a deep solemnity of soul, in view of our wretched and degraded situation,
and sensible of the gross ignorance that prevails among us, I have thought proper thus publicly to
express my sentiments before you. I hope my friends will not scrutinize these pages with too
severe an eye, as I have not calculated to display either elegance or taste in their composition, but
have merely written the meditations of my heart as far as my imagination led; and have presented'
them before you, in order to arouse you to exertion, and to enforce upon your minds the great
necessity of turning your attention to knowledge and improvement.
I was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1803; was left an orphan at five years of age; was
bound out in a clergyman's family; had the seeds of piety and virtue early sown in my mind; but
was deprived of the advantages of education, though my soul thirsted for knowledge. Left them at
15 years of age; attended Sabbath Schools until I was 20; in 1826, was
married to James W.Steward; was left a widow in 1829; was, as I humbly hope and trust,
brought to the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus, in 1830; in 1831, made a public profession
of my faith in Christ.
From the moment I experienced the change, I felt a strong desire, with the help and assistance
of God, to devote the remainder of my days to piety and virtue, and now possess that spirit of
independence, that, were I called upon, I would willingly sacrifice my life for the cause of God
and my brethren.
All the nations of the earth are crying out for Liberty and Equality. Away, away with tyranny
and oppression! And shall Afric's sons be silent any longer? Far be it from me to recommend to
you, either to kill, burn, or destroy. But I would strongly recommend to you, to improve your
talents; let not one lie buried in the earth. Show forth your powers of mind. Prove to the world,
Though black your skins as shades of night,
Your hearts are pure, your souls are white.
This is the land of freedom. The press is at liberty. Every man has a right to express his
opinion. Many thinks, because your skins are tinged with a sable hue, that you are an inferior race
of beings; but God does not consider you as such. He hath formed and fashioned you in his own
glorious image, and hath bestowed upon you reason and strong powers of intellect. He hath made
you to have dominion over the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and the fish of
5the sea. He hath crowned you with glory and honor; hath made you but a little lower than the
angels; and, according to the Constitution of these United States, he hath made all men free and
equal. Then why should one worm say to another, "Keep you down there, while I sit up yonder;
for I am better than thou ?" It is not the color of the skin that makes the man, but it is the
principles formed within the soul.
Many will suffer for pleading the cause of oppressed Africa, and I shall glory in being one of
her martyrs; for I am firmly persuaded, that the God in whom I trust is able to protect me from
the rage and malice of mine enemies, and from them that will rise up against me; and is there is no
other way for me to escape, he is able to take me to himself, as he did the most noble, fearless,
and undaunted David Walker.
NEVER WILL VIRTUE, KNOWLEDGE, AND TRUE POLITENESS BEGIN TO FLOW,
TILL THE PURE PRINCIPLES OF RELIGION AND MORALITY ARE PUT INTO
MY RESPECTED FRIENDS,
I feel almost unable to address you; almost incompetent to perform the task; and, at times, I
have felt ready to exclaim, O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I
might weep day and night, for the transgressions of the daughters of my people. Truly, my heart's
desire and prayer is, that Ethiopia might stretch forth her hands unto
6God. But we have a great work to do. Never, no, never will the chains of slavery and ignorance
burst, till we become united as one, and cultivate among ourselves the pure principles of piety,
morality and virtue. I am sensible of my ignorance; but such knowledge as God has given to me, I
impart to you. I am sensible of former prejudices; but it is high time for prejudice and animosities
to cease from among us. I am sensible of exposing myself to calumny and reproach; but shall I, for
fear of feeble man who shall die, hold my peace? shall I for fear of scoffs and frowns, refrain my
tongue? Ah, no! I speak as one that must give an account at the awful bar of God; I speak as a
dying mortal, to dying mortals. O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no longer sleep
nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble
and exalted faculties. O, ye daughters of Africa! what have ye done to immortalize your names
beyond the grave? What examples have ye set before the rising generation? What foundation have
ye laid for generation yet unborn? where are our union and love? and where is our sympathy, that
weeps at another's wo, and hides the faults we see? And our daughters, where are they? blushing
in innocence and virtue? And our sons, do they bid fair to become crowns of glory to our hoary
heads? Where is the parent who is conscious of having faithfully discharged his duty, and at the
last awful day of account, shall be able to say, here, Lord, is thy poor, unworthy servant,
7and the children thou hast given me? And where are the children that will arise, and call them
blessed? Alas, O God! forgive me if I speak amiss; the minds of our tender babes are tainted as
soon as they are born; they go astray, as it were, from the womb. Where is the maiden who will
blush at vulgarity and where is the youth who has written upon his manly brow a thirst for
knowledge; whose ambition mind soars above trifles, and longs for the time to come, when he
shall redress the wrongs of his father, and plead the cause of his brethren? Did the daughters of
our land possess a delicacy of manners, combined with gentleness and dignity; did their pure
minds hold vice in abhorrence and contempt, did they frown when their ears were polluted with its
vile accents, would not their influence become powerful? Would not our brethren fall in love with
their virtues? Their souls would become fired with a holy zeal for freedom's cause. They would
become ambitious to distinguish themselves. They would become proud to display their talents.
Able advocates would arise in our defence. Knowledge would begin to flow, and the chains of
slavery and ignorance would melt like wax before the flames. I am but a feeble instrument. I am
but as one particle of the small dust of the earth. You may frown or smile. After I am dead,
perhaps before, God will surely raise up those who will more powerfully and eloquently plead the
cause of virtue and the pure principles of morality than I am able to do. O virtue! how sacred is
8how pure are thy principles! Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Blessed is the man who shall call her his wife; yea, happy is the child who shall call her mother. O,
woman, woman, would thou only strive to excel in merit and virtue; would thou only store thy
mind with useful knowledge, great would be thine influence. Do you say, you are too far
advanced in life now to begin? You are not too far advanced to instill these principles into the
minds of your tender infants. Let then by no means be neglected. Discharge your duty faithfully,
in every point of view: leave the event with God. So shall your skirts become clear of their
When I consider how little improvement has been made the last eight years; the apparent cold
and indifferent state of the children of God; how few have been hopefully brought to the
knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus; that our young men and maidens are fainting and
drooping, as it were, by the way-side, for the want of knowledge; when I see how few care to
distinguish themselves either in religious or moral improvement, and when I see the greater part of
our community following the vain bubbles of life with so much eagerness, which will only prove
to them like the serpent's sting upon the bed of death, I really think we are in as wretched and
miserable a state as was the house of Israel in the days of Jeremiah.
I suppose many of my friends will say, "Religion is all your theme," I hope my conduct will
ever prove me to be what I profess, a true
9follower of Christ; and it is the religion of Jesus alone, that will constitute your happiness here,
and support you in a dying hour. O, then, do not trifle with God and your own souls any longer.
Do not presume to offer him the very dregs of your lives; but now, whilst you are blooming in
health and vigor, consecrate the remnant of your days to him. Do you wish to become useful in
your day and generation? Do you wish to promote the welfare and happiness of your friends, as
far as your circle extends? Have you one desire to become truly great? O, then, become truly
pious, and God will endow you with wisdom and knowledge from on high.
Come, turn to God, Who did thee make,
And at his presence fear and quake;
Remember him now in thy youth,
And let thy soul take told of truth.
The devil and his ways defy,
Believe him not, he doth but lie;
His ways seem sweet: but youth, beware!
He for thy soul hath laid a snare.
Religion is pure; it is ever new; it is beautiful; it is all that is worth living for; it is worth dying
for. O, could I but see the church built up in the most holy faith; could I but see men spiritually
minded, walking in the fear of God, nor given to filthy lucre, not holding religion in one hand and
the world in the other, but diligent in business, fervent inspirit, serving the Lord, standing upon
the walls of Zion, crying to passers by, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and
he that hath no money; yea, come and buy wine and milk without
10money and without price; Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?" Could I but see mothers in Israel,
chaste, keepers at home, not busy bodies, meddlers in other men's matters, whose adorning is of
the inward man, possessing a meek and quiet spirit, whose sons were like olive-plants, and whose
daughters were as polished corner-stones; could I but see young men and maidens turning their
feet from impious ways, rather choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a season; could I but see the rising youth blushing in artless innocence,
then could I say, now, Lord, let thine unworthy handmaiden depart in peace, for I have seen the
desire of mine eyes, and am satisfied.