The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9

Author: William Lloyd Garrison  | Date: 1859


On the Death of John Brown*

By the dissolution of the Union we shall give the finishing blow to the slave system; and then God will make it possible for us to form a true, vital, enduring, all-embracing Union fromthe Atlantic to the Pacific—one God to be worshiped, one Savior to be revered, one policy to be carried out—freedom everywhere to all the people without regard to complexion or race—and the blessing of God resting upon us all! I want to see that glorious day! Now the South is full of tribulation and terror and despair, going down to irretrievable bankruptcy, and fearing each bush an officer! Would to God it might all pass away like a hideous dream! And how easily it might be! What is it that God requires of the South, to remove every root of bitterness, to allay every fear, to fill her borders with prosperity? But one simple act of justice, without violence and convulsion, without danger and hazard. It is this: "Undo the heavy burdens, break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free!"

How simple and how glorious! It is the complete solution of all the difficulties in the case. Oh that the South may be wise before it is too late, and give heed to the word of the Lord! But whether she will hear or forbear, let us renew our pledges to the cause of bleeding humanity, and spare no effort to make this truly the land of the free and the refuge of the oppressed!
"Onward then, ye fearless band,
Heart to heart, and hand to hand;
Yours shall be the Christian stand,
Or the martyr’s grave."

*Delivered in Boston a few weeks after John Brown was hanged at Charlestown, West Virginia.

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Chicago: William Lloyd Garrison, The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9 in The World’s Famous Orations, ed. William Jennings Bryan (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, December, 1906), 191–192. Original Sources, accessed June 25, 2024,

MLA: Garrison, William Lloyd. The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9, in The World’s Famous Orations, edited by William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 9, New York, Funk and Wagnalls, December, 1906, pp. 191–192. Original Sources. 25 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Garrison, WL, The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9. cited in December, 1906, The World’s Famous Orations, ed. , Funk and Wagnalls, New York, pp.191–192. Original Sources, retrieved 25 June 2024, from