Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2006

Documents de l’histoire du Québec / Quebec History Documents


George Brown on Slavery



Return to the George Brown homepage

[George Brown wrote and spoke frequently on behalf of the Anti-Slavery cause. On this point, he shared the indignation of CanadiansEnglish and Frenchfor an institution that appeared to them as barbaric and unchristian. Canada provided a safe heaven for thousands of escaped slaves who followed the underground railroad to safety in Canada.On Brown's views of slavery, consult his speech to the Toronto Anti-Slavery Demonstration of March 24th, 1852 and reproduced in Alex. MACKENZIE, The Life and Speeches of Hon. George Brown, Toronto, The Globe Printing Company, 1882, 381p., pp. 252-261.]

The following speech was delivered by Mr. Brown, at Toronto, on the evening of February 3rd, 1863, in moving the second resolution. Its delivery was frequently interrupted by the hearty plaudits of the large and enthusiastic audience.


MR. BROWN said : I have frequently enjoyed the privilege of addressing my fellow-citizens in the public halls of our city, but I say sincerely that I never before experienced such heartfelt pleasure in appearing on a public platform as I do on this occasion. The Anti-Slavery Society of Canada has been many years in existence, but I see around me not a few who, long before its establishment, were the earnest and untiring friends of the down-trodden slave. For twenty-five years many of us have striven to­gether to promote the cause of emancipation, and long, long years we laboured almost without hope to arouse our neighbours to the frightful position they occupied in the eyes of the Christian world, and to goad them on, if possible, to some vigorous efforts towards the suppression of the inhuman traffic that disgraced their land. How earnestly did we watch every passing event in the republic that promised some little amelioration to the condition of the slave, or some additional influence to the friends of emancipation. Sad, hopeless work it appeared to be for many, many years. But at last light broke in upon the scene, and now what a change has passed over the whole picture ! What man among us ten years ago, ay, five years ago, ever hoped to live to see the day when the cause of eman­cipation would occupy the position it does at this moment in the American republic.


For several years it has happened that I have not been able to be present at the annual meetings of this society ; but well do I recollect the work we had on hand at the last meeting I attended. Our work then was to mark and deplore the increasing power of the slave interest over the federal government, to denounce the infamous Fugitive Slave Law as a disgrace to civilization, and to express our hearty sympathy with the noble but inconsiderable band of true men throughout the republic who were standing firm for the cause of liberty. That was a very short time ago ; but what an entire revolution have these few brief years witnessed. Now we have an anti-slavery president of the United States. Now we have an anti-slavery government at Washington. Now we have an anti-slavery congress at Washington. Already slavery has been abolished in the District of Columbia. At last a genuine treaty for the suppression of the slave trade has been signed at Washington with the government of Great Britain, and for the first time in her history the penalty of death has been enforced in the republic for the crime of man-stealing. Then, the black republics of Hayti and Liberia have been recognized by the United States as inde­pendent powers ; and, even more important still, the vast territories of the United States have been prohibited by law from entering the republic except as free states. And the climax was reached a month ago when Abraham Lincoln, as President of the United States, proclaimed that from that moment every slave in the rebel states was absolutely free, and that the republic was prepared to pay for the freedom of all the slaves in the loyal states. The freely elected government and legislature of the United States have proclaimed that not with their consent shall one slave remain within the republic.


Was I not right, then, when I said that we ought to rejoice together to-night? I congratulate you, Mr. Chairman (Rev. Dr. Willis), on the issue of your forty years' contest here and on the other side of the Atlantic on behalf of the American slave. I congratulate the venerable mover of the first resolution (Rev. Dr. Burns), who for even a longer period has been the unflinching friend of freedom. I congratulate the tried friends of emancipation around me on the platform, and the no less zealous friends of the cause throughout the hall, whose well-remembered faces have been ever present when a word of sympathy was to be uttered for the down-trodden and oppressed. Who among us ever hoped to see such a day as this? And does it not well become us to meet as we are now doing to proclaim anew our earnest sympathy with the friends of freedom in the republic, our hearty gratification at the great results that have been accom­plished, and our gratitude to the men who nave staked life and fortune on the effort to strike shackles from the bondman. I care not to pry narrowly into the motives of all those who have contributed to bring about this great change in the republic. I care not to examine critically the precise mode by which it has been brought about. I care not to discuss the arguments by which it has been promoted or defended in the republic. What to us signifies all this? We see before us the great fact that the chains have already fallen from the hands of tens of thousands of human chattels ; we see that if the policy of the present government at Washington prevails, the curse of human slavery will be swept from the continent for ever; and our hearts go up with earnest petitions to the God of battles that He will strengthen the hands of Abraham Lincoln and give wisdom to his councils.


But we have yet another duty to perform. In the face of all the won­derful progress that the anti-slavery cause has made in the United States—in defiance of the decided emancipation measures of Mr. Lincoln's gov­ernment—it is the fact, the strange and startling fact, that professing abolitionists—nay, genuine abolitionists, men who have done much for the cause of negro emancipation—are to be found, both here and in Great Britain, who not only refuse their sympathy to Mr. Lincoln, but regard the slave-trafficking government of Jefferson Davis with something very much akin to sympathy and good-will.


As you are aware, I have recently returned from a visit to Great Britain, and 1 am bound to say that I was astonished and grieved at the feeling with which I found the contest now waging in the United States generally regarded. In my six months' journeyings through England and Scotland I had opportunities of conversing with a very large number of persons in all positions of life, and I am sorry so say that, while there were many marked exceptions among men of thought and influence, the general sym­pathy was very decidedly on the side of the south. I entirely agree with you, that this feeling has not originated from any change in the popular mind of Great Britain on the subject of African slavery ; on the contrary, I believe that the hatred of slavery, and the desire for emancipation all over the world, are nearly as strong as ever. In almost every one of the hundreds of discussions in which I was a participator, it was again and again repeated by all that, could they believe African slavery to be the cause of the civil war, and that Mr. Lincoln was sincerely desirous of bringing the horrid traffic to an end, they would promptly and heartily give their sympathy to his cause. But the truth is, that the systematic misrepresentation of the London Times and other journals, commenced shortly after the outbreak of the civil war and diligently kept up ever since, has perverted the public mind of Great Britain, and the most amaz­ing misconceptions as to the true nature of the struggle are everywhere met with, and that even among the most candid and generous-minded men.


I have said, that to this general state of feeling there are many eminent exceptions—that there are many men in Britain who perfectly comprehend the whole merits of the contest, and pre-eminent among them, I believe, stand the members of the British cabinet. I entirely agree with you, that the whole policy and conduct of the British government throughout the war has been worthy of all praise; and I do think it is much to be regretted that our neighbours across the lines have not viewed aright the wise course it has pursued, but have permitted their journals and some of their public speakers to indulge in accusations as groundless as impolitic. When the impartial history of this civil war shall he written, that page of it which will record the part taken in it by the British government—its dignified disregard of contumely, its patient endurance of commercial distress and individual suffering and destitution directly resulting from the war, its firm persistent resistance of the seductions of other powers to intrude unasked in the domestic feuds of the republic—will, I am persuaded, stand out as an imperishable monument to the wisdom and justice of the men who held the helm. Whatever misconceptions may exist among the people, there have been no misconceptions on the part of the British government ; firmly and discreetly it has pursued the only course open to it, that of scrupulous neutrality. That the sympathies of the people of England have not been with the north in the present struggle—that those who urged the American people to throw off the disgrace of slavery have not acted up to their own principles when their advice was followed and the contest came —that aid and encouragement have been largely given to the slaveocracy by the subjects of Great Britain—we are forced to concede and to deplore ; but the British people are a free people—over these things their government has little or no control—and what has been done by the British government as a government has been all that any just American could demand.


Now, I humbly conceive that in all this we, the anti-slavery men of Canada, have an important duty to discharge. We who have stood here on the borders of the republic for quarter of a century protesting against slavery as the “sum of all human villainies"—we who have closely watched every turn of the question—we who have for years acted and sympa­thized with the good men of the republic in their efforts for' the freedom of their country—we who have a practical knowledge of the atrocities of the “peculiar institution,” learnt from the lips of the panting refugee upon our shores—we who have in our ranks men well known on the other side of the Atlantic as life-long abolitionists—we, I say, are in a position to speak with confidence to the anti-slavery men of Great Britain—to tell them that they have not rightly understood this matter—to tell them that slavery is the one great cause of the American rebellion, and that the success of the north is the death-knell of slavery. Strange, after all that has passed, that a doubt of this should remain ! The north declares that it was the determination to perpetuate and extend slavery that caused the south to appeal to arms; the south declares that the determination of the north to abolish slavery caused the election of Mr. Lincoln, and that this is the great end and aim of his government ; the whole thirty millions of the American people unite in declaring slavery to be the one great issue of the war ; but these good people, thousands of miles off, who never had their foot on American soil, are satisfied that they know better, and that slavery has no concern in the matter ! Tens of thousands of lives have been lost, hundreds of millions of treasure have been spent, the peace and happiness of every family in the land has been broken up: but it seems the combatants are in entire ignorance of the cause of quarrel ; the whole contest is a mere strife for power !


Now, we who have watched the struggle from the commencement, and from day to day, almost from hour to hour, well know how erroneous all this is. 'We can look back on the time when the abolitionists of the states were a small and feeble party ; we can recollect when James G. Birney, the abolition candidate for the presidency, received no more than six thousand votes in the whole republic; we can recollect when noble old John Quincy Adams stood almost alone battling in congress for the first right of freedom—the sacred right of petition ; we can remember how com­pletely and how ruthlessly the slave influence dominated over the whole affairs of the republic : and well can we remember when the first ray of hope broke in upon us when the slaveocracy, growing insolent in their day of power, rushed to their own destruction by the repeal of the Missouri compromise that laid down the line of demarcation between slavery and freedom. That act did more for the cause of emancipation than tongue can tell. The fierce contests fought in Kansas and Nebraska between freedom and slavery added immensely to the strength of the friends of freedom ; and the atrocious Fugitive Slave Law, compelling the freemen of the north to become slot-hounds on their own farms after the human chattels of the slave-holders of the south, roused a feeling deep and strong throughout the free states. It was soon apparent that the time had come when the issue between freedom and slavery for supremacy in the republic must be fought and won. That feeling increased and strengthened until it became overwhelming in the northern states ; and under its influence the great republican party was formed, and Abraham Lincoln selected as their standard-bearer in the presidential contest.


Now, let it be well remembered that Mr. Lincoln was not elected as an abolitionist in the sense ordinarily applied to that term. He did not openly avow that slavery was an outrage on all law, human and divine, and that every law or constitution framed to legalize and establish it should be treated with contempt, and the vile traffic swept away. Mr. Lincoln and the party who elected him did not go that length. They said, we want nothing more than the constitution gives us; we wish to abolish slavery wherever we have control under the constitution ; we wish to restrict slavery within its present domain, so far as the constitution permits us to do ; we wish to exercise our constitutional right to prevent the extension of slavery over the territories of the republic not yet admitted as states of the union. That was the sum and substance of the republican demand ; they stood by the constitution. And when it is asked why the northern men have always averred that they were fighting for the union and the constitution, and not for abolition, it should be borne in mind that the constitution gave them all the power that they could possibly desire. Well did they know, and well did the southerners know, that any anti-slavery president and congress, by their direct power of legislation, by their control of the public patronage, and by their application of the pub­lic moneys, could not only restrict slavery within its present boundaries, but could secure its ultimate abolition. The south perfectly compre­hended that Mr. Lincoln, if elected, might keep within the letter of the constitution and yet sap the foundation of the whole slave system. And they acted accordingly. A great and final effort was resolved on by the slave power for the mastery of the union ; and it was insolently proclaimed that if the northern electors dared to elect Mr. Lincoln to the presidential chair, the south would secede from the union, and enforce their secession by an appeal to arms. The present rebellion then was conceived and planned, not only before Mr. Lincoln appeared at Washington, but pre­vious to his election ; it was his determination to restrict the limits of slavery so far as he had the power under the constitution, and no further. Well, the north was not intimidated by the threats of the south, and Mr. Lincoln was elected. From that day actual revolution began. Months before he was sworn in, the southerners, with the connivance of a weak democratic president, commenced their preparations for revolt. Arms andsupplies were distributed over the south, and before Mr. Lincoln reached Washington, the tocsin of civil war had been sounded. The first blow was struck by the southerners—it was struck at Fort Sumter—although Mr. Lincoln had not yet taken the slightest step in the direction of emanci­pation. The preservation and perpetuation of slavery was the one cause why that blow was struck ; and, had any doubt on that point existed, the speech of Mr. Stephens, Vice-President of the confederate states, delivered at Savannah in March last, would have effectually removed it. He said :


“Last, not least, the new constitution has put at rest for ever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution—African slavery as it exists among us, the proper status of the negro in our form of civiliza­tion. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revo­lution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this as the ‘rock upon which the old union would split.' He was right. What was conjecture with him is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature, that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. . . . Those ideas, how-ever, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation ; and the idea of a government built upon it—when 'the storm came and the wind blew, it fell.' Our new government is founded upon exactly the op­posite ideas ; its foundations are laid, its corner stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordi­nation to the superior race is his natural and moral condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth."


Here the issue between north and south is clearly and frankly stated, and those who sympathize with the south can see very plainly what it is they are aiding to establish. But the question is constantly put, Why, when Mr. Lincoln and his government saw that the southern states were determined to leave the union, did they not let them go in peace, and save the fearful effusion of blood that has been witnessed? To this I think it might be enough for an American to reply, Why did not England let the thirteen states go? Why did not Britain let Ireland go? Why did not Austria let Hungary go ? Why does not the Pope let the people of Rome go ? We have often heard of parts or sections of states desiring to secede, sometimes with reason and sometimes without, but who ever heard the central authority of any country patiently acquiescing in the dismem­berment of their land ? Such a concession is not in human nature, how-ever reasonable the demand for it. But it is contended the south had the right to secede ; the republic was but a collection of independent states surrendering for a while their sovereignty, but holding the right to reas­sume it at any moment. Now, I do not think it worth while to waste

time in discussing this point. I have failed to meet with any proof that the federation was assented to for a limited time. The argument appears to rest simply on the plea that as the states freely chose to enter the union, so may they freely choose to depart. Well, Scotland freely entered into union with England ; but does that prove that Scotland can separate when she chooses ? Ireland entered the union with Great Britain, not over-willingly ; but does that prove that she can leave it when she chooses? No doubt the southern states, like Scotland or Ireland, may break the compact and go—if they have the power—but success would be revolution, and failure rebellion. Governments exist for the good of the whole people. We once had a glorious revolution in England; and assuredly, when the government of any country ceases to be administered for the essential benefit of the people, a revolution is the sound and politic remedy. The world no longer believes in the divine right of either kings or presidents to govern wrong; but those who seek to change an established government by force of arms assume a fearful responsibility—a responsibility which nothing but the clearest and most intolerable injustice will acquit them for assuming. The southern states plead as their excuse for revolution that Abraham Lincoln was duly and constitutionally elected president of the republic, and that the permanency of slavery was thereby placed in danger. Is that a plea to be accepted by the civilized world in the second half of the nineteenth century? Revolutions were wont to be efforts of the oppressed to deliver themselves from bondage; but here is a revolu­tion to perpetuate slavery, to fasten more hopelessly than ever the chains of servitude on the limbs of four millions of human beings. Is it with that Christian England can sympathize ? Ought not an outburst of indignation at such a spectacle be heard from every land? There is no justice, no right, in the case of the southern slave-holders--it is simply a question of might. If they have the power to go, assuredly they will go. But whether they go or stay is now of comparatively little moment. What does concern us, and what must rejoice every true-hearted man in Chris­tendom is, that go when they may, they will go without their slaves. We owe that much at any rate to Abraham Lincoln and his friends.


But let us return to the question, Why did not Mr. Lincoln let the slave states go? And before proceeding to examine that question from an anti-slavery point of view, will you permit me to make a digression, and, speaking for myself and not for any other, to give an answer with which I am persuaded every true British heart ought to sympathize. We all know the prejudice at this moment against the United States in Great Britain and Canada ; we know well all that is said, and that unfortunately can be said with too much truth, as to the statesmanship of the republic, as to the tone assumed by the Americans towards foreign nations, as to the defects in their political system, and as to the conduct of the civil war ; but were all that is alleged on these scores true—were vastly more than is averred true—I do think that no man who loves human freedom and desires the elevation of mankind could contemplate without the deepest regret a failure of that great experiment of self-government across the lines. Had Mr. Lincoln consented to the secession of the southern states, had he admitted that each state could at any moment and on any plea take its departure from the union, he would simply have given his consent to the complete rupture of the federation. The southern states and the border states would have gone—the western states might soon have followed—the states on the Pacific would not have been long behind—and where the practice of secession, once commenced, might have ended, would be difficult to say. Petty republics would have covered the continent ; each would have had its standing army and its standing feuds ; and we too, in Canada, were it only in self-defence, must have been compelled to arm. I for one cannot look back on the history of the American republic without feeling that all this would be a world-wide misfortune. How can we ever forget that the United States territory has, for nearly a century, been an ever open asylum for the poor and persecuted of every land. Millions have fled from suffering and destitution in every corner of Europe to find happy homes and over-flowing prosperity in the republic ; and I confess I know no more wonderful or more delightful spectacle than to pass, as you easily can, for thousands of miles along the high-roads of the republic, and witness the wonderful material success that has been achieved by men who, a few short years ago, landed on the American shore, for the most part without means and without education. Is there a human being who could rejoice that all this should be ended ? And who could fail bitterly to regret the effect of such a catastrophe on the polities of Europe ? Who can tell how much influence the great American republic has exerted on the liberties of the world ? Circumstances have caused me to search deeply and often into the debates of the British parliament, and I confess I have been frequently struck by the constant references, in the speeches of our greatest statesmen for nearly a century past, to American practices, American precedents, and American institutions. These may not have been copied by the mother country, but it is impossible to doubt that on many important questions the free theories and the free examples of America have greatly influenced for good the legislation of Great Britain. And if this has been the case under the good government of Britain, what influence may not have been exerted upon the despotic systems of the European continent ? Can the hosts of Frenchmen, Austrians, Prussians, Italians, and other Europeans; who found homes in the United States, have failed to waft across the Atlantic, or to carry back. with them to their native lands, the new ideas of popular rights acquired in the land of their adoption? And would it not be sad indeed if the echo of these ideas, so often heard on the continent in the shape of demands for extended popular rights and free constitutions, could be met by the despotic rulers of Europe with the taunt to look at America and learn how free constitutions and popular rights ended in disruption and anarchy? Who can deny that the American constitution, as framed by the fathers of the revolution of '76, was one of the noblest conceptions that ever emanated from the human mind ? And if one must regret that the fruit of late years has not been worthy of the tree, who shall say how much of that we are compelled to deprecate may not be directly traced to the cankerworm of slavery ?


With a free constitution, the United States has not been a free country. One half has been entirely surrendered to slavery, and the other half has been subject to the same malign influence. The southern states have been knit together by one common bond—touch the slave interest, and the whole south was in a flame and drawn together as one man. The northern states, on the contrary, had no such universal interest to bind them together, and through their divisions as Whigs and democrats, liberals and conservatives, the south always continued to hold the balance of power and control the national policy of the union. The south has had entire sway at Washing. ton. No man could be successful in public life, no man could hope to rise to eminence in the administration of affairs, unless he knelt at the southern shrine, and maintained with his whole strength the peculiar institution. Nothing could be more corrupting, more utterly demoralizing, to the public men of the north than the choice constantly presented to them—adhere to your northern principles, and ruin your career ; abandon your principles and bow your neck to slavery, and the gates of the White House are open to you. Nor was the slave influence confined to the public arena—it per­meated every walk of life. The vast cotton trade and the supplying of goods to the slave-holder extended their ramifications all over the union ; their influence was felt in the store, the work-shop, the lecture room, the press—ay, even in the pulpit. Every one was made to feel the potency of cotton ; and a style of argumentation in defence or palliation of slavery was heard everywhere from men who, on any other question, would have scorned to advance such miserable sophistries. The whole union was de­bauched by the cotton influence ; and it does appear to me that it would be unreasonable and unjust to test the American constitution by its work­ing while controlled by influences so malign and injurious. Let the friends of freedom rejoice that at least the hope of a better state of things begins to dawn, and that, freed from the curse of human slavery, the American people may yet show themselves worthy of their high origin, and take their right place among the free nations of the world.


We in Upper Canada cannot help having some sympathy with the northerners in their peculiar position ; for although we have no south we have an eastern influence to contend with—an eastern minority that rules the western majority, that controls our public affairs, and dictates terms to our public men as the price and the penalty of official success. None know better than the people of Upper Canada the demoralizing scenes that may be witnessed in the public arena under an influence like this. Let it not be imagined for a moment, from my speaking thus, that I am a republican either in theory or practice. I am persuaded that no one can have studied closely and impartially the republican system of the United States, and compared it with the limited monarchy of Great Britain, without coming to the conclusion that the practical results obtained from our own form of government are infinitely more satisfactory than those secured under the system of our neighbours. But let us not forget that we are apt to judge of monarchy by the monarchy of Queen Victoria—the best, the wisest sovereign that ever ascended a throne. Let us not forget, too, that there have been, and are still, very different monarchies in the world from that of our own beloved Queen; and assuredly there are not so many free govern­ments on earth that we should hesitate earnestly to desire the success of that one nearest to our own, modelled from our own, and founded by men of our own race. I do most heartily rejoice, for the cause of liberty, that Mr. Lincoln did not patiently acquiesce in the dismemberment of the republic.


But let us turn from this long digression, and examine the question from an anti-slavery point of view— Why not let them go ? No honest anti-slavery man can hesitate in answering, Because it would have been wrong to do so, because it would have built up a great slave republic that no moral influence could have reached. Had the extreme slave states been allowed to secede without a blow, there is every reason to believe that all the border states would have gone with them, and a large portion of the unadmitted territories of the union would have been added to the slave domain. Such a confederacy would have overawed the free northern states ; the slave trade would have been at once thrown open, and no foreign government would have ventured to interfere. It has been said that If that were attempted, France and England would enforce by arms a treaty against the inhuman traffic. 1 do not believe anything of the kind. If England could have been induced to go to war about the slave trade, she would have gone to war with Spain long ago. She paid money to Spain to give up the shameless traffic, and yet Spain carries it on to this day, and England has not gone to war to compel her to desist. No, if this confederacy had been formed, with slavery and the slave trade as its beautiful corner-stones, no European government would have interfered; and we should have on this continent, under the protection of a regularly organized government, the most monstrous outrage of humanity that has disgraced the present age. Had Mr. Lincoln passively permitted all this to be done—had he permitted the southern states to go, and such a government to be formed without a blow—he would have brought enduring contempt upon his name, and the people of England would have been the first to have risen up and reproached him for his monstrous imbecility: “Why,” they would have demanded, “did you allow the whole of that vast country to pass under the rule of slavery without one effort to prevent it? How came it that you struck not a single blow to avert such a frightful evil ? Had you only stood firm, the attempt would have broken down, and even if it had not, you might have fearlessly looked to us for sympathy, and at once we would have aided you !”


Mr. Lincoln and his government did their duty in resisting the estab­lishment on this continent of so infamous a government ; they are striving to do it now; but unfortunately the sympathies of a large portion of the British people are wrongfully withheld from them, if not indeed given to their opponents. And yet I believe most sincerely that if they had allowed a host of other patriots, whose names will one day have a high rank in the annals of their country. These men have justly enjoyed the con­fidence and esteem of the British public, and they have never done any-thing to forfeit it. Now, it is a fact, an instructive fact, that there is not one such man, not one man who ever stood high in English estimation for moral worth and sterling patriotism, who is not found ranged on the side of the north in the present struggle—there is not one such man who is not found on the side of Mr. Lincoln and heartily supporting him. Every one of them perfectly comprehends, and we anti-slavery men of Canada per­fectly comprehend, that the whole hope of thorough and immediate eman­cipation, rests on the success of Abraham Lincoln's administration.


I must apologize for detaining the meeting to so unreasonable a length ; but I felt that it was a duty we owed to ourselves, to our neighbours across the line, and to our friends in Great Britain, that the true merits of this great struggle should be clearly stated from our position of advantage, and from an anti-slavery point of view. I am well assured that those of us who may be spared some years hence to look back upon this civil war in America, will never have cause to repent that they took part in the pro­ceedings of this night, but will remember with pride and pleasure that we did what we could to uphold the right. For myself, whatever may be the result of the present strife, I shall always feel the highest satisfaction in recollecting that with the sin of sympathizing with slavery or secession my hands are not defiled; but that from the commencement of the struggle my earnest aspirations have gone with the friends of freedom.

Return to the George Brown homepage

Source: George BROWN, "Anti-slavery Speech", in Alexander MACKENZIE, The Life and Speeches of Hon. George Brown, Toronto, The Globe Printing Company, 1882, 381p., pp. 286-298.

© 2006 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College