Martin Van Buren and Slavery

This appeared in the March 11, 1837 issue of The Colored American newspaper.

The following extracts from President Van Buren’s inaugural address, present his views and designs, in regard to the question of Slavery:

“The last, perhaps the greatest, of the prominent sources of discord and disaster supposed to lurk in our political condition, was the institution of domestic slavery.”

“Perceiving, before my election, the deep interest this subject was beginning to excite, I believed it a solemn duty fully to make known my sentiments in regard to it”

“I then declared that, if the desire of those of my countrymen who were favorable to my election, was gratified, I must go into the Presidential Chair the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of every attempt, on the part of Congress, to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia, against the wishes of the slaveholding States, and also, with a determination equally decided, to resist the slightest interference with it in the States where it exists.”
“It now only remains to add that no bill conflicting with these views, can ever receive my constitutional sanction.”

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.


So then, it has come to this! The President of the United States, clothed in the constitutional power of his high office, in the contest now waging between Liberty and Slavery, plants himself in the breach, to conciliate the conscience-stricken condemners of our country’s honor and the rights of man.

Martin Van Buren, by this single act, has rendered himself, and the District he would cover with his aegis, in a double sense a focus point, upon which will be collected, long before his time of office shall have expired, the burning, withering scorn of all nations and the world.

By this act, he has secured the trumpeting of America’s shame to the ends of the earth.

Does he vainly think he can stay the progress of public sentiment, or abate the force of truth? He is a foolish man if he thinks so.

Long before he descends from his high elevation, the growlings and mutterings of public opinion now heard in the distance from Europe, from the West Indies – from the East, the North, and West, will become too deep and powerful for resistance – and he will be obliged to obey it, or be driven from his position, as obnoxious men are sometimes driven from the public stage.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

Related Posts

Tags: ,

Stay Connected

Connect with Accessible Archives on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to stay up to date on news and blog posts or get our latest blog posts by email.

Positive SSL