The New England Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1833 by William Lloyd Garrison in order to abolish slavery and help coloured people obtain equal civil and political rights. The Society was directly opposed by the American Colonization Society, the American Church and the American Union. The New England Anti-Slavery Society was renamed the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1835.

The first action of the first meeting (held at the office of The Liberator, the anti-slavery paper run by Garrison) was to memorialize Congress for the abolition of slavery in in the District of Columbia and in the Territories of the United States under their jurisdiction.

The formation of the New England Anti-Slavery Society began in the office of Samuel E. Sewall on State Street in Boston on November 13, 1831. William Lloyd Garrison was dissatisfied with the prevalent ideas of gradualism (the policy of slow but steady emancipation of the blacks) and strongly advocated following the lead of the Abolitionists of Great Britian, under the inspiration of Elizabeth Heyrick. The issue of immediatism versus gradualism was not a small one -- by adopting a positive commital to immediate emancipation, the society risked alienating the more conservative individuals who might be friendly to the cause.

David Lee Child, Samuel E. Sewall, William Lloyd Garrison, Ellis Gray Loring and Oliver Johnson were tasked with drafting a constitution to be presented on January 1, 1832.

The original constitution received seventy-two names, perhaps a quarter of which were colored men.

The Constitution of the New England Anti-Slavery Society

Whereas, we believe that Slavery is contrary to the precepts of Christianity, dangerous to the liberties of the country, and ought immediately to be abolished; and whereas, we believe that the citizens of New-England not only have the right to protest against it, but are under the highest obligation to seek its removal by a moral influence; and whereas, we believe that the free people of color are unrighteously oppressed, and stand in need of our sympathy and benevolent co-operation; therefore, recognizing the inspired declaration that God 'hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,' and in obedience to our Saviour's golden rule, 'all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,' we agree to form ourselves into a Society, and to be governed by the following

ARTICLE 1. This Society shall be called the New-England Anti-Slavery Society.

ARTICLE 2. The objects of the Society shall be, to endeavor, by all means sanctioned by law, humanity and religion, to effect the abolition of slavery in the United States; to improve the character and condition of the free people of color, to inform and correct public opinion in relation to their situation and rights, and obtain for them equal civil and political rights and privaleges with the whites.

ARTICLE 3. Any person by signing the Constitution, and paying to the Treasurer fifteen dollars as a life subscription, or two dollars annually shall be considered a member of the Society, and entitled to a copy of all its official publications.

ARTICLE 4. The officers of the Society shall be a President, Vice Presidents, a Corresponding Secretary, a Recording Secretary, a Treasurer, and ten Counsellors, who shall be elected annually, by ballot, on the fourth Wednesday of January, or subsequently by adjournment, and shall hold their respective offices until others are chosen.

ARTICLE 5. The foregoing officers shall constitute a Board of Managers, to whom shall be entrusted the disposition of the funds, and the management of the concerns of the Society. They shall have power to make their own by-laws, to fill any vacancy which may occur in their Board and to employ agents to promote the objects of the Society.

ARTICLE 6. There shall be a public meeting of the Society annually, on the third Wednesday of January, at which the Board of Managers shall make a Report of their doings for the past year, and of the income, expenditures, and funds of the Society.

ARTICLE 7. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Society and of the Board of Managers, or in his absence one of the Vice Presidents, or in their absence a President pro term.

ARTICLE 8. The Corresponding Secretary shall receive and keep all communications or publications directed to the Society, and transmit those issued by them, and shall correspond with the agents, or any other bodies or individuals, according to the directions of the Society or the Managers.

ARTICLE 9. The Recording Secretary shall notify all meetings of the Society and of the Board of Managers, and keep the records of the same.

ARTICLE 10. The Treasurer shall collect the subscriptions and donations to the Society, hold all its funds, and make payments according to the direction of the Managers; and he shall keep a true account of the same, and render a statement to accompany the Annual Report of the Society.

ARTICLE 11. Any Anti-Slavery Society, or any association founded on kindred principles, may become auxiliary to this Society, by contributing to its funds, and may communicate with us by letter or delegation.

ARTICLE 12. The Society shall hold meetings on the last Monday of March, June, and September, for the transaction of any business which may be presented by the Boards of Managers, or for addresses, or for discussion of any subject connected with the objects of the Society. Special meetings may be called by the Board of Managers, or by the Recording Secretary on application from ten members of the Society.

ARTICLE 13. This Constitution may be altered at the Annual Meeting for the choice of officers, provided the amendments proposed to be made, have been submitted to the Board of Managers, in writing, one month previous.


Jacksonian Miscellanies #60 (June 9, 1998) -- Founding the New England Anti-Slavery Society:

Constitution of the New England Anti-Slavery Society:

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