Page:Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892).djvu/330

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THE CONSTITUTION ANTI-SLAVERY.

hard to convince them that my way of thinking about the matter was the right one, but without success.

From motives of peace, instead of issuing my paper in Boston, among New England friends, I went to Rochester, N. Y., among strangers, where the local circulation of my paper—"The North Star"—would not interfere with that of the Liberator or the Anti-Slavery Standard, for I was then a faithful disciple of Wm. Lloyd Garrison, and fully committed to his doctrine touching the pro-slavery character of the Constitution of the United States, also the non-voting principle of which he was the known and distinguished advocate. With him, I held it to be the first duty of the non-slaveholding States to dissolve the union with the slaveholding States, and hence my cry, like his, was " No union with slaveholders." With these views I went into western New York, and during the first four years of my labors there I advocated them with pen and tongue to the best of my ability. After a time, a careful reconsideration of the subject convinced me that there was no necessity for dissolving the "union between the northern and southern States"; that to seek this dissolution was no part of my duty as an abolitionist; that to abstain from voting was to refuse to exercise a legitimate and powerful means for abolishing slavery; and that the Constitution of the United States not only contained no guarantees in favor of slavery, but, on the contrary, was in its letter and spirit an anti-slavery instrument, demanding the abolition of slavery as a condition of its own existence as the supreme law of the land.

This radical change in my opinions produced a corresponding change in my action. To those with whom 1 had been in agreement and in sympathy, I came to be in opposition. What they held to be a great and important truth I now looked upon as a dangerous error. A very