The Columbian Orator

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A copy of The Columbian Orator at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Columbian Orator, a collection of political essays, poems, and dialogues first published in 1797, was widely used in American schoolrooms in the first quarter of the 19th century to teach reading and speaking.


  • To scatter the clouds of ignorance and error from the atmosphere of reason; to remove the film of prejudice from the mental eye; and thus to irradiate the benighted mind with the cheering beams of truth, is at once the business and the glory of eloquence.
  • "Extract from an Oration on Eloquence, Pronounced at Harvard University on Commencement Day, 1794", p. 30
  • Slave: What have you done, what can you do for me, that will compensate for the liberty which you have taken away?
Master: I did not take it away. You were a slave when I fairly purchased you.
Slave: Did I give my consent to the purchase?
Master: You had no consent to give. You had already lost the right of disposing of yourself.
Slave: I had lost the power, but how the right?
  • "Dialogue Between a Master and a Slave", p. 240
  • Master: It is in the order of Providence that one man should become subservient to another. It ever has been so, and ever will be. I found the custom, and did not make it.
Slave: You cannot but be sensible, that the robber who puts a pistol to your breast may make just the same plea. Providence gives him a power over your life and property; it gave my enemies a power over my liberty. But it has also given me legs to escape with; and what should prevent me from using them?
  • "Dialogue Between a Master and a Slave", p. 241

Quotes about The Columbian Orator

  • The moral which I gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the conscience of even a slaveholder. What I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery, and a powerful vindication of human rights.
    • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
Wikipedia has an article about: