Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why Is That, Ferguson?

Why do events like Ferguson happen?
Because the community allows it.
Thugs kill each other,
thugs kill innocent people...
some cops kill all of the above
and keep walking...
and keep walking...
and keep...
why is that...?

R.I.P. Michael Brown

Monday, November 3, 2014

Urban Expressionism: The Roots and Influences of Modern Urban Rituals

(RE-PRINT of Article from ChickenBones:A Journal, published in Fall 2004)

To keep it in the New World Griot tradition, I summarize my thesis with the following:

Excuse me, pardon me, may I have your attention for a few moments. You see, I’m trying to find my brothers and sisters, and cousins. They have been scattered all over the place, but you can recognize us and tell that we’re family when you see us. You see my Daddies name is BAM and my Momma’s name is Hip-hop. So they say, BAM lived up in Harlem but liked to party in the Bronx, ‘cause the Bronx always threw the best parties. Well, one night at a party up on Sedgwick Ave., where god provides security, BAM met a sweet little thing called hip-hop. Hip-hop was a sexy, sassy, playful thing, part West Indian, and part Latina and a little American Black.

Well BAM and Hip-hop kicked it for a while and hip-hop even let BAM hide out at her spot, behind the black door, when things got bad for him. They had a long on again/off again relationship and had a whole lot of kids, including me. I was born in a warehouse on the lower east side; my sister was born in Brooklyn, after BAM had a weekend fling in the West Indies. We call her Dub Poetry. I also have a little brother who was conceived in a bar in midtown and born in a club in Chicago called House. To some folks, we looked a little like BAM had ladies all over the place you see. He used to get with a Hip-hop cousin, Dance Hall from Brooklyn and they’d chill together up in Boston, even had a thing with a queen called House out in Chicago, a sister named Go-Go in DC, an older sister (who still had style) out in California called Soul. BAM even has kids over in England with a younger sister called Acid Jazz. Yeah, you could say that BAM was a player and had babies all over the place.
Me? My name is Urban Expressionist and I’m trying to find my brothers and sisters. You can tell who we are when you see us and hear us. Some of us sound like our Grandma, Post Modernist or Great-Grandma, Harlem Renaissance. . . . Some of her folks came from down south and some were from the West Indies. . . . Of course, as far back as we can go, it all began way back with a cat in the Village named African Grove and went on from there.

Anyway, African Grove had a daughter with a sister named gris-gris, and they called her Black-Faced Minstrelsy. Black-face did what she had to do to keep her children alive. These same children would later make the family legitimate again through her daughter’s Karamu, Lafayette Player, and Frogs... I’ve taken enough of your time. My name is Urban Expressionist and I’m looking for my siblings….

Now, on with the essay…

It was November of 2001 at an artist’s round-table at the Afrikan Poetry Theatre in Queens, NY that I heard poet/ author/ vocalist/ organizer/ educator, Ola Jendai describes the work of this generation of conscious Black artists as ‘Modern Urban Rituals’. It is the common aesthetic properties of this loosely associated school of contemporary, socially conscious Black spoken-word artists and dramatists (including Latino and Native American people of African ancestry) that I began referring to as Urban Expressionism in 1997. While critics treat the works of this era as if they are a disconnected, phenomenon of the hip-hop generation, it can be seen that Urban Expressionisms cultural ideologies, practices and socio-political philosophies are rooted in those of the Black Arts Movement (BAM).

In an article “Black Creativity: On the Cutting Edge” (Time October 1974) Henry Louis Gates dismissed BAM as the “shortest and least successful” movement in Black American cultural history. However, it can be demonstrated that Urban Expressionism is not only an expansion of the BAM, but dramatists and spoken-word artists of the Urban Expressionist School are in fact a new generation of BAM artists, with the aesthetic, cultural and ideological principles passed directly from one generation to the next.

BAM, which was primarily rooted in the Black communities of New York City, was the aesthetic companion to the Black Power Movement of the mid 1960s, where poetry, drama, music and visual arts were used to propagate the movement’s nationalistic social, political and economic agenda. According to Harold Cruse in The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, the Black Arts Movement distinguished itself from previous eras and movements in the arts of Black people in America, the Black Arts Movement came with a social agenda.

The new mission of Black theatre came with three basic objectives: 1) Creating institutions within the Black community, for the development and presentation of theatre artists as well as works in drama and literature, by, for, and about Black people. 2) Creating a composite cultural language, rooted in an Afrocentric perspective (i.e., the Black Aesthetic) of Black people in America, speaking to the social and political realities of Black people in America, as opposed to creating works according to the Eurocentric values as with previous movements and eras. 3) Creating works that would impact the social and political perspectives of future generations of Black people in America. While the movement itself may have only lasted from 1965 to 1975, the influence of the agenda articulated within this movement on subsequent artistic movements within the tradition of Black Theatre and oral traditions is apparent and indelible.

Although BAM involved a canon of middle-class, mostly male, English speaking African American artists and intellectuals based in New York City, and Urban Expressionism encompasses a wider representation of post African Diaspora cultures, languages and dialects based in several cities throughout the USA, much of the common ideological, stylistic and thematic structure and content of Urban Expressionism has evolved from those identified by such Black Arts Movement scholars and critics as Kalamu ya Salaam,Amiri BarakaLarry Neal and Askia Muhammad Touré. The Black Arts Movement in particular was the era of “A New Breed” (Neal, “Visions”, p. 20) of Black artists, who rejected European American standards and aesthetic values in favor of a more Afrocentric celebration of their African heritage and Black American experiences and culture.

Previous to the BAM, most theatre in the Black community consisted of white plays with all Black casts, or plays about Black people written for white audiences, produced under the auspices of white patrons. As a grass-roots movement, BAM artists were behind the continuation of existing Black theatres and institutions in the Black community, such as the Hadley Players in New York and the Karamu Theatre in Cincinnati; as well as the formation of many new organizations, such as the National Black Theatre, Negro Ensemble Company, Frank Silvera Writer’s Workshop and New Federal Theatre in New York, New African Company in Boston, Kuntu Repertory Theatre in Pittsburgh, and the Arena Players in Washington DC.

Whereas the average life of a theatre company is three years, over 30 years later, all of the aforementioned organizations and institutions still exist, and are responsible for the initial training and professional experiences of approximately 80% of the Black theatre, television and film artists in the industry today, including the writers of the Urban Expressionist’ school. Hence, BAM’s first objective was met.

While some critics have dismissed the work of dramatists and spoken-word artists as ‘Agit Prop’ (agitation propaganda), closer examination reveals that dramatists, poets and theater artists of the BAM began experimenting with rituals, festivals, languages, clothing, music, social customs, and approaches from various African cultures, combining them with Black American folk traditions and eastern European influences, created a new paradigm. Through allegory, metaphor and African influenced performance-rituals, Black dramatists and spoken-word artists explore and support the social, political, economic, and cultural experiences and ideologies of their times.

It can be seen that those movements are more empirical outgrowths of previous landmark eras. African ritual, folklore and storytelling styles are also staples in cultural language of Urban Expressionism. Terms, concepts and traditions used today in Black theatre and literature, such as griot, Kwanzaa, the Nguzo Saba, the invoking of ancestors and pouring libations at the opening of a show, the inclusion of African-influenced dance, music, and rituals in plays that are not musicals were all introduced during BAM. Thus, the second objective was reached.

As BAM artists moved out of New York and settled in other urban areas around the country, the new breed that Neal speaks of are the present day elders, teachers, legends and influences of this generation. BAM artists and intellectuals became the faculty of Black Studies programs throughout the country, directors, artists and instructors in their own arts institutions. BAM artists also allied themselves with socially conscious dramatists and poets of Africa, the Caribbean and South America as well, deepening the Pan African link. It was the BAM era that gave the arts and literature of Black people in America an otherwise nonexistent legitimacy among Black artists and intellectuals of other countries. As a result, the philosophies, and practices of BAM artists were passed on to a new generation, including Black people of other countries and cultures, thus reaching the movement’s third objective.

The post BAM, multi-award-winning dramatist August Wilson, co-founder of the Kuntu Writer’s Workshop, has consistently exemplified answering these objectives in the development of his plays, providing opportunities for many black theatre professionals, as well as his late 1990s proposal for an African Grove Theatre Institute, dedicated to the preservation, continuation, development and presentation of the Black Theatre tradition. His detailing of this agenda included the aforementioned objectives. This initiative on Wilson’s part was mainstream Black artist’s demonstrated commitment to the BAM agenda.

While the era of Urban Expressionism began in 1993, when a new generation of Black spoken-word artists and dramatists, disenfranchised from mainstream opportunities to develop and present their work, began to develop their own small-scale productions in community spaces, lofts, coffeehouses, bars and underground clubs in major urban areas of America. This emergence of what arts critic Nelson George refers to as Boho, Afroccentric Bohemians and creative intellectuals whose works were fueled by the socially conscious hip-hop of such groups as Public Enemy, X-Clan, Boogie Down Productions and the Native Tongue Posse.

Another root of Urban Expressionism was Hip-hop Street Theatre, similar to the invisible theater of Augusto Boal. Teams of young performers would stage arguments, fights, humorous and loud conversations and seemingly impromptu song and dance musicals (complete with choreography) on subways, street corners, and shopping centers for unsuspecting audiences. A lot of these performances ended in the performers running from the police. Another influence on this generation were such post-BAM Black dramatists as George Wolfe, Lynda Patton, Ntozake Shange, P.J. Gibson, Leslie Lee, Miguel Pinero, August Wilson, and NGoma.

With the Urban Expressionist, also known as Keepers of the New World Griot tradition, as dubbed by BAM architect, poet and historian, Askia Toure, this generation of artists, are the Black counter-parts of Generation X, where the concept of Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Sabba always existed, where Afros or Naturals and dashikis are childhood memories and photographs. Likewise, the Urban Expressionists tend to take certain Africanisms as norms, whereby such concepts had to be consciously engrained in the works and rhetoric of BAM artists and critics. The rituals and symbols of Black folklore, and the perspective of the Afrocentric intellectual tradition, Urban Expressionist’s theater incorporates street and environmental theater, rhyming verse, and musical forms from the Black arts traditions, with an economy of sets, props, and characters.

Unlike previous eras, the Urban Expressionists school grew out of a time when funding and resources for the arts were seriously limited. The basis for the creation and development of the majority of these works relies completely on the passion and dedication of the artists involved; following the concept of Kuumba, creativity, where one’s creative talents and gifts are used to make our communities a more beautiful place then we found them.

As with BAM, the Urban Expressionists tend to produce works that explore, annotate, and depict to the social, cultural, political and economic realities, philosophies and experiences of Black people living in America. A strikingly consistent feature in the dramatic work of Urban Expressionism is its portable nature, and minimal use of sets and props and minimal lighting requirements. As with the Black Arts Movement, the dramatists of the Urban Expressionist school generally evolved from spoken-word artists and a wave of aspiring, independent filmmakers workshopping screenplays as live performance pieces.

The poetic form remained intact in some pieces, such as Slanguage by the spoken-word performance troupe Universes; whereby they recreate the experience of traveling through the South Bronx on a summer day, juxtaposing poetic verses as monologues and dialogues of the myriad of characters you’ll encounter on the trip. This is similar to the monologue driven, environmental plays and choreo-poems, such as “Street Sounds" by Ed Bullins or “Spell Number 7”, or “For Colored Girls…” by Ntozake Shange.

The continuation of any movement is based in its ability to adapt to the social and political landscape of society. While social and economic racism and discrimination are alive and well, the environment of post Civil Rights, post Affirmative Action, post Reganomics Black America is markedly different from that of the BAM era. Therefore the exact subjects and experiences depicted in the work of Urban Expressionists are markedly different as well. The modern age is more socially similar to the conservatism of the 1950s. Therefore, the need for Black people to maintain their own cultural, economic, and political institutions is recognized by a new generation.

In the Urban Expressionist’s drama “Smoke & Potatoes” by Yesi Mills, a righteous, West Indian street corner incense salesman, and a recently released from prison, Latino street corner weed dealer clash over territory, only to discover that they have more in common than a street corner. The incense man was a former weed dealer who decides to be a legitimate businessman, representing the ideals of legal, grassroots economic self-sufficiency. The food from his own culture that he cooks for his lunch, as opposed to the weed dealer's desires to get a slice of pizza from the local pizza shop, represents the incense man’s embracing of his values and self-sufficiency.

The weed dealer tries the incense man’s food and is disgusted to find potatoes and yams in the food, emblematical of his rejection of the roots of his own Caribbean culture. We discover that the incense dealer works this corner because his daughter’s school bus stops there and he can collect her after school. However, we also learn that the weed dealer has a daughter on the same bus, which he has never gotten to meet because he was in jail since she was an infant and her mother banished him from her life. Incense is used to remove evil spirits and smells from the air and bring clarity to thought and spirit. With the words and smells of the incense dealer, the weed dealer finds a new clarity for changes in his own life.

The allegorical elements of “Smoke” are similar to those used in such BAM plays as “The First Militant” minister by Ben Caldwell (A Black Quartet, 29-36), where we find a thief breaking into a Black minister’s house, full of lots of good stuff to steal. The minister comes home, causing the thief to hide. The minister begins to pray to God for an end to the riots, praying for the people of his community to submit to the higher authority and keep things status quo as opposed to rioting and rebelling. While the thief is hiding from the preacher and listening to the preachers prayer in disgust until he’s moved to answer the preacher’s plea, “Aw, Man. Get Up Off Yo’ Mother Fuckin’ Knees!”
The Thief/God then lays out a plan of rebellion for the preacher to lead his people through. The minister removes a gun from his desk draw and places it upon his bible. The final scene is the minister giving a sermon to his followers about his conversation with God, where God told him that the time has come to stop being passive and peaceful and take their liberation into their own hands. The other thing to note is that this is a play that can be performed in just about any setting, including a Bronx street corner.

As Urban Expressionism approaches its second decade, it is quite clear that if it is not a continuation of the Black Arts Movement, it is a direct result of the three main objectives of BAM. Urban Expressionism continues as a movement dedicated to preserving and establishing cultural institutions that support the development and presentation of Black artists and works, by, for and about Black people; it is a movement steeped in the cultural language and traditions of BAM; and is a movement that was directly influenced and mentored into existence by BAM artists and intellectuals.

Urban Expressionists are still mostly middle-class, like the BAM artists; however, they are a much more culturally and linguistically diverse group of young men and women. While the social, political and economic environment of Urban Expressionism differs from those of BAM, the cultural aesthetics and ideologies are identical, thus the ‘Modern Urban Ritual’ era it a continuation of BAM, making it a 40 year-old movement. The Harlem Renaissance lasted only 15 years, Afro Post-Modernism only 10. Therefore, it is highly questionable that BAM was either short lived or unsuccessful.
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Works Cited & Consulted
Ahearn, Charlie (ed) & Fricke, Jim (ed). Yes, Yes, Y’all: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip Hop's First Decade. New York: De Capo, 2002
Baraka, I. Amiri. Raise, Race, Rays, Raze. New York: Vintage, 1972
Bullins, Ed; Caldwell, Ben; Jones, Leroi; Milner, Ronald. A Black Quartet. New York: Mentor Books/ New American Library, 1970
Chuck D; Jah, Yusef; Lee, Spike. Fight the Power: Rap, Race & Reality. New York: Delta, 1998
Cruse, Harold. Crisis of the Negro Intellectual. New York: Quill, 1984
Draper, Theodore. The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism. New York: Viking, 1970
George, Nelson. Buppies, B-Boys, Baps & Bohos. New York: De Capo, 2001
Holloway, Joseph. Africanisms in American Culture. Indiana: Indiana Univ. Press, 1991
King, Martin Luther. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Boston: Beacon, 1968
Neal, Larry. Visions of a Liberated Future. New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 1989
Salaam, Kalamu ya"Historical Overviews of The Black Arts Movement.” The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States. New York: Oxford UP, 1995
Tate, Greg. Flyboy in the Buttermilk. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992
Wimsatt, William Upski. Bomb the Suburbs. New York: Soft Skull, 2001
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Cry In The Dark...

Excerpt from "Teeth of a Lioness"

In the hot and sultry late summer's night, Yan laid in the dark awaiting her. She enter the room and slowly crawled into the bed. With a soft growl and nibble at his ear, she whispered that she was going to treat him like a tootsie pop...

The last thing he remember, before waking up in the hospital was the third lick. As he came to, he saw two pamphlets on the tray next to his hospital gurney: "Instruction On How to Urinate" and "You Can Still Lead A Full and Productive Life"...





Monday, August 11, 2014

Producers Notes: Building The Groovalottos Album Pt. 3


Whether it's the sweet soul sound of the Delphonics, the southern funk of the Dramatics or the expansive soul of Curtis Mayfield; like any great stew or soup, the quality and success lies within the basis. In the case of soul, funk and blues, it dwells within the rhythm section. Thom Bell's string and horn arrangements on "Ready or Not" are powerful, but would not be as powerful if it were not for the rich groove sustained by the drums and bass below the haunting melody and atmospheric harmonies.

In the tradition of Black American, small combo music the structure is traditionally, drums, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, whereby a competent pianist/ keyboardist can fill in for one or both of the guitar parts. Traditionally, the left hand locals the groove and the right hand colors with lead lines. As a left-handed pianist, I occasionally flip this tradition, playing leads with my left hand and comping the groove with my right.

Going back over the album tracks, Eddie Ray did some amazing drum work, along with the amazingly inventive and inspired bass work of Red Bone. On the original sessions, my keyboard parts were meant to be scratch tracks to be later replaced, but a few of them were keepers as rhythm parts and a few leads lines. As we build the textures and colors of the album, I once again return to my inspiration vaults to flesh out the arrangement. The weekly gigs during the summer at Torino's Restaurant in Hyannis, have given us a wonderful opportunity to experiment with the sounds on the songs as background music for the customers.


An album from my record mother's collection, that I wore out as a kid was "SOUL" by Billy Preston, particularly his renditions of "Shotgun" and "Drowning In My Tears".  I couldn't help but notice from the line notes that Preston played both the piano and organ on the tracks on this album, laying out the rhythm parts with the piano and leads with the organ. As a young one, I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of multi-track recording, and envisioned Mr. Preston playing the piano with one hand and the organ with the other, seriously trying to figure out how he did it all with only two hands. Later on I learned about overdubbing.

As I mentioned before, Preston, Jimmy Smith, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and
Ray Charles were among my old-school influences as soul and blues pianists and organists.  Of the latter day musicians and producers, I have to give respect to Kashif, Bernard Wright, Pieces of A Dream, and Teddy Riley in particular who were masters of the respective "Mid-Tempo Groove" and "New Jack Swing"styles that were keyboard/ synth dominated, yet maintained the integrity of the small combo tradition.

I created a listening list of great rhythm guitarists as well, as a means of inspiring color and textures for the album's arrangement. These guitarists included:

Jimmy Nolan
Curtis Mayfield
Jimmy Hendrix (especially his work with Buddy Myles)
Eddie Willis
Catfish Collins
Chuck Berry
Freddie Green
Les Paul
Nile Rodgers
Alex Weir
Tony Maiden

For the last two sessions, the focus was to create and record rhythm tracks for the songs that would compliment the incredible bass and drum work of my brothers, locking the groove together and allow for endless possibilities of framing and coloring by lead keys, as well as backing and lead vocal parts.  From my listening list I was able to ascertain that by habit of rich, complex harmony voicing would be over-kill on a solid rhythm track, resolving instead to use a lot of 2 and 3-note chords.

As with any old recipe, there are no exact measurements, only approximations. While there are always going to be certain key ingredients that you'll need to make the dish you want. The quality of the ingredients, knowledge of the chef, monitoring of the cooking process, and ability to make proper adjustments during the process will usually yield the flavor experience you're looking for.

On we funk...

By the way, we're playing the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston on August 14th...

To Be Continued...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Producers Notes: Building The Groovalottos Album Pt. 2

When listing my producers, I failed to mention one influence who had nothing to do with funk or soul, but was amazingly inventive. George Martin who produced the Beatles albums also came with some serious skills and techniques. His actual background was classical music, which translated well to the expansive work he did with the 'Fab Four' on their Sgt Pepper album. Another producer to pay close attention to is Marcus Miller, owner of some of the best ears in the industry. Having Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, E.U. (Da Butt), The Jamaica Boyz, and Chaka Khan among his credits would make him one of the most diverse producers in the business. Another favorite producer/ band director is Joe Sample and his work with The Crusaders as well as Randy Crawford. However, while his classic version of "Street Life" is a great record, it's his recent versions of the song with just Ms Crawford and a trio that bore some true influence on this project.

"Multiplication Rock" and subsequently DeLa Soul had it right: three is a magic number. The power trio has been and remains a mystical element in the music business. The Nat Cole Trio, Buddy Holly and The Crickets, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and the subsequent (and musically superior) Band of Gypsies, Pieces of a Dream, Genesis, The Jamaica Boyz, The Police... the musical mystery of a band comprised of three people that sound like twelve people, even when they perform live. However, the advent of multi-track recording led to the phenomenon of the record
and the live show becoming two different entities. For example, the handclaps and tambourines that enhance the "live" version of The Ramsey Lewis Trios' "In Crowd" the same way that the six voice female chorus fleshes out the harmonic elements of Jimi Hendrixs' "Hey Joe". In other words, taking a trio in the studio, recording them, mixing it and calling it a record in this day and age sells the potential of the recording short.

Listening to an album used to be and should be an experience. It's the producers job to make it such. Whether it's John Coltrane's "OM" or Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" from the first note of the first song, to the fade on the final tracks end should be a journey along the lines of an epic poem or novel. The challenge of any producer working with a trio is the maintain the integrity of the band's magic, while expanding on their sound. The other challenge is that this ability is not a precise science.

With The Groovalottos, we ended up with these amazing basic tracks, without a drum machine or sampler in the house. The main idea was to get a good take on the drums, knowing that there will be a few fixes on the bass, and the initial keyboard and lead vocal tracks being purely reference or "scratch" tracks. The great thing with this band is that we have been playing together, live for so long that the tracks were pretty tight and very funky. However, what a band does live often has to be simplified for the recording process. What makes the song great in a live setting comes across as way to busy, or in the words of the movie "Amadeus," 'too many notes...'. At the same time, certain
elements that are crisp and pop live, often need to be enhanced in the studio.

Off and on, I've been listening to the raw tracks in my truck's stereo (my preferred listening room) for the past couple of weeks and taking notes: spots where the drums need to be fixed; spots where the bass needs to be tightened; keyboard sounds and styles that will better fit the mood and groove of the song; percussion parts; backing vocal arrangements... all of the elements that the average listener is unaware of that Quincy Jones refers to as "ear candy."

When Jones shared his process during the production of a project, he noted that he will obtain what ever the top ten albums are of that year and analyze them for what them hit albums; infusing this analysis into his own work. Of course the context of this conversation was in relation to his work on Michael Jackson's hit albums "Off The Wall" and "Thriller" as well as his own "Back On The Block", all of which were recorded before 1990. It's safe to say that the top ten pop and r&b albums of those days were by top musicians and producers. Today's top ten albums are done on computers for the most part. Other than mix down and post-production/ mastering, there is very little in the contemporary top ten that could have any kind of meaningful impact or influence on this album.

As I learned in the early part of the 2000, even albums by bands use a lot of sampling, looping, cutting and pasting. The musicians play their parts and the producer goes back, finds the 8 bars that they want for the verse, then the 8 bars for the chorus; cuts and pastes them and viola! A backing track. Even one of my favorite band producers of these times, Quest Love of The Roots uses this technique. Even Prince, back in the days of The Revolution, handed his drummer, Bobby Z a drum machine to work with.

My last three albums were primarily MIDI productions with a few live elements added as enhancements. For the most part, I manipulated MIDI to sound as much like a real band as possible, leading to a side career as a re-mix artist, with electronica producers from around the world sending me tracks to give the 'mwalimadelic' touch. The basis of these productions is a click track, basic keyboard part, and minimal quantizing, as well as 16 and 24 bar loops. As a musician, there is a certain indescribable charge and pleasure that comes from playing with other musicians at the same time that MIDI just can't touch.

Most labels won't admit to it, but there is such a thing as a "producers kit" consisting of kick, snare and percussion patches that the producer cuts in over the real drummers part so that the sound is consistent with the 'industry standard'. Very few drummers of today's music world have actually heard their own drums on their band's record when the producers get through 'fixing' them.

Two things happened to the music industry that have basically killed the industry: labels stopped hiring music people as A&R and instead started hiring MBAs and technology created an artificial sense of perfection. A first glimpse at this, as well as the beginning of the end of my innocence as a musician came as a young studio musician. I had the opportunity to do a session with a legendary artist (who I will not name). He made a record many years earlier that I literally wore out, and I learned to play a keyboard passage from the album that was very complex. At a break in the session, I played it for him on the piano. He watched and was blown away, admitting that his version was recorded in two pats that had been over-dubbed, and it took him a number of passes to get it. "Too bad I didn't know you back then, we could have gotten it out in one shot." He chuckled.

It was the influence of Billy Preston that led to my habit of assigning keyboards like guitars, with one as the rhythm, one as the color, and the other as the lead. I also like using horn arrangements for my backing vocal parts, along the lines of The Turtles on "Happy Together" or Joe Cubas recording of "Be With You". On the next trip into the studio, I'll be laying down the rhythm keyboard parts, locking in with the drummer. After that, we'll do the bass line fixes with Red Bone, followed by percussion tracks.

To Be Continued...


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Producers Notes: Building The Groovalottos Album Pt. 1

The Groovalottos keyboard player and producer, Mwalim DaPhunkee Professor, began his habit of keeping a journal while working on a project many years ago when he produced his first demo back in the mid 1980's. Usually, these notes are simply a tool used to keep the project on course, but for this album, he decided to share his notes as they come. Welcome to part One:

This is going to be a premiere album by a band of seasoned players, so the album needs to be a statement... a calling-card of sorts. After many months of gigging and rehearsing, The Groovalottos were ready to start recording their album. After giving a listen to the original track laid down by the original line-up back in 2011, as well as the efforts of Eddie Ray and I to fix those tracks, I came to realize that we are so far beyond where we were in 2011, musically and philosophically, that the consensus (the way we decide things in the band family) was to scrap the original tracks and start from the ground up.

The thing to understand, both James "The Big Bad" Wolf and Nick "Papa Smurf" Wolf are both phenomenal live musicians in the genres of blues and progressive rock. Even in the early days of the band, when we decided that the direction of the band would be 'soul-funk' the deceptive simplicity of funk and soul created a certain learning curve. Billie and I would fall into singing or jamming on a classic funk or soul tune that would leave the Wolfs looking at us inquisitively and resulted in us giving them a listening list. Nick is a wonderful student and voraciously consumed our listening list, evolving into one of the most formidable young 'soul-funk' bass players in the scene. However, with the addition of Red Bone, the band is a much more cohesive unit of seasoned funk, soul, blues and jazz players.

Another factor in the decision is the fact that the original recording was by a live band, playing what they do on stage in the studio. With the advent of multi-track recording what happens live does not always translate well to the studio. As a studio musician, the notion of having to re-record a part because it fell of beat, out of key or needs to be simplified comes with the territory, but for the less experienced it can cause hurt feelings. The standards of the industry right now are such that re4cordings have to be perfect or as close to perfect as possible. Even rock records consist of a lot of sampling and looping and electronic over-dubs of drum part with the sounds coming from industry 'producer packs'. I've produced plenty of projects that follow that formula, including a couple of my own albums, but The Groovalottos album needs to be special... it needs to be real music played by real people, incorporating some of the production elements from the contemporary industry.

Steele Dan, a band that really consisted of two people, had an interesting way to deal with this issue. When it came time to record the album, they would do it in California where they had access to tons of studio players, who were very steady, predictable, and safe. Then, when it came time to go on the road, they'd recruit a bunch of folks from New York and Boston who were unpredictable, busy-styled and musical risk takers; thus adding excitement to their life show. The JBs, the late, great James Brown's back-up band also understood this, playing the tune more conservatively in the studio and stepping it up when they were on the road. Likewise, Motown would have one arrangement for the studio and another for the live show. (In the case of Stevie Wonder's first record, "Finger Tips" they released the live recording because they were not able to capture all of that energy in the studio)The Groovalottos is a band in this tradition.

One of the very cool things about the current state of the music industry is that the industry has less and less control over the music that is being produced and marketed, which is creating opportunities for bands to reach their audiences on a global level without having to sound like what's currently 'in'. Unfortunately, especially in much 'urban' music being produced the slave mentality thrives as indie producers scramble to sound like the industry; not unlike the former slaves who refused to leave their plantations after emancipation.

Years ago, I'd gotten some wonderful advice from Quincy Jones about producing. He suggested that once you know the kind of sound your looking for, grab up a few albums produced in that style and listen to them over and over before going into the studio; a practice that I gratefully incorporated into my own process. When producing "The Liberation Sessions" I obtained copies of old air-checks from WBLS in New York, trying to make the CD sound as much like an urban radio broadcast as possible. When producing the classic house influenced "DEEP Soul Chants & Hollers" I got on a steady diet of classic records spun at the Paradise Garage in NYC and the Warehouse in Chicago during the late 1970's to early 1980's.

To produce an album like the one that I have in mind for The Groovalottos, required me to listen to a combination of soul, funk and jazz records produced during the 1970's and '80's that did not use a drum machine; hip-hop albums produced in the late 1980's to the early 2000's that used samples and updated productions of the classics of the 1960's and 70's. I started my homework in March of 2014.

My Producer Listening List:

Curtis Mayfield
Thomas Bell
James Brown
Charles Stepney
Sly Stone
Isaac Hayes
Gary Katz
Wilton Felder
Stix Hopper
George Clinton
Boz Scaggs
Jim Healy
Joe Wissert
Rod Temperton
Chucky Thompson
Pete Rock
DJ Premiere
DJ Muggz

After and during my listening sessions, The Groovalottos began rehearsing my originals with the focus of simplifying the arrangements for studio recordings. After a few weeks of this, we went to lay down the original tracks were set for June 30th and July 7th at the Musicians Development Institute in Plymouth, MA. For the same reason that we went to REO Studios and Ron Orsmby, a studio and engineer designed for recording music by live muscians, we chose MDI. For those of you who do not know about MDI and Bob Yen, this is one of those humble looking studios of great power. Several major labels use it as one of their retention studios for production and mix-down work. Bob himself has been an engineer and sound man for countless major rock and blues albums and tours.

Following the formula, we got down excellent takes on the basic tracks for all twelve of the songs on the album as well as some other material. Like any well-made building, the foundation has to be excellent so that the house will stand. Now, to let the cement dry and settle before we start framing the house.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: 1st Gathering of the National Congress of Black American Indians and All Our Relations set for July 19th in Washington DC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 10, 2014

CONTACT:
Jay Winter Nightwolf
wahyasunoyi@aol.com
MJ Peters
info@daphunkeeprofessor.com

1st Gathering of the National Congress of Black American Indians and All Our Relations set for July 19th in Washington DC

WASHINGTON DC - The National Congress of Black American Indians will be holding it's first gathering for people of mixed Native American and African American ancestry and all our relations on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at the Plymouth Congregational UCC, 5301 N Capitol St NE, Washington, District of Columbia 20011, 11am to 5pm.

Speakers and presenters for this event will include several community and spiritual leaders, educators, and artists from various English and Spanish speaking Black Indian communities, including NCBAI founder, JAY GOLA WAYA SUNOYI; NANA KWABENA & IYA MARI BROWN, Priests - Temple of Nyame; CHIEF MARGARITO ASQUENO, Maya, Lenca, Nawat of Mexico, Central & South America; CACIKE ROBERTO MUKARO BORRERO; Mother Romi Encinas, The Yaqui Nation; Rabiah Al Nur Cheyenne/ Blackfoot/ Powhatan/ Cherokee Grandmother, healer, educational consultant, storyteller; Penny Gamble-William – Chapaquiddick Wampanoag; Prof. Morgan James “Mwalim” Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag performing artist, writer, and educator. The program will also include performances by hip-hop artist, Black Indian; spoken-word artist, LILANI MATAKA, and NDN Soul-Funk band, The Groovalottos.

This gathering is a first of it's kind, where as "Black Indians" have been the subject of books, documentaries, and an exhibit launched by The Smithsonian in 2009, this is the first effort to bring the people of this clandestine elements of American history together. 'Black Indian' people and the cultural composites resulting from this phenomenon are part of what has shaped American culture. Noted descendants of African people and the 2000+ native tribes and nations include Crispus Attucks, Frederick Douglass, Charlie Parker, Jesse Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, A Phillip Randolph, Muddy Waters, and James Brown.
Children & Youth are welcomed (Ages 0-13) --- No Fee!

There is a $10 registration fee for the event (Ages 14 & Above). Members of the press should contact one of the two names above for a press pass. For more information, visit the events page of facebook, www.facebook.com/ncbai.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" by Frederick Douglass

The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

by Frederick Douglass

As we celebrate the 4th of July, or in my case attend my tribe's powwow, this is also a day to reflect upon the powerful words of Frederick Douglass in his speech delivered one day shy of 162 years ago in Rochester, NY. As we reflect upon the social and political climate of today, including the prison industry, much of what was said then still stands.


Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens: 

He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country school houses, avails me nothing on the present occasion. 

The papers and placards say that I am to deliver a Fourth of July Oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for me. It is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall seems to free me from embarrassment. 

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable-and the difficulties to he overcome in getting from the latter to the former are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence I will proceed to lay them before you. 

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the Fourth of July. It is the birth day of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, as what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. l am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot's heart might be sadder, and the reformer's brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young.-Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations. 

Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is, that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. The style and title of your "sovereign people" (in which you now glory) was not then born. You were under the British Crown. Your fathers esteemed the English Government as the home government; and England as the fatherland. This home government, you know, although a considerable distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its parental prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints, burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise, right and proper. 

But your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They went so far in their excitement as to pronounce the measures of government unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive, and altogether such as ought not to be quietly submitted to. I scarcely need say, fellow-citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully accords with that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part would not be worth much to anybody. It would certainly prove nothing as to what part I might have taken had I lived during the great controversy of 1776. To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is exceedingly easy. Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the noble brave, can flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards the American Colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when, to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men's souls. They who did so were accounted in their day plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers. But, to proceed.

Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated, by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer the purpose. They saw themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness and scorn. Yet they persevered. They were not the men to look back. 

As the sheet anchor takes a firmer hold, when the ship is tossed by the storm, so did the cause of your fathers grow stronger as it breasted the chilling blasts of kingly displeasure. The greatest and best of British statesmen admitted its justice, and the loftiest eloquence of the British Senate came to its support. But, with that blindness which seems to be the unvarying characteristic of tyrants, since Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea, the British Government persisted in the exactions complained of. 

The madness of this course, we believe, is admitted now, even by England; but we fear the lesson is wholly lost on our present rulers. 

Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so than we, at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and the prudent (as has been intimated) of that day were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it. 

Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor. 

These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and the appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a more modern, though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find in our papers, applied to some of our old politicians. 

Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and powerful; but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations against it, the alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the country with it. 

On the 2nd of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress, to the dismay of the lovers of ease, and the worshipers of property, clothed that dreadful idea with all the authority of national sanction. They did so in the form of a resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions, drawn up in our day, whose transparency is at all equal to this, it may refresh your minds and help my story if I read it. 

"Resolved, That these united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved."


Citizens, your fathers made good that resolution. They succeeded; and to-day you reap the fruits of their success. The freedom gained is yours; and you, there fore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation's history-the very ringbolt in the chain of your yet undeveloped destiny. 

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ringbolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost. 

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day-cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight. 

The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event. But, besides general considerations, there were peculiar circumstances which make the advent of this republic an event of special attractiveness. The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime. The population of the country, at the time, stood at the insignificant number of three millions. The country was poor in the munitions of war. The population was weak and scattered, and the country a wilderness unsubdued. There were then no means of concert and combination, such as exist now. Neither steam nor lightning had then been reduced to order and discipline. From the Potomac to the Delaware was a journey of many days. Under these, and innumerable other disadvantages, your fathers declared for liberty and independence and triumphed. 

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too-great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory. 

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests. 

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settIed" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final"; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times. 

How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defence. Mark them! Fully appreciating the hardships to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep, the corner-stone of the national super-structure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you. 

Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes are met with demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even mammon seems to have quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing fife and the stirring drum unite their accents with the ascending peal of a thousand church bells. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day; while the quick martial tramp of a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all the hills, valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion one of thrilling and universal interest-nation's jubilee. 

Friends and citizens, I need not enter further into the causes which led to this anniversary. Many of you understand them better than I do. You could instruct me in regard to them. That is a branch of knowledge in which you feel, perhaps, a much deeper interest than your speaker. The causes which led to the separation of the colonies from the British crown have never lacked for a tongue. They have all been taught in your common schools, narrated at your firesides, un folded from your pulpits, and thundered from your legislative halls, and are as familiar to you as household words. They form the staple of your national po etry and eloquence. 

I remember, also, that, as a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor. This is esteemed by some as a national trait-perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact, that whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans and can be had cheap! will be found by Americans. I shall not be charged with slandering Americans if I say I think the American side of any question may be safely left in American hands. 

I leave, therefore, the great deeds of your fathers to other gentlemen whose claim to have been regularly descended will be less likely to be disputed than mine! 

My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted time with God and His cause is the ever-living now.
Trust no future, however pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead;
Act, act in the living present,
Heart within, and God overhead. 
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child's share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors. You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have "Abraham to our father," when they had long lost Abraham's faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham's great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day? Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchers of the righteous? Washington could not die till he had broken the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price of human blood, and the traders in the bodies and souls of men shout-"We have Washington to our father."-Alas! that it should be so; yet it is.
The evil, that men do, lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.
Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? 

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart." 

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fa thers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people! 

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth." 

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just. 

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, "It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed." But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They ac knowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may con sent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man! 

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men! 

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding.-There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him. 

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply. 

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed. 

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced. 

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour. 

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. 

Take the American slave-trade, which we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) "the internal slave-trade." It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words from the high places of the nation as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the Jaws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish them selves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon all those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass with out condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable. 

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-curdling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the centre of your soul The crack you heard was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shock ing gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States. 

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell's Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming "hand-bills," headed cash for Negroes. These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners; ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness. 

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number has been collected here, a ship is chartered for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed. 

In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror. 

Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity on the way to the slave-markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.
Is this the land your Fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?
But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and Dixon's line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women and children, as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the star-spangled banner, and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman's gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, your lords, nobles, and ecclesiastics enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment's warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there is neither law nor justice, humanity nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world that in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America the seats of justice are filled with judges who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding the case of a man's liberty, to hear only his accusers! 

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenceless, and in diabolical intent this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select. 

I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were nor stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it. 

At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law concern the "mint, anise, and cummin"-abridge the right to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal!-And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to so licit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner. Further, if this demand were not complied with, another Scotland would be added to the history of religious liberty, and the stern old covenanters would be thrown into the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every church door and heard from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more quarter than was shown by Knox to the beautiful, but treacherous, Queen Mary of Scotland. The fact that the church of our country (with fractional exceptions) does not esteem "the Fugitive Slave Law" as a declaration of war against religious liberty, im plies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love, and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy is a curse, not a blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as "scribes, pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe ofÝ mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith." 

But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines, who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity. 

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty and leave the throne of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that "pure and undefiled religion" which is from above, and which is "first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and with out hypocrisy." But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation-a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons, and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea' when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow." 

The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in its connection with its ability to abolish slavery. 

The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that "There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it." 

Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday School, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery, and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds, and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive. 

In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared-men honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The Lords of Buffalo, the Springs of New York, the Lathrops of Auburn, the Coxes and Spencers of Brooklyn, the Gannets and Sharps of Boston, the Deweys of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land have, in utter denial of the authority of Him by whom they professed to be called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example of the Hebrews, and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, that we ought to obey man's law before the law of God.2 

My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the "standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ," is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the American church, however, let it be distinctly understood that I mean the great mass of the religious organizations of our land. There are exceptions, and I thank God that there are. Noble men may be found, scattered all over these Northern States, of whom Henry Ward Beecher, of Brooklyn; Samuel J. May, of Syracuse; and my esteemed friend (Rev. R. R. Raymond) on the platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that, upon these men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave's redemption from his chains. 

One is struck with the difference between the attitude of the American church towards the anti-slavery movement, and that occupied by the churches in Eng land towards a similar movement in that country. There, the church, true to its mission of ameliorating, elevating and improving the condition of mankind, came forward promptly, bound up the wounds of the West Indian slave, and re stored him to his liberty. There, the question of emancipation was a high religious question. It was demanded in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the living God. The Sharps, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, the Burchells, and the Knibbs were alike famous for their piety and for their philanthropy. The anti-slavery movement there was not an anti-church movement, for the reason that the church took its full share in prosecuting that movement: and the anti-slavery movement in this country will cease to be an anti-church movement, when the church of this country shall assume a favorable instead of a hostile position towards that movement. 

Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from oppression in your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen, and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against the oppressor; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America. You discourse eloquently on the dignity of labor; yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence, casts a stigma upon labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of British artillery to throw off a three-penny tax on tea; and yet wring the last hard earned farthing from the grasp of the black laborers of your country. You profess to believe "that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth," and hath commanded all men, everywhere, to love one another; yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own. You declare before the world, and are understood by the world to declare that you "hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain in alienable rights; and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, "is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose," a seventh part of the inhabitants of your country. 

Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. it fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation's bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever! 

But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that, the right to hold, and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic. 

Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped 
To palter with us in a double sense:
And keep the word of promise to the ear,
But break it to the heart.
And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest impostors that ever practised on mankind. This is the inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape; but I differ from those who charge this baseness on the framers of the Constitution of the United States. It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. There is not time now to argue the constitutional question at length; nor have I the ability to discuss it as it ought to be discussed. The subject has been handled with masterly power by Lysander Spooner, Esq. by William Goodell, by Samuel E. Sewall, Esq., and last, though not least, by Gerrit Smith, Esq. These gentlemen have, as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from any design to support slavery for an hour. 

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but interpreted, as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gate way? or is it in the temple? it is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slaveholding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can any where be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a tract of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, commonsense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality, or unconstitutionality of slavery, is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a right to form an opinion of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this right, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tells us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument. 

Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand, it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery. 

I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some future period I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this subject a full and fair discussion. 

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. 

"The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated.-Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other. 

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God." In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it: 
God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o'er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,

And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom's reign.
To man his plundered rights again
Restore.

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;

That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.