John Allen was an obscure Baptist minister who had arrived from England shortly before delivering in Bostonís Second Baptist Church in 1772 "An Oration on the Beauties of Liberty." That speech became extremely popular and was reprinted many times. Allen's oration also argued against slavery and for the rights of Africans. Below are excerpts from the copy he sent to the Earl of Dartmouth, William Legge (1731 ‑ 1801), who served as Secretary of State for the Colonies and President of the Board of Trade. His radical view of the Gospel moved him to advocate freedom from every cruelty, especially that of man's inhumanity to man.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH. .
Liberty, my Lord, is the native right of the Americans; it is the blood‑bought treasure of their Forefathers; and they have the same essential right to their native laws as they have to the air they breath in, or to the light of the morning when the sun rises: And therefore they who oppress the Americans must be as great enemies to the law of nature, as they who would be, if it were in their power, vail [veil] the light of the sun from the universe. My Lord, the Americans have a privilege [to] boast of above all the world: They never were in bondage to any man, therefore it is more for them to give up their Rights, than it would be for all Europe to give up their Liberties into the hands of the Turks. Consider what English tyranny their Forefathers fled from; what seas of distress they met with; what savages they fought with; what blood‑bought treasures, as the dear inheritance of their lives, they have left to their children, and without any aid from the King of England; and yet after this, these free‑born people must be counted Rebels, if they will not loose every right to Liberty, which their venerable Ancestors purchased at so great expence [sic] as to lose their lives in accomplishing; and shall not their descendants be strenuous to maintain inviolate those sacred Rights, which God and Nature have given them, to the latest posterity. O America! America let it never be said that you have deserted the Grand Cause, and submitted to English ministerial tyranny . . . .
The Parliament of England cannot justly make any laws to tax the Americans; for they are not the Representatives of America; and therefore they are no legislative power of America. The House of Lords cannot do it, for they are Peers of England, not of America; and if neither King, Lords, nor Commons have any right to oppress or destroy the Liberties of the Americans, why is it then that the Americans do not stand upon their own strength, and shew their power and importance, when the life of life, and every Liberty that is dear to them is in danger?
Therefore, let me advise you with all the power of affection, with all the pathos of soul, (as one who esteems the full possession of Rights of the Americans, as the highest blessing of this life) to stand alarmed. See your danger -- death is near -- destruction is at the door. --‑Need I speak? Are not your harbours blockaded from you? Your castle secured by captives - your lives destroyed -‑ revenues imposed upon you -‑ taxation laid‑military power oppressing -‑your Charter violated‑your Governor pensioned ‑- your constitution declining ‑- your Liberties departing, and not content with this, they now attack the life, the soul and capitol of all your Liberties, to create your judges, and make them independent upon you for office or support, and erect new Courts of Admiralty, to take away by violence, the husband from his family, his wife, his home, his friends. Such cruelty and tyranny ought ever to be held in the most hateful contempt, the same as you would a banditti of slave‑makers on the coast of Africa.
Has not the voice of your Father's blood cried yet loud enough in your ears, "Ye Sons of America scorn to be Slaves?" Have you not heard the voice of blood in your streets, louder than that which reached Heaven, that cried for vengeance. That was, faith the Lord to Cain, the voice of thy brother's blood, but this is of many brethren. Therefore, if there be any vein, any nerve, any soul, any life, or spirit of Liberty in the Sons of America, shew your love for it; guard your freedom, prevent your chains; stand up as one man for your Liberty; for none but those, who set a just value upon this blessing are worthy to enjoy it . . . .
REMARKS ON THE RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES OF THE AFRICANS
Here let me claim your attention. Every tie of nature, every sensation of humanity, every bowel of pity, every compassion as a Christian, engages me to speak for the Personal Liberty and Freedom of those, who are the most distressed of all human beings, the natives of Africa. Were they thus distressed by Indians, Mahometans, [sic] or Turks with respect to their Liberty, they would have a right to be redressed and set free; but for mankind to be distressed and kept in Slavery by Christians, by those who love the Gospel of Christ; for such to buy their Brethren (for of one blood he has made all nations and bind them to be Slaves to them and their heirs for life. Be astonished, ye Christians, at this! And what is more shocking even to the tenderness of nature, is to exhort them, for filthy lucre into the hands of Men‑tyrants. But what is more alarming yet, and exceeds all bounds, is, for one Christian, and Member of a Church, to export another, and banish her to be a Slave, when in full communion in the Church. Was ever such a thing heard of in the house of God before! Tell it not in Gath! Publish it not in the streets of Boston! Shall no plea be heard? Shall no argument prevail to let these oppressed ones Go Free. Have Christians lost all the tenderness of nature, the feelings of humanity, or the more refined sensations of Christianity? Or have the Ministers in silence forgot to shew their people this iniquity O could they bear to see - ‑ to see did I say? nay to feel their children rent from their arms and see them bound in irons and banished to be Slaves! O killing thought But for Christians to encourage this bloody and inhuman Trade of Man stealing, or Slave‑making, O how shocking it is! while it may be, their nearer kindred want employment, if not bread to eat. This unlawful, inhuman practice is a sure way for mankind to ruin America, and for Christians to.bring their children, and their children's children to a morsel of bread. Much has been wrote, and well wrote to dissuade the Americans from the practice of so great an Evil; many begin to listen to the laws of humanity and the force of the argument: But surely what the Prophet Isaiah says will be sufficient with every true Minister of the Gospel, and with every Christian and Son of Liberty in America; Isaiah. lviii. 6. Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, that ye break every yoke.