Slavery and the Making of AmericaDrawing of a sermon at the First African Church in Richmond, Virginia
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Courtesy of Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, African American Pamphlet Division
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In this appeal the Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, invokes Biblical precedent, declaring that the moral government of God will always punish oppressors. The group, which rejected hierarchy among its members, was one of the first to advance abolition the rights of blacks in America.

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In contemplating the present condition and future prospects of our beloved country, the conviction has been forcibly brought before us, that, whatever elements of outward prosperity and greatness a nation may possess, it is only by an observance of the obligations of morality and religion that its real interests and highest welfare can be promoted, and established upon a secure basis.

The sovereign Ruler of the Universe is a Being of perfect justice and beneficence, as well as of unlimited power. He controls the destiny of governments and of individuals, and can set up or pull down at his pleasure; and all the policy and strength of man is utterly incapable of resisting the course of his Almighty Providence.

It is one of the fixed laws of his moral government, attested by experience and by Holy Scripture, that wickedness and oppression are, sooner or later, followed by his just judgments. The annals of those that have preceded us furnish abundant evidence that national sins have ever incurred national calamities; and that a course of iniquity and violence, however prosperous for a time, has eventually terminated in disgrace and ruin. History abounds with instances of governments which have risen to a height of power and influence that seemed almost

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irresistible; and arrogantly presuming on the strength of their position, and trusting to their skill and management, have sought to aggrandize themselves by encroaching upon the rights of others, until at length, in the righteous retribution of Him who has declared, "Vengeance is mine -- I will repay" -- the measure they have meted to others has been returned upon themselves, unlooked-for calamities have befallen, they have sunk into moral and political degradation, and their very existence has been blotted out from the earth. The account of the Jews, as related in the Bible and confirmed by profane writers, shows that their happiness and prosperity, as well as their security from the aggressions of hostile nations, were in proportion to their obedience to the Divine law; continued violations of which brought upon them fearful calamities, and ended in the destruction of their government, and their dispersion, as a fallen people, among other nations.

If we turn to the history of Rome, Greece, or Babylon, as well as other kingdoms, ancient and modern, the same just retribution is written in characters too plain to be mistaken or controverted.

These fearful manifestations of Divine justice are designed as beacons to succeeding generations. The Most High changes not. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. His attributes are neither altered nor suspended to suit the varying schemes, or the fluctuating opinions of men or governments, but are ever acting, with perfect harmony and certainty, to bring about his purposes. Though he is forbearing and compassionate, and may wait long with the disobedient, ere he causes them to reap the reward of their doings, yet the Holy Scriptures assure us, that He will by no means clear the guilty, nor suffer the impenitently wicked to go unpunished. However improbable, in the day of outward prosperity, a reverse may appear; however it may seem to us, for a

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time, that God regardeth not the iniquity of the oppressor, nor listeneth to the groaning of the down-trodden, it is unalterably certain that the day of recompense will sooner or later arrive.

Of his infinite mercy he allows to nations, as well as to individuals, a period in which they may repent of their iniquity -- may cease to do evil and learn to do well, and thereby avert the awful consequences of their sins. But this day of mercy does not last forever. It is possible to disregard and outlive it; and of such a condition it is divinely declared, "Because I have called and ye refused--I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity and mock when your fear cometh: when your fear cometh as a desolation and your destruction as a whirlwind"--and distress and anguish overtake. Such has been the course of the moral government of the Almighty in past ages, and both reason and revelation confirm the conclusion that such it will be for all time to come.

With these views deeply impressed on our minds, our attention has been directed to the course pursued by the people and government of these United States toward the coloured races.--It is not our purpose to speak particularly of the wrongs and cruelties practised upon the aboriginal inhabitants of our country. It will hardly be denied by any one acquainted with the subject, that a vast amount of injustice and other wickedness has been perpetrated in the intercourse of the whites with the Indians, for which a heavy lead of responsibility rests upon the nation. These feeble and defenceless remnants of the tribes who once possessed the soil upon which we have grown rich, have strong claims on our sympathy and Christian liberality; and every principle of religion and humanity dictates, that in their weakness and destitution they should be treated with kindness and generosity.

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