Our Trust for Victory
IntroductionIn 1833, sixty abolitionist leaders from ten states meet in Philadelphia to create the American Anti-Slavery Society. They elect officers and adopt a constitution. William Lloyd Garrison drafts the "Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention," announcing the Society's intentions. Garrison later uses a phrase from this declaration in a banner displayed at antislavery fairs and festivals.
Selection from the Massachusetts Historical Society: Our Trust for Victory is Solely in God, Cotton banner [1840s].
Selection from the Library of Congress: Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention, Philadelphia, 4 December 1833.
Questions to Consider
- How could "we" be defeated but not "our principles"? Explain this statement in your own words.
- What is a declaration, and what is being declared in the Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention? How many people signed this document, and what states are represented?
- Describe another example from history when a person or group of people was defeated, but still kept their convictions.
- What is the event being referenced in the second paragraph? ("More than fifty-seven years have elapsed…")? Why is the American Anti-Slavery Society drawing attention to this occasion? What are the similarities and differences between "their" issues and "ours," according to this document?
- What is the motivation for creating this banner? How would you describe the tone and emotion behind it?
- The Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Society has not been created by elected representatives or sanctioned by the government, so it is not a legal document. Why does it exist?
- Imagine reactions to the statement in this banner. Write a response from an antislavery perspective, and then write one from a proslavery perspective. How might a person who is against slavery but uncertain of how to end it respond to this statement? If this banner were addressing an issue of concern to you today, how would you respond to it? How would you rewrite it?
- What are the signers of the Declaration pledging to do? To whom are they pledging? By what means will they fullfill their pledge? What specific activities will they engage in, according to the declaration?
- Does the text used in the banner sound familiar? In what other document(s) can you find this text?
- Look carefully at the Declaration: Which words are CAPITALIZED and italicized throughout the document? What kinds of words or statements are being emphasized? Now look at the banner. Why do you suppose that those particular words from the Declaration have been chosen for that form of communication?