"f we judge impartially, we shall acknowledge that there are the RIGHTS
of a BEAST, as well as the RIGHTS of a MAN. And because man is considered as
the Lord of this lower creation, he is not thereby licensed to infringe on
the rights of those below him, any more than a King, or Magistrate, is
licensed to infringe on the rights of his subjects. AND now, let reason
judge—does not the idle, and mischievous boy, who, to gratify himself,
climbs the tree, and wantonly destroys the habitation, and murders the
family, of an innocent Sparrow, as really transgress the rules of justice,
and is he not as really guilty of incompassion, as the unfeeling wrench,
who, to make himself the secure and unsuspected owner of a little treasure,
which he has secretly removed, sets fire to his neighbour's house? The
crimes are of the same nature, tho' the guilt may not be equally aggravated:
They both act upon the same principle—self gratification: And the injury
done, is the same, in both cases—the destruction of an innocent family. And
who, that is capable of entering into the feelings of the DISTRESSED, can
behold the injured and bereaved bird, setting alone, upon the naked spray,
mourning in funeral grief, over the loss of ALL that was DEAR to her,
without shedding the tear of sympathetic sorrow!"
- The Rights of Animals Delivered at the Commencement of Providence-College, September 7, 1791
"The design of my appearing in public, at this time, is to say a few things in favor of a certain class of beings whose rights have seldom been advocated, either from the pulpit, from the stage, or from the press. I mean the inferior animals.
The cruelty and injustice with which this class of beings has been treated by their boasted superiors of the human race is too notorious to need a particular recital. In general, their welfare and happiness has been looked upon as a matter of very little importance in the system, and in our treatment of them, hardly to be regarded....
That they are sensible beings and capable of happiness, none can doubt: That their sensibility of corporeal pleasure and pain is less than ours, none can prove: And that there is any kind of reason why they should not be regarded with proportionable tenderness, we cannot conceive.
But lest this mode of reasoning should be thought too nice, let us call into view a rule of judging, instituted by a divine Philanthropist and oracle of wisdom in the days of Julius (Tiberius) Caesar. 'That we do to others as we would have them do unto us.'
Whereas there is no such consciousness of guilt when one of the inferior
animals only has been the subject of human cruelty,...let a person be taught
from his earliest years that it is criminal to torment and unnecessarily to
destroy these innocent animals, and he will feel a guilty conscience."
- The Rights of Animals, An Oration, 1791 in Rhode Island