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(1843) Henry Highland Garnet, "An Address To The Slaves Of The United States"

The National Negro Convention of 1843 was held in Buffalo, New York drawing some seventy delegates a dozen states. Among the delegates were young, rising leaders in the African American community including Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Charles B. Ray and Charles L. Remond. Twenty-seven year old Henry Highland Garnet, a newspaper editor and pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York, however captured most of the attention of the delegates with his “An Address to the Slaves of the United States” in which he called for their open rebellion. The speech failed by one vote of being endorsed by the convention. The speech appears below.

Brethren and Fellow Citizens:—Your brethren of the North, East, and West have been accustomed to meet together in National Conventions, to sympathize with each other, and to weep over your unhappy condition. In these meetings we have addressed all classes of the free, but we have never, until this time, sent a word of consolation and advice to you. We have been contented in sitting still and mourning over your sorrows, earnestly hoping that before this day your sacred liberty would have been restored. But, we have hoped in vain. Years have rolled on, and tens of thousands have been borne on streams of blood and tears, to the shores of eternity. While you have been oppressed, we have also been partakers with you; nor can we be free while you are enslaved. We, therefore, write to you as being bound with you. Many of you are bound to us, not only by the ties of a common humanity, but we are connected by the more tender relations of parents, wives, hus¬bands, children, brothers, and sisters, and friends. As such we most affec¬tionately address you.

Slavery has fixed a deep gulf between you and us, and while it shuts out from you the relief and consolation which your friends would willingly ren¬der, it affects and persecutes you with a fierceness which we might not expect to see in the fiends of hell. But still the Almighty Father of mercies has left to us a glimmering ray

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