My dearly beloved Brethren and Fellow-Citizens:
Having travelled over a considerable portion of these United States, and having, in the course of my travels, taken the most accurate observations of things as they exist, the result of my observations has warranted the full and unshaken conviction, that we (coloured people of these United States) are the most degraded, wretched and abject set beings that ever lived since the world began; and I pray God that none like us ever may live again until time shall be no more. They tell us of the Israelites in Egypt, the Helots in Sparta, and of the Roman slaves, which last were made up from almost every nation under heaven, whose sufferings under those ancient and heathen nations were, in comparison with ours, under this enlightened and Christian nation, no more than a cypher ….
I will ask one question here — Can our condition be any worse? — Can it be more mean and abject? If there are any changes, will they not be for the better, though they may appear for the worse at first? Can they get us any lower? Where can they get us? They are afraid to treat us worse, for they know well, the day they do it they are gone. But against all accusations which may or can be preferred against me, I appeal to Heaven for my motive in writing — who knows that my object is, if possible, to awaken in the breasts of my afflicted, degraded and slumbering brethren, a spirit of inquiry and investigation respecting our miseries and wretchedness in this Republican Land of Liberty! ! ! ! !
From the Preamble to David Walker's Appeal in Four Articles, together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, ed. by Charles M. Wiltse (1829; reprint Hill and Wang, 1965.)