Reform Movements

Henry Clay… on Abolition

henry clay headshot

“I would refer you to a speech which I addressed to the Colonization Society of K[entucky] in Dec. 1929, published in many of the prints, for my general views of the institution of slavery, and the remedy for the evils incident to it. And to the part I acted on the Missouri question for my opinion of the powers of the genl. government in regard to it…. Slavery is undoubtedly a manifest violation of the rights of man. It can only be justified in America, if at all, by necessity. That it entails innumerable mischiefs upon our Country I think is quite clear. It may become dangerous in particular parts of the Union. But the slaves can never, I think, acquire permanent ascendancy in any part.

Congress has no power, as I think, to establish any system of emancipation, gradual or immediate, in behalf of the present or any future generation. The several states alone, according to our existing institutions, are competent to make provision on that subject, as already intimated.”

~ Henry Clay letter to John Switzer, May, 1831