No Union With Slaveholders
Henry Wilson

Having adopted the doctrine of "no union with slaveholders" as the fundamental idea, the corner-stone of their policy and plans, the Garrisonians of that period directed their teachings, their arguments and appeals, to the establishment of the necessity and the inculcation of the duty of disunion. Believing, in the language of Edmund Quincy, the Union to be a "confederacy of crime," that "the experiment of a great nation with popular institutions had signally failed," that the Republic was "not a model, but a warning to the nations," that "the hopes of the yearning ages had been mournfully defeated" through "the distrubing element of slavery"; believing, too, that such had become the ascendency of the system that it compelled "the entire people to be slaveholders or slaves"; believing also that "the only exodus for the slave from his bondage, the only redemption of ourselves from our guilty participation in it, lies over the ruin of the American state and the American church," - they proclaimed it to be their "unalterable purpose and determination to live and labor for a dissolution of the present Union by all lawful and just though bloodless and pacific means, and for the formation of a new republic, that shall be such not in name only, but in full, living reality and truth."

But to destroy such a system as slavery, thus completely interwoven with everything in church and state, permeating the mass and diffusing itself through the very atmosphere of public and private life, involved the breaking up of institutions and asociations hallowed by time and the most tender memories. In attaining the great good sought there could not but be much incidental evil; in rooting up the tares there was manifest danger of injury to the wheat. But these consequences and conditions this class of reformeres promptly accepted, and, with an unsparing iconoclasm, they dashed to the ground whatever idols of popular faith interfered with the people's acceptance of the doctrines they deemed of paramount importance. Abjuring party organizations, coming out from the churches, and condemning with unsparing censure whatever in their esteem gave countenance and encouragement to slavery, they necessarily assumed an attitude of antagonism to those they so severely condemned, and uttered many sentiments that grated harshly on the popular ear. But, while thus obnoxious to the charge of indifference to the passions, prejudices, and even the principles, of the dominant classes of society, and committed, as many thought, to theories more abstract than practical, it was always seen that to the sigh of the individual bondman their ear was ever attent, and that for the help of the poor and trembling fugitive their hand was ever open and generous.

From the annexation of Texas, in 1845, to the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law, in 1850, they pursued with a good deal of vigor this line of policy. Discarding religious and political organizations, the ballot, and all the enginery of its legitimate and effective use, they denied themselves many of the ordinary methods of reaching the popular mind, and relied mainly on the use of the press, the popular convention, and other meetings of the people. They not only held such convocations by special appointment at various points at the North, but they always observed the anniversaries of national independence and of West India emancipation as days specially appropriate to their mission to the American people. To the annual meetings of the American, New England, and the several state societies were added fairs, held for the twofold purpose of putting funds into their exchequer and of bringing their ideas before the people. In carrying forward this work, Garrison, Phillips, Quincy, Douglass, Wright, Foster, Burleigh, and Pillsbury were among the recognized leaders and advocates. Theodore Parker and Ralph Waldo Emerson, though not distinctively belonging to their organization, largely sympathized with their efforts, and were occasionally welcomed to their platform. In the same work they were assisted by the pens and voices of several women. Among them were Mrs. Child, Mrs. Chapman, Lucretia Mott, Mrs. Abby Kelly Foster, and Lucy Stone. During a portion of these years, too, Garrison, Douglass, Henry C. Wright, and James Buffum were in Europe, and presented the cause to the British public.


Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America by Henry Wilson
James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, 1874, Volume II, pages 107-109.