Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

corrupt and rickety old hulks; but, in every instance, we have been basely swamped in the sea of slavery, and are alone indebted for our lives to the kindness of Heaven and the art of swimming. Washington the founder of the Whig party! Jefferson the founder of the Democratic party! Voltaire the founder of Christianity! God forbid that man's heart should always continue to be the citadel of deception that he should ever be to others the antipode of what he is to himself.:

There is now in this country but one party that promises, in good faith, to put in practice the principles of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and the other venerable Fathers of the Republic—the Republican party. To this party we pledge unswerving allegiance, so long as it shall continue to pursue the statism advocated by the great political prototypes above-mentioned, but no longer. We believe it is, as it ought to be, the desire, the determination, and the destiny of this party, to give the death-blow to slavery; should future developments prove the party at variance with this belief—a belief, by the bye, which it has recently inspired in the breasts of little less than one and a half millions of the most intelligent and patriotic voters in America-we shall shake off the dust of our feet against it, and join one that will, in a summary manner, extirpate the intolerable grievance.

[graphic]

CHAPTER IV.

NORTHERN TESTIMONY.

The best evidence that can be given of the enlightened patriotism and love of liberty in the Free States, is the fact that, at the Presidential election in 1856, they polled thirteen hundred thousand votes for the Republican candidate, John C. FREMONT. This fact of itself seems to preclude the necessity of strengthening our cause with the individual testimony of even their greatest men. Having, however, adduced the most cogent and conclusive antislavery arguments from the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, the Madisons, the Randolphs, and the Clays of the South, we shall now proceed to enrich our pages with gems of Liberty from the Franklins, the Hamiltons, the Jays, the Adamses, and the Websters of the North. Too close attention cannot be paid to the words of wisdom which we have extracted from the works of these truly eminent and philosophic Statesmen. We will first listen to

THE VOICE OF FRANKLIN.

Dr. Franklin was the first president of “The Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery ;',

and it is now generally conceded that this was the first regularly organized American abolition Society—it having been formed as early as 1774, while we were yet subjects of the British government. In 1790, in the name and on behalf of this Society, Dr. Franklin, who was then within a few months of the close of his life, drafted a memorial “ to the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States,” in which he said :

“Your memorialists, particularly engaged in attending to the distresses arising from slavery, believe it to be their indispensable duty to present this subject to your notice. They have observed, with real satisfaction, that many important and salutary powers are vested in you, for promoting the welfare and securing the blessings of liberty to the people of the United States; and as they conceive that these blessings ought rightfully to be administered, without distinction of color, to all descriptions of people, so they indulge themselves in the pleasing expectation that nothing which can be done for the relief of the unhappy objects of their care, will be either omitted or delayed.

From a persuasion that equal liberty was originally the portion, and is still the birthright of all men, and influenced by the strong ties of humanity and the principles of their institution, your memorialists conceive themselves bound to use all justifiable endeavors to loosen the bonds of slavery, and promote a general enjoyment of the blessings of freedom. Under these impressions, they earnestly entreat your attention to the subject of slavery ; that you will be pleased to countenance the restoration to liberty of those unhappy men, who, alone, in this land of freedom, are degraded into perpetual bondage, and who, amid the general joy of surrounding freemen, are groaning in servile subjection; that you will devise means for removing this inconsistency of character from the American people; that you will promote mercy and justice towards this distressed race; and that you will step to the very verge of the power vested in you for

discouraging every species of traffic in the persons of vur fellowmen.”

On another occasion, he says:-“Slavery is an atrocious debasement of human nature.”

THE VOICE OF HAMILTON.

Alexander Hamilton, the brilliant Statesman and financier, tells us that,

" The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

Again, in 1774, addressing himself to an American Tory, he says :

“ The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms, and false reasonings, is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to equal privileges. You would be convinced that natural liberty is the gift of the beneficent Creator to the whole human race ; and that civil liberty is founded on that.”

THE VOICE OF JAY.

John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States under the Constitution of 1789, in a letter to the Hon. Elias Boudinot, dated Nov. 17, 1819, says :

“ Little can be added to what has been said and written on the subject of slavery. I concur in the opinion that it ought not to be introduced nor permitted in any of the new States, and that it ought to be gradually diminished and finally abolished in all of them.

“ To me, the constitutional authority of the Congress to prohi. bit the migration and importation of slaves into any of the States, does not appear questionable.

“The first article of the Constitution specifies the legislative powers committed to the Congress. The 9th section of that article has these words: 'The migration or importation of such persons as any of the now-existing States shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.'

"I understand the sense and meaning of this clause to be, that the power of the congress, although competent to prohibit such migration and importation, was to be exercised with respect to the then existing States, and them only, until the year 1808, but the Congress were at liberty to make such prohibitions as to any now State, which might in the mean time be established. And further, that from and after that period, they were authorized to make such prohibitions as to all the States, whether new or old.

“It will, I presume, be admitted, that slaves were the persons intended. The word slaves was avoided, probably on account of the existing toleration of slavery, and its discordancy with the principles of the Revolution, and from a consciousness of its being repugnant to the following positions in the Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'”

In a previous letter, written from Spain, whither he had been appointed as minister plenipotentiary, he says, speaking of the abolition of slavery :

“ Till America comes into this measure, her prayers to Heaven will be impious. This is a strong expression, but it is just. I believe that God governs the world, and I believe it to be a maxim in Ilis, as in our Courts, that those who ask for equity ought to do it.”

« AnteriorContinuar »