Anti-Slavery Agitation — Relation to the Result, reference Gerrit Smith

The Liberator, August 18, 1865, pg 1 contains a detailed response to Smith.  Here are some of the words.  “It was said by Gerrit Smith, in his speech at the temperance meeting in Saratoga, that ‘the anti-slavery reform was a failure; never was slavery stronger, or more deeply rooted, than when the rebellion broke out’.  … This is a striking admission to be made by one of the prime movers of the anti-slavery agitation.  It is entirely at variance with the claim usually put forth by his compeers, that the present freedom of the slave is the consummation of their work . Wherein is it true?…………..  The agitation, maintained by Wilberforce, Clarkson, and others, in England, against the African slave-trade, was unquestionably the direct cause of the prohibition of that trade by Parliament.  It confronted with very little effect at first public opinion, and the private interests, arrayed on the side of the traffic.  By persisting, it gradually subdued public sentiment, and at the end of twenty years it carried Parliament, and its task was done. The result was obtained slowly, but through the legitimate operation of moral means.   It was the regular accomplishment of a well-advised design and well-sustained labor.  The same may be said of Jamaica emancipation.  It was the practical product of moral efforts — an end wrought-out consistently and regularly through the agitation of moral causes. In both cases the methods employed worked with gradually increasing effectiveness and brought the final result in the way anticipatated.  ….. With the organized anti-slavery movement of our country, this was not so.  Probably not one man who had any important influence in starting or directing that movement can say that he ever supposed that slavery would be abolished through a war between the Federal Government and the Southern people……Nevertheless, in all human probability, emancipation would have never came but for that same agitation …..Without it, all the attempts to arouse the Southern people to a rebellious pitch would have failed as completely as they did on the question of tariff….

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