaves. They were few in number — poor in re- 
sources; but the honest conviction that Truth, Justice, 
and Right were on their side, made them invincible. 

We have met together for the achievement of an enter- 
prise, without which, that of our fathers is incomplete; and 
which, for its magnitude, solemnity, and probable results 
upon the destiny of the world, as far transcends theirs, as 
moral truth does physical force. 

In purity of motive, in earnestness of zeal, in decision of 
purpose, in intrepidity of action, in stedfastness of faith, in 
aincerity of spirit, we would not be inferior to them. 

Their principles led them to wage war against their op- 
pressors, and to spill human blood like water, in order to be 



free. Ours forbid the doing of evil that good may come, and 
lead us to reject, and to entreat the oppressed to reject, the 
use of all carnal weapons for deliverance from bondage; re- 
lying solely upon those which are spiritual, and mighty 
through God to the pulling down of strong holds. 

Their measures were physical resistance — the marshalling 
in arms — the hostile array — the moral encounter. Ours 
shall be such only as the opposition of moral purity to mor- 
al corruption — the destruction of error by the potency of 
truth — the overthrow of prejudice by the power of love — 
and the abolition of slavery by the spirit of repentance. 

Their grievances, great as they were, were trifling in 
comparison with the wrongs and sufferings of those for 
-whom we plead. Our fathers were never slaves— never 
bought and sold like cattle — never shut out from the light of 
knowledge and religion — never subjected to the lash of bru- 
tal task masters. 

But those, for whose emancipation we are striving, — con- 
stituting at the present time at least one-sixth part of our 
countrymen, — are recognized by the laws, and treated by 
their fellow-beings, as marketable commodities — as goods 
and chattels — as brute beasts; are plundered daily of the 
fruits of their toil without redress; really enjoy no con- 
stitutional nor legal protection from licentious and murder- 
ous outrages upon their persons ; and are ruthlessly torn 
asunder — the tender babe from the arms of its frantic mother 
— the heart-broken wife from her weeping husband — at the 
caprice or pleasure of irresponsible tyrants. For the crime 
of having a dark complexion, they suffer the pangs of hun- 
ger, the infliction of stripes, and the ignominy of brutal ser- 
vitude. They are kept in heathenish darkness by laws ex- 
pressly enacted to make their instruction a criminal of- 
fence. 

These are the prominent circumstances in the condition 
of more than two millions of our people, the proof of which 
may be found in thousands of indisputable facts, and in the 
laws of the slaveholding States. 

Hence we maintain — That in view of the civil and reli- 
gious privileges of this nation, the guilt of its oppression is 
unequalled by any other on the face of the earth; and, there- 
fore, that it is bound to repent instantly, to undo the heavy 
burden, to break every yoke, aud to let the oppressed go 
free. 

We further maintain — That no man has a right to en- 
slave or imbrute his brother — to hold or acknowledge him, 
for one moment, as a piece o[ merchandize— to keep back 



s 



his hire by fraud — or to brutalize his mind by denying him 
the means of intellectual, social, and moral improvement. 

The right to enjoy liberty is inalienable. To invade it, 
is to usurp the prerogative of Jehovah. Every man has a 
right to his own body — to the products of his own labor — 
to the protection of law — and to the common advantages of 
society. It is piracy to buy or steal a native African, and 
subject him to servitude. Surely the sin is as great to en- 
slave an American as an African. 

Therefore we believe and affirm— That there is no differ- 
ence, in principle, between the African slave trade and 
American slavery — That every American citizen, who re- 
tains a human being in involuntary bondage, as his property, 
is, [according to Scripture,] a man-stealer — That the 
slaves ought instantly to be set free, and brought under the 
protection of law — That if they had lived from the time of 
Pharaoh down to the present period, and had been entailed 
through successive generations, their right to be free could 
never have been alienated, but their claims would have con- 
stantly risen in solemnity — That all those laws which are 
now in force, admitting the right of slavery, are therefore 
before God utterly null and void; being an audacious usur- 
pation of the Divine prerogative, a daring infringement. on 
the law of Nature, a base overthrow of the very foundations 
of the social compact, a complete extinction of all the rela- 
tions, endearments, and obligations of mankind, and a pre- 
sumptuous transgression of all the holy commandments — and 
that therefore they ought to be instantly abrogated. 

We further believe and affirm — That all persons of col- 
or, who possess the qualifications which are demanded of 
others, ought to be admitted forthwith to the enjoyment of 
the same privileges, and the exercise of the same preroga- 
tives, as others — That the paths of preferment, of wealth, 
and of intelligence, should be opened as widely to them as 
to persons of a white complexion. 

We maintain that no compensation should be given to the 
planters emancipating their slaves — Because it would be a 
surrender of the great fundamental principle, that man can- 
not hold property in man — Because Slavery is a crime, 

AND THEREFORE IT IS NOT AN ARTICLE TO BE SOLD — 

Becaube the holders of slaves are not the just proprietors of 
what they claim; freeing the slaves is not depriving them ot 
property, but restoring it to its right owners; it is not 
■wronging the master, but righting the slave— restoring him 
to himself — Because immediate and general emancipation 
would only destroy nominal, not real property: it would not 



9 



amputate a limb or break a bone of the slaves, but by in- 
fusing motives into their breasts, would make them doubly 
valuable to the masters as free laborers: and, because, if 
compensation is to be given at all, it should be given to the 
outraged and guiltless slaves, and not to those who have 
plundered and abused them. 

We regard, as delusive, cruel and dangerous, any scheme 
of expatriation which pretends to aid, either directly or in- 
directly, in the emancipation of the slaves, or to be a sub- 
stitute for the immediate and total abolition of slavery. 

We fully and unanimously recognize the sovereignty of 
each State, to legislate exclusively on the subject of slavery 
which is tolerated within its limits; we concede that Con- 
gress, under the present national compact, has no right to 
interfere with any of the slave States, in relation to this 
momentous subject. 

But we maintain that Congress has a right, and is sol- 
emnly bound, to suppress the domestic slave trade between 
the several States, and to abolish slavery in those portions 
of our territory which the Constitution has placed under its 
exclusive jurisdiction. 

We also maintain that there are, at the present time, the 
highest obligations resting upon the people of the free 
States, to remove slavery by moral and political action, as 
prescribed in the Constitution of the United States. They 
are now living under a pledge o'f their tremendous physical 
force to fasten the galling letters of tyranny upon the limbs 
of millions in the Southern States; they are liable to be 
called at any moment to suppress a general insurrection of 
the slaves; "they authorize the slave owner to vote lor three- 
fifths of his slaves as property, and thus enable him to per- 
petuate his oppression; they support a standing army at the 
south for its protection ; and they seize the slave who has 
escaped into their territories, and send him back to be tor- 
tured by an enraged master or a brutal driver. This rela- 
tion to slavery is criminal and full of danger: IT must BE 
BROKEN up. 

These are our views and principles — these, our designs 
and measures. With entire confidence in the over-ruling 
justice of God, we plant ourselves upon the Declaration of 
our Independence and the truths of Divine Revelation as 
upon the everlasting kock. 

We shall organize Anti-Slavery Societies, if possible, in 
every city, town, and village in our land. 

We shall send forth Agents to lift up the voice of remon= 
strance, of warning, of entreaty, and of rebuke. 



10 



We shall circulate, unsparingly and extensively, anti-slav« 
ery tracts and periodicals. 

We shall enlist the pulpit and the press in the cause of 
the suffering and the dumb. 

We shall aim at a purification of the churches from all 
participation in the guilt of slavery. 

We shall encourage the labor of freemen rather than that 
of the slaves, by giving a preference to their productions? 
and 

We shall spare no exertions nor means to bring the whole 
nation to speedy repentance. 

Our trust for victory is solely in GOD. We may be per- 
sonally defeated, but our principles never. Truth, Jus- 
tice, Reason, Humanity, must and will gloriously tri- 
umph. Already a host is coming up to the help of the Lord 
against the mighty, and the prospect before us is full of en- 
couragement. 

Submitting this DECLARATION to the candid examin- 
ation of the people of this country, and of the friends of lib- 
erty throughout the world, we hereby affix our signatures to 
it; pledging ourselves that, under the guidance and by the 
help of Almighty God, we will do all that in us lies, consis- 
tently with this Declaration of our principles, to overthrow 
the most execrable system of shivery, that has ever been 
witnessed upon earth — to deliver our land from its deadliest 
curse — to wipe out the foulest stain which rests upon our 
natbnal escutcheon — and to secure to the colored population 
of the United Stales, all the rights and privileges which be- 
long to them as men, and as Americans — come what may to 
our persons, our interests, or our reputations- — whether wo 
live to witness the triumph of liberty, justice and hu- 
manity, or perish untimely as martyrs in this great, be- 
nevolent, and holy cause. 

Done in Philadelphia, this sixth day of December, A.D, 
1333. 



11 



CONSTITUTION 

OF THE 

AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY. 

Art. II. The object of this Society is the entire aboli-» 
tion of slavery in the United States. While it admits that 
each State in which slavery exists, has, by the Constitution 
of the United States, the exclusive right to legislate in re- 
gard to its abolition in said State, it shall aim to convince 
all our fellow-citizens, by arguments addressed to their un- 
derstandings and consciences, that slaveholding is a heinous 
Crime in the sight of God, and that the duty, safety, and 
best interests of all concerned, require its immediate aban- 
donment, without expatriation. The Society will also en- 
deavor, in a constitutional way, to influence Congress to put 
an end to the domestic slave trade, and to abolish slavery in 
all those portions of our common country which come under 
its control, especially in the District of Columbia, — and 
likewise to prevent die extension of it to any state that may 
be hereafter admitted to the Union. 

Art. III. This Society shall aim to elevate the charac- 
ter and condition of the people of color, by encouraging 
their intellectual, moral, and religious improvement, and by 
removing public prejudice, that thus they may, according to 
their intellectual and moral worth, share an equality with 
the whites, of civil and religieus privileges; but this Socie- 
ty will never, in any way, countenance the opprossed in vin- 
dicating their rights by resorting to physical force. 

Art. IV. Any person who consents to the principles of 
this Constitutiou, who contributes to the funds of this Socie- 
ty, and is not a slaveholder, may be a member of this Socie- 
ty, and shall be entitled to vote at the meetings. 

[Articles 5, 6, and 7th relate to officers. Art. 8th fixes 
the ' annual meeting at such time and place as the Execu- 
tive Committee may direct,' &c] 

Art. IX. Any Anti-Slavery Society, or association, 
founded on the same principles, may become auxiliary to this 
Society. The Officers of each Auxiliary Society shall be 
ex-officio members of the Parent Institution, and shall be* 
entitled to deliberate and vote in the transaction of its con- 
cerns. 



12 

CONSTITUTION 

OF THE 

Massachusetts anti-slavery society, 
preamble. 

Whereas, we believe that Slavery is contrary to the pre- 
cepts of Christianity, dangerous to the liberties of the coun- 
try, and ought immediately to be abolished; and whereas, 
we believe that the citizens of Massachusetts not only have 
the right to protest against it, but are under the highest ob- 
ligation to seek its removal by a moral influence; and 
whereas, we believe that the free peoplo of color are un- 
righteously oppressed, and stand in need of our sympathy and 
benevolent co-operation; therefore, recognizing the inspired 
declaration that God ' hath made of one blood all nations of 
men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,' and in obe- 
dience to our Savior's golden rule, ' all things vvhatsoeverye 
would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them ; ' 
we agree to form ourselves into a Society, and to be govern- 
ed by the following 

CONSTITUTION. 

Art. I. This Society shall be called the Massachu- 
setts Anti-Slavery Society, and shall be auxiliary to 
the American Anti-Slavery Society. 

Art. II. The objects of the Society shall be, to endeav- 
or, by all means sanctioned by law, humanity and religion, 
to effect the abolition of slavery in the United States; to 
improve the character and condition of the free people of 
color, to inform and correct public opinion in relation to 
their situation and rights, and obtain for them equal civil and 
political rights and privileges with the whites. 

Art. III. Any person by signing the Constitution, and 
paying to the Treasurer fifteen dollars as a life subscription, 
or two dollars annually, shall be considered a memlDer of 
the Society, and entitled to a copy of all its official publica- 
tions. 

[Articles 4, 5, 7, S, 9, and 10, relate to officers and their 
duties. Art. 6, fixes the annual meeting £ on the fourth 
Wednesday of January.' Art. 12, provides for Quarterly 
meetings 'on the last Monday of March, June and Septem- 
ber,' at such place as the Board of Managers shall direct; 
and also for the calling of ' special meetings, by the Board, 
or by the Recording Secretary* on application from ten mem- 
bers of the Society.'] 



^—7 



7:f 



&P72