Let Us Storm the Slave System
May 28, 1862 — The New England Anti-Slavery Convention, Melodeon, Boston MA
It is said we can conquer without emancipation. The rebellion is almost crushed — our armies are pressing southward — the end approaches, when all things will be restored as of old. The South, having been deceived in regard to Mr. Lincoln and the aims of the Republican party, went to war to protect slavery. Now, perhaps, they are beginning to see that Mr. Lincoln is not so far from a slave-catcher, after all. The loyalty of the South is a myth. It will of course grow, as our armies advance, because between hanging and loyalty the advocates of a sinking cause can have but one choice. Yet where is the Unionism of New Orleans? Citizens shot down for cheering the American flag; the Mayor submitting as the conquered to conquerors. So in Norfolk: the Mayor dares to call us enemies to our faces, and to refer to his friends the rebels! The same story everywhere. We may beat their armies everywhere, take every city and seaport: what then? Subjugated, are they subdued? They would rise in sixty days again, should the military arm be withdrawn. Success cannot gild our banners while the shadow of the blacks obscures it. Two thousand of our army have died monthly in the border States of disease in the cold weather: figure the number under the heat of summer in the Gulf States! Since these things are so, when Gen. Hunter, considering besides that there are no loyal whites in his department, as his predecessor had found, resolved to increase his forces by the blacks whose loyalty he had put to the proof, and declared them freemen forever, — he, who in 1858 declared that this Government could not exist half slave and half free, annulled the proclamation from the White House! Kentucky, which fished the halter for liberty in the person of John Brown, has strangled her again, through her representative in the Presidential chair!
In the field, Gen. Mitchell rejects the bondmen who flee to him for protection. everywhere those who bring us the most important intelligence are liable to be thrust back into slavery, there to be whipped, tortured, burned to death.
How do the brave young hearts stun to use from the war? How many go from us, and never return? And we have nothing to do with slavery! What are our sufferings to those of the slave girl, or the slave mother, lashed from the embrace of her children? Has your purity no feeling for purity outraged? — your parental affections no sympathy for the lacerated love of the slaves? Can you hesitate to speak the word — Be free? God has put slavery into our hands to choke it. He alone should be able to take it out again alive. Let us storm the slave system, as Smith took Fort Donelson. If the President will not give us the order, let us go ourselves.
Source: The Liberator, June 6, 1862, p. 4.