Part 13 out of 20
Witches of New-England
Allan, Rev. William T.
Alston, J.A., Heirs of
Anthony, Julius C.
Appleton, John James
Avery, George A.
Baldwin, Jonathan F.
Bardwell, Rev. William
Barnes, George W.
" Rev. Hugh
Barton, David W.
" Richard W.
Baton Rouge, Agricultural Society of
" John C.
Bingham, Joel S.
Birney, James G.
Bliss Mayhew and Co
Bolton, J.L. and W.H.
" Rev. Abel
Buckels, William D.
Bush, Moses E.
Byrn, Samuel H.
Carolina, History of
Carter, Mrs. Elizabeth
Chapin, Rev. William A.
Cherry, John W.
Child, David L.
Choules, Rev. John O.
Citizens of Onslow
Congress, Member of
Connecticut, Medical Society of
Cornelius, Rev. Elias
Cowles, Mrs. Mary
" Rev. Sylvester
" Rev. John H.
Daniel and Goodman
Davidson, Rev. Patrick
Dew, Philip A.
Dickey, Rev. James H.
Dillahunty, John H.
Downman, Mrs. Lucy M.
Douglas, Rev. J.W.
Drake and Thomson
Dudley, Rev. John
Dunn, John L.
Eastman, Rev. D.B.
Eaton, General William
" Junior "
Emancipation Society of N.C.
English, Walter R.
Fernandez and Whiting
Finley, James C.
Fishers, E.H. and I.
Fitzhugh, William H.
Fox, John B.
Friends, Yearly Meeting of
Fuller, Isaac C.
Gadsden, Thomas N.
Gaines, Rev. Ludwell, G.
Garcia, Henrico Y.
Garland, Maurice H.
Gates, Seth M.
Gildersterre, William C.
Gourden and Co.
Grace, Byrd M.
Graham, Rev. John
" Rev. Dr.
Grand Gulf Advertiser
Green, James R.
Grimke, Sarah M.
Grosvenor. Rev. Cyrus P.
Gunnell, John J.H.
Hand, John H.
Harrison, General W.H.
" Rev. Mr.
" Rev. Francis
Hayne, General R.Y.
" Rev. Coleman S.
Holcombe, John P.
Hopkins, Rev. Henry T.
Hough, Rev. Joseph
" Rev. Thomas P.
Hussey, George P.C.
Indiana, Legislature of
Jackson, Stephen M.
Jarnett, James T. De
Jarvett, James T.
" Josiah S.
" W. Jefferson
Jourdan, Green B.
" Mrs. Nancy
Kentucky, Synod of
Kimball and Thome
" John H.
Knapp, Henry E.
Lacy, Theodore A.
Lambeth, William L.
Langhorne, Scruggs and Cook
Leverich and Co.
Little, Mrs. Sophia
Loomis, Henry H.
Lowry, Mrs. Nancy
" Rev. H.
" Reuben G.
Maltby, Stephen E.
Marietta College, student of
Marshall, John T.
Mathieson, Rev. James
May, Rev. Samuel J.
McGehee, Edward J.
McGregor, Henry M.
Medical College of South Carolina
Metcalf, Asa B.
Minister from Texas, A. Jones
Mitchell, Dr. Robert
Moore, Mr. Va.
Moorhead, John H.
Moulton, Rev. Horace
Moyne Dr. F. Julius Le
Napier T. and L.
" Daily Free Trade
Nelson Dr. David
" John M.
New Hampshire, legislature of
Newman Mrs. B.
New Orleans Argus
" Kidnapping at
" Mercantile Advertiser
New York American
N.C. Literary and Commercial-Standard
Nourse Rev. James
Onslow, Citizens of
Owen, Captain N.F.
Owen, John W.
Paulding, James K.
Perry, Thomas C.
Planters of South Carolina
President of the United States
Pritchard, William H.
Riadolph, Thomas Mann
Rankin, Rev. John
Rascoe, William D.
Raworth, Egbert A.
Red River Whig
Reed, Rev. Andrew
Reed, William H.
Renshaw Rev. C.S.
Rhodes, Durant H.
Rice, Rev. David
Richards, James K.
Richards, Moses R.
Richards, Stephen M.
Ripley, George B.
Robbins, Welcome H.
Rowland, John A.
Sadd, Rev. Joseph M.
Savage, Rev. Thomas
Scales, Rev. William
Scott, Rev. Orange
Seabrook, Whitmarsh B.
Secretary of the navy
Senator of the United States
Sevier, Ambrose H.
Shield and Walker
Shields, Polly C.
Smith, Bishop of Kentucky
Smith, Rev. Phineas
Snow, Henry H.
Snowden, Rev. Samuel
South Carolina, legislature of
South Carolina, Medical College of
South Carolina, Slaveholder of
Southern Christian Herald
Southmayd, Rev. Daniel S.
Staughton, Rev. Dr.
Steams and Co.
Stith, W. and A.
Stone, Asa A.
Stone, William L.
Stroud, George M.
Synod of South Carolina and Georgia
Tate, Calvin H.
Taylor, James H.
" Lawton, and Co.
Texan minister, Anson Jones
Thome and Kimball
Thome, James A.
Thompson, Henry P.
" , Sandford
Tolin, Cornelius D.
" , Samuel
" , John D.
" , L.
Tuscaloosa Flag of the Union
Ustick, William A.
Van Buren, Martin
" , John W.
Waugh, Dr. Jeremiah S.
Weld, Angelina Grimke
Wells, Thomas J.
" Medical Journal
" " Reformer
Westgate, George W.
" , Needham
" , W.W.
Wightman, Rev. William M.
Williams, George W.
Wilson, Rev. Joseph G.
Yampert, T.J. De
Yearly meeting of Friends
" flogged because her child died
" no respect for
Women at childbirth
" " the same labor with men
" " work
" miscarry under the whip
" not breeding
" pregnant whipped
" severe whippers of slaves
Workhouse at Charleston
" of slaves
"Worse and worse"
Worship of God prohibited
Wounds by gunshot
Yokes for slaves
* * * * *
HON. THOMAS MORRIS,
IN REPLY TO THE SPEECH OF
HON. HENRY CLAY.
IN SENATE, FEBRUARY 9, 1839.
PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,
NO. 143 NASSAU STREET:
* * * * *
This No. contains 2-1/2 sheets.--Postage, under 100 miles, 4 cts. over
100, 7 cts.
_Please Read and circulate._
* * * * *
MR. PRESIDENT--I rise to present for the consideration of the Senate,
numerous petitions signed by, not only citizens of my own State, but
citizens of several other States, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan,
Illinois, and Indiana. These petitioners, amounting in number to
several thousand, have thought proper to make me their organ, in
communicating to Congress their opinions and wishes on subjects which,
to them, appear of the highest importance. These petitions, sir, are
on the subject of slavery, the slave trade as carried on within and
from this District, the slave trade between the different States of
this Confederacy, between this country and Texas, and against the
admission of that country into the Union, and also against that of any
other State, whose constitution and laws recognise or permit slavery.
I take this opportunity to present all these petitions together,
having detained some of them for a considerable time in my hands, in
order that as small a portion of the attention of the Senate might be
taken up on their account as would be consistent with a strict regard
to the rights of the petitioners. And I now present them under the
most peculiar circumstances that have ever probably transpired in this
or any other country. I present them on the heel of the petitions
which have been presented by the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Clay]
signed by the inhabitants of this District, praying that Congress
would not receive petitions on the subject of slavery in the District,
from any body of men or citizens, but themselves. This is something
new; it is one of the devices of the slave power, and most
extraordinary in itself. These petitions I am bound in duty to
present--a duty which I cheerfully perform, for I consider it not only
a duty but an honor. The respectable names which these petitions bear,
and being against a practice which I as deeply deprecate and deplore
as they can possibly do, yet I well know the fate of these petitions;
and I also know the time, place, and disadvantage under which I
present them. In availing myself of this opportunity to explain my own
views on this agitating topic, and to explain and justify the
character and proceedings of these petitioners, it must be obvious to
all that I am surrounded with no ordinary discouragements. The strong
prejudice which is evinced by the petitioners of the District, the
unwillingness of the Senate to hear, the power which is arrayed
against me on this occasion, as well as in opposition to those whose
rights I am anxious to maintain; opposed by the very lions of debate
in this body, who are cheered on by an applauding gallery and
surrounding interests, is enough to produce dismay in one far more
able and eloquent than the _lone_ and humble individual who now
What, sir, can there be to induce me to appear on this public arena,
opposed by such powerful odds? Nothing, sir, nothing but a strong
sense of duty, and a deep conviction that the cause I advocate is
just; that the petitioners whom I represent are honest, upright,
intelligent and respectable citizens; men who love their country, who
are anxious to promote its best interests, and who are actuated by the
purest patriotism, as well as the deepest philanthropy and
benevolence. In representing such men, and in such a cause, though by
the most feeble means, one would suppose that, on the floor of the
Senate of the United States, order, and a decent respect to the
opinions of others, would prevail. From the causes which I have
mentioned, I can hardly hope for this. I expect to proceed through
scenes which ill become this hall; but nothing shall deter me from a
full and faithful discharge of my duty on this important occasion.
Permit me, sir, to remind gentlemen that I have been now six years a
member of this body. I have seldom, perhaps too seldom, in the opinion
of many of my constituents, pressed myself upon the notice of the
Senate, and taken up their time in useless and windy debate. I
question very much if I have occupied the time of the Senate during
the six years as some gentlemen have during six weeks, or even six
days. I hope, therefore, that I shall not be thought obtrusive, or
charged with taking up time with abolition petitions. I hope, Mr.
President, to hear no more about agitating this slave question here.
Who has began the agitation now? The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Clay.]
Who has responded to that agitation, and congratulated the Senate and
the country on its results? The Senator from South Carolina, Mr.
[Calhoun.] And pray, sir, under what circumstances is this agitation
begun? Let it be remembered, let us collect the facts from the records
on your table, that when I, as a member of this body, but a few days
since offered a resolution as the foundation of proceedings on these
petitions, gentlemen, as if operated on by an electric shock, sprung
from their seats and objected to its introduction. And when you, sir,
decided that it was the right of every member to introduce such motion
or resolution as he pleased, being responsible to his constituents and
this body for the abuse of this right, gentlemen seemed to wonder that
the Senate had no power to prevent the action of one of its members in
cases like this, and the poor privilege of having the resolution
printed, by order of the Senate, was denied.
Let the Senator from South Carolina before me remember that, at the
last session, when he offered resolutions on the subject of slavery,
they were not only received without objection, but printed, voted on,
and decided; and let the Senator from Kentucky reflect, that the
petition which he offered against our right, was also received and
ordered to be printed without a single dissenting voice; and I call on
the Senate and the country to remember, that the resolutions which I
have offered on the same subject have not only been refused the
printing, but have been laid on the table without being debated, or
referred. Posterity, which shall read the proceedings of this time,
may well wonder what power could induce the Senate of the United
States to proceed in such a strange and contradictory manner. Permit
me to tell the country now what this power behind the throne, greater
than the throne itself, is. It is the power of SLAVERY. It is a power,
according to the calculation of the Senator from Kentucky, which owns
twelve hundred millions of dollars in human beings as property; and if
money is power, this power is not to be conceived or calculated; a
power which claims human property more than double the amount which
the whole money of the world could purchase. What can stand before
this power? Truth, everlasting truth, will yet overthrow it. This
power is aiming to govern the country, its constitutions and laws; but
it is not certain of success, tremendous as it is, without foreign or
other aid. Let it be borne in mind that the Bank power, some years
since, during what has been called the panic session, had influence
sufficient in this body, and upon this floor, to prevent the reception
of petitions against the action of the Senate on their resolutions of
censure against the President. The country took instant alarm, and the
political complexion of this body was changed as soon as possible. The
same power, though double in means and in strength, is now doing the
same thing. This is the array of power that even now is attempting
such an unwarrantable course in this country; and the people are also
now moving against the slave, as they formerly did against the Bank
power. It, too, begins to tremble for its safety. What is to be done?
Why, petitions are received and ordered to be printed, against the
right of petitions which are not received, and the whole power of
debate is thrown into the scale with the slaveholding power. But all
will not do; these two powers must now be united: an amalgamation of
the black power of the South with the white power of the North must
take place, as either, separately, cannot succeed in the destruction
of the liberty of speech and the press, and the right of petition. Let
me tell gentlemen, that both united will never succeed; as I said on a
former day, God forbid that they should ever rule this country! I have
seen this billing and cooing between these different interests for
some time past; I informed my private friends of the political party
with which I have heretofore acted, during the first week of this
session, that these powers were forming a union to overthrow the
present administration; and I warned them of the folly and mischief
they were doing in their abuse of those who were opposed to slavery.
All doubts are now terminated. The display made by the Senator from
Kentucky, [Mr. Clay,] and his denunciations of these petitioners as
abolitionists, and the hearty response and cordial embrace which his
efforts met from the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. Calhoun,]
clearly shows that new moves have taken place on the political
chessboard, and new coalitions are formed, new compromises and new
bargains, settling and disposing of the rights of the country for the
advantage of political aspirants.
The gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Calhoun] seemed, at the
conclusion of the argument made by the Senator from Kentucky, to be
filled not only with delight but with ecstasy. He told us, that about
twelve months since HE had offered a resolution which turned the tide
in favor of the great principle of State rights, and says he is highly
pleased with the course taken by the Kentucky Senator. All is now safe
by the acts of that Senator. The South is now consolidated as one man;
it was a great epoch in our history, but we have now passed it; it is
the beginning of a moral revolution; slavery, so far from being a
political evil, is a great blessing; both races have been improved by
it; and that abolition is now DEAD, and will soon be forgotten. So far
the Senator from South Carolina, as I understand him. But, sir, is
this really the case? Is the South united as one man, and is the
Senator from Kentucky the great centre of attraction? What a lesson to
the friends of the present Administration, who have been throwing
themselves into the arms of the southern slave-power for support! The
black enchantment I hope is now at an end--the dream dissolved, and we
awake into open day. No longer is there any uncertainty or any doubt
on this subject. But is the great epoch passed? is it not rather just
beginning? Is abolitionism DEAD--or is it just awaking into life? Is
the right of petition strangled and forgotten--or is it increasing in
strength and force? These are serious questions for the gentleman's
consideration, that may damp the ardor of his joy, if examined with an
impartial mind, and looked at with an unprejudiced eye. Sir, when
these paeans were sung over the death of abolitionists, and, of
course, their right to liberty of speech and the press, at least in
fancy's eye, we might have seen them lying in heaps upon heaps, like
the enemies of the strong man in days of old. But let me bring back
the gentleman's mind from this delightful scene of abolition death, to
sober realities and solemn facts. I have now lying before me the names
of thousands of living witnesses, that slavery has not entirely
conquered liberty; that abolitionists (for so are all these
petitioners called) are not _all dead_. These are my first proofs to
show the gentleman his ideas are all fancy. I have also, sir, since
the commencement of this debate, received a newspaper, as if sent by
Providence to suit the occasion, and by whom I know not. It is the
Cincinnati Republican of the 2d instant, which contains an extract
from the Louisville Advertiser, a paper printed in Kentucky, in
Louisville, our sister city; and though about one hundred and fifty
miles below us, it is but a few hours distant. That paper is the
leading Administration journal, too, as I am informed, in Kentucky.
Hear what it says on the death of abolition:--
"ABOLITION--CINCINNATI--THE LOUISVILLE ADVERTISER.
"We copy the following notice of an article which we lately published,
upon the subject of abolition movements in this quarter, from the
"'ABOLITION.--The reader is referred to an interesting article which we
have copied from the Cincinnati Republican--a paper which lately
supported the principles of Democracy; a paper which has _turned_, but
not quite far enough to act with the Adamses and Slades in Congress,
or the Whig abolitionists of Ohio. It does not, however, give a
correct view of the strength of the abolitionists in Cincinnati. There
they are in the ascendant. They control the city elections, regulate
what may be termed the morals of the city, give tone to public
opinion, and "rule the roast," by virtue of their superior piety and
intelligence. The Republican tells us, that they are not laboring Loco
Focos--but "drones" and "consumers"--the "rich and well-born," of
course; men who have leisure and means, and a disposition to employ
the latter, to equalize whites and blacks in the slaveholding States.
Even now, the absconding slave is perfectly safe in Cincinnati. We
doubt whether an instance can be adduced of the recovery of a runaway
in that place in the last four years. When negroes reach "the Queen
city" they are protected by its intelligence, its piety, and its
wealth. They receive the aid of the _elite_ of the Buckeyes; and we
have a strong faction in Kentucky, struggling zealously to make her
one of the dependencies of Cincinnati! Let our mutual sons go on. The
day of mutual retribution is at hand--much nearer than is now
imagined. The Republican, which still looks with a friendly eye to the
slaveholding States, warns us of the danger which exists, although its
new-born zeal for Whiggery prompts it to insist, indirectly, on the
right of petitioning Congress to abolish slavery. There are about two
hundred and fifty abolition societies in Ohio at the present time,
and, from the circular issued at head quarters, Cincinnati, it appears
that agents are to be sent through every county to distribute books
and pamphlets designed to inflame the public mind, and then organize
additional societies--or, rather, form new clans, to aid in the war
which has been commenced on the slaveholding States.'"
I do not, sir, underwrite for the truth of this statement as an entire
whole; much of it I repel as an unjust charge on my fellow-citizens of
Cincinnati; but, as it comes from a slaveholding State--from the State
of the Senator who has so eloquently anathematized abolitionists that
it is almost a pity they could not die under such sweet sounds--and as
the South Carolina Senator pronounces them dead, I produce this from a
slaveholding State, for the special benefit and consolation of the two
Senators. It comes from a source to which, I am sure, both gentlemen
ought to give credit. But suppose, sir, that abolitionism is dead, is
liberty dead also and slavery triumphant? Is liberty of speech, of the
press, and the right of petition also dead? True, it has been
strangled here; but gentlemen will find themselves in great error if
they suppose it also strangled in the country; and the very attempt,
in legislative bodies, to sustain a local and individual interest, to
the destruction of our rights, proves that those rights are not dead,
but a living principle, which slavery cannot extinguish; and be my lot
what it may, I shall, to the utmost of my abilities, under all
circumstances, and at all times, contend for that freedom which is the
common gift of the Creator to all men, and against the power of these
two great interests--the slave power of the South, and banking power
of the North--which are now uniting to rule this country. The cotton
bale and the bank note have formed an alliance; the credit system with
slave labor. These two congenial spirits have at last met and embraced
each other, both looking to the same object--to live upon the
unrequited labor of others--and have now erected for themselves a
common platform, as was intimated during the last session, on which
they can meet, and bid defiance, as they hope, to free principles and
With these introductory remarks, permit me, sir, to say here, and let
no one pretend to misunderstand or misrepresent me, that I charge
gentlemen, when they use the word abolitionists, they mean petitioners
here such as I now present--men who love liberty, and are opposed to
slavery--that in behalf of these citizens I speak; and, by whatever
name they may be called, it is those who are opposed to slavery whose
cause I advocate. I make no war upon the rights of others. I do no act
but what is moral, constitutional, and legal, against the peculiar
institutions of any State; but acts only in defence of my own rights,
of my fellow citizens, and, above all, of my State, I shall not cease
while the current of life shall continue to flow.
I shall, Mr. President, in the further consideration of this subject,
endeavor to prove, first, the right of the people to petition; second,
why slavery is wrong, and why I am opposed to it; third, the power of
slavery in this country, and its dangers; next, answer the question,
so often asked, what have the free States to do with slavery? Then
make some remarks by way of answer to the arguments of the Senator
from Kentucky, [Mr. Clay.]
Mr. President, the duty I am requested to perform is one of the
highest which a Representative can be called on to discharge. It is to
make known to the legislative body the will and the wishes of his
constituents and fellow-citizens; and, in the present case, I feel
honored by the confidence reposed in me, and proceed to discharge the
duty. The petitioners have not trusted to my fallible judgment alone,
but have declared, in written documents, the most solemn expression of
their will. It is true these petitions have not been sent here by the
whole people of the United States, but from a portion of them only;
yet such is the justice of their claim, and the sure foundation upon
which it rests, that no portion of the American people, until a day or
two past, have thought it either safe or expedient to present counter
petitions; and even now, when counter petitions have been presented,
they dare not justify slavery, and the selling of men and women in
this District, but content themselves with objecting to others
enjoying the rights they practise, and praying Congress not to receive
or hear petitions from the people of the States--a new device of slave
power this, never before thought of or practiced in any country. I
would have been gratified if the inventors of this system, which
denies to others what they practise themselves, had, in their
petition, attempted to justify slavery and the slave trade in the
District, if they believe the practice just, that their names might
have gone down to posterity. No, sir; very few yet have the moral
courage to record their names to such an avowal; and even some of
these petitioners are so squeamish on this subject, as to say that
they might, from conscientious principles, be prevented from holding
slaves. Not so, sir, with the petitioners which I have the honor to
represent; they are anxious that their sentiments and their names
should be made matter of record; they have no qualms of conscience on
this subject; they have deep convictions and a firm belief that
slavery is an existing evil, incompatible with the principles of
political liberty, at war with our system of government, and extending
a baleful and blasting influence over our country, withering and
blighting its fairest prospects and brightest hopes. Who has said that
these petitions are unjust in principle, and on that ground ought not
to be granted? Who has said that slavery is not an evil? Who has said
it does not tarnish the fair fame of our country? Who has said it does
not bring dissipation and feebleness to one race, and poverty and
wretchedness to another, in its train? Who has said, it is not unjust
to the slave, and injurious to the happiness and best interest of the
master? Who has said it does not break the bonds of human affection,
by separating the wife from the husband, and children from their
parents? In fine, who has said it is not a blot upon our country's
honor, and a deep and foul stain upon her institutions? Few, very few,
perhaps none but him who lives upon its labor, regardless of its
misery; and even many whose local situations are within its
jurisdiction, acknowledge its injustice, and deprecate its
continuance; while millions of freemen deplore its existence, and look
forward with strong hope to its final termination. SLAVERY! a word,
like a secret idol, thought too obnoxious or sacred to be pronounced
here but by those who worship at its shrine--and should one who is not
such worshipper happen to pronounce the word, the most disastrous
consequences are immediately predicted, the Union is to be dissolved,
and the South to take care of itself.
Do not suppose, Mr. President, that I feel as if engaged in a
forbidden or improvident act. No such thing. I am contending with a
local and "_peculiar_" interest, an interest which has already banded
together with a force sufficient to seize upon every avenue by which a
petition can enter this chamber, and exclude all without its haven. I
am not now contending for the rights of the negro, rights which his
Creator gave him and which his fellow-man has usurped or taken away.
No, sir! I am contending for the rights of the white person in the
free States, and am endeavoring to prevent them from being trodden
down and destroyed by that power which claims the black person as
_property_. I am endeavoring to sound the alarm to my fellow-citizens
that this power, tremendous as it is, is endeavoring to unite itself
with the monied power of the country, in order to extend its dominion
and perpetuate its existence. I am endeavoring to drive from the back
of the _negro slave_ the politician who has seated himself there to
ride into office for the purpose of carrying out the object of this
unholy combination. The chains of slavery are sufficiently strong,
without being riveted anew by tinkering politicians of the free
States. I feel myself compelled into this contest, in defence of the
institutions of my own State, the persons and firesides of her
citizens, from the insatiable grasp of the slaveholding power as being
used and felt in the free States. To say that I am opposed to slavery
in the abstract, are but cold and unmeaning words, if, however capable
of any meaning whatever, they may fairly be construed into a love for
its existence; and such I sincerely believe to be the feeling of many
in the free States who use the phrase. I, sir, am not only opposed to
slavery in the abstract, but also in its whole volume, in its theory
as well as practice. This principle is deeply implanted within me; it
has "grown with my growth and strengthened with my strength." In my
infant years I learned to hate slavery. Your fathers taught me it was
wrong in their Declaration of Independence: the doctrines which they
promulgated to the world, and upon the truth of which they staked the
issue of the contest that made us a nation. They proclaimed "that all
men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights; that amongst these are life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness." These truths are solemnly declared by them.
I believed then, and believe now, they are self-evident. Who can
acknowledge this, and not be opposed to slavery? It is, then, because
I love the principles which brought your government into existence,
and which have become the corner stone of the building supporting you,
sir, in that chair, and giving to myself and other Senators seats in
this body--it is because I love all this, that I hate slavery. Is it
because I contend for the right of petition, and am opposed to
slavery, that I have been denounced by many as an abolitionist? Yes;
Virginia newspapers have so denounced me, and called upon the
Legislature of my State to dismiss me from public confidence. Who
taught me to hate slavery, and every other oppression? _Jefferson_,
the great and the good Jefferson! Yes, _Virginia Senators_, it was
your own Jefferson, Virginia's favorite son, a man who did more for
the natural liberty of man, and the civil liberty of his country, than
any man that ever lived in our country; it was him who taught me to
hate slavery; it was in his school I was brought up. That Mr.
Jefferson was as much opposed to slavery as any man that ever lived in
our country, there can be no doubt; his life and his writings
abundantly prove the fact. I hold in my hand a copy, as he penned it,
of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, a part of
which was stricken out, as he says, in compliance with the wishes of
South Carolina and Georgia. I will read it. Speaking of the wrongs
done us by the British Government, in introducing slaves among us, he
says: "He (the British King) has waged cruel war against human nature
itself, violating its most sacred right of life and liberty in the
persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating and
carrying them into SLAVERY in another hemisphere, or to incur
miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical
warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the
Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market
where MEN should be BOUGHT and SOLD, he has prostituted his
prerogative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or
restrain execrable commerce, and that this assemblage of horrors might
want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very
people to rise in arms against us, and purchase that liberty of which
he has deprived them by murdering the people on whom he has also
obtruded them, thus paying off former crimes committed against the
liberties of one people with crimes which he urges them to commit
against the lives of another." Thus far this great statesman and
philanthropist. Had his contemporaries been ruled by his opinions, the
country had now been at rest on this exciting topic. What
abolitionist, sir, has used stronger language against slavery than Mr.
Jefferson has done? "Cruel war against human nature," "violating its
most sacred rights," "piratical warfare," "opprobrium of infidel
powers," "a market where men should be bought and sold," "execrable
commerce," "assemblage of horrors," "crimes committed against the
liberty of the people," are the brands which Mr. Jefferson has burned
into the forehead of slavery and the slave trade. When, sir, have I,
or any other person opposed to slavery, spoken in stronger and more
opprobrious terms of slavery, than this? You have caused the bust of
this great man to be placed in the centre of your Capitol; in that
conspicuous part where every visitor must see it, with its hand
resting on the Declaration of Independence, engraved upon marble. Why
have you done this? Is it not mockery? Or is it to remind us
continually of the wickedness and danger of slavery? I never pass that
statue without new and increased veneration for the man it represents,
and increased repugnance and sorrow that he did not succeed in driving
slavery entirely from the country. Sir, if I am an abolitionist,
Jefferson made me so; and I only regret that the disciple should be so
far behind the master, both in doctrine and practice. But, sir, other
reasons and other causes have combined to fix and establish my
principles in this matter, never, I trust, to be shaken. A free State
was the place of my birth; a free Territory the theatre of my juvenile
actions. Ohio is my country, endeared to me by every fond
recollection. She gave me political existence, and taught me in her
political school; and I should be worse than an unnatural son did I
forget or disobey her precepts. In her Constitution it is declared,
"That all men are born equally free and independent," and "that there
shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the State,
otherwise than for the punishment of crimes." Shall I stand up for
slavery in any case, condemned as it is by such high authority as
this? No, never! But this is not all, Indiana, our younger Western
sister, endeared to us by every social and political tie, a State
formed in the same country as Ohio, from whose territory slavery was
forever excluded by the ordinance of July, 1787--she too, has declared
her abhorrence of slavery in more strong and empathic terms than we
have done. In her constitution, after prohibiting slavery, or
involuntary servitude, being introduced into the State, she declares,
"But as to the holding any part of the human creation in slavery, or
involuntary servitude, can originate only in _tyranny_ and
_usurpation_, no alteration of her constitution should ever take
place, so as to introduce slavery or involuntary servitude into the
State, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes whereof the party
had been duly convicted." Illinois and Michigan also formed their
constitutions on the same principles. After such a cloud of witnesses
against slavery, and whose testimony is so clear and explicit, as a
citizen of Ohio, I should be recreant to every principle of honor and
of justice, to be found the apologist or advocate of slavery in any
State, or in any country whatever. No, I cannot be so inconsistent as
to say I am opposed to slavery in the _abstract_, in its separation
from a human being, and still lend my aid to build it up, and make it
perpetual in its operation and effects upon _man_ in this or any other
country. I also, in early life, saw a slave kneel before his master,
and hold up his hands with as much apparent submission, humility, and
adoration, as a man would have done before his Maker, while his master
with out-stretched rod stood over him. This, I thought, is slavery;
one man subjected to the will and power of another, and the laws
affording him no protection, and he has to beg pardon of man, because
he has offended man, (not the laws,) as if his master were a superior
and all powerful being. Yes, this is slavery, boasted American
slavery, without which, it is contended even here, that the union of
these States would be dissolved in a day, yes, even in an hour!
Humiliating thought, that we are bound together as States by the
chains of slavery! It cannot be--the blood and the tears of slavery
form no part of the cement of our Union--and it is hoped that by
falling on its bands they may never corrode and eat them asunder. We
who are opposed to and deplore the existence of slavery in our
country, are frequently asked, both in public and private, what have
you to do with slavery? It does not exist in your State; it does not
disturb you! Ah, sir, would to God it were so--that we had nothing to
do with slavery, nothing to fear from its power, or its action within
our own borders, that its name and its miseries were unknown to us.
But this is not our lot; we live upon its borders, and in hearing of
its cries; yet we are unwilling to acknowledge, that if we enter its
territories and violate its laws, that we should be punished at its
pleasure. We do not complain of this, though it might well be
considered just ground of complaint. It is our firesides, our rights,
our privileges, the safety of our friends, as well as the sovereignty
and independence of our State, that we are now called upon to protect
and defend. The slave interest has at this moment the whole power of
the country in its hands. It claims the President as a Northern man
with Southern feelings, thus making the Chief Magistrate the head of
an interest, or a party, and not of the country and the people at
large. It has the cabinet of the President, three members of which are
from the slave States, and one who wrote a book in favor of Southern
slavery, but which fell dead from the press, a book which I have seen,
in my own family, thrown musty upon the shelf. Here then is a decided
majority in favor of the slave interest. It has five out of nine
judges of the Supreme Court; here, also, is a majority from the slave
States. It has, with the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of
the House of Representatives, and the Clerks of both Houses, the army
and the navy; and the bureaus, have, I am told, about the same
proportion. One would suppose that, with all this power operating in
this Government, it would be content to _permit_--yes I will use the
word _permit_--it would be content to permit us, who live in the free
States, to enjoy our firesides and our homes in quietness; but this is
not the case. The slaveholders and slave laws claim that as property,
which the free States know only as persons, a reasoning property,
which, of its own will and mere motion, is frequently found in our
States; and upon which THING we sometimes bestow food and raiment, if
it appear hungry and perishing, believing it to be a human being; this
perhaps is owing to our want of vision to discover the process by
which a man is converted into a THING. For this act of ours, which is
not prohibited by our laws, but prompted by every feeling, Christian
and humane, the slaveholding power enters our territory, tramples
under foot the sovereignty of our State, violates the sanctity of
private residence, seizes our citizens, and disregarding the authority
of our laws, transports them into its own jurisdiction, casts them
into prison, confines them in fetters, and loads them with chains, for
pretended offences against their own laws, found by willing grand
juries upon the oath (to use the language of the late Governor of
Ohio) of a perjured villain. Is this fancy, or is it fact, sober
reality, solemn fact? Need I say all this, and much more, as now
matter of history in the case of the Rev. John B. Mahan, of Brown
county, Ohio? Yes, it is so; but this is but the beginning--a case of
equal outrage has lately occurred, if newspapers are to be relied on,
in the seizure of a citizen of Ohio, without even the forms of law,
and who was carried into Virginia and shamefully punished by tar and
feathers, and other disgraceful means, and rode upon a rail, according
to the order of Judge Lynch, and this, only because in Ohio he was an
abolitionist. Would I could stop here--but I cannot. This slave
interest or power seizes upon persons of color in our States, carries
them into States where men are property, and makes merchandize of
them, sometimes under sanction of law, but more properly by its abuse,
and sometimes by mere personal force, thus disturbing our quiet and
harassing our citizens. A case of this kind has lately occurred, where
a colored boy was seduced from Ohio into Indiana, taken from thence
into Alabama and sold as a slave; and to the honor of the slave
States, and gentlemen who administer the laws there, be it said, that
many who have thus been taken and sold by the connivance, if not
downright corruption, of citizens in the free States, have been
liberated and adjudged free in the States where they have been sold,
as was the case of the boy mentioned, who was sold in Alabama.
Slave power is seeking to establish itself in every State, in defiance
of the constitution and laws of the States within which it is
prohibited. In order to secure its power beyond the reach of the
States, it claims its parentage from the Constitution of the United
States. It demands of us total silence as to its proceedings, denies
to our citizens the liberty of speech and the press, and punishes them
by mobs and violence for the exercise of these rights. It has sent its
agents into the free States for the purpose of influencing their
Legislatures to pass laws for the security of its power within such
State, and for the enacting new offences and new punishments for their
own citizens, so as to give additional security to its interest. It
demands to be heard in its own person in the hall of our Legislature,
and mingle in debate there. Sir, in every stage of these oppressions
and abuses, permit me to say, in the language of the Declaration of
Independence--and no language could be more appropriate--we have
petitioned for redress in the most humble terms, and our repeated
petitions have been answered by repeated injury. A power, whose
character is marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit
to rule over a free people. In our sufferings and our wrongs we have
besought our fellow-citizens to aid us in the preservation of our
constitutional rights, but, influenced by the love of gain or
arbitrary power, they have sometimes disregarded all the sacred rights
of man, and answered in violence, burnings, and murder. After all
these transactions, which are now of public notoriety and matter of
record, shall we of the free States tauntingly be asked what we have
to do with slavery? We should rejoice, indeed, if the evils of slavery
were removed far from us, that it could be said with truth, that we
have nothing to do with slavery. Our citizens have not entered its
territories for the purpose of obstructing its laws, nor do we wish to
do so, nor would we justify any individual in such act; yet we have
been branded and stigmatized by its friends and advocates, both in the
free and slave States, as incendiaries, fanatics, disorganizers,
enemies to our country, and as wishing to dissolve the Union. We have
borne all this without complaint or resistance, and only ask to be
secure in our persons, by our own firesides, and in the free exercise
of our thoughts and opinions in speaking, writing, printing and
publishing on the subject of slavery, that which appears to us to be
just and right; because we all know the power of truth, and that it
will ultimately prevail, in despite of all opposition. But in the
exercise of all these rights, we acknowledge subjection to the laws of
the State in which we are, and our liability for their abuse. We wish
peace with all men; and that the most amicable relations and free
intercourse may exist between the citizens of our State and our
neighboring slaveholding States; we will not enter their States,
either in our proper persons, or by commissioners, legislative
resolutions, or otherwise, to interfere with their slave policy or
slave laws; and we shall expect from them and their citizens a like
return, that they do not enter our territories for the purpose of
violating our laws in the punishment of our people for the exercise of
their undoubted rights--the liberty of speech and of the press on the
subject of slavery. We ask that no man shall be seized and transported
beyond our State, in violation of our own laws, and that we shall not
be carried into and imprisoned in another State for acts done in our
own. We contend that the slaveholding power is properly chargeable
with all the riots and disorders which take place on account of
slavery. We can live in peace with all our sister States; if that
power will be controlled by law, each can exercise and enjoy the full
benefits secured by their own laws; and this is all we ask. If we hold
up slavery to the view of an impartial public as it is, and if such
view creates astonishment and indignation, surely we are not to be
charged as libellers. A State institution ought to be considered the
pride, not the shame of the State; and if we falsify such
institutions, the disgrace is ours, not theirs. If slavery, however,
is a blemish, a blot, an eating cancer in the body politic, it is not
our fault if, by holding it up, others should see in the mirror of
truth its deformity, and shrink back from the view. We have not, and
we intend not, to use any weapons against slavery, but the moral power
of truth and the force of public opinion. If we enter the slave
States, and tamper with the slave contrary to law, punish us, we
deserve it; and if a slaveholder is found in a free State, and is
guilty of a breach of the law there, he also ought to be punished.
These petitioners, as far as I understand them, disclaim all right to
enter a slave State for the purpose of intercourse with the slave. It
is the master whom they wish to address; and they ask and ought to
receive protection from the laws, as they are willing to be judged by
the laws. We invite into the arena of public discussion in our State
the slaveholder; we are willing to hear his reasons and facts in favor
of slavery, or against abolitionists: we do not fear his errors while
we are ourselves free to combat them. The angry feelings which in some
degree exist between the citizens of the free and slaveholding States,
on account of slavery, are, in many cases, properly chargeable to
those who defend and support slavery. Attempts are almost daily making
to force the execution of slave laws in the free States; at least,
their power and principles: and no term is too reproachful to be
applied to those who resist such acts, and contend for the rights
secured to every man under their own laws. We are often reminded that
we ought to take color as evidence of property in a human being. We do
not believe in such evidence, nor do we believe that a man can justly
be made property by human laws. We acknowledge, however, that a _man_,
not a _thing_ may be held to service or labor under the laws of a
State, and, if he escape into another State, he ought to be delivered
up on claim of the party to whom such labor or service may be due;
that this delivery ought to be in pursuance of the laws of the State
where such person is found, and not by virtue of any act of Congress.
This brings me, Mr. President, to the consideration of the petition
presented by the Senator from Kentucky, and to an examination of the
views he has presented to the Senate on this highly important subject.
Sir, I feel, I sensibly feel my inadequacy in entering into a
controversy with that old and veteran Senator; but nothing high or low
shall prevent me from an honest discharge of my duty here. If
imperfectly done, it may be ascribed to the want of ability, not
intention. If the power of my mind, and the strength of my body, were
equal to the task, I would arouse every man, yes, every woman and
child in the country, to the danger which besets them, if such
doctrines and views as are presented by the Senator should ever be
carried into effect. His denunciations are against abolitionists, and
under that term are classed all those who petition Congress on the
subject of slavery. Such I understand to be his argument, and as such
I shall treat it. I, in the first place, put in a broad denial to all
his general facts, charging this portion of my fellow citizens with
improper motives or dangerous designs. That their acts are lawful he
does not pretend to deny. I called for proof to sustain his charges.
None such has been offered, and none such exists, or can be found. I
repel them as calumnies double-distilled in the alembic of slavery. I
deny them, also, in the particulars and inferences; and let us see
upon what ground they rest, or by what process of reasoning they are
The very first view of these petitioners against our right of petition
strikes the mind that more is intended than at first meets the eye.
Why was the committee on the District overlooked in this case, and the
Senator from Kentucky made the organ of communication? Is it
understood that anti-abolitionism is a passport to popular favor, and
that the action of this District shall present for that favor to the
public a gentleman upon this hobby? Is this petition presented as a
subject of fair legislation? Was it solicited by members of Congress,
from citizens here, for political effect? Let the country judge. The
petitioners state that no persons but themselves are authorized to
interfere with slavery in the District; that Congress are their own
Legislature; and the question of slavery in the District is only
between them and their constituted legislators; and they protest
against all interference of others. But, sir, as if ashamed of this
open position in favor of slavery, they, in a very coy manner, say
that some of them are not slaveholders, and might be forbidden by
conscience to hold slaves. There is more dictation, more political
heresy, more dangerous doctrine contained in this petition, than I
have ever before seen couched together in so many words. We! Congress
their OWN Legislature in all that concerns this District! Let those
who may put on the city livery, and legislate for them and not for his
constituents, do so; for myself, I came here with a different view,
and for different purposes. I came a free man, to represent the people
of Ohio; and I intend to leave this as such representative, without
wearing any other livery. Why talk about executive usurpation and
influence over the members of Congress? I have always viewed this
District influence as far more dangerous than that of any other power.
It has been able to extort, yes, extort from Congress, millions to pay
District debts, make District improvements, and in support of the
civil and criminal jurisprudence of the District. Pray, sir, what
right has Congress to pay the corporate debts of the cities in the
District more than the Debts of the corporate cities in your State and
mine? None, sir. Yet this has been done to a vast amount; and the next
step is, that we, who pay all this, shall not be permitted to petition
Congress on the subject of their institutions, for, if we can be
prevented in one case, we can in all possible cases. Mark, sir, how
plain a tale will silence these petitioners. If slavery in the
District concerns only the inhabitants and Congress, so does all
municipal regulations. Should they extend to granting lottery,
gaming-houses, tippling-houses, and other places calculated to promote
and encourage vice--should a representative in Congress be instructed
by his constituents to use his influence, and vote against such
establishments, and the people of the District should instruct him to
vote for them, which should he obey? To state the question is to
answer it; otherwise the boasted right of instruction by the
constituent body is "mere sound," signifying nothing. Sir, the
inhabitants of this district are subject to state legislation and
state policy; they cannot complain of this, for their condition is
voluntary; and as this city is the focus of power, of influence, and
considered also as that of fashion, if not of folly, and as the
streams which flow from here irradiate the whole country, it is right,
it is proper, that it should be subject to state policy and state
power, and not used as a leaven to ferment and corrupt the whole body
The honorable Senator has said the petition, though from a city, is
the fair expression of the opinion of the District. As such I treated
it, am willing to acknowledge the respectability of the petitioners
and their rights, and I claim for the people of my own state equal
respectability and equal rights that the people of the District are
entitled to: any peculiar rights and advantages I cannot admit.
I agree with the Senator, that the proceedings on abolition petitions,
heretofore, have not been the most wise and prudent course. They ought
to have been referred and acted on. Such was my object, a day or two
since, when I laid on your table a resolution to refer them to a
committee for inquiry. You did not suffer it, sir, to be printed. The
country and posterity will judge between the people whom I represent
and those who caused to be printed the petition from the city. It
cannot be possible that justice can have been done in both cases. The
exclusive legislation of Congress over the District is as much the act
of the constituent body, as the general legislation of Congress over
the States, and to the operation of this act have the people within
the District submitted themselves. I cannot, however, join the Senator
that the majority, in refusing to receive and refer petitions, did not
intend to destroy or impair the right in this particular. They
certainly have done so.
The Senator admits the abolitionists are now formidable; that
something must be done to produce harmony. Yes, sir, do justice, and
harmony will be restored. Act impartially, that justice may be done:
hear petitions on both sides, if they are offered, and give righteous
judgments, and your people will be satisfied. You cannot compromise
them out of their rights, nor lull them to sleep with fallacies in the
shape of reports. You cannot conquer them by rebuke, nor deceive them
by sophistry. Remember you cannot now turn public opinion, nor can you
overthrow it. You must, and you will, abandon the high ground you have
taken, and receive petitions. The reason of the case, the argument and
the judgment of the people, are all against you. One in this cause can
"chase a thousand," and the voice of justice will be heard whenever
you agitate the subject. In Indiana, the right to petition has been
most nobly advocated in a protest, by a member, against some puny
resolutions of the Legislature of that State to whitewash slavery.
Permit me to read a paragraph, worthy an American freeman:
"But who would have thought until lately, that any would have doubted
the right to petition in a respectful manner to Congress? Who would
have believed, that Congress had any authority to refuse to consider
the petitions of the people? Such a step would overthrow the autocrat
of Russia, or cost the Grand Seignior of Constantinople his head. Can
it be possible, therefore, that it has been reserved for a republican
Government, in a land boasting of its free institutions, to set the
first precedent of this kind? Our city councils, our courts of
justice, every department of Government are approached by petition,
however unanswerable, or absurd, so that its terms are respectful.
None go away unread, or unheard. The life of every individual is a
perfect illustration of the subject of petitioning. Petition is the
language of want, of pain, of sorrow, of man in all his sad variety of
woes, imploring relief, at the hand of some power superior to himself.
Petitioning is the foundation of all government, and of all
administrations of law. Yet it has been reserved for our Congress,
seconded indirectly by the vote of this Legislature, to question this
right, hitherto supposed to be so old, so heaven-deeded, so undoubted,
that our fathers did not think it necessary to place a guaranty of it
in the first draft of the Federal Constitution. Yet this sacred right
has been, at one blow, driven, destroyed, and trodden under the feet
of slavery. The old bulwarks of our Federal and State Constitutions
seem utterly to have been forgotten, which declare, 'that the freedom
of speech and the press shall not be abridged, nor the right of the
people peaceably to assemble and _petition_ for the redress of their
These, sir, are the sentiments which make abolitionists formidable,
and set at nought all your councils for their overthrow. The honorable
Senator not only admits that abolitionists are formidable, but that
they consist of three classes. The friends of humanity and justice, or
those actuated by those principles, compose one class. These form a
very numerous class, and the acknowledgment of the Senator proves the
immutable principles upon which opposition to slavery rests. Men are
opposed to it from principles of humanity and justice--men are
abolitionists, he admits, on that account. We thank the Senator for
teaching us that word, we intend to improve it. The next class of
abolitionists, the Senator says, are so, apparently, for the purpose
of advocating the right of petition. What are we to understand from
this? That the right of petition needs advocacy. Who has denied this
right, or who has attempted to abridge it? The slaveholding power,
that power which avoids open discussion, and the free exercise of
opinion; it is that power alone which renders the advocacy of the
right of petition necessary, having seized upon all the powers of the
Government. It is fast uniting together those opposed to its iron
rule, no matter to what political party they have heretofore belonged;
they are uniting with the first class, and act from principles of
humanity and justice; and if the mists and shades of slavery were not
the atmosphere in which gentlemen were enveloped, they would see
constant and increasing numbers of our most worthy and intelligent
citizens attaching themselves to the two classes mentioned, and
rallying under the banners of abolitionism. They are compelled to go
there, if the gentleman will have it so, in order to defend and
perpetuate the liberties of the country. The hopes of the oppressed
spring up afresh from this discussion of the gentleman. The third
class, the Senator says, are those who, to accomplish their ends, act
without regard to consequences. To them, all the rights of property,
of the States, of the Union, the Senator says, are nothing. He says
they aim at other objects than those they profess--emancipation in the
District of Columbia. No, says the Senator, their object is _universal
emancipation_, not only in the District, but in the Territories and in
the States. Their object is to set free three millions of negro
slaves. Who made the Senator, in his place here, the censor of his
fellow citizens? Who authorized him to charge them with other objects
than those they profess? How long is it since the Senator himself, on
this floor, denounced slavery as an evil? What other inducements or
object had he then in view? Suppose universal emancipation to be the
object of these petitioners; is it not a noble and praiseworthy
object; worthy of the Christian, the philanthropist, the statesman,
and the citizen? But the Senator says, they (the petitioners) aim to
excite one portion of the country against another. I deny, sir, this
charge, and call for the proof; it is gratuitous, uncalled for, and
unjust towards my fellow citizens. This is the language of a stricken
conscience, seeking for the palliation of its own acts by charging
guilt upon others. It is the language of those who, failing in
argument, endeavor to cast suspicion upon the character of their
opponents, in order to draw public attention from themselves. It is
the language of disguise and concealment, and not that of fair and
honorable investigation, the object of which is truth. I again put in
a broad denial to this charge, that any portion of these petitioners,
whom I represent, seek to excite one portion of the country against
another; and without proof I cannot admit that the assertion of the
honorable Senator establishes the fact. It is but opinion, and naked
assertion only. The Senator complains that the means and views of the
abolitionists are not confined to securing the right of petition only;
no, they resort to other means, he affirms, to the BALLOT BOX; and if
that fail, says the Senator, their next appeal will be to the bayonet.
Sir, no man, who is an American in feeling and in heart, but ought to
repel this charge instantly, and without any reservation whatever,
that if they fail at the ballot box they will resort to the bayonet.
If such a fratricidal course should ever be thought of in our country,
it will not be by those who seek redress of wrongs, by exercising the
right of petition, but by those only who deny that right to others,
and seek to usurp the whole power of the Government. If the ballot box
fail them, the bayonet may be their resort, as mobs and violence now
are. Does the Senator believe that any portion of the honest yeomanry
of the country entertain such thoughts? I hope he does not. If
thoughts of this kind exist, they are to be found in the hearts of
aspirants to office, and their adherents, and none others. Who, sir,
is making this question a political affair? Not the petitioners. It
was the slaveholding power which first made this move. I have noticed
for some time past that many of the public prints in this city, as
well as elsewhere, have been filled with essays against abolitionists
for exercising the rights of freemen.
Both political parties, however, have courted them in private and
denounced them in public, and both have equally deceived them. And who
shall dare say that an abolitionist has no right to carry his
principles to the _ballot box? Who fears the ballot box?_ The honest
in heart, the lover of our country and its institutions? No, sir! It
is feared by the tyrant; he who usurps power, and seizes upon the
liberty of others; he, for one, fears the ballot box. Where is the
slave to party in this country who is so lost to his own dignity, or
so corrupted by interest or power, that he does not, or will not,
carry his principles and his judgment into the ballot box? Such an one
ought to have the mark of Cain in his forehead, and sent to labor
among the negro slaves of the South. The honorable Senator seems
anxious to take under his care the ballot box, as he has the slave
system of the country, and direct who shall or who shall not use it
for the redress of what they deem a political grievance. Suppose the
power of the Executive chair should take under its care the right of
voting, and who should proscribe any portion of our citizens who
should carry with them to the polls of election their own opinions,
creeds, and doctrines. This would at once be a deathblow to our
liberties, and the remedy could only be found in revolution. There can
be no excuse or pretext for revolution while the ballot box is free.
Our Government is not one of force, but of principle; its foundation
rests on public opinion, and its hope is in the morality of the
nation. The moral power of that of the ballot box is sufficient to
correct all abuses. Let me, then, proclaim here, from this high arena,
to the citizens not only of my own State, but to the country, to all
sects and parties who are entitled to the right of suffrage, To THE
BALLOT BOX! carry with you honestly your own sentiments respecting the
welfare of your country, and make them operate as effectually as you
can, through that medium, upon its policy and for its prosperity. Fear
not the frowns of power. It trembles while it denounces you. The
Senator complains that the abolitionists have associated with the
politics of the country. So far as I am capable of judging, this
charge is not well founded; many politicians of the country have used
abolitionists as stepping stones to mount into power; and, when there,
have turned about and traduced them. He admits that political parties
are willing to unite with them any class of men, in order to carry
their purposes. Are abolitionists, then, to blame if they pursue the
same course? It seems the Senator is willing that his party should
make use of even abolitionists; but he is not willing that
abolitionists should use the same party for their purpose. This seems
not to be in accordance with that equality of rights about which we
heard so much at the last session. Abolitionists have nothing to fear.
If public opinion should be for them, politicians will be around and
amongst them as the locusts of Egypt. The Senator seems to admit that,
if the abolitionists are joined to either party, there is
danger--danger of what? That humanity and justice will prevail? that
the right of petition will be secured to ALL EQUALLY? and that the
long lost and trodden African race will be restored to their natural
rights? Would the Senator regret to see this accomplished by argument,
persuasion, and the force of an enlightened public opinion? I hope
not; and these petitioners ask the use of no other weapons in this
These ultra-abolitionists, says the Senator, invoke the power of this
government to their aid. And pray, sir, what power should they invoke?
Have they not the same right to approach this government as other men?
Is the Senator or this body authorized to deny them any privileges
secured to other citizens? If so, let him show me the charter of his
power and I will be silent. Until he can do this, I shall uphold,
justify, and sustain them, as I do other citizens. The exercise of
power by Congress in behalf of the slaves within this District, the
Senator seems to think, no one without the District has the least
claim to ask for. It is because I reside without the District, and am
called within it by the Constitution, that I object to the existence
of slavery here. I deny the gentleman's position, then, on this point.
On this then, we are equal. The Senator, however, is at war with
himself. He contends the object of the cession by the States of
Virginia and Maryland, was to establish a seat of Government _only_,
and to give Congress whatever power was necessary to render the
District a valuable and comfortable situation for that purpose, and
that Congress have full power to do whatever is necessary for this
District; and if to abolish slavery be necessary, to attain the
object, Congress have power to abolish slavery in the District. I am
sure I quote the gentleman substantially; and I thank him for this
precious confession in his argument; it is what I believe, and I know
it is all I feel disposed to ask. If we can, then, prove that this
District is not as comfortable and convenient a place for the
deliberations of Congress, and the comfort of our citizens who may
visit it, while slavery exists here, as it would be without slavery,
then slavery ought to be abolished; and I trust we shall have the
distinguished Senator from Kentucky to aid us in this great national
reformation. I take the Senator at his word. I agree with him that
this ought to be such a place as he has described; but I deny that it
is so. And upon what facts do I rest my denial? We are a Christian
nation, a moral and religious people. I speak for the free States, at
least for my own State; and what a contrast do the very streets of
your capital daily present to the Christianity and morality of the
nation? A race of slaves, or at least colored persons, of every hue
from the jet black African, in regular gradation, up to the almost
pure Anglo-Saxon color. During the short time official duty has called
me here, I have seen the really red haired, the freckled, and the
almost white negro; and I have been astonished at the numbers of the
mixed race, when compared with those of full color, and I have deeply
deplored this stain upon our national morals; and the words of Dr.
Channing have, thousands of times, been impressed on my mind, that "a
slave country reeks with licentiousness." How comes this amalgamation
of the races? It comes from slavery. It is a disagreeable annoyance to
persons who come from the free States, especially to their Christian
and moral feelings. It is a great hindrance to the proper discharge of
their duties while here. Remove slavery from this District, and this
evil will disappear. We argue this circumstance alone as sufficient
cause to produce that effect. But slavery presents within the District
other and still more appalling scenes--scenes well calculated to
awaken the deepest emotions of the human heart. The slave-trade exists
here in all its HORRORS, and unwhipt of all its crimes. In view of the
very chair which you now occupy, Mr. President, if the massy walls of
this building, did not prevent it, you could see the prison, the
_pen_, the HELL, where human beings, when purchased for sale, are kept
until a cargo can be procured for transportation to a Southern or
foreign market, for I have little doubt slaves are carried to Texas
for sale, though I do not know the fact.
Sir, since Congress have been in session, a mournful group of these
unhappy beings, some thirty or forty, were marched, as if in derision
of members of Congress, in view of your Capitol, chained and manacled
together, in open day-light, yes, in the very face of heaven itself,
to be shipped at Baltimore for a foreign market. I did not witness
this cruel transaction, but speak from what I have heard and believe.
Is this District, then, a fit place for our deliberations, whose
feelings are outraged with impunity with transactions like this?
Suppose, sir, that mournful and degrading spectacle was at this moment
exhibited under the windows of our chamber, do you think the Senate
could deliberate, could continue with that composure and attention
which I see around me? No, sir; all your powers could not preserve
order for a moment. The feelings of humanity would overcome those of
regard for the peculiar institutions of the States; and though we
would be politically and legally bound not to interfere, we are not
morally bound to withhold our sympathy and our execration in
witnessing such inhuman traffic. This traffic alone, in this District,
renders it an uncomfortable and unfit place for your seat of
Government. Sir, it is but one or two years since I saw standing at
the railroad depot, as I passed from my boarding house to this
chamber, some large wagons and teams, as if waiting for freight; the
cars had not then arrived. I was inquired of, when I returned to my
lodgings, by my landlady, if I knew the object of those wagons which I
saw in the morning. I replied, I did not; I suppose they came and were
waiting for loading. "Yes, for slaves," said she; "and one of those
wagons was filled with little boys and little girls, who had been
bought up through the country, and were to be taken to a southern
market. Ah, sir!" continued she, "it made my very heart ache to see
them." The very recital unnerved and unfitted me for thought or
reflection on any other subject for some time. It is scenes like this,
of which ladies of my country and my state complained in their
petitions, some time since, as rendering this District unpleasant,
should they visit the capital of the nation as wives, sisters,
daughters, or friends of members of Congress. Yet, sir, these
respectable females were treated here with contemptuous sneers; they
were compared, on this floor, to the fish-women of Paris, who dipped
their fingers in the blood of revolutionary France. Sir, if the
transaction in slaves here, which I have mentioned, could make such an
impression on the heart of a lady, a resident of the District, one who
had been used to slaves, and was probably an owner, what would be the
feelings of ladies from free states on beholding a like transaction? I
will leave every gentleman and every lady to answer for themselves. I
am unable to describe it. Shall the capital of your country longer
exhibit scenes so revolting to humanity, that the ladies of your
country cannot visit it without disgust? No; wipe off the foul stain,
and let it become a suitable and comfortable place for the seat of
Government. The Senator, as if conscious that his argument on this
point had proved too much, and of course had proven the converse of
what he wished to establish, concluded this part by saying, that if
slavery is abolished, the act ought to be confined to the city alone.
We thank him for this small sprinkling of correct opinion upon this
arid waste of public feeling. Liberty may yet vegetate and grow even
The Senator insists that the States of Virginia and Maryland would
never have ceded this District if they had have thought slavery would
ever have been abolished in it. This is an old story twice told. It
was never, however, thought of, until the slave power imagined it, for
its own security. Let the States ask a retrocession of the District,
and I am sure the free States will rejoice to make the grant.
The Senator condemns the abolitionists for desiring that slavery
should not exist in the Territories, even in Florida. He insists that,
by the treaty, the inhabitants of that country have the right to
remove their EFFECTS when they please; and that, by this condition,
they have the right to retain their slaves as effects, independently
of the power of Congress. I am no diplomatist, sir, but I venture to
deny the conclusion of the Senator's argument. In all our intercourse
with foreign nations, in all our treaties in which the words "goods,
effects," &c. are used, slaves have never been considered as included.
In all cases in which slaves are the subject matter of controversy,
they are specially named by the word "slaves; and, if I remember
rightly, it has been decided in Congress, that slaves are not property
for which a compensation shall be made when taken for public use, (or
rather, slaves cannot be considered as taken for public use,) or as
property by the enemy, when they are in the service of the United
States. If I am correct, as I believe I am, in the positions I have
assumed, the gentleman can say nothing, by this part of his argument,
against abolitionists, for asking that slavery shall not exist in
The gentleman contends that the power to remove slaves from one State
to another, for sale, is found in that part of the Constitution which
gives Congress the power to regulate commerce within the States, &c.
This argument is _non sequiter_, unless the honorable Senator can
first prove that slaves are proper articles for commerce. We say that
Congress have power over slaves only as persons. The United States can
protect persons, _but cannot make them property_, and they have full
power in regulating commerce, and can, in such regulations, prohibit
from its operations every thing but property; property made so by the
laws of nature, and not by any municipal regulations. The dominion of
man over things, as property, was settled by his Creator when man was
first placed upon the earth. He was to subdue the earth, and have
dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowls of the air, and over
every living thing that moveth upon the earth; every herb bearing
seed, and the fruit of a tree yielding seed, was given for his use.
This is the foundation of all right in property of every description.
It is for the use of man the grant is made, and of course man cannot
be included in the grant. Every municipal regulation, then, of any
State, or any of its peculiar institutions, which makes man property,
is a violation of this great law of nature, and is founded in
usurpation and tyranny, and is accomplished by force, fraud, or an
abuse of power. It is a violation of the principles of truth and
justice, in subjecting the weaker to the stronger man. In a Christian
nation such property can form no just ground for commercial
regulations, but ought to be strictly prohibited. I therefore believe
it is the duty of Congress, by virtue of this power, to regulate
commerce, to prohibit, at once, slaves being used as articles of
The gentleman says, the Constitution left the subject of slavery
entirely to the States. To this position I assent; and, as the States
cannot regulate their own commerce, but the same being the right of
Congress, that body cannot make slaves an article of commerce, because
slavery is left entirely to the States in which it exists; and slaves
within those States, according to the gentleman, are excluded from the
power of Congress. Can Congress, in regulating commerce among the
several States, authorize the transportation of articles from one
State, and their sale in another, which they have not power so to
authorize in any State? I cannot believe in such doctrine; and I now
solemnly protest against the power of Congress to authorize the
transportation to, and the sale in, Ohio, of any negro slave whatever,
or for any possible purpose under the sun. Who is there in Ohio, or
elsewhere, that will dare deny this position? If Ohio contains such a
recreant to her constitution and policy, I hope he may have the
boldness to stand forth and avow it. If the States in which slavery
exists love it as a household god, let them keep it there, and not
call upon us in the free States to offer incense to their idol. We do
not seek to touch it with unhallowed hands, but with pure hands,
upraised in the cause of truth and suffering humanity.
The gentleman admits that, at the formation of our Government, it was
feared that slavery might eventually divide or distract our country;
and, as the BALLOT BOX seems continually to haunt his imagination, he
says there is real danger of dissolution of the Union if
abolitionists, as is evident they do, will carry their principles into
the BALLOT BOX. If not disunion in fact, at least in feeling, in the
country, which is always the precursor to the clash of arms. And the
gentleman further says we are taught by holy writ, "that the race is
not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." The moral of the
gentleman's argument is, that truth and righteousness will prevail,
though opposed by power and influence; that abolitionists, though few
in number, are greatly to be feared; one, as I have said, may chase a
thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight; and, as their weapons of
warfare are not "carnal, but mighty to the pulling down of strong
holds," even slavery itself; and as the ballot box is the great moral
lever in political action, the gentleman would exclude abolitionists
entirely from its use, and for opinion's sake, deny them this high
privilege of every American citizen. Permit me, sir, to remind the
gentleman of another text of holy writ. "The wicked flee when no man
pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion." The Senator says that
those who have slaves, are sometimes supposed to be under too much
alarm. Does this prove the application of the text I have just quoted:
"Conscience sometimes makes cowards of us all." The Senator appeals to
abolitionists, and beseeches them to cease their efforts on the
subject of slavery, if they wish, says he, "to exercise their
benevolence." What! Abolitionists benevolent! He hopes they will
select some object not so terrible. Oh, sir, he is willing they should
pay tithes of "mint and rue," but the weighter matters of the law,
judgment and mercy, he would have them entirely overlook. I ought to
thank the Senator for introducing holy writ into this debate, and
inform him his arguments are not the sentiments of Him, who, when on
earth, went about doing good.
The Senator further entreats the clergy to desist from their efforts
in behalf of abolitionism. Who authorized the Senator, as a
politician, to use his influence to point out to the clergy what they
should preach, or for what they should pray? Would the Senator dare
exert his power here to bind the consciences of men? By what rule of
ethics, then, does he undertake to use his influence, from this high
place of power, in order to gain the same object, I am at a loss to
determine. Sir, this movement of the Senator is far more censurable
and dangerous, as an attempt to unite Church and State, than were the
petitions against Sunday mails, the report in opposition to which
gained for you, Mr. President, so much applause in the country. I,
sir, also appeal to the clergy to maintain their rights of conscience;
and if they believe slavery to be a sin, we ought to honor and respect
them for their open denunciation of it, rather than call on them to
desist, for between their conscience and their God, we have no power
to interfere; we do not wish to make them political agents for any
But the Senator is not content to entreat the clergy alone to desist;
he calls on his countrywomen to warn them, also, to cease their
efforts, and reminds them that the ink shed from the pen held in their
fair fingers when writing their names to abolition petitions, may be
the cause of shedding much human blood! Sir, the language towards this
class of petitioners is very much changed of late; they formerly were
pronounced idlers, fanatics, old women and school misses, unworthy of
respect from intelligent and respectable men. I warned gentlemen then
that they would change their language; the blows they aimed fell
harmless at the feet of those against whom they were intended to
injure. In this movement of my countrywomen I thought was plainly to
be discovered the operations of Providence, and a sure sign of the
final triumph of _universal emancipation_. All history, both sacred
and profane, both ancient and modern, bears testimony to the efficacy
of female influence and power in the cause of human liberty. From the
time of the preservation, by the hands of women, of the great Jewish
law-giver, in his infantile hours, and who was preserved for the
purpose of freeing his countrymen from Egyptian bondage, has woman
been made a powerful agent in breaking to pieces the rod of the
oppressor. With a pure and uncontaminated mind, her actions spring
from the deepest recesses of the human heart. Denounce her as you
will, you cannot deter her from her duty. Pain, sickness, want,
poverty and even death itself form no obstacles in her onward march.
Even the tender Virgin would dress, as a martyr for the stake, as for
her bridal hour, rather than make sacrifice of her purity and duty.
The eloquence of the Senate, and clash of arms, are alike powerful
when brought in opposition to the influence of pure and virtuous
woman. The liberty of the slave seems now to be committed to her
charge, and who can doubt her final triumph? I do not.--You cannot
fight against her and hope for success; and well does the Senator know
this; hence this appeal to her feelings to terrify her from that which
she believes to be her duty. It is a vain attempt.
The Senator says that it was the principles of the Constitution which
carried us through the Revolution. Surely it was; and to use the
language of another Senator from a slave State, on a former occasion,
these are the very principles on which the abolitionists plant
themselves. It was the principle that all men are born FREE AND EQUAL,
that nerved the arm of our fathers in their contest for independence.
It was for the natural and inherent rights of _man_ they contended. It
is a libel upon the Constitution to say that its object was not
liberty, but slavery, for millions of the human race.
The Senator, well fearing that all his eloquence and his arguments
thus far are but chaff, when weighed in the balance against truth and
justice, seems to find consolation in the idea, and says that which
opposes the ulterior object of abolitionists, is that the general
government has no power to act on the subject of slavery, and that the
Constitution or the Union would not last an hour if the power claimed
was exercised by Congress. It is slavery, then, and not liberty, that
makes us one people. To dissolve slavery, is to dissolve the Union.
Why require of us to support the Constitution by oath, if the
Constitution itself is subject to the power of slavery, and not the
moral power of the country? Change the form of the oath which you
administer to Senators on taking seats here, swear them to support
slavery, and according to the logic of the gentleman, the Constitution
and the Union will both be safe. We hear almost daily threats of
dissolving the Union, and from whence do they come? From citizens of
the free States? No! From the slave States only. Why wish to dissolve
it? The reason is plain, that a new government may be formed, by which
we, as a nation, may be made a slaveholding people. No impartial
observer of passing events, can, in my humble judgment, doubt the
truth of this. The Senator thinks the abolitionists in error, if they
wish the slaveholder to free his slave. He asks, why denounce him? I
cannot admit the truth of the question; but I might well ask the
gentleman, and the slaveholders generally, "why are you angry at me,
because I tell you the truth?" It is the light of truth which the
slaveholder cannot endure; a plain unvarnished tale of what slavery
is, he considers a libel upon himself. The fact is, the slaveholder
feels the leprosy of slavery upon him. He is anxious to hide the
odious disease from the public eye, and the ballot box and the right
of petition, when used against him, he feels as sharp reproof; and
being unwilling to renounce his errors, he tries to escape from their
consequences, by making the world believe that HE is the persecuted,
and not the persecutor. Slaveholders have said here, during this very
session, "the fact is, slavery will not bear examination." It is the
Senator who denounces abolitionists for the exercise of their most
unquestionable rights, while abolitionists condemn that only which the
Senator himself will acknowledge to be wrong at all times and under
all circumstances. Because he admits that if it was an original
question whether slaves should be introduced among us, but few
citizens would be found to agree to it, and none more opposed to it
than himself. The argument is, that the evil of slavery is incurable;
that the attempt to eradicate it would commence a struggle which would
exterminate one race or the other. What a lamentable picture of our
government, so often pronounced the best upon earth! The seeds of
disease, which were interwoven into its first existence, have now
become so incorporated into its frame, that they cannot be extracted
without dissolving the whole fabric; that we must endure the evil
without hope and without complaint. Our very natures must be changed
before we can be brought tamely to submit to this doctrine. The evil
will be remedied: and to use the language of Jefferson again, "this
people will yet be free." The Senator finds consolation, however in
the midst of this existing evil, in color and caste. The black race
(says he) is the strong ground of slavery in our country. Yes, it is
_color_, not right and justice, that is to continue forever slavery in
our country. It is prejudice against color, which is the strong ground
of the slaveholder's hope. Is that prejudice founded in nature, or is
it the effect of base and sordid interest? Let the mixed race which we
see here, from black to almost perfect white, springing from white
fathers, answer the question. Slavery has no just foundation in color:
it rests exclusively upon usurpation, tyranny, oppressive fraud, and
force. These were its parents in every age and country of the world.
The Senator says, the next or greatest difficulty to emancipation is,
the amount of property it would take from the owners. All ideas of
right and wrong are confounded in these words: emancipate property,
emancipate a horse, or an ox, would not only be unmeaning, but a
ludicrous expression. To emancipate is to set free from slavery. To
emancipate, is to set free a man, not property. The Senator estimates
the number of slaves--_men_ now held in bondage--at three millions in
the United States. Is this statement made here by the same voice which
was heard in this Capitol in favor of the liberties of Greece, and for
the emancipation of our South American brethren from political
thralldom? It is; and has all its fervor in favor of liberty been
exhausted upon foreign countries, so as not to leave a single whisper
in favor of three millions of men in our own country, now groaning
under the most galling oppression the world ever saw? No, sir. Sordid
interest rules the hour. Men are made property, and paper is made
money, and the Senator, no doubt, sees in these two peculiar
institutions a power which, if united, will be able to accomplish all
his wishes. He informs us that some have computed the slaves to be
worth the average amount of five hundred dollars each. He will
estimate within bounds at four hundred dollars each. Making the amount
twelve hundred millions of dollars' worth of slave property. I heard
this statement, Mr. President, with emotions of the deepest feeling.
By what rule of political or commercial arithmetic does the Senator