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PREFACE. IN the month of August, 1841, I attended anantislavery convention in Nantucket, at which it was myhappiness to become acquainted with FREDERICKDOUGLASS, the writer of the following Narrative.He was a stranger to nearly every member of that body;but, having recently made his escape from the southernprison-house of bondage, and feeling his curiosity excitedto ascertain the principles and measures of theabolitionists,--of whom he had heard a somewhat vaguedescription while he was a slave,--he was induced to givehis attendance, on the occasion alluded to, though at thattime a resident in New Bedford. Fortunate, most fortunate occurrence!--fortunatefor the millions of his manacled brethren, yet pantingfor deliverance from their awful thraldom!--fortunatefor the cause of negro emancipation, and of universalliberty!--fortunate for the land of his birth, which hehas already done so much to save and bless!--fortunatefor a large circle of friends and acquaintances,whose sympathy and affection he has strongly securedby the many sufferings he has endured, by his virtuoustraits of character, by his ever-abiding remembranceof those who are in bonds, as being bound with them!--fortunate for the multitudes, in various parts of ourrepublic, whose minds he has enlightened on the subjectof slavery, and who have been melted to tears byhis pathos, or roused to virtuous indignation by his stirringeloquence against the enslavers of men!--fortunatefor himself, as it at once brought him into the Page ivfield of public usefulness, \"gave the world assurance of aMAN,\" quickened the slumbering energies of his soul, andconsecrated him to the great work of breaking the rod ofthe oppressor, and letting the oppressed go free! I shall never forget his first speech at the convention--theextraordinary emotion it excited in my own mind--thepowerful impression it created upon a crowded auditory,completely taken by surprise--the applause whichfollowed from the beginning to the end of hisfelicitous remarks. I think I never hated slavery sointensely as at that moment; certainly, my perceptionof the enormous outrage which is inflicted by it, onthe godlike nature of its victims, was rendered far moreclear than ever. There stood one, in physical proportionand stature commanding and exact--in intellect richlyendowed--in natural eloquence a prodigy--in soul manifestly\"created but a little lower than the angels\"--yet a slave,ay, a fugitive slave,--trembling for his safety, hardly daringto believe that on the American soil, a single white personcould be found who would befriend him at all hazards, forthe love of God and humanity! Capable of high attainments asan intellectual and moral being--needing nothing but acomparatively small amount of cultivation to make him anornament to society and a blessing to his race--by the law of the land,by the voice of the people,by the terms of the slave code, he was only a piece of property, a beast of burden, a chattel personal, nevertheless! A beloved friend fromNew Bedford prevailed on Mr.DOUGLASS to address the convention. He came forwardto the platform with a hesitancy and embarrassment,necessarily the attendants of a sensitive mind in such anovel position. After apologizing for hisignorance, and reminding the audience that slaverywas a poor school for the human intellect and heart, Page vhe proceeded to narrate some of the facts in his ownhistory as a slave, and in the course of his speech gaveutterance to many noble thoughts and thrilling reflections.As soon as he had taken his seat, filled withhope and admiration, I rose, and declared that PATRICKHENRY, of revolutionary fame, never made a speechmore eloquent in the cause of liberty, than the one wehad just listened to from the lips of that hunted fugitive.So I believed at that time,--such is my beliefnow. I reminded the audience of the peril which surroundedthis self-emancipated young man at the North,--even in Massachusetts, on the soil of the PilgrimFathers, among the descendants of revolutionary sires; andI appealed to them, whether they would ever allow him tobe carried back into slavery,--law or no law,constitution or no constitution. The response wasunanimous and in thunder-tones--\"NO!\" \"Will yousuccor and protect him as a brother-man--a resident ofthe old Bay State\" \"YES!\" shouted the whole mass, withan energy so startling, that the ruthless tyrants south ofMason and Dixon's line might almost have heard themighty burst of feeling, and recognized it as the pledge ofan invincible determination, on the part of those who gaveit, never to betray him that wanders, but to hide theoutcast, and firmly to abide the consequences. It was at once deeply impressed upon my mind, that,if Mr. DOUGLASS could be persuaded to consecrate histime and talents to the promotion of the anti-slaveryenterprise, a powerful impetus would be given to it, and astunning blow at the same time inflicted on northernprejudice against a colored complexion. I thereforeendeavored to instil hope and courage into his mind, inorder that he might dare to engage in a vocation soanomalous and responsible for a person in his situation;and I was seconded in this effort by warm-hearted friends,especially by the late General Page viAgent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, Mr.JOHN A. COLLINS, whose judgment in this instance entirelycoincided with my own. At first, he could give noencouragement; with unfeigned diffidence, he expressed hisconviction that he was not adequate to the performance ofso great a task; the path marked out was wholly anuntrodden one; he was sincerely apprehensive that heshould do more harm than good. After much deliberation,however, he consented to make a trial; and ever since thatperiod, he has acted as a lecturing agent, under theauspices either of the American or the MassachusettsAnti-Slavery Society. In labors he has been mostabundant; and his success in combating prejudice, ingaining proselytes, in agitating the public mind, has farsurpassed the most sanguine expectations that were raisedat the commencement of his brilliant career. He has bornehimself with gentleness and meekness, yet with truemanliness of character. As a public speaker, he excels inpathos, wit, comparison, imitation, strength of reasoning,and fluency of language. There is in him that union ofhead and heart, which is indispensable to an enlightenmentof the heads and a winning of the hearts of others. May hisstrength continue to be equal to his day! May he continueto \"grow in grace, and in the knowledge of God,\" that hemay be increasingly serviceable in the cause of bleedinghumanity, whether at home or abroad! It is certainly a very remarkable fact, that one of themost efficient advocates of the slave population, nowbefore the public, is a fugitive slave, in the person ofFREDERICK DOUGLASS; and that the free colored population ofthe United States are as ably represented by one of theirown number, in the person of CHARLES LENOXREMOND, whose eloquent appeals have extorted thehighest applause of multitudes on both sides of theAtlantic. Let the calumniators of the colored Page viirace despise themselves for their baseness and illiberalityof spirit, and henceforth cease to talk of the naturalinferiority of those who require nothing but time andopportunity to attain to the highest point of humanexcellence. It may, perhaps, be fairly questioned, whether anyother portion of the population of the earth could haveendured the privations, sufferings and horrors of slavery,without having become more degraded in the scale ofhumanity than the slaves of African descent. Nothing hasbeen left undone to cripple their intellects, darken theirminds, debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces oftheir relationship to mankind; and yet how wonderfullythey have sustained the mighty load of a most frightfulbondage, under which they have been groaning forcenturies! To illustrate the effect of slavery on the whiteman,--to show that he has no powers of endurance, in sucha condition, superior to those of his black brother, --DANIEL O'CONNELL, the distinguished advocate ofuniversal emancipation, and the mightiest champion ofprostrate but not conquered Ireland, relates the followinganecdote in a speech delivered by him in the ConciliationHall, Dublin, before the Loyal National RepealAssociation, March 31, 1845. \"No matter,\" said Mr.O'CONNELL, \"under what specious term it may disguiseitself, slavery is still hideous. It has a natural, an inevitabletendency to brutalize every noble faculty of man. AnAmerican sailor, who was cast away on the shore ofAfrica, where he was kept in slavery for three years, was,at the expiration of that period, found to be imbruted andstultified--he had lost all reasoning power; and havingforgotten his native language, could only utter some savagegibberish between Arabic and English, which nobody couldunderstand, and which even he himself found difficulty inpronouncing. So much for the humanizing influence of THE DOMESTIC INSTITUTION!\" Page viiiAdmitting this to have been an extraordinary case of mentaldeterioration, it proves at least that the white slave can sink aslow in the scale of humanity as the black one. Mr. DOUGLASS has very properly chosen to write his ownNarrative, in his own style, and according to the best of hisability, rather than to employ some one else. Itis, therefore, entirely his own production; and, consideringhow long and dark was the career he had to run as a slave,--how few havebeen his opportunities toimprove his mind since he broke his iron fetters--it is, in my judgment,highly creditable to his head andheart. He who can peruse it without a tearful eye, aheaving breast,