- Resolved, Congress has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several States; and that such States are the sole and proper judges of everything pertaining to their own affairs, not prohibited by the Constitution; that all efforts, by abolitionists or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences, and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by any friend to our Political Institutions.
- Abolitionism proposes to destroy the right and extinguish the principle of self-government for which our forefathers waged a seven years' bloody war, and upon which our whole system of free government is founded.
- Stephen Douglas Speech in the US Senate (3 March 1854); Quoted in: James Washington Sheahan (1860) The life of Stephen A. Douglas. p. 258.
- It is not a little Surprising that Christianity, whose chief excellence consists of softening the human heart, in cherishing and improving its finer Feelings, should encourage a Practice so totally repugnant to the first Impression of Right and Wrong. What adds to the wonder is that this Abominable Practice has been introduced in the most enlightened Ages... I shall honour the Quakers for their noble Effort to abolish Slavery. It is equally calculated to promote moral & political Good... I will not, I cannot justify it... I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot and an abhorrence of slavery.
- One may ask, how is it that slavery, or any other form of invidious discrimination, has played so great a role in American history? How could a nation, dedicated at its birth to the proposition that all men are created equal, have tolerated slavery and its effects so long? If we look to the long history of mankind, however, we will ask a different question. Slavery was lawful in every one of the original thirteen states. There was accordingly nothing remarkable in the fact that slavery was not abolished immediately on independence. What is remarkable is that a slave-owning nation would declare that all men are created equal, and thereby make the abolition of slavery a moral and political necessity. To accomplish that task would not be easy.
- For the most triﬂing reasons, and sometimes for no conceivable reason at all, his majesty has rejected laws of the most salutary tendency. The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the infranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa. Yet our repeated attempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his majesty's negative: thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few British corsairs to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature deeply wounded by this infamous practice.
- I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your state for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it forever. This abomination must have an end, and there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it.
- Slavery has been the foundation of that impiety and dissipation which have been so much disseminated among our countrymen. If it were totally abolished, it would do much good.
- Zachariah Johnson, Debates in Virginia Convention
- If we believe in the existence of a great moral and political evil amongst us, and that duty, honour, and interest, call upon us to prepare the way for its removal, we must act.
- The Abolitionst... must see that he has neither the right or power of operating except by moral means and suasion.
- Robert E. Lee Speech in the Senate (3 March 1854); Quoted in: Douglas Southall Freeman (2008) Lee, p. 93.
- [T]he hope of the gradual and utter abolition of slavery, in a manner consistent with the rights, interests, and happiness of society, ought never to be abandoned.
- General Mercer, Report to Colonization Society
- The delegates of the annual conference are decidedly opposed to modern Abolitionism, and wholly disclaim any right, wish, or intention to interfere in the civil and political relation between master and slave as it exists in the slave states of the union.
- Methodist Episcopal Church. General Conference, Ohio Anti-slavery Society, Debate on "modern abolitionism": in the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, held in Cincinnati, May, 1836. p. 5, after they had driven out most of the Abolitionists. Not long after the Church split over slavery.
- The Southern racism that the Dred Scott decision embodied was an innovation that came out of recent southern rationalizations in defense of slavery, that Africans were no better than animals, and out of evolving southern laws that progressively limited or removed the rights of slaves to own property, to become free, to vote, or even to be free in various southern states. That kind of racism was not something that any Abolitionist agreed with. The Abolitionists ended up sharing one aspect of Southern belief, however, that the condition of slavery was sub-human. To the Abolitionists that meant that slavery itself was morally intolerable, while to southerners that meant that the slaves must actually be sub-human... The era of the Revolution was when the Northern states did begin to end slavery. Vermont ended slavery outright in 1777, Massachusetts in 1780, and New Hampshire in 1783. The other Northern states started a phase-out, like Jefferson contemplated for Virginia: Pennsylvania in 1780, Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784, New York in 1799, and New Jersey in 1805. New York's phase-out was complete by 1818. Since Jefferson hoped that the process might simply continue in the South, he was alarmed by the Missouri Compromise in 1820, 'a firebell in the night', because it signaled the permanent division and hardening of the country into slave and free and the end of the gradual process that had worked in the North. Jefferson's fear about the polarization of the county and his consequent opposition to the Missouri Compromise is now sometimes given, by historians who delight in trashing the heroes of American history, a distorted representation as an advocacy of the expansion of slavery.
- Kelley L. Ross, "Racism" (2015), Political Economy.
- Anti-slavery is essentially infidel. It wars upon the Bible, on the Church of Christ, on the truth of God, on the souls of men.
- In returning I read a very different book, published by an honest Quaker, on that execrable sum of all villanies, commonly called the Slave-trade.
- John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church. Quoted in: John Wesley, John Emory (1835) The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A. M. p. 366.
- In the short term, slavery was bound to continue, with the constitution or without it. If liberty for anyone was to have a future in America, the indispensable first step was a stronger national government on a democratic basis. Even the anti-federalist opponents of the constitution admitted this much. Abolition would have to wait.