August 16, 1843 — African American activist Henry Highland Garnet gave the famous “Call to Rebellion” speech today at the National Negro Convention in Buffalo, New York. Entitled, “An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America,” Garnet encouraged slaves to turn against their masters.
He said: “Neither god, nor angels, or just men, command you to suffer for a single moment. Therefore it is your solemn and imperative duty to use every means, both moral, intellectual, and physical that promises success.”
Garnet’s activism was known to be more radical than many abolitionists of his day. He believed that it was the African Americans job to emancipate themselves through political action rather than moral suasion.
Words of Wisdom
Brethren, arise, arise! Strike for your lives and liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the land do this, and the days of slavery are numbered. You cannot be more oppressed than you have been -- you cannot suffer greater cruelties than you have already. Rather die freemen than live to be slaves. Remember that you are FOUR MILLIONS!