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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

Running man image from workshop poster

The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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The Voice of Duty

An 1843 July 4th speech delivered by Adin Ballou, a radical Christian pacifist, socialist, and antislavery activist. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.


Adin Ballou (1803-1890) was one of the most visonary social reform figures of the American nineteenth century.  A Universalist minister, he advocated 'Christian non-resistance' and served as president of the New England Non-Resistance Society. During the 1840s he made antislavery speaking tours.  Together with colleagues, he established the socialist Hopedale Community in Milford, Massachusetts in 1842; it lasted until 1856.  Ballou's major works include Christian Non-Resistance (1846), Practical Christian Socialism (1852), and the posthumous publication of his Autobiography (1896) and History of Hopedale (1897).

'The Voice of Duty' speech remonstrates with the United States over the issue of slavery.  It condemns slavery as absolute evil and advocates against any civic cooperation with that evil.  One of the principal elements of 'practical Christianity' lay in disavowal -- or 'disfellowship' -- appears in this text in Ballou's argument that citizens in a slave-owning nation should refuse obedience, participation, and allegiance to the state.  His speech concludes with a vision of July 4th as a future holiday of freedom.

- Joe Lockard