Confessions of a Southern Man in August 1832

The Liberator (1831-1865) was an abolitionist newspaper founded by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831. Garrison published weekly issues of The Liberator from Boston continuously for 35 years, from January 1, 1831, to the final issue of January 1, 1866. Although its circulation was only about 3,000, and three-quarters of subscribers were African Americans in 1834, the newspaper earned nationwide notoriety for its uncompromising advocacy of “immediate and complete emancipation of all slaves” in the United States.

The complete run of The Liberator is available to Accessible Archives users as fully searchable text or as page images you can explore.

Confessions of a Southern Man

Mr. Gaston, in an excellent Address to the Youth of the University of North Carolina, holds this language:

‘On you will devolve the duty which has been too long neglected, but which cannot with impunity be neglected much longer, of providing for the mitigation, and (is it too much to hope for in North Carolina?) for the ultimate extirpation of the worst evil that afflicts the Southern part of our Confederacy.

Full well do you know to what I refer, for on this subject there is, with all of us, a morbid sensitiveness which gives warning even of an approach to it. Disguise the truth as we may, and throw the blame where we will, it is Slavery which more than any other cause, keeps us back in the career of improvement.

It stifles industry and represses eneterprize– it is fatal to economy and providence– it discourages skill– impairs our strength as a community, and poisons morals at the fountain head.– How this evil is to be encountered, how subdued, is indeed a difficult and delicate enquiry, which this is not the time to examine, nor the occasion to discuss.

I felt, however, that I could not discharge my duty, without referring to this subject as one which ought to engage the prudence, moderation and firmness of those who, sooner or later, must act decisively upon it.’

Masthead, The Liberator, 1850. Designed by Hammatt Billings.

Masthead, The Liberator, 1850. Designed by Hammatt Billings.


Collection: The Liberator
Publication: The Liberator
Date: August 18, 1832
Title: Confessions of a Southern Man
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

† This would have been University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since it was the only one of the University campuses with enrollment in 1832. Chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly on December 11, 1789 and beginning instruction in 1795, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (then named simply the University of North Carolina) is the oldest public university in the nation, as measured by start of instruction as a public institution.

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