there were many different sorts of abolitionists during the era of slavery. but there were not many like nathaniel peabody rogers. around 1840, he committed himself to total non-resistance. but in 1838 (seven years after nat turner and a year before amistad, which he also wrote about), he argued that slaves not only should rebel, but that insurrection was their moral duty, and it was every person's duty to join them. he opposed capital punishment, but finishes by arguing that, if hanging is permissible in any case, it is morally obligatory for slaveholders. so grapple with the fact that an american was publishing that in a newspaper in 1838.
The enslaved of the country are as much entitled to their liberty as any of us, by the law as it is. They have a right to throw off all violation of it by force, if they cannot otherwise. Nay, it is their duty to do so, if they can, for it is not injury merely, that they are submitting to - not wrongs. They are rendered incapable of suffering injury, incompetent to endure wrong. The accursed system, that preys upon them, makes things of them - exterminates their very natures. This they may not submit to. They ought to prevent it, at every expense. They ought to resist it, as the Christian should the devil, for it wars upon the nature of man, and devours his immortality. If they could heave off the system by an instantaneous and universal effort, they ought to do it. Individually we wish they could do it, and that they would do it. We may be wrong in this opinion, but we entertain it.
If our white brethren at the South were slaves, we should wish them instantaneous deliverance by insurrection, if this would bring it to them. We wish our colored brethren the same. We do not value the bodily lives of the present white generation there a straw, compared to the horrible thraldom, in which they hold the colored people, and we value their lives as highly as we do the colored people's. But insurrection can't effect it. It must be done by the abolitionists. They must annihilate the system by force of their principles, and as fast as possible. To the work then, and Heaven abandon the tardy! If you wish to save your white brethren and yourselves, we commend you to this work, in sharp earnest. We tell you, once for all, there is no time to be lost!
There is no end to the theme - there must be to this article. The people collectively have the power to declare slavery a crime in the slave states. Congress has the power to do what amounts to the same thing - by direct action. Lex talionis would enslave the perpetrators, but that would be devilish, and ought not to be inflicted. But if hanging is lawful in any case, it is in this.
["the constitutionality of slavery"]
speech is not violence. but sometimes it is an amazing act of courage, physical as well as intellectual and social. the slaveholders of the era and their representatives in washington certainly argued that abolitionist speech far milder than that was indeed violence. they banned it, confiscated it, burned it, etc., and killed some of the people who uttered it, such as elijah lovejoy, a newspaper editor burned out and killed the year before rogers published this.