Henry Clay

Mar. 16, 1849

“You say that ‘a vast majority of the people of the United States deplore the necessity of the continuance of slavery in the United States’.  This assertion is not true; a ‘vast majority of the people’ really care nothing about it; they are agreed  in nothing so well as in despising and proscribing the colored race, whether bond or free.  Besides, if the immediate abolition of slavery would prove disastrous, then why should its continuance be deplored?  To deplore that which is essential to good order, the public safety, and the welfare of all classes, pro tempore,  is not to talk sensibly.  Sir, slavery is ‘the sum of all villanies’ — it is pollution, concubinage, adultery — it is theft, robbery, kidnapping — it is ignorance, degradation, and woe — it is suffering, cruelty, and horrid injustice — it is the exaltation of master above all that is called God — it smites the most fertile soil with barrenness, and depraves the manners and morals of all who are infected by it!  This you know; and yet you dare to affirm that its continuance is a matter of necessity!  Ah! this is ever ‘the tyrant’s plea’, and  you are a tyrant…”   1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI