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Full text of "Proceedings of a public meeting of the citizens of Providence, held in the Beneficent Congregational Church, March 7, 1854, to protest against slavery in Nebraska ;"

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O F A 





MARCH 7, 1854, 





1 854. 



The citizens of Providence who are opposed to the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise and the admission of Slavery into the free territory of Nebras- 
ka, are invited to meet in the BENEFICENT CONGREGATIONAL 
CKURCH, on the evening of TUESDAY, March 7th, at 7 o'clock pre- 
cisely, to utter their solemn and stern protest against the measure now pend- 
ing in Congress. Let the united voice of our people be heard by their 
rulers, in favor of Liberty, and against the encroachments of the slave power. 

Agreeably to the foregoing call, signed by 1500 citizens, and published 
in the daily papers, the people of Providence met in the Beneficent Congre- 
gational Church, on the evening named. The house was filled in every part 
— the naileries being reserved for ladies. 

At the hour announced, the meeting was called to order by Seth Padel- 
ford, Esq., who as Chairman of a Committee appointed at a preliminary 
meeting of the signers of the call, proposed the following list of officers for 
the evening. 

Hon. ALBERT C. GREENE, President. 




John Pitman, 
Henry B. Anthony, 
Josiah Chapin, Esq. 
Dr. Crocker, 
Resolved Waterman, Esq 
John H. Ormsbee, Esq. 
Mathew Watson, Esq. 
Zachariah Allen. Esq. 
Thomas M. Burgess, 
Dr. Caswell, 
William W. Hoppin, 
Amos C. Barstow, 
Samuel G. Arnold, 
Benjamin E. Thurston, 
Win. S. Patten, 
Atnasa Manton, Esq. 
Truman Beekwith, Esq. 


Dr. Samuel B. Toby, 
Isaac Brown, Esq. 
Sylvanus G. Martin, Esq. 
David Cady, Esq. 
Wm. A. Robinson, Esq. 
Seth Adams, Esq. 
James T. Rhodes, Esq. 
Shubael llutehens, Esq. 
Royal Chapin, Esq. 
William J. King, Esq. 
Adnah Sackett, Esq, 
Earle P. Mason, Esq. 
Elisha Dyer, Esq. 
Amos I). Smith, Esq. 
John Barstow, Esq. 
Walter S. Buries, Esq. 
Paris Hill, Esq. 

Orray Toft, Esq. 
Robert Knight, Esq. 
Aaron B. Curry, Esq. 
Tully D. Bowen, Esq. 
Joseph Carpenter, Esq. 
William P. Bullock, Esq. 
Earle Carpenter, Esq. 
Pardon M. Stone, Esq. 
Philip Allen. Jr. Esq. 
William Viall, Esq. 
Henry L. Bowen, Esq. 
David Barton, Esq. 
George S. Rathbone, Esq. 
Billings Brastow, Esq. 
Smith Owen, Esq. 
Daniel T. Goodhue, Esq. 


Clement Webster, Esq., 
Rev. R. H. Conklin, 

John Eddy, Esq. 
Samuel Austin, Esq. 

The report was unanimously adopted, and the officers elected entered 
upon the discharge of their duties. 


Prayer was offered by the Rev. S. C. Brown, Pastor of the Chestnut 
Street Methodist Church. An address was made by General Greene, on 
taking the chair ; Resolutions were introduced by Professor Caswell, of 
Brown University, Chairman of a Committee appointed for the purpose at 
the preliminary meeting; and addresses were made by the Rev. Dr. Hall, 
Pastor of the First Congregational Church, A. Payne, Esq., Rev. Dr. Way- 
land, President of Brown University, Hon. J. Whipple, and Rev. S. Wol- 
cott, Pastor of the High Street Congregational Church. 

The remarks of the speakers wjpre received with frequent demonstrations 
of applause by the large and intelligent audience, which remained seated 
from half-past six until half-past ten o'clock; when the resolutions were 
unanimously adopted, and the meeting was dissolved. 



Fellow Citizens : — The subject on which this meeting is to act is one 
of the most interesting and important that has ever demanded the attention 
of the citizens of Providence. 

It is but very recently that I have known I might be called upon to take 
part in the proceedings of this evening. I shall, therefore, ask your at- 
tention only long enough to remind you of some of the most prominent facts 
in the history of the slave question, as connected with the bill now before 
Congress, and against the passage of which we are here to protest, and 1 
shall then leave the subject in the hands of those able and eloquent gentle- 
men who have been announced as the speakers who are to address you. 

The revolution found the institution of slavery legalized among us. The 
attention of the Christian world had not then been fully awakened to the 
evils of slavery and the enormities of the slave trade. 

The constitution of the United States was the work of patriotic men who 
had recently been most actively engaged in our great struggle for liberty, 
and who were deeply imbued with the spirit of that declaration which had 
proclaimed as self evident truths " that all men are created equal," and that 
among their inalienable rights are life and " liberty." It was in this spirit 
that the use of the words " slave" and " slavery" were studiously avoided 
in the framing of that instrument. It was that same spirit that gave rise to 
the great ordinance of 17S7, which was coeval with the constitution, and 
which is declared " unalterable but by common consent " 

By that ordinance slavery was forever prohibited in all the territory over 
which Congress had power to legislate in relation to that subject. This 
act only embodied and carried out the general sentiment of the wise and 
patriotic men of that day, at the South as well as at the North, by whom 
slavery was regarded as a great moral, social and political evil. On this 
subject some of the greatest and best men of the South spoke freely, open- 
ly, with deep feeling and in strong language, deprecating its existence and 
looking with hope and faith to its eventual extinction. 

An addition to the territorial limits of our Union which should extend the 
area of slavery was never contemplated by the framers of the constitution. 
When, in 1803, the purchase of Louisiana was made by Mr. Jefferson, 
strong doubts were entertained by him of the constitutionality of that pro- 
ceeding, and he justified, or rather excused it, on the ground of necessity 
only. His doubts and those of other eminent statesmen of that day were, 
however, practically overruled or disregarded, and a precedent was thus 
established for the incorporation of foreign territory into our Union by the 
treaty making power. This precedent was afterwards followed by the pur- 
chase of the Floridas, in 1819, by treaty with Spain. 

By these treaties vast territories, in which slavery was recognized by law, 
were brought under the jurisdiction of the United States ; and out of these 
new States might be formed. 

The future admission of slaveholdin£ States to be formed from these ter- 
ritories was viewed by the free States of the Union as a clear infraction of 
the spirit of the constitution. It was regarded not merely as a moral, but 
as a political question. One of the subjects most difficult of adjustment in 
forming the constitution was the distribution of the political power. The 
rule finally adopted gave to the slaveholding States a proportion in the rep- 
resentation based upon the addition of three-fifths of their slaves to their 
whole free population. 

When, therefore, it was asked that Missouri should come into the Union 
as a slave State, it was strenuously resisted by the North, as unjust and as 
violating the great principles on which the Constitution was based. In the 
memorable debates which arose out of this controversy your own Bijrrill, 
most nobly distinguished himself. It was when about to address the Senate 
in vindication of the rights and the principles of freedom, in one of 'the 
ablest speeches delivered on that question, that he made his happy reply to 
one of the Senators from Virginia. As he rose, his foot became entangled 
in his cloak, and he appeared to be in danger of falling. " That is ominous 
of defeat, Mr. Burrill," said Gov. Barbour. The answer was a quotation not 
more readily made than appropriately applied. " I fear no omen in my 
country's cause." 

The result of this controversy, which had threatened the most serious 
consequences to the safety and stability of the Union, was the Missouri 
compromise act of 1820, which it is now attempted to annul. 

This was a Southern measure and was carried through mainly by South- 
ern votes. The great influence and acknowledged patriotism of Henry 
Clay, and the unsurpassed eloquence of Pinckney, had greatly contributed 
to its success. 

It was received by the North not as conceding all we had a right to ask, 
but as a' measure of peace ; and one forever securing to freedom, an im- 
mense extent of country. As such it has ever since been fully acquiesced 
in- and sustained. 

By this act a partition of the Louisiana purchase was made. In all that 
portion of it lying south of the line of 36 deg. 30 min. slavery was permit- 
ted, Missouri ; lying north of the line was admitted without restriction; but 
all the residue of that territory on that side of the line was forever con- 
secrated to freedom. 

Under this agreement Missouri and Arkansas have been admitted into the 
Union. Iowa alone has been added to the number of free States. 

I have said that the acquisition of Louisiana and the Floridas, was by 
treaty, which of course could be made only by the President, with the ad- 
vice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate, a body'especially representing 

the States, and in which each State without regard to its extent or popula- 
tion has equal power. This had been considered as the only manner in 
which foreign territory could be acquired, until the question of the annexa- 
tion of Texas arose. 

When the acquisition of that country, where slavery had been re-establish- 
ed, became a favorite measure with the South, as one that would add to her 
security, and increase her power, it was found that the project could not 
obtain the sanction of the requisite number of Senators. The necessity of 
such sanction was then denied, and the right claimed and exereised to an- 
nex to our Union a foreign country not by the treaty power, but by joint 
resolutions of Congress, requiring only a bare majority of each House. 

Here again was a new construction of the Constitution, by which a for- 
eign, independent, slave holding State was made a member of the Union, 
and by which the foundation was laid for the admission of other States, as 
they might afterwards be carved out of that country with her assent. 

In this manner the spirit of the Constitution has been lost sight of or dis- 
regarded, and the barriers in the way of the extension of slavery, and the 
increase of the slave power, have been removed as fast as the necessities or 
the wishes of the Southern States demanded. 

Another measure is now proposed to further the interests of the slave- 
holding power, by removing another barrier in the way of the extension of 

The Nebraska bill repeals the Missouri compromise act, and obliterates 
the line which it established. This project is supported as only carrying 
out the spirit of the compromise measures (so called) of 1850. Those mea- 
sures were the acts, by which California was admitted as a State — settling 
the boundary of Texas — giving territorial governments to Utah and New 
Mexico — abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia — and " the fugitive 
slave law." When these measures were adopted, 1 had the honor of a seat 
in the Senate as one of your representatives in that body. I willingly gave 
my support to some of them. The fugitive slave law was among those which 
did not receive my vote. I voted against that act, because it contained no 
provision for a trial by jury, as I should vote against any act involving the 
question of personal liberty, and denying or impairing this great safeguard 
of freedom. 

How these measures, which all, though by differing votes commanded a 
majority in Congress, can be considered as laying the foundation for this 
Nebraska bill, I am at a loss to conceive. I am aware of nothing that was 
said or done at the time these acts were passed that justifies this assump- 
tion ; I find nothing in the acts themselves to warrant it ; nor do I believe 
that with such a construction they could ever have been enacted. 

The bill now before Congress seeks to annul a sacred compact, 'deemed 
obligatory and binding by those who entered into it, considered constitution- 
al by the highest official authority at the time when it was made, and sanc- 
tioned and confirmed by an acquiescence of over thirty years, and a fulfill- 
ment by one of the parties. Tiiis measure is uncalled for by any existing 
necessity ; it will revive anew the violent and embittered feelings which 
have always attended the agitation of the slavery question ; it will impair 
the strength of our Union ; it will destroy our mutual confidence; and it 
will open the way for the introduction and extension of slavery over a coun- 
try containing nearly a half a million of square miles. 

We are here to protest against this bill. We should do so in the spirit 
and with the firmness of freemen strongly attached to the Union, revering 


the constitution made by our fathers, abiding in good faith by its compro- 
mises, but determined by all constitutional means to resist the extension of 
slavery over one foot of our soil ichcre it has now no legal right to enter. 


Mr. Presioent, — The committee appointed at the preliminary meeting 
of the friends of this movement, to prepare resolutions suitable for the con- 
sideration of this general meeting of citizens, have attended to the duty 
assigned them. They have simply to say, in explanation of the character 
of the resolutions, that, for obvious reasons, they deemed it proper to restrict 
themselves to the single object specified in the public call for the meeting — 
that is, to protest against the extensien of slavery into territory now free, as 
contemplated in the Nebraska bill. Other issues of slavery, of the gravest 
moment, may well be contemplated elsewhere and on other occasions. In- 
deed, from the present gloomy aspect which the halls of Congress turn to 
the North, it may soon become an imperative duty, throughout the whole 
extent of the free States, to entertain them as questions for action, as well 
as contemplation. Without suggesting what ground may be taken with 
regard to others of them, it is hoped and believed that this will be met with 
an unbroken line of resistance. 

It has been the intention of the committee to give to the resolutions a 
tone of remonstrance, at once dignified and firm and unequivocal, — such a 
tone as it becomes the freemen of Rhode Island to utter, whenever the cause 
of freedom is in danger, and one which we cannot doubt will find a deep 
and cordial response in the bosom of every citizen within these crowded 
walls to-night. 

With your permission, sir, I will read the 


Whereas, by the ordinance of 1787 for the organization and government 
of the northwest territory, then the only territory over which the Congress 
of the United States had jurisdiction ; — an ordinance which had its origin 
in no sectional feeling, but which, in the language of an eminent statesman, 
" had the hand and seal of every Southern member in Congress" — it was 
ordained that slavery should be forever excluded from said domain ; thus 
clearly evincing the intention of the great founders of the Republic to 
restrict slavery to the States in which it then existed ; and 

Whereas, the Constitution of the United States, contemporary in its for- 
mation with said ordinance, expressly empowers Congress to make all need- 
ful rules and regulations respecting the territory belonging to the United 
States, there being then but one ; and 

Whereas, by the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into 
the Union, approved March 6, 1820, known as the Missouri compromise, it 
was solemnly agreed and enacted that " in all that territory ceded by France 
to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of thirty- 
six degrees and thirty minutes of north latitude" — (comprising nearly all the 
territory now to be organized,) — " slavery and involuntary servitude, other- 
wise than in punishment for crimes, shall be and is hereby forever pro- 
hibited ; — and 

Whereas, in the joint resolution for the admission of Texas into the Union, 
passed March 1st, 1845, it was expressly affirmed that "in such State or 
States as shall be formed out of said territory north of said Missouri compro- 

mise line, slavery or involuntary servitude (except for crime) shall be 
prohibited; and 

Whereas, the bill known as the Nebraska bill, now pending before Con- 
gress, has for its object the removal of said prohibition of slavery in all the 
territory north of said parallel of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, thus 
opening to the encroachmeut and blight of slavery an immense and fertile 
public domain, which, by sacred compacts and legislative enactments, dating 
from the very origin of the republic, has been again and again consecrated 
to freedom ; therefore, 

Resolved, That, as citizens of Rhode Island, without distinction of party, 
we solemnly protest against the passage of the said bill. 

We protest against it as a measure uncalled for by the present condition 
of the territory, and as boding renewed injuries to the Indian tribes within 
its borders. 

We protest against it as an invasion of the rights of the free States, and 
as fraught with imminent peril to the peace and harmony of this Union, 
which we have been accustomed to cherish, and which we earnestly desire, 
by every just and honorable means, still to perpetuate. 

We protest against it in the name of liberty, which it scandalizes; in the 
name of humanity, which it wrongs ; in the name of plighted public faith, 
which it violates and tramples under foot. 

Resolved, That our Senators and Representatives in Congress be respect- 
fully requested to use their utmost endeavors to prevent the passage of said 
bill, and every other bill which contemplates or permits the extension of 
slavery into territory now free. 

Resolved, That copies of these resolutions and preamble, signed by the 
Chairman and Secretaries of this meeting, be forwarded to our Senators and 
Representatives, and that they be requested to present the same to both 
Houses of Congress. 


Mr. President, — It is the first, and I hope it may be the last time, when 
a sense of duty shall impel me to consent to speak on an occasion in any 
degree political. I see only its moral aspects ; and approach it, not eagerly, 
nor in any temper of denunciation — but sorrowfully — in view of all that has 
led to it, and all that may follow. Let me go back for a moment, to its 
nominal beginning. 

The year 1620 is destined to be remembered. It opened with the discus- 
sion and passage, in the American Congress, of the first, I believe, of those 
acts known by the significant, and as it may prove, ill-fated name of Com- 
promise — the act which the same power now proposes to annul. The year 
closed, for it was the same year, with a great speech of a great statesman, 
not on the same ground, but on yet more " hallowed ground" — where, on 
the two hundredth birth-day of the nation, Daniel Webster planted his firm 
foot on the Rock of Plymouth, and expanded his large frame, to utter, 
among other eloquent declarations, the most scathing rebuke of the "slave- 
traffic," that even that iniquity ever received. He appealed to merchants 
and all good citizens, to sweep it from the high way of nations. He called 
upon those who filled the seats of justice, to be faithful and firm in executing 
a law which made the slavetrader a pirate and felon. And he invoked, in 
words not to be forgotten now, the ministers of" religion" — declaring with 

mighty emphasis — " if the pulpit be silent, it is false to its trust." Sir, if 
there has been an hour since that, when this appeal should be renewed and 
regarded, it is this hour. I pass by subsequent occasions, like that in the 
Senate four years ago this day, the 7th of March, 1850,' when the same 
strong voice advocated a measure, of which, it was thought, the pulpit ought 
not to speak. The pulpit asks not leave of man to speak ; but it may 
accept man's reproof be he high or low, if it be silent when not liberty 
only, but justice, truth, honor, the law of the land, and the law of God, are 

Am I told, that the question now before the country has nothing to do 
with the slave-trade, of which Mr. Webster spoke? I think I understand 
the meaning of the present question, and I have no desire to make it worse 
than it is. Let us not misrepresent it. It is not a decree of slavery. The 
Nebraska bill wears a different face, and I would not charge deceit or evil 
purpose upon its author, or any man hastily. The new Territories, or States, 
are to be left free to admit slavery or exclude it, as they please. And this 
is said to be only putting them on a level with other States, and to be after 
all a very small matter ! Sir, is fhere a man in this crowded assembly, who 
would think it a small matter to pass through the security of freedom to 
even the possibility of bondage — in himself, his family, his chosen State, or 
growing country ? Is there so little difference between full, joyous liberty, 
and even the danger of slavery — and American slavery — as much worse 
than the Hebrew servitude of which we hear, as Christianity is larger and 
better than Judaism ? Beside, Sir, the vice here, as all know, is the break- 
ing of faith — recreancy on the one hand, and sycophancy on the other. And, 
again, it is the encroachment of slavery upon our own rights and our own 
freedom. It is the retrogression and degradation of the country, instead of 
advancement and prosperity. And though it were not capable of proof, as 
it is, that the traffic both domestic and foreign, alike atrocious, will be 
essentially affected by the measure now proposed — though it were not true, 
as our first civilians, North and South, have declared, that the needless 
extension of slavery is as repugnant to the spirit of our federal compact, as to 
the law of nature and God — it could still be shown, that the deed to be 
perpetrated now, transcends, in its inconsistency and moral outrage, all 
previous acts, and deserves the epithets with which the orator branded the 
foreign trade — as " inhuman and disgraceful." There are three grades of 
slavery, or three positions which it assumes, and asks us to sanction — first, 
its continuance where it already exists, protected by local law; next, its 
permission in new territories, by compact and compromise; and next and 
worse, its protri^jon, in violation of compact and compromise, into a pro- 
vince dedicated and forever pledged to liberty ! Sir, if this be not a climax 
in the foul wrong, it can be found only in the future. The past does not 
record it. Our own history contains nothing like it. Our nation, though 
it were as guilty as the most indignant think it — which God forbid ! has not 
yet steeped itself in this infamy. I repeat, there is a wide distance, an enor- 
mous stride of the gigantic slave-power, from all previous steps to this; and 
the difference creates a personal and fearful responsibility. For the intro- 
duction of slavery into the country, we are not accountable ; for its continu- 
ing where we have no right or power to reach it, unless by moral means and 
Christian appeals, we are not accountable ; nor for the different constructions 
of that wonderful instrument, the Constitution, so carefully framed and bal- 
anced by great minds, who would not suffer it to be defaced by the odious 
word " slave ;'.' virtually declaring it " wrong." as Madison said, " to admit 


in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men" — yet in- 
serting an article which is interpreted as imposing upon us a duty, against 
which our whole souls revolt. Of these constructions, it is not my province 
to judge — and for the inferences, just or unjust, I hold not myself accounta- 
ble. But totally differeut is my relation, the relation of every man in the 
republic, to the pretence and attempt here made, to seize a vast region, equal 
in extent to nearly all our free States together, a region in which the sove- 
reign power itself has pronounced, that " slavery shall be, and hereby is, 
forever prohibited" — and to prohibit this prohibition, opening the whole to 
all the evils of that cruel system. 

Why, Sir, the world cries out against this outrage, even portions of the 
world which we ourselves have looked down upon as almost barbarous. The 
Sultan, years ago, abolished the slave-market in Constantinople. The Bey 
of Algiers, tiring on the very line of 36 dea. 39 min., has removed the curse 
from his dominions. The Barbary States of Africa have become abolition- 
ists, so far as they can be. And lo ! here, in proud America, in the most 
favored republic the sun ever shone upon, in a Senate which we have been 
taught from childhood to honor, there stands up a man, calling himself a 
freeman, with all the privileges and responsibilities of a free State and an 
advanced christian age, and with no necessity, no provocation, or admitted 
lure, asks this nation, before its own tribunals and high heaven, to perjure 
itself for slavery ! Have the nations of the earth seen the like before ! Will 
they not, and may they not, hiss at this vaunted free America? Heretofore, 
with whatever qualifications and regrets, few Americans, if any, have gone 
abroad, especially from New England, without finding constant reason to 
thank God for such a home as ours. But if this act is to be consummated, 
if we ourselves, knowingly, voluntarily, shall commit this huge fraud upon 
our own free soil and through a government of which we are all constitu- 
ents, no just man, no christian, can look a foreigner in the face, and hear 
his taunt, without burning shame. 

Sir, what has been the plea of the North and the South, in behalf of slave- 
ry ? I mean, the moderate, peaceable portion of the North, and the intelli- 
gent and humane of the South, making, we will still hope, the majority of 
both sections. They have said to us, and we have desired to believe them, 
and feel for them — " Think not that we consider slavery no evil ; it pains 
and oppresses us, more than it can you. Our first and noblest men, Wash- 
ington, Jefferson, Madison, Mercer, Lowndes, Pinkney, Clay, and many 
more, have virtually condemned it. We lament it, we would not continue 
it if we saw any safe remedy ; we rejoice that you are not cursed with it, and 
pray that no others may be. Only leave us in peace, to pestle with it as 
we can, until Providence opens a way of relief." Often have we heard this 
language, and though sometimes sadiy contradicted both by words and acts, 
I have never allowed myself, for one, to doubt its sincerity in the many. 
Indeed so confidently did most of us rest upon it, that when we first heard 
of the Nebraska bill, we at once said — " There is no danger ; it cannot 
pass ; not the North only — alas, sir, that that trust is so basely betrayed ! — 
but the South, all its fair representatives, at the least, will rise against it ; 
they are too high-minded, beside all else, thus to trifle with their own asser- 
tions and pledges; they will not belie themselves, by not only asking to be 
let alone, but by overstepping their own line, robbing an immense domain 
of the freedom secured to it, and planting there a system which one of their 
own writers just after the passage of the Missouri compromise, called the 
'* supreme curse of the country." So we felt, and what have we heard'' 
What do we see ? Not one remonstrance, not one southern man against 


this recreant act ! And are we to regard this as another of the fruits oi 
slavery ? Does it poison the very fountains of justice there, and exert its 
baleful influence here also, leaving us nothing on which to rest ? Verily, all 
may learn one truth, if no more — that a " compromise" is a very poor reli- 
ance, and a " finality" an utter nullity. 

A word more, and I give place to others. Sixty years ago, William 
Pinkney, of Maryland, a true man, said of slavery, whose nature he well 
understood, and whose perpetuity or spread he heartily deprecated, that, " if 
it should survive fifty years, it would work a decay of liberty in the fret 
States." Was he a prophet ? And is it too late to prevent the worst ful- 
filment of his prediction? Let us hope not. True to our State motto of 
" Hope in God," if not in man, let us cherish the faith, that this very blow, 
if fall it must, though' dealt by a parricidal hand, will strike, not death, but 
life, into Freedom's fainting form, and cause her to stand erect, as in our 
early independence, in the panoply of righteousness, pleading and working, 
in the power of God and the spirit of Christ, for the Emancipation of Man. 


The means by which slaveholders have obtained the control of this Go- 
vernment, may indicate the rule which ought to guide the future action of 
the people. 

Less than seventy years since the people of the thirteen Colonies assem- 
bled in convention to form a Constitution. No where among men were the 
duties and powers of government so well understood, the rights of man so 
entirely respected as among that people. 

In the midst of them existed an institution essentially despotic, and whose 
existence implied the denial of all rights to a class of men. The difficulty 
was to provide for this institution, under a declaration that all men were 
created equal, and in a constitution ordained among other things to " esta- 
blish justice" and " secure the blessings of liberty." Justice and liberty 
required that this institution should have neither recognition nor protection ; 
but a necessity supposed to be controlling, and a policy presumed to be wise 
carried the day, and we are convened to-night for a purpose which illustrates 
the great truth, that "justice is the standing policy of nations, and that any 
eminent departure from it will turn out in the end to be no policy at all." 

That the sentiment of the people was at this time favorable to freedom, 
appears from the general consent with which the great ordinance of 1787 
had just been enacted That the character and probable influence of slavery 
as a political power had not then been thoroughly considered, is evident 
from the alacrity with which Congress assumed the doubtful power to legis- 
late for the capture of fugitive slaves, and their criminal neglect to provide 
for the alleged fugitive a jury trial. 

After thirty years we find Missouri claiming to come into the Union with 
a constitution permitting slavery. The increased culture of cotton had 
given the slaveholders a new interest in their slaves ; the power of a banded 
olicrarchv to control the action of the government was felt, and it made de- 
mands which, at the time when the constitution was formed, would have 
been trampled on with scorn and contempt. Justice and liberty demanded, 
and the constitution permitted, that slavery should be excluded from the 
national territory, and that none but free States should be admitted into the 


Union. But another necessity had arisen, another stroke of policy was ac- 
complished, and a solemn compact was m|de, by which we gave to the 
slaveholders a large portion of the vast domain, the rest of which they are 
now attempting to steal. 

A few years after the anti-slavery feeling of the people was organized, and 
(with what errors I am not now to consider,) sought to enlighten the public 
conscience, and besieged the doors of Congress with petitions. Again the 
slaveholders renewed their demands, and again the people (this time reluc- 
tantly and only partially,) submitted. 

Then came the annexation of Texas and the conqu Q st of Mexico ; mea- 
sures conceived and executed by slaveholders for the always obvious and 
sometimes avowed purpose of strengthening, extending and perpetuating 

Strenuous efforts were now made to arouse the people to a sense of their 
danger. Dr. Channing pleaded with them with all the fervor of his rare 
eloquence and all the power of his spotless character. Mr. Webster labored 
in public and private with the merchants whom he served and the farmers 
whom he loved, but they went, " one to his farm and another to his mer- 
chandise;" and his desponding confession that the people would not hear 
him, is still fresh in our memories, and should not be forgotten when we 
remember that there came a day, (also too soon !) when the cause of free- 
dom called on Daniel Webster, and called in vain. 

The war over, a large territory, obtained by conquest, awaited the dispo- 
sal of Conoress. Then came another strucro-le and another surrender of the 

o — - 

people to the slaveholders. In the ashes of that conflict still live their wonted 
fires, and God grant that they may burn so long as their lives a slave to feel 
his chain. Justice and liberty were disregarded in the legislation of 1850 — 
the public conscience has been debauched by a systematic attempt to make 
the people acquiesce in this legislation, and one of the ripe fruits of these 
proceedings is the bold, bad measure against which we are met to protest. 
This protest is well ; and if it is followed by such action as will secure the 
appropriate and constitutional influence of this government in favor of free- 
dom and against slavery, that will be better. 

The general government of this country to-day is under the control of 
slaveholders, and is used by them for their own purposes. If it can betaken 
out of their hands and restored to the people to whom it belongs, justice 
may yet be established, the blessings of liberty may yet be secured. If the 
people cannot, or will not, take the government into their own hands and 
use it for the purposes for which it was instituted, then they will continue 
to live under a sway already sufficiently degrading, and growing more profli- 
gate year by year. I thank God that we have vitality enough left amongst us 
to protest, and I hope for the day when we shall have sufficient energy to 
a ct. 


Mr. President: I am not surprised to see so large a number of the 
citizens of Rhode Island assembled on the present occasion. On this spot, 
was formed the first government on earth which proclaimed both civil and 
religious liberty to be the birthright of man. It is meet that on this soil and 
in this city, a measure, which proposes to violate the most sacred righN 
of humanity, should receive its merited condemnation. 


Before I proceed to consider this bill, I think it proper to say, that while 
I shall speak with entire plainness on the merits of the question, I shall 
avoid all denunciations of individuals. It is my good fortune to know and 
esteem many of my fellow-citizens at the South, whom I believe incapable 
of performing an action which they see to be dishonorable or mean. I will 
go farther, and say that I have never conversed with an intelligent and right- 
minded slaveholder who did not confess slavery to be wrong, utterly inde- 
fensible in itself, and the great curse that rests upon the Southern States. 
They have looked upon the subject in sad despair, hoping that a kind Provi- 
dence would open for them some way of escape from an evil which was every 
year becoming more and more threatening. Such men, and they form a 
large portion of the best men at the South, will, I know, honor us for oppo- 
sing this bill ; and will in their hearts rejoice if our opposition be successful. 

We have met to protest against the bill now before Congress for esta- 
blishing the territorial governments of Nebraska and Kansas. The feature 
in this bill against which we first protest is, that in all that vast territory, 
now uninhabited by white men, either free or slave States may be organized 
at the will of the settlers. On the face of it, then, it places slavery and free- 
dom on equal terms ; and proclaims that freedom and oppression are looked 
upon with equal favor by the people of the United States. It is, I know, 
said that it is intended to have no practical effect, for that slavery will never 
be introduced there. This, I presume, however, that no one expects us to 
believe. To suppose the universal agitation of this subject to be revived, 
an agitation so much to be deprecated by the South, and the reproach of 
violated faith to be endured without an assignable object, is to suppose men 
to act without motive, that is, to be either idiotic or insane. We will not 
accuse reasonable men of this absurdity. I therefore consider this as a bill 
to establish slavery throughout all this vast region. 

Now, against this bill I protest, in the first place, because it proposes to 
violate the great elementary law on which not only government, but society 
itself is founded. 

If there be any moral or social principle more obvious or more universal 
than any other, it is this, that every man lias a right to himself. He pos- 
sesses this right as a man, because he is a man, in virtue simply of his 
humanity. This right includes his right to his body and his mind, to his 
material and his spiritual nature. It is the foundation of all responsibility, 
for the moment I cease to have a right to myself that moment I also cease 
to be responsible for my actions, either to God or to man. It is this right 
which distinguishes me from a brute. Brutes are endowed with no such 
right, and we may lawfully enslave them, slaughter them, and feed on them. 
Governments are established and laws are enacted not to confer this rio-ht, 
it existed before them, but to prevent its violation. It is the sole foundation 
of the right of property ; for if I have a right to myself, I have a right to 
the product of my own energies, provided those energies are innocently 
directed, that is, not in interference with this right in another. 

But assume the opposite, and what is the result? Suppose a man not. to 
have a right to himself, and what is the consequence ? Government is im- 
possible. Every man becomes the prey of every other man. Right personal 
and right in property are annihilated by a single blow. Turks may oppress 
Greeks, Russians may trample on Turks, Austrians may deluge Italy or 
Hungary in blood, and no right is violated. Nay more; you, Sir, may en- 
slave me, or I may enslave you, the white man may enslave the black man, 
and the black man may in turn enslave and murder the white man, and all 
are innocent of crime. Nay, I go further, if slavery be the law of humanity.. 


or even of the United States, we may as rightfully enslave Germans or Irish 
men as enslave men who differ from ourselves only in the color of their 
skin. The rising of the slaves universally would thus be justtified, and 
all cause for our aiding to subdue insurrection would be takenaway. But 
it is needless to pursue a doctrine so monstrous, Slavery is a sin against 
God, and an outrage on humanity. It deprives man not of one or another 
right, but it violates that fundamental law of humanity on which all right 
rests. I would protest against this iniquity anywhere, in the name of hu- 
manity and justice and universal love, I protest against it here at home 
specially, when this outrage is to be perpetrated on soil of which I and every 
other American citizen are the sole and rightful possessors. 

But secondly, as an American citizen I protest against this bill. 

Our government owes its existence to the assertion of the principle to 
which I have just alluded ; that every man has a right to himself. The de- 
claration of independence, that bill of rights which made us a nation, affirms, 
first of all, " 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 pursuit of happiness." It was for 
this principle that our fathers contended in that prolonged struggle, the 
revolutionary war. It was for this that blood was poured out like water at 
Concord and Bunker Hill, at Bennington and Saratoga, at Red Bank and 
Trenton, and York Town. And when they asserted this principle they 
asserted it of humanity, without excluding from it any portion of the race. 
This is abundantly shown by the writers of that time, who were also actors 
in the war of independence. To omit the mention of ail the men at the 
North, it is sufficient to call to your recollection the names of Washington, 
Jefferson, Madison, and in fact all the fathers of the republic, whose opinions 
were of sufficient importance to reach to the present day. 

The sentiments of these men were fully exemplified by the act of 1787. 
Slavery existed in several of the States. It was acknowledged to be at 
variance with the sentiments of the whole people, and in violation of the 
principles asserted in the declaration of independence. That it might be 
forever restricted within its then limits, and thus be the more easily extin- 
guished, all the territory then possessed by the confederation was declared 
to be forever free. 

When the constitution was adopted, the object for which it was formed 
was explicitly stated ; it was, " to establish justice" " and secure the bles- 
sings of liberty." It is the recognition of this principle as the great object 
of our Union that gave this nation consideration among men. This we have 
always, it has been said even obtrusively, claimed for ourselves. It is in 
this respect that we have held ourselves up in contrast with governments in 
which the rights of man as man were trampled under foot. It is this prin- 
ciple which has made the stars and stripes the dawning star of liberty to the 
civilized world. Abolish this and there is nothing more to distinguish us 
from those despotic oligarchies, in which a few declare themselves free, 
while they hold millions under them in bondage. 

Now I affirm that this proposed measure is in the gravest sense revolu- 
tionary, far more so than if it enacted that the office of the President should 
be abolished and its place supplied by an hereditary monarchy. This latter 
might be done and yet the great object for which the government was esta- 
blished be maintained. But here the great object for which the government 
was formed is not changed but reversed. The particular manner in which 
the agents of a government are to be related to each other, and to the people, 
is of far less consequence than the principle by which all their action is to 


be directed. An insurance company is formed to protect buildings from 
loss by fire. It establishes its laws and elects its officers. But if its objects 
be reversed, and it devotes itself to setting buildings on fire, it were vain to 
tell me that they elected their president in the same manner, or that the 
clerks and the president were not permitted to interfere with the duties of 
each other. Nor, were I an original member of such a company, could I, 
by any cry of union, be persuaded to be a partner to their transactions. I 
should say the object being changed, the association is dissolved, and I will 
be a partaker in none of your villany. Now I cannot but consider this mea- 
sure as of precisely this character. We united to form a government on the 
principle of the declaration of independence and the preamble of the consti- 
tution, namely : to establish justice and secure the blessings of liberty, to 
illustrate to the world the truth that all men are endowed by their Creator 
with an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This 
bill reverses this principle, and makes this government declare that men are 
not endowed with these rights, and that our object is not to establish justice 
or secure the blessings of liberty, but to extend slavery over their whole do- 
main and transmit it to our children as their heritage forever. The force of 
such a revolution is to dissolve the governmet itself, for when the essential 
element of a compact is reversed, every contracting party is released from his 
obligations in respect to it. I therefore protest against this bill as revolu- 
tionary and giving just cause for a dissolution of the Union. 

Third, As a citizen of a free State I protest against the passage of this 

This seems to me only one of a series of measures of which the obvious 
intention is to render the whole legislation of this country subservient to the 
interests of the slaveholding States, by securing, at all hazards, a majority 

in ths Senate. 

These measures it is painful to specify. I pretend not to enumerate 
them all, but I will mention only a few of the most important. 

The purchase of Louisiana, though not made for this object, gave the first 
bias in this direction. It was made without constitutional authority, and 
furnishes an illustration of the mischief resulting from the violation of a 
principle for the sake of an immediate advantage. Then came the Missouri 
compromise. Here, for the sake of peace and the preservation of the Union, 
as it was said, the essential principle in which the government was founded 
was held in abeyance, and this territory, acquired from France, was divided, 
a part being conceded to slavery, and the rest irrevocably devoted to liberty. 
It has always been said that even this concession was procured by corrup- 
tion. " We wanted," said John Randolph, " sixteen dough-faces and we 
got them ; we could have got sixteen more had we wanted them." Then 
came the admission of Texas. This was done not only without constitu- 
tional authority, but, as I think, in opposition to constitutional enactment." 
By this act an immense tract prepared for slavery was admitted to the Un- 
ion. The lamented Dr. Channing, than whom a truer friend of the Union 
never lived, declared in his letters on " The duty of the Free States," that 
if ever this was done, the Northern States were bound at once to seperate 
themselves from the confederacy. Next came the compromise of 1850. In 
this instance the free States were grossly insulted, and nothing could have 
carried the measure but the influence of a great statesman, who, by his con- 
duct in this case, has left a stain on his reputation which his even former 
brilliant services can never erase. A short time before Florida had applied 
for admission to the Union, with a constitution riviting slavery upon her to 
the latest time. When a question was made about receiving a State with 


slavery so irrevocably interwoven into its constitution, it was indignantly 
replied that with this matter Congress had nothing to do ; and that the Union 
would be dissolved if the slave character of the constitution of a State was 
made an objection to its reception. The next State which presented itself 
was California, with a free constitution. The reception of this State gave 
rise to an angry debate of six months, and she was admitted at last by a 
compromise. The remarkable terms of the compromise were — 1st, that 
California should be admitted into the Union, and on the other hand, that 
four new slave States should be formed out of Texas ; that a more stringent 
and reckless law should oblige the free States to deliver up fugitive slaves, 
and, on the other hand, that the slave trade, which on the high seas is piracy, 
should not be carried on in the district of Columbia. 

Then came the measures which we are now considering. The territory 
covered by this bill is, in part, the same as was by the Missouri compromise 
solemnly consecrated to freedom. It was so considered by Southern men. 
The measure was carried by Southern votes. It was considered that in 
yielding to slavery the territory South of 36 30, the North made a great con- 
cession for the sake of union. It is now proposed to nullify this solemn 
compact, and devote to slavery a territory out of which some fifteen or 
twenty new States may eventually be formed. When these States are or- 
ganized and added to those formed out of Texas, the character of the Senate, 
is irrevocably fixed. The legislation of the nation is forever Southern, and 
Southern legislation is always subservient to the peculiar institution of the 

When this has been done, this country at home will present a singular 
spectacle. The slaveholders in the Uuited States are said not to exceed 
300,000, call them half a million. We have then half a million of men go- 
verning, in fact, thirty or forty millions. An institution unknown to the 
constitution will be seen annulling and subverting the constitution itself ; 
an institution by which labor is rendered degrading and despicable, legisla- 
ting for men who respect themselves the more for earning their own bread. 
How lonor a union of such a character can continue may be easily foreseen. 
The question ceases to be whether black men are forever to be slaves, but 
whether the sons of the Puritans are to become slaves themselves. 

Nor is this all. This change in the principle underlying the constitution 
changes our relation to the whole civilized world. The great question which 
is henceforth to agitate the nations is the question of human rights. It has 
been the glory of this country thus far to stand forth everywhere in defence 
of human liberty. It is the position which we have taken on this question 
that has given us our influence among nations and taught down-trodden 
humanity everywhere to look up to us for succor. But establish slavery not 
as the exception, but the rule ; make slavery the law of the land, the pivot 
on which legislation turns, and we must by necessity ally ourselves with 
despotism. We expose ourselves to contempt even now, by swaggering 
about human liberty, while a pious and benevolent lady is at this moment 
immured in a dungeon in Virginia for no other crime than that of teaching 
children to read. What will it be when such an act of oppression is sanc- 
tioned by the whole country. 

I value the Union as much as any man. I would cheerfully sacrifice to it 
everything but truth and justice and liberty. When I must surrender these as- 
the price of the union, the union becomes at once a thing which 1 abhor. 
To form a union for the sake of perpetuating oppression is to make myself 
an oppressor. This I cannot be, for I love liberty as much for my neighbor 
as for myself. To sacrifice my liberty for the sake of union is impossible. 


God made me free and 1 cannot be in bondage to any man. These I believe 
to be the sentiments of the free States, and therefore it is, as a friend of the 
union, that I protest against this bill. 

But there is another feature in this bill which deserves to be considered. 
The consequence of its passage must be the destruction of the Indian tribes 
within the territory which it proposes to establish. These poor red men 
had already begun to cultivete land and were advancing in civilization and 
Christianity, when, in defiance of a hundred treaties, they were savagely torn 
up by the roots and transplanted to their present location, and in the removal 
one-third of their whole number perished. Every guarantee that could bind 
a moral agent was given them, that they should remain unmolested -in their 
present residence forever. They are now rapidly improving their condition. 
They have schools admirably conducted, churches of Christ under the care 
of almost every Protestant denomination, they are introducing manufactures, 
and, in fact, will lose nothing by comparison with the whites in their vicinity. 
Shall these Christian men and women be again driven away ? Shall the 
most solemn treaties ever ratified by the Senate of the United States be again 
violated? Shall an act of cruelty unparalleled in the history of civilized 
man be perpetrated because the victims are weak, and their skins are red? 
Has no man any rights unless his skin is white, or has a just God given 
permission to white men to defraud and enslave and murder their fellow 
men with impunity. 

Lastly, I protest against the passage of this bill as a Christian. 

It is my firm belief, Mr. President, the belief on which I rest my hope of 
salvation, that the Son of God assumed our nature, and died for our sins, 
that we might escape the condemnation deserved by our transgressions. I 
believe that he died for the redemption of our whole race, for the ignorant 
and down trodden African, as much as for his haughty Anglo-Saxon oppres- 
sor. While on earth, he chose the lot of a poor man, and of an oppressed 
man, thus showing us that it was this class which shared his deepest sympa- 
thies. He came " to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the 
captive, and the opening of the prison doors to them that are bound." He 
himself died by the hand of oppression, and he has taught us that the poor and 
the oppressed are his representatives always remaining, and that we must man- 
ifest our love to him by charity to them. " Inasmuch as ye have done it to 
one of the least of them, ye have done it unto me." " Take heed," said he^ 
that ye offend not one of these little ones." Taking Christ, then, for my 
example, and striving t'*imbibe his spirit, can I do otherwise than take to 
my bosom every oppressed and down-trodden child of humanity ? Jesus 
Christ, my master, is not ashamed to call them brethren, and can I have 
any partnership in an attempt to trample them under foot ? The Union 
itself becomes to me an accursed thing, if I must first steep it in the tears 
and blood of those for whom Christ died. 

But more than this : hundreds of thousands of these black and red men, 
whose dearest rights are sacrificed by this bill, are, in the strictest sense, 
our Christian brethren. Some are Episcopalians, some Presbyterians, but 
by far the largest part are Baptists and Methodists. They sit down with us 
at the same table of the Lord ; they are, equally with us, members of His 
body, they share with us, the same gift of His Holy Spirit, and hope with 
us to be ever with the Lord And can Christian men join hands with the 
oppressors of their brethren? Can we allow it to be declared in our name, 
as American Christians, that throughout this vast region our Christian breth- 
ren shall be delivered over to brute violence, and that it shall be made a 
crime to teach them to read the word of their Savior and ours 7 Can we do 
this and hope to be forgiven ? 



And here let me appeal to Christians at the South. I have conversed 
with many of them on this subject ; they have confessed slavery to be wronor, 
and they have mourned over its blighting influence on religion and%iorals. 
They have told me, and I believe them, that it is their daily prayer that this 
curse may be removed, that they would cheerfully make any sacrifice for its 
removal, but that, at piesent, they see no way of escape from it. But could 
my voice reach them, I would say, brethren, caij you, as disciples of Christ, 
aid in extending and perpetuating what you know to be wrong ? Can you 
pray God to remove slavery from our country, while you are seeking to fasten 
• it upon the country forever 1 

Could I speak to Southern Statesmen, I would address to them a similar 
appeal. I have conversed with many of them, men of whom any. country 
might be proud. They have told me that slavery was the curse of the South- 
ern States, that utterly indefensible in principle, in practice it wrought 
unmixed evil in every relation of life, civil, social and domestic. I would 
say to them, can you as lovers of your country, extend over this vast ter- 
ritory an institution which you in private allow to be unmeasured evil, an 
evil already so gigantic that you are already unable to cope with it. Nay, 
more, are you willing, in order to extend and perpetuate this wrong, to over- 
turn the foundations of the constitution and violate your solemnly plighted 
faith. Can you expect that after this we can look upon you as brethren. If 
you will trample on the essential principles of the constitution, and annul 
a contract which you declared should be binding forever, in order to attain 
uncontrolled power over the free States, how may we expect that power to 
be exerted after it has been attained. If such things are done in the green 
tree, what shall be done in the dry. 

Once more, could I hope that my words could reach the ear of the Pre- 
sident of the United States, with the respect due to the Chief Magistrate of 
my country, I would address him somewhat in this wise. " It has pleased 
Divine Providence, Sir, to place you in the most responsible situation now 
held by any man on earth. It rests with you to decide whether this vast ter- 
ritory, comprising it may be twenty independent States, shall become the 
abode of happy freemen or of down-trodden slaves; whether man shall be 
recognized as a being formed in the image of God, or degraded to a chattel, 
shall be sold in the shambles like the beasts that perish, whether in the con- 
flict between freedom and despotism for which the civilized world is prepar- 
ing, the mighty influence of this great republic shall be thrown in favor of the 
oppressor or the oppressed. You have the right toiarrest this measure as a 
grave departure from the principles of the constitution and a violation of 
solemnly pledged national faith. Let me than entreat you to look beyond 
the mists of passion that surround you, and gaze for a moment on that eter- 
nal justice which is the habitation of the throne of the Most High. Decide 
this question in such a manner as will be most pleasing to that Great Being, 
the elements of whose character are spotless holiness and infinite love. Can 
you as a patriot array your country in opposition to every attribute of the 
eternal God. Remember also that your life will have a page in this world's 
history. An impartial posterity will judge you by your actions, and will assign 
you a place with good men or with bad, with the benefactors or the enemies 
of your race. And more than all, you must soon appear before a tribunal 
where you can claim no precedence whatever over the meanest slave that 
the sun shines upon. The millions whose moral character has been affected 
for weal or for woe by your act, will meet you there face to face in presence 
of the Universe of God. It is my earnest prayer that you may, by divine 
grace be enabled to decide this question in view of these solemn realities, 
so that, at that day you may review this transaction with joy and not with 


grief, and that the plaudit may await you, " well done good and faithful 
servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 

Fellow citizens, I rejoice that this meeting has been held. Come what 
will, it will ever be to us an unspeakable satisfaction that, to the utmost of 
our power, we have washed our hands of this iniquity. Let us cease not to 
beseech the God of our fathers, to defeat the counsels of misguided men, 
and, if the worst shall come that he will grant to the free States the wisdom, 
temper, patriotism and union, which may be needed in this grave emergency. 

Mr. President and Fellow Citizens : — Slavery in its mildest forms I 
have ever considered an oppressive and wicked exercise of the power of man 
over his fellow man, and repugnant to all the humanities of his nature. I 
inherited this feeling from hardy ancestors, the immediate successors of 
Roger Williams. They came from the free mountain air of Wales, and here 
in Rhode-Island, as in their native mountains, not a mnn of them for eight 
generations, ever felt an impulse, or breathed a thought in the slightest de- 
gree countenancing this horrid war upon the best feelings of our natures. I 
feel to the full as they felt, the lofty and ennobling sentiment of one of the 
sweetest and most commanding of our English poets ; 

" I would not have a slave to till my ground, 
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep, 
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth 
That sinews bought and sold have ever earned. 
No, dear as freedom is, and in my heart's 
Just estimation, prized above all price, 
I'd sooner be the slave and wear the chains 
Than fasten them on him." 

Before the Rhode-Island people, I feel as the greatest of men felt toward 
the Rhode-Island regiment in the very darkest hour of our revolutionary 
struggle for civil and political freedom. In the presence of an immense su- 
periority of force, when it seemed impossible to avoid a battle, our great 
Captain and still greater Patriot, in the front of the gallant defenders of Red 
Bank and Mud Fort, uttered these words : " Your commander places great 
reliance upon this Rhode-Island regiment." 

This feeling of reliance upon the true and early asserters of religious»lib- 
erty, and the most unflinching defenders of human freedom, I experience 
upon the eve of a great battle in defence of that holy cause. Stand or fall, 
sink or swim, this great battle must again be fought. All the free States of 
the Union must take the stand now from which they must never recede. 

" Who would be a traitor knave, 
Who would iill a coward's grave, 
Let him turn and flee !" 

The Benedict Arnold's are thick and numerous all over the free States, 
and they are increasing. The Missouri compromise in 1820, was the first 
great concession to the slave power. It was carried by the aid of sixteen 
votes from the North.' At the very next election thirteen of them were thrown 
overboard. One of the dangers, indeed the only danger, that waylays and 
besets the great principle of human freedom, exists in the fact, that although 
there has ever been a majority of our national' counsellors from the North, 
the South has always by means which you can imagine, corrupted or influ- 


enced a sufficient number to give to slavery a triumph over freedom. At 
the recent meeting in Boston, the venerable Josiah Quincy, eighty-three 
years old, was urged to give his sentiments upon this great subject^ Speak- 
ing of the South, he said : " They were always true and faithful to their own 
interests. I wish I could say the same thing of the people of the North. 
Sir, it is not their strength but our weakness ; it is not their union but our 
disunion ; and sir, they govern the people of the North by the distribution 
from the* funds of the treasury. ' Why, Mr. Quincy,' said a distinguished 
Southerner, ' we of the South can calculate upon your leaders as we calcu- 
late upon our own negroes." 

Our entire history from the adoption of the constitution to the present 
hour confirms the statement of Mr. Quincy. The constitution was adopted 
upon the understanding and belief of all the leading men of all political par- 
ties, that this great evil must be gradually abolished. General Washington 
was at the head of this extensive band of philanthropists, and some steps 
were taken toward the gradual termination of slavery. Much of this feeling 
continued until 1819 — 20, before the question whether Missouri should be 
admitted as a slave State arose. The Senate and House of Representatives 
were on opposite sides and the compromise of 1820 was the consequence. 

This compromise was a Southern measure. It gave a large increase of 
slave territory to the South. It is acknowledged to have been a Southern 
measure to this day. Mr. Badger, a Southern Senator, stated in his place 
not many days since, " that the South were all united in 1848 and 1850. 
The Southern gentlemen on this floor desired nothing in the world but the 
Missouri compromise line." Similar statements were made by other South- 
ern Senators. They desired nothing more at that time, because the House 
of Representatives was opposed to any further extension of slavery. They 
saw that a separation of the States would be fatal to Southern interests. 
Since that period they have been growing stronger and stronger, and conse- 
quently bolder and bolder. A few figures will show whij they desire more 
now than in 1819 — 20. 

There are now 17 free States and 14 slave States. In the Senate there 
are 34 Senators from the free and 28 from the slave States. In the House 
135 Representatives from the free and 87 from the slave States, giving 6 
majority in the Senate and 48 in the House to the free States. 

Against this decided majority from the free States, slaves as well as slave 
territory have been increasing with a most threatening rapidity. 

The whole number of slaves in 1790 was - - 697,897 

The number in 1850 was ... 3,204,321 

An increase of nearly five fold. 

The increase of slave territory, including what is now claimed, is still 

The free States in 1790, upon the adoption of the constitution, occupied 
a territory of - - 160,000 square miles. 

Since that period there have been added 
seven free States, - - - 249,000 " 

In all, .... 409,000 

The original slave States had - 218,000 

They have added nine new States, 708,000 

Making - - - 926,000 

They now claim all the remaining terri- 





New Mexico, - - - 140,000 square miles. 

Nebraska, - 485,000 

Utah, - 150,000 

Minesota, Washington and Oregon, 500,000 

Making 2,201,000 square miles, or more than five times the 
territory of all the free States. 

The "population of the free States in 1850 was - 14,255,749 

The population of the slave States - - - 8,936,169 

The slave owners of the whole Union are estimated at 400,000. With but 
little more than half the population of the free States, they claim all the re- 
maining territories, which would, if conceded, give to slavery five times the 
territory that is reserved to freedom. This has the appearance of desiring 
something more than was injudiciously conceded by the compromise of 1820. 
They talk of Nebraska because they already have slaves there ; but they pass 
a law consigning the whole of the territories to the curse of slavery. They 
seek to set aside the compromise of 1820, upon two grounds so utterly unte- 
nable, so near to the ridiculous as to evince that their whole object is to 
spread slavery over the whole remaining territory belonging to the govern- 

1st. They now contend that the compromise of 1820 was void because 
Conoress had no power to pass such a law. 

2d. Because, if Congress did possess this power, and the law was consti- 
tutional, it was repealed by the compromise of 1850. 

They say it was unconstitutional because the Congress of the United States 
has no power to prohibit slavery in any of the territories, but that every citi- 
zen of every State has a legal and constitutional right to settle in any of the 
territories and to carry his property with him." They do not condescend 
to inform us what clause, line or letter of the constitution confers the right 
to enter upon the territories belonging to the government, either alone or 
with his slaves. If there is any act of Congress conferring upon any citizen 
of any State the right to settle upon the vacant territories either with or 
without his slaves, that act will confer a sufficient authority. T have not 
examined the legislation of Congress on the subject but I am not aware of 
any such act. The object of the existing proposition is to confer that power. 
It must be kept in mind that the government of the United States not only 
possesses unlimited power to legislate for the territories, but that it is the 
owner and proprietor of the territories. As owner of the lands, it can pro- 
hibit any individual, white or black, free or slave, from entering upon a foot 
of its territory. It possesses, as owner, the same power over its territories 
as an individual possesses over his dwelling house. Without the permission 
of the government, express or implied, therefore, no individual has any rio-ht 
to enter upon this territory. It is different as between the States. By the 
constitution of the United States a citizen of one State has a rio-ht to enter 
and settle in any other State, and hold any property in that State which its 
laws acknowledge as property. In the free States slaves are not acknow- 
ledged as property, and therefore, though a slaveholder can himself settle in 
Rhode Island, and carry any property which the laws of Rhode Island per- 
mits, his slaves lecome free the moment he passes our line. If Rhode Island 
was an independent instead of a confederated State, no inhabitant of any 
other State would possess the legal right to enter its territory without its 

It is denied by the advocates of the Nebraska bill that Congress possesses 


the constitutional power to prohibit slavery in its Territories, and that there- 
fore the law of 1820 is void. The extravagant position is unsupported by 
even the appearance of plausibility. Congress possesses the sole power of 
territorial legislation. No limit is assigned this power but its own discretion. 
Its power is as extensive as the power of the people and the Legislature of a 
State over its own legislation. 

The 4th section of the 4th article of the constitution is in these words : 

" The Congress shall' have power to dispose of and make all needful rules 
and regulations respecting the territory and other property belonging to the 
United States ; and nothing in this article shall be so construed as to preju- 
dice any claims of the United States or of any particular State." 

Judge Story, in the 3d volume of his Commentaries upon the Constitution, 
says, pages 193-4 : " As the general government possesses the right to ac- 
quire territory, either by conquest or by treaty, it would seem to follow, as 
an inevitable consequence, that it possesses the power to govern what it has 
so acquired. The territory, when so acquired, does not possess the power 
of self-government, and it is not subject to the jurisdiction of any State. It 
must consequently be under the jurisdiction of the United States, or it would 
be without any government at all." 

" It has sole and complete power over the territory, and over its other 
property, real or personal." — Page 196. 

In page 191, it is said, speaking of the Missouri compromise of 1820 : 
" On that occasion the question was largely discussed whether Congress 
possessed the constitutional power to impose such a restriction, upon the 
ground that the prescribing such a condition is inconsistent with the sove- 
reignty of the State to be admitted, and its equality with other States. The 
final result of the vote seems to establish the ..rightful authority of Congress 
to impose such a restriction. 

An objection of a similar character was taken to the compact between 
Virginia and Kentucky, upon the ground that it was a restriction upon State 
sovereignty. But the Supreme Court had no hesitation in overruling it, con- 
sidering it as opposed to the theory of all free governments, and especially 
of those which constitute the American republics." 

The Supreme Court of the United States, by the constitution, is the tri- 
bunal to settle without appeal the constitutionality of the laws of Congress. 
Its decisions are conclusive upon Congress, npon the States and all individ- 
uals. Judn-e Marshall was then the Chief Justice, and two of the Associate 
Justices were from slave States. The Judges were unanimous, and from 
that day to this there has been no doubt expressed on the very question now 
agitated, except the pretence now set up by Senator Douglas and his asso- 
ciates, for political effect. You will observe the objection now urged in 
Congress is the precise objection overruled by the Supreme Court. 

This question of the constitutionality of the Missouri compromise was also 
discussed by the Cabinet ministers. Mr. Wirt was then the Attorney Gene- 
ral, a southern man, and among the ablest constitutional lawyers that this 
country ever produced. Neither Mr. Wirt, nor any other member of that 
cabinet, to my knowlege, ever expressed a doubt upon the subject. 

Another objection, equally groundless, is, that the act of 1820 was repealed 
by the compromise act of 1850. It is not even pretended that the acts of 1850 
contain any words of repeal. All that is pretended is, that th principle of the 
act of 1850 differs from the principle of the act of 1820. Be it so, for the sake 
of the argument. The act of 1820 contained certain provisions in relation 
to territory purchased of France in 1803. The acts of 1850 contained cer- 
tain provisions in relation to territory purchased of Mexico in 1845. Apply 


this to individuals. A and B become the joint owners of a certain farm, 
plantation or tract of land. In 1820 they divide it and enter into certain 
stipulations concerning its future use. Twenty-five years after, in 1S45, they 
purchase jointly another tract, and in 1850 they divide it, upon terms essen- 
tially different and much less beneficial to B than the terms in the division of 
the previous tract. After this second contract in relation to this second pur- 
chase, A goes into court to nullify the second contract relating to a subse- 
quent and different purchase, upon the ground that the principle of the first 
division of the first purchase was less favorable to him than the division of 
the second purchase. Would not A be laughed at by every lawyer, every 
judge, and every juror, to whom such a case was stated? 

The territory purchased of France in 1803 was divided between the free 
States and the slave States. Neither party could divide territory which at 
that time belonged to Mexico. Neither party could enter into any stipula- 
tions concerning territory that belonged to Mexico. If neither possessed 
the power to contract in relation to foreign territory, can it be implied that 
they intended to divide all future acquisitions upon the same terms ? Can it 
be implied that the parties intended to do what they possessed no power to do ? 

It is for the South to show, by proof of some kind, that in 1850 it was un- 
derstood that the compromise of 1820 should apply to our territory in 1820 
and to all future acquisitions. Again it is said that the principle of the acts 
of 1850, in relation to Mexico, differs from the principle of the act of 1820. 
Both parties intended that they should differ, but did either party intend that 
the last should destroy the first? Is there a man who was in favor of the 
act of 1850, who has said or will say that he understood that he was voting 
for an act which repealed, in its terms or in its principle, the acts of 1820 ? 

But there is conclusive proof to my mind that the act of 1850 was not in- 
tended to apply in any way or manner to the act of 1820. Mr. Senator 
Chase stated this view of the subject, and appealed to Senator Cass, who voted 
for the compromise of 1850, to state whether the report of the committee of 
thirteen of the acts of 1850, did not state expressly that those acts applied 
only to " newly acquired territory." Neither Mr. Cass, nor other Senators 
who were present in 1850, denied this. They were silent. Mr. Chase then 
said, " I am right then." No Senator disputed this. There is still stronger 
proof. Not only did all the Senators who participated in the proceedings of 
1850, when called upon in 1854 to state whether they understood that the 
acts of 1850 were intended to repeal the compromise of 1820, remain silent, 
thereby admitting that no such intention existed, but the very compromise 
acts of 1850 expressly negative any such intention. 

The compromise of 1850 consisted of five distinct acts, relating to five sepa- 
arate and distinct subjects : 

1st. An act relating to the boundaries of Texas, and establishing the Ter- 
ritory of New Mexico. 

2d. An act establishing a new Territorial government in Utah. 

3d. An act for the admission of California. 

4th. An act relative to fugitive slaves. 

5th. An act to suppress the slav;e trade in the District of Columbia. 

In relation to the Texas boundary act, the Southern members were 
apprehensive that some of its provisions might seem to interfere with the 
compromise of 1820, which allowed slave States south of 36 deg. 30 min. 
New Mexico, with a territory four times as large as all New England, was all, 
except a very narrow belt on its north line, south of 36 deg. 30 min. The 
Southern members said then, as they say in the recent debate in the Senate, 
" that the Southern gentlemen desired nothing in the world but the Missouri 


compromise line." This being, as they now avow their ardent desire, they 
determined, at all events, to secure that line, by the compromises of 1850. 

Mr. Mason, from Virginia, therefore introduced the following proviso, 
which was adopted and forms a part of the compromise acts of 1850. 

" Provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to im- 
pair or qualify anything contained in the third article of the second section 
of the joint resolution for the annexing of Texas to the United States ap- 
proved March 1st, 1845, either as regards the number of States that may be 
formed hereafter out of the State of Texas, or otherwise." 

The third article of the second section is in these words. " That in such 
State or States as shall be formed out of said territory north of said Missouri 
compromise line, slavery or involuntary servitude, except for crime, shall be 

The second act of 1850 established a Territorial Government in New 
Mexico. The South again instead of repealing, clung to the line of 36 deg. 
30 min., and they say " that nothing in this New Mexico territorial act shall 
qualify anything in said third article of the second section." 

In the third act establishing a Territorial Government in Utah, the same 
third article of the second section is preserved. Here then is the whole 
legislation of 1850 which has any bearing upon the line of 36 deg. 30 min., 
and in all of it, so far from repealing or wishing to repeal the prohibition 
north of 36 deg. 30 min., the Southern members carefully annex to the 
Texas, the New Mexico and Utah acts the prohibition north of 36 deg. 30 
min., because they u'cll knew that if they repealed that compromise, they 
would lose all south of 36 deg. 30 min. for slavery. 

Therefore, I say, and say without the fear of contradiction of any lawyer, 
Judo-e, gentleman, or honest man, that the principle of the legislation of 1820 
is the same, precisely the same, as the principle of the legislation of 1850. A 
man who examines these acts must turn rogue or politician, before he can de- 
ny that the principle of the two acts is precisely the same. They both allow 
of slaverv south of 36 deg. 30 min., if the people choose to adopt it. They 
both absolutely prohibit it north of 36 deg. 30 min. 

But why trouble ourselves to answer arguments thrown out to withdraw 
the attention of the people of the free States from trfe real objects and purpo- 
ses of this act. One of the objects, probably the main one, with Southern 
politicians is, to increase slave States and slave territories so as to obtain a 
majority of slave Senators and Representatives in Congress. This would 
confer upon the South the entire control of the destinies of this countrv. 
A bare majority in both Houses would secure that control. The North 
could neither weaken nor frighten, nor in any way affect a Southern majority 
in Congress. It would be as vain and ridiculous as an attack upon Gibraltar 
by a fleet of gun boats. 

Not so with a Northern majority. Our Northern politicians are most of 
them the greatest of living patriots. They all love the people with a hea- 
venly love, a love too sublime to be exhibited on earth. They reserve the 
manifestation of it for another and better world. In this world they act upon 
the principle that sweet are the uses of adversity, and they anoint it, and 
embalm it with the religious sentiment " that whom the Lord loveth he chas- 
teneth," and therefore a large number of the most intense lovers of the people, 
have proceeded upon this Christian basis for the last thirty or forty years. 
They sell, trade away, barter and huckster the dearest rights of the North, 
sometimes for one equivalent and sometimes for another. More recently the 
trade inclines to the last forms, and prices vary from five to fifty thousand 
dollars. Besides all these appliances to the greedy office hunters of the 

North, the government paper at Washington intimates very broadly that the 
patronage of the government will not be withholden from those who favor the 
occupation of the fairest regions of the North with the slave power of the 

The territory of Nebraska is all of it north of 36 deg. 30 min. It is de- 
scribed as " not excelled by any equal quantity of land in the known world. 
Beautiful lakes, streams of water, wood land and prarie, a deep and rich 
soil, are spread out in all their fascinating virgin character." It occupies 
east and west the very centre of this Continent, having access to the future 
trade of two great oceans. It lies due west from Missouri in which State 
slave labor is increasing with an astonishing rapidity. No country on this 
continent is better adapted to slave labor than a large portion of Nebraska. 
I am informed that a considerable number of slaves are already there. The 
pretence of those who support this alarming measure is, — that the people are to 
decide whether slavery shall exist in that future State. What people ? Why 
those who first possess it, the slaveholders. Is any one so ignorant of the 
intense desire of the South, to extend the area of slavery as to believe, that 
thev vote to a man, and violate their honor, pledged to us by the Missouri 
compromise, in order to occupy this immense territory with free labor? 
Would thev take such a step if they did not intend, and were not prepared 
to occupy it with slaves ? It is to be the principal slave market in the world. 
It must be remembered that the people of the South are now, not as formerly 
owners merely, but traders in slaves. A slave child at the breast now sells 
to slave traders for 8600. A full grown man at $1800. Opening this new 
market will not only increase the price, but increase the cruelty inflicted 
upon these poor victims of the slave trade. Formerly slavery in the South 
was a mere domestic relation, and the kindness of the owner softened and 
mitigated the suffering of the slave. Now this relation is entirely changed. 
A plantation in the South is like a stock farm in the North. At present 
prices they can make more by raising slaves than raising cotton. They mean 
to extend the market for the slave children, and to add, that to the cotton 
produced by the labor of the slave parent. 

In this connection allow me to ask what is to become of the free labor of 
the North ? Where are the increasing half millions which annually immi- 
grate here from all parts of Europe to find their future homes ? W T here are 
the industrious and pains taking German, and the generous, charitable and 
hard toilincr sons of Erin to find their homes, if the richest and most beauti- 
ful part of this great central portion of our continent is to be occupied by 
slaves and slave holders ? They cannot and will not, they ought not to labor 
side by side with the slave. Slave labor in these regions will be cheaper, 
much cheaper than the labor of white men. It is not the man of wealth in the 
North, nor the professional man, nor the trading man, it is the laboring man, 
the poorer class of men, whose interests are most deeply affected by this nefari- 
ous scheme, a scheme supported as we are told by the whole influence of an 
Administration professing to be the warm and party friends of the poor. 

I am astonished, amazed, and as a friend of free government, almost dis- 
heartened at the magnitude, the boldness and the perfidy of this nefarious 
scheme. Its object is by extending the sphere of slavery to make slaves of 
the free people of the North, by giving to the slave States a majority in the 
National Legislature. Once give them that majority, and the free people of 
the North will be at once in the power of the slave holders of the South. We 
shall be entirely subject to the slave holders' legislation. In a political sense, 
our slavery will be as intolerable, as is the poor African's in a physical 
sense. He has no will over his own body; we snail possess no power over 

o 26 

ur political body. The slave holders will be able again to open the African 
l av e trade and legalize it in every State in the Union. They will possess 
the power to prevent the admission of another free State into the Union. In 
nn e, once submit to this act, and we are slaves ourselves. For one I protest 
against this outrage upon the most solemn contract, that this or any other 
nation ever pledged its sacred honor to abide by. 

For one, and I speak for myself alone, I had rather submit to a peaceful 
separation of the free from the slave States, than to submit for an hour, to 
such an outrage upon our dearest rights. Great as such an evil would be, 
it would be no stain upon our honor. Great as it may be, what evil, what 
disgrace can equal the submission of 14,000,000 of free men, in free States 
to the dictation of 400,000 slave owners in the slave States ! 

Verily, this is the age of wonders. Neither the wildest dreams of poets, 
nor the most far fetched reasonings of philosophers, ever led to the sad real- 
ity, that now stares us in the face. Kad it been foretold that in a country 
which had produced a Washington and a Franklin, which had spread over 
its entire surface, colleges, academies and free schools, which had first 
worked out the miraculous powers of steam, and the before hidden agencies 
of the electric fluid, which had whitened every ocean with its canvass, and 
awed the whole world with its naval prowess, and to crown all this combi- 
nation of attainment and promise, had spread far and wide over this extended 
land, the pure, elevated and practical morality of the christian religion, had 
it been foretold, that as early as the second and third generations from the 
authors of that great charter of human freedom, the declaration of American 
independence, an American Senate could have done all that it could do, to re- 
verse our onward course, and to turn us back to ignorance and barbarism, to 
slavery and despotism, the narrator of such prophetic truths would have been 
sent to an insane asylum, or indicted for a libel upon the American people. 
But, indeed, " the age of chivalry is gone, that of sophisters of calculators 
and economists has succeeded," and much do I fear that the glory of Ame- 
can freedom is extinguished forever. 

In a country whose declaration of independence proclaims that all men 
are free, an American Senate proclaims it a lie. In a country in which the 
whole body of its literature, the whole preaching of its pulpits, and the whole 
boastings of its press, represent us as not merely in the front rank in the 
great march of nations toward a higher civilization, but as the great and 
peerless leader of those nations, an American Senate represents us as low 
and crrovelling wretches, the tyrants of an interior, a helpless race, the drivers, 
with lash in hand, of its men, and the beastly ravishers of its women. 

From this picture of American morals and American feeling, I beg leave 

for one to appeal to warmer hearts, and to more faithful artists, than the 

slave owner of the South, or the profligate office-hunter of the North. I 

appeal to the free people of the free States. I say to them, trust not your 

perjured office-hunters. Their faces are of dough, and their hearts are of 

marble. They betrayed their sacred trust in 1820. They betrayed it in 

1850, and they will betray it now. Every compromise with slavery is an 

encroachment upon the hallowed ground of freedom. Leave the slave States 

to what has been thoughtlessly, if not treacherously, conceded to them. But 

sooner than grant them an inch more, I would retire peacefully but firmly 

from ail connection with a power, " which no treaty and no signature can 

bind, and against which the faith which holds the moral elements of the 

world together, is no protection. 



I am compelled to rise, fellow-citizens, at a very unseasonable hour. If 
I can have your indulgence for a few moments, I shall regard it as a tribute 
not to the speaker, but to the cause of freedom. 

It is now twenty years since I passed a day in the city of St. Louis, on my 
way to a home which had been transferred to the great West. While stand- 
ing in a public room in one of the hotels in that city, a young man came up 
and introduced himself to me, remarking that he had observed on the books 
of the hotel my name and destination ; that he also was from the East, had 
come to seek his fortune in the West, and was wholly undecided where to 
locate himself. He added, that if agreeable to me, he would deem it a favor 
if he might accompany me to my friends in central Illinois, and he would 
seek a residence in that quarter. I assured him that I should be happy to 
have his company, and named the hour when I was to leave the city. He 
expressed a very lively satisfaction with the arrangement ; and the first 
days and nights that he' and I passed in the State of Illinois, we were fellow 
travellers and fellow lodgers. On reaching the village to which we were 
destined, he did not at once succeed in finding employment, and soon went 
into a smali adjoining township, where he gathered some children into a 
school and commenced teaching them. I left that region soon after, and 
left him there pursuing the humble and laborious, but useful vocation of a 
village pedagogue — more honorable far than that of a national demagogue. 

That young man, then an obscure adventurer in the West, is now filling 
the land with the bruit of his name. This Nebraska swindle is a scheme of 
his devising; and if trie crime against freedom and humanity which it medi- 
tates shall be finally consummated, better unspeakably had it been for its 
author if he had adhered to his worthy calling — explaining the mysteries of 
the spelling book to the children of the prairie, and lived and died " unknown 
to fame.'' 

On the day that I met in St. Louis the future Senator Douglas of Illinois, 
I beheld, for the first time, the most revolting feature of American slavery. 
Some traffickers in human flesh — rather let me say in human beings, body 
and soul — had just completed their purchases for the Southern market; and 
I saw a coffle of slaves, some of them in chains, marched like a gang of con- 
victs on board a spacious steamer lying at the wharf and ready to depart. 
They lined the upper deck, and stood in mute and sullen gloom, occasion- 
ally softened to an aspect of piteous and forlorn grief, at the sight of a com- 
pany of their friends and relatives — so far as natural relations can exist under 
a system which ignores all the sanctities of domestic life — their wives and 
husbands, their children and parents, their sisters and brothers, assembled 
on the bank to snatch a parting and final glance. I watched that group on 
shore, and sure I am that the tears and looks of dumb agony found their 
way to Heaven, with which they saw the objects of their love borne forever 
from their sight, consigned to the living death of a Louisiana plantation. 
And as I saw the stately vessel move over the waters, desecrated to such a 
commerce, freighted with such woe, she embodied to my mind the poet's 
image of 

— " thnt fatal and perfidious bark, 
Built in tli' eclipse and rigg'd with curses dark." 

As I reflected that in the sorrow so eloquently depicted on those countenan- 
ces, I witnessed the yearnings of a natural altection proverbially strong; as 
I thought of the delicate and endearing ties thus ruthlessly sundered ; as I 


saw the sacred attributes which I had been taught to revere and love trodden 
under the heel of insolent despotism, every instinct of my nature array- 
ed itself against the perpetrators of this outrage on humanity. I had come 
too recently from the free hills of New England to restrain the rising of in- 
tense and virtuous indignation towards the system which had conjured up 
the spectacle before me ; and then, with humble and subdued emotions, I 
called to mind the image of my country ; recollected that under the aegis of 
her protection, this anomaly of evil had flourished in sheltered security; 
that through a vast region overshadowed by her wing, scenes of as tragic 
interest, of as moving pathos, might be daily witnessed — might be, and 
were, because in many places the life-blood of a system which allowed them 

When now it is proposed to repeal the compact which excludes slavery 
from Nebraska, I know what it means. It means that this execrable traffic 
shall find its way along all of the navigable streams which water that im- 
mense region, and that its broad acres shall be tilled bv the sweat of unre- 
quited labor — blighted with a system which dishonors the law of industry 
and degrades its dignity, and which, in its moral effects, is more withering ; 
fostering a debasing sensuality ; the nurse of stormy and imperious passions, 
which spurn control ; undermining the foundations of integrity and honor ; 
depriving its victims of their all — of personal freedom, the wages of faithful 
labor, the sacred endearments of home, opportunities of mental culture, 
and access to the Word of Life ; immortal beings — selling them at auction 
like dumb beasts ; innocent of crime — driving them with the lash ; — and all 
this, that it may the more effectually control the legislation of Congress and 
the action of the general government, linking the fortunes of the free States 
to its own dark destiny, and sacrificing the enduring peace and prosperity of 
the country at home, and her useful influence and lofty renown abroad, to 
the exactions of a sectional, selfish and inhuman policy. This, Sir, is just 
what the Nebraska bill means. 

Annul, as this bill does, a law by which, in express terms, slavery is 
" forever prohibited " in this territory ; enact, as this bill does, in express 
terms, that slavery shall "not be excluded " from the same — a territory 
contiguous to one which is slaveholding, and adapted to the same cultivation ; 
remember, moreover, that slavery has grasped every rod of our national 
domain, from which it has not been excluded by statute ; give it, withal, the 
cover of the fugitive slave law — and who can doubt the result 1 It has not 
been left to contincencv. How manv times was the bill altered bv its 
author, even after its introduction, in order to make it perfectly acceptable 
to the slaveholders? He succeeded at length; and a leading journal of 
the South, the organ of slaveholding politicians, in whose hands the author 
of this Nebraska bill is as plastic as wax, thus speaks of it : 

" If the compromise of 1850, and the present bill for the admission of 
Nebraska, really mean anything of fairness and justice to the South, if the 
latter be not intended as a trap to catch her support for a principle seeming- 
ly of value to her, we are not in error in saying 1 to slaveholders, lien lies 
this territory, go into it with your property, if you will, and you shall be 
safe, until, as a sovereign State, the people decide for or against the institu- 
tion. Otherwise the Nebraska bill is a worthless and deceptive truce. But 
we mistake Mr. Dougla«, if such an inference can be properlv drawn from 
his argument and bill.' — ' h<rr!.<t,<„ ( S. t J Mercury. 

Sir, thev do not mistake the man nor the mi asure. Pass tin- bill, and the 
territory i? theirs. Slaveholders will go there wit!. and freem 

will keep avvav from it ; for free emigrants, however poqr. will never settle 


tdown by the side of slaves; and when the time comes to organize a State 
government, the slave proprietors can have their own way. 

It has been already stipulated that three or four more slaveholding States 
may be framed out of Texas — and that compact, 1 suppose, must stand, 
because it is in favor of slavery. Nebraska, it is said, will furnish eight 
States as large as the Empire State. A treaty now pending in the Senate 
will, if ratified, give us another portion of Mexico, on our southwestern 
border, sufficient to form two States of the largest class; and these, like their 
neighbors, will of course be slaveholding — that is already boldly avowed. 
Such are our present position and prospects with reference to this evil, which 
our fathers barely tolerated, in the full but mistaken confidence that it was 
destined to an early extinction, through the combined force of moral senti- 
ments and natural laws; but which, through its aggressive nature and its 
potency as a political element, and through the servility and corruption of 
Northern politicians, and I must add, through the apathy of Northern free- 
men, has become thus rampant and defiant. 

If roused by this last aggression, the North will but take a proper stand, 
she can yet recover herself, and save the ark of our freedom. But acquiesce 
in the present measure, tamely submit to this encroachment, and there is 
no redemption for us. Not that I believe that slavery is to be permanent in 
anv part of our land ; for I have faith in the progress of humanity, and faith 
in the promises of God. But let this conspiracy succeed, and instead of the 
early and peaceful extinction of the evil, which has hitherto been the hope 
of Christian patriots, I foresee no other issue, than at some distant day, 
through some tempest of convulsion and revolution, more terrific if possible, 
than that which now seems ready to burst upon Europe in a storm of fire 
and blood. 

The consummation of this atrocity, if tolerated by the free States, will 
strike dumb among us the cheering voices of freedom? hushing the patriotic 
lavs, the national Ivrics, which, more than any other influences, fan in the 
popular breast the flame of Liberty. 

"My country, 'tis of thee, 
Sweet land of liberty. 
Of thee I sing - ." 

Ah ! how can we sing this strain, when borne down with the conscious- 
ness, that this land of boasted liberty is the great mart of slavery, and that 
the youthful energies of this Republic are devoted to the nefarious work of 
slavery extension ? No, fellow citizens, our condition will be as mournful 
as that of the desponding exiles of Judah, when the cheerful songs of Zion 
were changed on their lips into plaintive cries, and by the sullen streams of 
Babylon they hung their harps on the willows of a sorrowful captivity, and 
refused to strike the chords, which, in happier days, had been swept to 
Jerusalem's glory. 

What, now, can be done to avert this calamity ? Let me say, in the fewest 
possible words, that in my opinion, (for which, of course, no one else is 
responsible,) there are two supports on which American slavery rests ; and 
these are, its political alliance with liberty, and its ecclesiastical alliance 
with Christianity. Let the Senators and Representatives of the free States in 
Congress clear themselves and their constituents from all participancy in it — 
purifying our national capital of its noxious atmosphere ; sweeping it from our 
teritories; interdicting between the States the very traffic which on the 
coast of Africa is branded and scourged as piracy ; sternly refusing !•> 

■ ive into th< embi r of the confeder; w another Stati with this 
spot on her bosom : driving it to such municipal shelter as it can find within 


State lines, which it is never to cross — there to be assailed by moraL 
weapons ; doing, in a word, what Franklin prayed the first Congress to do, 
viz : " step to the very verge of the power vested in it for discouraging 
every species of traffic in the persons of our fellow men ; " — let them do this, 
and at the same time let the churches of the free States cast it out of the 
pale of their communion and fellowship, as an unclean and accursed thino- 
— and the evil days of the institution are numbered. 

This, fellow citizens, is what is demanded of us as Christian freemen; and 
how have we met our responsibilities? The slave power has been making 
constant encroachments on the heritage of liberty, not by stealth but openly 
and insolently; and what have we, freemen of the North, been doing? Alas ! 
it is not the least of the dreadful effects of slavery, which has been impressively 
referred to by both of the reverend gentlemen who preceded me, that 
familiar association with it has demoralized the free born — its contact, like 
the electric shock of the torpedo, benumbing their sensibilities. So that we 
ourselves, rocked in the cradle of liberty, breathing her pure air, and fanned 
by her mountain breezes, do yet need a stirring voice, as "of one crying 
in the wilderness," to rehearse in our ears the neglected truths of freedom: 
to recall us to the vindication of immortal principles, which have been com- 
promised and abandoned; to rally us to the defense and rescue of cardinal 
interests which have been jeoparded and sacrificed. While the enemies of 
freedom have been active and aggressive, we have solaced ourselves with 
chanting pagans to our glorious Union. Now the object for which our 
fathers united in a Federal Government, as defined in the preamble of our 
national Constitution, was, as you know, to " establish justice, promote the 
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty." Union for such 
purposes we love as they did, and would sacredly cherish ; but we abhor, 
and will rpudiate an Union to establish injustice, and promote and perpet- 
uate the evils of slavery. Since the world has stood, perhaps no government, 
enlightened or pagan, republican or despotic, ever proposed a more audac- 
ious crime, than the deliberate repeal of a law of freedom, and the admis- 
sion, by enactment, of chattel slavery into a territory larger than our original 
confederacy. If the people are betrayed by their rulers, in this transaction, 
the remedy is in their own hands ; the wrong, if inflicted, can be righted, 
and the evil prevented. But if they consent to the act, either before or after 
its commission, I could pray that I and mine might be separated from their 
destiny. Over such a confederacy I seem to hear another voice from heaven, 
saying, " Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, 
and that ye receive not of her plagues." I do but give utterance, in a 
conditional form, to a sentiment which has been almost voiceless as yet, but 
which has found emphatic recognition here, this evening, and if this work 
goes on, will soon swell on the gale as the sound of many waters — a senti- 
ment which is struggling painfully in the breasts of calm* cautious, and 
conscientious men, who have borne much and long, perhaps too much and 
too long, but who are now ready to say, and cannot refrain from saying, li If 
this Union is to be thus perverted and degraded ; if instead of being the 
allium and tome of liberty, it is to be the refuge and bulwark of oppression; 
if instead <>f Icing a terror to despots, it is to be the accomplice and tool of 
1 1/ rami //, the base instrument of slavery propagandism — then, in heaven's 
name, let th'i i.nkbi be dissolved! '' 

Ivir. President, 1 fear iUat I owe an apoiogy to this crowded and patient 
assembly, not for any sentiment that I have uttered here — Heaven forbid ! 
but for rite lime which I have occupied, at so late an hour. But I could not 
*nv io«. if[ <aul anything: for. with mv venerable friend* who have pre- 


ceded me, I do love freedom, in my heart of hearts 1 love it — not as a theory, 
not as a mockery, but as a substantive reality ; not freedom for the whites 
and slavery for the blacks, but freedom for man. And cheerfully, most 
cheerfully, would I bear the opprobrium of any name, sooner than be con- 
scious in my breast of having surrendered or disowned an ingenuous attach- 
ment to the principles in which my childhood was nurtured, and which, in 
my years of reflection, commend themselves to my calmest thoughts and my 
purest feelings. 

There is one consolation, Sir, which in any event we may appropriate, 
and that is, that the citizens of Providence have endeavored to do their duty 
in this crisis. We have remonstrated by memorial, and we may congratulate 
ourselves on this imposing and impressive moral demonstration; that citi- 
zens who have retired from the honors and burdens of more active life, are 
drawn forth from their quiet retreats to bear their testimony for national 
truth, honor, justice and humanity; that the whole influence of the profes- 
sional classes among us is committed to this movement; and not the least, 
that our merchants, manufacturers and mechanics connected by the ties of 
commerce and trade with all parts of the land, furnish this evidence that 
considerations of patriotism and philanthrophy have more weight with them 
than mere material interests. The moral influence of this exhibition of 
sentiment cannot fail to be elevating in our own community. Had we 
hesitated in this emergency, recreant indeed should we have been to the 
principles of perfect civil and religous liberty, which the Founder of this 
Commonwealth bore in his solitary bark across the Narragansett waters and 
planted on this virgin soil. 

In the loss of a public hall ample enough for such a gathering as this, it 
is a cause for gratitude that this venerable sanctuary has been cheerfully 
thrown open to us. There can be no more suitable place for protesting 
against the wickedness of this Nebraska bill, than by the altars of our holy 
religion. And when the electric wires shall convey to an expectant nation 
a simultaneous announcement of the result, if a righteous Heaven shall per- 
mit our infatuated rulers to perpetrate the deed which we deprecate, nothing 
could be more suitable than that the bells of all the sanctuaries in the free 
States should send forth a simultaneous summons, assembling a Christian 
people to offer their united prayers to the Supreme Ruler. At this climax 
of peril to our free principles and free institutions, we must look not to the 
noisy and stormy arena of Congress, but to the Hearer of prayer, to the Go- 
vernor among the nations. 

It was at a conjuncture morally less critical, that Robert Hall — that orna- 
ment of the British pulpit — reminded his countrymen of this, their last resort ; 
and after declaring that, under God, it was for them "to decide whether 
freedom shall yet survive, or be covered with a funeral pall," and appealing 
to their highest patriotism, he invoked the Most High " to pour into their 
hearts the spirit of departed heroes, and inspire them with his own ;" and 
then sent them forth to the world's last great battle with this assurance 
" While you are engaged in the field, many will repair to the closet, many 
to the sanctuary; the faithful of every name will employ that prayer which 
has power with God ; the feeble hands, which are unequal to any other 
weapon, will grasp the sword of the Spirit ; and from myriads of humble, 
contrite hearts, the voice of intercession, supplication, and weeping, will 
mingle in its ascent to heaven with the shouts of battle and the shock of 

It was on a day, in some aspects less portentous and gloomy, that John 
Milton — that immortal name in British history — after exhausting the rich 

ness of an eloquence, of which he alone was master, exclaimed, "Which 
way to end I know not, unless I turn mine eyes, and with your help lift up 
my hands to that eternal and propitious throne, where nothing is readier than 
grace and refuge to the distresses of mortal suppliants;" and in language 
descriptive of our own specific evil, he implored deliverance from " that 
viper, which for four score years hath been breeding to eat through the vitals 
of our peace," and prayed for confusion to the schemes of the enemies of his 
country's liberties. " Let them all take counsel together, and let it come to 
nought; let them decree, and do Thou cancel it;" let them embattle, and 
be broken, for Thou art with us." And, as if in full assurance of a favora- 
ble answer to his petition, he concluded it in an ecstacy of sublime and 
exultant praise, which, against all sinister omens, I would gladly accept as 
auspicious of a similar happy conclusion to our present distresses. " Then, 
amidst the hymns and hallelujahs of saints, some one may perhaps be heard 
offering at high strains in new and lofty measures, to sing and celebrate Thy 
divine mercies and marvellous judgments in this land throughout all ages, 
whereby this great nation, instructed and inured to the fervent and continual 
practice of truth and righteousness, and casting far from her the rags of her 
vices, may press on hard to that high and happy emulation to be found the 
soberest, wisest, and most Christian people at that day, when Thou the eter- 
nal King, shalt put an end to all earthly tyrannies; proclaiming thy univer- 
sal and mild monarchy through heaven and earth; where they undoubtedly, 
that by their labors, counsels, and prayers, have.been earnest for the com- 
mon good of religion and their country, in supereminence of beatific vision, 
shall clasp inseparable hands with joy and bliss, in over measure forever."