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(1844) Charles Lenox Remond, “For the Dissolution of the Union”

In a speech before the New England Anti-Slavery Society at its convention on May 7, 1844, Charles Lenox Remond adopted a theme increasingly popular among many anti-slavery activists, arguing that Northern states such as Massachusetts should secede from the Union then dominated by slaveholders. Remond and others who advocated this radical view made two arguments. First they claimed dissolution of the union would cut off economic support for slavery from Northern business interests. However they also argued that dissolution of the Union was the only remaining response to a government that was unwilling to allow fundamental rights for African Americans. After his presentation, and similar remarks by other abolitionists, the New England Anti-Slavery Society adopted a resolution supporting the dissolution by a margin of 252 to 24. Thus, ironically, some of the earliest calls for the end of the Union came from abolitionists in the North rather than from Slaveholders in the South. Remond’s speech appears below.

I do not intend, Sir, even to attempt an answer to the respected friend who has just taken his seat. My point of view is too distant from his to leave me the vantage-ground for doing so. But I feel a deep interest in the question, and the present moment is perhaps the most fitting one for the expression of my humble views. I cannot expect them to make much impression upon the many—upon the body of this nation, for whose benefit the Constitution was made; but they will meet a response from the few whom it entirely overlooks, or sees but to trample upon, and the fewer still, who identify themselves with the outcast, by occupying this position, of a dissolution of their union with Slaveholders.

It does very well for nine-tenths of the people of the United States, to speak of the awe and reverence they feel as they contemplate the Constitution, but there are those who look upon it with a very different feeling, for they are in a very different position. What is it to them that it talks about

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