EARL RUSSELL and JOHN STUART MILL, M.P., at the close of the address, followed with most eloquent speeches, conferring on the honored guest the highest praise for his life-long and successful labors in the cause of freedom. After these gentlemen had taken their seats, the Chairman proposed that the address should be passed unanimously.
The Chairman’s call was responded to by the whole assemblage lifting up their hands; and Mr. Garrison, presenting himself in front of the platform, was received with an enthusiastic burst of cheering, hats and handkerchiefs being waved by nearly all present.
Mr. Garrison said:—Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,—For this marked expression of your personal respect, and appreciation of my labors in the cause of human freedom, and of your esteem and friendship for the land of my nativity, I offer you, one and all, my grateful acknowledgments. But I am so profoundly impressed by the formidable array of rank, genius, intellect, scholarship, and moral and religious worth which I see before me, that I fear I shall not be able to address you, except with a fluttering pulse and a stammering tongue. For me this is, indeed, an anomalous position. Assuredly, this is treatment with which I have not been familiar. For more than thirty years, I had to look the fierce and unrelenting hostility of my countrymen in the face, with few to cheer me onward. In all the South I was an outlaw, and could not have gone there, though an American citizen guiltless of wrong, and though that flag (here the speaker pointed to the United States ensign) had been over my head, except at the peril of my life; nay, with the certainty of finding a bloody grave. (Hear, hear.) In all the North I was looked upon with hatred and contempt. The whole nation, subjugated to the awful power of slavery, rose up in mobocratic tumult against any and every effort to liberate the millions held in bondage on its soil. And yet I demanded nothing that was not perfectly just and reasonable, in exact accordance with the Declaration of American Independence and the Golden Rule. I was not the enemy of any man living. I cherish no personal enmities; I know nothing of them in my heart. Even whilst the Southern slave-holders were seeking my destruction, I never for a moment entertained any other feeling toward them than an earnest desire, under God, to deliver them from a deadly curse and an awful sin. (Hear, hear.) It was neither a sectional nor a personal matter at all. It had exclusive reference to the eternal law of justice between man and man, and the rights of human nature itself.
Sir, I always found in America that a shower of brickbats had a remarkably tonic effect, materially strengthening to the back-bone. (Laughter.) But, sir, the shower of compliments and applause, which has greeted me on this occasion would assuredly