The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.
The position in which I am placed this morning is one very unusual for me, and one that I find somewhat difficult; but I consider it a signal distinction to be permitted to take a prominent part in the proceedings of this day, which are intended to commemorate one of the greatest of the great triumphs of freedom, and to do honor to a most eminent instrument in the achievement of that freedom. (Hear, hear.) There may be, perhaps, those who ask what is this triumph of which I speak?  To put it briefly, and, indeed, only to put one part of it, I may say that it is a triumph which has had the effect of raising 4,000,000 of human beings from the very lowest depths of social and political degradation to that lofty height which men have attained when they possess equality of rights in the first country on the globe. (Cheers.) More than this, it is a triumph which has pronounced the irreversible doom of slavery in all countries and for all time. (Renewed cheers.) Another question suggests itself—­how has this great matter been accomplished?  The answer suggests itself in another question.  How is it that any great matter is accomplished?  By love of justice, by constant devotion to a great cause, and by an unfaltering faith that that which is right will in the end succeed. (Hear, hear.)
When I look at this hall, filled with such an assembly; when I partake of the sympathy which runs from heart to heart at this moment in welcome to our guest of to-day, I cannot but contrast his present position with that which, not so far back but that many of us can remember, he occupied in his own country.  It is not forty years ago, I believe about the year 1829, when the guest whom we honor this morning was spending his solitary days in a prison in the slave-owning city of Baltimore.  I will not say that he was languishing in prison, for that I do not believe; he was sustained by a hope that did not yield to the persecution of those who thus maltreated him; and to show that the effect of that imprisonment was of no avail to suppress or extinguish his ardor, within two years after that he had the courage, the audacity—­I dare say many of his countrymen used even a stronger phrase than that—­he had the courage to commence the publication, in the city of Boston, of a newspaper devoted mainly to the question of the abolition of slavery.  The first number of that paper, issued on the 1st January, 1831, contained an address to the public, one passage of which I have often read with the greatest interest, and it is a key to the future life of Mr. Garrison.  He had been complained of for having used hard language, which is a very common complaint indeed, and he said in his first number:  “I am aware that many object to the severity of my language, but is there not cause for such severity?  I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.  I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retract a single inch, and I
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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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