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Reverend John Allen
An Oration on the Beauties of Liberty
(1772)
The contradiction between freedom from Britain being described as freedom from slavery and continued support of actual human slavery was part of the complicated awareness of the Revolutionary Generation. John Allen was an English Baptist minister who had recently arrived in Boston. This sermon was preached at the Second Baptist Church of Boston.

Liberty, my lord, is the native right of the Americans; it is the blood-bought treasure of their Forefathers; and they have the same essential right to their native laws as they have to the air they breathe in, or to the light of the morning when the sun rises: And therefore they who oppress the Americans must be as great enemies to the law of nature, as they who would, if it were in their power, vail the light of the sun from the universe. My Lord, the Americans have a privilege [to] boast of above all the world: they never were in bondage to any man, therefore it is more for them to give up their Rights, than it would be for all Europe to give up their Liberties into the hands of the Turks. Consider what English tyranny their Forefathers fled from; what seas of distress they met with; what savages they fought with; what blood-bought treasures, as the dear inheritance of their lives, they have left to their children, and without any aid from the King of England; and yet after this, these free-born people must be counted Rebels, if they will not loose every right to Liberty, which their Venerable ancestors purchased at so great expence as to lose their live in accomplishing; and shall not their descendants be strenuous to maintain inviolate those sacred Rights, which God and Nature have given them, to the latest posterity. O America! America let it never be said that you deserted the Grand Cause, and submitted to English ministerial tyranny....

Has not the voice of your Father's blood cried yet loud enough in your ears, "Ye Sons of America scorn to be Slaves?" Have you not heard the voice of blood in your streets, louder than that which reached Heaven, that cried for vengeance. That was, faith the Lord to Cain, the voice of thy brother's blood, but this is of many brethren....

Here let me claim your attention. Every tie of nature, every sensation of humanity, every bowel of pity, every compassion as a Christian, engages me to speak for the Personal Liberty and Freedom of those, who are the most distressed of all human beings, the natives of Africa. Were they thus distressed by Indians, Mahometans, or Turks with respect to their Liberty, they would have a right to be redressed and set free; but for mankind to be distressed and kept in slavery by Christians, by those who love the Gospel of Christ; for such to buy their Brethren (for of one blood he has made all nations) and bind them to be Slaves to them and their heirs for life. Be astonished, ye Christians, at this! And what is more shocking even to the tenderness of nature, is to export them, for filthy lucre into the hands of Men-tyrants. But what is more alarming yet, and exceeds all bounds, is, for one Christian, and Member of a Church, to export another, and banish her to be a Slave, when in full communion in the Church.... Publish it not in the streets of Boston! Shall no plea be heard? Shall no argument prevail to let those oppressed ones Go Free. Have Christians lost all the tenderness of nature, the feelings of humanity, or the more refined sensations of christianity? Or have the Ministers in silence forgot to shew their people this iniquity? O could they bear to see--to see did I say? nay to feel their children rent from their arms, and see them bound in irons and banished to be Slaves! O killing thought! But for Christians to encourage this bloody and inhuman Trade of Manstealing, or Slave-making, O how shocking it is! while it may be their nearer kindred want employment, if not bread to eat. This unlawful, inhuman practice is a sure way for mankind to ruin America, and for Christians to bring their children, and their children's children to a morsel of bread. Much has been wrote, and well wrote to dissuade the Americans from the practice of so great an Evil; many begin to listen to the laws of humanity and the force of the argument: But surely what the prophet Isaiah says will be sufficient with every true Minister of the Gospel, and with every Christian and Son of Liberty in America; Isa. lviii. 6. Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, that ye break every yoke.
 
 

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