quotations about slavery
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, March 17, 1865
Not only does the Christian religion, but nature herself, cry out against the state of slavery.
POPE LEO X, attributed, Day's Collacon
Slavery is theft -- theft of a life, theft of work, theft of any property or produce, theft even of the children a slave might have borne.
KEVIN BALES, Understanding Global Slavery
Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.
MALCOLM X, Oxford Union Debate, December 3, 1964
Not only do I pray for it, on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union, by consolidating it in a common bond of principle.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, attributed, Retrospections of America
Nature made no man a slave.
ALCIDAMAS, attributed, Day's Collacon
So we are all black people, so-called Negroes, second-class citizens, ex-slaves. You are nothing but an ex-slave. You don't like to be told that. But what else are you? You are ex-slaves. You didn't come here on the Mayflower. You came here on a slave ship -- in chains, like a horse, or a cow, or a chicken. And you were brought here by the people who came here on the Mayflower. You were brought here by the so-called Pilgrims, or Founding Fathers. They were the ones who brought you here.
MALCOLM X, Message to the Grass Roots, November 10, 1963
But one of the worst results of being a slave and being forced to do things is that when there is no one to force you any more you find you have almost lost the power of forcing yourself.
C. S. LEWIS, The Horse and His Boy
As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., speech, August 16, 1967
When we acknowledge the kingdom of the self, we will no longer accept slavery either for ourselves or for others, no matter how it is disguised.
GERRY L. SPENCE, From Freedom to Slavery
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother's pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Slaves unworthy to be freed?
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL, "Stanzas on Freedom"
The way they do things here is they transform slavery. They always transform it into something else and call it another name. And people get up here and start talking about how slavery is mass incarceration. How slavery is justice for sale. How slavery is over-policing. How slavery is injustice in the courts, racism. I don't give a damn about no racism, I give a damn about slavery. Without slavery, those racists wouldn't have a damn power. They wouldn't have the power they have right now. They wouldn't have it. They couldn't do anything to you, but right now, those men [pointing to police] could come over here, could put a gun in my face, and put me in a jail cell any damn time they feel like it.
MAX PARTHAS, speech at the Millions For Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, D.C., August 19, 2017
Slavery is no scholar, no improver; it does not love the whistle of the railroad; it does not love the newspaper, the mail-bag, a college, a book or a preacher who has the absurd whim of saying what he thinks; it does not increase the white population; it does not improve the soil; everything goes to decay.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, speech, August 1, 1844
In nothing was slavery so savage and relentless as in its attempted destruction of the family instincts of the Negro race in America. Individuals, not families; shelters, not homes; herding, not marriages, were the cardinal sins in that system of horrors.
FANNIE BARRIER WILLIAMS, Black Women in Nineteenth-Century American Life
If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, letter to A. G. Hodges, April 4, 1864
These bronzed Southern soldiers are literally our forefathers too. In the peculiar, perverted institution of slavery, white men sired, enslaved and often sold their own children; black nieces and white nephews played together before adulthood drove them to disparate destinies. Whites owned their black siblings. Thomas Jefferson was 45 when he fathered the first of six children on 15-year-old Sally Hemmings, who was his wife's half sister and also her property.
LISA RICHARDSON, "A daughter of the Confederacy corrects history", Gulf Times, August 29, 2017
The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.
OSCAR WILDE, The Soul of Man Under Socialism
Hatred, slavery's inevitable aftermath.
JOSÉ MARTÍ, Woman Suffrage
Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature -- opposition to it, in his love of justice.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech at Peoria, Illinois, in reply to Senator Douglas, October 16, 1854
If in our national memory it is considered heroic both to kill in the defense of slavery and to die attempting to undo slavery's legacy, then heroism has no meaning. But since we have failed to properly cast the Confederacy as a villain, or even to definitively state that the reason for its secession from the Union was the preservation of slavery, the standards for heroism are more malleable than they perhaps should be. Where we have (mostly) condemned slavery, we have refused to condemn its defenders, choosing to view their actions not as villainous but historical anomalies. We allow them the excuse of being "products of their time," as if they had no hand in shaping the political and social dynamics of that time. We give them the cover of "states' rights," as though that has not always meant further tyranny visited upon black people.
MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH, "Historical Amnesia About Slavery Is a Tool of White Supremacy", The Nation, August 15, 2017