Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Deputy Editor, L.A. Weekly
Monday, December 15, 2008
I'm sorry, I don't mean to be sadistic, and I consider myself a nonviolent person by nature, but this video footage of the Iraqi journalist hurling his shoes at George Bush made my day and had me laughing throughout the day today every time I thought of it. It also speaks volumes of how Bush is perceived, not just in the Middle East, but around the world.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I have an ego, I have ideas, I want to be articulate, to communicate but in my own way. People who say they create only for themselves and don't care if they are published...I hate to hear talk like that. If it's good, it's too good not to share. That's the way I feel about my work. So I'll keep on communicating, but only my way."
--Shel Silverstein, from Publishers Weekly, February 24, 1975
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I'm also thankful for this blog and that I have its means to express myself any way I choose, whether its through my poetry, thoughts, found videos, etc. And I'm thankful for those of you who choose to read it(you are out there, right? Please! Anybody?!)
In any event, I wish you all a safe and sane(as much as possible) holiday with whomever you choose to spend it with, just as long as you are thankful for them.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I can remember starving in a
small room in a strange city
shades pulled down, listening to
I was young I was so young it hurt like a knife
because there was no alternative except to hide as long
not in self-pity but with dismay at my limited chance:
trying to connect.
the old composers -- Mozart, Bach, Beethoven,
Brahms were the only ones who spoke to me and
they were dead.
finally, starved and beaten, I had to go into
the streets to be interviewed for low-paying and
by strange men behind desks
men without eyes men without faces
who would take away my hours
piss on them.
now I work for the editors the readers the
but still hang around and drink with
Mozart, Bach, Brahms and the
sometimes all we need to be able to continue alone
are the dead
rattling the walls
that close us in.
from You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense - pg. 139 - 1986
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
He was a boy with a distant father, raised in a family of modest means. He had a curious intellect, devouring history and memorizing passages from Shakespeare. He became a lawyer and settled in Illinois, where he was elected to the state legislature. With relatively little political experience, he decided to run for president. Few believed he stood a chance of winning a primary campaign against the
party's heir apparent, a senator from New York. But the gangly, bookish Illinoisan galvanized millions across a country in crisis with his soaring rhetoric, speaking in
big strokes about transcending partisan politics and creating America as it ought
to be. He rose from obscurity to clinch his party's nomination and the presidency. The New York senator returned home deeply disappointed and bitter, having fallen to a shrewd political tactician.
The year was 1860, and Abraham Lincoln had narrowly defeated Sen. William H. Seward to become the Republican presidential nominee. After winning the presidency, Lincoln disregarded personal animosity and took the unprecedented move of tapping Seward to be his Secretary of State. He appointed two other political adversaries as well:
Salmon P. Chase, a handsome widower and Ohio's governor, who resented losing to
a man he considered inferior, as secretary of the Treasury; and Edwin
M. Stanton, a long-bearded Democratic lawyer contemptuous of Lincoln, whom Lincoln inherited as his attorney general but later appointed as secretary of war. Lincoln chose another foe, Missouri's distinguished elder statesman, Edward Bates, to succeed Stanton as attorney general. Bates had considered Lincoln incompetent but eventually concluded that the president was "very near being a perfect man,"
historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes in her 2005 book "Team of Rivals." As the United States splintered toward civil war, the 16th president assembled the most
unusual administration in history, bringing together his disgruntled opponents and displaying what Goodwin calls a profound self-awareness and political genius.
As he has been for many of the nation's presidents, including the one now holding the office, Lincoln is a source of inspiration for Barack Obama, who will be
inaugurated Jan. 20. On a chilly morning 21 months ago, Obama launched his long-shot bid for the presidency from the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. -- the same place where a century and a half earlier, Lincoln delivered his historic
"House Divided" speech. And now, Obama is contemplating Lincoln's particular model of
presidential leadership as he moves toward assembling his own team of advisers and Cabinet officials. His overtures to his former foes have suggested he may be mulling his own team of rivals, perhaps led by a certain senator from New York as secretary of state. Obama met with Hillary Rodham Clinton in Chicago last week.
Since winning the election two weeks ago, he has been reading Lincoln's writings again, Obama said Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes." "There is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful." Offers Goodwin: "You can't find a better mentor than Abraham Lincoln."
"Lincoln said, 'The country's in peril. These are the strongest and most able people in the country and I need them by my side,' " she said in an interview. "At first, people wondered whether or not Lincoln would be overshadowed by Seward. But in the end, Seward ended up becoming his closest friend. . . . He went on in history in a more profound way than he ever would have had he stayed just a senator from New York."
If Lincoln is the president against whom all others are measured, it is in no small measure because he was the greatest politician to occupy the White House, said presidential historian Richard Norton Smith. "Lincoln is a crossroads of character and political shrewdness," said Smith, a scholar-in-residence at George Mason University. By appointing his former rivals, he "displayed a remarkable generosity of spirit. On the other hand, it's a very shrewd attempt to co-opt your potential enemies."
Obama may let it drop that his proverbial desert-island book is Goodwin's 916-page tome, and Garry Trudeau may decree Obama is "The Second Coming of Lincoln" in his
"Doonesbury" comic strip, and the president-elect may grace this week's Newsweek
cover standing in Abe's long shadow.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Oprah and the scores of men and women we saw on TV from across the nation, I wept openly after the announcement was made that Barack Obama was named President-Elect Tuesday night after an overwhelming landslide in the electoral vote. I wept for those men and women who hadn't even dared to dream that this day would happen. For those who thought it would never happen in their lifetimes, including myself. Who had shed blood and tears and sweat just so we could, at the very least, be invited to the table, if not given the seat at the head of it. I wept for Madelyn Dunham, Obama's grandmother, who died just one day before getting to see her grandson make history. I wept as a proud black man that I got to see a nation that has finally figured it out and is finally growing up, just a little bit. I also wept for the young black men and women, particularly of grade school age, who got to witness this moment, and who can, and without any hesitation, now say that when they grow up, they want to be president. And the young Hispanic and Latino men and women. And the young Asian men and women. And the young Native American men and women. The door has officially been opened. We are now allowed to sit at the head of the table.
I was glad that I was able to call my 76-year old mother, who after witnessing all that she has seen in her lifetime, including a World War and the debacle in Vietnam; Jim Crow and segregation; race riots and the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK, among many others; I'm glad she got to see this moment and that I was able to share in that moment with her briefly over the phone.
This is indeed a new day. But yet, with the celebration of this monumental occasion, comes always, the cold water of reality. This most likely will not change the state of race relations in this country. At least, not overnight, or even during the course of Obama's first term in office. Neither will the problems that have beset us and which now he is being challenged to deal with after he is inaugurated on January 20th of next year. I honestly think that, given the nature of who he is, he will probably be under much more scrutiny than any president ever has been. And consequently, his safety and the safety of his family will be an ongoing concern--much more so now than it ever has been before. Now the real work begins. And not work that is merely on his shoulders. We elected him to be president of these United States. Our United States. As such, we need to stand by him, support him, long after the fanfare of this election and the upcoming inauguration has died down. We need to fight with him for those who don't have a voice or the ability to fight for themselves. To fight for better jobs and a stronger economy. To bring an end to an unjust and unnecessary war and bring our troops home to their longsuffering families and friends. To bring about universal health care for the millions who have gone without it for far too long. To save a disastrous educational policy that is doing nothing for our kids. To help those who can't help themselves, up out of poverty and hunger and illness and illiteracy.
I really hope that with the inevitable scrutiny, will also come, a willingness to let this man govern, as he sees fit, and be allowed to make mistakes, which is granted every human, and has certainly been granted to the previous 43 presidents of this country. I believe that he has surrounded, and will surround, himself with very capable people who will seek to move this nation forward and hopefully salvage the sullied reputation of this country, both here and abroad. But as I said, he will need the help of all of us. We cannot just sit back and take an idle approach to how things are run in this country. We must speak up and speak out and often. And we must pray--for him, for his family, for his advisors, and for his cabinet. For their safety and security. That they don't succumb to the pressures of this job. And that they'll be able to help lead this nation on the road to recovery that it so desperately needs.
President-Elect Barack Obama, you have been blessed. And you are a blessing to us, by God, to help lead a still very young nation onto bigger and better things. And to be a blessing to others, both near and far. I wish you Godspeed, health and prosperity, safety, wisdom and strength. And Peace!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The Independent. Posted November 4, 2008.
Some of America's leading black voices, including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Spike Lee and Tiger Woods share what it means to them.
With Obama on the brink of victory, America's leading black voices share what it means to them.
Maya Angelou, novelist: 'If he wins, it means my country has agreed to grow up'
I never thought I'd see a black president in the White House in my lifetime. I didn't even dare dream it. I feel like a child approaching Christmas, you can't believe election day is finally here. It's been so long since we've had people -- Asian and black, white and Spanish-speaking -- come together and say YES. Some did during the civil rights struggle but not as many as today. What it means if Mr Obama is voted in, is that my country has agreed to grow up, and move beyond the childish idea that human beings are different.
I'm talking to friends in the UK, in Italy, in China who can't vote, who cannot press anything other than the point home, so I know the world is watching. We have lain so long in the undergrowth of ignorance. Can we really be saved from the rage of consumerism where we identify ourselves by our spending: 'I'm a shopper'. What kind of stupidness is that? Buying things we cannot afford and do not need.
I'm no prophet, I'm no seer, I'm a beseecher -- so I have been out to thump the drum for Mr Obama. I started out in Senator Hillary Clinton's camp and I thumped the drum for her.
When it was proven that the majority of people wanted Senator Obama, she stepped out of the race and began to thump the drum for him, and so did I.
I think he has simply proven to everybody that he is very intelligent -- and by that I'm referring to what used to be called common sense, which is terribly uncommon these days. You can see him thinking before he speaks, which should be a presidential prerequisite but rarely is. Most of the candidates all the way back, save for two or three, seem to just punch a button. There's a question and they punch number seven and out comes an answer, which had been stored up.
Senator Obama has proven that he knows how to be a president to all the people, not just the rich and mighty, not just to whites, not just to blacks, but all the people. I'm so excited, the excitement can hardly be contained. How will I be spending election night? On my knees. Maybe getting off them to have a very nice Scotch and then getting back down on my knees again.
Toni Morrison, novelist: 'Things are different now. A lot of white people are different'
This election is critical, vital to more than just people in the United States. It's going to make a big, big difference which way it goes. The worst thing is not Senator Obama losing, it's who wins. I am encouraged by the polls and by him but I have lived long enough to know that elections have been systematically stolen. Luckily, I think everybody knows that and is sending about 5,000 lawyers to the polls.
I don't believe in the Bradley Effect -- there were a lot of reasons he lost. And this time is different. First of all the country is different. Secondly he's different. And thirdly a lot of white people are different. Several weeks ago I read about the Reverse Bradley Effect, where whites down in the south say they are voting Republican because of their neighbours!
I think the situation is dire, I cannot think of a large issue where things are going right, and Senator Obama will have an extremely difficult time. But there are two things that one should remember. The first is a cliché, but he himself has said it, 'It's not about me, it's about other people'. He cannot do it on his own, he needs the force of those who voted for him. The second thing -- and one of the reasons I really respect him -- is that he surrounds himself with really smart people, and not just smart people that say what he wants to hear. He likes the dialogue, the questioning, the one who tells him the truth as opposed to the one who strokes ego.
I think the promise with Senator Obama is that we return to an idea known as "the common good" and we have not had that in eight years. I mean, you can't get sick in America, you will be bankrupt. This administration has been very clear in its assumption that privatisation is best. There are jails where you have to pay room and board, you get into debt and when you get out you have to pay it back. And some people who do not have means to borrow go out and steal again. I know that the Democrats are more inclined to take the right position and not regard taxes on the extremely rich as some sort of insult to them.
What am I going to do on election night? I have three choices: I can go to some friends; I was invited to go on a TV show; but I think under the bed may yet prove the safest place to be.
Samuel L Jackson, Actor: 'There's been a warrior culture here. It's time that ended'
We have been through eight years of pretty much lunacy and madness. In America, we have tended to think that we are the greatest living things on the planet and our leadership has exemplified that. There's been a sort of warrior culture here, and it's time that ended. Obama is the president to take us to the next place. He's not part of the establishment, number one. He doesn't have that sense of entitlement that others have had. What he does have is a sense of empathy for people who are on the lower rung of society and he doesn't want to give the people with all the money all the breaks.
It's not just about what an Obama victory will mean to the African American community, it's for the nation in general. It means something for the little Asian kid, or the little Hispanic kid, for everybody of a different origin than Anglo-American. It actually means that the lie that they told us all these years -- that you can grow up to be anything you want to be in America, even the president -- might actually be true now. Until this election, it was just a fantasy -- you had to be white to be president. The closest we got to it was when Jimmy Smits was elected president on the West Wing or Morgan Freeman being president on screen.
I grew up in the segregated South, and there's probably still two generations who grew up next to "Whites Only" signs. We were part of that time in America when we were second-class citizens, so no, I didn't expect to see this in my lifetime. It's really wonderful and revelatory in terms of how far we have come so fast. And hopefully it will signify a major change in how we are perceived in the world community. Obama represents what we hope America can be.
But I will not be comfortable until 5 November. I was in the UK for the 2000 election. When I went to bed in Liverpool that night, Bush had lost, when I woke up the next morning Bush had won. Until I go to Obama's inauguration in January, I won't really believe it. And I'm definitely going, I've made hotel reservations already.
Jesse Jackson, civil rights leader: 'I just wish Martin Luther King was here to share the joy'
It will be the sixth time I've voted for Barack Obama. When he ran for the State Senate I voted for him in the primary and the general; when he ran for the US Senate I voted for him in the primary and the general; and in his run for the presidency I voted for him in the primary and will be voting for him in the general. I will spend election day on the phone, encouraging people to go out and vote. I will not be letting up until the polls close.
Our struggle in America for civil rights started out with the right to vote and now Mr Obama is on the doorstep of the White House. We got the right to vote in 1965, that's 43 years ago, and we have kept evolving over those years. America is a country that continues to grow, it's maturing. This election says to Europe, Africa and Asia that democracy is real and that we must rise above limitations of race and gender to achieve our purpose.
The people of America are ready for a black president now. Senator Obama's race is self-evident, he didn't make an issue out of it. He's reached out to people across the divide and had universal appeal by focussing on the real issues.
There's a great sense of joy. I just wish Dr [Martin Luther] King were here to share it. He would be overjoyed. But he would also know that we have challenges beyond the election. He would be proud of where we are but he would remind us that we are not all the way there yet, until we wipe out poverty and illiteracy and end these unnecessary wars.
Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so that Obama could run. Obama's running so that we all can fly. I can't wait until 5 November and I'm going to say 'Hello, Brother President'. I can't tell you who to vote for. All I can do is tell you to vote."
Spike Lee, director
I say it's very simple, we have BB, "before Barack," and AB, "after Barack."
This coalition that he's got: black, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, straight, whatever. It's come together and this has never been done before and I think this thing is preordained or whatever we want to call it. I'm not going to say it's God, but this is not a mistake, this is happening now. He's here when his country is at it's lowest in many many years.
Even though I live in Manhattan, I still vote out of Brooklyn, so 4 November I'm going to be the first in line in Brooklyn. Then I'm going to get a flight to Chicago and I'll be there all day.
Tiger Woods, Golfer
I've seen him speak. He's extremely articulate, very thoughtful, I'm just impressed at how well, basically all politicians really do, how well they think on their feet. Especially those debates. It's pretty phenomenal to see them get their point across. But I just think that he's really inspired a bunch of people in our country and we'll see what happens down the road.
Alonzo Mourning, basketball player
I need to be part of this because this is part of the history of our nation and I do have a voice in the community -- I have a presence and it's beautiful to be able to use it on behalf of something I believe in. Some athletes worry something like this might affect their sponsorship deals, but I'm not afraid. Obama has given real leadership. I'm not ashamed to say I'm with him all the way.
Stevie Wonder, musician
He's a combination of JFK and Martin Luther King. With that, he can't lose. I see a time when we will have a united people of the United States. And that is why I support Barack Obama.
James Blake, tennis player
I am proud. I am very proud of Barack Obama. I believe in him and I believe that he will do good things for this country. I hope the country gives him that opportunity.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
He was talking about this one;
When JB said it loud...,
He was talking about this one;
The shining black prince, that was Malcolm,
And the gentle warrior, that was Martin--
Have come back to us
As this fortunate one,
This fortunate son;
The African diaspora and the American dream,
Clothed in this one man,
In this man,
Blessed by God,
For that is what Barack means.
Standing on the shoulders
Of those who came before,
Both great and small,
Black and white;
Michelle's, Malia's, and Sasha's man,
For these times,
These interesting times;
Helping us to see
What it means,
To be reborn;
Helping us to see
What it means,
As a people,
As a nation,
As these United States of America,
To be blessed by God,
For that is what Barack means.
© 2008 Joseph Powell
He's a reason why we can remember the Holocaust; a reason why we know the people who were affected by the Great Depression; a reason why the working man has been celebrated and his dignity has been esteemed; a reason why we can appreciate the people we meet; because he helped us to do that, through his long running radio show, broadcast from his adopted home in the Windy City; and also through his many books, including one of his most seminal, "Working".
He once said in an interview that he wanted his epitaph to say that "curiosity didn't kill this cat". Here's to one of the coolest and most curious of cats that ever lived. Take it easy, Studs, but take it.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
WHAT IF the FACTS WERE SWITCHED AROUND?
Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin, what if things were switched around?.....think about it. Would the country's collective point of view be different?(10/8/08)
Ponder the following:
What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?
What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?
What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?
What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?
What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?
What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to painkillers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five?(The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)
What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
What if Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?
What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?
What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?
What if Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer distribution?
What if the Obamas had adopted a white child?
You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.
Barack Obama:Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations. Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
Joseph Biden:University of Delaware - B.A. In History and B.A. In Political Science. Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)
John McCain:United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899
Sarah Palin:Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester. North Idaho College - 2 semesters - General Study. University of Idaho - 2 semesters - Journalism. Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester. University of Idaho = 3 semesters - B.A. In Journalism
Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world. You make the call.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me don't hang around
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knocking me
Back down on my knees
There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The following was related to me by a friend who heard it on NPR today--
So Martin could walk;
So Barack could run;
So children could fly."
Thursday, October 23, 2008
But its message is clear:
GET OUT AND VOTE!!!!!!!!!! OBAMA '08!!!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
2. Dirty tricks. Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure voting machines.
3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.
4. Those who forget history... In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!
5. Landslide. Even with Barack Obama in the White House, passing universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate.
We can't afford to let this one get away!! It's much too important, with a lot of things at stake, not to mention, the historic aspect of it all. Please do all that you can to make sure that two weeks from now, we'll be saying President Obama, and not Senator Obama.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
- Bono, rock star and anti-poverty activist. (Source: The American Prospect blog)
"If you'll forgive me," he added, "your country is the ultimate triumph of corporate creativity, which means it is a country controlled by the group-thinking of corporations. These corporations are without humanity because there is no one personally responsible for their use of power; a corporation is like a computer with profit as its source of energy--and profit as its necessary fuel."
--Arbeiter, a German radical, The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving (1981)
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
--Thomas Jefferson, 1802
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Silver and Gold and Infinity
I come from stained pillowcases,
And clinking dishes.
I am from paint already scraped from my walls,
And tiny particles of who knows what
Spread across my carpet.
I come from sunflowers,
The "jungle" that Malla had prowled,
And a tire swing(one that I was too afraid to ride).
Then I am from a pink playhouse,
My grandfather had built just for me,
And later I am from concrete, and a tree
That grew flowers, whose names I still do not know.
I come from chewed fingernails,
And the peeling skin around them,
Often covered in blue or red ink.
I'm from same hair since seventh grade,
My mole, and eyes, shaped like my father's.
I come from "Martin, are you walking home today?"
From I was like, and he was all.
I'm from Holy Beluga, "make good choices", and
I love you more than silver, and gold, and infinity.
I come from "bein' hip" with pocky, yanyan,
And empty Starbucks cups(plastic or cardboard depending on the weather).
From "faken" bacon, buttered noodles,
And the best tacos(that my mom just happens to make).
I am from a loving man's tears shed for someone great,
Someone he knew better than I,
And from the mattress and that phone call
That left me missing her cherry eye.
I come from deciding not to sleep,
Even though I am tired,
And from trying to close my stubborn dresser drawer,
As I stare curiously out a hole in the door where the knob used to be.
I come from just sitting,
My ipod playing, thinking back on my life, and what
I come from.
I lay my head on my stained pillow,
Looking forward to tomorrow, hoping
Not to miss a second of life,
But for now, I will take a short break
Until the morning, when I write, ready to make more memories.
I fall asleep...
© 2008 Santi Biondolillo
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The Beast In Me
The beast in me
Is caged by frail and fragile bars
Restless by day
And by night, rants and rages at the starts
God help the beast in me
The beast in me
Has had to learn to live with pain
And how to shelter from the rain
And in the twinkling of an eye
Might have to be restrained
God help the beast in me
Sometimes it tries to kid me
That it's just a teddy bear
Or even somehow manage
To vanish in the air
Then that is when I must beware
Of the beast in me
That everybody knows
They've seen him out dressed in my clothes
If it's New York, or New Year
God help the beast in me
The beast in me
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
I like to think that I try to live humbly, sometimes against my own will to live otherwise. I hope that the above statement, written by an anonymous poet, is true, because I certainly am fresh out of courage, strength, and belief.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
This is an addendum to the above thought, speaking of propaganda and the truth. The following was sent to me by a friend, who wasn't aware of the author of this, but I post it here because I think it speaks volumes. Let me know what you think.
I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight...
* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
* Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American story.
* If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.
* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.
* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while
raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're
not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.
* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America 's.
* If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.
OK, much clearer now.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
"But the American electorate doesn't do resumes. If it did, William Seward would have been elected president in 1860, when the country was in its greatest moment of crisis, not some lawyer from Illinois nobody had heard of(sound familiar?--italics mine), and a century later John Kennedy, a senator of arguably less substantive accomplishment than Obama, would not have defeated the more seasoned Richard Nixon."
Los Angeles Times,
August 31, 2008
On a slightly different note, though not altogether irrelevant, something to be considered regarding the date of August 28th in terms of the best and worst of our nation's history.
---On August 28th, 1955, Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago, was horribly murdered while visiting family in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
---On August 28th, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his now famous, "I Have A Dream" speech, standing before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
---On August 28th, 2008, Senator Barack Obama, of Illinois, became the first African-American to accept his party's(Democratic, for those of you not paying attention) nomination for president.
In the words of that great black philosopher, Arsenio Hall, things that make you go, hmmmmm!!
We've made a lot of progress in the last 53 years in this country, standing on the shoulders of such people as Emmett Till and Dr. King, to see such a moment as what occurred at the Democratic Convention in Denver just a couple of weeks ago. Here's hoping we can continue to progress forward to what will be an inevitably historic and necessary moment in our nation's history. 'Nuff said!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Which brings me back to the notion of destiny, especially as it pertains to me. On this, the eve of my 44th birthday, I am struck with questioning what is or will be my destiny? What am I destined to do in this life, especially in light of how much time I may or may not have on this earth? If what has been documented as the average life span of the human species is correct(approximately 75-80 years), than I'm more than halfway there and am not certain that I've fulfilled my destiny or even come close. I have done a great many things in the past 44 years--which includes completing high school and college(getting a Bachelor's degree in Communications, which, incidentally, may or may not have been the best choice of majors); traveling around most of this great nation of ours, getting to interact with and help motivate high school students to be their best possible selves; climbing to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado--one of the highest elevations in the country; going whitewater rafting(twice!)on the Arkansas River; serving as an urban missionary in the inner cities of Chicago and New York City; writing and self-publishing 4 books of poetry; getting married, then divorced, and then remarrying, which resulted in acquiring a teenage stepdaughter, who happens to be a brilliant artist; appearing on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", where I won $1000(after attempting to go for $32,000) and two free, all-expense paid trips to New York; also performing poetry in a National Geographic documentary that aired on PBS. And those are just the highlights.
But could any of these things, either indivdually or corporately, be considered my destiny? I currently work as a courier for Warner Bros. Studios and, intermittently, as a dialogue track reader for the Nickolodeon cartoon, "Spongebob Squarepants"--my sincere prayer/wish is that neither of these jobs constitute all that there is for me as my destiny. They barely even help me in paying the bills. I still struggle with the desire to be a writer, which in my lifetime, has been the one constant that I feel I've done with any reasonable amount of success, even if it hasn't translated to any sort of financial reward. Am I destined to be a great writer, recognized for the words that I contribute into the ether? Will I write the screenplay for a movie that wil be hailed as a classic of this generation? Or write the great American novel? Or be the one who will help make poetry a viable art form in this country that doesn't always hold it in highest regards? Do I have the determination and discipline and stamina to do as a writer, what the scores of athletes, like Michael Phelps and Shawn Johnson and Usain Bolt and Misty May Treanor & Kerry Walsh and Sanya Richards, were able to do to not only make it to the Olympics, but succeed admirably in their respective fields of endeavor? Do I even have what it takes to be a good husband or stepfather, in the midst of the adversity and struggle of trying to provide for my family within the limits of my current income? The answer may be elusive; it may take time to figure out or it may be as evident as the nose on my face, I just don't know. I hope I live long enough to not only discover the answer, but also be able to fulfill such a destiny to the satisfaction of myself and those closest to me, and perhaps even the world, and ultimately, God.
On a slightly different, but not altogether unrelated note, I admit to being remiss in not commenting on the losses of three great talents this past month, who I would believe, met their destinies, or at the very least, attempted to, in the short lifetime that they were allowed to meet them. I, of course, speak of the comedian(and fellow south side of Chicago native)Bernie Mac, singer/musician/composer, Isaac Hayes, and in the last week or so, saxophonist for one of my favorite bands, the Dave Matthews Band, Leroi Moore. On the passing of Bernie Mac, George Clooney was quoted as saying that "the world just got a little less funny". I would add to that, in light of the passing of Hayes and Moore, that the world also just got a little less funky. May these three bright and burning lights rest in peace and may their destinies, which may not have been completely fulfilled, inspire and encourage us to seek out and try to fulfill our own. 'Nuff said.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
First Charles Bukowski's (1920-1994) poem:
my uncle Jack
my uncle Jack
is a mouse
is a house on fire
is a war about to begin
is a man running down the street with a knife in his back.
my uncle Jack
is the Santa Monica pier
is a dusty blue pillow
is a scratching black and white dog
is a man with one arm lighting a cigarette with one hand
my uncle Jack
is a slice of burnt toast
is the place you forgot to look for the key
is the pleasure of finding 3 rolls of toilet paper in the closet
is the worst dream you've ever had that you can't remember
my uncle Jack
is the firecracker that went off in your hand
is your run-over cat dead outside your driveway at 10:30 a.m.
is the crap game you won in the Santa Anita parking lot
is the man your woman left you for that night in the cheap hotel room.
my uncle Jack
is your uncle jack
is death coming like a freight train a clown with weeping eyes
is your car jack and your fingernails and the scream of the biggest
Life Is Like A Bukowski Poem
Life Is Like A Bukowski Poem
public, raw and ugly
no punches held
rough, red scars on a
a drunken Soul
thirsting for more,
as if you're defending
your own all-alone life,
as if an energy
sucks you through
to the other side
where his poems
oh, so fuckingly beautifully,
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We writ e more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...
Remember: spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
"If God dropped acid, would he see people?"
"If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?"
"Whose cruel idea was it for the word “Lisp” to have a “S” in it?"
“Once you leave the womb, conservatives don’t care about you..
until you reach military age.
Then you’re just what they’re looking for.
Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them
to be dead soldiers.”
"If the “black box” flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn’t the whole damn airplane made out of that shit?"
"The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating …and you finish off as an orgasm."
Friday, July 04, 2008
The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro
by Frederick Douglass
A speech given at Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852
Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens:
He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country school houses, avails me nothing on the present occasion.
The papers and placards say that I am to deliver a Fourth of July Oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for me. It is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall seems to free me from embarrassment.
The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable-and the difficulties to he overcome in getting from the latter to the former are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence I will proceed to lay them before you.
This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the Fourth of July. It is the birth day of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, as what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. l am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot's heart might be sadder, and the reformer's brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young.-Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations.
Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is, that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. The style and title of your "sovereign people" (in which you now glory) was not then born. You were under the British Crown. Your fathers esteemed the English Government as the home government; and England as the fatherland. This home government, you know, although a considerable distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its parental prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints, burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise, right and proper.
But your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They went so far in their excitement as to pronounce the measures of government unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive, and altogether such as ought not to be quietly submitted to. I scarcely need say, fellow-citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully accords with that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part would not be worth much to anybody. It would certainly prove nothing as to what part I might have taken had I lived during the great controversy of 1776. To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is exceedingly easy. Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the noble brave, can flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards the American Colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when, to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men's souls. They who did so were accounted in their day plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers. But, to proceed.
Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated, by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer the purpose. They saw themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness and scorn. Yet they persevered. They were not the men to look back.
As the sheet anchor takes a firmer hold, when the ship is tossed by the storm, so did the cause of your fathers grow stronger as it breasted the chilling blasts of kingly displeasure. The greatest and best of British statesmen admitted its justice, and the loftiest eloquence of the British Senate came to its support. But, with that blindness which seems to be the unvarying characteristic of tyrants, since Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea, the British Government persisted in the exactions complained of.
The madness of this course, we believe, is admitted now, even by England; but we fear the lesson is wholly lost on our present rulers.
Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so than we, at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and the prudent (as has been intimated) of that day were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it.
Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor.
These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and the appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a more modern, though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find in our papers, applied to some of our old politicians.
Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and powerful; but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations against it, the alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the country with it.
On the 2nd of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress, to the dismay of the lovers of ease, and the worshipers of property, clothed that dreadful idea with all the authority of national sanction. They did so in the form of a resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions, drawn up in our day, whose transparency is at all equal to this, it may refresh your minds and help my story if I read it.
"Resolved, That these united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved."
Citizens, your fathers made good that resolution. They succeeded; and to-day you reap the fruits of their success. The freedom gained is yours; and you, there fore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation's history-the very ringbolt in the chain of your yet undeveloped destiny.
Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ringbolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.
From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day-cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight.
The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event. But, besides general considerations, there were peculiar circumstances which make the advent of this republic an event of special attractiveness. The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime. The population of the country, at the time, stood at the insignificant number of three millions. The country was poor in the munitions of war. The population was weak and scattered, and the country a wilderness unsubdued. There were then no means of concert and combination, such as exist now. Neither steam nor lightning had then been reduced to order and discipline. From the Potomac to the Delaware was a journey of many days. Under these, and innumerable other disadvantages, your fathers declared for liberty and independence and triumphed.
Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too-great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.
They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.
They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settIed" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final"; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.
How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defence. Mark them! Fully appreciating the hardships to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep, the corner-stone of the national super-structure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.
Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes are met with demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even mammon seems to have quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing fife and the stirring drum unite their accents with the ascending peal of a thousand church bells. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day; while the quick martial tramp of a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all the hills, valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion one of thrilling and universal interest-nation's jubilee.
Friends and citizens, I need not enter further into the causes which led to this anniversary. Many of you understand them better than I do. You could instruct me in regard to them. That is a branch of knowledge in which you feel, perhaps, a much deeper interest than your speaker. The causes which led to the separation of the colonies from the British crown have never lacked for a tongue. They have all been taught in your common schools, narrated at your firesides, un folded from your pulpits, and thundered from your legislative halls, and are as familiar to you as household words. They form the staple of your national po etry and eloquence.
I remember, also, that, as a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor. This is esteemed by some as a national trait-perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact, that whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans and can be had cheap! will be found by Americans. I shall not be charged with slandering Americans if I say I think the American side of any question may be safely left in American hands.
I leave, therefore, the great deeds of your fathers to other gentlemen whose claim to have been regularly descended will be less likely to be disputed than mine!
My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted time with God and His cause is the ever-living now.
Trust no future, however pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead;
Act, act in the living present,
Heart within, and God overhead.
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child's share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors. You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have "Abraham to our father," when they had long lost Abraham's faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham's great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day? Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchers of the righteous? Washington could not die till he had broken the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price of human blood, and the traders in the bodies and souls of men shout-"We have Washington to our father."-Alas! that it should be so; yet it is.
The evil, that men do, lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.
Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?
Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."
But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fa thers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."
Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.
But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, "It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed." But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They ac knowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may con sent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!
For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!
Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding.-There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.
What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.
What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.
Take the American slave-trade, which we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) "the internal slave-trade." It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words from the high places of the nation as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the Jaws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish them selves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon all those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass with out condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.
Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-curdling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the centre of your soul The crack you heard was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shock ing gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.
I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell's Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming "hand-bills," headed cash for Negroes. These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners; ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.
The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number has been collected here, a ship is chartered for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.
In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror.
Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity on the way to the slave-markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.
Is this the land your Fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?
But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and Dixon's line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women and children, as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the star-spangled banner, and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman's gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, your lords, nobles, and ecclesiastics enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment's warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there is neither law nor justice, humanity nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world that in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America the seats of justice are filled with judges who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding the case of a man's liberty, to hear only his accusers!
In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenceless, and in diabolical intent this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select.
I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were nor stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.
At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law concern the "mint, anise, and cummin"-abridge the right to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal!-And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to so licit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner. Further, if this demand were not complied with, another Scotland would be added to the history of religious liberty, and the stern old covenanters would be thrown into the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every church door and heard from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more quarter than was shown by Knox to the beautiful, but treacherous, Queen Mary of Scotland. The fact that the church of our country (with fractional exceptions) does not esteem "the Fugitive Slave Law" as a declaration of war against religious liberty, im plies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love, and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy is a curse, not a blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as "scribes, pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe ofÝ mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith."
But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines, who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.
For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty and leave the throne of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that "pure and undefiled religion" which is from above, and which is "first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and with out hypocrisy." But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation-a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons, and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea' when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow."
The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in its connection with its ability to abolish slavery.
The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that "There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it."
Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday School, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery, and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds, and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive.
In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared-men honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The Lords of Buffalo, the Springs of New York, the Lathrops of Auburn, the Coxes and Spencers of Brooklyn, the Gannets and Sharps of Boston, the Deweys of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land have, in utter denial of the authority of Him by whom they professed to be called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example of the Hebrews, and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, that we ought to obey man's law before the law of God.2
My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the "standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ," is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the American church, however, let it be distinctly understood that I mean the great mass of the religious organizations of our land. There are exceptions, and I thank God that there are. Noble men may be found, scattered all over these Northern States, of whom Henry Ward Beecher, of Brooklyn; Samuel J. May, of Syracuse; and my esteemed friend (Rev. R. R. Raymond) on the platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that, upon these men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave's redemption from his chains.
One is struck with the difference between the attitude of the American church towards the anti-slavery movement, and that occupied by the churches in Eng land towards a similar movement in that country. There, the church, true to its mission of ameliorating, elevating and improving the condition of mankind, came forward promptly, bound up the wounds of the West Indian slave, and re stored him to his liberty. There, the question of emancipation was a high religious question. It was demanded in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the living God. The Sharps, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, the Burchells, and the Knibbs were alike famous for their piety and for their philanthropy. The anti-slavery movement there was not an anti-church movement, for the reason that the church took its full share in prosecuting that movement: and the anti-slavery movement in this country will cease to be an anti-church movement, when the church of this country shall assume a favorable instead of a hostile position towards that movement.
Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from oppression in your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen, and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against the oppressor; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America. You discourse eloquently on the dignity of labor; yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence, casts a stigma upon labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of British artillery to throw off a three-penny tax on tea; and yet wring the last hard earned farthing from the grasp of the black laborers of your country. You profess to believe "that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth," and hath commanded all men, everywhere, to love one another; yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own. You declare before the world, and are understood by the world to declare that you "hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain in alienable rights; and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, "is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose," a seventh part of the inhabitants of your country.
Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. it fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation's bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!
But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that, the right to hold, and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.
Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped
To palter with us in a double sense:
And keep the word of promise to the ear,
But break it to the heart.
And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest impostors that ever practised on mankind. This is the inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape; but I differ from those who charge this baseness on the framers of the Constitution of the United States. It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. There is not time now to argue the constitutional question at length; nor have I the ability to discuss it as it ought to be discussed. The subject has been handled with masterly power by Lysander Spooner, Esq. by William Goodell, by Samuel E. Sewall, Esq., and last, though not least, by Gerrit Smith, Esq. These gentlemen have, as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from any design to support slavery for an hour.
Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but interpreted, as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gate way? or is it in the temple? it is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slaveholding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can any where be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a tract of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, commonsense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality, or unconstitutionality of slavery, is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a right to form an opinion of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this right, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tells us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument.
Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand, it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.
I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some future period I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this subject a full and fair discussion.
Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery.
"The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated.-Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.
The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God." In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:
God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o'er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom's reign.
To man his plundered rights again
God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend