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Institute Library, 


Presented hv 





? E E C H E S 





1 856. 

-. '-- 

ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
Southern District of New- York. 



95 and 97 Cliff street, N. Y. 

THE papers collected in this volume, are copied, without change, 
from their original publication. 

Mr. SMITH was in Congress but a single Session. That Session be- 
gan December 5, 1853, and euded August 7, 1854. Owing to bad 
health, he did not take his seat until December 1 2th. 
































NAVY, 363 



WEGO, 3tl 



LETTER TO HON. H. C. GOODWIN, . . . . - .41? 



To the Voters of the Counties of Oswego and Madison: 

You nominated me for a seat in Congress, notwith- 
standing I besought you not to do so. In vain was my 
resistance to your persevering and unrelenting pur- 

I had reached old age. I had never held office. 
Nothing was more foreign to my expectations, and 
nothing was more foreign to my wishes, than the hold- 
ing of office. My multiplied and extensive affairs gave 
me full employment. My habits, all formed in private 
life, all shrank from public life. My plans of useful- 
ness and happiness could be carried out only in the se- 
clusion, in which my years had been spent 

My nomination, as I supposed it would, has resulted 
in my election and, that too, by a very large major- 
ity. And, now, I wish, that I could resign the office, 


which your partiality has accorded to me. But, I 
must not I cannot. To resign it would be a most un- 
grateful and offensive requital of the rare generosity, 
which broke through your strong attachments to party, 
and bestowed your votes on one, the peculiarities of 
whose political creed leave him without a party. Very 
rare, indeed, is the generosity, which was not to be re- 
pelled by a political creed, among the peculiarities of 
which are 

1st. That it acknowledges no law, and knows no law, 
for slavery : that, not only, is slavery not in the Federal 
Constitution, but tliat, by no possibility, could it be brought 
either into the Federal, or into a State, Constitution. 

2d. That the right to the soil is as natural, absolute, 
and equal, as the right to the light and the air. 

3d. That political rights are not conventional, but na- 
tural inhering in all persons, the black as well as the. 
white, the female as wett as the male. 

4th. That the doctrine of Free Trade is the necessary 
outgrowth of the doctrine of the human brotherhood: and 
that to impose restrictions on commerce is to build up un- 
natural and sinful barriers across fliat brotherhood. 

5th. That national wars are as brutal, barbarous, and 
unnecessary, as are the violence and bloodshed, to which 
misguided and frenzied individuals are prompted: and 
that our country should, by her own Heaven-trusting and 
beautiful example, hasten the day, when the nations of the 
earth " shall beat their swords into ploughsha.res and their 


spears into pruning hooks: nation shaU not lift up sword 
against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." 

6th. That the province of Government is but to pro- 
tect to protect persons and property; and that the build- 
ing of railroads and canals and the care of schools and 
churches fall entirely outside of its limits, and exclusively 
within the range of "the voluntary principle" Narrow, 
however, as are these limits, every duty within them is to 
be promptly, faithfully, fatty performed : as wett,for in- 
stance, the duty on the part of the Federal Government to 
put an end to the dramshop manufacture of paupers and 
madmen in the City of Washington, as the duty on the 
part of the State Government to put an end to it in the 

7th. That, as far as practicable, every officer, from 
the highest to the lowest, including especially the President 
and Postmaster, should be elected directly by the people. 

I need not extend any further the enumeration of 
the features of my peculiar political creed : and I need 
not enlarge upon the reason, which I gave, why I must 
not, and can not, resign the office, which you have con- 
ferred upon me. I will only add, that I accept it ; 
that my whole heart is moved to gratitude by your be- 
stowment of it ; and that, God helping me, I will so 
discharge its duties, as neither to dishonor myself nor 

PETEBBOEO, November 6th, 1852. 




DECEMBER 30, 1858. 

MB. HOUSTON, Chairman of the Committee on Ways 
and Means, having submitted Eesolutions to distribute 
the President's Message among different Committees, 
Mr. SMITH was the first person to obtain the floor. 
He spoke as follows : 

It is natural, Mr. Chairman nay, it is almost neces- 
sary that, from the difference in our temperament, our 
education, our pursuits, and our circumstances, we 
should take different views of many a subject, which 
comes before us. But, if we are only kind in express- 
ing these views, and patient in listening to them, no 
harm, but, on the contrary, great good, will come from 
our discussions. 

As this is the first time I have had the floor, it may 


be well for me now to confess, that I am in the habit 
of freely imputing errors to my fellow-men. Perhaps, 
I shall fall into this habit on the present occasion. It 
may be a bad habit. But is it not atoned for by the 
fact, that I do not claim, that I am myself exempt from 
errors ; that I acknowledge, that I abound in them ; 
and that I am ever willing, that those whom I assail, 
shall make reprisals ? I trust, Sir, that so long as I 
shall have the honor to hold a seat in this body, I may 
be able to keep my spirit in a teachable posture, and to 
throw away my errors as fast as honorable gentlemen 
around me shall convince me of them. 

I have risen, Mr. Chairman, to make some remarks 
on that portion of the President's Message, which it 
was proposed, a few moments since, to refer to the 
Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

The Message endorses, fully and warmly, the conduct 
of the Administration in the case of Martin Koszta. 
For my own part, I cannot bestow unqualified praise 
on that conduct. Scarcely upon Capt. Ingraham can I 
bestow such praise. It is true, that I honor him for his 
brave and just determination to rescue Koszta, but I 
would have had him go a step farther than he did, and 
insist on Koszta's absolute liberty. I would have had 
him enter into no treaty, and hold no terms, with kid- 
nappers. I would have had him leave nothing regard- 
ing Koszta's liberty to the discretion of the French 
Consul or any other Consul ; to the discretion of the 


French Government or any other Government. Kosz- 
ta was an American subject a kidnapped American 
subject and hence the American Government was 
bound to set him, immediately and unconditionally, 
free. But Capt. Ingraham represented the American 
Government. For that occasion he was the American 

For saying what I have here said, I may appear very 
inconsistent in the eyes of many, who know my oppo- 
sition to all war ; for they may regard Capt. Ingraham 
as having been ready to wage war upon Austria as 
having, indeed, actually threatened her with war. But, 
notwithstanding my opposition to all war, I defend 
Capt Ingraham's purpose to use force, should force be- 
come necessary. I believe, that such purpose is in 
harmony with the true office of Civil Government. I 
hold, that an armed national police is proper, and that 
here was a fit occasion for using it, had moral influ- 
ences failed. But to believe in this is not to believe in 
war. It is d*e to truth to add, that Capt. Ingraham should 
not be charged with designing war upon Austria. Why 
should he be thus charged ? He had, properly, nothing 
wljatever to do with Austria, nor with the Austrian Con- 
sul. There was no occasion for his doing with either 
of them, nor for his even thinking of either of them. 
For him to have supposed that Austria, or any of her 
authorities, could be guilty of kidnapping, would have 
been to insult her and them. He had to do only with 


the kidnappers, who were restraining Koszta of his 
liberty ; and all he had to do with these kidnappers was 
to compel them to an unconditional and immediate sur- 
render of their prey. 

I will say, by the way, that I do not condemn the 
conduct of our Minister, Mr. Marsh, in relation to 
Koszta, for the good reason, that I am not sure what it 
was. If it was, as it is reported to have been, I trust 
that both the Administration and the whole country 
will condemn it. 

It is denied in certain quarters, that Koszta was an 
American subject. But Secretary Marcy has argued 
triumphantly that, in the- light of international law, he 
was. I regret, that he had not proceeded to argue it in 
other lights also. I regret, that he had not proceeded to 
show that, even if admitted international law is to the 
contrary, nevertheless, by the superior law of reason 
and justice, Koszta was an American subject. I regret, 
that he had not proceeded to publish to the world, that, 
when a foreigner becomes an inhabitant df this land ; 
abjures allegiance to the Government he has left ; and 
places himself under the protection of ours ; the Ameri- 
can Government will protect him, and that, too, whether 
with or without international law, and whether with 
the world or against the world. In a word, I regret 
that the Secretary did not declare, that if international 
law shall not authorize the American Government to 
protect such a one, then American law shall. It is 


high time, that America should justify herself in such 
a case by something more certain and authoritative 
than European codes. It is high time that she should 
base her justification, in such a case, on the immutable 
and everlasting principles of reason and justice. 

I may be asked, whether I would allow, that the 
subject of a foreign Government, who is alleged to be 
charged with an offence, and who has fled to our coun- 
try, can find shelter in his oath of allegiance to our 
Government? I answer, that I would not allow him 
to be kidnapped ; and that, if his former Government 
wants him, it must make a respectful call on our Gov- 
ernment for his extradition. I add, that I would have 
our Government the sole judge of the fact whether he 
is charged with an offence; and also the sole judge 
whether the offence with which, he may be charged is a 
crime a real and essential crime for which he should 
be surrendered ; or a merely conventional and nominal 
/rime, for which he should not be surrendered. 

A few words in regard to the charge, that Capt. In- 
graham invaded the rights of a neutral State. It is to 
be regretted, that the Secretary did not positively and 
pointedly deny the truth, of this charge. I admit, that 
no denial of it was needful to his argument with Mr. 
Hulsemann. The denial would, however, have been 
useful. No, Sir ; Capt. Ingraham did not violate the 
rights of Turkey. But, although America cannot be 
justly charged with violating the rights of Turkey 


Turkey nevertheless can be justly charged with violat- 
ing the rights of America. She violated the rights of 
America, inasmuch as she failed to afford to Koszta 
the protection, which she owed him, If she is not 
fairly chargeable with permitting him to be kidnapped, 
she nevertheless is fairly chargeable with permitting 
him to remain kidnapped, and that is virtually the 
same thing. To say, that Capt. Ingraham violated the 
rights of Turkey, is nonsense. It is nonsense, if for no 
other reason, than that she had no rights in the case, to 
be violated. She had none, for the simple reason, that 
she suffered her laws to be silent. The only ground 
on which a neutral State can claim respect at" the 
hands of belligerents is, that so far as she is concerned, 
their rights are protected. If she allows injustice 
to them, then they may do themselves justice. If she 
refuses to use the law for them, then they may take it 
into their own hands. For Turkey to suspend her laws, 
as she did in the present case, is to leave to herself no 
ground of wonder or complaint, if a brave Capt Ingra- 
ham supplies her lack of laws. 

But I may be asked, whether I would really have 
had Capt. Ingraham fire into the Austrian ship ? I an- 
swer, that I would have had him set Koszta free, cost 
what it might. At the same time I admit, that there 
would have been blame, had it cost a single life ; and 
that this blame would have rested, not upon the Turks 
and Austrians only, but upon our own countrymen 


also. This is so, for the reason, that neither our own 
country nor any other country is so fully identified with 
justice, in the eyes of all the world, as to make its 
character for justice an effectual substitute for violence 
as to make, in a word, its character for justice, its suffi- 
cient power to obtain j ustice. Were our country prover- 
bial, the world over, for wisdom and goodness were our 
love to God and man known and read of all men were 
every nation to know that, both at home and abroad, 
our Government acts upon Christian principles then 
no nation would wrong us, and no nation would let us 
be wronged. Then, if one of our people were kidnap- 
ped in a foreign land, as was Koszta, the Government 
of that land would promptly surrender him, at our 
request. It would pass upon our title to the individual 
confidingly and generously, rather than jealously and 
scrutinously. And even if it entertained much doubt 
of our title, it would nevertheless waive it, under the in- 
fluence of its conviction, that we ask nothing, which we 
do not honestly believe to be our due, and that our cha- 
racter is such, as richly to entitle us to all, that is possi- 
bly our due. Having such a character, our moral force 
would supersede the application of our physical force. 
Had physical force been needful to effect the deliverance 
of Koszta, it would have been needful merely because 
the American people and American Government lacked 
the moral character, or, in other words, the moral force, 
adequate to its deli verance. But, as I have already in- 


timated, our nation is no more deficient in this respect 
than other nations. 

I said, that I could not bestow unqualified praise on 
the Administration for its part in the Koszta affair. In 
one or two of those passages of rare rhetorical beauty 
in his letter to Mr. Hulsemann. Secretary Marcy insin- 
uates the despotic character of Austria. Now, I will 
not say, that there was impudent hypocrisy in the in- 
sinuation : but I will say. that the insinuation was in 

/ / / 

bad taste, and that it was bad policy. A cunning policy 
would studiously avoid, in our diplomatic correspond- 
ence, all allusions to despotism and oppression, lest 
such allusions might suggest to the reader comparisons 
between our country and other countries, that would be 
quite unfavorable to us. 

I admit, that Austria is an oppressor. But is it not 
equally true, and far more glaringly -true, that America 
is a much greater and guiltier oppressor? Indeed, 
compared with our despotism, which classes millions of 
men, women, and children, with cattle, Austrian des- 
potism is but as the little finger to the loins. Surely, 
surely, it will never be time for America to taunt Aus- 
tria with being an oppressor, until the influence of 
American example is such, as to shame Austria out of 
her oppression, rather than to justify and confirm her 
in it. 

In this same letter to the representative of Austria, 
Mr. Marcy presumes to quote, as one of the justifi- 


cations of Capt. Ingraham's conduct, the Divine law, 
to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. 
Now, was it not the very acme of presumption for 
the American Government to quote this law, while it 
surpasses every other Government in trampling it under 
foot ? Did Mr. Marcy suppose Mr. Hulsemann to be 
stone-blind? Did he suppose, that Mr. Hulsemann 
had lived in the city of "Washington so long, and yet 
had seen nothing, of the buying and selling of human 
beings as brutes, which is continually going on here, 
uiider the eye, and under the authority, of Govern- 
ment ? Did he suppose, that Mr. Hulsemann could be 
ignorant of the feet, that the American Government is 
the great slave-catcher for the American slave-holders ? 
Did he suppose him to be ignorant of the fact, that the 
great American slave-trade finds in the American Gov- 
ernment its great patron ; and that this trade is carried 
on, not only under the general protection, but under 
the specific regulations of Congress ? Did he suppose 
"him to be ignorant of the fact, that many, both at the 
North and South, (among whom is the President him- 
self,) claim, that American slavery is a national institu- 
tion ? and made such by the American Constitution ? 
It is a national institution. If not made such by our 
organic law, it is, nevertheless, made such by the enact- 
ments of Congress, the decisions of the Judiciary, and 
the acquiescence of the American People. And did 
Mr. Marcy suppose Mr. Hulsemann to be entirely una- 


ware, that the present Administration surpasses all its 
predecessors in shameless pledges and devotion to the 
Slave Power ? Certainly, Mr. Marcy fell into a great 
mistake, in presuming Mr. Hulsemann to be in total 
darkness on all these points. I indeed, a mistake, it 
is a very ludicrous one. If but an affectation, it is too 
wicked to be ludicrous. 

I referred, a moment since, to some of the evidences 
of the nationality of American slavery. It, sometimes, 
suits the slaveholders to claim, that their Slavery is an 
exclusively State concern; and that the North has, 
therefore, nothing to do with it. But as well may you, 
when urging a man up-hill with a heavy load upon his 
back, and with your lash also upon his back, tell him, 
that he has nothing to do either with the load or the 
lash. The poor North has much to do with slavery. 
It staggers under its load and smarts under its lash. 

But I must do Secretary Marcy and the Administra- 
tion justice. What I have said, were I to stop here, 
would convey the idea, that, in his letter to Mr. Hulse- 
mann, the Secretary inculcates the duty of uncondi- 
tional obedience to the law, which requires us to do 
unto others, as we would have others do unto us. He 
is, however, very far from doing so. He remembers, 
as with paternal solicitude, American slavery, and the 
fugitive Slave Act, and provides for their safety. To 
this end he qualifies the commandment of God, and 
makes it read, that we are to obey it, only when there 


is no commandment of man to the contrary. In a word, 
he adopts the American theology that pro-slavery 
theology, which makes human Government paramount 
to the Divine, and exalts the wisdom and authority of 
man above the wisdom and authority of God. 

I said, that I must do the Secretary justice : and I have 
now done it. But in doing it, a piece of flagrant injustice 
has been brought to light. For what less than flagrant 
can I call his inj ustice to the Bible ? The Secretary says, 
that this blessed volume " enjoins upon all men, every 
where, when not acting under legal restraint, to do unto 
others whatever they would that others should do unto 
them." Now, the phrase " when not acting under 
legal restraint" is a sheer interpolation. The command- 
ment, as we find it in the Bible, is without qualification 
is absolute. The Administration is guilty, therefore, 
through its Secretary, of deliberately corrupting the 
Bible. Moreover, it is guilty of deliberately corrupting 
this authentic and sacred record of Christianity at the 
most vital point. For this commandment to do unto 
others as we would have others do unto us, is the sum 
total of the requirements of Christianity. I say so on 
the authority of Jesus Christ himself For when He 
had given this commandment, He added : "for this is 
the law and the prophets." 

I am not unmindful how strong a temptation the 
Administration was under, in this instance, to corrupt 
the Bible. I am willing to make all due allowance on 


that account. Strong, however, as was the tempta- 
tion, it nevertheless should have been resisted. I am 
well aware, that for the Administration to justify the 
rescue of Koszta on the unqualified, naked Bible 
ground, of doing unto others as we would have others 
do unto us, would be to throw open the door for the 
rescue of every fugitive slave. It would be to justify 
the rescue of Shadrach at Boston. It would be to jus- 
tify the celebrated rescue in my own neighborhood I 
mean the rescue of Jerry at Syracuse. It would be to 
justify the bloody rescue at Christiana. For, not only 
is it true, that all men would be rescued from slavery, 
but it is also true, that very nearly all men would be 
rescued from slavery, even at the expense of blood. I 
add, that for the Administration to justify on naked 
Bible ground the rescue of Koszta, would be, in effect, 
to justify the deliverance of every slave. Now, for an 
Administration, that sold itself in advance to the Slave 
Power, and that is indebted for all its hopes and for 
its very being to that Power for such an Administra- 
tion to take the position of simple Bible truth, and 
thereby invite the subversion of all slavery, would be 
to practise the cruellest ingratitude. Such ingratitude 
could not fail to exasperate the Slave Power that 
mighty and dominant Power, before which not only 
the Administrations of the American People, but the 
American People themselves, ML down as abjectly as 
did Nebuchadnezzar's people before the image, which 


he had set up. Nevertheless, however important it 
may be to maintain slavery, it is far more important to 
maintain Christianity j and the Administration is there- 
fore to be condemned for giving up Christianity for 
slavery. I add, that, if American slavery is, as the 
famous John Wesley called it, " the sum of all villa- 
nies," then it is certainly a very poor bargain to ex- 
change Christianity for it 

Sir, this doctrine of the Administration, that human 
enactments are paramount to Divine law, and that the 
Divine authority is not to be allowed to prevail against 
human authority, is a doctrine as perilous to man as it 
is dishonorable to God. In denying the supremacy of 
God, it annihilates the rights of man. I trust, that a 
better day will come, when all men shall be convinced, 
that human rights are not to be secured by human 
cunning and human juggles, but solely by the unfal- 
tering acknowledgment of the Divine Power. This 
crazy world is intent on saving itself by dethroning 
God. But, in that better day, to which I have refer- 
red, the conviction shall be universal, that the only 
safety of man consists in leaving God upon His 

To illustrate the absurdity of this atheistic doctrine 
of the Administration, we will suppose that, by a 
statute of Turkey, any person, Hungarian-born, ought 
to be kidnapped. Then, according to this atheistic 
doctrine, Capt Ingraham had no right to rescue Koszta, 


for ids kidnappers, in that case, were acting " under 
legal restraint." 

Mr. SOLLEBS, of Maryland. Mr. Chairman, what 
is the question before the House ? 

The CHAIBMAN, (Mr. OBB, of South Carolina.) 
Does the gentleman from Maryland rise to a question 
of order ? 

Mr. SOLLEBS. I do. 

The CHAIBMAN. What is the gentleman's ques- 

Mr. SOLLEBS. I want to know what is the sub- 
ject before the House. 

The CHAIBMAN. The subject is the reference of 
the President's Message. 

Mr. SOLLEBS. The gentleman from New- York is 
making an abolition speech, and I do not see its rele- 
vancy to the question before the House. 

The CHAIBMAN. The gentleman from New- York 
is entitled to the floor, and he is in order. 

Mr. SMITH. The gentleman from Maryland says, 
that I am making lin abolition speech. I am : and I 
hope he will be patient under it. I, in my turn, will 
be patient under an cmfti-abolition speech. 

But I will proceed in my illustrations of the absurd- 
ity of this atheistic doctrine of the Administration. 
What, too, if there were a statute of Turkey, declaring 


it right to kidnap any person, who is American-born ? 
Then, according to this corrupt theology of the Admin- 
istration, we should not be at liberty to rescue an Ame- 
rican citizen, who might be kidnapped in Turkey. 
And what, too, if acting under human authority, or, in 
the language of tHe Administration, "under legal 
restraint," the people of one of the Barbary States 
should kidnap Secretary Marcy, and even President 
Pierce himself then, also, according to this God-de- 
throning doctrine of the Administration, our hands 
would be tied ; and we should have no right to reclaim 
these distinguished men. The supposition, that such 
distinguished men can be kidnapped, is not absurd. 
The great Cervantes was a slave in one of the Barbary 
States. So, too, was the great Arago. And it is not 
beyond the pale of possibility, that even the great 
Secretary and the great President may yet be slaves. 
I am aware, that they, who stand up so stoutly for 
slavery, and for the multiplication of its victims, dream 
not, that they themselves can ever be its victims. They 
dream not, that this chalice, which they put to the lips 
of others, can ever be returned ' to their own. And, 
yet, even this terrible retribution, or one still moro 
terrible than any, which this life can afford, may be 
the retribution of such stupendous treachery and en- 
mity to the human brotherhood. Little did Napoleon 
think, when, with perfidy unutterable, he had the noble 


but ill-fated Toussaint L'Ouverture carried across the 
waters, to perish in a prison, 

"That he himself, then greatest among men, 
Should, in like manner, be so soon conveyed 

Athwart the deep."* 

to perish, also, in a prison. 

In that great day (for which, as it has been sublime- 
ly said, all other days were made) when every man 
shall " receive the things done in his body," let me not 
be found of the number of those, who have wielded 
civil office to bind and multiply the victims of oppres- 
sion. When I witness the tendency of power in 
human hands, be it civil or ecclesiastical, or any other 
power, to such perversion, I shrink from possessing it, 
lest I, too, might be tempted to lend it to the op- 
pressor instead of the oppressed. "So I returned," 
says the wise man, "and considered all the oppressions 
that are done under the sun ; and behold the iears of 
such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter : 
and on the side of their oppressors there was power ; 
but they had no comforter." 

I proceed to say, that this detestable doctrine of the 
Administration goes to blot all over that page of histo- 
ry, of which .Americans are so proud. I mean that 
page, which records the famous achievement of Decatur 
and his brave companions in the Mediterranean. For 

* Rogers's Italy. 


it must be remembered, that the Algerine slaveholders, 
who were so severely chastised, and that, too, notwith- 
standing, being the most ignorant, they were the least 
guilty class of slaveholders I say, it must be remem- 
bered, that these Algerine slaveholders acted under 
human Government, or, in the words of the Adminis- 
tration, " under legal restraint ;" and were, therefore, 
according to the wisdom of the Administration, released 
from all obligation to do unto others, as they would 
have others do unto them ; and were at entire liberty 
to enslave Americans as well as other people. 

I add, that this blasphemous doctrine of the Admin- 
istration leaves unjustified, and utterly condemns, every 
war, which this nation has waged; for every such war 
has been against a people acting under the authority of 
their Government, or, in the language of the Adminis- 
tration, " under legal restraint." What if our enemy, 
in fighting against us, was guilty of fighting against 
God? was guilty of trampling under foot the Divino 
law? Nevertheless, according to the sage teachings 
of the Administration, his guilt was overlaid with inno- 
cence, from the fact, that he was " acting under legal 
restraint." Surely, it will not be pretended, that our 
transgressions of the Divine law are excused by our 
"legal restraint," and that the like trangressions, on 
the part of others, cannot be excused by the like cause. 
Surely if we may put in the plea of " legal restraint" 
against Divine laws, so may others. 


Alas, what a disgusting spectacle does the Adminis- 
tration present, in its deliberate corruption of the Bible, 
for the guilty purpose of sparing so abominable and 
vile a thing as slavery 1 Alas, what a pitiable specta- 
cle of self-degradation does this nation present, in 
choosing such an Administration, and in remaining 
patient under it! And how rank, and broad, and 
glaring, is the hypocrisy upon the brow of this nation, 
who, whilst her feet are planted on the millions she 
has doomed to the horrors, and agonies, and pollutions 
of slavery, holds, nevertheless, in one hand, that pre- 
cious, Heaven-sent volume, which declares, that God 
" hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to 
dwell on all the face of the earth ;" and in the other, 
that emphatically American paper, which declares, that 
" all men are created equal 1" And how greatly is the 
guilt of this nation, in her matchless oppressions, ag- 
gravated by the fact, that she owes infinitely more than 
ever did any other nation to Christianity, and liberty, 
and knowledge ; and that she is, therefore, under infi- 
nitely greater obligation than was ever any other nation, 
to set an example, blessed in all its influences, both at 
home and abroad! Other nations began their exist- 
ence in unfavorable circumstances. They laid their 
foundations in despotism, and ignorance, and supersti- 
tion. But Christianity, and liberty, and knowledge, 
waited upon the birth of this nation, and breathed into 
it the breath of life. 


My hour is nearly up, and I will bring my remarks 
to a close. After all, the Administration has done us 
good service, in attempting to qualify the Divine com- 
mand, to do unto others as we would have others do 
unto us ; for, in attempting to do this for the sake of 
saving slavery, it has, by irresistible implication, ad- 
mitted that the command itself requires us to "let the 
oppressed go free." 

This precious law of Q-od contains, as they are wont 
to insist, ample authority for all the demands of the 
abolitionists that despised class of men, to which I am 
always ready to declare, that I belong. Hence, the 
Administration, in quoting this law as the great rule of 
conduct between men, has, in no uoimportant sense, 
joined the abolitionists. I say it has quoted this law 
this naked law. I say-so, not because I forget the 
words with which it attempted to qualify the law, but 
because, inasmuch as the law, which God has made ab- 
solute, man cannot qualify, these qualifying words fall 
to the ground, and leave the naked law in all its force. 
I admit, that the Administration did not quote this law 
for the sake of manifesting its union with the abolition- 
ists; for, yet. a while at least, it expects more advan- 
tage from its actual union with the slaveholders than it 
could expect from any possible union with the aboli- 
tionists. No ; the Adminiat.rnt.ion quoted this law for 
the sake of serving a purpose against Austria ; and it 
flattered itself that, by means of a few qualifying words, 


it could shelter slavery from the force of the quotation. 
But, in this, it fell into a great mistake. Its greater 
mistake, however, was in presuming to quote the Bible 
at all. The Administration should have been aware 
that the Bible is a holy weapon, and is therefore fitted 
to anti-slavery, instead of pro-slavery, hands. It should 
'have been aware, that it is more dangerous for pro- 
slavery men to undertake to wield this weapon, than it 
is for children to play with edge tools. The Bible can 
never be used in behalf of a bad cause, without detri- 
ment to such cause. 

I conclude, Mr. Chairman, by expressing the hope, 
that this egregious blunder of the Administration, in 
calling the Bible to its help a blunder, by the way, 
both as ludicrous and wicked as it is egregious will, 
now that the blunder is exposed, be not without its 
good effect, in the way of admonition. I trust, that 
this pro-slavery Administration, and, indeed, all pro- 
slavery parties and pro-slavery persons, will be effectu- 
ally admonished by this blunder to let the Bible en- 
tirely alone, until they sha,11 have some better cause 
than slavery to serve by it 




DECEMBER 22, 1808. 

Isr the course of his reply to the speech of Mr. 
Smith, made two days previous, Mr. "Wright put a 
question to Mr. Smith. 

Mr. SMITH, of New-York. Will the gentleman yield 
me the floor to reply to his question ? 

Mr. WRIGHT. Does the gentleman desire to make a 

Mr. SMITH. I rose, not because I wish to reply to 
the gentleman's question, for I do not wish to reply to 
it. But, as he put the question to me, and might deem 
me uncivil were I not to reply to it, I am willing to 
reply to it ; and I trust that the gentleman will feel no 
better after my reply. 

Mr. WRIGHT. After having called the gentleman 
out, I cannot refuse him the floor. 


Mr. SMITH. The gentleman has referred me to that 
clause of the Constitution which respects fugitives from 
service; and it is on this clause that his question is 
based. Now, not to consume the time of the gentleman 
with any other reason for my denying that the word 
"service" in the Constitution refers to slavery, I will 
only advert to the fact, that three days previous to the 
close of the Convention which framed the Constitution, 
the committee on style made their report ; and that then 
it was moved to strike out the word " servitude," and 
to supply its place with the word " service." This sub- 
stitution was made by a unanimous vote, and for the 
avowed reason that " servitude" denotes the condition 
of slaves, and "service" the condition of freemen. I 
hold, therefore, that the word "service" in the Consti- 
tution refers to freemen, and to freemen only. To hold 
that the framers of the Constitution did, after the sub- 
stitution I have referred to, mean that the word should 
refer to slavery, would be to stigmatize them with 
hypocrisy. I add that the facts I have here given, 
may be found in the Madison Papers. 

Mr. WRIGHT. That is not my recollection of the 
historical proceedings of that convention which formed 
the Constitution. 

Mr. SMITH. I refer the gentleman to the Madison 




JANUAET 5, 1854. 

PERHAPS, .Mr. Speaker, I should not have presumed 
to rise, had I been duly influenced by what the gentle- 
man from Alabama has just now told us of the charac- 
teristics of a statesman. For, in that gentleman's esteem, 
the heart does not enter into the composition of a states- 
man. With him, the statesman is a creature all head, 
and no heart. With me, on the contrary, the heart is 
of more account than the head and that, too, in 11 
the possible circumstances of life, including even the 
province of statesmanship. A higher authority than 
the gentleman from Alabama makes more of the heart 
than of the head. His command, as well upon the 
statesman as upon every other person, is, "My son, 
give me thine heart." The heart first, and the head 
afterwards. The faculties of man drive on but to mis- 


chief and ruin, unless the heart be first given to the 
right and the true. 

I find, that gentlemen of Alabama agree in their defi- 
nition of a statesman. Another gentleman from that 
State, [Mr. Phillips,] when reviewing my speech, a 
fortnight ago, kindly informed me that I am but a sen- 
timentalist, and not a statesman. To use almost pre- 
cisely his words : " Though I had attained some noto- 
riety in the country as a sentimentalist, I had never 
risen to the dignity of a statesman." I beg that 
gentleman to be patient with me. I may yet become 
the dignified, heartless, frigid, conventional sort of 
being, that makes up the accepted and current idea of a 
statesman. They say, that Congress is a capital place 
for making a statesman of one, who is willing to come 
under the process. They say so, for the reason that 
Congress ia a capital place for getting rid of all senti- 
ment, and sympathy, and conscience. Now, I cannot 
gay that I am very ambitious to have realized, in my 
own person, the popular idea of a statesman. Never- 
theless, I beg the gentleman to be patient with me. 
When I shall have been in Congress a few weeks 
longer, I may so far have lost my heart, and killed my 
soul, as to be a candidate for the honors of a statesman. 
And then the honorable gentleman will, no doubt, be 
willing to take me by his own right hand, and install 
me into that dignity which he and other statesmen so 
se 1 ^-complacently enjoy. 


But to come to the resolutions. I like them exceed- 
ingly; and I should rejoice to see them pass unani 
mously. I like them especially because they avoid all 
questions of nationality and citizenship ; and leave the 
justification of Capt. Ingraham to rest on the naked 
ground of humanity. I was much pleased to find the 
distinguished gentlemen from Virginia and South Caro- 
lina, [Mr. Bayly and Mr. Orr,] defending the resolutions 
in this light. Delighted was I, when I heard the gen- 
tleman from South Carolina [Mr. Orr] declare, in such 
impassioned language, that humanity is, of itself ample 
justification for Captain Ingraham's conduct. 

Capt. Ingraham, according to the implication of the 
resolutions, and according to these gentlemen's inter- 
pretation and defence of the resolutions, obeyed the 
simple law of humanity that law, against which, to 
use Bible language, "there is no law." Not only is it 
paramount law, but against it there can be no law. 
Capt. Ingraham recognized no law for kidnapping and 
oppressing his fellow man. He believed that law is for 
the protection of rights, and he would not acknowledge 
as law what was for the destruction of rights; and, 
therefore, without pausing to inquire into any enact- 
ments of Turkey or Austria, he generously and nobly 
surrendered himself to the commands of the law of 
humanity, and delivered Koszta. 

Capt. Ingraham sawjn Koszta a man a kidnapped 
and oppressed man and, therefore, he determined to 


set him free. The manhood of Koszta was all tho 
warrant that Captain Ingraham needed to demand the 
liberty of Koszta. Captain Ingraham's sympathies arc 
not bounded by State or National lines'. They are not 
controlled by questions of nationality and citizenship ; 
but where he sees his brother kidnapped or outraged, 
thither does he let his sympathies go out effectively for 
the deliverance of such brother. 

I was glad, Sir, to hear the gentleman from Pennsyl- 
vania, [Mr. Chandler,] in the course of his eloquent 
speech, quote the maxim "Bis dot qui cito dat" (he 
gives twice who gives quick,) to incite us to the prompt 
passage of the resolutions. Well does Captain Ingra- 
ham deserve the benefit of this apposite and happy 
quotation, for he acted bravely and beautifully under 
the inspiration, if not of another Latin maxim, never- 
theless of the sentiment of another Latin maxim. : " Nil 
humani a me alienum," (nothing that concerns man is 
foreign to me.) Yes, Captain Ingraham honored this 
sublime maxim, which was coined by a slave ; for 
Terence, its high-souled author, was a Eoman slave. 

Pass these resolutions, Mr. Speaker pass them 
promptly and unanimously. By doing so we shall 
honor humanity and honor ourselves ; by doing so we 
shall rebuke our Government for having taken, three 
years ago, the diabolical position, that they who rescue 
their kidnapped, and oppressed, and outraged, and 
crushed brethren, merit, at the hands of this Govern- 


ment, fines and imprisonment. Pass these resolutions, 
and you will put the seal of your emphatic condemna- 
tion on that diabolical position ; and you will cheer the 
hearts of those who have rescued such poor brethren, 
and of others who are determined to rescue them when- 
ever they can get the opportunity to do so. Pass these 
resolutions ; and these past and these future rescuers of 
the most wronged of all men will rejoice in knowing, 
that upon the principle of these resolutions, and upon 
the principle by which some on this floor have advo- 
cated them, they are entitled, not to suffer fines and 
imprisonment, but to receive gold medals. 




JANUARY 1, 1854. 

MR. SMITH, of New- York. I beg leave to offer the 
following resolutions. 

The Clerk read the resolutions, as follows : 

Whereas, all the members of the human family, not- 
withstanding all contrary enactments and arrangements, 
have at all times, and in all circumstances, as equal a 
right to the soil as to the light and air, because as equal 
a natural need of the one as of the other ; And where- 
as, this invariably equal right to the soil leaves no 
room to buy, or sell, or give it away ; Therefore, 

1. Resolved, That no bill or proposition should find 
any favor with Congress, which implies the right of 
Congress to dispose of the public lands or any part of 
them, either by sale or gift. 


2. Resolved, That the duty of civil government in 
regard to public lands, and indeed to all lands, is but 
to regulate the occupation of them ; and that this regu- 
lation should ever proceed upon the principle that the 
right of all persons to the soil to the great source of 
human subsistence is as equal, as inherent, and as 
sacred, as the right to life itself. 

3. Resolved, That Government will have done but 
little toward securing the equal right to land, until it 
shall have made essential to the validity of every claim 
to land both the fact that it is actually possessed, and 
the fact that it does not exceed in quantity the maxi- 
mum which it is the duty of Government to prescribe. 

4. Resolved, That it is not because land monopoly 
is the most efficient cause of inordinate and tyrannical 
riches on the one hand, and of dependent and abject 
poverty on the other ; and that it is not because it is, 
therefore, the most efficient cause of that inequality of 
condition so well-nigh fatal to the spread of democracy 
and Christianity, that Government is called upon to 
abolish it ; but it is because the right which this mighty 
agent of evil violates and tramples under foot is among 
those clear, certain, essential, natural rights which it is 
the province of Government to protect at all hazards, 
and irrespective of all consequences. 

Mr. HIBBABD. I move that the resolutions "he laid 
upon the table. 


Mr. GIDDINGS. I call for the yeas and nays on that 

The yeas and nays were not ordered. 

The question was then put on the motion to lay the 
resolutions on the table, and it was agreed to. 




J A N U A U V 18, 1854. 

MB. HOUSTON, of Alabama. I now call up the bills, 
which were reported from the Committee of the Whole 
on the State of the Union, with a recommendation, that 
they do pass, and which were under consideration when 
the House adjourned, last evening. 

The House then took up "the bill making appro- 
priation for the support of the Military Academy for 
the year ending June 80, 1865. 

Mr. SMITH. I propose, Mr. Speaker, to make some 

remarks on this bill. 

Mr. JONES, of Tennessee. I think that the previous 
question was called on the bill, last evening. 

Mr. SMITH. I think not. 

Mr. CLINGMAN, of North-Carolina. If the previous 
question was called, I object to the gentleman's pro- 
ceeding to make any remarks. 


Mr. SPEAKER. The Clerk informed the Chair, that 
the previous question was not called, last evening. 

Mr. JONES. It was my impression, that it was 

Mr. SMITH. I believe, Sir, in the progress of the 
human race. I delight to dwell upon the idea of 
an ever-growing civilization. Hence it is, that I am 
afflicted at every demonstration of the war spirit. For 
the spirit of war, is the spirit of barbarism; and, 
notwithstanding the general impression to the contrary, 
war is the mightiest of all the hindrances to the 
progress of civilization. But the spirit of this bill 
is the dark, barbarous, baleful spirit of war; and, 
therefore, would I use all honorable means to defeat 
the bill. 

It is strange it is sad that, in a nation, professing 
faith in the Prince of Peace, the war spirit should be 
so rampant. That, in such a nation, there should be 
any manifestation whatever of this spirit, is grossly in- 

" My voice is still for war," are words ascribed to a 
celebrated Koman. But as he was a pagan, and lived 
more than two thousand years ago, it is not strange, 
that he was for war. But, that we, who have a more 
than two thousand years' longer retrospect of the hor- 
rors of war than he had that- we, who, instead of but 
a pagan sense of right and wrong, have, or, at least, 


have the means of having, a Christian sense of right 
and wrong that we should be for war, is, indeed, pass- 
ing strange. 

How vast, incomprehensibly vast, the loss of life by 
war ! There are various estimates of this loss. 

Mr. ORB, of South-Carolina. I rise to a question of 

Mr. SMITH. I mean to keep myself strictly in or- 

Mr. SPEAKER. The gentleman will state his ques- 
tion of order. 

Mr. ORR. ' I understand, that the bill on which the 
gentleman from New- York [Mr. Smith] is submitting 
his remarks, is a bill making an appropriation to sup- 
port the Military Academy. I submit that the rule of 
the House requires, that the gentleman shall confine 
himself to the subject-matter before the House. The 
gentleman has not been confining himself to the sub- 
ject-matter, and I require the Speaker to decide be- 
tween us. 

Mr. SMITH. If the gentleman denies, that the Mili- 
tary Academy has to do with war, then I appeal to the 
Speaker what would become of the Military Academy, 
were war to be abandoned ? 

Mr. SPEAKER. The Chair understands, that the 
gentleman from New- York [Mr. Smith] is opposing 
the appropriation of money for the maintenance of the 



Military Academy, on the ground, that war is to be 

Mr. SMITH. Certainly, Sir ; and, therefore, beyond 
all doubt, I am in order. 

The SPEAKER. The Chair is of opinion, that the 
gentleman from New- York is in order. 

Mr. SMITH. I presumed, that the Speaker would so 

I was saying, Sir, when interrupted by the gentle- 
man from South-Carolina, [Mr. Orr,] that there are 
various estimates of the loss of life by war. Burke's 
estimate, if my recollection is right, is, that thirty-five 
thousand millions of persons have perished by war; 
that is, some thirty-five tunes as many as the whole 
present population of the earth. In Bible language : 
" Who slew all these ?" War slew them. And, when 
contemplating this vast slaughter, how natural to in- 
quire, in othe'r words of that blessed book, " Shall the 
sword devour for ever ?" 

And how immense the loss of property by war! 
The annual cost of the war system to Europe alone, in- 
cluding interest on her war debt, exceeds a thousand 
millions of dollars. The Government of our own nation 
has expended, on account of the army and fortifications, 
more than five hundred millions of dollars ; and, on ac- 
count of the navy and its operations, more than half 
that sum. But to ascertain the whole loss of property, 
which this nation has suffered by war, we must take 


into the reckoning many other items ; and, especially, 
the cost of the militia. Now, this last item, not accord- 
ing to mere conjecture, but according to the computa- 
tion of those capable of making it, is fifteen hundred 
millions of dollars. Add, then, to what our nation has 
paid for war, and to her loss of property by war, the 
interest on these payments and losses, and you have an 
aggregate equalling a large share of the whole present 
wealth of the nation. 

And, just here, Sir, I would say a few words on na- 
tional debts. As such debts are, in the main, war 
debts, there can be no assignable limit to their accumu- 
lation, so long as war is thought to be necessary for, 
so long, there will be wars and, until war is abandon- 
ed, it will be hold to be unjust and dishonorable to re- 
pudiate war debts, no matter how crushing, and increas- 
ingly crushing, from age to age, may be the burden of 
such debts. So commanding is the influence of war, 
and so world-wide and mighty the sentiment, which it 
has been able to create in favor of itself, that no debts 
are deemed more sacred and obligatory than war debts. 
And yet, so far from such debts being, in truth, sacred 
aud obligatory, there is the most urgent and imperative 
duty to repudiate them. No doctrine should be more 
indignantly scouted than the doctrine, that one genera- 
tion may anticipate and waste the earnings and wealth 
of another generation. Nothing is plainer than that 
the great impartial Father of us all would have every 
generation enter upon its course, unmortgaged and 


unloaded by prior generations. Nothing is plainer 
than that in those States of Europe, where the war debt 
is so great, that the very life-blood of the masses must 
be squeezed out to pay the annual interest upon it, re- 
pudiation must take place, ere those masses can rise 
into even a tolerable existence. It is a very common 
remark, at the present tune, that Europe needs a revo- 
lution. She does need a revolution. But she needs 
repudiation more. However, there never will be a de- 
cided and wholesome revolution in Europe, that does 
not involve repudiation. If a people, on whom the 
wars and crimes of past generations have entailed an 
overwhelming burden of. debt, shall achieve a revolu- 
tion, of which repudiation is not a part, their labor and 
sacrifice will be lost their revolution will be spurious 
and vain. To say, that the people of England and Hol- 
land, where the war debt is so great, as to make the 
average share of each one of them, both children and 
adults, between two and three hundred dollars 

Mr. ORB, (interrupting.) I rise to a question of order. 
I desire to know whether the point, which the gentle- 
man is now making, about the debts of England and 
Holland, is in order. 

SEVERAL MEMBERS. " Certainly I" " Certainly I" 
Mr. SMITH. I am insisting, that, where war is car- 
ried on, there will be war debts ; and that where there 
are war debts, there will be the temptation, (and a tempt- 
ation, which should be yielded to,) to repudiate them. 


The SPEAKER. The bill before the HOUBC is to meet 
the expenses of the West Point Military Academy. 
The gentleman from New- York is disposed to strangle, 
if I may use the expression, the supplies for that pur- 
pose. The bill brings up the whole character of the 
thing, as connected with war matters. The Chair de- 
cides, that the gentleman's remarks are in order. 

Mr. SMITH, (resuming.) I was about to say, when 
interrupted, that it is absurd to claim, that the people 
of England and Holland are morally bound to continue 
to dig from the earth, and to produce by other forms of 
toil, the means for paying the interest on their enor- 
mous war debt. They are morally bound to refuse to 
pay both interest and principal. They are morally bound 
to break loose from this load, and drag it no longer. For, 
so long as they drag it, they cannot exercise the rights 
of manhood, nor enjoy the blessings, nor fulfill the high 
purposes, of human existence. Is it said, that the Gov- 
ernment, for whose wars they are now paying, would 
have been overthrown, but for these wars ? I answer, 
that the Government, which involved its subjects hi 
those wars, was the greatest curse of those subjects, 
and is the greatest curse of their successors. The main- 
tenance of such a Government is loss. Its overthrow 
is gain. 

I do not deny, that the case is possible, in which a 
generation would be morally bound to assume the debt 
created by its predecessor. But, even then, such gene- 


ration should be the sole judge of its obligation to as 
sume the debt. Were the cholera raging over the whole 
length and breadth of our land, and sweeping off mil- 
lions of our people ; and were a foreign nation to min- 
ister to our relief by lending us money ; if we could not 
repay the loan, our successors should : and such a loan 
they would be glad to repay. 

I would "incidentally remark, that Civil Government 
will be neither honest nor frugal, so long as the practice 
of war is continued. I say so for the reason, -that the 
extensive means necessary to carry on wars, or pay war 
debts, cannot be obtained by direct taxation. The peo- 
ple will consent to their being obtained only by indi- 
rect taxation : and no Government ever was, or ever 
will be, either honest or frugal, whose expenses are de- 
frayed by indirect taxation, for no Government, whose 
expenses are thus defrayed, ever was or ever will be, 
held to a strict responsibility by the people ; and no 
Government, not held to such responsibility, ever was, 
or ever will be, either honest or frugal. 

I have referred to the loss of life and property by 
war of life, that is so precious of property, that is so 
indispensable to the enjoyment and usefulness of life. 
But there is an unspeakably greater loss than this, with 
which war is also chargeable. I refer to the damage, 
which morals and religion suffer from it. All I need 
add, on this point, is, that the power of war to demo- 
ralize the world, and to corrupt the purest religion in 


the world, is abundantly manifest in the fact, that the 
moral and religious sense of even good men ia not 
shocked by war. No stronger argument can be brought 
against war than the fact of its power to conform the 
morals and religion of the world to war. 

It would, perhaps, be wrong to ascribe the continu- 
ance of war to the low and perverted state of the moral 
and religious sense. It would, perhaps, be more proper 
to ascribe it to the prevailing delusion, that war is una- 
voidable. And, yet, it may be, that a better state of 
thf moral and religious sense would have entirely pre- 
vented this delusion. But, however this delusion may 
be accounted for, or whatever may be responsible for 
it, it is consoling to know, that it is not so well nigh 
impossible to dispel it, as is generally supposed. A 
fresh baptism of wisdom and goodness may, perhaps, be 
needed to that end: but no new faculties, and not anew 
birth. Nay, were we to apply to the subject of war no. 
more than our present stock of good sense and good 
feeling no more than our mental and moral faculties, 
as they now are it is probable, that war could not 
long withstand the application. 

The doctrine, that war is a necessity, is the greatest 
of all libels on man. The confidence, which, in private 
life, we manifest in each other, proves, that it is such a 
libel. We walk the streets unarmed. We go to bed 
without fear, and with unlocked doors ; and we thus 
prove, that vre regard our fellow-men as our friends, and 
not our foes as disposed to protect, and not to harm 


us. It is true, that there is, here and there, one, that 
would rob us ; and, at very far wider intervals, one, 
that would kill us. But we are at rest in the con- 
sciousness, that, where there is one to assail us, there are 
a hundred to defend us. Indeed, society could not be 
held together, were it not true, that the generality of 
men are swayed by love, and confidence, and generos- 
ity, existing either in their own hearts, or accorded by 
them to others. The men, who are swayed by distrust 
and hatred, constitute the exceptional cases. 

Have I, then, an evil-minded neighbor? I, never- 
theless, need not fight with him, I may rely, under 
God, upon the mass of my neighbors to protect me 
against him. So, too, if there is, here and there, a mali- 
cious American, and, here and there, a malicious 
Englishman, who would be guilty of involving their 
countries in a war with each other; nevertheless, 
the mass of Americans and Englishmen, inasmuch as 
they prefer international amity to international quar- 
rels, should be relied on to preserve peace : and they 
would preserve it, if so relied on. Now, it is in this 
point of view, that the nation, which is determined to 
keep out of war, will never find itself involved in war ; 
and that nothing is hazarded by adopting the peace 
policy. I add, that, as it is not in human nature, under 
its ordinary influences, and in its ordinary circumstances 
to fall upon an unarmed and unresisting man, so the 
nation, which puts its trust, not in weapons of war, but 
in the fraternal affections of the human heart, and in 


Jie God, who planted those affections there, will find 
this trust an effectual shield from the horrors of war. 
Such a shield did the good men, who founded Pennsyl- 
vania, find this trust. During the seventy years of this 
trust, there was no blood shed in their Province. These 
good men subdued even the savage heart, simply by 
trusting that heart. These good men, by refusing to 
carry deadly weapons themselves, shamed even savages 
out of carrying them. And were America, now, to dis- 
arm herself even to the extent of abandoning the policy 
and practice of war, and were she to cast herself for pro- 
tection on the world's heart, she would find that heart 
worthy of being so trusted. The other nations of the 
earth would not only be ashamed to take advantage of 
her disarmament, but they would love their confiding 
sister too well to do so. Nay, more. Instead of mak- 
ing her exposed condition an occasion for their malevo- 
lence, they would be moved to reciprocate the confi- 
dence expressed by that condition, and to disarm them- 
selves. * 

I have already admitted, that there are persons, who 
would wrong us who would even plunder and kill us. 
I now admit, that Government is bound to provide 
against them. If, on the one hand, I protest against 
stamping the masses with the desperate character of 
these rare individuals, on the other, I admit, that we 
are to guard against these rare individuals. But to 
argue, that, because of the existence of these rare indi- 
viduals in France, or England, or any other nation, 


the nation itself is necessarily disposed to make war 
upon us, is to make the exceptions to the rule, instead 
of the rule itself the basis of the argument. 

Whilst, for the reason, that I believe, that there is 
no need of war, I believe there is no need of making 
preparation against it, I, nevertheless, admit, that there 
is need of Government, of prisons, and of an armed 
police. Whilst I hold, that a nation whose Govern- 
ment is just in all its dealings with its own subjects, 
and with foreigners, and which so far confides in, and 
honors, human nature, as to trust, that even nations 
are capable of the reciprocations of justice ay, and 
the reciprocations of love, also I say, whilst I hold, 
that such a nation needs to make no provision against 
war, I still admit, that it is bound, in common with 
every other nation, to have ever in readiness, both on 
sea and land, a considerable armed force, to be wielded, 
as occasions may require, against the hostes humani 
generis the enemies of the human race the pirates, 
that, both on land and sea, " lurk privily for the inno- 
cent prey." 

But what shall be the character the intellectual and 
moral character of the men proper to compose this 
armed force ? No other question in this discussion is 
so important; and, perhaps, in the whole range of 
earthly interests, there is not a more important ques- 
tion. The answer, which I shall give to this question, 
is a very novel one ; so novel, indeed, that, were I not 


irresistibly impressed with its truth and value, I should 
not venture to give it. 

The punishment of its own offending citizens is, con- 
fessedly, regarded as being, in all its stages, a most 
solemn and responsible duty. Laws to this end are 
enacted with considerateness and solemnity. It is 
claimed, that none but wise and just men are fit to en- 
act them. Judges and jurors are considerate and sol- 
emn in applying the laws ; and none, but the upright 
and intelligent, are allowed to be suitable persons for 
judges and jurors. AIT this is indispensable to main- 
tain the moral influence and the majesty of the laws. 
But how fatally would this majesty be dishonored, and 
this moral influence be broken, if all this propriety and 
all this consistency were, then, to be followed up with 
the gross impropriety and gross inconsistency of com- 
mitting the execution of the verdict, or decree, of the 
court-room to the hands of the profligate and base. 
Most clear is it, that the turnkey and hangman should 


not fall below the lawmaker or judge, in dignity and 
excellence of character. I am aware, that it was once 
thought, that the vilest man in the community was the 
most appropriate man for hangman. But sounder 
thinking requires, that the hangman, if there must be 
a hangman, should be one of the noblest and holiest of 

Such is my argument and, I trust, it is a conclusive 
one in favor of a solemn and dignified execution of 


the laws of Government against its offending subjects. 
But cannot a similar, and a no less conclusive, argu- 
ment be made in favor of such an execution of its laws 
against foreign offenders, also ? Most certainly. It is 
admitted, that the greatest wisdom and considerateness 
are necessary in deciding on so solemn a measure as 
war. But, just here, the amazing impropriety, the 
fatal inconsistency, occurs, of intrusting the execution 
of the declaration of war to those, who are, for the 
most part, profligate and base the very scum and re- 
fuse of society. Not only so, but it is insisted, and 
that, too, by good men, and by the friends of peace,' 
that the profligate and base are the peculiarly fit per- 
sons to fill up the ranks of the armies the peculiarly 
fit persons to be "food for powder." They believe 
with Napoleon, that "the worse the man, the better 
the soldier;" and with "Wellington, that "the men, 
who have nice scruples about religion, have no business 
to be soldiers." A sad mistake, however, is this, on 
the part of the good men I have referred to. They 
should insist, that none but the virtuous and intelli- 
gent are fit to be armed men. Peace men are wont to 
complain, that war is too much honored. But if there 
must be war, it should be far more honored than it is ; 
and, to have it so, none but the intelligent and virtuous 
are to be thought worthy of fighting its battles. Of 
such persons, and of such only, would I have the na- 
tional police consist : that police, which is the fit and 


needed substitute for war-armies and war-navies. Sure- 
ly, they, who man the vessel, that is to go forth against 
the pirates of the ocean, and they, who take up arms 
to vindicate defied justice on the land, should be men 
of virtue, and not vice intelligent, and not ignorant. 
The wicked and the vile will not fail to justify their 
wickedness, if it is the wicked and the vile, who under- 
take their punishment. But if wisdom and virtue are 
arrayed against them, there is hope, that they may be 
awed, or shamed, out of their wickedness. 

The armed forces of the world are looked upon as a 
mere brute power. Composed, as I would have them 
composed, there would still be an ample amount of 
brute power in them; but there would, also, be in 
them the far more important element of moral power. 
I say far more important ; for disturbers of the peace, 
and transgressors of the laws, would be far more con- 
trolled by the presence of the moral than the presence 
of the brute power. Indeed, the brute power itself 
would then be viewed very differently from what it 
now is. Now, it kindles the wrath, and, oftentimes, 
the contempt of those against whom it is arrayed. But, 
then, commended, honored, sanctified by the moral in- 
fluence, with which it would stand associated, it would 
be respected, and submitted to, by many, who, but for 
that association, would despise and resist it. That men 
of conscience and virtue are respected and feared by 
their enemies; and that their conscience and virtue 
make their hearts none the less courageous and theii 


arms none the less strong; was well illustrated by 
Cromwell's never-defeated armies. 

With my conceptions of the character proper for 
those, who are to compose the armed police of a nation, 
it is not strange, that I, too, would be in favor of mili- 
tary and naval schools ; and that I would have them 
far more numerously attended than such schools now 
are. But the military and naval schools, that I would 
be in favor of, would not be an appendage of the war 
system. They would not look to the possibility of 
war : and, of course, they would not train their pupils 
for war. Nevertheless, they would train them for the 
most effective service against the enemies of the human 
race; and to this end they would impart the highest 
scientific, literary, and moral education. 

I said, that I would have none, but the virtuous and 
intelligent, for the armed men of the nation. They 
should be gentlemen : and, all the better, if Christians 
and scholars also. They should be among the most 
honored of men both from their high office, as con- 
servators of the public safety, and from their intrinsic 
merits. But, alas, what a contrast between such men 
and the vast majority of those, who compose the ar- 
mies of the world ! To that vast majority Government 
gives out grog, as swill is given out to hogs. From 
the backs of that vast majority many statesmen are re- 
luctant to hold back the lash. Of course, I refer not 
to mere "sentimentalists," but to those intellectual per- 
sons, who, in the esteem of the gentleman of Alabama, 


are alone capable of rising " into the dignity of states 

We, often, hear it said, that the policeman of London, 
is a gentleman. He should be. But if he, who is 
charged with the preservation of the peace, and safety, 
and order of a city, needs to be a gentleman, how much 
more should he be a gentleman, whose office is to care, 
in this wise, for a nation and for the world ! 

But, it will be said, that men of the elevated charac- 
ter with which I would fill up our armed forces, would 
not be content with the present wages of the common 
sailor and common soldier. It is true, that they would 
not; and, that they should not. Their wages should 
be several times greater. But, it must be remembered, 
on the other hand, that one of such men would be 
worth fifty of the present kind of armed men for pre- 
serving the world's peace. Nay, the armed men of 
the world are of a kind continually to hazard the peace 
of the world. 

I said, that there is no need of preparing against 
war. I add, that preparation against war provokes to 
it, instead of preventing it. If England makes it, then 
is France provoked to a counter preparation. And, 
what is not less, but much more, each nation, having 
made such preparation, is tempted to use it If these 
nations line their respective coasts with cannon, it is 
but natural, that they should long to try the efficiency 
of their cannon on each other's ships. " To what pur- 
Dose is all this waste ?" will be the reproachful inquiry, 


which they will put to themselves, whilst they suffer 
this vastly expensive preparation to lie idle. If the 
maxim : " To prepare for war is to prevent war," were 
ever true, it must have been in those remote ages, when 
such preparation cost but little tune and money. It, 
certainly, is not true, when much time and scores of 
millions are expended in such preparation. 

But, to return to the bill. I would, that it might be 
defeated ; and that the bill for building vessels-of-war 
might be defeated; and that the President's recommen- 
dations for increasing the army and navy might find 
no favor. For the legitimate purposes of a national 
armed police, the army and navy are already sufficiently 
large. What is lacking in them is an elevation of 
intellectual and moral character; and how to supply 
that lack I have already indicated. 

But, it is asked : " What shall we do with the sur- 
plus money in the Treasury ?" I answer : " Use it in 
paying our debts." We owe many honest debts and 
some of them to persons, who are suffering for the pay- 
ment of them. We shall be, altogether, without ex- 
cuse, if, when our Treasury is overflowing, we do not 
pay them; but, instead thereof, indulge a mad war 
passion in building ships, and in making other war 
preparations. Eemember, too, that the debt, which we 
incurred in our superlatively mean and wicked war 
with Mexico is not all paid. I hope, that we shall pay 
it ; and not leave it to posterity to be obliged to pay 
it, or repudiate it. But it ma^ also be asked : " What 


shall we do with the future surplus money in the Trea- 
sury?" I answer: "Have none." We should have 
none, either by adopting free trade, or by doing what 
is the next best thing raising the tariff to the level 
of a full protection. The mixture of free trade and 
protection is a miserable compound. But it may also 
be asked : " What shall we then do for means to carry 
on the Government ?" I answer, that, when we shall 
no longer have war to support, and are weaned from 
the extravagances and follies, which are cherished and 
begotten by that dazzling and bewitching and befool- 
ing barbarism, it will not cost more than one tenth as 
much, as it now does, to defray the cost of administer- 
ing Government; and that tenth the people will be 
willing to be directly taxed for. 

But I have consumed the most of my hour, and 
must close. Do not pass any of these war bills. Do 
not so cruel, so foolish, so wicked a thing. Cruel it 
will be to the poor, who will have to pay these mil- 
lions of fresh taxes ; for, remember, Sir, that it is they, 
who have to pay them. The toiling poor are the only 
creators of wealth. Such as ourselves are but the con- 
duits of wealth. Foolish it will be, because the more 
you expend in this wise, the more will it be felt 
necessary to expend ; and because the more you seek 
to protect your country in this wise, the less will she 
be protected. Wicked it will be, because war, in all 
its phases, is one of the most horrid crimes against God 
and man. 


I have made my appeals, Sir, in the name of reason 
and religion, both of which condemn war. Let not 
these appeals, which are made to our higher nature 
to all, that is pure, and holy, and sublime within us 
be overborne by the counter appeals, which are made 
in the name of a vulgar patriotism, and which are all 
addressed to our lower nature to our passion, pride, 
and prejudice our love of conquest, and power, and 

There is, just now, an opportunity for Congress to 
do a better thing than to indulge and foment the spirit 
of war. Our Government, as I am informed, is nego- 
tiating a commercial treaty with England. From what 
I learn of its provisions, I rejoice in it. I trust, that it 
will be consummated, and go into full effect. It will 
well dispose of the fishery difficulties. It will open to 
us reciprocal free trade, in natural productions, with 
the British North American Provinces ; and so lead 
the way for our reciprocal free trade with those Pro- 
vinces in all productions in the works of men's hands, 
as well as in the fruits of God's earth ; and so lead the 
way, I may add, for such unrestricted trade between 
ourselves and other countries also. I regret, that our 
Government has, hitherto, been so slow to embrace the 
liberal overtures of our northern neighbors. I trust, 
that no sectional, or other unworthy, jealousies will 
avail to hold us back, any longer, from embracing these 
overtures. Let not Maine fear a new competition in 
lumber and ship-building ; nor Pennsylvania in coal ; 


nor Ohio in wheat. These States will lose nothing in 
these respects ; and, if they should lose any thing, their 
loss will be inconsiderable, in comparison with their 
rich gam from free trade in natural productions with a 
country whose trade with us has doubled in the last 
seven years, and our exports to which are double her 
exports to us. Her trade with us in 1852 amounted to 
nearly seventeen millions of dollars. And let not the 
unworthy cavil be repeated, that these Provinces offer 
us free trade in natural productions only. How could 
they carry on their Governments, were they to consent 
to free trade in all productions ? Is it said, that they 
could by direct taxation ? But it does not lie in the 
mouth of a tariff nation like ours to say so. I repeat 
it I rejoice in this treaty. To accomplish such a 
blessing for our own country, for the British Provinces, 
and for the world, will be an imperishable honor to 
this Administration, 

I am informed, that our Government is negotiating a 
commercial treaty with France also. Now, how happy 
if this House would use its great influence to get in- 
serted in both these treaties an arbitration clause a 
clause submitting international disagreements to a wise, 
disinterested, peaceful arbitrament 1 How happy, if 
this House would pass a resolution to this effect ! An 
arbitration clause in our treaties with those nations 
would render war between them and us well nigh mo- 
rally impossible. And such a clause would prepare the 
way for the establishment of an international court 


that great desideratum of the world. "Would that our 
country might participate most promptly and most 
largely in the glory of achieving that desideratum! 
We have already, the village court, and the county 
court, and the district court, and the state court, and 
the national court; and, were it proposed to abolish 
one of these courts, and to let differences between men 
take their own course, and run into violence and blood- 
shed, such proposition would be regarded as a proposi- 
tion to return to barbarism. But, Sir, I trust, that the 
day is near at hand, when it will be thought to be bar- 
barous not to have an international court. 

Sir, I have done. Rapidly, very rapidly, has the 
world advanced in civilization, the last forty years. 
The great reason why it has, is, that, during this peri- 
od, it has been comparatively exempt from the curse 
of war. Let the world continue to advance thus rapid- 
ly in civilization ; and let our nation continue to ad- 
vance with it. During these forty years, our nation 
has generally gone forward in the cause of peace. In 
its war with Mexico, it took a wide step backward. 
God grant that it may never take another step back- 
ward, in this cause ! God grant, that, in respect to this 
dear and sacred cause, our nation may adopt the motto 
on one side of the standard of the immortal Hampden : 
"Nulla vestigia retrorsum" no steps backward: and, 
having done this, it will have good ground to hope for 
its realization of the blessing of the motto on the other 
side of that patriot's standard: " God with us." 


Pass these, war bills, Sir, and carry out the Presi- 
dent's recommendations, and you will contribute to 
roll along that deep and broad stream of sin and sor- 
row, which war has rolled down through every age of 
the world. But defeat these bills, and frown upon 
these recommendations, and there will be joy on earth, 
and joy in heaven. 




FEBRUARY 7, 1354. 

THE Deficiency Bill was under discussion. Mr. 
Clark, of Michigan, had moved an amendment, to ex- 
pend ten thousand dollars in the purchase of seeds, 
etc., and Mr. Chamberlain, of Indiana, had moved to 
increase the sum to twenty thousand dollars. Mr. 
Smith said : 

I do not deny that the mutual exchange of the seeds 
of different countries is beneficial to the farming inter- 
est. Perhaps a similar exchange of specimens of cloth 
might help the mercantile and manufacturing interests. 
Perhaps a similar exchange of mechanical tools might 
be useful to mechanics. But the material question is, 
whether individuals shall make these exchanges, or whe- 
ther Government shall be the agent to negotiate them ? 


In my opinion, Government violates its office, and 
transcends its province, in concerning itself with such 
things. Its sole, legitimate office is to protect the per- 
sons and property of its subjects. Leave it within its 
province, and it will hardly Ml to do its work well 
But allow it to exceed its province, and it will hardly 
fail to do all its work ill. Its usurpation of the work 
of the people has done more than any thing else to 
make Government a burden upon the people instead of 
a blessing to the people. 

It is true that the sum which is called for in this case 
is a small one. But the principle to be violated by 
our voting this sum is a great one. 

We need to be continually mindful of the true and 
only office of civil government. It is to hold a shield 
over its subjects, beneath which they may, in safety 
from foreign aggressions, pursue their various callings. 
It is, also, by its ever-present and strong arm, to re- 
strain its subjects from aggressions upon each other. 

I trust, Sir, that we shall leave the people to get their 
seeds for themselves ; and that we shall vote down the 
amendment to the amendment, and the amendment 





[THE motto prefixed by Mr. Smith to this speech, when it was first 
printed, was "Homes for All."] 

THE House being in the Committee of the Whole on 
the State of the Union, on the Homestead Bill 
Mr. SMITH, said : 

MR. CHAIRMAN : I purpose to speak on the Home- 
stead Bill. I choose this bill for the subject of my re- 
marks, not only because it is " the special order," and 
is, therefore, entitled to preference, but because it is, in 
my judgment, second in importance to no bill x that has 
come, or that shall come, before us. 

I am in favor of this bill. I do not say, that there 
is not a line, nor a word, in it, that I would not have 


altered. But I do say, that I am in favor of the sub- 
stance of it. I am in favor of the bill, not for the 
reason that, by giving up a part of the public lands to 
be occupied, the remainder will be more valuable to 
the Government than was the whole, before such occu- 
pation. Nor am I in favor of it, because the occupants 
will afford new subjects for taxation. Nor, in short, 
am I in favor of it for any of the current and popular 
reasons for it. But I am in favor of the bill, because I 
am in favor of what I interpret the bill essentially to 
be let others interpret it, as they will. This bill, as I 
view it, is an acknowledgment, that the public lands 
belong, not to the Government, but to the landless. 

Whilst I hope, that the bill will prevail, I neverthe- 
less can hardly hope, that a majority of the Committee 
will approve my reasons for it. Indeed, if the Com- 
mittee shall so much as tolerate me, in putting forth 
these reasons, it is all I can expect, in the light of the 
fate of the land reform resolutions, which I offered in 
this Hall, the 16th January last. The storm of indig- 
nation, which burst upon those resolutions, did, I con- 
fess, not a little surprise me. The angry words, which 
came sounding over into this part of the Hall, quite 
startled me. Even the reading of the resolutions by 
the Clerk was hardly borne with ; and, no sooner had 
they been read, than, with hot haste, they were nailed 
to the table for ever and ever. 

And what are those resolutions, that they should 
have excited such displeasure ? Why, their chief and 


controlling doctrine is, that men have a natural and 
equal right to the soiL And is this such a monstrous 
doctrine, as to make me guilty of a great offence of 
an outrage on propriety for offering the resolutions ? 
It cannot be said, that they were expressed in indecent 
or profane language in language offensive to purity 
or piety. Why, then, were they so treated? I am 
not at liberty to suppose, that it was from dislike to 
their author. It must be because their leading doctrine 
is so very wrong in the eyes of the honorable gentle- 
men around me. Now I am aware, that many of the 
doctrines, which I utter in this Hall, are very wrong in 
their eyes. But should they not remember, that their 
counter doctrines are no less wrong in my eyes ? And 
yet, I appeal to all, whether I have ever evinced even 
the slightest impatience or unkindness under anything 
I have heard here? and whether the equal footing, on 
which we find ourselves here, does not require, as well 
that patience and kindness should be accorded to me, 
as by me ? However we may regard each other out of 
this Hall, certain it is, that, ifj in this Hall, we do not 
regard each other as gentlemen entitled to mutual and 
perfect respect, we shall dishonor ourselves, and our 
constituency, and civil government itself 

I am sure, that no member of this body would have 
me disguise, or hold in abeyance, my real views on any 
subject under discussion. I am sure, that none of them 
would have me guilty of the self-degradation of affbct- 



ing, and uttering, other views, and of studying an un- 
principled accommodation of myself to the majority 
around me. I am sure, that none of them would have 
me consent to be 

"A pipe for fortune's finger, 
To sound what stop she please." 

You would all have me be myselfj and speak myself 
however wrong myself may be. You would all have 
me deal honestly and honorably with yourselves. But 
this I cannot do, unless I deal honestly and honorably 
with myself. If unfaithful to my own convictions, if 
false to myself, I shall, of necessity, be false to you : 
but if' true to myself, I shall, of necessity, be true to 
you. To quote again from that great reader of the 
human heart from whom I had just quoted : 

" To thine own self be true ; 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man." 

I will say no more on this point than to add, that, 
God helping me, I shall earn the respect of every mem- 
ber of this body, by respecting myself. 

And now, to my argument, and to my endeavor to 
show, that land monopoly is wrong, and that civil gov- 
ernment should neither practice, nor permit it; and 
that the duty of Congress is to yield up all the public 
land to actual settlers. 


I admit, that there are things, in which a man can 
have absolute property, and which, without qualifica- 
tion or restriction, he can buy, or sell, or bequeath, at 
his pleasure. But, I deny, that the soil is among these 
things. What a man produces from the soil, he has 
an absolute right to. He may abuse the right. It 
nevertheless remains. But no such right can he have 
in the soil itself. If he could, he might monopolize it 
If very rich, he might purchase a township or a county ; 
and, in connection with half a dozen other monopolists, 
he might come to obtain all the lands of a state or a 
nation. Their occupants might be compelled to leave 
them and to starve; and the lands might be con- 
verted into parks 'and hunting-grounds, for the enjoy- 
ment of the aristocracy. Moreover, if this could be 
done, in the case of a state or a nation, why could it 
not be done in the case of the whole earth ? 

But it may be said, that a man might monopolize 
the fruits of the soil, and thus become as injurious to 
his fellow-men, as by monopolizing the soil itself. It 
is true, that he might, in this wise, produce a scarcity 
of food. But the calamity would be for a few months 
only, and it would serve to stimulate the sufferers to 
guard against its recurrence, by a more faithful tillage, 
and by more caution in parting with their crops. Hav- 
ing the soil still in their hands, they would have the 
remedy still in their hands. But had they suffered the 
soil itself to be monopolized ; had they suffered the 


soil itself instead of the fruits of it, to pass out of their 
hands; then they would be without remedy. Then 
they would lie at the mercy of him, who has it in his 
power to dictate the terms on which they may again 
have access to the soil, or who, in his heartless perverse- 
ness, might refuse its occupation on any terms what- 

What I have here supposed in my argument is 
abundantly alas! but too abundantly -justified by 
facts. Land monopoly has reduced no small share of 
the human family to abject and wretched dependence, 
for it has shut them out from the great source of sub- 
sistence, and frightfully increased the precariousness of 
life. Unhappy Ireland illustrates the great power of 
land monopoly for evil. The right to so much as a 
standing place on the earth is denied to the great mass 
of her people. Their great impartial Father has placed 
them on the earth; and, in placing them on it, has 
irresistibly implied their right to live of it. Neverthe- 
less, land monopoly tells them, that they are trespassers, 
and treats them as trespassers. Even when most indul- 
gent, land monopoly allows them nothing better than 
to pick up the crumbs of the barest existence ; and, 
when, in his most rigorous moods, the monster com- 
pels them to starve and die by millions. Ireland 
poor, land-monopoly-cursed and famine-wasted Ireland 
has still a population of some six millions ; and yet 
it is only six thousand persons, who have monopolized 


her soil. Scotland has some three millions of people ; 
and three thousand is the number of the monopolists of 
her soil. England and Wales contain some eighteen mil, 
lions of people, and the total number of those, who claim 
exclusive right to the soil of England and Wales, is 
thirty thousand. I may not be rightly informed, as to 
the numbers of the land monopolists in those countries ; 
but whether they are twice as great, or half as great, 
as I have given them, is quite immaterial to the essence 
of my argument against land monopoly. I would say 
in this connection, that land monopoly, or the accumu- 
lation of the land in the hands of the few, has increased 
very rapidly in England. A couple of centuries ago, 
there were several times as many English land-holders, 
as there are now. 

I need say no more to prove, that land monopoly is 
a very high crime, and that it is the imperative duty 
of Government to put a stop to it. Were the monopo- 
ly of the light and air practicable, and were the mono- 
polists of these elements (having armed themselves with 
title deeds to them) to sally forth and threaten the peo- 
ple of one town with a vacuum, in case they are unwill- 
ing or unable to buy their supply of air ; and threaten 
the people of another town with total darkness, in case 
they will not or cannot buy their supply of light ; there, 
confessedly, would be no higher duty on Government 
than to put an end to such wicked and death-deal- 
ing monopolies. But these monopolies would not differ 


in principle from land monopoly ; and they would be 
no more fatal to the enjoyments of human existence, 
and to human existence itself, than land monopoly has 
proved itself capable of being. Why land monopoly 
has not swept the earth of all good, is not because it 
is unadapted and inadequate to that end, but because 
it has been only partially carried out. 

The right of a man to the soil, the light, and the air, 
is to so much of each of them, as he needs, and no more ; 
and for so long as he lives, and no longer. In other 
words, this dear mother earth, with her never-failing 
nutritious bosom; and this life-preserving air, which 
floats around it ; and this sweet light, which visits it, 
are all owned by each present generation, and are equal- 
ly owned by all the members of such generation. Hence, 
whatever the papers or parchments regarding the soil, 
which we may pass between ourselves, they can have 
no legitimate power to impair the equal right to it, 
either of the persons, who compose this generation, or 
of the persons, who shall compose the next. 

It is a very glaring assumption on the part of one 
generation to control the distribution and enjoyment of 
natural rights for another generation. We of the pre- 
sent generation have no more liberty to provide, that 
one person of the next generation shall have ten thou- 
sand acres and another but ten acres, than we have to 
provide, that one person of the next generation shall live 
a hundred years and another but a hundred days ; and 
no more liberty to provide, that a person of the next 


generation shall be destitute of land, than that he shall 
be destitute flight, or air. They, who compose a gen- 
eration, are, so far as natural rights are concerned, abso- 
lutely entitled to a free and equal start in life ; and that 
equality is not to be disturbed, and that freedom is not 
to be encumbered, by any arrangements of the preced- 
ing generation. 

I have referred to the miseries, which land monopoly 
has brought upon the human family, and to the duty 
of the Government to put a stop to it. But how shall 
Government put a stop to it ? I answer, by putting a 
stop to the traffic in land, and by denying to every per- 
son all right to more than his share of the land. In 
other words, the remedy for land monopoly is, that Gov- 
ernment shall prescribe the largest quantity of land, 
which may be held by an individual ; and shall, at dis- 
tant periods, vary the quantity, according to the increase 
or diminution of the population. This maximum might, 
in our own country, where the population is so sparse, 
be carried as high as four or five hundred acres. Never- 
theless, it might be necessary to reduce it one halfj 
should our population be quadrupled. In a country, 
as densely peopled as Ireland, this maximum should, 
probably, not exceed thirty or forty acres. 

What I have said concerning the land maximum ob- 
viously applies but to such tracts, as are fit for hus- 
bandry. To many tracts to such, for instance, as are 
valuable only for mining or lumbering it can have no 


I may be asked, whether I would have the present 
acknowledged claims to land disturbed. I answer, 
that I would, where the needs of the people demand ik 
In Ireland, for instance, there is the most urgent ne- 
cessity for overriding such claims, and subdividing the 
land anew. But, in our own country, there is an abun- 
dance of vacant and unappropriated land for the land- 
less to go to. "We ought not, however, to presume upon 
this abundance to delay abolishing land monopoly. The 
greediness of land monopolists might, in a single gener- 
ation, convert this abundance into scarcity. Moreover, 
if we do not provide now for the peaceable equal dis- 
tribution of the public lands, it may be too late to pro- 
vide for it hereafter. Justice, so palpable and so neces- 
sary, cannot be withheld but at the risk of being grasp- 
ed violently. 

What I have said respecting the duty of Government 
to vary the land maximum at wide intervals, does, as I 
have already intimated, apply to our own country, as 
well as to other countries. The time may come, when, in 
this country, broad as it is, it will be necessary and just 
to disturb even the richest and most highly cultivated 
landed possessions. Should our population become so 
crowded, as to afford but fifty acres to a family, then 
the farm of a hundred acres, and that, too, however ex- 
pensively every acre of it may be improved, must be 
divided into two equal parts ; and the possessor of it, 
however old may be his possession, must be compelled 
to give up one of them to his landless brother. To 


deny the soundness of this conclusion, is to deny, not 
only the equality, but even the very fact, of the human 

It is in the light of the possibility of such a division, 
that no man can sell his iarm and convey it by a deed, 
which shall certainly carry title to it for ever. I am 
willing to admit, that a man can sell or bequeath his 
farm, though, in strictness, it is but the betterments or 
improvements upon the soil, and not the soil itself which 
he sells or bequeaths. But the purchaser, or inheritor, 
and their successors, incur the hazard of having their 
possessions clipped by the new land maximum, which 
it may be the duty of Government to prescribe. 

It is said,, however, that all talk of land monopoly in 
America is impertinent and idle. It is boasted, that, in 
escaping from primogeniture and entail, we have escap- 
ed from the evils of land monopoly. But the boast is 
unfounded. These evils already press heavily upon us ; 
and they will press more and more heavily upon us, 
unless the root of them is extirpated unless land mo- 
nopoly is abolished. In the old portions of the country, 
the poor are oppressed and defrauded of an essential 
natural right by the accumulation of farms in the hands 
of wealthy families. In the new, the way of the poor, 
and indeed of the whole population, to comfort and pros- 
perity is blocked up by tracts of wild land, which spec- 
ulators retain for the unjust purpose of having them in- 
crease in value out of the toil expended upon the con- 
tiguous land. And why should we flatter ourselves, 


that land monopoly, if suffered to live among us, will 
not, in time, get laws enacted for its extension and per- 
petuity, as effective even as primogeniture and entail ? 
To let alone any great wrong, in the hope, that it will 
never outgrow its present limits, is very unwise very 
unsafe. But land monopoly is not only a great, but a 
mighty wrong ; and, if let alone, it may stretch and for- 
tify itself, until it has become invincible. 

Much happier world will this be, when land monopo- 
ly shall cease ; when his needed portion of the soil shall 
be accorded to every person ; when it shall no more be 
bought and sold; when, like salvation, it shall be 
" without money and without price ;" when, in a word, 
it shall be free, even as Gk>d made it free. Then, when 
the good time, prophetically spoken of, shall have come, 
and "every man shall sit under his own vine and fig 
tree," the world will be much happier, because, in the 
first place, wealth will then be so much more equally dis- 
tributed, and the rich and the poor will then be so com- 
paratively rare. Eiches and poverty are both abnor- 
mal, false, unhappy states, and they will yet be declared 
to be sinful states. They beget each other. Over 
against the one is ever to be found a corresponding de- 
gree of the other. So long, then, as the masses are 
robbed by land monopoly, the world will be cursed 
with riches and poverty. But, when the poor man is 
put in possession of his portion of the goodly green earth, 
and is secured by the strong arm of Government in the 
enjoyment of a home, from which not he, nor his wife, 


nor his children, can be driven, then is he raised above 
poverty, not only by the possession of the soil, but still 
more by the virtues, which he cultivates in his heart, 
whilst he cultivates the soil. Then, too, he no longer 
ministers to the undue accumulation of wealth by others, 
as he did, when advantage was taken of his homeless 
condition, and he was compelled to serve for what he 
could get 

I would add in this place, that inasmuch as land 
monopoly is the chief cause of beggary, comparatively 
little beggary will remain after land monopoly is abol- 
ished. Where a nation is very badly governed in other 
respects, the abolition of land monopoly may be very far 
from resulting in the abolition of all beggary. And 
here let me say, that very little good can be promised 
from any reform to any people, who allow themselves 
to be oppressed and crushed by a national debt. France 
has done much toward abolishing land monopoly. But, 
because she is so much worse governed than England, 
she is, in the extent of her beggary, not very far behind 
England. I need not dwell upon, nor even describe, the 
evils of beggary ; and I need not say, that it is the duty 
of Government to put an end to it, so far as Government 
has the power, and the right to do so. Beggary is an im- 
measurably great evil. It is such, not only because it 
is a burden upon the world, but far more, because it is 
a shame to the world a shame to the beggar, and a 
shame to niankind. 

I would, at this stage of my remarks, notice the cavil, 


that even if the equal ownership of the soil were prac- 
tically acknowledged, nevertheless there would be per- 
sons, who would get rich, and persons, who would get 
poor. This would, doubtless, be true to a considerable 
extent ; for, on the one hand, there are the provident, 
and on the other the improvident ; on the one hand the 
cunning and crafty, and on the other the simple and un- 
suspecting. But because there will be rich and poor after 
the land is equally distributed, is that a reason why it 
should not be equally distributed? If, notwithstanding 
such equal distribution, there are persons, who will still 
be poor; i notwithstanding Government restores to 
its subjects their natural right to the soil, some of them 
are incapable of rising above poverty; then is it all the 
more clearly proved, that Government was bound to 
mitigate their poverty by securing them homes. I 
notwithstanding they are put in possession of their por- 
tions of the soil, they are still poor, alas, how much 
poorer would they have been without those portions ? 
And, again : if there are persons who get rich, notwith- 
standing they are not permitted to wield land monopo- 
ly in behalf of their ambition, then how manifestly im- 
portant is it, that they were not allowed this means of 
getting richer? 

In the next place, the world will be much happier, 
when land monopoly shall cease, because manual labor 
will then be so honorable, because so well nigh uni 

It will be happier, too, because the wages system. 


with all its attendant degradation and unhappy influ- 
ences, will find but little room in the new and radically 
changed condition of society, which will follow the abo- 
lition of land monopoly. Then, as a general thing, 
each man will do his own work, and each woman hers ; 
and this, too, not from choice only, but from necessity 
also ; for then, few will be wealthy enough to be able 
to hire, and few poor enough to consent to serve. 

It will be happier, too, because of the general equal- 
ity there will then be, not in property only, but in 
education, and other essential respects also. How much 
fewer the instances then, than now, of a haughty spirit 
on the one hand, and of an abject spirit on the other 1 
The pride of superior circumstances,, so common now, 
will then be rare. And rare, too, will be that abject- 
ness of spirit, so common now, (though, happily, far 
from universal,) in the condition of dependent poverty ; 
and the difficulty of overcoming which is so well com- 
pared to the difficulty of making an empty bag stand 
up straight I 

Again, the world will be happier, when land mono- 
poly is abolished, because it will more abound in mar- 
riage. Marriage, when invited by a free soil, will be 
much more common and early, than when, as now, it 
must be delayed, until the parties to it are able to pur- 
chase a home. 

Another gain to the world from abolishing land mo- 
nopoly, is that war would then be well nigh impossible. 


It would be so, if only because it would be difficult to 
enlist men into its ranks. For who would leave the 
comforts and endearments of home, to enter upon the 
poorly-paid and unhonored services of a private sol- 
dier. It was not " young Fortinbras" only, who, in 
collecting his army, 

" Shark'd up a list of landless resolutee." 

But, in every age and country, war has found its re- 
cruits among the homeless among vagabonds. 

And still another benefit to flow from the abolition 
of land monopoly is its happy influence upon the cause 
of temperance that precious cause, which both the 
great and the small are, in their folly and madness, so 
wont to scorn, but which is, nevertheless, none the less 
essential to private happiness and prosperity, to nation- 
al growth and glory. The ranks of intemperance, like 
those of war, are, to a great extent, recruited from the 
homeless and the vagrant. 

I will glance at but one more of the good effects, that 
will result from the abolition of land monopoly. Reli- 
gion will rejoice, when the masses, now robbed of 
homes by land monopoly, shall have homes to thank 
Q-od for homes, in which to cultivate the home-bred 
virtues, to feed upon religious truth, and to grow in 
Christian vigor and beauty. 

How numerous and precious the blessings, that would 
follow the abolition of land monopoly 1 By the num- 


her and preciousness of those blessings I might entreat 
civil government, the earth over, to abolish it. But I 
will not I prefer to demand this justice in the name 
of justice. In the name of justice, I demand, that civil 
government, wherever guilty of it, shall cease to sell 
and give away land shall cease to sell and give away 
what is not its own. The vacant land belongs to all, 
who need it. It'belongs to the landless of every clime 
and condition. The extent of the legitimate concern 
of Government with it is but to regulate and protect its 
occupation. In the name of justice do I demand of 
Government, not only, that it shall itself cease from the 
land traffic, but that it shall compel its subjects to cease 
from it. Government owes protection to its subjects. 
It owes them nothing else. But that people are em- 
phatically unprotected, who are left by their Govern- 
ment to be the prey of land monopoly. 

The Federal Government has sinned greatly against 
human rights in usurping the ownership of a large 
share of the American soil. It can, of course, enact no 
laws, and exert no influence, against land monopoly, 
whilst it is itself the mammoth monopolist of land. 
This Government has presumed to sell millions of 
acres, and to give away millions of acres. It has 
lavished land on States, and corporations, and indivi- 
duals, as if it were itself the Great Maker of the land. 
Our State Governments, also, have been guilty of as- 
suming to own the soil. They, too, need repent 


And they will repent, if the Federal Government will 
lead the way. Let this Government distinctly disclaim 
all ownership of the soil ; and, everywhere within its 
jurisdiction, let it forbid land monopoly, and prescribe 
the maximum quantity of land, which an individual 
may possess, and the State Governments will not fail 
to be won by so good and so attractive an example. 
And if the Governments of this great nation shall ac- 
knowledge the right of every man to a spot of earth for 
a home, may we not hope, that the Governments of 
many other nations will speedily do likewise ? Nay, 
may we not, in that case, regard the age as not distant, 
when land monopoly, which numbers far more victims 
than any other evil, and which is, moreover, the most 
prolific parent of evil, shall disappear from the whole 
earth, and shall leave the whole earth to illustrate, as it 
never can, whilst under tlie curse of land monopoly, 
the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man ? 

Bui will this Government take this step, which we 
have now called on it to take ? "Will it go forward in 
this work of truth and love ? Will it have a part, and 
the most honorable part, in bringing all this blessedness 
and glory upon the human family ? A more important 
question has never been addressed to it ; and the pass- 
ing of this bill will be the most significant and satisfac- 
tory answer, which this question could now receive. 
Let this bill become a law, and, if our Government 
shall be consistent with itself, land monopoly will surely 


cease within the limits of the exclusive jurisdiction of 
that Government. But let this bill be defeated, and let 
success attend the applications for scores of millions of 
acres for soldiers, and for hundreds of millions of acres 
for railroad and canal companies, and land monopoly 
will then be so strongly fastened upon this nation, that 
violence alone will be able to throw it off. The best 
hope for the poor will then perish. The most cherished 
reliance for human progress will then be trodden under 

Let it not be supposed, that I would not have the 
soldier liberally paid. No man would go further than 
myself in rewarding the armed servant of the Republic. 
But I would not have the poor robbed ; I would not 
have a high crime committed against humanity ; even 
for the sake of doing justice to the soldier. Indeed, 
justice can never be done by injustice. 

Whatever is due to the soldier should be paid paid 
promptly and paid, too, with large interest. But let 
it be paid in money. And, I would here say, that a 
little money would be worth more to the soldier than 
much land. If the land market is to be glutted, as is 
now proposed, his land will be worth but little to him. 
It will not sell, at the present time. And with him and 
his necessitous family, the present time is emphatically 
all time. They cannot wait, as can the speculator, 
until the land shall become salable. 

My reference to the speculator affords me an occasion 


for saying, that not only the lands, which you let 
soldiers have, but also the lands, which you let rail- 
road companies and canal companies have, will get 
into the hands of land speculators. That is their 
sure and speedy destination ; and it is hi those 
hands, that land monopoly works, its mightiest mis- 
chief, and develops its guiltiest character. 

Nor let it be supposed, that there is no railroad nor no 
canal, that I would have Government aid in building. 
Wherever it can be fairly plead in behalf of the pro- 
posed canal or railroad, that it cannot be built without 
the aid of Government, and that the building of it will 
furnish Government with an indispensable, or, at least, 
very important means for extending that protection, 
which is ever due from Government ; there, I admit, is 
a case, in which Government is bound to aid. Hence 
is it, that whilst, on the one hand, I pronounce it to be 
a gross perversion of its powers, and a wide and guilty 
departure from its province, for Government to help 
build canals, and railroads which are to subserve but 
the ordinary purposes of commerce and travel ; I hold, 
on the other, that Government is bound to offer a 
liberal, though not an extravagant sum to the com- 
pany, that shall build the Pacific Eailroad that road 
being greatly needed, as a facility for affording Gov- 
ernmental protection. Hence it is, too, that the claim 
on Government to help build the canal around the 
Falls of St. Mary was a just one. And for the like 


reason should Government aid in building the pro- 
posed canal around the Falls of Niagara.* It is 
true, that the commercial interests of many of our 
States call loudly for the building of this canal. In- 
deed, there is no one thing for which they call so loudly. 
Nevertheless, I would not, for that reason, have Gov- 
ernment respond to the call. But because this canal 
might prove an important means in the hands of Gov- 
ernment of affording that protection, which it owes to 
the persons and property of its subjects, I should feel 
bound to vote the liberal aid of Government in building 
it Moreover, Government would be grossly inconsist- 
ent, i so long as it looks to the possibility of war, it 
should refuse to vote two or three millions of dollars to 
the company, that might thereby be induced to furnish 
Government with this means of transporting its vessels, 
munitions, and provisions of war, between Lakes Erie 
and Ontario. 




[Mr. Douglass published it in the newspaper which ho edits.] 


My Dear Sir : An hour ago, I gave my vote against 
the Homestead Bill : and, that too, notwithstanding I 
had made a speech in favor of it ; and, that too, not- 
withstanding I have, for so many years, loved, and ad- 
vocated, and acted on, the great essential principles of 
the bill. 

My apparent inconsistency in this case is explained 
by the fact, that, just before we were called to vote on 
the bill, it was so amended, as to limit its grant of 
land to while persons. 

If my fellow land-reformers, with whom I have, so 
long, toiled for the success of our land-reform doctrines, 


shall be aggrieved by my vote, I shall be sorry. Never- 
theless, I can never regret my vote. I was a man before 
I was a land-reformer. And, for the sake of no gains, 
however great, or however many, can I consent to ignore 
the claims, and even the fact itself, of a common man- 
hood. But the advantages, which are sought, at the 
expense of trampling on human rights, are not gains. 
Such gains are losses even to those, who get them. 
The Homestead Bill would have been purchased at too 
dear a rate had it proscribed only one negro, or only 
one Indian. The curse of God is upon the bill, or there 
is no God. There is no God, if we have liberty to in- 
sult and outrage any portion of His children. 

To reconcile me to the bill as amended, I was told 
by one of the members of Congress, that the colored 
people would not be shut out from the public lands : 
but that they could still buy them ! That is, the color- 
ed people must buy their homes, whilst the white peo- 
ple are to have free homes ! What a comment this on 
the great justifying doctrine of negro-slavery, that the 
negroes are unable to take care of themselves ! What 
a spectacle of merciless cruelty we present ! The most 
frightful passages of history furnish no parallel to it. 
Our National Legislature joins our State Legislatures 
in holding out to the free colored people the hard alter- 
native of returning under the yoke of slavery, or of 
being shut out from our broad continent. And, then, 
the excuse for this treatment is no less unreasonable and 
insulting than the treatment is cruel and murderous. 


It is, that the free colored people are too ignorant, and 
lazy, and worthless, to deserve any better choice than 
slavery or death. And this is the excuse of those, who 
shut out the colored people from schools; and drive 
them into negro-pews; and banish them from society ; 
and mark them as physical and moral lepers, to be 
everywhere shunned, and loathed, and hated ! 

That our free colored brethren should in these cir 
cumstances be no more discouraged and dejected ; no 
more self-despairing, and self-despising ; no lower in in- 
telligence, and morals, and thrift, is to me amazing. 
That the mass of them should, notwithstanding the de- 
pressing, crushing influences upon them, be still rising 
and bettering their condition ; and that there should be 
rapidly multiplying instances among them of the ac- 
quisition of wealth, ancf of distinction in writing, and 
oratory, and general scholarship, is more than I had 
supposed to be possible. 

Your friend, 






MARCH 7, 1854. 

MR. CHAIRMAN : As I have but just now come into the 
Hall, and as I have lost the former paxt of the discussion, 
and as I have never until this moment seen a copy of this 
bill, I may not know, with the necessary precision, what 
are the subject-matters of the discussion. But, with 
my present impressions, I am opposed to the bilL I 
arn opposed to this bill, not because I am opposed to 
any existing railroad company that may be interested 
in the bill, nor because I doubt the worthiness of any 
company that may be organized to build it I have no 
reason to apprehend that such a company would be 
composed of any other than honorable men. I have no 
reason to apprehend that such a company would not be 


moved to build the road by as pure and as generous a 
regard for the public welfare as ever prompted any, even 
the best railroad company. Nor am I opposed to this 
bill because of the possible feet that a company of gen- 
tlemen may be interested in a tract of land at one of 
the termini of the proposed road. Nor am I opposed 
to this bill because the proposed road may have the ef- 
fect to concentrate trade and travel at this point, or to 
divert trade and travel from that point. 

I am opposed to this bill because it calls for Govern- 
ment to do with the public lands what I hold Govern- 
ment has no right to do with them. I hold that they 
do not belong to Government, and that Government 
has nothing to do with them but to regulate and pro- 
tect the occupations which shall be made upon them. 
I hold that the lands belong to the landless ; and that 
both reason and religion, policy and principle, require 
that they shall be surrendered to the landless. But, as I 
had the opportunity, a week or two since, to discuss this 
point somewhat extensively on this floor, I will not con- 
sume the time of the committee with it any further, than 
to say, that when I claim the public lands for the land- 
less, I mean not only the landless of a certain complex- 
ion, but all the landless. Believing, as I do, that all 
the varieties of the human family are equally dear to the 
great heart of their common Maker, I trust that they 
will ever be equally dear to my little heart. So do I aim 
to bear myself toward all descriptions of my fellow-men 
toward all my equal brothers for every man is my 


equal brother that, at the last day, I shall be able to 
look into the faces of them all, unabashed by the con- 
sciousness that I have pursued any of them in this life 
with unrelenting prejudice and merciless hatred. 

But to the argument And, now, for the sake of the 
argument, I will admit that the public lands are proper- 
ty in the hands of the Government as much so as is 
money. Nevertheless, I still deny that Government 
may use them in the way contemplated by this bill. I 
insist that Government shall use its property for none 
other than strictly governmental purposes. It may use 
its property in defraying the expenses of Government ; 
it may use it in affording protection to the persons and 
property of its subjects ; but there is nothing else for 
which Government may use it. 

In point of principle this bill is all the same, as would 
be a bill for the Federal Government to build with 
money, and nothing but money, the whole of a railroad 
in Minnesota. The principle can not be affected by the 
fact that the road in this case is to be built with land 
instead of money ; nor by the feet that the appropria- 
tion of land asked for is insufficient to pay the whole 
cost of the road. If the Government may build with 
land it may build with money. If it may furnish one 
half or one fourth of the means necessary to build the 
road, then it may furnish all. But would not Congress 
be startled by the grave proposition for the Federal 
Government to build the whole of a long railroad in 
Minnesota, and that, too, with money? It should not 


be, however, if it is reconciled to the passing of this 

What is the argument most relied on to influence 
Government to help build this road ? It is that the 
/oad will accelerate the settlement of Minnesota and the 
development of her resources ; and greatly enhance the 
value of the public lands in that Territory. I admit 
that this would be the effect, and I should rejoice in it ; 
for I regard the welfare of that Territory with great in- 
cerest. But this same effect, to a greater or less extent, 
could be produced by Government's building canals in 
that Territory. May Government, therefore, build 
canals in it ? Again, Government might promote these 
good objects by building churches and school-houses in 
the Territory. But nearly or quite all of us would con- 
demn it as a gross perversion of its true office for Govern- 
ment to help Minnesota to school-houses and churches. 
And yet, so far as its right is concerned, Government 
can as well do these things for Minnesota as to build 
railroads for her ; ay, and so far as its right is concerned, 
it can as well sprinkle Minnesota over with stores and 

I intimated that I am not opposed to the building of 
the road in question, because of its possible rivalry with 
some other road. And yet, one reason why I am op- 
posed to the granting of land in aid of the building of 
this and other railroads is, that Government may, in 
this wise, be throwing its great weight into the scale of 


one road against another ; of one town against another ; 
or of some other interest of one part of the people 
against the like interest of another part of the people. 
Government should avoid partiality, not only in the pur- 
pose of ita acts, but, as far as possible, in the effect of 
its acts, also. Government is bound to be strictly and 
sternly impartial. But such impartiality it will best 
Tnn.inta.inj and can only by refusing to extend 
special help to any classes or portions of its subjects ; 
and by simply and equally protecting all. 

I rejoice in the free and extended discussion of this 
bill, if it is only because I hope that we may come out 
of it with juster views of the nature of the office, and 
juster views of the limits of the province, of Civil Gov- 
ernment. It is high time that the American Congress 
had settled, with more distinctness and more certainty 
than it seems to have done, the legitimate boundaries 
and the legitimate objects of Civil Government These 
boundaries and these objects thus settled, we should 
not hesitate as to the true disposition to make of this 
bill, and of all kindred bills. We should reject them 
all promptly. 

But it is said that we have abundant precedents for 
such disposition of the public lands as is proposed 
in this bill. Arguments drawn from precedents are of 
doubtful value. An age of progress should rise above 
precedents should make precedents for itself "Were 
we to rely on precedents, it might be urged against us 


that, inasmuch as there are more precedents for monar- 
chies than for republics, we ought to supplant our Ee- 
public with a monarchy. In this disordered and mis- 
governed world there are far more precedents for the 
wrong and the false than for the right and the true. 
Shall we, therefore, give up the right and the true? 

The Governments of the earth have ever proved great 
curses to the people, by meddling with the concerns of 
the people. It is time that we had ceased from follow- 
ing such precedents ; and that we had left the people to 
do their own work ; and, therefore, to build their own 
railroads without help from Government on the one 
hand, and without hindrance from it on the other. 
Such hindrance there may be in the case of one road, 
where Government helps build another, which may 
prove its rival. 

This usurpation by Government of the work of the 
people, and its consequent neglect and bad performance 
of its own work has everywhere, and in every age, 
been the sorest evil that the people have suffered. I 
would that we might teach, in the most emphatic and 
unmistakable language, that, so far as the influence of 
this body extends, the American Government shall 
henceforth confine itself to its only and one work of 
protecting the persons and property of its subjects, 
and shall leave the people to do their own work of 
building churches, and schools, and railroads, and 


Mr. BAYLY, of Virginia. And forming their own 

Mr. SMITH, of New- York. Yes ; and forming their 
own governments. That is right. The people should 
be allowed to form their own governments. 

To return. We have precedents for land monopoly, 
also. Poor Ireland, and indeed, almost every other 
part of the world, furnishes us with numberless such 
precedents. But I hold that we should turn our backs 
upon such precedents, and throw open the public lands, 
without price, to the landless to whom they belong. I 
say that they belong to the landless. The bare fact that 
a man is without land is title enough to his needed 
share of the vacant land. No clearer, stronger title to it 
can he possibly have. Is there a spare home in the 
great common inheritance of the human family ? Who 
should have it if not the homeless ? I repeat it, we 
should make the public lands free to the poor. If, on 
the contrary, we shall do with them as is proposed in 
this and similar bills, we shall make much of them cost 
to the poor double, and much of them even quadruple, 
the price that Government puts upon them. 

Mr. RICHARDSON. I dislike to interrupt the gentle- 
man ; but I feel it to be my duty to raise a question of 
order. Three days are set apart for the consideration 
of territorial business, and I submit that it is not in order 


for the gentleman from New- York to discuss the Home- 
stead Bill under the proposition now before us. 

Mr. SMITH. I would say a word in reply to the gen- 
tleman, did I believe that there is any force or perti- 
nence in what he has said. 

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Illinois raises 
the question of order that the gentleman from New- York 
is not confining his remarks to the discussion of the bill 
now under consideration. The Chair perceives that the 
gentleman is arguing that this grant of land shall not be 
made, and he believes that the gentleman from New- 
York is in order. 

Mr. SMITH. I ask no latitude, sir. I am willing 
you should hold me as strictly to the subject-matter as if 
I were discussing it in the House, and not in this com- 
mittee. I have yet to learn (and I think I may add 
that they who know me have yet to learn) that I am 
addicted to wandering from the subject under discus- 
sion. From having long trained myself to the most 
careful confinement of myself to the subject in hand, I 
hope not to be found guilty of offending against my 
habit, and against confessed propriety in this respect. 
But, sir, I am aware that many gentleman appear eager 
to speak on this occasion ; and that there is not an hour, 
nor a half-hour, for each of us. I will therefore bring 
my remarks to a close ; I would be just and generous 
in my use of our common time. 


It is said that railroads are necessary to enable the 
poor to get to the public lands. Admit it. Never- 
theless, there will be railroads enough for this purpose 
without Government's giving to the rich the lands that 
belong to the poor. The poor ask no such left-handed 
help as this from Government. The poor have no 
faith in the ma.-xriTnj that if Government will take care 
of the rich, the rich will take care of the poor. In de- 
manding the public lands of Government the poor 
demand only what belongs to the poor ; and if Govern- 
ment will yield to this demand, the poor will either 
provide themselves with railroads, or they will make it 
the interest of others to provide them. 





MARCH 16, 1854. 

MB. PRESTON, of Kentucky, had moved an amend- 
ment for the completion of various custom-houses and 
marine hospitals ; and Mr. STANTON, of Tennessee, had 
moved to amend the amendment by adding to the 

Mr. SMITH said : Mr. Chairman, I am opposed to 
th amendment to the amendment, because I am 
opposed to the original amendment offered by the gen- 
tleman from Kentucky, [Mr. Prestpn.] I am opposed 
to the original amendment, not because I am opposed 
to these appropriations for custom-houses and marine 
hospitals, for I am in favor of them. I voted for them 
all. I voted for them all because, having the recom- 


mendation of the Secretary, I thought that they were 
entitled to my vote. 

I voted for these appropriations notwithstanding I 
am an absolute free-trade man. I long for the day 
when there will not be a custom-house left on the face 
of the earth, and when this obstruction to the free 
intercourse of the nations of the earth with each other 
shall have passed away forever. But so long as the 
tariff policy is among the policies of our nation, we 
must have custom-houses ; and it is better that Govern- 
ment should build them than rent them. If Govern- 
ment builds them, they will be safe and suitable. If it 
rents them, they will probably be unsafe and unsuit- 

I am opposed to embodying these appropriations in 
the deficiency bill, because, where it is practicable, it is 
well to have every measure left to stand on its own 
merits. But I am still more opposed to it because I 
fear that the deficiency bill, if loaded down with these 
appropriations, will fell. 

Now, I cannot consent to an attitude which may 
look at all like unreasonable or factious opposition to 
the Administration. In all the views and measures of 
the Administration which are reasonable, I shall gladly 
concur. To defeat the deficiency bill would be to 
embarrass the Administration, and would be to block 
the wheels of Government. Moreover, it would be to 
dishonor the Government and the nation, by leaving 
debts unpaid which should be paid, and paid now 


for in many cases there is urgent need of their being 
paid now. 

When, a few weeks ago, the deficiency bill was lost, 
through the mutual jealousies of the Whigs and Demo- 
crats, I rejoiced that I stand alone upon this floor ; that 
I am a party by myselfj and in myself ; that I am in a 
greatly and gloriously independent minority of one, 
and that I was therefore unaffected by those jealousies 
which defeated the bilL 

I hope, sir, .that the deficiency bill will be passed ; 
and I hope that when it is passed, we shall pass the 
appropriation bill also. When we have done justice to 
the deficiency bill, we shall thereby have conciliated 
the friends of that bill, who are opposed to the appro- 
priation bill. They will then be better able and better 
disposed to view with candor the claims of these pro- 
posed appropriations, and to appreciate their force. 


MAE CH 81 , 1854. 

DURING the discussion thfc day on the bill for build- 
ing Steamships, Mr. SMITH made repeated attempts to 
amend it with the words : " No intoxicating liquors 
shall ever be kept in said ships ;" but the Chairman 
as repeatedly ruled the amendment to be out of order. 
On Mr. Smith's appeal from the decision of the Chair, 
the House sustained the Chair. 




APRIL 8, 1854. 

[The motto which Mr Smith prefixed to this Speech, and under which 
it first appeared, waa : " No Slavery in Nebraska : No Slavery in the 
Nation : Slavery an Outlaw."] 

So, Mr. Chairman, the slavery question is up again ! 
up again, even in Congress I ! It will not keep 
down. At no bidding, however authoritative, will it 
keep down. The President of the United States com- 
mands it to keep down. Indeed, he has, hitherto, 
seemed to make the keeping down of this ques- 
tion the great end of his great office. Members of 
Congress have so for humbled themselves, as to pledge 
themselves on this floor to keep it down. National 
political conventions promise to discountenance, and 
even to resist, the agitation of slavery, both hi and out 
of Congress. Commerce and politics are as afraid of 
this agitation, as Macbeth was of the ghost of Banquo ; 


and many titled divines, taking their cue from com- 
merce and politics, and being no less servile than mer- 
chants and demagogues, do what they can to keep the 
slavery question out of sight. But all is of no avail. 
The saucy slavery question will not mind them. To 
repress it in one quarter, is only to have it burst forth 
more prominently in another quarter. If you hold it 
back here, it will break loose there, and rush forward 
with an accumulated force, that shall amply revenge 
for k all its detention. And this is not strange, when we 
consider how great is the power of truth. It were 
madness for man to bid the grass not to grow, the 
waters not to run, the winds not to blow. It were 
madness for him to assume the mastery of the elements 
of the physical world. But more emphatically were it 
madness for him to attempt to hold in his puny fist the 
forces of the moral world. Canute's folly, in setting 
bounds to the sea, was wisdom itselij compared with 
the so much greater folly of attempting to subjugate 
the moral forces. Now, the power which is, ever and 
anon, throwing up the* slavery question into our un- 
willing and affrighted faces, is Truth. The passion- 
blinded and the infatuated may not discern this mighty 
agent. Nevertheless, Truth lives and reigns forever; 
and she will be, continually, tossing up unsettled ques- 
tions. We must bear in mind, too, that every question, 
which has not been disposed of in conformity with her 
requirements, and which has not been laid to repose 


on her own blessed bosom, is an unsettled question. 
Hence, slavery is an unsettled question; and must 
continue such, until it shall have fled forever from the 
presence of liberty. It must be an entirely unsettled 
question, because, not only is it not in harmony with 
truth, but there is not one particle of truth in it 
Slavery is the baldest and biggest lie on earth. In 
reducing man to a chattel, it denies that man is man ; 
and, in denying, that man is man, it denies, that God 
is God for, in His own image, made He man the 
black man and the red man, as well as the white man- 
Distorted as are our minds by prejudice, and shrivelled 
as are our souls by the spirit of caste, this essential 
equality of the varieties of the human family may not 
be apparent to us all. Were we delivered from this 
prejudice, and this spirit, much of the darkness, which 
now obscures our vision, would be scattered. In pro- 
portion as we obey the truth, are we able to discern the 
truth. And if all, that is wrong within us, were made 
right, not only would our darkness give place to a 
cloudless light, but, like the angel of the Apocalypse, 
we should stand in the sun. 

But to my argument. I am opposed to the bill for 
organizing the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas, 
which has come to us from the Senate, because, in the 
first place, it insults colored men, and the Maker of all 
men, by limiting suffrage to white men. I am opposed 
to it, because, in the second place, it limits suffrage to 


persons, who have acquired citizenship. The man, 
who comes to us from a foreign land, and declares his 
intentions to make his home among us, and acts in har- 
mony with such declaration, is well entitled to vote 
with us. He has given one great evidence of possess- 
ing an American heart, which our native could not 
give. For, whilst our native became an American by 
the accident of birth, the emigrant became one by 
choice. For, whilst our native may be an American, 
not from any preference for America, the emigrant has 
proved, that he prefers our country to every other. 

I am opposed to the bill, in the third place, because, 
it is so drawn, as to convey the deceptive idea, (I do 
not say intentionally deceptive,) that the bill recognizes 
the doctrine of non-intervention. I call it deceptive 
idea : for, in point of feet, the bill does not recognize 
the doctrine of non-intervention. It dictates to the 
territories the form of their government, and denies to 
them the appointing of their principal officers. The 
bill is, itself, therefore, the most emphatic intervention. 
One hundredth as much intervention on the part of the 
Federal Government with a State Government would 
be condemned as outrageous and intolerable interven- 

But I must be frank, and admit, that, if the bill did 
really recognize the doctrine of non-intervention, I 
should still be opposed to it ay, and for that very rea- 
son. This whole doctrine of Congressional non-inter- 


vention with our territories I regard as perfectly absurd. 
Congressional intervention with them is an 'imperative 
and unavoidable duty. The reasoning to this end is 
simple and irresistible. The people of the United 
States acquire a territory. Being theirs, they are re- 
sponsible for its conduct and character: and, being 
thus responsible, they not only have the right, but 
are absolutely bound, to govern the territory. So long 
as the territory is theirs, they can no more abdicate sov- 
ereignty over it than a State can abdicate sovereignty 
over one of its counties. But the people of the United 
States govern through Congress ; and, hence, in respect 
to what is the people's there must be Congressional in- 
tervention. In the nature of the case, this must be so. 
But the Constitution also shows, that it must be so. 
The Constitution declares the fact of the government 
of the Nation by itself; and it also recognizes the fact 
of the government of a State by itself But, nowhere, 
does it so much, as hint at the government of a territory 
by itself. On the contrary, it expressly subjects the re- 
gulation or government of territories, to Congress, or, 
in other words, to the whole people of the United 

I add, incidently, that, in the light of the fact of the 
American people's responsibility for the conduct and 
character of their territories, it is absurd to claim, that 
New-Mexico and Utah are to be exempt from slavery, 
because the Mexican Government had abolished slavery. 


Whether there can be legal slavery in those territories 
turns solely on the character of the Constitution turns 
solely on the question, whether that paper is anti-slavery 
or pro-slavery. Again, in the light of this same feet, 
we see how absurd it is to claim, that there could, tinder 
the continued force of the French or Spanish laws, be 
slavery in the territory of Louisiana, after we had ac- 
quired it. l after such acquisition, there was, or could 
be, legal slavery in the territory, it was solely because 
the Constitution the only law, which then attached to 
the territory authorized it What, if when we had 
acquired the territory, there had been in it, among the 
creatures of French, or Spanish, or other law, the sut- 
tee, or cannibalism would it not have been held, that 
these abominations were repugnant to the Constitution, 
and, therefore, without legal existence ? Certainly. 

I spoke of the Constitution, as the only law, which 
attaches to our territories. I was justified in this, be- 
cause it is the only law of the people of the United 
States, when they are taken as a whole, or a unit When 
regarded in sections, they have other laws also. The 
people of a State have the laws of their State, as well 
as the laws of their Nation. But, I repeat it, the peo- 
ple of the United States, when viewed as one, have no 
other law than the Constitution. Their Congress and 
Judiciary can know no other law. The statutes of the 
one and the decisions of the other must be but applica- 
tions and interpretations of this one organic law. 


Another incidental remark, is, that it is wrong to 
charge the opponents of this bill with denying and dis- 
honoring the doctrine of ' ' popular sovereignty." Hold- 
ing, as we do, that to the people the whole people 
of the United States belong both the lands and the sove- 
reignty of their territories, we insist, that to shut them 
out from governing their territories, would be to deny 
and dishonor the doctrine of "popular sovereignty." 
It is the friends of the bill, who, provided it is, as they 
claim, a bill for non-intervention, that are to be charged 
with violating the doctrine of " popular sovereignty," 
and the principles and genius of democracy. I close, 
under this head, with saying, that should real non-in- 
tervention obtain in regard to these territories, it would 
be a very great and very astonishing change from our 
present policy. The inhabitants of a territory have no 
vote in Congress. Nevertheless, real non-intervention 
would vest them with the exclusive disposal of import- 
ant affairs, which are, now, at the exclusive disposal of 
Congress. It would compensate them for their present 
political disabilities with an amount of political power 
greatly exceeding that enjoyed by an equal handful of 
the people of a State. 

To prevent misapprehension of my views, I add, that 
I am not opposed to making inhabitants of the territory 
officers of the territory. As far as practicable, I would 
have none others for its officers. But, whilst the ter- 
ritory is the nation's, all its officers should be acknow- 
ledged to be officers and servants of the nation. 


I proceed to say, that I am opposed to this bill, in 
the fourth place, because it looks to the existence of 
slavery in these territories, and provides safeguards for 
it. In other words, Congress does, by the terms of the 
bill, open the door for slavery to enter these territories. 
The right of Congress to do so I deny. I deny it, how- 
ever, not because the compromise of 1820 denies it. 
Believing that compromise to be invalid, I cannot hon- 
estly claim ^anything under it. I disclaim all rights 
under it, for the simple reason, that a compromise con- 
ceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity, can impart 
no rights for the simple reason, that a compromise, 
which annihilates rights, can not create riglits. I admit, 
that the compromise of 1820 concedes the indestructi- 
bleness of manhood north of the line of 36 30', except- 
ing in Missouri. But, on the other hand, it atones for 
this concession to truth 'and justice by impliedly leaving 
men south of that line, and in Missouri, to be classed 
with brutes and things. I admit, too, that they, who 
are enjoying the share of slavery under this compro- 
mise, and who, now, that freedom was about to enter 
into the enjoyment of her share under it I admit, I say, 
that they are estopped from joining me in pronouncing 
the Missouri compromise invalid. They must first sur- 
render their share under the compromise they must 
first make restitution to Freedom ere they can, with 
clean hands and unblushing faces, ask her to forego the 
enjoyment of her share. " But this condition is imprac- 


uicable 1" will some of my hearers say. Oh, no I nothing 
is impracticable, that is right. Exclude slavery from 
Missouri and Arkansas for thirty-four years ; and then 
freedom and slavery -will be on an equal footing, and 
they can make a new bargain. [Laughter.] 

Nor do I deny the right of Congress to open the door 
for slavery into these territories, because the compromise 
of 1850 virtually denies it. I say that compromise vir- 
tually denies it, because it distinctly and approvingly 
recognizes the compromise of 1820. The compromise 
of 1850 is as rotten as the compromise of 1820 ; and as 
incapable of imparting rights. And here let me say, 
that I rejoice to see the pro-slavery party pouring ex- 
press contempt on the compromise of 1820, and virtual 
contempt on the compromise of 1850. And why should 
not all men pour contempt upon these compromises, and 
upon all other compromises, which aim " to split the 
difference" between God and the devil ? [Great laugh- 
ter.] By the way, we have striking proof, in the in- 
stance of this bill, that, in the case of such compromises, 
God's share and all are, in the end, very like to be 
claimed for the devil. [Renewed laughter.] 

I have said on what grounds it is not, that I deny 
the right of Congress to open the door for slavery into 
these territories. I will now say on what ground it is. 
I deny it on the ground, that the Constitution, the only 
law of the territories, is not in favor of slavery, and that 
slavery cannot be set up under it. If there can be law- 


ful slavery in the States, nevertheless there cannot be 
in the territories. 

In the fifth and last place, I am opposed to the bill, 
because it allows, that there may be slavery in the 
States, which shaH be formed from these territories. 

Hitherto, when the slavery question has been brought 
up in Congress, it has been alleged, (I say not how 
truly or untruly,) that the anti-slavery party has 
brought it up, and for the purpose of checking slavery. 
But now, it is, confessedly on all hands, brought up by 
the pro-slavery party, and for the purpose of extending 
slavery. In this instance, the pro-slavery party is, 
manifestly, the instrument, which truth has wielded to 
subserve her purpose of reawakening the public mind 
to the demands and enormities of slavery. Most sin- 
cerely do I rejoice, that the pro-slavery party is respon- 
sible for the present agitation. 

A MEMBEE. I do not admit, that it is. 

Mr. SMITH. Strange! Here is a movement for 
the immense extension of slavery. Of course, it is not 
the work of the anti-slavery party. And if the honor- 
able member, who has just interrupted me, is author- 
ized to speak for the pro-slavery party, it is not the 
work of that party either. I took it for granted, that 
the pro-slavery party did it. But, it seems it did not. 
It puts on the innocent air of a Macbeth, and looks me 
in the jace, and exclaims : " Thou canst not say I did 


it I" [Laughter.] Well, if neither the anti-slavery 
party, nor the pro-slavery party, did it, who was it then 
that did it ? It follows, necessarily, that it must be the 
work of the Lord, or the devil. [Laughter.] But, it 
cannot be the work of the Lord for the good book 
tells us : " Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is lib- 
erty" liberty, not slavery. So, this Nebraska business 
must be the work of the devil. [Great laughter.] But 
logical as is this conclusion, I am, nevertheless, too -po- 
lite to press it. I prefer to repudiate the alternative, 
that puts the responsibility on the Lord or the devil ; 
and to return to my original assertion, that the pro-sla- 
very party, and not the anti-slavery party, is responsi- 
ble for the present agitation. Do not understand, that 
I would not have the anti-slavery party agitate. I 
would have it agitate, and agitate, and agitate forever. 
I believe, that the agitation of the elements of the 
moral world is as essential to moral health, as is 
the agitation of the elements of the physical world 
to physical health. I believe in the beautiful motto : 
" The agitation of thought is the beginning of truth." 
I was very happy to hear the honorable gentleman 
of Pennsylvania, [Mr. Wright,] express his faith 
and pleasure in agitation. Not less happy was I to 
hear the honorable gentleman of North-Carolina, [Mr. 
Clingman,] approve of the discussion of Slavery. 
Such good abolition doctrine from such surprising 
sources was very grateful to me. Perhaps, these gen- 


tlemen will continue to move forward in that blessed 
upward way, on which they have happily entered; 
and, perhaps, ere the session shall close, they will have 
reached that table-land of abolition, on which it is my 
privilege to stand. Let me assure them, for the pur- 
pose of cheering them onward, that when they shall ar- 
rive there, they shall not lack my warm greetings 
and the cordial grasp of my hand. [Great laughter.] 
Sir, you must permit me to indulge some hope of the 
conversion of these gentlemen. Indeed, when I heard 
the honorable gentleman of North-Carolina speak of 
himself as " an independent" as a party of one as in 
that lone condition, in which he had so recently heard 
me say, that I find myself was I not at liberty to ima- 
gine, that he was throwing out a sly, delicate hint to 
my ear, that he would like to "join teams" with me, and 
so make up a party of two ? [Repeated roars of laugh- 
ter.] I do not forget, that, at the close of his speech, 
he said some very hard things against us naughty abo- 
litionists. But how could I be sure, that he did not say 
these hard things for no other purpose than to blind all 
around him, save, of course, my own apprehensive, be- 
cause kindred and sympathizing, spirit, to that fraternal 
union with me, which I have supposed his heart was 
then meditating ? 

I said, a little while ago, that I rejoice, that the pro- 
slavery party is responsible for the present agitation. 
T add, that I am half reconciled to this attempt to extend 


the dominion of slavery, because it affords us so inviting 
an opportunity to inquire into the title of slavery. If 
my neighbor tries to rob me of my farm, he, at least, 
affords me an occasion for inquiring into the tenure, by 
which he holds his own farm. Freedom having been 
driven by slavery, until she has surrendered to her 
pursuer nine new States ; and until slavery claims, as 
we see in the present bill, equal right with herself to 
overspread all the unorganized territory of the nation ; 
it is, in my judgment, high time for her to stop, and to 
turn about, and to look slavery in the face, and to push 
back the war ay, and to drive the aggressor to the 
wall, provided she shall find, that slavery, in all its pro- 
gress, and history, is nothing but an aggression upon 
liberty and law, and upon human and divine rights ; 
and that, in truth, it has no title to any existence 
whatever, on any terms whatever, anywhere whatever. 
This is a proper stage of my argument for saying, that 
we all know enough of freedom and slavery to know, 
that they cannot live together permanently. One 
must conquer the other. American slavery lacks but 
two things to make sure of her victory over American 
liberty ; and, from present indications, she is determin- 
ed to lack them no longer. One of these two things is 
its conceded right to overspread all our unorganized 
territory ; and the other is its conceded right to carry 
slaves through the free States. Let slavery succeed it 
these two respects : let the bill, we are now consider 


ing, become a statute ; and let the final decision in the 
Lemmon case* sustain the claim to cany slaves through 
the free States ay, and even to drive coffles of slaves 
through them, whip-in-hand ; thus breaking down the 
public sentiment of those States against slavery ; and 
debauching and wasting it by familiarizing it with the 
demands and exhibitions of slavery ; and then, I ad- 
mit, the way will be clear for slavery to make a quick 
and easy conquest of liberty. 

I, again, acknowledge my partial reconcilement to 
this attempt of slavery to get more to this bold push 
for all, that is left, so far as unorganized territory is 
concerned. We have now the best of opportunities for 
trying the title of slavery, not only to more but, also, 
to what it already had. And, now, if slavery shall 
come off as badly as the dog, who, in opening his 
mouth to seize another piece of meat, lost, in the deceit- 
ful and shadow-casting stream, the piece he already had, 
it will have no one to blame for its folly, but its own 
voracious self. It should have been content with the 
big share the lion's share which it already had. 

But to return from this digression. I said, that I am 

* Mr. Lemmon was emigrating, some eighteen months ago, with his 
slaves, from Virginia to Texas. The vessel touched at New- York ; and 
a judicial decision in favor of the claim of the slaves to freedom was 
promptly obtained, on the ground, that the State of New- York had 
abolished slavery. The State of Virginia is now intent on getting this 
decision reversed. 


opposed to the bill, because it allows, that there may be 
slavery in the States, which shall be formed from these 
territories. Why, however, should I be, therefore, op- 
posed to it ? I will, without delay, come to the reason 
for my opposition. My time, being so precious, because 
so limited, I will waste none of it in apologies, circum- 
locutions, or skirmishes. But I will, at once, " take the 
bull by the horns," and declare, that I deny the right of 
Congress to look to the existence of slavery in the 
States, that shall be formed within these territories, be- 
cause I deny, that there can be Constitutional slavery 
in any of the States of the American Union future 
States, or present States new or old. I hold, that the 
Constitution, not only authorizes no slavery, but per- 
mits no slavery ; not only- creates no slavery in any 
part of the land, but abolishes slavery in every part of 
the land. In other words, I hold, that there is no ]Mr 
for American slavery. 

I -had not intended a moment's further delay in enter- 
ing upon my argument to prove, that the Constitution 
calls for the suppression of all American slavery. But 
I must, before entering upon it, beseech the Committee 
to hold no other member of Congress responsible for it 
Let the reproach of this argument of this foolish argu- 
ment, if you please nay, of this insane argument, if 
you prefer that epithtt fall on myself only. Blame 
no other member of Congress for it. I stand alone. I 
am the firsi^ and, perhaps, I shall be the last, to declare 


within these walls, that there is no law fdr slavery. I 
say, that I stand alone. And, yet, I am not alone. 
Truth is with me. I feel her inspirations. She glows 
in my soul : and I stand in her strength. 


Mansfield's decision in the Somerset case estab- 
lished the fact, that there was no law for slavery in 
England in 1772 : and if none in England, then none 
in America. For, by the terms of their charters, the 
Colonies could have no laws repugnant to the laws of 
England. Alas, that this decision was not followed 
up by the assertion of the 'right of every American 
slave to liberty ! Had it been, then, would our land, 
this day, be bright and blessed with liberty, instead of 
dark and cursed with slavery. Alas, that the earlier 
decision than Mansfield's was not thus followed up I 
This earlier decision was of the Superior Court of Mas- 
sachusetts, and was of the same character with Mans- 
field's. [James vs. Lachmere, "Washburn, 202.] We 
are not at liberty to regard this decision of the Court of 
Massachusetts as wrong, because Massachusetts slavery 
was not abolished in consequence of it. It is no more 
wrong, because of that fact, than is Mansfield's, be- 
cause of the like fact. Slavery in England survived 
Mansfield's decision. Even seven years after it, and 
advertisements, such as this, could be found in English 
newspapers : 


" To be sold by auction at George Dunbar's office, 
on Thursday next, the 20th instant, at 1 o'clock, a black 
boy, about fourteen years of age, etc. Liverpool, Oct. 
15, 1779." 

There was no law for American slavery, after the 
Declaration of Independence was adopted. Had there 
been any before, this paper swept it all away. Chief 
Justice Shaw suggests, that it was this paper, which 
abolished slavery in Massachusetts. [Commonwealth vs. 
Thomas AvesJ] No less fatal was it, however, to the 
legality of slavery in other parts of the nation. The 
Declaration of Independence is the highest human 
authority in American politics. It is customary to 
trace back the origin of our national existence and our 
American Union to the Federal Constitution, or to 
the Articles of Confederation. But our national 
existence and our American Union had their birth 
in the Declaration of Independence. The putting 
forth of this paper was the first sovereign act of the 
American people their first national and authoritative 
utterance. The Declaration of Independence was the 
declaration of the fact of the American Union : and 
to that paper preeminently are we to look for the causes, 
character and objects of the American Union. It was 
for a present, and not for a prospective, Union for a 
Union already decided on, and not a contingent Union 
that our fathers went through a seven years' war. It is 


noteworthy, that the object of the Constitution, as set 
forth by itself, is not to originate a Union, but "to 
form a more perfect Union" that is, to improve on an 
already existing Union. The Articles of Confedera- 
tion and the Federal Constitution were but expedients 
for promoting the perpetuity, and multiplying and 
securing the happy fruits, of this Union. Not only ia 
it not true, that the Articles of Confederation and the 
Federal Constitution are paramount to the Declaration 
of Independence, but it is true, that the Congress of the 
Confederation and the Convention, -which framed the 
Constitution, derived all their legitimacy and authority 
from the Declaration of Independence. You might as 
well talk of supplanting th'e Bible with the forthing 
Tract written to expound it, as talk of supplanting the 
Declaration of Independence with any subsequent 
paper. Truly did one of the eminent statesmen [Gen. 
Koot] of my State say : " That the Declaration of In- 
dependence is the fundamental law of the land in all 
those States, which claimed or admitted, that that in- 
strument was framed by their agents ;" and truly did 
another of them [John C. Spencer] say, that it is 
" the corner-stone of our Confederacy, and is above all 
Constitutions and all Laws." Yes, the Declaration of 
Independence is the very soul of every legitimate Ame- 
rican Consitution the Constitution of Constitutions 
the Law of Laws. 

I repeat it if there was legal slavery in this land 


before the Declaration of Independence was adopted, 
there, nevertheless, could be none after. The great 
truth of this paper is, that all men are created equal, 
and have inalienable rights. Does this paper speak 
of Civil Government as necessary ? It does so, be- 
cause this great truth makes it necessary. It does 
so, because it is necessary to preserve these rights. 
Does this paper claim the right to alter or abolish the 
Government ? It claims it, for the sake of this great 
truth. It claims it, in order to provide better security 
for these rights. 

I do not forget, that the Declaration of Independence 
has fallen into disrepute among the degenerate sons of 
the men, who adopted it. They ridicule it, and call it 
"a ianfaronade of nonsense." It will be ridiculed, in 
proportion as American slavery increases. It will be 
respected, in proportion as American slavery declines. 
Even members of Congress charge it with saying, that 
men are born with equal strength, equal beauty, and 
equal brains. For my own part, I can impute no 
such folly to Thomas Jefferson and his fellow-laborers.' 
I understand the Declaration of Independence to say, 
that men are born with an equal right to use what is 
respectively theirs. To illustrate its meaning, at this 
point : if I am born with but one foot, and one eye, 
and an organization capable of receiving but one idea, 
I have a right to use my one foot, and one eye, and 
one idea, equal with the right of my neighbor to use 
his two feet, and two eyes, and two thousand ideas. 


The enunciation of this great centre truth of tho 
Declaration of Independence, would have justified 
every American slave, at the time of that enunciation, 
in claiming his liberty. Suppose that, after the adop- 
tion of the Declaration of Independence, an American 
patriot had been seized by a British force, and put on 
trial for rebellion against the King, would not that pa- 
per have justified him in calling on his countrymen to 
deliver him ? Certainly ; for that paper asserts the 
right to break away from his allegiance to the King, 
and pledges the "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor " of 
his countrymen to maintain that right. But suppose, 
that, after the adoption of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, an American slave had asserted his right to 
liberty, might he not, as well as the patriot referred to, 
have called on his countrymen to acknowledge and de- 
fend his right ? Certainly ; and a thousand fold more 
emphatically. For the right of the patriot to dissolve 
his allegiance to the Crown is but a deduction from the 
great centre truth of the paper, that all men are created 
equal, and have inalienable rights. But the title of the 
slave to his liberty that is, to one of these inalienable 
rights is this great centre truth itself. The title of 
the slave to his liberty is the great fountain-head right. 
But the title of the patriot to be rescued from his peril 
is only a derivation from that fountain-head right. 

We add, as a reason, why this great centre truth of 
human equality and inalienable right to liberty is en- 


titled to supremacy in all the shaping and interpreta- 
tion of American politics, that, but for it, and for the 
place it occupies in the Declaration of Independence, 
there would have been no American Constitution, and 
no American nation, and no American liberty. But 
for the commanding principle and mighty inspiration 
of this great centre truth, the colonists could not have 
been aroused to their glorious achievement It was in 
hoc signo it was by this sign that our fathers con- 
quered. Again: but for this commanding principle, 
and thip mighty inspiration, the aid the indispensable 
aid that came to us from foreign shores, would not 
have come. Said Lafayette to Thomas Clarkson: 
" I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of 
America, if I could have conceived, that thereby I was 
founding a land of slavery." And there was Kosci- 
USKO, at whose fall "Freedom shrieked," and who 
provided by the will, written by himself, that his pro- 
perty in America should be used by his anti-slavery 
friend, Thomas Jefferson, in liberating and educat- 
ing African slaves. Surely, he would not, with his 
eyes open, have fought to create a power, that should 
be wielded in behalf of African slavery! Oh, how 
cruel and mean a fraud on those, who fought for Ame- 
rican liberty, to use that liberty for establishing and 
extending American slavery 1 

But we pass on from the Declaration of Independence 
to the Federal Constitution, and suppose, for the sake 


of the argument, that slavery survived the Declaration 
of Independence. Now, our first question is not what 
is the character of the Constitution, in respect to slavery, 
but what, from the circumstances of the case, might 
we reasonably expect to find its . character, "in this re- 
spect. Its reasonably expected character may be 
thought by many to shed light upon its actual charac- 
ter. Looking at the circumstances of the case, are we 
to expect to find the Constitution pro-slavery or anti- 
slavery ? made to uphold slavery, or to leave it an 
unprotected outlaw? 

It is argued, that the Constitution must be on the 
side of slavery, for the reason, that it did not specific- 
ally demand the instant death of slavery. There is, 
however, no force in this argument, if we reflect, that 
American slavery was, at that tune, a dying slavery; 
and that, therefore, even those of our statesmen, who 
were most opposed to it, were generally willing to 
leave it to die a natural death, rather than to force it 
out of existence. Were a man condemned to be hung 
nevertheless, if, when the day for hanging him had 
arrived, he were on his death-bed, you would not hang 
him, but you would leave him to die on his bed to 
die a natural, instead of a violent death. That our 
fathers did not anticipate the long continuance of 
slavery is manifest from their purpose disclosed in the 
Preamble of the Constitution and elsewhere, to set up a 
government, which should maintain justice and liberty. 


They knew, that no government could prove itself ca- 
pable of this, if under the influence, especially the over- 
shadowing influence, of slavery. 

It is further argued, that the Constitution must be on 
the side of slavery, because were it not on that side the 
slaveholders would not have consented to its adoption. 
But they, who argue thus, confound the slaveholders 
of that day with the slaveholders of this. They forget, 
that the slaveholders of that day breathed the spirit of 
the Declaration of Independence, and were captivated 
by the doctrine of the human brotherhood. They for- 
get, that the slaveholders of that day were impatient to 
emancipate their slaves, and that in Virginia, where the 
number of slaves was so much less than now, they were 
emancipated, at that period, at the rate of a thousand a 
year. They forget, that there were Abolition Societies 
in slave States, both before and after the year 1800. 
They forget, that Washington and Jefferson were prac- 
tical emancipationists. They forget, that, whilst the 
slaveholders of this generation are intent on perpetuat- 
ing and extending slavery, the slaveholders of that gen- 
eration, studied how to abolish it, and rejoiced in the 
prospect of its speedy abolition. They forget, that, 
whilst the slaveholders of this day are eager to overspread 
our whole national territory with slavery, all the slave- 
holders of that day joined with all other Americans in 
denying it new territory, and excluding it from every 
foot of the national territory. They forget, that all,, the 


States, at that time, with the exception of South-Caro- 
lina and Georgia, advocated the anti-slavery policy ; and 
that even these two States could hardly be said to have 
opposed it. And what, more than everything else, 
they should not forget, is that, over the whole length and 
breadth of the land, slavery was, at that day, a confess- 
ed sin a sin, it is true, that all involved in it had not 
the integrity to put away immediately but a sin, nev- 
ertheless, which all of them purposed to put away, 
in no very distant future. How striking the contrast, 
in this respect, between the circumstances of the slave- 
holder of that time and the slaveholder of this ! Now, 
the Bible, both at the North and at the South, is claim- 
ed to be for slavery ; and now the church and church- 
ministry, at the South, do nearly all go for slavery ; and 
at the North, do nearly all apologize for it. Now, 
slavery is right, and the abolition of it wrong. Now, 
the slaveholder is the saint, and the abolitionist the sin- 
ner. To illustrate, in still another way, the absurdity 
of inferring what slaveholders desired and did, sixty or 
seventy years ago, from what they desire and do now : 
the pecuniary motive of the slaveholder to uphold 
slavery is now very strong. Then, it was very weak. 
American cane-sugar, now wet with the tears and sweat 
and blood of tens of thousands of slaves, was then 
scarcely known. American cotton, which now fills the 
markets of the world, was then in none of the markets 
of the world. Then it was not among the interests of 


our country. Now, it is its dominant interest. It 
sways church and State and commerce, and compels all 
of them to go for slavery. Then the price of the slave, 
that now sells for a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars, 
was but two hundred dollars. 

I need say no more to show how liable we are to mis- 
interpret the desires and designs of our fathers, in re- 
gard to the Constitution, if we look through the medium 
of the pro-slavery spirit and interests of our own day, 
instead of the medium of the anti-slavery spirit and in- 
terests of their day. To judge what character they 
would be like to give to the Constitution, in respect to 
slavery, we must take our stand-point amidst the anti- 
slavery scenes and influences of that period, and not 
amidst the pro-slavery scenes and influences, which 
illustrate and reign over the present. 

I readily admit, that the slaveholders of the present 
day would not consent to the making of any other than 
a pro-slavery Constitution. I even admit, that, had the 
making of the Constitution been delayed no more than 
a dozen years, it would, (could it then have been made 
at all,) have been pro-slavery. I make this admission, 
because I remember, that, during those dozen years, 
Whitney's cotton gin, (but for which invention Ameri- 
can slavery would, long ago, have disappeared,) came 
into operation, and fastened slavery upon our country. 

In the light of what I have said, how improbable it 
is, that the slaveholders were intent on having the Con 


stitution made to uphold slavery. But, in the light of 
what I shall now say, how improbable it is that such a 
Constitution was made. Mr. Madison was among the 
most influential members of the Convention, that fram- 
ed the Constitution ; and when he declared, in the Con- 
vention, that he "thought it wrong to admit in the 
Constitution the idea, that there could be property in 
man," not one person objected to the declaration. In- 
deed, the framers of the Constitution, not only kept it 
clear of the words "slave" and "slavery," and of all words 
of similar import, but they obviously determined, that, 
if after ages should make the humiliating discovery, that 
there had been slavery in this land, there, nevertheless, 
should be nothing in the pages of the Constitution to 
help them to such discovery. For instance, the word 
" service" occurs repeatedly in the Constitution. But 
only four days before the Convention closed its labors, 
the word "servitude" was struck out of the Constitution, 
and the word "service" unanimously adopted hi its 
place, for the avowed reason, that the former expresses 
the condition of slaves, and the latter the obligations of 
free persons. I add the incidental remark, that if the 
Constitution is responsible for slavery, it is so, because 
of the knavery, or ignorance, of its framers. Ifj on the 
one hand, notwithstanding their avowed reason for the 
substitution of " service" for " servitude," they still in- 
tended to have the Constitution thus responsible, then 
they were knaves : and if, on the other, they honestly 


intended to keep the Constitution clear of this guilty 
responsibility, and yet failed to do so, then does such 
failure betray their gross ignorance their gross igno- 
rance of the true meaning, and fit use, of words. Hap- 
pily, for those, who give an anti-slavery construction to 
the Constitution, they are under no necessity and no 
temptation to interpret the motives and conduct of its 
framers in the light of so odious an alternative. The 
pro-slavery party alone are compelled so to interpret 
them. Now, even were it true, that the framers of the 
Constitution, and all of them, too, sought to smuggle 
slavery into it to get it into it, without its being seen 
to be got into it nevertheless, how could they accom- 
plish this object, which, by the restrictions they had im- 
posed on themselves, they had rendered impracticable? 
To work slavery into the Constitution, and yet preserve 
for the Constitution, that anti-slavery appearance, which, 
from the first, they had determined it should wear, and 
which they knew it must wear, or be promptly rejected 
by the people, was as impossible, as to build up a fire 
in the sea. 

But we will remain no longer outside of the Constitu- 
tion. Indeed, there is nothing, and there can be nothing, 
outside of it, which can determine, or in any wise affect, 
its character on the subject of slavery. Nothing in the 
history of the framing, or adoption, or operation, of the 
Constitution, can be legitimately cited to prove, that it 
is pro-slavery or anti-slavery. The point is to be de- 


cided by the naked letter of the instrument, and by that 
only. If the letter is certainly for slavery, then the 
Constitution is for slavery otherwise not. I say, if it 
is certainly for slavery : I say so, because slavery real- 
izes the highest possible conception of radical injustice ; 
and because there is no more reasonable rule of inter- 
pretation than that, -which denies, that a law is to be 
construed in favor of such injustice, when the law does 
not in clear and express terms, embody and sanction it. 
The Supreme Court of the United States have adopted 
this rule in these words : " Where rights are infringed, 
where ~ fundamental principles are overthrown, where 
the general system of the laws is departed from, the leg- 
islative intention must be expressed with irresistible 
clearness to induce a court of justice to suppose a design 
to effect such objects." 2 Cranch, 390. The same en- 
lightened and righteous policy, which led Mansfield to 
say, that " slavery is so odious, that nothing can be suf- 
fered to support it but positive law*," obviously demands, 
that no law shall be cited for slavery, which is not ex- 
pressly and clearly for slavery. 

Much stress is laid on the intentions of the framers 
of the Constitution. But we are to make little more 
account of their intentions than of the intentions of the 
scrivener, who is employed to write the deed of the land. 
It is the intentions of the adopters of the Constitution, 
that we are to inquire after ; and these we are to gather 
from the words of the Constitution, and not from the 


words of its framers for it is the text of the Constitu- 
tion, and not the talk of the Convention, that the people 
adopted. It was the Constitution itself, and not any of 
the interpretations of it, nor any of the talks or writings 
about it, that the people adopted. 

Suppose, that the bill, now under discussion, shquld, 
unhappily, become a statute would it be necessary, in 
order to understand it, to know what the honorable 
gentleman of Kentucky, [Mr. Preston,] who preceded 
me, said of it, or what I am saying of it ? Certainly 
not. If I mean what I say, nevertheless, my words 
could have no legitimate bearing on the interpretation 
of the statute. But my speech may be insincere. I 
may, as, doubtless, many a legislator has done, be prac- 
ticing on Talleyrand's definition: " Language is the art 
of concealing the thoughts :" and pray, what help, in 
that case, to the just interpretation of the statute, could 
my speech afford ? 

I said, that the Constitution is what its adopters un- 
derstood it to be not what the distinguished few among 
them but what the masses understood it to be : and 
what that was, the abolition petition, headed with the 
name of Benjamin Franklin, and presented to the first 
Congress under the Constitution, strikingly indicated. 
That it was not successful is another evidence, that 
the views of the people often differ from the views of 
office-holders. Or, the failure was, perhaps, more pro- 
perly to be regarded, as an evidence of the understand- 


ing, which, doubtless, did exist among, at least, some of 
the statesmen of that day, that slavery was not to be 
killed by the immediate application of the powers of 
the Constitution, but was to be allowed to linger through, 
that age. Whilst I deny, that there is a word in the 
Constitution to authorize the continuance of slavery, 
I, nevertheless, admit that there was, outside of the 
Constitution, the understanding to which I have refer- 
red an understanding confined, however, to a few, and 
for which the masses were not responsible. A sad mis- 
take, as it turns out, was this suffering of slavery to 
drag out its death-struck and feeble existence through 
that generation, in which the Constitution was adopted I 
for, it was in that very generation, that, in consequence 
of the invention already spoken ofj slavery became 
strong, and began to demand prolonged life and vast 
powers as a right an absolute and permanent right. 
The slut, in La Fontaine's fable, on the eve of becoming 
a mother, implored the brief loan of a kennel. But hav- 
ing once got possession of it, she found excuse for con- 
tinuing the possession, until her young dogs were grown 
up. With this reenforcement, it is not strange, that 
she should be inspired by the maxim, " might makes 
right," and should claim, as absolutely her own, that 
which had only been lent to her and lent to her, too, 
so generously and confidingly. This fable illustrates, ' 
but too well, the successive feebleness, and growth, and 
usurpation of slavery. 


We begin with the Preamble of the Constitution. 
This, at least, is anti-slavery : and this tells us, that the 
Constitution is anti-slavery for it tells us, that one thing, 
for which the Constitution was made, was " to secure 
the blessings of liberty" not to inflict, or sustain, the 
curse of slavery but " to secure the blessings of liber- 
ty." I admit, that the Preamble is not the Constitution. 

I admit, that it is but the porch of the temple. Nev- 
ertheless, ifj instead of the demon of Slavery coiled up 
in that porch, we see the Goddess of Liberty standing 
proudly there, then we may infer, that the temple itselfj 
instead of being polluted with Slavery, is consecrated 
to Liberty. And we are not mistaken in this inference. 
As we walk through the temple, we find, that it corre- 
sponds with the entrance. The Constitution is in har- 
mony with the Preamble. 

The first reference, in the Constitution, to slavery, is 
in the apportionment clause. There is, however, no re- 
ference to it here, if the language is interpreted, accord- 
ing to its legal sense, or if the framers of the Constitu- 
tion were intelligent and honest. It must be remarked, 
that it was from this clause, that they struck out the 
word " servitude" for the avowed purpose of saving it 
from being a pro-slavery clause. But, in point of feet, 
if this clause does refer to slavery, it is nevertheless, a 
clause not to encourage, but to discourage, slavery. The 
clause diminishes the power of a State in the national 
councils in proportion to the extent of its slavery. This 


clause is, in truth, a bounty on emancipation. Had it 
provided, that drunkards should each count but three 
fifths of a man, it, surely, would not be called a clause 
to encourage drunkenness. Or, had it provided, that 
they, who can neither read nor write, should each count 
but three fifths of a man, it, surely, would not be called 
a clause to encourage illiterateness. In the one case, it 
would be a bounty on sobriety, and, in the other, on 

The next clause of the Constitution, which we will 
examine, is that, which, confessedly, empowers Congress 
to abolish the foreign slave-trade. I, of course, mean 
the clause, which empowers Congress to regulate com- 
merce with foreign nations. Yes, the slave States con- 
fessedly conceded to Congress the power to abolish that 
trade ; and Congress did actually abolish it. But, it is 
said, that the provision, respecting "migration or im- 
portation," suspended the exercise of this power for 
twenty years. Under no legal and proper sense of it, 
however, does this provision refer to slaves. But, for 
the sake of the argument, we will admit, that it does, 
and that it had the effect to suspend, for twenty years, 
the exercise of the power in question. What then ? 
The suspension could not destroy, nor, to any degree, 
impair, the essential anti-slavery character of the clause 
under consideration. On the contrary, the suspension 
itself shows, that the clause was regarded, by the makers 
of the Constitution, as potentially anti-slavery as one, 


that was capable of being wielded, and that, probably, 
would be wielded, to suppress the slave-trade. I would 
add, that this brief suspension goes to justify the posi- 
tion, that American slavery was looked upon, in that 
day, as a rapidly expiring practice as a vice, that would 
die out, in a few years. There is much historical evi- 
dence, that the abolition of the slave-trade was looked 
to by many, if not, indeed, by most, at that time, either 
as equivalent to, or as sure to result in, the abolition of 
slavery. The power given to Congress to abolish the 
slave-trade, Mr. Dawes, in the Massachusetts Conven- 
tion, that adopted the Constitution, declared to be " the 
mortal wound" of slavery. 

Manifestly, the clause of the Constitution, which im- 
parts power to abolish the slave-trade, and not that, 
which briefly suspends the exercise of this power, gives 
character to the Constitution. If my neighbor deeds 
me his farm, only reserving to himself the possession 
of it for a month, (and a week in the life of an individual 
is longer than twenty years in the life of a nation,) it 
would, certainly, be very absurd to call it a transaction 
for continuing him in the ownership and possession of 
the farm. Or, if the bargain, which I make with my 
neighbor, is, that, after a week's delay, he shall come 
into my service for life, it is certainly not this little de- 
lay, that is to stamp the essential and important charac- 
ter of the bargain. 

I have referred to only a part of the clause, which 


gives power to Congress to abolish the slave-trade ; to 
only that part, which respects the foreign slave-trade. 
I, now, add, that this clause gives equal power to abolish 
the inter-State slave-trade. And if it does, how idle 
must it be to say, that a Constitution, which empowers 
Congress to abolish, not only the foreign, but the do- 
mestic slave-trade, is a Constitution for slavery I To 
abolish the domestic slave-trade is to cut the very jugu- 
lar of slavery. 

But it is said, that the power " to regulate commerce 
among the several States" is not a power to abolish the 
slave-trade between them. But, if it is not, then the 
power " to regulate commerce with foreign nations" is 
not a power to abolish the African slave-trade. Never- 
theless, Congress held, that it was; and, in that day, 
when slavery was not in the ascendant, everybody 
agreed with Congress. 

It is further said, that the Constitution knows human 
beings only as persons ; and that, hence, the inter-State 
traffic in slaves, being, in its eye, but migration or travel, 
Congress has no power to suppress it. Then, what 
right had Congress to abolish the African slave-trade ? 
The subjects of that traffic, no less than the subjects of 
the inter-State traffic, are persons. Another reply, 
which we make to the position, that all human beings 
are persons in the eye of the Constitution, is that it can 
not lie in the mouth of those, who carry on the traffic 
in slaves, to ignore the true character of that traffic, and 


to shelter its chattel-subjects under the name of persons. 
And another reply, which we make to this position is, 
that it is true; and that, hence, the traffic in slaves, 
every slave being a person, is unconstitutional. If the 
Constitution grants power to Congress over commerce, 
it necessarily defines the subjects of the commerce. Such 
definition is involved hi such grant. But slaves can not 
come within such definition for slaves are persons, and 
persons can not be the subjects of commerce. And still 
another reply, that we have to make to those, who 
would exempt the inter-State traffic in human beings 
from the control of Congress, on the ground, that Con- 
gress can know no human being as a chattel, or as other 
than a person, is that they are driven by logical consist- 
ency and logical necessity to the conclusion, that the 
Constitution has power to sweep away the whole of 
American slavery. The Constitution extends its shield 
over every person in the United States ; and every per- 
son in the United States has rights specified in the Con- 
stitution, that are entirely incompatible with his subjec- 
tion to slavery. 

Ere leaving this topic, I notice an objection, which 
is frequently heard from the lips of earnest anti-slavery 
men. It is, that the Constitution omits to command 
Congress in terms, to abolish the African slave-trade, 
even at the end of the twenty years. But why do they 
fail to see, that this very omission marks the anti-slav- 
ery character of the Constitution and of the day, when it 


was written? Doomed slavery then needed an express 
stipulation for its respite. But to enjoin anti-slavery 
action upon those, who could be held back from it only 
by such express stipulation, was, of course, deemed su- 
perfluous. The sentence of the court is, that the mother 
shall not kiss her infant for twenty days. The court 
need not enjoin, that she shall kiss it after the twenty 
days are expired. Her love for her infant makes 
such injunction quite superfluous. So was it unneces- 
sary to enjoin upon the anti-slavery zeal of our fathers 
the abolition of the slave-trade, at the expiration of 
the twenty years. Scarcely had the twenty years expired 
before that zeal forbade, under the heaviest penalties, 
the continuance of that accursed trade. An ancient 
nation regarded parricide as too unnatural and mon- 
strous a crime to need the interdiction of law. And 
our fathers regarded the African slave-trade as a crime 
so unnatural and monstrous, as to make their injunc- 
tions on Congress to abolish it altogether superfluous. 
We have, now, disposed of two of the three clauses 
of the Constitution, which are assumed to be pro-slavery, 
namely: the apportionment clause, and the migration and 
importation clause. The third refers to fugitiveeervants, 
but certainly not to fugitive slaves. Whether we look 
at the letter or history of this clause, it can have no re- 
ference to slaves. No one pretends that slaves are ex- 
pressly and clearly defined in it ; and hence, according to 
the rule'of the Supreme Court, which I have quoted, slaves 
are not referred to in it. Again, none deny that the terms 


of the clause make it applicable to apprentices, minor 
children, and others. All admit, that, in the most natural 
use of language, it is capable of innocent applications. 

The clause, under consideration, speaks of a "person 
held to service or labor in one State, under the laws 
thereof. " Now, unless these laws are for slavery, the 
service or labor cannot be slavery ; and if they are for 
slavery, then they cannot hold any person to slavery, 
unless they are valid laws. But they are not valid laws 
unless they are in harmony with the Constitution. If 
the Constitution is against slavery, then pro-slavery 
laws are but nominal laws. It will be more timely, at 
the close of my argument than now, to say, whether the 
Constitution is against, or for slavery. In the next place, 
the clause speaks of a person. But as we shall more 
ftilly see, there are rights claimed for persons by the 
Constitution itself which must all be trodden under 
foot, before persons can be reduced to slavery. Another 
reason, why the fugitives referred to in this clause are 
not slaves, is, that " service or labor," is " due," to their 
employer from these fugitives. But slaves, by every 
American definition, of slaves, are as incapable of owing 
as are horses or even horse-blocks. So too, by every 
English definition of slaves. Says Justice Best, in case 
of Forbes vs. Oochran: "A slave is incapable of compact." 
And another reason, why this clause cannot refer to 
slaves, is, that the fugitives in it are held by the laws 
to labor. But slaves, no more than oxen, are held by 
the laws to labor. The laws no more interpose to com- 


pel labor in the one case than in the other. And still 
another reason, why this clause is not to be taken as re- 
ferring to slaves, is the absurdity of supposing, that our 
fathers consented to treat as slaves whatever persons, 
white or black, high or low, virtuous or vicious, any 
future laws of any State might declare to be slaves. 
Shall we of the North be bound to acquiesce in the 
slavery of our children, who may emigrate to the South, 
provided the laws of the South shaH declare Northern 
emigrants to be slaves ? Nay, more, shall we be bound 
to replunge those children into slavery, if they escape 
from it ? But all this we shall be bound to do, if the 
pro-slavery interpretation of the clause in question is the 
true interpretation. Ay, and in that case, we shall be 
bound to justify even our own slavery, should we be 
caught at the South and legislated into slavery. This 
intimation, that slavery may yet take a much wider 
range in supplying itself with victims, is by no means 
extravagant and unauthorized. The Supreme Court 
of the United States opened a wide door to this end, 
in the case of Strader and others vs. Gorham, some 
three years ago. In that case, the. Court claimed that 
a State "has an undoubted right to determine the 
status, or domestic and social condition, of the persons 
domiciled within its territory." By the way, this doc- 
trine of the Supreme Court, that there are no natural 
rights ; and that all rights stand but in the concessions 
and uncertainties of human legislation, is a legitimate 
outgrowth of slavery. For slavery is a war upon nature, 


and is the devourer of the rights of nature ; and claims 
that all rights and all interests, natural and conven- 
tional, shall accommodate themselves to its demands. 

"We need spend no more time on the letter of this 
clause. "We will, now, look at its history. It is a well- 
nigh universal impression, that this clause is one of the 
compromises of the Constitution. But there is not the 
slightest foundation in truth for this impression. In 
none of the numerous plans of a Constitution, submit- 
ted to its framers, was the subject-matter of this clause 
mentioned. Indeed it was not mentioned at all, until 
twenty days before the close of the Convention. This 
clause, when its insertion was first moved, contained 
the word "slave." But, with that word in it, it met 
with such strenuous opposition, as to compel the imme- 
diate withdrawal of the motion. The next day, how- 
ever, it was offered again, but with the word " slave" 
struck out. In this amended and harmless form, it was 
adopted immediately, without debate, and unanimously. 
I add, by the way, that no one believes, that a clause 
providing in express terms, for the surrender of the 
whole American soil to the chasing down and enslaving 
of men, women and children, could ever have gained 
the vote of the Convention ; or that, if it had, the Con- 
stitution, with such a disgusting blot upon it, could 
ever have been adopted. 

Another reason for not claiming this clause to be pro- 
slavery is, that the American people did, in all prol>a- 


bility, regard the word " service" as expressing the con- 
dition of freemen. So, as we have seen, the members 
of the Constitutional convention, regarded it ; and, in- 
asmuch as they came together from all parts of the 
country, and represented all classes and sections of the 
American people, is it not a fair inference, that they 
used language in the sense approved by the American 
people ? 

We have, now, examined those parts of the Consti- 
tution, which are relied on to give it a pro-slavery cha- 
racter ; and we find, that they are not entitled to give it 
this character. We proceed to glance at some, and at 
only some, of those parts of the Constitution, which 
clearly prove its anti-slavery character ; which are ut- 
terly incompatible with slavery ; and which, therefore, 
demand its abolition. 

1. " Congress has power to provide for the common d& 
fence and general welfare of the United States" 

But Congress has not this power, if the obstacles of 
slavery may be put in the way of its exercise. A man 
cannot be said to have law for driving his carriage 
through the streets, if another man has law for blocking 
its wheels. If the States may establish the most atro- 
cious wrongs within their borders, and thus create an 
atmosphere in which the Federal Government cannot 
"live and move and have its being ;" then within those 
borders, the Federal Government may be reduced to 
a nullity. The power referred to in this clause Con- 


gress will never have faithfully exercised, so long as it 
leaves millions of foes in the bosom of our country. By 
enrolling the slaves in the militia, and yielding to their 
Constitutional right "to keep and bear arms" which 
is, in effect, to abolish slavery Congress would convert 
those foes into friends. The power in question, Patrick 
Henry, who was then the orator of America, held to be 
sufficient for abolishing slavery. In the Virginia Con- 
vention, which passed upon the Federal Constitution, Mr. 
Henry said : " May Congress not say, that every black 
man must fight ? Did we not see a little of this, the 
last war ? We were not so hard pushed as to make 
emancipation general. But acts of Assembly passed, 
that every slave, who would go to the army should be 
free. Another thing will contribute to bring this event 
about. Slavery is detested. We feel its fetal effects. 
We deplore it with all the pity of humanity. Let all 
these considerations, at some future period, press with 
full force upon the minds of Congress. They will read 
that paper, (the Constitution,) and see if they have power 
of manumission. And have they not, sir ? Have they 
not power to provide for the general defence and wel- 
fare ? May they not think, that they call for the abo- 
lition of slavery ? May they not pronounce all slaves 
free? and will they not be warranted by that power? 
There is no ambiguous implication or illogical deduc- 
tion. The paper speaks to the point. They have the power 
in clear and unequivocal terms: and uriU clearly and 

certainly exercise it." 


2. " Congress has power to impose a capitation tax" 
Manifestly, Congress can pay no respect in this case 

to the distinction of bond and free. It can look for the 
payment of the tax to none other than the subjects of 
the tax. But if any of them do not own themselves, 
they cannot owe the tax. This clause implies, therefore, 
the self-ownership of men, and not their ownership by 

3. " Congress shall have power to establish a uniform 
rule of naturalization " 

But this power, if faithfully exercised, is fatal to slav- 
ery. For if our three millions and a half of slaves 
are not already citizens, Congress can under this power 
make them such, at any time. It can confer on them, 
as easily as on foreigners, the rights of citizenship. I 
add, that, had the slaveholders wished (as however they 
did not) to perpetuate slavery, they would if they could 
have qualified this absolute and unlimited power of 
naturalization, which the Constitution confers on Con- 

4. " The Congress shall have power to promote the pro- 
gress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times 
to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respect- 
ive writings and discoveries" 

This clause clearly authorizes Congress to encourage 
and reward the genius, as well of him who is called a 
slave, as of any other person. One person as much 
as another, is entitled to a copyright of his book and 


to a patent for his meritorious invention. Not so, how- 
ever, if there may be slavery. For the victim of slavery 
has no rights ; and the productions of his mind, no less 
than the productions of his hands, belong to his master. 

6. " Congress shall have power to declare war, grant 
letters of marque and reprisal to raise and support armies 
to provide and maintain a navy" 

It necessarily follows, from the unconditional power 
of Congress to carry on war, that it can contract with 
whom it pleases white or black, employer or employed 
to fight its battles ; and can secure to each his wages, 
pension, or prize money. But utterly inconsistent with 
this absolute power of Congress is the claim of the slave- 
holder to the time, the earnings, the will, the all, of the 
sailor, or soldier, whom he calls his slave. 

6. " The United States shatt guaranty to every State in 
this Union a republican form of government." 

It is a common opinion, that the General Government 
should not concern itself with the internal policy and 
arrangements of a State. But this opinion is not justi- 
fied by the Constitution. The case may occur, where 
the neglect thus to concern itself would involve its own 
ruin, as well as the greatest wrong and distress to the 
people of a State. How could the General Government 
be maintained, if in one State suffrage were universal, 
and in another conditioned on the possession of land, 
and in another on the possession of money, and in an- 
other on the possession of slaves, and in another on the 
possession of literary or scientific attainments, and in 


another on the possession of a prescribed religious creed, 
and if in others it were conditioned on stall other pos- 
sessions and attainments? How little resemblance and 
sympathy there would be, in that case, between the 
Congressional representatives of the different States! 
How great would be the discord in our National Coun- 
cils ! How speedy the ruin to our national and subor- 
dinate interests! In such circumstances, the General 
Government would be clearly bound to insist on an 
essential uniformity in the State Governments. But 
what would be due from the General Government then, 
is emphatically due from it now. Our nation is already 
brought into great peril by the slavocratic element in 
its councils; and in not a few of the States, the white, 
as well as the black, masses are crushed by that political 
element. Surely the nation is entitled to liberation from 
this peril; and, surely, these masses have a perfectly 
constitutional, as well as most urgent, claim on the 
nation for deliverance from the worst of despotisms, 
and for the enjoyment of a "republican form of Gov- 

7. "No State shall pass any bill of attainder" 

But what is so emphatic, and causeless, and merciless 
a bill of attainder, as that, which attaints a woman with 
all her posterity for no other reason than that there 
is African blood in her veins? 

8. "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shatt not 
be suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, 
the public safety may require it" 


Blackstone pronounces this writ "the most celebrated 
writ of England and the chief bulwark of the Constitu- 
tion." One of his editors, Mr. Christian, says, that "it is 
this writ, which makes slavery impossible in England." 
Equally impossible, in theory, does it make slavery 
in America. And in both countries the impossibility 
springs from the iact, that the writ is entirely incompa- 
tible with the claim of property in man. In the pre- 
sence of such a claim, if valid, this writ is impotent, for 
if property can be plead in the prisoner, (and possession 
is proof of ownership,) the writ is defeated. 

Slavery cannot be legalized short of suspending the 
writ of habeas corpus, in the case of the slaves. But, 
inasmuch as the Constitution provides for no such sus- 
pension, there is no legal slavery in the nation. 

I add, that the Federal Government should see to it, 
that, in every part of the nation, where there are slaves, 
if need be, hi every county, or even town, there are 
Judges who will faithfully use this writ for their deliver- 

9. "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or pro- 
perty, vrithout due process of lo,w" 

Let this provision have free course, and it puts an 
end to American slavery. It is claimed, however, that, 
inasmuch as the slave is held by law, (which, in point of 
feet, he is not,) and, therefore, "by due process of law," 
nothing can be gained for him from this provision. 
But, inasmuch, as this provision is an organic and fund- 
amental law, it is not subject to any other law, but is 


paramount to every other law. Moreover, it is a great 
mistake to confound the laws, so called, by which per- 
sons are held in slavery, with "due process of law." 

Justice Bronson says [Hill's Eeports, IV. 146] of this 
part of the Constitution : 

"The meaning of the section then seems to be, that no 
member of the State shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any 
of his rights or privileges, unless the matter shall be adjudged 
against him, upon trial had, according to the course of the 
common law." 

He adds: 

"The words 'due process of law,' in this place can- 
not mean less than a prosecution or suit, instituted and 
conducted, according to the prescribed forms and solem- 
nities for ascertaining guilt, or determining the title 
to property." 

Lord Coke explains "due process of law" to be, "by 
indictment or presentment of good and lawful men, 
where such deeds be done in due manner, or by suit 
original of the common law." 

The defenders of the constitutionality of State slavery 
are driven to the position, that such specific denials 
of the definition and violation of rights, as I have just 
quoted from one of the amendments of the Constitution, 
are limitations upon the power of the Federal Govern- 
ment only. They say, that it is to be inferred, that the 
limitations are on Federal power, when the Constitution 
does not point out whether they are on Federal or 


State power. Whence, however, is this inference justi- 
fied? From the fact, it is answered, that the Federal 
power is the subject-matter of the Constitution is that, 
of which it treats is that, which it constitutes. But 
the Constitution is a paper, not merely for establishing 
the Federal Government, and prescribing its character 
and limits. It is, also, a paper for determining the 
boundaries of State authority. And the latter purpose 
is no less important, or necessary, than the former. 
Happily, however, the original Constitution left nothing 
to inference in this matter. It does not need a more 
frequent recurrence of the word "Congress" in them, to 
make it entirely plain, that the eighth and ninth sections 
of the first article of the Constitution are devoted to an 
enumeration of the powers and disabilities of Congress. 
Nor is it less plain, that the tenth section of this article i 
is taken up with the enumeration of the disabilities 
of the States. I have seen an old copy of the Constitu- 
tion, printed in Virginia, in which " Powers of Congress" 
is at the head of the eighth section, and "Restrictions 
upon Congress" is at the head of the ninth section, and 
"Restrictions upon respective States" is at the head of 
the tenth section. The repetition of the word "State," 
in the tenth section, would have been as unnecessary as 
the repetition of the word "Congress" in the ninth sec- 
tion, had the denial of State powers been preceded by 
the enumeration of State powers, as is the denial of 
Federal powers by the enumeration of Federal powers. 


So far, then, as these sections are concerned, it is not 
left to the looseness of inference to determine whether 
the Constitution is applicable to a State, or to the Nation. 
One of the sections contains limitations on the Federal 
Government. The next contains limitations on another 
Government another Government, since the latter lim- 
itations are, to some extent, identical with the former, 
and would, of course, not be repeated, were but one 
Government in view. What, however, but a State 
Government, could this other Government be ? And 
yet, to avoid all necessity of inference, the word "State" 
is repeated several times in connection with these latter 
limitations. And, now, we ask where in the original 
Constitution, either before or after the three sections, 
which we have referred to, is it left to be inferred, 
whether the powers granted are National or State 
powers? Nowhere is there such uncertainty. 

We will now take up the amendments of the Consti- 
tution. It is in them, that we find those specific denials 
of the deprivation and violation of rights, which forbid 
slavery such denials, for instance, as that "No person 
shall be deprived of life, or liberty, or property, without 
due process of law." 

Twelve articles of amendment were proposed by the 
first Congress. The first three and the last two do, 
in terms, apply to the Federal Government, and to that 
only. In the case of most of the remaining seven, their 
application is a matter of inference. Whilst, however, 


it would be a gross violation of the laws of inference to 
say, that they apply to the Federal Government only, it 
would be in perfect accordance with these laws to say, 
that, inasmuch as a part of the amendments refer ex- 
pressly to that Government only, the remainder referto 
both the Federal and State Governments, or to State 
Governments only. 

Because the first one of the adopted amendments 
refers expressly to the Federal Government, and to that 
only, there are, probably, many persons, who take it for 
granted, that the other amendments follow this lead of 
the first, and have the same reference as the first They 
would not take this for granted, however, did they know, 
that this first of the adopted amendments was the third 
of the proposed amendments; and that it came to be 
numbered the first, only because the preceding two 
were rejected. It is entitled, therefore, to give no lead 
and no complexion to the amendments, which follow it 
And this conclusion is not weakened, but strengthened, 
by the fact, that these two amendments both expressly 
referred to the Federal Government I would here add, 
what may not be known to all, that the eleventh and 
twelfth of the adopted amendments were proposed by 
Congress after the other ten were adopted. 

In addition to the reason we have given, why a part 
of the amendments of the Constitution refer either 
to the State Governments exclusively, or to both the 
Federal and State Governments, is that, which arises 


from the fact, that they are, in their nature and meaning, 
as applicable to a State Government, as to the Federal 
Government. To say, that such amendments, as the 
second, third, and fourth, were not intended to apply to 
the whole nation, and were intended to apply only to 
the little handful of persons under the exclusive jurisdic- 
tion of the Federal Government, is to say what cannot 
be defended. Again, if there be only a reasonable 
doubt, that the fifth amendment refers exclusively to 
the Federal Government, it should be construed, as 
referring to State Government also ; for human liberty 
is entitled to the benefit of every reasonable doubt; and 
this is a case in which human liberty is most emphatic- 
ally concerned. 

We have no right to go out of the Constitution for 
the purpose of learning whether the amendments in 
question are, or are not, limitations on State Govern- 
ments. It is enough, that they are in their terms, 
nature, and meaning, as suitably, limitations on the 
Government of a State, as on the National Government. 
Being such limitations, we are bound to believe, that the 
people, when adopting these amendments by their Leg- 
islatures, interpreted them, as having the two-fold appli- 
cation, which we claim for them. Being such limita- 
tions, we must insist, whether our fathers did, or did 
not, on this two-fold application. Being prohibitions 
on the Government of a State, as well as on the Nation- 
al Government, we must, in the name of religion and 
reason, of God and man, protest against limiting the 


prohibition to the National Government for the exceed- 
ingly wicked purpose of continuing the bondage of 
millions of our fellow-men. 

Had we the right, by reason of any obscurity in the 
teachings of the Constitution on the point under con- 
sideration, or from any other cause, to go into collateral 
evidences of the character of these teachings, we should 
find our interpretation not weakened, but confirmed. 

Nearly all the amendments of the Constitution, and, 
indeed, all of them, which concern our present argu- 
ment, were taken from the Bill of Eights, which the 
Virginia Convention proposed to have incorporated 
with the Federal Constitution. But, inasmuch as this 
Bill of Rights speaks neither of Congress, nor the Fed- 
eral Government, its language is to be construed as no 
less applicable to a State than to the Nation, as provid- 
ing security no less against the abuse of the State 
power than Federal power. 

Again : in the Congress, which submitted .the amend- 
ments, Mr. Madison was the first person to move in 
the matter. He proposed two series of amendments, 
one of them affecting Federal, and the other State 
powers. His proposition provided to have them inter- 
woven in the original Constitution. For instance, the 
negations of Federal Power were to be included in the 
ninth section of the first article ; and the negations of 
State power in the tenth section of that article. And, 
what is more, several of the amendments, which he 
proposed to include in this tenth section, are, not only 


in substance, but almost precisely in letter, identical 
with amendments which became a part of the Consti- 
tution. It was in the following words, that Mr. Madi- 
son justified his proposition to restrain the States : " I 
think there is more danger of these powers being 
abused by the State Governments than by the Govern- 
ment of the- United States." " It must be admitted on 
all hands, that the State Governments are as liable to 
attack these invaluable privileges, as the General Gov- 
ernment is, and therefore ought to be as cautiously 
guarded against." " I should, therefore, wish to ex- 
tend this interdiction, and add, that no State shall 
violate," etc. If there was any reason to restrain the 
Government of the United States from infringing upon 
these essential rights, it was equally necessary that 
they should be secured against the State Governments. 
He thought, that if they provided against the one, it 
was as necessary to provide against the other, and was 
satisfied, that it would be equally grateful to the 

The House of ^Representatives did not adopt Mr. 
Madison's plan of distributing the amendments through 
the original Constitution, and thus expressly applying 
one to the Federal and another to a State Government. 
On the contrary, it made them a supplement to the 
original Constitution, and left a part of them couched 
in terms, that render them equally applicable either to 
one Government or the other. It must not be forgot- 
ten, that Mr. Madison's plan was embodied in the 


report of a committee, and was kept before the House, 
for a long time. Nor must it be forgotten, that what- 
ever may have been said by this or that speaker, in 
respect to the application of this or that amendment, 
no vote was taken declaring, that all, or, indeed, any 
of the amendments apply to the General Government. 
What, however, is still more memorable is, that there 
was a vote taken, which shows, that the House did not 
mean to have all the amendments apply to the General 
Government only. The vote was on the following 
proposed amendment: " No person shall be subject, in 
case of impeachment, to more than one trial, or one 
punishment for the same offence, nor shall be compelled 
to be a witness against himself nor be deprived of life, 
liberty, or property, without due process of law," etc. 
Mr. Partridge, of Massachusetts, moved to insert after 
"same offence" the words : " by any law of the United 
States." His motion failed: and its failure proved, 
that the House would restrain a State, as well as the 
Nation, from such oppression. 

As the Senate sat with closed doors, we know 
nothing of its proceedings in respect to the amend- 
ments, except that it concurred with the House in 
rcommending them. 

I will say no more in regard to the meaning of the 
amendments. Is it claimed, that if the original Con- 
stitution is pro-slavery, and the amendments anti-slav- 
ery, the original Constitution shall prevail against the 
umt-ndmente? As well might it be claimed to reverse 


the rule in the case of a will and to have its repugnant 
language prevail against the codicil. The amendments 
of the Constitution, are the codicils of the Constitution ; 
and if anywhere they conflict with it, the Constitution 
must yield. 

I have, now, done, not only with the amendments, 
but with the entire Constitution. Within the compass 
of a single speech, I could, of course, comprise but an 
outline of my argument. I commend to my hearers 
the arguments of William Goodell and Lysander 
Spooner on this subject. It must be very difficult for 
an intelligent person to rise from the candid reading of 
Mr. Spooner's book, entitled " The Unconstitutionality 
of Slavery," without being convinced, by its unsur- 
passed logic, that American slavery finds no protection 
in the Constitution. 

I said, that I have, now, done with the Constitution. 
I believe, I am warranted in adding, that I have 
reached the conclusion, that there is power in the Con- 
stitution to abolish every part of American slavery. Is 
it said, that this conclusion, notwithstanding the mani- 
fest logical necessity for arriving at it, is, nevertheless, 
not sound ? One of the objections to its soundness 
namely: that the slaveholders could never have consent- 
ed to adopt a Constitution of such anti-slavery powers 
I have already replied to, by saying, that the slavehold- 
ers of that day, being against the continuance of slavery, 
and the slaveholders of this day for it, the former can- 


not be judged of in the light of the character of the 
latter. To this I add, that whatever were the slave- 
holders of that day, and whatever were their motives 
in adopting an anti-slavery Constitution, they, never- 
theless, did adopt it, just as it is anti-slavery as it is. 
The other principal objection to the soundness of my 
conclusion is, that neither slaveholders nor non-slave- 
holders would have consented to adopt a Constitution, 
which annihilates State sovereignty. My answer to 
the latter objection is, that the States are not sovereign, 
and were not intended by the Constitution to be sove- 
reign. The simple truth is, that our fathers refused to 
repeat the experiment of a Confederacy of States ; and 
that, instead of it, they devised for themselves and their 
posterity a Government, which is, altogether, too broad 
and binding to consist with State sovereignty. The 
Constitution prescribes limits to the State quite too 
narrow for the play of sovereignty. It denies the 
State many specific powers, each of which is vital to 
sovereignty. For instance, it restrains it from entering 
into a treaty ; and from coining money ; and, if the 
power to deprive "of life, liberty, or property," is vital 
to sovereignty, then, as we have seen, the State is not 
sovereign, because it has not this power. Our fathers 
would not consent, that any section of their fellow-men, 
with whom they had come under a commo'n Govern- 
ment, should outrage essential human rights. Our 
fathers would not fraternize with the people of Massa- 


cliusetts, and yet allow them to plunder each other of 
property. They would not consent to be one people 
with murderers, and, therefore, they would not allow 
room for the Pennsylvanians to turn Thugs. And 
slavery, being worse than murder, (for what intelligent 
parent would not rather have his children dispatched 
by the murderer, than chained by the slaveholder ?) 
slavery being, indeed, the greatest wrong to man, of 
which we can conceive our fathers would not come 
under the same Government with Virginians, if Vir- 
ginians were to be allowed to enslave and buy and sell 
men. Does the Constitution require us to remain 
bound up with Pennsylvania, even though her policy 
is to shoot all her adult subjects, whose stature falls 
below five feet ? Does it require us to continue in the 
same political brotherhood with Virginia, even though 
she shall enslave all her light-haired subjects, (or, what 
is the same in principle,) all her dark-skinned subjects ? 
So far from it, there is power in that Constitution to 
hold back Pennsylvania and Virginia from the com- 
mission of these crimes 1 . 

Every person remembers one part of the tenth 
amendment of the Constitution ; a,nd every person 
seems to have forgotten the other. Every day do we 
hear, that. powers are reserved by the Constitution to 
the States ; but, no day, do we hear, that powers are 
" prohibited by it to the States." Now, among those 


prohibited powers, is that of classing men with horses 
and hogs. 

Let it not be implied from, what I said, a minute ago, 
that I would admit the competence of a State Govern- 
ment to enslave its subjects, provided the Federal Con- 
stitution had not curtailed its sovereignty. No human 
Government, however unlimited its sovereignty, has 
authority to reduce man to a chattel to transform 
immortality into merchandise. And cannot I add with 
truth, and without irreverence, that such authority 
comes not within the limits even of the Divine Govern- 

Nor let it be implied, that I am indifferent to State 
rights. I am strenuous for their maintenance : and I 
would go to the extreme verge of the Constitution to 
swell their number. But there I stop v The province of 
the State shall not, with my consent, encroach upon 
the province of the Nation ; nor upon ground denied 
to both by the law of God and the limits of Civil Gov- 

It is, sometimes, said, that the amendment, on which 
I have spoken so extensively, refers to criminal prose- 
cutions, only. But what if this were so? It would, 
nevertheless, cover the case of the slave. You, surely, 
would not have a man stripped of his liberty, ay, and 
of his manhood too, who is not charged with crime. 
The Government, which says, that it will make him, - 
who is not a criminal, a slave, confesses itself to be 
unutterably unjust and base. 


The Constitution, as has been seen in the course of 
my argument, forbids slavery. Its pro-slavery charac- 
ter has been assumed. What is there, indeed, that 
will make for slavery, that slavery does not assume? No 
wonder ! It is itself but a mere assumption and the 
most monstrous assumption. The only wonder is 
and the sorrow is as great as the wonder that the 
American people should be in the miserable, servile 
habit of yielding to all these bare-faced assumptions of 
slavery. The speakers on both sides of this bill have 
taken it for granted, that the Constitution is pro-slav- 
ery: and when the honorable gentleman of North 
Carolina [Mr. Clingman] coolly said : " Every single 
provision in that instrument, (the Constitution,) is pro- 
slavery, that is, for the protection and defence and 
increase of slavery," no one seemed to doubt the truth 
of what he was saying, any more than if he had been 
reading Christ's Sermon on the Mount. And, yet, the 
instrument, of which the honorable gentleman affirmed 
all this, refused to pollute its pages with the word 
"slavery," or even with a word, (servitude,) which 
might, possibly, be construed into slavery I Moreover, 
the instrument avows, that " to secure the blessings of 
liberty," is among its objects. Though administered 
to uphold the curse of slavery, the Constitution was, 
nevertheless, made " to secure the blessings of liberty." 
Hence, the declaration, in the former part of my speech, 


TRUE. But I must not stop here. It would be dis- 


ingenuous to do so. My stopping here would imply, 
that, if I found slavery in the Constitution, I would 
admit its legality. But I would not -just as I would 
not admit the legality of murder, even though it were 
embodied in all the organic laws of all the nations. I 
proceed, therefore, to declare, and to argue the justice 
of the declaration, that 



1. Law is, simply, the rule or demand of natural 
justice. Justice is its very soul: and it is, therefore, 
never to be identified with naked and confessed injust- 
ice. Law is for the protection not for the destruction 
of rights. Well does the Declaration of Independ- 
ence say, that " to secure these rights, Governments 
are instituted among men." They are instituted, not 
to destroy, but to secure, these rights. It is pertinent 
to the case in hand, to see what are "these rights," 
which the Declaration specifies : They are " life, lib- 
erty, and the pursuit of happiness." These it declares 
to be " inalienable." These are not conventional rights, 
which, in its wisdom, Government may give, or take 
away, at pleasure. But these are natural, inherent, 
essential rights, which Government has nothing to do 
with, but to protect I am not saying, that men can- 
not forfeit these rights. But I do say, that they can 
lose them, only by forfeiting them. I admit, that a 


man may forfeit liberty by his crimes ; and that it will 
be the duty of Government to prevent his reenjoy- 
ment of it. I remark, incidentally, that, though a man 
may forfeit liberty, this is quite another thing from his 
deserving slavery. Slavery unmans: and the worst 
man, no more than the best man, deserves to be un- 
manned. But to return from this digression to my 
declaration, that law is for the protection of rights I 
proceed to say, that slavery annihilates all the rights of 
its victim. For, in striking down the right of self-own- 
ership, it strikes down that great centre-right, to which 
all other rights are tied ; by which all other rights are 
sustained ; and, in the fall of which, all other rights 
fall Murder itself cannot be a more sweeping de- 
stroyer of rights than is slavery for murder itself is 
but one of the elements in the infernal compound of 

Slavery being such, as I have described it, there, of 
necessity, can be no law for it. To give to it one of the 
mildest of its proper and characteristic names, it is a con- 
spiracy a conspiracy of the strong against the weak. 
Now all are aware, that there is law to put down a con- 
spiracy but who ever heard of law to uphold a conspir- 
acy ? Said "William Pitt, when speaking in the British 
Parliament, of the African slave-trade : " Any con- 
tract for the promotion of this trade must, in his opin- 
ion, have been void from the beginning, being an out- 
rage upon justice, and only another name for fraud, 
robbery, and murder." But the slave-trade is all one 


with slavery: nothing more and nothing less than slav- 
ery. Said Granville Sharp, when speaking of slavery 
and the slave-trade : " No authority on earth can ever 
render such enormous iniquities legal." Says Henry 
Brougham : " Tell me not of rights ; talk not of the 
property of the planter in his slaves. I deny the right 
I acknowledge not the property. The principles, the 
feelings, of our common nature, rise in rebellion against 
it. Be the appeal made to the understanding, or the 
heart, the sentence is the same that rejects it. In vain, 
you tell me of laws, that sanction such a crime ! There 
is a law above all the enactments of human codes the 
same throughout the world the same in all times such 
as it was before the daring genius of Columbus pierced 
the night of ages, and opened to one world the sources of 
power, wealth, and knowledge ; to another, all unutter- 
able woes, such as it is at this day. It is the law writ- 
ten by the finger of God on the heart of man, and by 
that law, unchangeable and eternal, while men despise 
fraud, and loathe rapine, and abhor blood, they will 
reject with indignation the wild and guilty fantasy, that 
man can hold property in man I" 

To hold that slavery, which is the crime of crimes and 
abomination of abominations, is capable of legalization, 
is, a preeminent confounding of injustice with justice, 
and anti-law with law. Knowingly to admit into the 
theory and definition of law even a single element of 
wrong, is virtually to say, that there is no law. It is 


virtually to say, that earth, is without rule, and heaven 
is without rule ; and that the light, order and harmony 
of the Universe may give place to darkness, disorder, 
and chaos. But if such is the effect of alloying law 
with only one wrong, how emphatically mudt it be the 
effect of regarding as law that, which is nothing but 

I am advancing no new doctrine, when I say, that 
essential wrongs cannot be legalized. This was the 
doctrine, until supplanted by the absurd and atheistic 
maxim, that " Parliament is omnipotent." Even Black- 
stone, with all his cowardice in the presence of that 
maxim, repeatedly confessed, that human legislation is 
void, if it conflicts with Divine legislation. And if we 
go back to the times of Lord Coke, we find him quoting 
many cases, in -which it was held, that the common law, 
or, in other words, common sense, or common justice, 
can nullify an act of Parliament. He says: "It ap- 
peareth in our books, that in many cases the common 
law shall control acts of Parliament, and sometimes 
shall adjudge them to be utterly void: for when an Act 
of Parliament is against common right and reason, 
or repugnant, or impossible to be performed, the com- 
mon law shall control this, and adjudge such act to 
be void." [Dr. Borihairfs Case in Life of Lord Baconl\ 

I would add, in this connection, that the province of 
a human legislature does not extend even to all lawful 
and innocent things. That it is commensurate with the 


whole field of human interests and obligations, is a 
very great, though a very common mistake. It covers 
but a small portion of that field. Not only are crimes 
incapable of being legalized, but there are numberless 
relations and duties, which are ever to be held sacred 
from the invasion and control of the human legislature. 
For instance, what we shall eat and wear is a subject 
foreign to human legislation. What shall be the cha- 
racter of the intercourse between parent and child is no 
less so. But if there is a natural, lawful, and innocent 
relation, for which the human legislature may not pre- 
scribe, how much less is it authorized to create the 
unnatural, monstrous, and supremely guilty relations of 
slavery I 

2. Law is not an absurdity, but is one with reason. 
Hence, in point of feet, a legislature cannot make law. 
It can declare what is law. It can legislate in behalf of 
that only, which is already law. Legislation for liberty 
may be law, because liberty itself is law. But legisla- 
tion for slavery cannot possibly be law, because slavery 
is not law. That cannot be law, the subject-matter of 
which is not law. The great fundamental and control- 
ling law in the case of a man is, that he is a man. The 
great fundamental and controlling law in the case of a 
horse is, that he is a horse. The great fundamental 
and controlling law inthe case of a stone is, that it is a 
stone. All legislation, therefore, which proceeds on the 
assumption, that a stone is wood, is absurd and void. 


So, too, all legislation, that proceeds on the assumption, 
that a horse is a hog, is absurd and void. And, so too, 
and far more emphatically, all legislation, which pro- 
ceeds on the assumption, that a man is a thing an im- 
mortal God-like being a commodity is absurd and 
void. But such is the legislation in behalf of slavery. 
The statutes of our slave States, which, with infinite 
blasphemy, as well as with infinite cruelty, authorize 
the enslaving of men, say, that "the slave shall be 
deemed, held, taken, to be a chattel to all intents, con- 
structions, and purposes whatsoever:" that "the slave 
is entirely subject to the will of his master:" and that 
"he can possess nothing, but what must belong to his 

We are amazed at the madness of the Koman ruler, 
who claimed for his favorite horse the respect, which is 
due to the dignity of manhood. But the madness of 
the American ruler, who sinks the man into the horse, 
is certainly no less than that of the Koman ruler, who 
exalted the horse into the man. 

There can be no law against the law of nature. But 
a law to repeal the law of gravitation would be no 
greater absurdity than a law to repeal any part of the 
everlasting moral code. The distinction of higher and 
lower law is utterly untenable, and of most pernicious 
influence. There is but one law for time and eter- 
nity but one law for earth and heaven. 

T must not, then, know, as law, or, in other words, ad 


wisdom and reason but I must reject, as anti-law, and 
nonsense, and madness that, which calls on me to re- 
gard a stone as a stump, a horse as a hog, a man as a 
thing. I must not undertake to conform myself to such 
ideal and impossible transformations. But I must 
accord to every being, animate or inanimate, the nature 
given to it by its Great Maker. I must deny, that the 
being made in the image of God can, any more than 
God Himself, be turned into a slave. I must deny, 
that it is possible for human enactments to transmute 
men into chattels, and to annihilate the essential and 
everlasting distinction between immortality and pro- 
perty. I must deny, that there is truth in Henry 
Clay's famous declaration, that "that is property, which 
the law (meaning human legislation) makes property." 
I must deny, that slavery can any more furnish the 
elements of law, than darkness can be changed into 
light, or hell into heaven. I must deny, that the fact 
of a slave is philosophically and really, a possible fact 
I must deny, that man can lose his nature, either in 
time or eternity. Let slavery and slave-legislation do 
their worst upon him ; let them do their utmost to un- 
man him ; he is still a man. Nor, is it whilst he is in 
the flesh only, that his manhood is indestructible. It is 
no less so, after he has "shuffled off this mortal coil." 
When "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, 
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth 
also, and the works, that are therein," and all that is, or 


can be, property, "shall be burnt up," the deathless 
spirit of man, unchanged and unchangeable, may stand 
upon the ashes and exclaim: "I am still a man I have 
lost nothing of my manhood." 

I have in other parts, as well as in this part of my 
speech, carried the idea, that slavery, in its theory, is 
the conversion of men into things. It was right for me 
to do so. Such conversion is the sole essence of slavery. 
This, and this alone, distinguishes it from every other 
servitude. In point of fact, slavery is not necessarily, 
and, indeed, is not at all, by any just definition of the 
word, servitude. Let the life of the slave be all idleness ; 
and let him be "clothed in purple and fine linen, and 
fare sumptuously every day ;" and he is still as abso- 
lutely a slave, as if he were in the hardest lot of a slave. 
Whatever his privileges, if he have no rights however 
indulgent his treatment, if he is owned by another, 
instead of himself he is still a slave, and but a slave. 
I wish it to be borne in mind, that I arraign slavery, not 
because it withholds wages, and marriage, and parental 
control of children, and the Bible and heaven, from its 
victims. I do not arraign it for denying these, or any 
other rights, to a mere chattel. Such denial is perfect- 
ly consistent. A chattel is entitled to no rights can 
have no rights. "What I arraign slavery for, is for its 
making a man a chattel. I do not arraign slavery for 
the terrible enactments, which, for its security, it puts 
into the statute-book; nor for the terrible advertise- 


ments -which it puts into the newspapers. These enact- 
ments are the natural and necessary outgrowth of the 
blasphemous assumption, that man, with all his great 
attributes and destiny, is capable of being reduced to a 
thing. These advertisement^ some of which are offers 
of large bounties for the recovery of fugitive slaves, or 
for the production of their dissevered heads; some of 
which contain revolting descriptions of their slavery- 
scarred and mangled persons ; and some of which con- 
tain offers of trained bloodhounds to hunt them these 
advertisements are, in no wise, to be wondered at Slav- 
ery itself not its fruits and incidents is the wonder. 
That man should be found so perverted and depraved, as 
to sink his equal brother into slavery it is this, and 
nothing incidental to it, or resulting from it, that should 
fill us with astonishment. In reducing a man to a thing, 
wo have not only committed the highest crime against 
him, but we have committed all crimes against him; 
for we have thrown open the door the door never 
again to be shut to the commission of all crimes 
against him. 

Perhaps, snch language, as I have just been using, 
will occasion the remark, that I am prejudiced against 
the South. But I know, that I am not J love the 
South equally well with the North. My heart goes 
out as strongly to Southern, as to Northern men, on 
this floor. Far am I from attributing to Southern 
men a peculiarly severe nature. I had rather attribute 


to them a peculiarly generous nature. I believe, that 
there is not another people on the earth, in whose hands 
the system of slavery would work more kindly with 
less of cruelty and horror. Nowhere can it work well 
for there is nothing in it to work well. Nowhere 
can it be unattended with the most frightful and deplor- 
able abuses for it is itself the most stupendous abuse. 
3. My argument, in the third and last place, to 
CAN, OR ANY OTHER SLAVERY, is that, that is not law, 
and is never, never, to be acknowledged as law, which 
men cannot regard as law, and use as law, without 
being dishonest. Both heaven and earth forbid that, 
which cannot be, but at the expense of integrity. Now, 
in the conscience of universal man, slavery cannot be 
law cannot be invested with the claims and sacredness 
of law. Hence, to regard it as law, and use it as law, is 
to be dishonest. There may be little, or no, conscious- 
ness of the dishonesty. Nevertheless, the dishonesty is 
there. I said, that the consciousness, that slavery can- 
not be legalized, is universal. Let me not be misun- 
derstood in what I said. I did not mean, that there 
are none, who believe, that the slavery of others can be 
legalized. I admit, that thousands believe it. At the 
same time, however, I affirm, that not one of them 
all would believe slavery to be a thing of law, and enti- 
tled to the respect of law, were it brought to war against 
himself. The presence of an enactment for slavery would 


inspire with no sense of the sacred obligations of law 
with no sense of the honor and obedience due to law 
him, who should be claimed under it. Now, how such 
a person is to be regarded whether as believing the 
laws for slavery to be valid or void, real and true laws, 
or nominal and no laws is to be decided, not accord- 
ing to his view of them, when applied to others, but 
according to his sense of them, when brought home to 
himself. Self-application is the testing crucible in all 
such cases. 

If an American gentleman is so unfortunate, as to be 
brought under the yoke of slavery in one of the Bar- 
bary States ; and i notwithstanding, the slavery is de- 
creed by the supreme power of the State, he breaks 
away from it, and thus pours contempt upon the decree 
and the source of it ; then, obviously, on his return to 
America, he cannot acknowledge slavery to be law, 
and yet be honest. If it is true, that what is kw we 
are no more at liberty to break in a foreign country 
than in our own country, so also is it true, that what is 
too abominable and wicked to be law in one part of the 
world is too abominable and wicked to be law in any 
other part of the world. Should this gentleman -be 
elected to Congress, he will be dishonest, if he legis- 
lates for slavery. Should he take his seat upon the 
bench, he will be dishonest, if he administers a statute 
for slavery. And no less dishonest will he be, if| as a 
juror, or marshal, or as President of the United States, 


he shall contribute to the enforcement of such statute. 
But eveiy American gentleman would, like this one, 
break away from slavery if he could ; and, hence, every 
American gentleman, who recognizes slavery as law, 
does therein stigmatize and condemn himself Possi- 
bly, however, there may be some American gentleman, 
who is inspired with such a sense of the fitness and 
beauty of slavery, as to welcome its chains about his 
own person. If there is such a one, " let him speak 
for him have I offended." 

That no one can honestly recognize a law for slavery, 
is on the same principle, that no one can honestly re- 
cognize a law for murder. But there are innumerable 
things, which all men hold cannot be legalized. I ven- 
ture the remark, that, among all the Judges of this 
land, who, ever and anon, are dooming their fellow- 
men to the pit of slavery, there is not one, who could 
be honest in administering even a sumptuary law for 
there is not one of them, who, in his own person, would 
obey such a law. How gross is their hypocrisy ! They 
affect to believe, that Government has power to legalize 
slavery to turn men into things : and yet deny, that 
Government may go so far, as to prescribe what men 
shall wear ! Government may do what it will with the 
bodies and souls of men : but to meddle with their 
clothes oh, that is unendurable usurpation 1 1 ! 

If, then, I am right in saying, that men cannot hon- 
estly recognize legislation for slavery, as law : cannot 


do o, without palpably violating that great law of 
honesty, which requires us to do unto others, as we 
would have others do unto us : if, then, I am right in 
declaring, that, in strict truth, there is not, in all the 
broad earth, one pro-slavery man : but that every man, 
when called to make his bed in the hell of slavery, be- 
trays, in the agonies of his soul and the quaking of his 
limbs, the fact, that he is a thorough abolitionist : i 
I say, I am right in all this, then does it irresistibly fol- 
low, that I am also right, in my position, THAT THERE 


OTHER SLAVERY. I am right in this position, because, 
that, by no reasonable theory, or definition, of law, can 
that be called law, which is incapable of being adminis- 
tered honestly. The fact, that men must necessarily 
be dishonest in carrying it out, is, of itself, the most 
conclusive and triumphant argument, that it is not law. 
To take the opposite ground, and to claim, that to be 
law, which every man, when properly tested, denies is 
law, is to insult all true law, and Him, who is the 
source of all true law. I conclude, under this head, 
with the remark, that, the question, whether slavery is, 
or is not to be known as law, resolves itself into a ques- 
tion of simple honesty. 

I must say a few words to protect what I have said 
from the misapprehension, that I counsel trampling on 
all wrong legislation. I am very far from giving such 
counsel. No wrong legislation, that is at all endurable, 


would I resist. And, I add, that I would be patient 
with almost every degree of wrong legislation, provided 
it is legislation in behalf of what is lawful, and of what 
it is competent to legislate upon. Imprisonment for 
debt is wrong legislation very wrong and very cruel 
legislation. But, inasmuch as the relation of debtor 
and creditor comes within the cognizance of the legisla- 
ture, I will not treat such legislation as void. The 
legislature has a right end in view. It is to help the 
creditor get justice. Its error consists in selecting 
wrong means to this end ; and in putting a wrong 
remedy into the hands of the creditor. I am to treat 
this action of the legislature as a mistake and a mis- 
take, which I am not to go beyond the limits of per- 
suasion to seek to correct. The paying of one's debts 
is justice is law. Enactments to enforce this justice 
and this law may, some of them, be improper such as 
compelling payment by the terrors of imprisonment. 
But, as they are enactments to enforce justice and what 
is itself law, I must be very slow to denounce them, as 
no law. So, too, if my Government declare war 
against a nation I am not to treat the Government, 
nor the declaration, however unjust it may be, with 
contempt. I must remember, that Government has 
jurisdiction of national controversies, and that the re- 
dress of national wrongs is justice is law. Govern- 
ment may err in its modes of redress. It may resort to 
the sword, when it should confine itself to the exertion 


of moral influence. The cause, nevertheless, which it 
is prosecuting, may be one of unmingled justice. Like 
every good cause, it may itself be law ; and, therefore, 
Government would not be chargeable with impertinence 
and usurpation for taking it in hand. But, how differ- 
ent from all this is it, when Government sets up slavery 1 
In that case, the subject-matter of its action is, most 
emphatically, not law. In that case, most emphatically, 
it has gone beyond its province. To Government be- 
longs the adjustment of the relations between creditor 
and debtor ; and it is for Government to dispose of na- 
tional controversies. But, when Government under- 
takes the crime and absurdity of turning men into 
things of chattellieing, instead of protecting, a portion 
of its subjects it is, then, as far out of its place, as it 
can be. To such an outrage, no submission is due. It 
is to be resisted at every hazard. To trample upon 
such lawlessness is to be law-abiding, instead of law- 
breaking. To rebel against such a Government is not 
to be revolutionary and mobocratic. The Government 
itself is the revolutionary send mobocratic party. If the 
decree should go forth from our Government, that our 
Irish population be murdered, the decree would, of 
course, be trodden under foot. But who denies, that it 
should be as promptly and indignantly trodden under 
foot, were it a decree for their enslavement ? 

My argument to show, THAT THERE NOT ONLY is 



OTHER SLAVERY, is ENDED. It is in place, however, 
to say, that the recognition by the American people of 
slavery as law, is, of itself sufficient to account for their 
loss of reverence for law. This reverence is, necessa- 
rily, destroyed by the habit of confounding sham law 
with true law by the habit, of accepting, as law, the 
mere forms of law, where justice, truth, reason, and 
every element, which goes to make up the soul of law, 
is lacking. This reverence must soon die out of the 
heart of the people, who treat, as law, that, which they 
know, is not law ; who, in the holy and commanding 
name of law, buy and sell, or sanction the buying and 
selling, of their fellow-men ; and who, in all their life, 
live out the debasing lie, that so monstrous and dia- 
bolical a thing, as slavery, is entitled to the shelter and 
honor of law. This reverence is little felt by those, 
who yield to the absurdity, that law and nature are 
opposite to each other ; and that, whilst, by nature, a 
man is an immortal, by law he may be but a thing. 
It is little felt by those, who regard law as a mere con- 
ventionalism, which may be one thing in one place, 
and another in another ; one thing at one period, and 
another at another. They, and they only, have ade- 
quate and adoring conceptions of law, who believe, that 
it is one with nature, and that it is the same in every 
part of the earth, in every period of time, and "eternal 
in the heavens." They, and they only, have such con- 


cepticms, who, instead of regarding law as synonymous 
with all the enactments of foolish and wicked men, 
identify it with unchangeable and everlasting right. 

How, for instance, can the American people perceive 
the beauty and preciousness of law, whilst recognizing, 
as law, the Fugitive Slave Act ? and whilst stigmatiz- 
ing, and persecuting the handiul of men, who have the 
integrity and the bravery to resist it ? Why should 
not that handful fly as swift to the rescue of theii 
brother, who is in the peril of being reduced to slavery, 
as to the rescue of their brother, who cries, " Murder?" 
Ten thousand enactments for murder would not hinder 
them in the latter case. Ten thousand enactments for 
slavery should not hinder them, in the former. In 
each case, the rescue would be not by a mob ; but^rom 
a mob. 

It has, now, been shown, that the American Govern- 
ment has authority, both inside and outside of the Con- 
stitution as well in natural and universal law, as in 
conventional and national law to sweep away the 
whole of American slavery. Will it avail itself of this 
authority to do this work ? I ask not whether Govern- 
ment will show pity to the slave for I look not to 
Government to be pitiful to the slave, or to any other 
man. 1 look to Government for sterner qualities than 
pity. My idea of a true Government is realized, only 
in proportion, as the Government is characterized by 
wisdom, integrity, strength. To hold even the scales 


of justice among all its subjects, and between.them and 
all other men ; and to strike down the hand, that would 
make them uneven this, and this only, is the appro- 
priate work of Government. 

I asked, whether the American Government will 
abolish slavery. I confess, that my hope, that it will, 
is not strong. The slave-owners have the control of 
this nation, and I fear, that they will keep it. It is 
true, that they are a comparative handful in the vast 
American population ; and that, numbering only three 
hundred thousand, their calling themselves "the South" 
is an affectation as absurd and ridiculous, as it would 
be for the manufacturers of the North to call themselves 
"the North," or the rumsellers of the North to call 
themselves " the North." It is true, that their interests 
are alien, as well from the interests of the South, as 
from the interests of the North ; and that slavery is the 
deadly foe, as well of the white population of the South, 
as of its black population. Nevertheless, in the present 
corrupt state of the public sentiment, the slave-owners 
are able to control the nation. They are mighty by 
their oneness. Divided they may be in everything else 
but they are undivided in their support of slavery. 
The State and the Church are both in their hands. A 
bastard democracy,. accommodated to the demands of 
slavery, and tolerating the traffic in human flesh, is our 
national democracy : and a bastard Christianity, which 
endorses this bastard democracy, is the current christ- 


ianity of our nation. The fatherhood of God and the 
brotherhood of man ideas, so prominent in a true 
democracy and a true Christianity are quite foreign to 
our sham democracy and our sham Christianity. Ame- 
rican religion is a huge hypocrisy. Whilst to the im- 
measurable sinfulness of that system, which forbids 
marriage, and the reading of the Bible, and which 
markets men as beasts, it is blind as a bat, it, never- 
theless, draws down its stupid iace, and pronounces the 
shuffling of the feet to music to be a great sin. The 
different States of Christendom, as they advance in 
civilization and the knowledge of human rights, are, 
one after another, putting away slavery. Even the 
Bey of Tunis puts away this most foul and guilty thing, 
and says, that he does so "for the glory of mankind, 
and to distinguish them from the brute creation." But 
America, poor slavery-ridden and slavery-cursed Ame- 
rica, retrogrades. Whilst other nations grow in regard 
for human rights, she grows in contempt for them. 
Whilst other nations rise in the sunlight of civilization, 
she sinks in the night of barbarism. Her Congress 
sets up slavery in her very capital. Her Congress 
regulates and protects the coastwise trade in slaves. 
Her Congress wages unprovoked and plundering wars 
for the extension of slavery. Her Congress decrees, 
that slaveholders shall have the range of all America, 
in which to reduce men, women, and children, to slav- 
ery. And her President, who calls slavery an "ad- 


raitted right," was shameless enough to say, in hia 
Inaugural, that the Fugitive Slave Act, which his pre- 
decessor was shameless enough to sign, should be 
"cheerfully" enforced. In short, the Federal Govern- 
ment is now, and long has been, at work, more to 
uphold slavery than to do anything else, or even all 
things else. The great slave-catcher ! the great watch- 
dog of slavery 1 these are its most fitting names, in its 
present employment and degradation. And, yet, not- 
withstanding all this devotion of the Federal Govern- 
uent to slavery, and the iron determination of the 
ilave-owners, that the power of the whole nation shall 
Je exerted to uphold it ; there, nevertheless, can be no 
remonstrance from the North against slavery, which is 
lot immediately followed by the truthless and impudent 
Kiply, that the North has nothing to do with slavery ! 
Tiat the American people and American Government 
havo fallen to what they are, is not to be wondered at. 
It is but the natural and necessary result of their hav- 
ing fostered and fed, for more than half a century, the 
monster jlavery. Time was, when we might have 
crushed tLis monster. But, now, it has crushed us. 
It has corrupted us to such an extent, that there is 
scarcely a souud spot left in us, at which to begin to 
rally opposition to it. On no cheaper condition than 
this can slavery be clung to. If we will be slaveholders 
and such are the Northern as well as the Southern 
people for if the slowe-owners are at the South, the 


people of the North are, nevertheless, more emphatic- 
ally, because more efficiently, the slaveholders, than are 
the people of the South ifj I say, we will be slave- 
holders, we must take the evil consequences upon our 
own understandings and hearts, and not be surprised at 
them. Men cannot bind the degrading chain of slavery 
around their brothers without at the same time binding 
and degrading themselves with it. 

How melancholy upon our country, and, through 
her, upon the world, has been the influence of American 
slavery 1 In the beginning of our national existence, 
we were the moral and political light-house of the world. 
The nations, " which sat in darkness, saw the great 
light," and rejoiced. Sad to say, we were ourselves the 
first to dim that light 1 The principles, which we then 
enunciated, electrified the nations. Sad to say, we 
were ourselves the first to dishonor those principles I 
Nothing, so much as American slavery, has gathered 
darkness upon that light. Nothing, so much as Ameri- 
can slavery, has brought disgrace upon those principles. 
All other causes combined have not stood so effectually 
in the way of the progress of republicanism, as the glar- 
ing inconsistency of our deeds with our professions. In 
the house of her friends, Liberty has received her deepest 
stabs. All our boasts and falsehoods to the contrary 
notwithstanding, there is no Government on the face of 
the earth so quick as our own, to dread, and to oppose, 
popular movements in behalf of liberty and republican- 


ism. On our government, more than on all other causes 
put together, rests the responsibility of the stopping of 
the Ke volution in the Spanish American States. We 
are wont to say, that the people of those States were in- 
competent to perfect that Revolution. This is a piece 
of our hypocrisy. The instructions of our Government 
and the discussions in our National Legislature, in re t 
gard to the Congress of Panama ; our threat of war 
against Colombia and Mexico, if those States perse- 
vered in carrying forward the Revolution ; and, above 
all, our base supplication to Russia and Spain to join us 
in stopping the wheels of that Revolution ; prove conclu- 
sively, that though our lying lips were for liberty, our 
hearts, all the tune, were concerned but for the protec- 
tion of slavery. And, in the case of Hayti how dead- 
ly, from first to last, has been the enmity of our Govern- 
ment to the cause of liberty and republicanism ! To 
learn the extent of tha,t enmity, we must not confine 
our eye to the haughty and persevering refusal of our 
Government to recognize the independence of Hayti. 
We must look at other things also and especially at 
the servile compliance of our Government with, the im- 
pudent and arrogant demand of Napoleon to carry out 
his plan of starving the Haytiens into submission. 

Our Government made a display of sympathy with 
the European Revolutions of 1848. But who is so 
stupid, as to accord sincerity to that display, when he 
recollects, that the very first fruit of the very first of 


these Revolutions was the unqualified abolition of all 
French slavery and a part of that slavery in the neigh- 
borhood of our own ? So eager was our Government 
to appear to be on the side of Hungary, that it sent out 
a ship for Kossuth. But, long ere he had reached our 
shores; and, especially, whilst he was making his 
speeches in England in behalf of the equal rights of all 
men ; our Government found out, that it had got more 
than it contracted for. Kossuth's principles were too 
radical. Their scope was quite too sweeping. They 
no more spared slavery than any other form of oppression. 
Yet, Government could not stop Kossuth on his way. 
Having started for America, he must be suffered to 
come to America. But how great his disappointment, 
on his arrival 1 " He came unto his own, and his own 
received him not." The poor man was willing to com- 
promise matters. A thousand pities, that he was. He 
was willing to ignore slavery, and to go through the 
whole length and breadth of the land, seeing, in every 
man he met, nothing else than a glorious freeman. 
Alas, what a mistake 1 The policy of the Government 
"to give bin* the cold shoulder" was fixed; and no 
concessions ox humiliations on his part could suffice to 
repeal it. Kossuth left America- and he left it, no less 
abundantly than painfully convinced, that America is 
one thing in the Declaration of Independence, and 
another in what has succeeded it ; one thing in her pro- 
fessions, and another in her practice. Will 


need to come to America to learn this lesson ? And, 
if he comes, will he stoop to repeat Kossuth's mistakes ? 
Thank God! Mazzini has already identified himself 
with the American abolitionists. May he find himself 
rewarded by their cordial identification of themselves 
with the oppressed of Europe ! 

I confessed, that my hope is not strong, that the 
American Government will abolish ATnfyrio.fl.Ti slavery. 
Far otherwise would it be, however, did none, but slave- 
owners, justify slavery. They would soon be convert- 
ed, were it not, that the mass of the American people 
fell in with them, and flatter them, and cry peace, when 
there is no peace. This is our great discouragement in 
the case. The advocates of total abstinence are not dis- 
couraged. They would be, however, if they found the 
mass of the sober justifying drunkards, and telling them, 
that drunkenness is right. 

I said, at an early stage of my remarks, that the pre- 
sent attempt of slavery to clutch all the unorganized 
territory of the nation affords a favorable opportunity 
to freedom to push back the war into the realm of slav- 
ery. I, however, did not add, that the opportunity 
would be improved. Nor do I add it now: for I am 
far from certain, that it will be. For many years, I have 
had scarcely any better hope for American slavery, than 
that it would come to a violent and miserable end. 
Their habit of courting and worshipping the slave-power, 
and of acquiescing ilk its demands, has corrupted and 


paralyzed the American people to such a degree, as to 
leave little room to hope, that they will bring slavery 
to a peaceful and happy termination. I confess, some 
little hope of such termination has been kindled in me 
by this new, surprising, and enormous demand of the 
slave-power. I confess, that I have thought it possible, 
that this demand might arouse a spirit, which could be 
appeased by nothing short of the overthrow of the whole 
system of slavery. Should, however, such a spirit be 
aroused, I fear it will not pervade the masses, but will 
be confined to a few. It is true, that meetings are held, 
all over the free States, to protest against the passage 
of this bill; and that the press of those States is almost 
universally against it. But neither in the meetings, nor 
in the press, do I see repentance. They abound in in- 
dignation toward perfidy : but they reveal no sorrow 
of the North for the crimes of the North against liberty. 
On the contrary, the meetings and the press do well- 
nigh universally justify the compromise of 1820, and, 
in the great majority of instances, the compromise of 
1850, " Fugitive Slave Act," and all. Even in sermons, 
preached against the Nebraska Bill, I have seen the 
Fugitive Slave Act justified. Now, the idea, that they, 
who can approve of either of these compromises, and 
especially that they, who can, possibly, acquiesce in the 
chasing down of men, women, and children, for the pur- 
pose of casting them into the pit of slavery the idea, I 
say, that such persons will perseveringly and effectively 


resist slavery, and do faithful battle for its overthrow, 
is to my mind simply absurd. They, and they only, are 
to be relied on for such service, who so loathe slavery, 
that they would rather perish than do any of its biddings, 
come those biddings from Congress, or from Courts, or 
from any other sources. 

Am I bid to strengthen my hope by looking at the 
rapidly multiplying abolitionists ? I do look at them : 
and this cheering sight is all, that, under God, keeps 
my hope alive. But I fear, that they are too late. I 
fear, that the disease is past cure. And I fear, too, that, 
even if we are yet in tune to kill the demon of Slavery, 
our false and pro-slavery education makes us so hesitat- 
ing and timid in his terrific presence, that we shall not 
wage direct, deep, and fatal war upon him ) but shall 
waste our energies and our only and swiftly passing 
away opportunity in ineffectual skirmishes and disgrace- 
ful dodgings. A few abolitionists are consistent: and, 
were they not so few, they would be formidable. They 
know no law for any fraud; and, therefore, they will 
not know it for the most stupendous fraud. They know 
no law for any oppression ; and, therefore, they will 
know none for the most sweeping oppression. Such 
abolitionists are Garrison and Phillips, Goodell and 
Douglass. But most abolitionists, impliedly if not di- 
rectly, tacitly if not openly, acknowledge, that slavery 
can have, and actually has, rights : and they are as re- 
spectful to these supposed rights, as if the subject of 


them were one of the greatest earthly blessings, instead 
of one of the greatest earthly curses. 

It is true, that there is a political party in our coun- 
try, organized against slavery; and that it numbers 
some two hundred thousand voters, among whom are 
some of the noblest men in the land. And, yet, I look 
with well-nigh as much sorrow, as hope, to this party. 
For so long as it recognizes slavery as law, I fear, that, 
notwithstanding its high and holy purposes, it will do 
scarcely less to sanction and uphold slavery than to re- 
proach and cast it down. Again, so long as this party 
is swayed by such words of folly and delusion, as 
missions in favor of slavery can not fail to go far to out- 
weigh all its endeavors against slavery. 

A law for slavery I What confessed madness would 
it be to claim a law for technical piracy, or a law for 
murder! But what piracy is there so sweeping and 
desolating as slavery ? And, as to murder who would 
not rather have his dearest friend in the grave ay, in 
the grave of the murdered than under the yoke of 
slavery ? 


And, therefore, according to the friends of this motto, 
the nation, as such, must not concern itself with the 
great mass of slavery, because that great mass, instead 
of being spread over the whole nation, exists but in sec- 
tions of it Not less foolish would it be to neglect the 


smallpox, because it is only in sections of the city that 
it prevails. Indeed, it would not be less mad to leave 
the fire unextinguished, because, as yet, it rages but in 
sections of the city. Slavery, if not extinguished, is as 
certain to spread, as is the fire, if not extinguished. 
The past attests this ; and the present exhibits very glar- 
ing proof of it. If we would save the city, we must put 
out the fire. If we would save the nation, we must put 
out slavery ay, put it out in all the nation. I said, 
that slavery is, now, spreading. It may not go literally 
into Nebraska and Kansas, either now or ever. Never- 
theless, slavery will be spreading itself over our country, 
at least in its influence and power, so long as the nation 
forbears to uproot it. 

poor flag would " Murder sectional : Anti-Murder na- 
tional 1" be to go forth with against murder. But not 
less poor is the other to go forth with against slavery. 
Very little inspiration could be caught from either. 
Nay, would not their limited toleration of the crimes 
neutralize their influence against the extension of the 
crimes? How unlike to these poor words would be 
WHERE !" Tinder such earnest and honest words, men 
could do battle with all their hearts. But under the 
other, they are laughed at by the enemy ; and should 
be laughed at by themselves. 

There is a political party at the North, called the 


Liberty Party. It aims to go for every political truth ; 
and to realize the idea of an every way righteous civil 
Government It is a little party. Its handful of mem- 
bers are scarcely more numerous than were the primi- 
tive disciples, who were gathered in the upper room, at 
Jerusalem. That little party will not disown what I 
have said on this occasion. Every other party will. 
That little party has, already, lived some fifteen years. 
It will continue to live. Perhaps, it will not grow. 
Perhaps it will. The " little cloud, like a man's hand," 
may yet spread itself over the whole heavens. Of this 
much, at least, do I feel certain, that no party of essen- 
tially lower or other principles than those of the Liberty 
Party will suffice to bring down American slavery. 
Happy country this happy North happy South if 
the present aggressive movement of the slave-power 
shall result in bringing triumphant accessions to the 
Liberty Party 1 

My fear, that the American Governments, State 01 
National, will not abolish slavery, is, in no degree, 
abated by the fact, that several European Governments 
have, in the present generation, abolished it It must 
be remembered, that those Governments were exterior 
to, and independent ofj the slave-power ; and that they 
were not trammelled by slaveholding constituencies. 
It is true that slavery in Mexico was abolished by the 
Government in Mexico; and that slavery in South- 
American States was abolished by the Government^ 


in those States. But it is also true, that all this was 
done to promote the success of their Kevolution and 
their deliverance from the Government of Spain. I 
doubt not that even we, closely as we cling to slavery, 
would, nevertheless, abolish it, if urged to do so by the 
exigencies of war. 

To hope, that, because the English Government abo- 
lished slavery, our Governments will also, is unwise in 
another point of view. Comparatively disentangled 
with slavery as was England, slavery, nevertheless, 
exerted well-nigh enough power over her Government 
to prevent its successful action against slavery. The 
party in the interest of slavery was barely defeated. 

Let me not be misunderstood. Let me not be sup- 
posed to fear, that American slavery will not come to 
an end. My fear is, that it will not be brought to an 
end by Government. I have no fear that it will not be 
abolished. It will be abolished and at no distant day. 
If the Governments iail to abolish it, it will abolish 
itself The colored people of this nation, bond and free, 
number four millions, and are multiplying rapidly. 
They are all victims of slavery for if the free are not 
in the umbra, they are, nevertheless, in the penumbra of 
slavery. Hence, then, as well as by identity of race, 
they are bound together by the strongest sympathy. 
Moreover, if not carried along, as rapidly as others, 
nevertheless, they are carried along, in the general pro- 
gressive knowledge of human rights. Such being the 


case, it is not to be supposed, that they can be held in 
their present condition, for ages longer. They will de- 
liver themselves, if they are not delivered. He must 
be blind to history, to philosophy, to the nature of man, 
who can suppose, that such a system, as American slav- 
ery, can have a long life, even in circumstances most 
favorable to its continuance. In the most benighted 
portions of the earth, the victims of such a system 
would, in process of time, come to such a sense of their 
wrongs, and their power also, as to rise up and throw 
off the system. But that, here, such a system must be 
hurried to its end, is certain. For, here, it is entirely 
out of harmony with all the institutions around it, and 
with all the professions of those who uphold it Here it 
is continually pressed upon by ten thousand influences 
adverse to its existence. Nothing, so much as American 
slavery, stands in the way of the progress of the age. 
A little time longer, and it must yield to this progress, 
and be numbered with the things that were. The only 
question is, whether it shall die a peaceful or a violent 
death whether it shall quietly recede before advancing 
truth, or resist unto blood. 

God forbid, that American slavery should come to a 
violent end. I hold, with O'Connell, that no revolution 
is worth the shedding of blood. A violent end to 
American slavery would constitute one of the bloodiest 
chapters in all the book of time. It would be such a 
reckoning for deep and damning wrongs such an out- 


bursting of smothered and pent-up revenge, as living 
man has never seen. Can this catastrophe be averted ? 
Perhaps it cannot. Perhaps God will not let off this 
superlatively wicked nation on any easier terms than 
a servile war a war, we must remember, that will be 
very like to bring within its wide sweep the whole 
black population of this continent and the neighbor- 
ing islands a population already numbering some ten 
or twelve millions. Perhaps, since we would be a 
nation of oppressors, He will let the oppressed smite 
the oppressors. Perhaps, since we would be a bloody 
nation, He will give us "blood, even unto the horse- 
bridles." There will be no such catastrophe, however, 
if the North and South, equal sinners in the matter 
of slavery, shall hasten to mingle the tears of their 
penitence; to say from the heart: "We are verily 
guilty concerning our brother;" and to join their 
hands in putting away their joint and unsurpassed sin. 
I shall be blamed for having treated my subject in 
the light of so severe a morality. It will be said, that 
economical views of it would have been more suitable 
and statesmanlike; and that I should have dwelt upon 
the gains to the slaveholder, and the gains to the country, 
from the abolition of slavery. I confess, that, had horses 
and oxen been the subject of my speech, the field of 
economy would have been wide enough for the range 
of my thoughts, and the course of my argument. But 
I have been speaking of men of millions of immortals : 


imd I have been claiming, that Government should lift 
them up out of their chattelhood and their association 
with brutes ; and I could not so disparage the dignity, 
and so sully the glory, of their manhood, as to claim the 
performance of this high and holy duty, in the name of 
money. When I see my fellow -man reduced, to a slave, 
I demand his deliverance, simply becaus5 he is a man. 
I cannot so wrong his exalted nature and my own, and 
the Great One, who made us in His own image, as to 
argue, that money can be made by such deliverance. 
I would as soon think of making a calculation of 
pecuniary gains my argument in dissuading from 
the crime of murder. 

In saying, that I would not suffer the duty of deliv- 
ering the slave to turn upon the question of pecuniary 
gains and economical advantages, I utter no peculiar 
doctrine. Who would suffer it thus to turn, in any 
case, where he regards such victims as men ? But with 
me, all men are men. Are the skin and the mind of 
my fellow men dark ? "A man's a man for a' that!" 
I still recognize him as a man. He is my brother: and 
I still have a brother's heart for him. Suppose tho 
Government of Pennsylvania had, the last week, 
reduced all the white people of Pennsylvania, who 
have light hair, to slavery. Would Congress let the 
present week expire, without seeking their release? 
No I Would Congress stoop to ply that Government 
with arguments drawn from political economy, and to 


coax it with prospects of gain ? No ! no 1 a thousand 
times no ! It would demand their release : and it would 
demand it, too, not in virtue of feeble arguments, and 
humble authority ; but, Ethan Allen-like, in the name 
of God Almighty and the Congress. 

I shall be blamed for not having brought out a plan 
for getting rid of slavery. I confess, that I have no 
other plan for getting rid of it but its abolition its un- 
conditional, entire, and immediate abolition. The slave 
is- robbed of his manhood, of himself) and, consequently, 
of all his rights. There is no justice then there is no 
God then if the restoration of his rights and his resto- 
ration to himself can be innocently conditioned on any- 
thing, or innocently postponed. 

I shall be, especially, blamed for not having pro- 
posed compensation. I do not repudiate I never have 
repudiated the doctrine of compensation. Compensa- 
tion for his services and sufferings would be due from 
the slaveholder to the slave ; but, clearly, no compensa- 
tion for his restored liberty would be due from the 
slave to the slaveholder. I admit, however, that a great 
debt would be due, from the American people, both to 
the slaveholder and the slave. The American people 
are responsible for American slavery. It is the Ameri- 
can people, who, in the face of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, and the Constitution, as well as of religion 
and reason, God and humanity, have made themselves 
the responsible enslavers of millions. Departed genera- 


tions of slaves have gone to the bar of Heaven with 
this accusation upon their lips; and nothing short of 
the repentance of the American people can prevent its 
being carried there by the present generation of Ameri- 
can slaves. There is, then, a great debt due from the 
American people to the American slaves. But they 
owe one to the slaveholders also. Men become slave- 
holders, and continue slaveholders, and extend their 
investments in human flesh, on the faith of the pro- 
fessions, legislation, and policy of the American people, 
and I may add, on the faith of the Constitution and 
religion of the American people, as that people do 
themselves interpret their Constitution and religion. 
Again, non-slaveholders, as well as slaveholders, feed 
and clothe themselves upon the cheap (cheap because 
extorted and unpaid for) products of slave labor. 
They enrich their commerce with these products ; and, 
in a word, they unite in making slavery the cherished 
and overshadowing interest of the nation. Now, for the 
American people, in these circumstances, to abolish 
slavery, and refuse to pay damages to the slaveholders, 
would be a surprise upon the slaveholders full of bad 
faith. -For the American people to share with the 
slaveholders in the policy and profits of slaveholding, 
and then terminate it, and devolve the whole loss of its 
termination on the slaveholders, would be well-nigh 
unparalleled injustice and meanness. If I have en- 
couraged and drawn men into wickedness, I am, it is 


true, not to stand by them in their wickedness for of 
that both they and I are to repent : but I am to stand 
by them in their loss, and to share it with them. The 
English people gave to the masters of eight hundred 
thousand slaves a hundred millions of dollars. I would, 
that the American people, after they shall have abolish- 
ed American slavery, might give to the masters of four 
times that number of slaves four tunes the hundred mil- 
lions of dollars ; and /ar more, would I, that they should 
provide liberally for the humbler and cheaper, but infi- 
nitely more sacred, needs of the emancipated. "Then" 
my now dark and guilty country! "shall thy light 
break forth as the morning, and thine health spring forth 
speedily ; and thy righteousness shall go before thee . 
the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward." 

I am well aware, that, in reply to' my admission, 
that the American people should thus burden them- 
selves, it will be said, that slavery is a State, and not a 
National concern; and that it is for the State Govern- 
ments, and not for the National Government, to dis- 
pose of it. I, certainly, do not deny, that, if slavery can 
be legalized in our country, it must be under the State 
Governments only. Nevertheless, I hold, that every 
part of American slavery is the concern of every part 
of the American people, because the whole American 
people and the American Government have, though in 
defiance of the Constitution, made it such. And as 
they have made it such, the denationalizing of slavery, 


(as the phrase is with the Independent or Free Demo- 
crats,) is not the whole duty to which we are called. 
"We will not have done our whole duty, when we shall 
have abolished all the slavery, which exists within the 
exclusive jurisdiction of Congress. For slavery, under 
the State Governments also, has been fostered and 
established by the whole American people and the 
American Government : and I add, by the way, that, 
had it not been so fostered and established, there 
would, at this day, have been no slavery in the land. 

If John Smith has built a distillery ; and if he has, 
also, encouraged his neighbors to build half a dozen 
more ; and, especially, if he has patronized and profited 
by the half dozen distilleries ; then, his work of repent- 
ance is not all done, when he has broken up his distil- 
lery : and, none the more is it all done, because it was 
contrary to law, that he had a part in getting up and 
sustaining the half dozen distilleries. The de-Smithing 
of all this distillation, and of all the drunkenness, that 
has resulted from it, obviously fails to cover the whole 
ground of his duty, unless, indeed, as is proper, the de- 
Smithing is interpreted to mean the breaking up of all 
these distilleries and their resulting drunkenness. So, 
too, the denationalizing of slavery, unless it be thus 
broadly and justly interpreted, falls short of the mea- 
sure of the duty of the nation. The nation, whether 
constitutionally or unconstitutionally, has built up slav- 


ery : and, therefore, the nation should end it, and pay 
to end it. 

I said, that I shall be blamed for speaking unwisely 
on the subject of slavery. I add, that I shall be blamed 
for speaking on it, at all. To speak against slavery 
in any manner, and, especially, in the national councils, 
is construed into hostility to the Union : and hostility 
to the Union is, in the eye of American patriotism, the 
most odious of all offences the most heinous of all 

I prize the Union, because I prize the wisdom, cou- 
rage, philanthropy, and piety, of which it was begotten. 
I prize it, because I prize the signal sufferings and 
sacrifices, which it cost our fathers. I prize it, because 
I prize its objects those great and glorious objects, 
that prompted to the Declaration of Independence ; that 
were cherished through a seven years' war ; and that 
were then recited in the preamble of the Constitution, 
as the objects of the Constitution. I prize it, for the 
great power it has to honor God and bless man. I 
prize it, because I believe the day will come, when this 
power shall be exerted to this end. 

Now, surely, opposition to slavery cannot be hostility 
to such, a Union. Such a Union is not assailed, and 
cannot be endangered, by opposition, however strenu- 
ous, to slavery, or to any other form of oppression, or 
to any other system of iniquity. To attack what is 


good, is to be hostile to such a Union. To attack what 
is evil, is to befriend it 

Nevertheless, the position is persisted in, that to 
attack slavery is to attack the Union. How are we to 
account for this persistence in this absurd position ? It 
is easily accounted for. The position is not absurd. 
There are two Unions. There is the Union of early 
tunes that, which our fathers formed, and the most 
authentic record of the formation of which, and of the 
spirit and objecte of which, is to be found in the Decla- 
ration of Independence and the Federal Constitution. 
This is the Union openly based on the doctrine of the 
equal rights of all men. This is the Union, the avowed 
purpose of which is " to establish justice and secure 
the blessings of liberty." Then, there is the other 
Union the Union of later times of our times manu- 
factured, on the one hand, by Southern slaveholders, 
and, on the other, by Northern merchants and North- 
ern politicians. The professed aims of this new Union 
are, of course, patriotic and beautiful. Its real, and 
but thinly disguised, aims are extended and perpetual 
slavery on the one hand, and political and commercial 
gains on the other. The bad character of this new 
Union is not more apparent in its aims, than in its fruits, 
which prove these aims. Among these fruits are Union 
Safety Committee Resolutions ; Baltimore platforms ; 
pro-slavery pledges of members of Congress ; Resolu- 
tions of servile Legislatures ; contemptible Inaugurals, 


in which, now a Governor, and now a President, go all 
lengths for slavery ; and, above all, or rather below all, 
Union-saving and slave-catching sermons of devil-de- 
luded, and devil-driven Doctors of Divinity. To this 
list is, now, to be added the stupendous breach of faith 
proposed in the bill before us. This Bill, which lays 
open all our unorganized territory to slavery, is a legi- 
timate fruit of the new Union. The consecration of all 
the national territory to freedom, sixty-five years ago, 
was the legitimate fruit of the old Union. Which 
is the better Union? By their fruits ye shall know 

Now, the matter is not explained by saying, that this 
new Union is but a misinterpretation of the old. Mis- 
interpretation cannot go so far, as to change the whole 
nature of its subject. Oh no, it is not a misinterpreta- 
tion. But it is distinctly and entirely another Union, 
with which its manufacturers are endeavoring to sup- 
plant the Union given to us by our fathers : and this 
supplanting Union is as unlike the precious gift, as 
darkness is unlike light, as falsehood is unlike truth. 

When, then, we, who are laboring for the overthrow 
of slavery, and for the practical acknowledgment of the 
equal rights of all men, are charged with hostility to 
the Union, it is, indeed, pretended by those, who make 
the charge, and for the sake of effect, that we are hostile 
to the original and true Union. Our hostility, never- 
theless, is but to the conjured-up and spurious Union. 


Our only offence is, that we withstand the base appeals 
and seductive influences of the day. The only cause, 
for the abundant reproach, which has beiallen us, is, 
that, in our honesty and patriotism, we still stand by 
that good old Union, which is a Union for justice and 
liberty ; and that we bravely oppose ourselves to those 
artful and wicked men, who would substitute for it a 
Union for slavery, and place, and gain ; and who are 
even impudent enough to claim, that this trumped-up 
Union is identical with that good old Union. Yes, 
wicked, artful, impudent, indeed, must they be, who 
can claim, that this dirty work of their own dirty hands 
is that veritable work of our fathers, which is the glory 
of our fathers. 

I have done. Methinks, were I a wise and good man, 
and could have the whole American people for my 
audience, I should like to speak to them, in the fitting 
phrase, which such a man commands, the words of 
truth and soberness, remonstrance and righteousness. 
And, yet, why should I ? for, in all probability, such 
words would be of little present avail. The American 
people are, as yet, in no state " to hear with their ears, 
and understand with their heart " for " their heart is 
waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing." Yet, 
awhile, and he, who should speak to them such words, 
would, like Lot, " seem as one that mocked." This is 
a nation of oppressors from the North to the South 
from the East to the West and, what is more, of strong 


and successful oppressors; and, hence, there is but 
little room to hope that she will listen and repent Thi& 
nation holds, in the iron and crushing grasp of slavery, 
between three and four millions, whose poor hearts 
writhe and agonize no less than would ours, were their 
fate our fate. And, yet, she is not content even with 
these wide desolations of human rights and human hap- 
piness. On the contrary, she is continually seeking to 
extend the horrid realm of slavery. It is not enough, 
that she purchased Louisiana, and gave up, by far, the 
most valuable part of it to slavery ; nor, that she pur- 
chased Florida, and gave up all of it to slavery: nor is 
it enough, that there is so much reason to fear, that the 
mighty and sleepless efforts to overspread with slavery 
the whole tertitory, of which she plundered Mexico, 
will prove extensively, if not, indeed, entirely successful. 
Nor, is it enough, that there is imminent danger, that 
Nebraska and Kansas will be wrested from freedom, 
and added to the domain of slavery and sorrow. All 
this is not enough to satisfy the desire of this nation to 
extend the reign of slavery. Her gloating and covet- 
ous eyes are constantly upon the remainder of Mexico ; 
upon Cuba; St. Domingo; and other " islands of the 
sea"." All these she is impatient to scourge with that 
most terrible of all forms of oppression ^American 

Said I not truly, then, that there is but little ground 
to hope for the repentance of this nation ? Must she 


not be well-nigh dead to every conceivable attempt to 
bring her to repentance? But she will not be so 
always. The voices of truthful, tender, faithful admoni- 
tion, now unheard or despised by her, will yet reach 
her heart She may, it is true, (Heaven spare her from 
the need of such discipline !) have, first, to pass through 
foreign wars, and servile wars, and still other horrors. 
But the day of her redemption or, in other words, of 
her broken-hearted sorrow for her crimes (for such 
sorrow is redemption, whether in the case of an indivi- 
dual or a nation) will, sooner or later, come. And 
when that day shall come, the moral soil of America, 
watered with the tears of penitence, shall bring forth 
fruits for the glory of God and the welfare of man, 
rivalling in abundance, and infinitely surpassing in pre- 
ciousness, the rich harvests of her literal soil. In that 
day, our nation shall be worthy of all, that GKxl and 
good men have done for her. Her material wealth, 
surpassing that of any other nation, shall be no greater 
than her moral wealth : and her gigantic and unmatch- 
ed power shall be only a power to bless. 

What I have just said, is, indeed, but prophecy and 
the prophecy, too, of an ignorant and short-sighted 
man: and it may, therefore, never be fulfilled. My 
anticipations of a beautiful and blessed renovation for 
my beloved country may never be realized. She may 
be left to perish, and to perish for ever. What then ? 
Must I cease my efforts for her salvation ? Happily, I 


am not dependent on prophecy for the interpretation of 
my duty, nor to sustain my fidelity, nor to encourage 
the opening of my lips. I am cast upon no such un- 
certainty. I am to continue to plead for my country ; 
and to feel assured, that I do not plead in vain. If 
prophecy is all uncertain nevertheless, there are cer- 
tainties, gracious certainties, on which it is my privilege 
to rely. I know that in the Divine Economy, no honest 
discharge of the conscience, and no faithful testimony 
of the heart, shall be suffered to go unrewarded. I 
know, that, in this perfect and blessed Economy, no sin- 
cere words in behalf of the right are lost. Time and 
truth will save them from falling ineffectual. To time 
and truth, therefore, do I cordially commit all, that I 
have said on this occasion ; and patiently will I wait 
to see what uses time and truth shall make of it. 

[Notwithstanding the foregoing speech and his re- 
corded votes against the Nebraska bill, in all its 
stages, it is still extensively believed that Mr. Smith 
was not earnestly opposed to it, and that he did 
not even vote against it. It was obvious that de- 
linquency, at this point, could not fail to stamp so 
radical an abolitionist as Mr. Smith had passed for, 
with very gross and very guilty inconsistency. Hence 
the temptation to charge such delinquency on him 


was felt to be very strong, by those who desired, 
at whatever expense to truth and justice, to increase 
the public distrust and dislike of that class of aboli- 
tionists to which Mr. Smith belongs. The tempt- 
ation was yielded to ; the point was gained ; and the 
superiority of Whig anti-slavery to technical anti-slav- 
ery was established. On the great test question of anti- 
slavery integrity, which the Whigs so strenuously, 
and yet so ludicrously, claimed the Nebraska Bill to 
be, they had proved themselves sound and reliable; 
whilst the technical and ultra abolitionists had, so far 
as they could be judged of in the light of Gerrit Smith's 
treachery, proved their kind of anti-slavery to be but 
pretending and spurious ! 

It is proper to add, that, as the final vote on the Ne- 
braska Bill was not completed until after eleven o'clock 
at night, Mr. Smith's habit of retiring and rising very 
early, helped to give currency to the charge, that he 
had no part in it. Had it been a vote on a subject of 
but ordinary importance, he would have had no part 
in it. In the present instance he felt himself authorized 
and bound to depart from his good habit.] 




APRIL 91, 1854. 

THE bill for settling the claims of the legal repre- 
sentatives of Richard W. Meade being under discussion, 
Mr. Smith said : 

I have risen, Mr. Chairman, to reply briefly to what 
the gentleman, who has just taken his seat, [Mr. Jones, 
of Tennessee,] said on one of the points, which he 
raised This I can do most effectually by turning 
against himself his most material witness the witness, 
among all he has summoned to his aid, on whom he 
most relies. This witness is John Quincy Adams. 

By our treaty with Spain, we exonerated her from 
the payment of the claims of our citizens upon her, and 
assumed to pay them ourselves, so far as they were 
valid, and so far as $5,000,000 would be sufficient to 
pay them. The honorable gentleman denies that the 


claim of Richard "W. Meade lias a place among these 
claims. I maintain that it has. This is the issue be- 
tween us. To sustain himself he has quoted largely 
from Mr. Adams. But the gentleman has, surely, in 
this instance, allowed clouds to come into his very clear 
brain, and hence he has seen one thing for another. 
What has he proved by Mr. Adams? Why, that we 
are not held by the Spanish liquidation of this claim 
a liquidation subsequent to the signing of the treaty. 
I admit that we are not held by it But I insist that 
we are bound to recognize the claim in spite of that 
liquidation. So insisted Mr. Adams, as I shall prove 
by his words, quoted from the same letter from which 
the honorable gentleman quoted : 

" It was intended by the Government of the United States, that 
Mr. Meade's claims, as then exhibited to them, unsettled, disputed 
claims, a mixed character, for contracts, for losses upon exchange, 
for depreciation of Spanish Government paper, for interest, and for 
damages, all, except the first, of most uncertain amount and valid- 
ity, should, in common with the other claims provided for, have the 
benefit of the treaty. But no stipulation of special fevor to the 
claims of Mr. Meade, at the expense of other claimants, was, or 
would be intended by the Government of the United States. The 
claim presented by Mr. Meade to the Commissioners is for an 
acknowledged debt from the Spanish Government to him, dated 
May, 1820, and directed to be paid out of the funds of the Royal 
Finance Department, with interest. To say that this is not the 
claim which, in February, 1819, the United States had renounced 
and agreed to compound, would le to say that daylight is not dark- 


Now, whether the claim in question comes within 
the scope of the treaty, I am willing to leave to the 
decision of Mr. Adams to the decision of the gentle- 
man's own witness. I am glad that it was the honor- 
able gentleman himself who called Mr. Adams to the 
stand; for he has thereby rendered himself incompe- 
tent to impeach him. 

I might pause here. But I will add a few special 
reasons why the soundness of Mr. Adams's conclusion 
in this case is to be relied on. It is to be relied on, 
not only because Mr. Adams, hi addition to being an 
honest man, was a preeminently able one ; nor because, 
also, that he gave to this subject, as the paper from 
which we have quoted shows, the most patient and 
laborious investigation; but because, also, that Mr. 
Adams disliked Mr. Meade; nay, well-nigh abhorred 
him. Mr. A. was a man of very strong feelings. He 
did not like and dislike so much as he loved and hated. 
He scouted the pretensions of Meade to a peculiar 
sacredness for his claim ; and seemed well-nigh to hate 
Meade for those pretensions. He was willing to admit 
that the treaty provided for this claim ; nay, he insist- 
ed, as we have seen, in the strongest terms, that the 
treaty did provide for it. But, so far from admitting 
that it was a stronger claim than all others, he argued 
to show that it was weaker than some others. Now, 
I hold, that because of Mr. Adams's strong disappro- 
bation of the course of Mr. Meade, all the greater value 


is to be ascribed to what lie felt constrained to say in 


fevor of Mr. Meade's claim in favor of our Govern- 
ment's recognizing it among the claims from which it 
released Spain, and which it took upon itself. 

We are not then at liberty to reject this claim, 
because Mr. Meade was so foolish as to arrogate pecu- 
liar favor for it. He did not forfeit his claim by reason 
of this folly. If I claim that my neighbor shall give 
to my debt a preference over a dozen other equally 
just debts, I am not to lose my debt because of my 
arrogance. The debt is none the less obligatory for 
my folly and impudence. 

Nor are we at liberty to reject this claim because 
Spain liquidated it after the signing of the treaty. 
My neighbors may, very impertinently, undertake to 
liquidate or determine the true amount of the debts 
I owe, but such impertinence does not cancel my obli- 
gation to pay them. 

I have not time to see all, or even much, of what 
the commissioners said upon this claim. My eye falls 
upon the closing words of one of them, Judge White ; 
and I will read them : 

" Believing, as I do, from the other testimony, that Mr. Meade 
has a well-founded claim, or at least a claim, which the Spanish 
Government considered well-founded, I am perfectly willing to 
require any document from that Government which there is reason 
to think they possess, which will elucidate those transactions ; and 
for that purpose am willing to continue the cause. If we can pro- 


cure more evidence, it is well ; wo shall have greater certainty in 
oar ultimate decision. If we cannot procure more, we must come 
to the best conclusion in our power, from the proofs, as they now 
exist, as to the validity of the claims and the extent of allow- 

Now, surely, these words do not favor the idea that 
the Meade claim did not fall among the claims which 
the commissioners were to investigate. These words 
show, on the contrary, that what the commissioners 
required was the establishing of the claim the prov- 
ing of the debt. 

But, it is said that Mr. Meade foiled to prove his 
claim. I admit that he did. I admit that the commis- 
sioners were right in exacting the kind of proof which 
they did exact But was it the fault of Mr. Meade 
that he did not produce it ? Far from it. The proof 
exacted was in the hands, an<J among the archives, 
of the Spanish Government; and that Government, 
because of its foolish pride, refused to give up the 
proof. The Koyal certificate of the amount of the 
debt due to Mr. Meade was, as that Government 
haughtily held, all we needed and all we were enti- 
tled to. 

In these circumstances, what could Mr. Meade do 
more? I answer, that he had nothing more to do. 
The matter then lay between the two Governments. 
Our Government had discharged the Spanish Govern- 
ment from all obligation to pay the ^aima of our 


citizens, and that Government had, in turn, bound 
itself to put our Government in possession, so for as 
it could, of all vouchers and papers which could serve 
to establish the character of those claims. Our Gov- 
ernment was bound to enforce this provision of the 
treaty against Spain. 

Shall our Government pay the whole amount of this 
claim ? Perhaps it should not do so. I have no doubt, 
however, that in the liquidation of the claim by the 
Spanish Government, the amount was made small 
enough. Unprecedented pains were taken to bring 
the amount within the limits of strict justice. More- 
over, it was then expected that the Spanish Govern- 
ment, not ours, would have to pay it. Hence, that 
Government is not to be supposed to have been as easy 
in making up the amount, as it might have been, were 
it making it up for another Government to pay. And, 
again, Spain at that time felt herself to be poor. This 
was another reason why she was concerned to reduce 
the amount as low as justice could possibly allow. The 
scholarly gentleman of Pennsylvania, [Mr. Chandler,] 
spoke of the "res atngustcK domi" the straitened home 
circumstances of the Meade family. Hia classical words 
are no less applicable to illustrate the condition of poor 
Spain, at the time we refer to. 

I fully believe that the claim of Mr. Meade was, in 
no degree, exaggerated; and that the amount fixed 
upon by the Spanish Government was due, justly and 


religiously due, to that unfortunate and cruelly wronged 
gentleman. Nevertheless, as I said, perhaps our Gov- 
ernment should not pay the whole amount Our Gov- 
ernment had but $5,000,000 with which to pay all 
these claims. So far as that sum would pay them, and 
no farther, were they to be paid All I ask for the 
present claim is, that as great a per centage be paid on 
it, as was paid on the established claims be that per 
centage three fourths of the amount of the claim or 
only one half of the amount of the claim be it in other 
words, $800,000 or $200,000. 

The honorable gentleman from Tennessee admits 
that the amount fixed upon by the Spanish Govern- 
ment was justly due, and is now justly due, from 
Spain. Would he send the wronged and impoverished 
children of Mr. Meade to that Government ? What, 
however, if there were technicalities in the case of which 
we could avail ourselves to escape the payment of this 
debt, and to burden Spain with it. Would we consent 
to avail ourselves of them ? Forbid it justice I forbid 
it honor I Even if we pay this debt, still shall we not 
have made a sufficiently good bargain out of Spain ? 
It was well understood that the treaty exonerated her 
from all claims of our citizens. Spain so understood it, 
as she has repeatedly declared. Oh I we should hang 
our heads in shame, at the thought of being unkind 
enough and small enough to require poor and unhappy 
Spain to pay this debt 


Sir, I am a believer in a strong Government ; and I 
would have Civil Government strong, the earth over. 
It is worthless wherever it is weak. But, sir, a Gov- 
ernment is not necessarily strong that clings, with 
miserly grasp, to its dollars ; that rejoices in an over- 
flowing Treasury ; that multiplies its battle-ships, and 
swells its armies. A Government may do all this, and 
still be essentially weak, because essentially unjust 
But that Government is strong, emphatically strong, 
which aims to be the impersonation of justice. Such 
a Government is strong, because it is respected and 
honored abroad, and beloved at home. Be ours, sir, a 
strong, because a just Government. But let us remem- 
ber that the first claim on justice is, that she pay her 
debts. Let us then, sir, pay this sacred debt, that we 
should have paid thirty years ago ; and our cruel ne- 
glect to pay which has been followed with so much 
suffering and sorrow. I am sad for the creditors, and 
deeply mortified for my country, in this instance. In 
the case of the no less sacred French claims, which 
should have been paid more than half a century ago, 
my pity for the suffering creditors is greater, because 
they are so very numerous ; and my mortification at the 
disgrace of my Government and country amounts to 
anguish of spirit. Let us pay these debts, sir, now 
now, when we so easily can and, in such ways let us 
make ourselves a strong Government and a strong 




MAY 8,1354. 

THE bill for making donations of land to actual 
settlers in New-Mexico was under consideration. A 
motion had been made to strike out from the bill the 
word " white." 

Mr. SMITH said : I have not risen to make a speech. 
There are several subjects coming before us on which I 
wish to speak at considerable length. Among them 
are the Post Office and the Pacific railroad. Hence I 
do not feel at liberty to consume more than a few 
minutes on this occasion. 

I have risen, sir, to say that I must vote against the 
bill in its present shape ; and I wish my constituents to 
have my explanation for my vote. I cannot vote for 
the bill if the word " white" is retained in it. 


I believe that every person is bound to esteem his 
religion above everything else. Be his religion, true 
or superstitious, rational or spurious, he must give it 
this preference. My own religion is very simple. It 
consists in the aim to deal impartially and justly with 
all men. On the authority of the Saviour, the com- 
mandment to do unto others as we would have others 
do unto us comprises the whole sum and substance of 

I hold, sir, that we should regard the whole world as 
before every man, and every man entitled to seek his 
home in any part of it If I wish to make my home 
in Africa, I am to be allowed to do so ; and if I am 
there shut out from benefits and blessings made com- 
mon to others, I am wronged, deeply wronged. So if 
a black man goes to New-Mexico, and is there shut out 
from such common benefits and blessings, he is deeply 
wronged. Under the Jewish economy, even the fugi- 
tive servant (fugitive slave, as many render it) was to 
be allowed his choice of a home anywhere within the 
gates of Israel. 

There is but one true standard of conduct, and that 
is the Divine conduct. We are to make our own 
moral character resemble that of our Maker as nearly 
as we can. But, surely, no one believes that our 
Maker can approve of the odious and guilty distinction 
under consideration. No one believes that the incar- 
nate Son of God, were he among us, would vote for 


this distinction. Says the Apostle Peter and I am 
sure that my learned end Catholic friend from Penn- 
sylvania, [Mr. Chandler,] will not disparage the author- 
ity of that Apostle, on whom his church is built "God 
is no respecter of persons ; but in every nation, he that 
fearetli God and worketh righteousness, is accepted 
with him." " In every nation 1 ' 1 in nations of red and 
black men as well as white men. 

I often meet with gentlemen who appear to believe 
that black men have not the same nature, the same 
wants, the same sensibilities as white men. On such 
occasions, I am wont to recall the words of Shylock, 
the Jew : " Hath not a Jew eyes ? Hath not a Jew 
hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? 
Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, 
subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, 
warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter as 
a Christian is. If you prick us, do we not bleed ? If 
you tickle us, do we not laugh ? If you poison us, do 
we not die ? If you wrong us, shall we not revenge ?" 
How careful, sir, should we be, not to commit wrongs ; 
seeing that revenge so naturally follows wrongs ! And 
if we have committed them, how careful should we be 
to prevent revenge by repentance ! Let it not be said, 
sir, that Shylock is poor authority, because he loved 
money. His having loved money is one proof that he 
belonged to the human brotherhood, and had expe- 
rience of our common nature. 


I would, sir, that some black Shylock might be 
lllowed to enter this Hall, and to plead for the striking 
out of this word " white." He might be more success- 
ful in his plea than was the white Shylock. I would, 
sir, that that noble man, Frederick Douglass, could be 
allowed to stand up here, and pour out the feelings of 
his great heart in his rich, and mellow, and deep voice. 
I refer to him, sir, because I regard him as the man of 
America. He was held in cruel bondage until he was 
twenty-one years old. Then he escaped from his tor- 
mentors. He was never at school a day in his life ; 
and now he is confessedly one of the ablest public 
speakers and writers in this country. I feel sure, sir, 
that, could he be heard, he would be able to bring the 
committee to repent of its purpose (if such is its pur- 
pose) to retain the word "white." 

Shall we never cease from this prejudice? Born and 
bred, as I was, among negroes and Indians as well as 
whites, and respecting and loving all equally well, this 
insane prejudice is well-nigh incomprehensible to me. 
I am happy to recognize in every man my brother 
ay, another self; and I would that I could infuse my 
education at this point into every one who is with- 
out it. 

But, sir, I promised not to make a speech. When 
on this prolific theme of our wrongs against the colored 
man, I hardly know when to stop. 




MAY 4, 1854. 

DURING the discussion of the motion to strike out 
from the bill for granting lands to actual settlers in 
Utah, the proviso " That the benefit of this Act shall 


not extend to any person who shall now, or at any time 
hereafter, be the husband of more than one wife," Mr. 
SMITH said: 

Sir, I believe that no sutyect has come before us in- 
volving more important principles than this subject I 
wish it might be discussed temperately and patiently, 
and passed upon deliberately and wisely. 

I am in favor of retaining the proviso under consider- 
ation, and I have risen to say a few words in reply to 
the gentlemen from Alabama and Georgia, [Mr. Phil- 
lips, and Mr. Stephens.] Before doing so, however, I 
will notice what was said by the gentleman from Vir- 


ginia, [Mr. Smith.] That gentleman says that the mar- 
riage tie among the southern slaves is held sacred. I 
believe that it is held sacred to a considerable extent ; 
and therefore I am willing to say so. But, sir, no 
thanks to the laws for this. Thanks for it to the faith- 
ful affections of the parties to the marriage, and to the 
kindness of masters and mistresses who permit the in- 
dulgence of these affections. But, sir, we are legislators, 
and we are to look at the legal character of things. We 
are not to accept concessions and privileges in the place 
of legal rights. "We are to inquire whether marriage 
among the slaves is legal. Now, sir, there is no legal 
marriage among them. I go so far as to say that I am 
ready to stipulate in advance, that if the gentleman 
from Virginia can show that there is a legally married 
slave in all the South, I will give up all my opposition 
to slavery. The slave is incapable of any contract 
even that of matrimony. The slaves after they have 
passed under the ceremony called marriage, can as well 
as before it, be sold from each other, and separated 

Mr. JONES, of Tennessee. If the gentleman will 
yield to me for a moment, I will tell him of one case. 

Mr. SMITH. I will yield, certainly, for that purpose. 

Mr. JONES. Some two years ago, in this city, I 
was speaking to a gentleman from Maryland about buy- 
ing some slaves. He said his negroes had been mar- 


ried by a Catholic priest, that he himself was of the 
same religion, and that he would not sell them unless 
the priest was to go along with them. They were mar- 
ried by a Catholic priest, which I presume the gentle- 
man would call legal. I have seen them legally mar- 

Mr. SMITH. I have no doubt of what the gentleman 
states in regard to the Maryland gentleman. But never 
mind what the Catholic said to the gentleman of 
Tennessee. I ask that gentleman whether he, himself 
believes that there is legal marriage among the slaves ? 
Sir, the gentleman has carried us into Maryland. I will 
follow him there, and I will say to him, that the Mary- 
land books (1 Maryland Reports, 561, 663) show that 
a slave cannot be prosecuted for bigamy. He cannot 
be guilty of bigamy, for he never was a legal husband. 
He never had ability to contract legal marriage. 

But, sir, to the subject before us. I agree with the 
gentlemen from Alabama and Georgia, that we are not 
to concern ourselves with the morals of the Territories. 
I make the province of Civil Government quite as nar- 
row as those gentlemen do. I do not include in that 
narrow province the duty of promoting morals, nor even 
of protecting morals. All I would receive at the hands 
of Government is protection of persons and property. 
The office of Government is to hold a shield over 
the great essential natural rights of its subjecta. Now, 


sir, I hold that polygamy invades a great natural right, 
and that it is, therefore, the duty of Civil Government 
to suppress it. 

I suppose it will not be denied that polygamy pre- 
vails in Utah. But it is said that polygamy is a part of 
the religion of the Mormons ; and that, as we would 
keep clear of the offence of invading the religion of oui 
subjects, we must not strike at polygamy. I admit 
sir, that the reformation of religion cannot be a legiti 
mate object of legislation. But, sir, that legislation 
may be sound and justifiable which incidentally affects 
religious systems. If a religious system tramples on 
any of those great rights which it is the office of 
Government to protect, then, at just those points where 
such system offends, Government is to meet it and 
overcome it. 

I argue the duty of Government to suppress polyga- 
my on just the principles that I argue the duty of Gov- 
ernment to suppress land monopoly. I believe that all 
persons have an equal right to the soil. The Maker of 
the earth has provided one home, not two homes, for 
each person: not two farms, but one farm, for each far- 
mer. The right to the soil is natural and equal. So, 
sir, the right of each man to one wife, and each woman 
to one husband, is a natural right : and for one man to 
get more than one wife, or for one woman to get more 
than one husband, is to violate this natural right, which 
it is the duty of Government to protect. 


The word of God shows that nature provides but one 
wife for one man, and one husband for one woman. 
That word teaches us that He "made them male and 
female" not male and females, nor female and males. 
And if there are any present who do not bow to the 
authority of that word, I would point such to the cen- 
sus. The census in every country, and in every age, 
shows that the sexes are numerically equal, and that the 
arrangements of Providence forbid polygamy. 

I have proceeded in my argument for sustaining this 
proviso on the ground that this Government has as.full 
power and authority over the people and institutions of 
its Territories as a State Government has over the peo- 
ple and institutions within its jurisdiction. Now, I ask 
the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Stephens] whether 
the Government of his State should or would permit the 
dark-haired men of his State to press and practice upon 
their claim to a hundred wives each, and thus to shut 
out the light-haired men from marriage ? But I will 
consume no more of the time, as so many are eager to 




MAY 80, 1864. 

[THE motto which Mr. Smith prefixed to this Speech when it was 
first printed waa: " Keep Government within its limits."] 

THE Bill to provide for building a railroad from the 
Atlantic States to the Pacific Ocean was under consi- 
deration. Mr. SMITH said : 

Whatever appearances to the contrary, nevertheless, 
Mr. Chairman, the Government itself is, according to 
the provisions of the bill, to be the virtual builder of 
the road. And the Government is to be, also, the 
owner of the road ; the literal owner, so far as it shall 
lie within our National Territories and, in no unim- 
portant sense, the owner of it, even so iar, as it shall lie 
within the States ; its non-intervention, in the latter case, 
being another signal instance of intervention non-inter- 


vention. In all cases, the Government retains the right 
to regulate the charges for transportation on the road ; 
and, surely, it is not extravagant to say that it must be 
ownership and not merely ownership, but paramount 
ownership which can properly assert such a right 

Such, sir, is to be the essential and controlling con- 
nection of Government with the road : and because it 
is to be such a connection, I have risen to oppose the 

I need not say, that I desire to see a railroad to the 
Pacific. What American does not desire it? Com- 
merce, travel, the love of country, the love of each 
part of it for every other part of it, and the deep hope 
in every true American breast, that we shall ever re- 
main one country ; these, and countless other consid- 
erations, all unite in calling for such a useful and plea- 
sant connection such an iron bond between the Atlan- 
tic and the Pacific, the East and the West Neverthe- 
less, I would not have Government either own, or build 
the road. Great as is the good to come from the road, 
it would, nevertheless, be largely overbalanced by the 
evil of having such a connection of Government with 
it, as the bill proposes. Indeed, I am free to say, that, 
much as I desire the road, I had far rather, that it would 
never be built, than built upon the terms of this bill. 
But the road will be built. Private enterprise is abun- 
dantly adequate to the undertaking. 

It is our frequent boast, that this Republic has 


solved the great problem of self-government. I admit, 
that it has, if we take the problem in its ordinary 
sense that is, in a very limited sense. For the sake 
of the argument, if for no more, I admit, that, in this 
sense, our Republic has solved it fully, honorably, 

But what is meant by this solution ? Is it meant, 
that the people have shown their capacity and their 
willingness to plan and to do for themselves in their 
own matters, and that they need not, and desire not, the 
paternal counsels and guiding hand of Government? 
Oh, no ! something immeasurably short of this is meant 
by it Nothing more is meant by it than that the peo- 
ple have shown themselves capable of choosing both 
the form and the administrators of their Government. 
Nothing more is meant by this solution than that it 
shows the doctrine to be false, which teaches that, in 
order to escape anarchy and ruin, the people must be 
denied all part in choosing either the structure or tho 
officers of their Government. 

Far am I from saying, that this solution, which we 
have achieved, is unimportant. I admit, that the human 
race has been honored, and carried a wide step upward 
by it. We have afforded abundant proof) that the masses 
are not so wanting in capacity, as to be obliged to leave 
it to a single despot, or to an oligarchy, to say how they 
shall be governed : but that they are capable of saying 
it for themselves. I own, that this is much. Never- 


tbeless, it is not, as most persons seem to suppose, the 
whole realization of the whole idea of democracy. It is 
but a very partial realization of that beautiful, precious, 
and grand idea. For a people to learn, that they are 
entitled to choose their own Government is only the first 
and lowest lesson in democracy. But for a people to 
learn, that it is their duty to grow into the government 
of themselves, and not to suffer Civil Government to 
mingle itself with their affairs this is the ultimate 
and highest lesson in democracy. 

The impressive authority of Washington is often 
quoted against the evil of mixing up the concerns of 
one Government with the concerns of another Govern- 
ment. This is a great evil ; and it should be carefully 
guarded against. But a far greater evil, and to be far 
more carefully guarded against, is the mixing up of 
Government with the concerns of its people. Every 
nation has more to fear from its own Government than 
from any, or even all, other Governments; and, I add, 
that every nation has actually been far more injured by 
its own Government, than by any, and even all, other 

Is the day never to come, when Government shall be 
confined to its proper limits ; to its sole office of pro- 
tecting its subjects from aggressions upon each other, 
and from foreign aggressions? Is the day never to 
come, when the people shall resist the intrusions of 
Government, and claim the right, ay, and have the dis- 


position, to attend to their own affairs in their own way ? 
Until that day shall come, the proper work of each 
party that is of the Government and of the people 
will be badly done ; for until that day, Government 
will be so much engrossed with its usurpations of the 
people's work, as to misdo or neglect its own work ; and, 
until that day, the people's own work, so far as it ia 
taken out of their own hands, and done by wrong hands, 
will be badly done. 

How false and ruinous are the present relations be- 
tween Government and people 1 Government, instead 
of being the servant of the people, and of being wielded 
by the people for the good of the people, is the master 
and disposer of the people. Russia does not own the 
Russian Government, but the Russian Government 
owns Russia. England does not own the English Gov- 
ernment, but the English Government owns England. 
And how degraded is the position toward Government 
of the people of Prance ! Instead of aspiring to be, 
every one his own master, the supplier of hig own wants, 
and the creator of his own fortunes, they are, every few 
years, clamoring for a new Government not for a Gov- 
ernment, which shall leave more room for the indivi- 
dual to grow in independence and dignity, but for a 
Government, which shall reduce its subjects to still 
greater dependence, and meddle, still more than the pre- 
sent one, with their callings and concerns. Indeed, it 
would seem, as if the Frenchman's definition of the most 


republican Government (for it is for such he clamors) 
is the Government, on which its subjects can hang most 
helplessly and ignominiously . What wonder, then, that 
France should be a frequent and an easy prey to flatter- 
ing and plausible despotisms ! 

And what shall we say of our own countrymen in 
this connection? ' Do they suffer, do they court, the 
agency and presence of Government in the affairs of the 
people to the extent, that the inhabitants of other coun- 
tries do? I admit, that they do not. I admit, that in 
this respect, they have learned more than others. And 
yet, considering how much better school they have had 
to learn in, they have proved themselves to be but dull 
scholars. The American people are well-nigh as ready 
as other people to have Government regulate trade, and 
build asylums, and railroads, and canals. It is true, that 
they do, in terms, deny to Government the right of 
meddling with the Church. But this is their inconsist- 
ency. For, so long as they let Government into their 
school-houses, why, in the name of consistency, should 
they shut it out of their meeting-houses? Is not the 
school, as well as the church, a place for religious in- 
struction ? But they will not continue this inconsist- 
ency much longer. Very soon, they will either shut 
Government out of the school, as well as the church, or 
let Government into the church, as well as the school, 
unless, indeed, religious instruction shall (as it never 


should) be banished from the school. At no less price 
can this alternative be avoided. 

Why is it, that the American people and other en- 
lightened people are so reluctant to shake off their de- 
pendence on Government, and to try, and trust in, the 
strength of their own feet ? It is because they are, in 
this respect, the victims of habit. Having always been 
in the leading-strings of Government, they are very 
slow to learn to go alone. They are even unconscious, 
that they can go alone. Indeed, it must be confessed, 
that they are so enfeebled and dwarfed by their habit of 
dependence, as to have lost much of their ability to go 
alone. Having leaned so long and so heavily on Gov- 
ernment, it is not easy for them to straighten up. 

I referred to the preference of Frenchmen for the 
Government, which meddles most with matters of the 
people, and, I- might have added, which expends most 
""money upon those matters. But is there not danger, 
that this will be the preference of the Americans also ; 
and that the Administration, that will be most popular 
with them, will be the one, which will be most profuse 
in its expenditures on roads and canals, and on those 
other objects, on which, whatever is expended, should 
be the people, and the people only? 

The protection of the persons and property of its sub- 
jects, is the whole legitimate province of Government. 
Is it said, that, if confined to this narrow province, it 
will have but little to do ? It is true, that it will ; and 


that is one reason, and a great reason, why it will do 
that little well. Is it said, that, in such case, it will 
have little to do, except to carry on wars for its people ? 
But, even of that it will have little or nothing to do. 
Wars come from the feet, that Government is so big, 
and the people so little. Reduce bloated Government 
to its proper dimensions, and thus make room for the 
shrivelled people to swell into theirs, and war will be a 
very rare occurrence. Wars come from the feet, that 
Government is made the master, and the people the 
servant. Keverse this relation, and war would, indeed, 
be a rare occurrence ; for, then, Government, would re- 
flect the mind of the people, and the mind of the people 
is not for war. It is Government, that gets up wars. 
Not one in five of our people was originally in favor of 
our wicked war with Mexico, the reckoning-day for 
which will surely come, in eternity, and, most proba- 
bly, in time, also. I have not characterized this war as 
wicked, because I regard some wars as innocent. It is 
true, that our war upon poor Mexico was superlatively 
wicked ; but all wars axe wicked, and no truer saying 
fell from Dr. Franklin's lips, than that there never was 
a good war, nor a bad peace. 

I have ascribed wars to the undue proportions and 
undue influence of Government. In vain, will it be, 
that Peace Societies labor to prevent wars, if Govern- 
ment shall be allowed such proportions and influence. 
The Government, that shall be allowed to overshadow 


and control the people, will be in favor of wars ; for 
such a Government will find its enjoyment and glory 
in wars. 

I said, substantially, that Government would keep 
out of war, if it reflected the mind of the people. But 
I shall be told, that, in a Eepublic, it does reflect the 
mind of the people. This would be true, if it bore the 
relation of servant. But, unhappily, it is the master ; 
and, what is worse, it is the master with the approba- 
tion of the people. The people choose their ruler not 
only, nor even mainly, for the purpose of having him 
protect them. Their leading object, in choosing him, 
is to have him direct in their affairs in their affairs 
with which Government has legitimately nothing to do. 
Hence he becomes their master. Before he became 
such, he may have been like them ; but it is unreason- 
able to count on his continuing to be like them. The 
new relation between them has made them unlike each 
other. And, yet, I admit, that they may come to be 
alike, and that they not unfrequently do come to be 
alike. I admit that, even where the Government is 
the master, the Government and the people may, and 
often do, grow into a resemblance to each other. Even 
such a Government may study to be somewhat like the 
people ; but the mutual likeness will be chiefly owing 
to the fact, that Government has succeeded in corrupt- 
ing the people into an assimilation to itselil The 


servant is more like to follow the master than the 
master the servant. 

The meddling of our Government with the affairs of 
our people, is sometimes justified on the ground, that, 
in a republic, the Government and the people are one. 
But the assumption of this identity is fatal to the as- 
sumption, that Government needs to undertake or su- 
perintend any part of the proper work of the people. If 
the Government and the people are one, and so entirely 
one, that the people would dispose of their affairs in 
just the same way, that the Government would, pray, 
why is it, then, that the Government needs concern 
itself with those affairs ? The very fact, that Govern- 
ment usurps the work of the people, proves that Gov- 
ernment and the people would not do this work in the 
same way. If Government knew, that all sections *of 
the people would regulate and conduct their trade just 
as Government would have it regulated and conducted, 
then, obviously, there would be no tariffs. If Govern- 
ment knew, that all sections of the people would man- 
age their schools just as it would have them managed, 
then, obviously, Government would not meddle with 
schools. So, too, Government would have no occasion 
to build railroads and canals for the people, did it know, 
that all sections of the people would build them when, 
where, and as it would build them. Admit, if you 
please, that our Government represents the average 
interests and the average wishes of the various sections 


of the American people : admit, if you please, that a 
line of policy pursued by our Government is the diag- 
onal or compromise line between the planting interest 
of South-Carolina, and the opposite manufacturing 
interest of New-England : admit all this, and, never- 
theless, it is preposterous to say, that our Government, 
in its various meddlings with the work of the people, 
does just what each and all the sections of that people 
would have it do, and just as they would do it them- 

I have said enough to expose the falsity of the argu- 
ment in favor of governmental assumption of the work 
of the people, so far as that argument is founded, either 
on the assumed likeness, or on the assumed identity, 
between Government and people. 

I said, that Government, if confined within its proper 
limits, would have but little to do. Our Federal Gov- 
ernment does enough to run up its annual expenditures 
into the neighborhood of $50,000,000. Drive it back, 
however, from its excesses, and from its usurpations, to 
its own and its only, proper work, and its annual ex- 
penditures would fall down as low as $6,000,000. Yes, 
$6,000,000 are more than this Government needs to 
expend in time of peace ; and a just Government a 
Christian Government will never be involved in war. 
Such a Government, I admit, the world has never seen 
no, nor any approximation to it ; not, however, be- 
cause no people could have it, but, solely, because no 


people would have it The American people can, at 
any time, speak such, a Government into being ; and 
great is their sin for not availing themselves of their 
power. Confine our Government to its legitimate work, 
and the length of a Congressional session would be lit- 
tle more than a week, where it is now a month. Thus 
confine it, and we should not be wasting our time, or 
rather the people's time, since they pay for it, on the 
bill before us. 

But I must delay no longer to look at the arguments, 
which are employed in behalf of building by Govern- 
ment, a railroad to the Pacific. 

1. It wiU facilitate the protection of the whites from the 
Indians. But whether it be, that the whites need pro- 
tection from the Indians, or, what is more probable, that 
the Indians need protection from the whites, it can be 
afforded, in either case, far cheaper, and more effectual, 
than by putting Government to the vast expense of 
building this road. 

2. The road would be an important facility in the event 
of war with a Power, that could bring an army and navy 
to our Western coast. But we must be so just and wise, 
as not to be involved in war with any Power. If, how- 
ever, we shall find ourselves involved in such war, as is 
here apprehended, is it not probable, that private enter- 
prise will have built the road by the time of such war ; 
or, at least, have carried it as far toward completion, as 
it would have been carried by the Government ? 


Let it not be thought, that I undervalue the road, as 
a means of protection. I cheerfully admit that, in this 
respect, it would have no small value ; and that I would, 
therefore, be willing to have Government give five or 
ten millions of dollars to the association, that shall build 
it Mark, that I say dollars, not acres. I still deny, as 
I have repeatedly done on this floor, that the public 
lands belong to Government. Government no more 
owns them than it does the sunlight, which falls upon 
them, or the atmosphere, which floats over them. All 
that Government has to do with them, is but to protect 
and regulate the occupation of them. It is not for 
Government to sell them; and it is not for Government 
to give them away, any more than it was for Satan to 
give away to the Saviour "all the kingdoms of le 
world." I have said it in this Hall, more than once, 
perhaps more than twice ; I am so full of it, that I could 
well-nigh consent to say, in all my speeches, as did Cato 
his "Carthago delendo, est" in all his that the vacant 
land belongs to the landless. The simple feet, that the 
one is vacant, and the other landless, is of itself the high- 
est prooij that they should be allowed to come together. 
Alas, what a crime against nature, that they should be 
kept apart, and that, in the surpassingly touching words 
of the poet: 

' Millions of hands their acres want, 
And millions of acres want hands." 

Oh, when will statesmen be men! and consent to 


feel and act like men? How much better that, than for 
men to struggle to become statesmen; and to consent to 
desert their noble nature and their glorious manhood 
for that poor conventional thing called statesmanship ? 

I said, that I should be willing to have Government 
give five or ten millions of dollars to the association, 
that shall build this road. I add, that I should be will- 
ing to have it give an equal sum to the association, that 
shall build another railroad to the Pacific; and, also, to 
the association, that shall build still another. All this 
is, of course, with the understanding, that the roads 
shall be built within a few years, and on widely differ- 
ent routes. I would take this occasion to say, that 
I have no sympathy with that jealousy of a southern 
route, which is felt in some quarters. I need not say, 
that I would have slaveholders put away slavery. 
Nevertheless, however closely they may cling to it, I 
would not, for that reason, deny them a road, any more 
than I would deny bread and meat to such, as diffei 
with me on a great moral or political question. But let 
me here say to the honorable gentleman from Virginia, 
[Governor Smith,] that, whilst I would give roads, and 
bread and meat to all, I would give to none those expen- 
sive California "stiff drinks," of which he spoke, a week 
or two since. Alcoholic drinks, whether stiff-or slender, 
are poisons poisons to the body and the soul ; and to 
no one will I give poisons for a beverage. 

No, let the south, as well as the centre and the north, 


have its railroad to the Pacific; and if the south lacks 
Mexican territory, in order to perfect its route, and it can 
be obtained on reasonable and honorable terms, then let 
our Government, prompted by the spirit of wisdom and 
justice, obtain it for her. 

8. The road witt be a great a weU-nigh indispensable 
commercial and travelling facility. I admit it But, 
though Government may build roads, that are abso- 
lutely necessary for protection, and that will not be 
built, unless Government builds them ; it, nevertheless, 
has no right to build roads either for the advantage of 
merchants, or the accommodation of travellers. 

4. Another argument in favor of building the road by 
Government is, that, if it is not so built, it uriU not be built 
at all. But I would turn this argument against the 
building of the road by Government: and I would say, 
that if it cannot be built, unless Government build it, 
then it manifestly should not be built. For if sharp- 
sighted individual enterprise cannot be tempted to 
undertake it, then it certainly would be a most un- 
profitable and unwise undertaking for Government 

5. The only other argument I shall notice is, that private 
means are insufficient to build the road. This argument, 
if somewhat like the one I last considered, is, neverthe- 
less, clearly distinguishable from it 

Mr. McDouQALL, of California. Does the gentleman 
from New- York, [Mr. Smith,] understand the bill, 


reported by the committee, to provide for a road to 
be constructed and owned by the Government? 

Mr. SMITH. I do ; and I have based my argument 
on that interpretation of the bill.. 

Mr. McDouGALL. I do not know whether the gentle- 
man from New- York has read the bill. 

Mr. SMITH. The gentleman from California may 
depend upon it, that I do not rise to make a speech 
upon a bill, without having first read the bill. 

Mr. McDouGALL. I contend, that the bill does not 
provide for any connection between the Government 
and the road. The Government are neither to own 
nor control the road. 

Mr. SMITH. All that I need say in reply is, that the 
gentleman and I put different interpretations on the bill. 

When the honorable gentleman interrupted me, (the 
interruption was entirely kind and acceptable,) I was 
proceeding to examine the argument, that the road 
must be built by Government, for the reason, that 
private means are insufficient to build it. But whether 
private means are, or are not, sufficient to this end, 
certain it is, that Government cannot have legitimate 
means for building roads, the main object of which is 
the benefit of trade and travel. Certain it is, that if 
Government gets the means for building such roads, 
it gets them by plundering the people. 

Having glanced at the arguments for building the 


road by Government, I will now glance at those against 
it. My time is too limited to allow me to do more than 
glance at them : 

1. The building, repairing, and working, or using, of 
the road, if done by Government, wiU cost at least fifty per 
cent, more than if done by an association. 

2. That there will be more than one railroad to the 
Pacific is an argument against Government's building one 
of them. 

It is highly probable that, at no distant day, there 
will be three railroads from the Mississippi to the Pa- 
cific. Now, if one of them shall belong to Government, 
money will be lavished upon it, without stint, to sustain 
it against the competition of the others. But this will 
be wrong, not only because it will be injurious and 
oppressive to the individuals, who shall own the other 
roads, but because such gross partiality to the section, 
through which the Government road passes, will be 
injurious and oppressive to the sections, through which 
the other roads pass. In that case, Government would 
be arraying its great power against the meritorious 
enterprises of portions of its citizens; and it would 
also be putting the whole country under contribution 
for the purpose of benefiting one section of it, and with 
the effect of damaging other sections of it. A similar 
argument I employed against Government's helping to 
build the Minnesota railroad, and a similar argument 
was among the arguments, which influenced me to 


vote against granting such help to the Wisconsin rail- 

This is a good occasion for me to say, that Govern- 
ment should have the confidence of all its subjects ; 
and that, in order to have this confidence, it must be 
impartial with them all; and that, in order to be impar- 
tial with "them all, it must not mix itself up with the 
particular concerns of any. 

I would add, under this head, that I do not forget, 
that, by the provisions of this bill, the whole road may, 
ultimately, be owned by State Governments. But my 
objections to such ownership are as decided as to the 
ownership of the road by the Federal Government I 
hold, that not the Federal Government only, but the 
State Government also, is unfit for such ownership; 
and that Civil Government is perverted, when brought 
into such connections. 

8. Another objection to the building of this road by Gov- 
ernment is, that the patronage and power of Government 
would be greatly increased thereby. 

The present amount of Government patronage and 
power is deeply corrupting both to Government and 
people. But for Government to have the proposed 
connection with the road to the Pacific, would greatly 
increase this patronage, this power, and this corruption. 
What I have here said regarding patronage is not 
intended to apply to the present any more than to 
other Administrations. I know not, that the present 


Administration is more faulty than others, in this 

4. Let Q-overmnent build tiiis road, and there wiU be no 
assignable limits to its future departure from its own 
province, and to its future invasion of the province of 

The building of this road by Government would be 
an irresistible precedent for every other gigantic work, 
and every other profuse expenditure, at the hands of 
Government. What railroad, what canal, would Gov- 
ernment then shrink from building? What conquest 
would it feel itself to be too feeble to achieve? Nay, 
what conception of national glory would be too vast 
or visionary for Government then to undertake to 
realize? Perhaps, by that tune, a hundred millions 
of dollars would not be regarded as an extravagant 
endowment for a national school with a branch in each 
State. And, after such an endowment, what would bo 
thought more fit than to invest so great and glorious a 
Government, as ours would then be, with the care of 
the Church ? And, surely, the national church of great 
America should not be eclipsed by the national church 
of little Judea. A tithe of the products of our broad 
land would no more than suffice for the splendors of our 
national church. Let not the idea be scouted, that the 
American Government can ever run into such extrava- 
gance and ursurpation. If our people are so foolish, as 
to let Government run at all beyond its legitimate 


limits, they may soon find, that it will run indefinitely 
beyond them; and that, in the end, it will be impossi- 
ble to erect an insurmountable barrier against the 

6. The vast expenditure of Government in building this 
road, and in doing what else that expenditure would lead 
to, would fasten upon the nation the cruel and oppressive 
tariff system. 

This result accomplished, and then farewell to all our 
hopes of a frugal and honest Government: for no 
Government will be either frugal or honest, that is not 
held closely responsible for its expenditures ; and no 
Government will be so held, until the burden of its 
expenditures shall rest upon the people, in the form of 
direct taxation. And when the tariff system is fastened 
upon us, then farewell also to all our hopes of a Gov- 
ernment, that shall bear lightly on the poor; for the 
eftect of the tariff system is to burden the poor the 
masses of the consumers with the support of Govern- 
ment, and to let the riches of the rich escape taxation. 
I am far from saying, that this is the policy of the sys- 
tem and the intent of its advocates. On the contrary, 
I am free to admit, that its advocates are as upright 
and as kind-hearted as its opponents. Nevertheless, 
the wrong, which they inflict, is none the less grievous 
because of their honesty and benevolence. 

I do not say, that the instance, can never occur in 
which Government would be justified in helping to 


sustain some of the pursuits of its subjects, and in pro- 
tecting from overwhelming foreign competition some 
of the modes of their industry. Such an instance 
might possibly occur, under an impending war. But 
the end should be attained, not by tariffs, but by boun- 
ties by bounties produced by assessments on property 
or ability, rather than by tariffs, which tax consumption 
and poverty. 

6. The last objection to building the road by Govern' 
ment with which I shall weary the Committee, is, that it 
would prepare the way for rotting up a debt against 
the nation so great, as to make the Government strong 
beyond the control of the nation. 

The doctrine may be paradoxical, that a great debt 
against a nation makes its Government strong. It is, 
nevertheless, true, that whilst the nation is weak in 
proportion to its debt, its Government is strong in that 
proportion. It is not even the owners of the debt, that 
constitute the strongest party. It is the power, that 
collects the debt the principal and interest, or either 
that is the strongest But Government is this power, 
and therefore its fearful strength, where the national 
debt is great. The debt, which a nation owes, is a 
mortgage on the whole of its wealth and industry. 
All the persons employed in collecting it are servants 
of the Government, and all the power wielded to col- 
lect it is power of the Government; as fully so, as if 
Government were the creditor of the nation, as well as 


the collector of tlie debt. Our own nation, in order to 
fall under the tyranny of its Government, as extensively 
as the nations of Europe have fallen under theirs, 
might, indeed, need to undergo several other changes ; 
but the principal change would consist in its coming 
under as great a burden of debt, as presses upon those 

I must bring my remarks to a close. The passion of 
every people has been for a great and glorious Govern- 
ment. Their pride has been in their Government, and 
hence their ruin. Would that the American people 
might become so wise, as to see, that it is to the 
reproach of human nature, or rather of perverted and 
fallen human nature, that any civil government is 
necessary. Would that, instead of feeling pride in 
even the best civil government, they might feel shame 
in the necessity, which exists for any. 

Think not, because I spoke as I did, a minute since, 
against the undue strength of Government, that I am 
in favor of a weak Government. That was a strength 
acquired in the -perverted uses of Government. I 
wou!4 have Government strong far stronger than the 
world has ever seen it. But the strength, with which I 
would clothe it, would be all acquired in its right uses. 
In a word, I would have Government strong in the 
never-failing principle of justice strong in the devotion 
of both itself and its subjects to that principle. And, 
although I would not have it meddle with the work of 


its subjects, I would, nevertheless have it, like the gov- 
ernment of Heaven, continually round about them. 
Its sleepless care and its effectual shield should be ever 
over them over them, when they go to their fields 
and to their shops, and over them when they go to their 
tables and to their beds. I would have civil gov- 
ernment go with its subjects where they go, and lodge 
with them where they lodge. 

I had hoped, that my countrymen would never sink 
down into so degrading a relation to Government, as 
that, which is sustained by the people of other nations. 
I had hoped, that the wardship, tutelage, and bondage 
to Government, which characterize others, would never 
characterize them. But, perhaps, I shall find, that I 
was mistaken. Certain it is, that I shall strongly 
suspect that I was, if I find them in favor of having 
Government build, or own, this road. For the build- 
ing, or owning, of this road by Government cannot fail 
to contribute mightily toward creating and fixing as 
false and ruinous a relation between people and Gov- 
ernment in this country, as exists between, people and 
Government in other countries. 

Here, then, on the brink of so great peril, let us 
pause to survey the perfl. And more than that, let us 
here take our stand against it. Here, as the friends of 
popular rights against the encroachments of Govern- 
ment, let us firmly resolve, that, God helping us, these 
rights shall be fully maintained, and these encroach- 



ments successfully resisted. Here let us firmly resolve, 
that, God helping us, Government shall not build nor 
own this road, neither absolutely nor conditionally, 
neither entirely nor partly. Here let us firmly resolve, 
that Government shall not pass this Rubicon. And 
here let the fervent prayer of all our hearts be, that the 
attempt to involve Government with this road shall be 
the effectual signal to rally the friends of popular rights, 
the whole country over, in defence of the people against 
the usurpations of Government. 




JUNE 10, 1854. 

THE bill and substitute (both of which were intro- 
duced by Mr. Olds, Chairman of the Committee on the 
Post-Office and Post-Roads) being under consideration, 

Mr. SMITH presented the following amendment: 

And be it further enacted. That this act shall continue 
in force two years ; and that, at the expiration of that 
time, the Post-Office Department shall be abolished, 
and individuals and associations shall thereafter be as 
free to carry letters, as to carry any thing else. 

Mr. SMITH, then said 

I wish, Mr. Speaker, to make an argument in sup- 
port of my amendment I have read the bill, which 
the Chairman of the Committee on the Post-Office and 


Post-Koads introduced ; and, also, the substitute, which 
he introduced, and I am constrained to say, that I do 
not like either of them. I dislike both of them and 
I do so, if for no other reason than that they both 
bear so much resemblance to the existing post-office 

The SPEAKER. Will the gentleman from New- York 
inform the Chair, whether he proposes to amend the 
original bill or the substitute ? 

Mr. SMITH. I have no choice. Whichever the 
Chair shall think most proper, I shall be satisfied 

A MEMBER. Apply it to each. 

Mr. SMITH. Let my amendment be first to the 
original bill ; and then, if it fail hi that mode, be to the 
substitute. [Laughter.] 

My first objection to these papers for such I shall 
call the bill and substitute is, that they both propose 
to retain the franking privilege. It is true, that the 
substitute does not propose to retain it to the discredit 
of the Post-Office Department or, in other words, as 
a charge upon that Department ; but, what is the same 
thing to the people, it proposes to retain it at the 
expense of the common Treasury. 

I am free to admit, that most members of Congress 
have to write more letters than they would have to, 


were they not members of Congress. The difference 
would not be great, however, if the persons, who write 
to them, were compelled, as such persons should be, to 
pay postage on their letters ; and this difference would 
be still less, if such persons should, as all true gentle- 
men do, inclose stamps to pay the postage on the 
answers, in every case, where the correspondence is on 
the business of those, who originate it. Most of the 
letters, with which we are deluged, are too unimport- 
ant, and even frivolous, to have been written, had 
their writers been obliged to pay postage on them. 
And then, as to the speeches we send the country 
would not perish, if they were not sent. Perhaps, 
indeed, it would not be essentially less enlightened. 
I apprehend, that, in the flood of speeches, which we 
pour over the land, there is quite as much of darkness, 
as of light. Of course, I would not speak disparagingly 
of my own speeches. [Laughter.] Every member 
will so far provide for his self-complacency, as to make, 
if not an express, at least & tacit exception, in behalf 
of his own speeches, whenever he is tempted to speak 
slightingly of the mass of speeches. [Laughter.] But, 
I am willing to admit, that it may be proper to send 
off a limited number of our speeches, at the expense 
of Government, so far as the transportation is concern- 
ed. Hence, I am willing to have Government furnish 
each member of Congress with stamps, during his term, 
to the amount o say, $800 or $400. These stamps 


should be peculiar. They should be made to be used 
by members of Congress only; and only in franking 
printed matter. Let the value of each frank be one 
cent, and let a single frank be sufficient to frank two 
ounces. The member of Congress, who should not 
wish to use all his stamps, would take pleasure in letting 
a fellow-member have the balance. 

Another objection, which I have to these papers, is 
not that they propose more than one rate of postage 
but rather, that they do not propose more than two. 
Moreover, the higher of the two is of comparatively 
very little consequence. For ten years to come, forty- 
nine fiftieths of the letters would not be affected by 
the higher rate. In other words, not one letter in 
fifty would be charged with the ten cents rate of post- 
age. Then, these papers are unreasonable, in making 
distance the sole ground of difference in the rates of 
postage. Distance is but one, and it is far from being 
the most important one, of the grounds for such differ- 
ence. Density and sparseness of population ; facilities 
and non-facilities of carriage ; are much more import- 
ant considerations in authorizing and measuring such 
difference. Hence, then, although the existing post 
office laws provide for but one rate of postage, and 
although there evidently should be more than one, 
nevertheless the papers before us are, even in this 
respect, hardly an appreciable improvement on those 


laws, so ill-grounded and faulty is the higher rate of 
postage, which they propose. 

To illustrate the error of these papers, in making 
mere distance the ground of difference, in rates of post- 
age : they provide, that a letter from Boston to San 
Francisco shall be charged with ten cents ; and a letter 
from San Francisco to any post-office in the region of 
the Rocky Mountains with only five cents, according 
to one of the papers, and with only three cents, accord- 
ing to the other. But it may be worth three times as 
much to carry this letter from San Francisco, as that 
letter to San Francisco. 

Both, then, because this higher rate of postage is to 
affect so small a proportion of the letters ; and because 
a rate of postage, founded on so insufficient a reason, 
must, if adopted, be very short-lived; and, because, 
too, it seems well-nigh impossible, that it should be 
adopted ; I shall regard these papers, in the argument 
I am now making against them, as virtually proposing 
but one rate of postage. 

I have still another objection to these papers. It is 
my chief one. They would have Government continue 
to be the mail-carrier. But I would have Government 
separated from such work, entirely and forever. I am 
in favor of breaking up the Post Office Department. I 
would have the people left as free to choose their own 
modes of carrying their letters, as to choose their own 
modes of carrying their other property. Why should 


Government carry the letters any more than the other 
property of the people? Again, if Government may 
carry the property of the people, why not the persons 
of the people also ? why not passengers as well as 

Is it said, that letters, especially some of them, are 
very precious and important, and that therefore the 
carrier of them should be highly trust-worthy and 
responsible? I admit it all ;' and I hold, that this is a 
reason why the people should not be confined to one 
<^a,rrier, but should have a choice of carriers ay, the 
widest range of selection. 

Happily for the people, they are not forbidden by 
Government to transmit money by express. They 
may choose between the express and the mail. And 
what does the choice, which they actually make, 
prove ? It proves that they prefer the express to the 
mail ; in other words, that the express is a more safe 
and suitable conveyance for money than the mail. It 
proves, too, that, in all probability, the people would, 
were they not restricted to the mail, extensively adopt 
other modes of transmitting letters, as well as money. 
This monopoly of Government is aggravated by the 
fact, that Government disclaims all liability for dam- 
ages, arising from either the bad performance, or non- 
performance, of the work it has monopolized. 

Is it said, that speed and punctuality are necessary 
in the transmission of letters? They are. 'But this, 


instead of being an argument against abolishing the 
Post Office Department, and against throwing open its 
work to the freest and widest competition, is a very 
strong argument for doing so. The motive for attain- 
ing speed and punctuality, in the case of such compe- 
tition, must be unspeakably stronger, and more effect- 
ual, than when, as now, there is no competition. It 
would be strange, indeed, if) under the pressure of 
unlimited rivalry, a greater than the present degree 
of cpeed and punctuality should not be attained. It 
would be strange, indeed, if the enterprise, sharp sight, 
and intense interest of individuals, and small associa- 
tions, should not accomplish the work with far greater 
speed and punctuality than characterize it in the hands 
of Government It would be strange, indeed, if Gov- 
ernment Government, that is so corpulent, so un- 
wieldy, so lazy, so blundering should be found to be 
fitted to the work of carrying the mail. But, we are 
not left to mere theory in the case. The actual fact, 
that, here the mail is several hours, and, there 
several days, behind the express, is as glaring as the 

Is it said, that it is important to have the rates of 
pontage low ? I admit it is. I admit, that, as in the 
case of commerce itself, so the more nearly commercial 
correspondence can be free, the better. And more 
eager am I to admit, that the commerce of the affec- 
tions, which is carried on in letters of friendship and 


love, should be but lightly taxed. These admissions, 
however, make nothing against my doctrine, that Gov- 
ernment is not fit to be the carrier of letters. On the 
contrary, Government must cease to be the carrier, ere 
we can have, or, to speak more safely, ere we can be 
entitled to have, cheap postage either on land or sea 
either " ocean penny postage," (two cents ;) or any 
other demanded reduction of postage. We are not 
entitled to cheap postage, at the expense of the common 
Treasury. There is not one good reason, why the 
carrying of letters should be a charge on the common 
Treasury a charge on the whole people. There is 
not one good reason why they, who have but little to 
do with letters should be taxed to make the transmis- 
sion of them cheap to those, who have much to do with 
letters. Again, there is not one good reason why they, 
whose letters can be carried at half the cost, at which 
the letters of others are carried, should be compelled to 
pay as high rates of postage, as others. 

The argument for carrying the mail, at the expense 
of the common Treasury, founded on the fact, that our 
naval and military operations are also at such expense, 
is as superficial and fallacious, as it is plausible and 
current. It is absolutely astonishing, that so many 
wise men use this argument. In turning mail-carrier, 
Government goes entirely out of the province of Gov- 
ernment ; goes out of it to perform an unnecessary 
service ; and to perform it for but a portion of its sub- 


jecte. On the other hand, the preparation and employ- 
ment of force are strictly within the province of Gov- 
ernment ; are not only a legitimate, but a necessary 
work ; are for the protection of all, and not a part only, 
of its subjects ; and are for that protection equally in 
the case of all. 

I have, virtually, said, that, so long as Government 
is the mail-carrier, the rates of postage must be high, 
in order, that they may cover the whole cost of carry- 
ing the mail. Indeed, the papers before us do, in the 
changes which they propose, admit, that a self-support- 
ing mail, if carried by Government, must be a dear 
mail. Just here, however, the question very properly 
arises, whether, if the transmission of letters is thrown 
open to the enterprise and rivalry of individuals and 
associations, the rates of postage will be lower. That 
they will be much lower, in the case of the great ma- 
jority of letters, is as certain, as that the cost of the 
transmission will, in that event, be much less. Who, 
that has marked the difference between the carelessness 
and clumsiness of Government on the one hand, and 
the vigilance and alertness of individuals and small 
associations on the other ; between, for instance, the 
slow and dear process of building railroads and canals, 
and ships, by Government, and the speed and cheap- 
ness with which private enterprise builds them ; can, 
for a moment, doubt, that the cost of carrying letters, 
is twice as great, when Government is the carrier, as it 


would be, were they carried by individuals and small 
associations ? But if this work is thrown open to un- 
limited competition, then, as all experience, in like 
cases, proves, the cost of the work will regulate the pay 
exacted for it : or, in other words, the rates of postage 
on letters will be according to the expense of carrying 
them. It is safe to say, that, in such event, the rate of 
postage on half the single letters would not exceed one 
cent. On a portion of the remaining halfj it would be 
two cents : on a much smaller portion, two or three 
times two cents : and on a comparative few, a part of 
whom, it must be remembered, are not reached by the 
present Post-Office accommodations, three or four, or 
even five or six times two cents. 

It is argued, that the rates of postage should be uni- 
form, throughout the whole length and breadth of the 
nation. But, why should they be ? They cannot be, 
but at the expense of great and glaring injustice. Two 
brothers reside in New-England. One of them says : 
" I will continue to reside in New-England. It is true, 
that my rent, and fuel, and bread, are dear ; but my 
merchandise is cheap, because it is subjected to so light 
a charge of transportation, and, ere long, the postage 
on letters, through every part of railroad-laced New- 
England, will be very small." The other brother says : 
" I will remove to Nebraska. It is true, that a home, 
in a new country, has its disadvantages and trials. 
But land and fuel are cheap there ; and my bread there 


will soon be cheap, because I shall soon grow it As 
to merchandise, too who knows but Government will, 
ere long, be so consistent with itself, as to carry that, 
as well as letters, all over the country ? and at the same 
charge for all distances, short or long ?" Now, would 
it be right for Government to realize this anticipation 
of the Nebraska brother, and to turn carrier of mer- 
chandise, as well as letters ? and on such absurd terms, 
too? No all admit, that it would be wrong, very 
wrong, very oppressive. It is worth, say, ten cents, to 
carry a barrel of rice from Baltimore to Washington ; 
fifty cents from Baltimore to Pittsburgh ; one dollar 
from Baltimore to Chicago; and three dollars from 
Baltimore to Nebraska. Now, it would be bad enough 
for Government to monopolize the carrying of rice ; 
but, far worse, to have only one price a mean or 
average price ; and to charge, say, one dollar for carry- 
ing the barrel to Washington and Pittsburgh, as well 
as to Chicago, and only one dollar for carrying it to 
Nebraska. Such a bringing of prices to one level 
would be oppressive to the people of Pittsburgh ; far 
more so to the people of Washington ; and it would be 
doing a favor to the people of Nebraska, at the expense 
of all equity and justice. And, yet, if Government 
requires the Nebraska brother to pay no higher rates 
of postage on Nebraska letters than it requires the 
New-England brother to pay on New-England letters, 
why, in the name of consistency, should it not make 


the transportation of other property as cheap to the 
Nebraska as to the New-England brother ? Can any 
tell me, why ? 

Is it said, that the Nebraska brother should be favor- 
ed, because he has to encounter the hardships of mak- 
ing a home in the wilderness? I anticipated and 
replied to this objection, in my reference to the advan- 
tages, as well as disadvantages, of such a home ; and in 
my reference to the disadvantages, as well as advan- 
tages, of a home in a long-settled section of the country. 
Moreover, it was because he saw, that the disadvan- 
tages of his new home would be overbalanced by its 
advantages', that he concluded to emigrate. Hence, he 
is not an object for partiality to expend itself upon 
certainly, not for the partiality of Government Gov- 
ernment is to be impartial, always, and with all. Gov- 
ernment has no gifts to make even to the most needy: 
no favors to show even to the most deserving. I do 
not deny, that help is often due from the rich and 
densely-peopled East to the poor and thinly-peopled 
West. But it is not due from Government It is due 
from men to their fellow-men ; and is to be paid, with- 
out the intervention of Government. The deep sense 
of such obligation has been already expressed in the 
bestowment of millions upon schools and churches. 

I would add, under this head, that it is far from 
certain, that, were the carrying of the mails . left to 
private enterprise, the people of our new settlements 


would have to pay higher rates of postage, than they 
will have to pay, if Government continues to be the 
mail-carrier. For, first, if we are to continue to have 
so unfit, and so expensive a carrier of the mail, the 
rates of postage must necessarily be increased, and 
greatly increased. Second, the constantly and rapidly 
swelling deficit in the Post-Office Department is already 
so great, as to make it necessary to refuse to establish 
post-offices, which will not, in all probability, be self- 
supporting. Third, if the delivery of a letter, mailed 
to, or from, our most inaccessible settlements, should 
cost so unsuitable a carrier, as Government, twenty 
cents, it, nevertheless, would not cost a suitable carrier 
ten cents. 

There is another objection to my argument against 
uniform rates of postage. It is, that such uniformity 
operates as much in favor of the densely-peopled East, 
as of the sparsely-peopled "West; as much, for in- 
stance, in favor of the New-England as the Nebraska 
brother. It will be said, that if the Nebraska brother 
pays but three cents on the letter he receives from his 
New-England brother, the New-England brother, in. 
turn, has to pay but three cents on the letter he re- 
ceives from his Nebraska brother. It is true, that if 
his only correspondence were with his Nebraska broth- 
er, the New-England brother would not be so much 
wronged by uniform rates of postage. But, as a gene- 


ral thing, more than three fourths of the correspondence 
of a New-England man is with persons of New-Eng- 
land : and, hence, the charges on the great mass of his 
letters should be regulated, not by what it may cost to 
carry letters through the wilderness, and upon the bad 
roads of Nebraska, but upon the good roads of culti- 
vated New-England. 

Is it honest to compel one man to pay another man's 
postage ? Is it honest to compel one State to pay 
another State's postage ? The Northern States do, to a 
great extent, pay the postage of the Southern States. 
Slavery is said to be the cause of this wrong. I am 
aware that slavery is fruitful of wrongs. Perhaps, this 
is one of them. I will pass no opinion on this point, 
just now. I will leave each one to make up his own 
opinion upon it, in the light of the facts of the case. 
Indeed, there is an especial reason why it does not 
become me to be finding fault with slavery. For, if we 
may believe the newspapers, (and we all know, that 
newspaper is only another name for truth,) I am now 
a pro-slavery man. My going to bed, as calm as usual, 
that night, when the final vote on the Nebraska bill 
was to be staved off by a ceaseless round of cunningly- 
devised yeas and nays, was fatal to all my Abolition 
feme. My former honors are now worn by others by 
others, who kept awake for liberty, during all the long 
and weary hours of that memorable night. Surely, 



surely, if I have, as the newspapers say, become " a 
good national," and am on the eve of embarking in 
"the purchase of negroes," I ought to be chary of my 
words against slavery. [Laughter.] Very unseemly, 
very unnatural, would it be for a young convert to 
speak reproachfully of the idol of his new faith. But, 
to return from this digression. I was saying, that the 
Northern States have to pay much of the postage of 
the Southern. While, in the free portion of the nation, 
the postage exceeds the expenditure, in the slave por- 
tion the expenditure exceeds the postage ; and that, too, 
by the great sum of $1,311,907.* 

* Pottage collected Expenditure 

in year ending m year ending 
FREE. June 80, 1853. Jut 30, 1858. 

Maine . . .'. ,;' . . $125,194 $112,664 

New-Hampshire . . . 81,703 67,310 

Vermont 78,638 96,860 

Massachusetts .... 453,966 294,366 

Rhode-Island .... 47,377 30,817 

Connecticut . . *: . 146,364 121,365 

New-York .... 1,175,516 829,421 

New-Jersey . , > . . 89,074 109,913 

Pennsylvania .-..>. . . 488,308 414,043 

Ohio 375,759 531,392 

Michigan 96,767 182,872 

Indiana 137,339 174,851 

Ulinois 175,346 264,223 

Iowa 40,980 65,336 

Wisconsin .... 78,570 78,606 

California 123,162 242,043 

Oregon 9,797 52,282 

Minnesota .... 3,629 3,848 

$3,722,369 $3,661,701 

Surplus, $60,668. lr-r.j 




Most heartily, Mr. Chairman, do I rejoice, that our 
post-office ship has run ashore. As my amendment 
shows, I am willing to have it so far patched up, that 
it may be kept at sea a couple of years longer, whilst 
other and fit craft is made ready to take its place. 
After that, let the poor broken thing be left to lie on 

Postage collected 



in year ending 
June 80, 1858. 

in year ending 
June 30, 1858. 







District of Columbia 



Yirginia .... 






South-Carolina . . 







Alabama .... 



Mississippi .' '- . 



Arkansas . . 





Tennessee !. 



Kentucky . 





Louisiana . . 



Deficiency, 1,811,907. 

$1,359,848 $2,671,765 


New-Mexico . . ' . . ' $517 $19,925 

Utah 955 3,633 

Nebraska . 237 

$1,472 $23,795 

Deficiency, $22,323. 

Total of deficiency in Post-Office Department, for year anding June 
30, 1863, aside from ocean mail service, $1,273,562. 


shore a wreck to admonish the people, so long as it 
shall lie rotting there, of the folly of permitting Gov- 
ernment to be the carrier of their letters and papers. 
Now is the time for the people to determine to take 
into their own hands their own work of carrying their 
own letters and papers. Am I asked, how by what 
means the people can do this work ? I answer, that 
is none of our business. It is no more our business 
the business of Government to make this inquiry, 
than it would be to inquire, how the people could build 
their roads and canals, and manage their schools and 
churches, without the intervention of Government 
Government is to leave the people to do their own 
work, in their own way be that way the best or the 
worst That the people's way for carrying their own 
letters and papers would, however good or bad, be far 
better than the way, in which meddling, usurping 
Government has done it, there is not the least reason 
to doubt. 

Perhaps, I shall be told, that the people will not con- 
sent to pay, in any cases, higher rates of postage than 
they now pay no, not even if they are recompensed 
fourfold for it by less rates of postage in the great ma- 
jority of cases. Perhaps, I shall be told, that, rather 
than have the rates of postage different for different 
distances, or for any other cause, the people will prefer 
to have the Government continue to be the mail-carrier, 
and that, too, even though the Post-Office Department 


shall continue to sink deeper and deeper in debt. But 
the people are not so blind to their own interests, as 
not to see, that the losses of the Post-Office Department 
are the losses of the Treasury ; and that the losses of 
the Treasury are the losses of themselves. Nor are 
the people so perverse and suicidal as to array them- 
selves, deliberately and perseveringly, against their 
own interests. 

Thrice welcome to my whole heart would be the 
breaking up of the Post-Office Department I Not 
merely, however, nor even mainly, however, because I 
desire a reform in the Government, at that point. It is 
true, that I do deeply desire this particular reform, for 
its own* sake. Nevertheless, my deep desire for it is 
chiefly because it would lead the way to numerous 
wise, and wide, and radical reforms in the theories and 
practices of Civil Government ; and, thereby, do much 
toward bringing forward the day, when Civil Govern- 
ment shall be confined to its sole, legitimate province of 
protecting persons and property. 

The Post-Office Department broken up and there 
would, then, be no franking privilege. In this wise, 
the people would be saved much more than a minion 
of dollars a year. According to some estimates, more 
than even two millions, a year. It may be well for me 
to say here, that, even were the mail taken out of the 
hands of Government, I would still be willing to have 
Government go to the expense of sending a limited 



amount of printed matter, at the hands of members of 
Congress. Of course, it could not, in that event, be 
done in the way suggested at the beginning of my re- 
marks. But what the franking privilege costs would 
not be the whole amount, that the people would save 
by the breaking up of the Post-Office Department. 
Including what was paid to ocean mail steamers, the 
Post-Office Department cost the people for the year 
ending last June, nearly $3,000,000. The cost for the 
year ending the present June, will exceed the sum of 
$8,500,000; and it is estimated, that the Post-Office 
Department will, in the year ending next June, load 
the people with the loss of $4,000,000. Will the peo- 
ple be patient under these enormous, and rapidly in- 
creasing, losses? They will not be. And they will 
not be patient with the present Congress, if we do not, 
and that, too, before the close of the present session, 
provide for the speedy termination of these losses. 

To protect myself from misapprehension, I would 
disclaim all imputation of mismanagement in the Post- 
Office Department. I presume, that it is as well man- 
aged, at the present time, as it ever was. I believe, 
that they, who have the control of it, are upright and 
able men. But the Post-Office Department is itself 
a wrong: and, therefore, every administration of it 
must, necessarily, be a wrong because every adminis- 
tration of it, however able or well-intended, must par- 



take of the inherent wrong of that, which is adminis- 

Again, the Post-Office Department broken up and 
there would be no more making of books by Govern- 
ment. In this wise, too, the people would be relieved 
of another great tax. There is no danger, that there 
will not be books enough. There will still be enough 
books made, even if Government should make none. 
Let Government throw open the Patent Office, and the 
Coast Survey Office, and other offices, to persons who 
collect materials for book-making ; and such books, as 
Government, now, loads the mail with, and scatters 
among those who do not, one in three, read them, will 
be published at half to three fourths of the expense, at 
which they are now published: and, moreover, they 
will get into the hands of those who will read them 
for, it may be presumed, that they, who go to the ex- 
pense of buying their books, will read them. 

But the saving of money to the people by the break- 
ing up of the Post-Office Department will be of little 
account, compared with the saving, by that means, of 
both Government and people from no small amount of 
corruption. There are more than twenty-three thous- 
and post-offices. The postmasters, their deputies and 
clerks, must altogether number more than fifty thou- 
sand. It is, of course, expected, that they shall all wear 
the livery of the Administration ; and, alas, too large 


a share of them feel themselves irresistibly tempted to 
fulfil the expectation I Then, connect with this patron- 
age the negotiations for mail contracts, and all the 
powers and influences incidental to the Post-Office 
Department, and it will be strange, indeed nay, inex- 
pressibly honorable to human nature if an immense 
and ever-swelling tide of corruption should not attend 
upon the organization and operations of that Depart 

But it will be said, that the individuals and associa- 
tions, that would take the place of Government, in 
carrying the mail, would be as corrupt and corrupting 
in the work, as Government is. Admit, that they 
would be as corrupt nevertheless they could not be as 
corrupting. The corrupting power of individuals and 
associations is as nothing, compared with that of Gov- 
ernment. For, whilst Government remains pure, it will 
be both disposed and able to control guilty individuals 
and associations. But when Government itself has 
yielded to corruption, the restraining barriers are bro- 
ken down, and all is in danger of being lost. 

I must close. I have not said all, that I intended to 
say. But, as the remainder of our session may be 
very short, so we must make our speeches short If 
this Congress would do a better thing than any Con- 
gress has ever done, let it declare, that the Post-Office 
Department shall, at the end of 'two years, cease to 
exist; and shall then give place to such machinery, as 


the people shall select and employ ; and to as perfect 
freedom, on, the part of the people, to carry their let- 
ters in what way they will, as they now exercise in 
carrying their beef, and pork, and flour, and them- 

What I have said is in harmony with the amendment, 
which I sent to the Clerk's desk. I cannot be ignorant, 
that many, who hear me, will believe that my amend- 
ment will be unpopular in some quarters, especially in 
the new and scantily peopled portions of the country. 
But I am, yet, to be convinced, that it will be unpopular, 
even there. I am, yet, to be convinced, that so just and 
wise a measure, as the abolition of the Post-Office De- 
partment, will work loss to any portion of the country. 
A monopoly hi the hands of a Democratic Govern- 
ment I copied, in the ignorant infancy of that Govern- 
ment, from monarchy and despotism ! at war with the 
whole genius and framework of that Government ! tell 
it not, that any section, or any worthy interests, of our 
people can be injured by the. abolition of a so entirely 
misplaced usurpation ! 

I will admit, however, for the sake of the argument, 
that my proposition is unpopular. Happily for me, I 
have no popularity to jeopard. I belong, as I said, in 
this place, a few months ago, to a solitary party ; or, if 
the honorable gentleman from North-Carolina [Mr. 
Clingman] will permit me to say so, to that dual party, 
composed of himself and myself. [Laughter.] But, 


though I have no popularity to jeopard, nevertheless, 
many who hear me have. I hope, however, that they 
will not allow themselves to be trammeled by it, on 
this occasion. I hope, that they will remember, that 
justice is more important than popularity, and that he, 
who honors the demands of justice, will acquire an in- 
creasing and enduring respect, which is infinitely more 
valuable than any popularity, and especially, than that 
vulgar and mushroom popularity, which is the poor 
pay for trampling on justice. 




JUNE 94, 1894. 

MB. CHANDLER, of Pennyslvania, had offered an 
amendment to the Civil and Diplomatic Bill, providing 
for an expenditure of five hundred thousand dollars to 
continue the aqueduct for bringing water into the City 
of "Washington. Mr. STEPHENS, of Georgia, moved 
and advocated an increase of one hundred thousand 
dollars. Mr. SMITH replied as follows : 

The honorable gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Ste- 
phens] said, "Go on!" I say, stop I I have not risen 
to oppose this plan, or to advocate any other. I have 
nothing to say in disparagement of deriving the water 
from the Potomac; and nothing to say in praise of 
deriving it from Kock Creek. I am opposed to the 


execution by the Government of any plan, whatever, 
for supplying this city with water. 

In my judgment, sir, we are on the threshold of a 
vast expenditure of money. Government had better 
retrace its steps than go forward. If it goes for- 
ward, it will find itself involved, not only in a great loss 
of money, but in difficulties that will call for legislation, 
and that will consume much of the costly time of Con- 
gress. And that it will find its execution of the work 
the occasion of no little corruption to itself and to 
others, is what all experience in such matters teaches us 
to expect. 

This work can be done, and be kept in repair, by 
individual enterprise, at one half the expense it would 
be to Government. Why, then, should it not be 
intrusted to individual enterprise? Let Government 
offer half a million, or, if proper, a million of dollars, to 
the responsible association that shall undertake to sup- 
ply the city with water, and the offer will be promptly 
accepted. But it is said, that there is not .enterprise 
enough among the people of this city to get up such an 
association not wealth enough to accomplish the object 
of it. I think better, however, than this of both the 
enterprise and ability of the people of "Washington. 
But if they either will not, or cannot, do the work, 
there are Yankees enough who will; and not only Yan- 
kees enough, but people enough in every part of the 
country, who will do it. 


Of course, I would have Government require, in 
return for its grant to the proposed association, the 
fullest liberty to use the water for all possible govern- 
mental purposes. And I would have Government 
prescribe the general plan of the work at least, some 
of its main features. 

I hardly need say that I am willing, more than will- 
ing, to have Government pay for the water in full pro- 
portion to the value of its buildings and their precious 
contents, and to the value of its various great interests 
here, among which is the importance of preserving the 
health of its numerous servants collected here. Indeed, 
I would have Government bear more than such pro- 
portion of the expenses for the common welfare of the 
city. It is the misfortune of our nation that its capital 
is in the midst of a people who cannot be a self-subsist- 
ing people. To a great extent Government must ever 
carry and sustain the people of this city. 

I am not of the number of those who think it would 
have been unwise to establish the capital in one of our 
great seats of commerce. A people who support them- 
selves are quite as virtuous and intelligent, and safe 
a people as are they who lean largely upon others for 
their living. 

But it is said, that if Government does this work 
it will derive a great income from it. I do not believe 
that it will derive any income from it It will be too 
much out of harmony with its dignity for Government 


to be peddling water. If Government does the work, 
the people of this city will never be taxed for their 
water. The whole tax, in that case, will rest upon the 
whole people of the country. You might as well 
expect that Government should erect toll-gates on the 
bridges it owns around this city, and stop passengers 
for their pennies, as expect that it will descend to the 
little business of selling or leasing water. 

This city should be supplied with water, both abun- 
dantly and speedily; and, as I have said, I am willing 
to have Government contribute liberally toward the 
expense of it; but its contribution must be in a way 
consistent with the office of Government. Not for 
the sake of doing any good may Government exceed 
its province. Government may do nothing that its 
citizens can do; least of all may it do anything that 
they can do better than it can. 

I love the city of "Washington. I love it, because it 
was founded by the greatest of all great names. I love 
it, because it does itself wear that greatest name. I 
love it, because it is the capital of our nation the 
seat of Government of our beloved country. I love 
it for its great natural beauty, that marks every part 
of this broad and magnificent amphitheater ; and all 
the more do I love it because this beauty is heightened 
% by the embellishments of art. It is true there are two 
plague-spots upon its health two blemishes and blots 
upon its beauty 

[Here the hammer fell.] 




JUNE 27, 1854. 

THE bill to enable the President to fulfil the third 
article of the Treaty between the United States and 
the Mexican Kepublic, being under consideration, 

Mr. SMITH said: 

Mr. Chairman: Until yesterday, when I heard the 
distinguished gentlemen from Missouri and Virginia, 
[Mr. Benton and Mr. Bayly,] I had not intended to 
say one word on the subject before the Committee. I 
listened with great interest to their noble speeches, and 
was instructed by them. Nevertheless, my own views 
did not entirely harmonize with the course of argu- 
ment pursued by either of those gentlemen. I am 
happy, Mr. Chairman, in the opportunity, which you 
have now kindly afforded me, to express these views, 


in the light of which the vote, which I am to give, 
will be judged. 

"The papers I" "the papers I" have been, more or 
less, the burden of some of the speeches, which we 
have heard. Now, I do not sympathize with this con- 
cern, nor join in this call for the papers. I do not see, 
that we have any right to them, or anything to do with 
them. Had we undertaken to impeach the President 
for his connection with this treaty, then our interest 
in the papers respecting it would be pertinent. But 
that is what we have not, as yet, undertaken. 

This treaty, when approvingly and fully acted upon 
by the competent Mexican authorities and the Presi- 
dent and Senate of the United States, (and, for the 
sake of the argument, I will assume, that it has already 
been so acted upon,) becomes, by the admissiqji of the 
Constitution itself) a "supreme law of the land," bind- 
ing upon our nation, and capable of being enforced 
against our nation by Mexico. It is equally such, 
whether it has our approbation, or disapprobation. 
Our approbation cannot give it legality. Our disap- 
probation cannot take away its legality. The treaty 
Is not a law, upon condition, that we assent to it. It 
is, already, a law an unconditional, absolute law. 
All, that we have to do with the treaty, is either to obey 
its call upon us to vote money to' Mexico; or to dis- 
obey the call, and incur the great and fearful responsi- 
bility of treaty breakers of law breakers. For one, 


I hold, that we may incur such responsibility, provided 
the amount of the money is grossly excessive say 
several times as much, as it should be. Before I close, 
I will express my opinion on the reasonableness of the 
amount Commanding as is a treaty between nations 
solemn as is a "supreme law of the land," it may, 
nevertheless, be possible, that it is our duty to disobey 
this treaty, and to break this law. For we can suppose 
a case, in which it would be right to disobey, and set at 
naught, the most imposing and solemn enactment I 
will suppose an extreme case since it is, after all, an 
extreme case, which best serves the purpose of establish- 
ing the fact, that there may be exceptions to the 
general rule. What, if there were a congressional 
statute, which, rivalling the wickedness of the mem- 
orable decree of Herod, requires all the children in 
this District, two years old and under, to be slain? 
Must the President obey, and enforce it? No I All 
admit, that, notwithstanding he is a coordinate branch 
of the law-making power, he must not obey, and 
enforce it. Commanding, as is the source of this stat- 
ute, and perfect as are its forms, he must refuse to 
honor it High and authoritative, as is the statute, 
humanity is infinitely higher and more authoritative: 
and, hence, if he has to trample either one, or the other, 
under foot, it must be the statute, and not humanity. 

I said, that the treaty calls on us to vote money to 
Mexico. Now, I am not of the number of those, who 



hold, that we are to disobey the call, because the Presi- 
dent had not apprised us of it, before the treaty was 
concluded. The Constitution does not require such 
previous notice. Moreover, such previous notice might 
be the means of publicity, and thereby of defeat, to the 
negotiations. Nor would I disobey the call, because of 
the provision in the Constitution, which requires all 
bills for raising revenue, to originate in the House. 
For I do not believe, that this provision was intended 
to restrict, or qualify, the treaty-making power, lodged 
by the Constitution in the President and Senate. To 
understand our duty, we must see what we get in 
exchange for the money we vote. If we find, that we 
get the worth of our money, or anywhere near the 
worth of our money, we are not to hesitate to vote the 

There are but two material things, that we get. 

One of these is our release from the eleventh article 

of the treaty of G-uadalupe Hidalgo the article which, 
although so lightly spoken of by the honorable gentle- 
man from Missouri, [Mr. Benton,] does, nevertheless, 
make us liable, in some sense, and in some degree, 
for Indian depredations upon the Mexicans. It is said, 
that our liabilities in this article are too indefinite to 
create any obligations upon us. But I hold, that the 
more indefinite they are, the worse they are, and the 
more eager should we be to escape from them. To 
say, that they create no obligations whatever upon us, 


strikes me as very extravagant For one, I should 
be willing, ay glad, to see our Government pay a con- 
siderable, though not an unreasonable, sum to liberate 
us from the obligations of this article, whatever those 
obligations are. 

The other material thing, that we get by this treaty, 
is territory. This territory is valuable to us, because it 
is essential to the best railroad route from the southern 
portion of our country to the Pacific. But though I 
would have our Government do what it reasonably 
can to provide the South, as well as the centre, and 
the North, with the best railroad route to the Pacific, 
which the Maker of the earth has afforded, I must, 
nevertheless, insist, that Mexico, so far, as she can fur- 
nish the ground, should be glad to furnish it, without 
price, if others will build the roads. 

But this territory is much more than we need for the 
routes of railroads. The more, however, the worse, 
said the honorable gentleman from Missouri, [Mr. Ben- 
ton,] and by a good story, told in his own happy way 
of telling his good stories, he illustrated his position, 
that there are lands so poor, that to own them is to be 
impoverished, rather than enriched. But with all 
deference to that distinguished gentleman, who is even 
more full of learning and experience than he is of years, 
I am willing to admit, that the more land we get from 
Mexico, (by righteous means,) the better. I would, 


that the treaty gave us whole provinces ; yes, and 
even all Mexico. 

Poor Mexico needs to be brought under radically 
transforming influences. Indeed, she is perishing for 
the lack of them. It is for her life, that she cease to be 
an independent nation ; and not only so, but, also, that 
she become a part of our nation. For, say what we 
will of its faults and crimes, (and I look with very great 
sadness of heart upon some of them,) our nation is the 
mightiest of all the civilizing and renovating agencies, 
that are at work in the world. 

And, again, is there not some danger, that Mexico, if 
not annexed to us, will pass under the wing of Spain, 
or of some other European nation? But, gentlemen 
will tell us, that the "Monroe doctrine" is an effectual 
shield from that danger. 

Suppose, Mr. Chairman, since we have, thus inci- 
dentally, stumbled upon the "Monroe doctrine," that 
we spend a few minutes upon it, and, therefore, a few 
minutes less upon the treaty. 

I am well aware, sir, in what admiration this doc- 
trine is held. It is glorified in this House, and glori- 
fied throughout the land. There is no greater politi- 
cal heresy than to doubt its soundness. It is com- 
mended to us by the authority of the greatest names. 
Nevertheless, it is not to authority that I would bow, 
but to truth; and, as I look upon the Monroe doctrine, 
it is utterly empty of truth, and full of arrogance and 


bravado. This doctrine is very palatable to our 
patriotism, inasmuch as it arrogates a very exalted 
place and mission for our nation. It invests us with 
the right of regulating the relations between the people 
of this hemisphere and the people of the other. It 
makes us, in a word, dictator of the whole earth. 

This doctrine is brave and defiant; and it, therefore, 
gratifies our conceit of our courage and power. 

And, yet, sir, warmly as this doctrine is cherished 
by us, it seems to me, that we should be the last 
people on earth to admit the truth of any such doctrine. 
This doctrine is at fatal war with our corner-stone 
doctrine, that every people is at liberty to choose its 
own form of Government. For us to set up "the 
Monroe doctrine," is to turn our back upon the Decla- 
ration of Independence. It is to deny ; to live down; 
to lie down ; our own fundamental principles. For 
us to refuse to other peoples and nations the right to 
separate from each other, as they please ; or unite with 
each other, as they please ; or change their forms of 
Government, as they please ; is to be guilty of repeal- 
ing the principles, on which our own nation delibe- 
rately founded itsel For us to restrict other Govern- 
ments, as " the Monroe doctrine" would restrict them, 
is, virtually, to ignore and deny the foundation and 
legitimacy of our own Government 

But, sir, we are either ignorant of ourselves, or insin- 
cere. We would not approve nay, we would not 


abide "the Monroe doctrine," were it applied to our- 
selves. Suppose our nation should, for any reasons 
whatever, wish to blend itself with Great Britain, 
would it be restrained from doing so by its committal 
to " the Monroe doctrine?" Oh, no I And yet, that 
wish would be directly in the face of " the Monroe doc- 
trine." Suppose Mexico and Brazil, hearing of this 
wish, should put their veto upon its indulgence. How 
quick would we scout the veto, and bid them mind 
their own business, whilst we minded ours? But if 
they have no right to forbid our fusion with Great 
Britain, pray, what right should we have to forbid the 
proposition of Hayti to join France, or Chili to join 
China, or, (most terrific of all terrific things, in the 
eyes of an American filibuster!) Cuba to join England? 

The truth is, that our rapid progress in population, 
wealth, and power, has made us forgetful of the equal 
rights of the nations of the earth. We are disposed to 
measure our rights by our prosperity ; and to dispa- 
rage the rights of others, in the degree, that their pros- 
perity falls short of our own. In our boundless self- 
conceit, our might, either already is, or is very soon to 
be, boundless. And, as is to be expected in such a 
case, we are already acting on, if not in terms avowing, 
the maxim, that might makes right. 

It was in the proud and arrogant spirit of our coun- 
try it was under the influence of the extravagant pre- 
tensions, with which she is bloated, that the Squier 


treaty was so much condemned, and the Hise treaty so 
much extolled, in the other wing of the Capitol, a year 
or two since. The Squier treaty admitted, that other 
nations of the earth might participate with ours in con- 
trolling the ship-canal between the Atlantic and the 
Pacific. But the Hise treaty claimed, that our nation, 
alone, is worthy of controlling it; that the nation, 
whose office is sole dictator of the whole earth, should 
be the sole keeper of that great gateway of all the 
nations, and should decide when, and on what terms, 
the ships of those nations might pass through it. It 
was, of course, taken for granted, that all the nations 
of the earth would be tame enough to acquiesce 
promptly in this, as well as all other claims of our 
assumed dictatorship. 

" I fix the chain to great Olympus' height, 
And the vast world hangs trembling in my sight," 

are words quite too swollen for a nation for any col- 
lection of mere men to use however fitted they may 
be to the lips of a god. 

" The pride of thy heart," saith the prophet, "hath 
deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the 
rock, whose habitation is high ; that saith in his heart^ 
' who shall bring me down to the ground ? ' Though 
thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set 
thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, 
saith the Lord." 


Is not such the pride, that we are nurturing ? the 
" pride," may we not fear, that "goeth before destruc- 
tion ? " the " haughty spirit before a fall ? " 

Never has there been so selMeceived a nation, as 
our own. That we are a nation for liberty is among 
our wildest conceits. We are not a nation for liberty. 
I refer not, now, to the terrible blot of slavery upon our 
country. I refer to our pride. No proud man is for 
liberty. No proud nation is for liberty. Liberty 
precious boon of Heaven is meek and reasonable. 
She admits, that she belongs to all to the high and 
the low; the rich and the poor; the black and the 
white and, that she belongs to them all equally. The 
liberty, for which a proud man contends, is a spurious 
liberty ; and such is the liberty, for which a proud 
nation contends. It is tyranny; for it invades and 
strikes down equal rights. But true liberty acknow- 
ledges and defends the equal rights of all men, and all 
nations. There is not time for me to expatiate upon 
the merits of true liberty. They will be known to all, 
who bow themselves, gratefully and lovingly, to her 
claims. There is not time for me to prove, that it is 
her true character, which I have given to true liberty. 
Suffice it to say, that all will see it to be such, who are 
so happy, as to escape from the hard dominion of pas- 
sion and prejudice, to the welcome control of reason 
and religion. 

If this nation is to prosper, it must be by adhering 


to the great and precious principles avowed at its birth. 
One of these principles is, that every people may choosft 
its own form of government, and vary it, as it pleases. 
We chose ours ; and we write " hypocrite," with our 
own finger, upon our own foreheads, if we deny to the 
Haytiens or Cubans, or any other people, the liberty to 
choose theirs. If Cuba proposes to remain a part of 
Spain, or to become a part of France, or England, we 
cannot condemn the proposition, but at the expense of 
condemning our own, deliberately adopted and solemnly 
uttered, principles. 

It is not for thin nation to deny the right of one peo- 
ple to blend themselves with another people ; nor the 
right of any people to break up their existing national 
relations. In other words, it is not for this nation to 
deny the right either of annexation or secession. I 
claim the right of the British provinces, north of us, 
to annex themselves to our nation, if we are willing to 
receive them ; and that, too, whether England does, or 
does not consent to it. I claim the right of those pro- 
vinces and New-England to form a nation by them- 
selves; and that, too, whether with or without the 
approbation of the English and American Governments. 
I hold, that the Northern States have the right to go 
off into a nation by themselves ; and the Western 
States ; and the Southern States. If they will go, let 
them go ; and we, though loving the Union, and every 

part of it, and willing to lose no part of it, will let them 


go in peace, and will follow them with our blessing, and 
with our warm prayer, that they may return to us ; and 
with our firm belief, that they will return to us, after 
they shall have spent a few miserable years, or perhaps, 
no more than a few miserable months, in their miser- 
able experiment of separating themselves from their 
brethren. Of course, I cannot forget, that many alas 
that they are so many! would prefer following the 
seceders with curses and guns. Oh, how slow are men 
to emerge from the brutehood, into which their passions 
and their false education have sunk them ! I say brute- 
hood; for rage and violence and war belong to it, while 
love and gentleness and peace are the adornments of 
true manhood. 

I trust, that I shall not be regarded as holding that 
a single State in our Union may set up for itsel It 
may not any more than a single county. Such an im- 
p&rium in imperio would be too full of inconvenience 
and objection to entitle itself to the approbation of any 
reasonable man. My doctrine of annexation and seces- 
sion is not to be stretched over every folly, that may lay 
claim to countenance from the doctrine. 

I spoke of the right of the British Provinces to annex 
themselves to our nation. I hope, that, in due time, 
the right will be exercised ; and that England will feel, 
that she cannot justly resist the exercise of it. But, I 
hope, for more than" such annexation. I hope- for the 
annexation to us of every other part of North- America. 


To bring the various peoples of North- America into a 
nation with ourselves, would be to bring them under a 
rapid process of enlightenment, civilization, and homo- 
geneousness with each other and with us. I trust, that 
we shall be a better people, by that day. But bad, as 
we now are, even in that case, few of our neighbors 
would become worse, and most of them would become 
better, by becoming like us. Were all North- America 
to become one nation, it might not long remain such. 
But the various nations, into which it would divide, 
would be more intelligent, useful, and happy, than if 
they had never constituted one nation. 

Let Cuba come to us, if she wishes to come. She 
belongs to us, by force of her geographical position. 
Let her come, even if she shall not previously abolish 
her slavery. I am willing to risk the subjection of her 
slavery to a common fate with our own. Slavery 
must be a short-lived thing in this land. Under our 
laws, rightly interpreted, and under the various mighty 
influences at work for liberty in this land, slavery is to 
come to a speedy termination. God grant, that it may 
be a peaceful one I 

I would not force Cuba into our nation, nor pay 
$250,000,000 for her, nor $200,000,000 no, nor even 
$100,000,000. But when she wishes to come, I would 
have her come ; and that I may be more clearly under- 
stood on this point, I add, that I would not have her 
wait, always, for the consent of the Spanish Govern- 


ment. Now, if this is jUibusterism, then all I have to 
say is " make the most of it ! " [Great laughter.] 

I do not subscribe to the doctrine, that the people are 
the slaves and property of their Government. I believe, 
that Government is for the use of the people, and not 
the people for the use of Government. Moreover, I do 
not acknowledge, that any nation, or province, or people, 
is amenable to any other human Government than that, 
which they have themselves chosen. 

But, to return from my filibustering [laughter] to the 
treaty. The treaty calls on us to vote money to Mexico, 
in exchange for what we get from her. Is the sum no 
greater than it should be? Then, I must cheerfully 
vote it. Nay, it may be even much greater than it 
should be, and my obligation to vote it remain unbroken. 
For, I must not, for any slight cause, disobey the law 
" the supreme law of the land." But, if I believe the 
sum to be several times greater than it should be, then 
it is better, that I disobey than obey the law. I do 
thus believe ; and, therefore, I elect to disobey the law. 
I refuse to vote the required sum. I am conscious of 
my responsibilities for the refusal. I confess myself to 
be a law-breaker ; and I appeal to common sense and 
the public conscience for my justification. Start not at 
my admission, that I am a law-breaker. Even you, 
who believe with me, that this treaty is a law, would 
consent to break it on the same principle, that I do. 
That is, you would consent to break it, if you thought, 


as I think, that the sum demanded by the treaty is 
several times as great, as it should be. 

The truth is, that our statesmen have, under the 
influence of the vast resources of our nation, and of 
the overflowing Treasury, which is the consequence of 
our tariff system, become mad on the subject of figures. 
With them millions are but little more than thousands. 
Were our Treasury well-nigh empty, as it always 
should be; and were our statesmen to study the value 
of money, in the light of the toils of the poor, who 
earn it, these statesmen would not make so light of 
, immense sums, as they now do. 

Ten millions for what this treaty gives us I In my 
esteem, it is not only a very excessive, but an outrage 
ously excessive, remuneration. I do not say, that I 
would not vote five millions. Perhaps, I would, but 
not because I would believe five millions to be no more 
than a reasonable sum. It would, in my judgment, 
be much too large a sum. 

Mr. WASHBURN, of Maine, (interrupting.) If I 
understand the gentleman correctly, he said, a short 
time since, that he considered this House under abso- 
lute, unquestionable obligation to vote this money. Or 
he stated, rather, that the treaty was perfect in its obli- 
gation, without the action of this House, that it was the 
law of the land, absolute and complete in its obligation. 
But I understand the gentleman to say, now, that he 
will exercise his discretion, and that he will not vote 
the ten millions. Also, that he will not call for the 


information, because the President is not bound to give 
any information in relation to the treaty. I ask him 
whether, if he should call upon the President for tho 
information necessary to enlighten him upon the sub- 
ject, in this exercise of his discretion, which he now 
claims the right to use, he might not see therein, rea- 
sons why he should not vote for the ten millions ? 

Mr. SMITH. I need no such enlightenment. It has 
been intimated, that corruption attends the treaty. I 
know not, and, for present purposes, care not, whether 
this is so. The question of corruption is not before us, 
and for what else could I wish to see "the papers? " 
The actual provisions of the treaty constitute all, that 
is legitimately before us ; and the only question for us 
to decide, in governing our votes on this occasion, is 
whether $10,000,000 is not so excessively large a sum, 
that we had better disobey the treaty, and break a 
" supreme law of the land," than vote it. As I have 
already said, I think it our duty to break the law ; or, 
to use the less startling phrase of the day, to render the 
law, at this ten million point, " inoperative and void." 

Happily, I shall not need to regard as criminals, 
those, whose votes, on this occasion, shall differ from 
my own. The difference between us may be but an 
honest difference of judgment. Happily, too, it is only 
money, that we lose by voting too large a sum to 
Mexico. Whereas, should there be war between us 
and her, in consequence of leaving unsettled what this 


treaty settles, the loss to both nations would be infi- 
nitely greater than a loss of money. I had rather we 
should make an absolute gift of ten millions to Mexico 
than that we should fire one gun at her and even, too, 
if that one gun should hit nobody. 



"WASHINGTON, JUNE 27, 1854. 

To My Constituents : 

My nomination to Congress alarmed me greatly, be- 
cause I believed, that it would result in my election. 
To separate myself from my large private business, for 
so long a time ; and to war for so long a time, against 
the strong habits formed in my deeply secluded life, 
seemed to be well-nigh impossible. 

My election having taken place, I concluded, that 1 
must serve you, during the first session of my term. 
Not to speak of other reasons for such service, there 
was, at least, so much due to you, in requital for your 
generous forgetfulness of party obligations, in electing 
me. I could not do less, and, yet, make a decent 
return for the respect and partiality you had shown 


I did not, until within a few weeks, JuUy decide not 
to return to Congress, at the next session. I could not 


know, but that something unforeseen might demand 
such return. I, now, feel at liberty to announce my 
purpose to resign my seat in Congress, at the close of 
the present session. Why I make the annunciation so 
early is, that you may have ample time to look around 
you for my successor. 

I resign my seat the more freely, because I do not 
thereby impose any tax upon your time. You will fill 
the vacancy, at the General Election. Indeed, I should 
nave been entirely unwilling to put you to the pains 
of holding a special election. 





JTTLT 1, 1864. 

MB. JONES, of Tennessee. I will withdraw the mo- 
tion to strike out the enacting clause of the bill. 

Mr. SMITH, having moved to strike out all after the 
enacting clause, and supply its place with the provision 
to pay $250,000 in full satisfaction of the claim, said, 
that the speech of the honorable gentleman from Ten- 
nessee, [Mr. Jones,] brought to his mind a passage of 
the Bible: "He that is first in his own cause, seemeth 
just, but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him." 
Now, I am the neighbor of this gentleman, (Mr. Jones 
. and Mr. Smith sit near each other,) and I have come 
to search him. (Laughter.) 

The gentleman from Tennessee finds fault with my 
speech on this subject a couple of months ago. I con- 
fess, that I did say he had read from one paper, when 


it turned out, that lie had read from another. But my 
mistake was of no consequence to the argument 
Another of my faults was, that I did not read to the 
end of the paragraph, of which I read a part. The 
closing lines of the paragraph upset, as he holds, the 
interpretation which I put upon the lines preceding 
them. Let us look into this. In those preceding lines 
Mr. Adams scouts the idea, that the Meade debt is not 
among the claims which our Q-overnment had assumed 
and " agreed to compound :" and in these immediately 
following and closing lines, he scouts the idea, that a 
certain " order " is a claim on our Government 

And yet the gentleman from Tennessee regards the 
debt and the order as identical, the one with the other! 
and concludes, that, although Mr. Adams said, in one 
breath, that the debt is among the claims against Gov- 
ernment, he said in the next, that it is not I I offer a 
simple explanation to the gentleman's mind. It is the 
same that I offered before. There was an unliquidated 
claim of Meade, and also a liquidated one. The former, 
I held, was binding upon our Government. The latter, 
I admitted, was not This is the distinction insisted on 
by Mr. Adams. We did not agree, certainly not in 
the treaty of 1819, to pay whatever sum Spain might, 
admit she owed Meade, but the sum (or a pro rota, 
allowance thereon) which she actually owed Meade. 

The gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Giddings] who re- 
plied to my former speech on this subject, said, that 


our Government was tinder no obligation to help 
Meade get from the Spanish Government the proofs of 
his claim. But what right had that gentleman to say 
so, in the face of the treaty obligation of Spain to fur- 
nish the proofs ? 

That obligation was as sacred as any other in the 
treaty ; and our Government was as much bound to 
enforce it, as to enforce any other. What, i in the 
case of half of the claims, the vouchers and documents 
had been in the possession of the Spanish Government, 
and their production had been refused? Our Govern- 
ment would, surely, have enforced the provision in ques 
tion, and would have done so, before paying any of 


the claims. 

The true state of the case is this : Our Government 
absolutely released the Spanish Government from the 
Meade claim. It, simultaneously, bound the Spanish 
Government to give up the proofs of that claim. 
When called on to do so, it refused. And, now, our 
Government sits still, and says, that Meade has lost his 
claim! Monstrous injustice! And a deep shame to 
our country is such injustice 1 

Mr. Forsyth has been referred to. He, like Mr. 
Adams, believed with Judge White, of the Commission, 
that Meade had " a well-founded claim." 

Not only was Meade entitled to a pro rota allowance 
from the five millions, on his claim, provided he had 
been able to establish it, by means of the bounden help 


of our Government ; but a strong argument can be 
made to show, that our Government was bound to pay 
Meade the whole sum, which the Spanish Government 
acknowledged to be due him. There is not the least 
reason to believe, that the Cortes would have agreed to 
the second treaty, which, in addition to what the first 
treaty gave us, annulled three Spanish grants of land, 
had not that body supposed, that our Government 
would pay the Meade debt, as it had been liquidated- 
The history of the transactions makes this well-nigh 

But, if there are any technicalities, by which we may 
escape the payment of this claim, I pray that we may 
not avail ourselves of them. We all admit, that Spain 
owed a debt to Meade. I say not how much. We all 
admit, that Spain believed, that in the bargain she 
made with us, we assumed to pay or compound this 
claim. We all know, that we made a good bargain 
out of Spain, in getting Florida for five millions of dol- 
lars. Can we, in such circumstances, consent to turn 
over the Meade claim to Spain for payment ? Can we, 
in such circumstances, refuse to pay it ourselves ? 


} -I'. Tin: 


JULY 12, 1854. 

THE Eiver and Harbor bill being under considera- 
tion, Mr. SMITH, having moved to amend it by adding 
fifty thousand dollars to the appropriation for the har- 
bor of Oswego, said : 

Oswego does a much larger custom-house business 
than any other town in the nation, where the Govern- 
ment has not authorized the building of a custom-house. 
And, yet, the harbor, in which all tkis business is done, 
is a miserably contracted and half-finished one. The 
people of Oswego have been compelled to tax them- 
selves, for many years, very heavily, in order to pre- 
serve their harbor, and to maintain, against the ele- 
ments, the cheap and frail piers built by Government 
And were they, now, to call on Government for re-pay- 


ment, they would be as unjustly dealt with as was 
"Wilmington day before yesterday, when the section, 
making like re-payment, was struck out of the Cape 
Fear Kiver bill. For Government to draw revenue from 
our harbors, and, yet, to refuse to keep them in repair, 
and to compel the people, who live where the harbors 
are, to keep them in repair, is what I cannot see to be 
honest. Thus to benefit the Treasury, or, in other 
words, the whole nation, at the expense of particular 
localities and small communities, is, in my eye, nothing 
short of downright fraud. 

But I have been asked, during the discussion of this 
bill, with what consistency I can advocate the improve- 
ment of rivers and harbors, at the hands of the Federal 
Government, seeing that I have for years advocated, 
both with my lips and pen, that they be improved by 
States and smaller communities, and not by the Federal 
Government ? _ It is true that I would have such work 
done by other and more suitable agents than the Fede- 
ral Government. It has never been economically and . 
well done by that Government : and it never will be 
economically and well done by that Government. It 
is a work that cannot be properly performed at arms- 
length. It is a work that can be properly performed 
by those only, who, to use another familiar phrase, are 
on the spot. The Federal Government, because so great, 
is too unwieldy for such a work : and^because it is so 
remote from the work, an adequate sense of responsi- 


bility cannot be brought home to it I object to such 
work in the hands of the Government, if only because 
such work tends to centralization, and to undue Federal 
power. I object to it, if only because it affords im- 
mense room for corrupting both Government and 

Gladly would I vote, this day, to have the Federal 
Government, provided it would surrender all claims to 
revenue from our harbors, stand entirely aside from the 
whole work of improving them. But, just so long, as 
that Government will tax us for using our own har- 
bors, just so long, I can do no less than insist, that 
Government shall put, and keep, them in proper con- 
dition. I am no more inconsistent here than I am in 
the case of custom-houses. So long as Government 
shall adhere to the injustice of supporting itself by cus- 
toms ; and so long as the people shall be foolish enough 
to let Government do so, so long I shall be in favor of 
having Government erect safe and suitable buildings 
for custom-houses, instead of having it lease such as 
are unsafe and unsuitable. Hence, although if I could 
have my will, and if my theories of Government could 
prevail, there would not be a custom-house on the 
earth; I, nevertheless, feel myself to be guilty of no 
inconsistency in calling upon Government to erect cus- 
tom-houses. So, too, in the case of rivers and harbors, 
whilst Government claims, and with the acquiescence 
of the people, the exclusive control, and the exclusive 



revenues, of them ; I feel, that Government is, not only 
to be permitted, but to be required to improve them. 

I moved an increase of $50,000. That sum, together 
with the $21,000, which the bill provides for, would be 
none too much to put the harbor of Oswego in such a 
state, as its very great and very rapidly growing busi- 
ness demands. 

I desire the success of this bill. The security of life 
and property requires it. Instead of the total sum 
appropriated by this bill being too large, I would have 
Government, another year, expend a much larger sum 
on these and similar objects, providing it shall not do 
the far juster and better thing of surrendering the work 
into the hands of the proper agents the States and 
smaller communities. 

I did not offer my amendment, with the view of its 
adoption. Indeed, I am persuaded that the success of 
the bill would be greatly endangered by amending it. 
It is safer and wiser to follow the estimates, and to 
walk in the track of the Department. I withdraw my 





[THE Session, that Mr. Smith was in Congress, the Reciprocity Treaty 
was confirmed by the Senate, and the Bill for giving effect to it became 
a law. His deep desire for the success of this great measure led him to 
write the following Letter, and to have a copy of it laid on the desk of 
every Member of Congress.] 


Dear Sir: I learn, with surprise and regret, that 
you are not decidedly in favor of the " Eeciprocity 
Treaty ;" and that, possibly, you may oppose its adop- 
tion. Believing, as I do, that the people of Maine are 
to benefit more by the treaty than an equal number of 
people in any other of the States, I had supposed, that 
the Senators of Maine would be especially favorable to 
it But I am informed, that it is, as an inhabitant of 
Maine, that you hesitate to support it 

Perhaps, as I have never seen the treaty, and have 
no precise knowledge of its character, and am too much 
occupied with various urgent matters to learn more of 
it now, I ought not to make this communication. 


Nevertheless, my interest in the treaty is so deep, that 
I must express it, although at the risk of betraying 
great ignorance of its provisions. 

I am in favor of free trade between our country and 
the British North- American Provinces. I am in favor 
of it for the general reason, that all parts of the world 
should obey the laws of nature, and enjoy free trade 
with each other. I am in favor of it for the particular ' 
reason, also, that, these Provinces, being our neighbors, 
restrictions on their trade with us, are especially incon- 
venient and injurious. If we must be strangers to any 
portion of our fellow-men, let it not be to our neigh- 
bors. To multiply ties, and extend intercourse, and 
grow into homogeneousness, with our neighbors, is 
especially important. And all this we shall not Ml to 
do, if we have free trade with them. We may never 
be one in name with our British neighbors. But free 
trade with them and its resulting social connections, 
and ever-growing assimilations, would make us one 
with them in reality. And if we are one with them 
in reality, it is comparatively unimportant, whether we 
shall ever become one with them in name. The free 
trade of Canada with the United States, will be the 
virtual annexation of Canada to the United States. 
Many suppose, that it will lead to its literal annexation. 
I am more inclined to believe, that commercial annex- 
ation will, at least for the present age, supersede the 
desird for political annexation. And ifj in the end, 
Canada shall become a part of this nation, the greater 


the likeness between her people and ours, the greater 
the prospect of harmony and prosperity, in such union. 
In this respect, therefore, as well as in others, the 
assimilating influences of free trade constitute an argu- 
ment in favor of our establishing free trade with Canada. 
It is on these, its assimilating influences, that I base 
my opinion, that free trade will supersede the present 
desire for annexation. When free trade, combined 
with other causes, shall have reached the eflfect, the 
world over, of making the man of one nation like the 
man of another, the tendency, in my judgment, will be 
not so much to the uniting as to the subdividing of 
nations. National pride and jealousy will then have 
abated ; and then men will peacefully apportion them- 
selves into smaller nations, for the sake of greater con- 

But it is said, that the treaty under consideration 
does not provide for free trade in all property. I am 
aware, that it does not, and I add, that I am sorry it 
does not. 

The argument for free trade in all property I regard 
as unanswerable. Nevertheless, I do not claim, that 
the argument for free trade in manufectures is as strong 
as the argument for free trade in natural productions. 
With some plausibility may Government say, that it 
must protect the labor of its subjects against the over- 
whelming competition of foreign labor ; and with more 
plausibility it may say, that there are many foreign 


fabrics, which minister to luxury, and immorality, and 
ruin ; and the importation of which should, therefore, 
be discouraged, if not, indeed, forbidden. But what- 
ever may be said, in regard to the " many inventions, 
which man hath sought out," nevertheless to the free 
exchange, among all nations, of what God hath made, 
no objections can be raised but what are palpably at 
war with divine ordinations but what, in a word, are 
palpably atheistic. 

The first and highest duty, then, of a nation, in 
respect to the freedom of trade, is to admit into the list 
of free articles all natural productions. To perform 
this duty is to acknowledge and honor the Deity. To 
refuse to perform it, is glaringly to deny and dishonor 
Him. Moreover, to perform this duty, and to allow 
the free exchange of the products of God's hands is to 
open the way for performing the other duty of allow- 
ing the free exchange of the products of man's hands. 
Now, the plainest and most sacred of these two duties 
our Provincial neighbors stand ready to perform. 
They propose a free exchange with us of natural pro- 
ductions. "We cannot refuse their proposition and be 
innocent. To say, that we will not consent to an 
exchange of natural productions, unless it be accom- 
panied by an exchange of manufactures, is to prove 
ourselves to be most unreasonable ; as unreasonable as 
the man who should refuse to deal with his neighbor 
in wood and water, unless he is, also, permitted to deal 


with him in pins and penknives. It is, also, to prove 
ourselves to be most hypocritical ; for, in claiming, that 
these provinces should allow free trade with us in man- 
jufactures, we must, if honest, claim, that they should 
allow it with Great Britain also. But are we ourselves 
willing to have free trade with Great Britain? We 
are not. / am ; but we are not Are we ourselves 
willing to defray the cost of Government by direct 
taxes ? We are not / am ; but we are not. We are 
hypocrites then palpable hypocrites if we would lay 
upon these provinces the necessity of supporting their 
Governments by direct taxation, and yet shrink from 
supporting our own in the same way. 

Our complaints of the illiberality of these Provinces 
are very blameworthy, not only in the light of what 
I have already said, but also in the light of the fact, 
that, more than seven years ago, they abolished all 
differential duties between their mother country and 
ourselves ; and placed themselves in the same commer- 
cial relations toward ns both. By reason of this gen- 
erous treatment of us, and of our contiguity to them, 
we enjoy the monopoly of supplying them with iron 
castings, agricultural implements, and, in short, with 
nearly all coarse manufactures. How valuable to us is 
this abolition of differential duties, is manifest from the 
fact, that our trade with those Provinces has doubled 
since 1846, the year of the abolition; and that the 
exports are double the imports. The effect of this 


abolition on the trade of the Provinces with Great 
Britain, though not correspondently great, is still very 
great. This trade has fallen off from one fourth to one 

I referred to our inconsistency in urging the Pro- 
vinces to adopt universal free trade with us, and there- 
by virtually urging them to adopt universal free trade 
with Great Britain, also. I proceed to inquire what 
would be the effect upon ourselves of the success of 
this inconsistency ? In other words what would be the 
effect upon ourselves of free trade between these Pro- 
vinces and Great Britain, whilst the present restrictions 
upon the trade between ourselves and Great Britain 
are continued ? The effect would be a serious diminu- 
tion of our revenue, and a serious damage to our man- 
ufactures, and a serious damage to OUT morals, also : 
as in that case, goods to an immense amount would be 
brought from Great Britain into these Provinces for 
the purpose of being smuggled into the United States. 

On the one hand, it is objected to the treaty, that 
its list of productions is not full enough ; and, on the 
other, that it is too full. I admit, that it is not full 
enough. Consistency demands, that it should include 
all natural productions. And when I speak here of 
natural productions, I mean them, not only as they 
come from the earth, but, also, in that next stage of 
forms, which human labor gives to them, for the pur- 
pose of making them more portable such as wood in 



the board, as well as in the log, and wheat ground, as 
well as unground. Iron in the pig, as well as in the 
ore, should be included in the treaty ; and if it is not, 
it is, probably, because of the fear on the part of the 
Provinces of thereby letting in Scotch and other pigs, 
duty free. So, too, unrefined sugar, if not included in 
the treaty, should have been. But, I trust, that they, 
whose natural productions are not included in it, will, 
nevertheless, not condemn the treaty. I trust, that 
they will, magnanimously, allow its justice in the main 
to outweigh its particular injustice ; its justice to others 
to outweigh its injustice to themselves. At the same 
time, however, that they cannot but feel themselves to 
be wronged by the treaty in this respect ; they will 
be consoled by the reflection, that the adoption of it 
will be the adoption of the principle of the free 
exchange of natural productions ; and, therefore, that 
the productions, in which they are especially interested, 
cannot remain, for a long time, excepted from the scope 
of this principle. 

It is held, in some quarters, that wheat and flour 
should not be in the list of free articles. But why 
should they not be? Because our flour and wheat 
will, as is alleged, sink in price under the free compe- 
tition of Canada wheat and flour. But, were this 
apprehended depreciation really to take place, never- 
theless, free trade in the productions of Nature is an 
ordination of Nature, which cannot be innocently vio- 


lated. -But would there be such depreciation ? I see 
not, that the treaty is to be credited with such a bene- 
ficent operation. Our country and Canada do each 
grow a surplus of wheat; and, hence, in the case of 
each, the foreign market regulates the price. The 
surplus of each country goes to foreign markets ; and 
whether the Canada surplus goes upon the St. Law- 
rence, or across our country, cannot affect the price of 
our wheat. The competition for that surplus and ours 
being in foreign markets exclusively, must be the 
same, whatever the route to them. I say, that the 
competition is there only. This is virtually, if not 
literally, true. For what if a little of the Canada sur- 
plus should come into our country for consumption, 
it could only have the effect to displace the like quan- 
tity of our surplus, and to liberate it for foreign mar- 
kets. Were any proof needed, beyond what is afforded 
by the reason of the case, that foreign markets rule 
the price of the surplus production, we might instance 
the fact, that, for eleven twelfths of the year, wheat 
in bond in the city of New- York bears as high a price, 
as wheat, that is not in bond. Indeed, it is sometimes 
higher, since the repeal of duties between the British 
North- American Provinces, for now it can go duty free 
from our ports to the lower of those Provinces. 

I said, that, whether the Canada surplus wheat shall 
find its way to foreign markets upon the St. Lawrence, 
or across our country, cannot affect the price of our 


wheat. Nevertheless, we are deeply interested to have 
it take the latter route, and so add immensely to the 
business of our canals, and railroads, and storehouses, 
and shipping, both on our lakes and on the ocean. It 
may not add immensely to it, just now. But it will 
soon. There is no assignable limit to the production 
of wheat in that best of all wheat countries, Canada 

It is true, that, if) in a year of famine in our land, 
there should be a free admission of Canada food into 
it, such free admission would reduce the price of Ame- 
rican food. But what right-minded man would not 
have the price of it reduced, in such circumstances? 
With what right-minded man would not this contin- 
gent benefit of the treaty be an argument for the 

It is said, though I do not believe truly, that Penn- 
sylvania would not have coal come into the list of free 
articles. But, why should it not? Who believes, that 
the Maker of the coal did not make it free for every 
part of the world, that wants it? Who, then, can set 
up an honest argument against its free transmission ? 
Moreover, free trade in coal between us and the British 
Provinces is obviously of great importance, not to 
those Provinces only, but to our nation also : and rmu-li, 
therefore, as Pennsylvania may be disposed to go for 
herself) she should be still more disposed to go for the 
nation. She should be more patriotic and benevolent 


than sectional and selfish ; and, I trust, that what she 
should be, she will be. But, is Pennsylvania to be 
harmed by free trade in coal ? She is not. All the 
British Provinces need her anthracite; and Canada 
West would take from Erie immense quantities of her 
bituminous coal. She, already, takes much, notwith- 
standing the duty. 

But, I prefer to take a wider view, and to look at 
the effect of this free trade in coal upon larger portions 
of our country than a single State. The consumption, 
in that part of our country east of the Alleghany ridge, 
of the bituminous coal of the British Provinces, would, 
were it free of duty, be very large. I would here 
remark, that this coal cannot properly be regarded as 
coming into competition with anthracite. It is highly 
bituminous. I have heard, perhaps not correctly, that 
tne volatile parts in some of it are sixty per cent. To 
illustrate the dissimilarity between this and anthracite 
whilst the one is wholly worthless for making gas, 
the other is so inferior to it for steamships, that the 
Cunard line-, notwithstanding it touches at Halifax, 
supplies itself with anthracite. 

We desire to supply the lower British Provinces 
with wheat, flour, corn, rice, pork, and many kinds of 
merchandise. But, in order to do so, the charges of 
transportation must be very small. How can they be 
made so ? I answer, by our consenting to receive from 
those Provinces that great amount of tonnage, which 


they will be able to furnish us, providing we allow 
them to send us coal, as well as such other coarse com- 
modities, as fish, plaster, and grindstones. Their cargo 
to us will, in that case, pay, or nearly pay, freight, both 
ways, inasmuch as their cargo to us will be full, and 
our return cargo to them light, and inasmuch as one 
of the laws, which govern the carrying of property, is 
that it is carried cheapest in that direction, in which 
there is the least to carry. Indeed, in this case, the 
return cargo would be so light, as, probably, to be no 
more than would be needed for ballast. 

I close under this head with the remark, that if the 
treaty should have the effect to cheapen wheat and coal, 
such effect would be no argument against it. As we 
care more for the whole human brotherhood than for 
a part of it ; and as we are more concerned to have 
fuel and food accessible to the poor than to have them 
bring great prices to their owners, so the lower the 
prices of coal and wheat, the more we are to rejoice. 
I said, under the head before this, that the law of free 
trade in natural productions, cannot be innocently 
violated. I add, that it cannot in any wide and just 
view of the case, be profitably violated. For every 
such view must include not the wheat-growers and the 
coal owners only, but all other classes also ; and who 
is there, that, in the light of the wants and interests 
of the great whole, does not see cheap bread and cheap 
coal to be among the greatest of human blessings ? 


There are complaints from your State, that the 
treaty includes lumber in the list of free articles. 
But, surely, this should not be complained o Even 
if it is so, that the free competition of Provincial lumber 
would create loss anywhere, such loss would fall, rather 
on the comparative handful of persons, who own the 
lumber lands of Maine, than on the mass of her people. 
The trees of these owners might not advance as fast in 
price, as they had done. But the working of them 
into lumber would, probably, be as amply remunerated 
as ever. But, again, when a great beneficent national 
measure is proposed, Maine should not, and Maine will 
not, shrivel herself up into a merely selfish view of 
that measure. 

Even if the treaty were so liberal and so just, as 
to provide, that ships, built in the Provinces, may 
receive our registers, and have every right of ships 
built in our own country, Maine, although our great 
ship-builder, and having, in such case, a new and 
powerful competitor, should, nevertheless, not object to 
the treaty. Even if she may possibly lose somewhat 
by the provisions of the treaty, in regard to lumber ; 
and even if the treaty had gone so far, as to bring her 
a new competitor in ship-building, Maine nevertheless 
should remember that, on account of her geographical 
position, she is to be an especial gainer from its general 
provisions. The millions of new customers, that the 
treaty gives her, are at her door ; and, in this respect, 


she can serve them cheaper than the other States can. 
The proposed free trade, together with the freedom of 
the St. Lawrence, would add immensely to the business 
of the Montreal and Portland Eailroad immensely to 
the business of a State, which is emphatically a State 
of navigators. 

I confess, that if it would not endanger the adoption 
of the treaty, I should be glad to see a provision in it 
for the free exchange of registers. The poor objection, 
that it would afford us ships at a cheaper rate than we 
can build them, would be overruled by the considera- 
tion, that the American people are preeminently a 
commercial people, and that, in their eye, therefore, 
such an objection would constitute the most winning 
argument in favor of the treaty. The American peo- 
ple prefer cheap ships to dear ones, even though all the 
cheap .ships were built in foreign lands, and all the 
dear ones in their own land. They care more to have 
a ship navigated by Americans than to know where it 
originally came from. Their concern with its business 
is far greater than with its building. Surely, America 
will not long continue to hinder her navigators from 
getting their ships where they can best get them. 

But I pass on to other matters. In my judgment, 
we would be bound to approve and embrace this trea- 
ty, even if it were silent in regard to the fisheries and 
the St. Lawrence; for it would, even then, be a just 
and impartial treaty a benefit to both parties a 
blessed influence upon the world. But, providing, as 


it does, for our free enjoyment of both the fisheries 
and the St. Lawrence, how eager should we be for its 
operation! I do not say, that we should be eager to 
thank England for allowing us this free enjoyment. 
She should long ago she should always have ac- 
knowledged our right to it. It is true, that we would 
not go to war with her, for the sake of establishing this 
right. The right, however, is none the less clear. 
The right of our nation to navigate the St. Lawrence 
to its mouth, grows out of the fact, that we dwell upon 
its bank. This doctrine, in the case of other rivers, 
England has herself repeatedly urged. Then, as to the 
fisheries they either belong to the whole world, or 
there is no God. England should be ashamed of her 
heathenish selfishness, in withholding from the world 
this food, which the bounty of Heaven has provided so 
abundantly for the world. A true Christianity will 
yet bring on the day when one man shall look upon 
another as a brother ay, and even as another sel It 
will be no grateful recollection to Englishmen, in that 
day, that Englishmen were, once, so selfish, mean, and 
wicked, as to refuse to let a hungry fellow-man catch 
fish by their side. 

But, notwithstanding our right to the fisheries and 
to the St. Lawrence is as clear as England's, I shall, 
nevertheless, rejoice in our permission to use them. 
For two reasons, especially, I shall rejoice in it. First, 
England will never be disposed to recall the permis- 
sion; for England, along with the rest of the world, 


is becoming more, and not less, enlightened and liberal. 
Second, use and time will turn this permission into 
prescription ; this privilege into right ; this conditional 
grant into absolute and unending enjoyment. I do 
not forget, that Vattel says, that title to sea-fiskeries 
cannot be gained by prescription ; nor do I forget, that 
his reason for saying so is, that such title cannot be 
lost by disuse. Of course, I am willing to waive all 
claim to the possibility of prescription, if it is conceded 
on the other hand, that I do not need prescription, 
because my title is perfect already. I will here 
remark, that it would be idle for England to acknow- 
ledge the common right of all nations to the fisheries 
of the sea, so long as she should deny to those nations 
that access to the shore, which is essential to the enjoy- 
ment of the fisheries. The simple truth is, that our 
right to the fisheries involves our right to the shore, to 
just the extent, to which the latter right is needed to 
make the former right available. 'To deny us such 
right to the shore, is to deny our right to the fisheries. 
The value, to this nation, of its free participation in 
the fisheries, would be great, and ever increasingly 
great. They already furnish a very considerable item 
in our food, -notwithstanding the restrictions upon our 
use of them. These restrictions removed, and our con- 

sumption of fish would be indefinitely extended. 

I have heard it objected to the treaty, that it 
requires our Government to abolish the bounty on 
codfish. I am gkd, if it does abolish it, or in any wnj 


provide for ite abolition. There is plausibility in the 
call for our patience under duties on foreign manu- 
factures, or, in other words, under bounties on onr own 
manufactures. There is plausibility in it, because the 
promise is made to us, that, ere long, our manufactures 
will be well established, and self-sustaining; and that 
then we shall be relieved of paying bounties on them. 
But, it is not pretended, that the skill of American fish- 
ermen is ever to outgrow the need of a bounty. On 
the contrary, if there is need of a bounty now, there 
will be the same need of it a hundred years hence. It 
comes to this, then, that the objector to such a provi- 
sion of the treaty would have us go on forever, pay- 
ing bounty on codfish (already several hundred thou- 
sand dollars a year) and all this, not for the purpose 
of our getting, either now or ever, cheaper or better 
codfish, but solely for the purpose of having Ameri- 
cans, instead of foreigners, catch the codfish, that we 

The objection, under consideration, is unreasonable. 
I add, that it reflects disgrace upon our country. It 
does so, because it implies, that, with the fisheries and 
all needed facilities therewith thrown wide open to us, 
we are, nevertheless, to be distanced in our fishing 
competition with our neighbors. I had supposed, that 
the boast of the Yankees is, that they can beat the 
British, in everything. Must fishing be excepted from 
the boast ? 

I spoke of the St. Lawrence. Our free use of that 

. e 

noble river would be an invaluable benefit to us. 
Together with its lakes, it drains an extent of country, 
scarcely lees than that drained by the Mississippi. 
Much of our craft upon those lakes is capable of ocean 
navigation ; and during the five months in the year, in 
which it is locked up in ice, it would be upon the 
ocean, could it get there. Now, this addition to the 
service of this craft, would, of itself render very 
important the opening of the St. Lawrence to us. 

I am aware, that the reputation of the mouth of the 
St. Lawrence for safe navigation is bad. But it is such, 
only because it is navigated, at improper seasons of the 
year. Let it be navigated in no other than the proper 
season ; and let our canals and railroads be allowed to 
serve in its stead, the remainder of the year, and it will 
no longer have this bad reputation. Not only is the 
St. Lawrence the shortest route to England; but the 
fact, that it is the coldest route is, in regard to much 
important lading, an argument in its favor, instead of 
an objection to it. There is no assignable limit to the 
productiveness in Indian corn of our "Western States 
and Territories. The time may not be distant, when, 
if the St. Lawrence is made free to us, tens of millions 
of bushels of this grain will go down this river annu- 
ally for the European markets. And I would here 
inquire, why, if even this cold route should not prove 
cold enough to preserve shelled corn, corn might not 
be taken in the ear, were the heavy lading of lead 
and copper and copper ore combined with it? Per- 


liaps, however, corn in the ear is too bulky to be trans- 
ported far, in any circumstances. 

What interest is to be damaged by the adoption and 
operation of this treaty? Do our manufacturers say, 
that it will not help them ? But will it harm them ? 
That is the" more pertinent question. If it will not 
harm them, then, surely, they should not complain of 
it. They should rather rejoice in the benefit it will 
yield to other interests. But it will help our manufac- 
turers also. Its immediate influence upon their inter- 
ests will be good. Its prospective better. 

Among the natural productions of the British North- 
American Provinces, are not a few, that our manufac- 
turers need, and will more and more need. Lumber, 
for instance. Our forests, which, by the way, it is 
very desirable to preserve to a considerable extent, are 
rapidly disappearing. What an invaluable advantage 
to our manufacturers, if they shall be allowed to draw 
freely on the immense forests of these Provinces? 
The more plentiful is lumber, the less will be the cost 
of building their manufactories, and of building the 
dwellings of their laborers. Besides, there are many 
manufactures, into which lumber enters more or less 
largely ; and not a few into which scarcely anything 
but lumber does enter. 

There is another way, in which the treaty will help 
our manufacturers. The proceeds of the sales in our 
country of the natural productions of these Provinces 
will be chiefly expended in our country: and such 


expenditures will be quite as much to the benefit of 
our manufacturers, as of our merchants. 

I spoke of the prospective beneficial influence of the 
treaty upon our manufactures. I referred not only 
to the vast territory, and to the rapidly increasing pop- 
ulation of the British North- American Provinces. 
There was a still more important reference, in my mind. 
It is an adage, that revolutions do not go backward. 
The exchange between this country and the British 
North- American Provinces in natural productions, 
once made free, will remain free. And not only will 
the revolution never go backward, but it will go for- 
ward. Free exchange in natural productions will, as I 
have already intimated, beget free exchange in manu- 
factures and merchandise. A trade half free will soon 
ripen into a trade all free. Half an acquaintance with 
our Provincial neighbors will be impatient for the 
other half. 

I will close my too long letter. For several years, 
our British neighbors have been tendering us free trade 
in the productions of nature. But we have requited 
their great liberality with great illiberality. Profess- 
ing to be the most progressive of all nations, we have, 
in this instance, clung, with the most obstinate conserv- 
atism, to a miserable old order of things. I wonder, 
that the patience of our British neighbors has not long 
ago been exhausted. Let us tax this patience no 
longer. Let us rise into an attitude worthy of the 
enlightened age, in which we live. Let us say to the 


British Provinces, that we are ready for free trade with 
them, and with Great Britain too, and with the whole 
world too; and not only in the productions of nature, 
but in the productions of art also. Let the high and 
honorable position of commercial America be, that she 
shrinks not from competition with any nation, but 
courts the competition of every nation. 
Very respectfully, yours, 

WASHINGTON, July IT, 1854. 




JULY 18, 1864 

MB. WASHBTJRN, of Maine, had moved to refer to the 
Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union the 
bill to amend an act entitled " An act to reduce and 
modify the rates of postage in the United States," 
passed August 80, 1862. 

Mr. SMITH said : 

I have risen to reply to the question put by the 
honorable gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. Smith,] 
when this bill was under discussion, a few days ago ; 
and when I had no opportunity to reply to it That 
question was put to the opponents of the bill ; and its 
words were : " Are you not willing to have the Post- 
Office Department sustained?" For one, I answer, 
that I am not 


Government establishes a Post-Office Department; 
and arrogates the exclusive right to carry our letters. 
It establishes its prices for the work ; and then, if we 
hesitate to pay, it scolds us with the inquiry : " But 
are you not willing to have the Post-Office Depart- 
ment sustained ?" We think it wrong to be compelled 
to pay these prices first, because Government cannot 
do the work economically, and for reasonable prices 
second, because Government has no right to under- 
take the work ; and is guilty of usurpation in under- 
taking it. I hold that Government is a usurper, 
whenever it assumes a work which the people can do. 

Suppose Government should establish a " Clothes 
Department ;" and should undertake to clothe all the 
people, young and old, male and female ; and should 
claim the exclusive right to do so ? Along with the 
dresses it sends the bills. The people grumble at both 
the bills and the usurpation ; at the bills because they 
are twice as great as would be the cost, were the work 
done by themselves ; and at the usurpation, because it 
is so flagrant. But Gqvernment insultingly replies: 
" ATP, you not willing to have the ' Clothes Depart- 
ment' sustained?" Would this be borne with? It 
would not : nor should the Post-Office usurpation and 

I ask the gentleman from Virginia, if he believes 
that Government can carry our letters and newspapers 
at as small expense as the work can be done for by 


private enterprise ? If he does, why then, in the name 
of consistency, is he not in favor of our making Gov- 
ernment the carrier of our merchandise and provisions 
arid persons ? of passengers and property ? But that 
gentleman is a practical man. He is not, as in the 
public esteem I am a mere theorist. He knows, 
better than I can tell him, that it would not cost pri- 
vate associations one half as much to carry the mail as 
it costs Government. 

But, he may say, that private associations would, 
nevertheless, charge higher rates of postage than would 
Government. Again, I would say, that the gentleman 
from Virginia is a practical man ; a man, too, of many 
ideas ; and not laboring under the reproach, as does my 
own unhappy reputation, of being a man of one idea. 
The gentleman must, therefore, know that when a 
work is thrown open to unlimited competition, the 
charge for it will be brought down to the neighborhood 
of the cost of it. But, the gentleman will perhaps 
say, that if Government gives up the Post-Office Depart- 
ment, individuals who live in remote and inaccessible 
portions of the country will not be able to get their 
letters and newspapers, save at great cost. But pray, 
what has Government to do with such a fact ? Sup- 
pose a man should perch himself on the top of the 
Rocky Mountains, and should complain to the Govern- 
ment, that it costs him ten dollars to get a letter to his 
mountain home; and should call on Government to 


deliver his letters at ten cents apiece. Would Govern- 
ment be bound to listen to his call? Certainly not. 
If he will receive his letters under a ten cents rate of 
postage, let him come down from his eyrie, and live 
among the comforts and accommodations of civilized 
life. Government is no more bound to indemnify him 
for the disadvantages of his home, in respect to postage, 
than in respect to other things. Nay, I insist that 
Government is no more bound to carry letters cheap 
for its citizens, than it is to make a poor man rich, a sick 
man well, or an old man young. If people are tempt- 
ed, by the advantages of it, to take up their home in 
the wilderness, let them bear its disadvantages patient- 
ly, as well as enjoy its advantages gratefully. 

The gentleman from Virginia professed his willing- 
ness to encourage private enterprise to come into com- 
petition with the Post-Office Department. He told us 
that the bill provides for a virtual increase of news- 
paper postage : and that, hence, private enterprise could 
sustain an easier competition with the Post-Office 
Department. But the competition, which he would 
encourage, is in carrying newspapers only. News- 
papers, the price for carrying which is but a few 
pennies a pound, private associations may carry. But 
letters, the price for carrying which is a dollar a 
pound, Government alone shall have the right to 
carry. Surely the gentleman was not in earnest. 
He was but joking. He was making experiments upon 


our stupidity for the amusement of himself and of 
others, who love to see what easy dupes we are. Were 
two gentlemen to sit down to a turkey ; and were one 
of them to tell the other that he might have part of the 
bone nay, that he might run his chance for even all 
the bone but that all the meat he must reserve to him-* 
self the air of affected liberality, with which he would 
make this proposition, would be very like that, which 
characterized the gentleman's similar proposition. 
_ Had the gentleman from Virginia been candid on 
thi* point, and really in earnest to let individual enter- 
prise into competition with the Post-Office Department, 
he would have permitted the competition to extend to 
the carrying of letters, as well as newspapers. Make 
the competition thus comprehensive ; and it would not 
endure long. In less than six months the Government 
would fly from it, forever. So far as the carrying of 
letters and papers is concerned, the occupation of the 
Government would soon be gone. 

"How long halt ye between two opinions?" But 
this is not a pertinent quotation. We are not divided 
in opinions. "We are agreed, that this work can be 
cheaper done, and, every way, better done, by private 
enterprise than by Government. But most of us shrink 
from openly fevering so radical and important an 
innovation, as the breaking up of the Post-Office 
Department Unless it Jbe a person of a one-man 
party like myselfj or a person like the honorable gen- 


tleman from North-Carolina, [Mr. Clingman,] who is 
also of a one-man party, I scarcely know any on this 
floor, who have so little to win or lose, as to venture 
to identify themselves with this innovation. 

But, Mr. Speaker, the people will ere long, demand 
this innovation this breaking up of the Post-Office 
Department in tones that cannot be resisted. 

The Post-Office Department is doomed, from its own 
inherent falsity and folly. It must sink from its own 
weight, if not sooner overthrown and displaced by 
a rational and economical postal system. It is a sys- 
tem, too directly and glaringly in the face of reason, 
common sense, justice, economy, to live much longer. 
But I will not consume more of the time of tne 




JULY 99, 1854. 

[THE motto which Mr. Smith prefixed to this Speech when it was 
first printed, was : " Government bound to protect from the Dramshop."] 

MR. MAY, of Maryland. I am instructed, by the 
Committee on the Judiciary, to report adversely on the 
prayer of the New- York Temperance Alliance, in 
reference to the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating 
liquors in Washington, and to move, that the report be 
ordered to be printed. 

Mr. SMITH. I move, that this report be recommit- 
ted, with instructions to report a bill, which shall clothe 
the city of Washington with express and ample powers 
to prohibit the sale of intoxicating drinks, in all places 


within its limits ; and on this motion I propose to make 
some remarks. 

It so happened, Mr. Speaker, that my first act on 
this floor, after taking the oath of office, was to present 
the memorial of the Temperance Alliance of the city of 
New- York. That memorial prays Congress to empow- 
er the city of Washington to prohibit the sale of intoxi- 
cating drinks. I moved its reference to a select com- 
mittee. This was objected to. It slept upon your 
table from that day, until the day last week on which 
I succeeded, though with much difficulty, in waking it 
up. With no less difficulty have I kept it awake, 
until this hour, when I am so fortunate, as to obtain 
the floor. 

It may be thought, that the adverse report before us 
has proceeded from enmity to the cause of temperance, 
and it is, therefore, due from me to say, that I know 
this is not so. The gentlemen of the Judiciary Com- 
mittee, who are responsible for this report, sincerely 
desire the prosperity of the cause of temperance. For 
one, I cannot blame them for their interpretation of 
the charter of this city. I think it the only just inter- 
pretation. It is the same, that I would myself have 
put upon it, had I been of their committee. I hold, 
that the liberty to license, irresistibly implies the lib- 
erty not to license ; and that the word " regulate " 
covers the right to prohibit. 

As you are aware, sir, I make the limits of Govern- 


ment very narrow. And, yet, I find ample room 
between them for the doctrine of my motion. I admit, 
that Government is not the custodian of the people's 
morals : and that it is never to be called on to protect, 
still less to promote, the people's morals. 

Government, according to my theory of Government, 
is not to do the work of the people. It is, simply, to 
protect the people in doing it Government is but the 
great watch-dog of the people's house. It is ever to 
keep watch outeide of that house : but it is never to 
come into it. It is never to mix itself up with the 
affairs of the people; but, whatever relation it may 
have to any of those affairs, is to be purely external. 
All that Government can legitimately do for its people, 
is to protect their persons and property. If it tries to 
do more for them, it will but harm, instead of helping, 
them. Moreover, wherever there is a people, who, 
notwithstanding they are under the ample and effectual 
shield of a faithful Government, either cannot, or will 
not, do their own work, and take care of their own 
interests, both material and moral, there is a people 
that Government cannot save ; there is a people, that 
must perish. 

Were this the place for the usual style and topics of 
a temperance speech, I would dwell upon the horrors 
of drunkenness. I would begin my proofs and illus- 
trations of these horrors, by summoning the drunkard 
himself. I would ask that unhappy being, in the Ian 


guage in which God asks him : " Who hath woe ? who 
hath sorrow ? who hath contentions ? who hath bab- 
bling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath 
redness of eyes ?" I would, then, turn to the wife of 
the drunkard, to inquire what is a drunkard ; and to 
hear from her the answer : " Would that my husband 
were anything nay, everything but a drunkard!" 
And, then, to the mother of the drunkard, to hear her 
say : " Oh, that my child had grown up into any other 
monster of vice and wickedness than a drunkard!" 
And, then, I would appeal to the family, only one 
member of which is a drunkard, to hear that family 
reply : " Only one drunkard in a family is enough to 
make the whole family miserable!" I would, then, 
give opportunity to jails and penitentiaries to tell me, 
that a very large proportion of their inmates are drunk- 
ards ; and then to the gallows, to tell me, that nearly 
every one of its victims is a drunkard. Finally, I 
would go to the Bible, to inquire what is a drunkard ; 
and to listen to its awful response : " No drunkard shall 
inherit the kingdom of God." 

Were this the place for the usual style and topics of 
a temperance, speech, I would enlarge on the feet, that 
there are in our beloved country more than half a mil- 
lion of drunkards ; and I would group along with them 
their wives, and children, and parents, and brothers, 
and sisters, to show, that drunkenness makes millions 
of the American people miserable. 


Were this the place for it, I would make much use 
of the fact, that the annual expense to our nation, from 
the vice of drinking intoxicating liquors, largely ex- 
ceeds one hundred millions of dollars ; and I would 
add, that, instead of doubting whether we have means 
adequate to the building of a railroad to the Pacific, we 
would, were the American people to abstain, for only 
two or three years, from drinking intoxicating liquors, 
save enough, by such abstinence, to build two or three 
railroads to the Pacific. 

Were this the place for it, I would refer to the 
mighty hindrance, which this vice puts in the way of 
education, order, and every form of comfort, and of 
pure and true enjoyment. I would insist, that intoxi- 
cating drinks have much to do with the frequency of 
national wars, and, what is more than all else, that 
there is no other agency so mighty to block up the way 
of religion, and render it powerless, as the practice of 
drinking intoxicating liquors. There is no antagonism 
more decided and deadly than that between the spirit 
of Heaven, which alone can save the soul, and the 
spirit of the bottle, which is more effective than any 
other power to kill it. 

Were this the place for it, I would endeavor to 
make it apparent, that total abstinence from intoxicating 
drinks is the only remedy for drunkenness, and the 
only sure protection from it I would, in that case, 
expose the iallacy of the doctrine, that temperate drink- 


ing is friendly to sobriety, and is the cure and prevent- 
ive of drunkenness, or is either. 

Temperate drinkers claim great merit for their prac- 
tice great merit in it to serve the cause of temperance. 
These temperate drinkers are, by the way, a very self- 
complacent class of persons. They pride themselves on 
being the in medio tutissimus ibis thejtiste milieu class 
of persons ; equally removed, on the one hand, from 
the vulgarity of drunkenness, and, on the other, from 
the cold-water fanaticism. Nevertheless, at the hazard 
of ruffling their self-complacency, I must tell them, that 
they are more injurious than drunkards themselves to 
the cause of temperance. In point of fact, drunkards 
are helps to the cause of temperance, instead of being 
obstacles in its way. Why, our half million of drunkards 
are our half million strongest arguments for the neces- 
sity of total abstinence ! Indeed, I would, that no per- 
son were able to drink intoxicating liquors, without 
immediately becoming a drunkard. For who, then, 
would drink it, any sooner than he would drink the 
poison, that always kills, or jump into the fire, that 
always burns? It is because so many, who drink 
intoxicating liquor, escape drunkenness, that so many 
are emboldened to drink it. I said, that drunkards 
serve the cause of temperance. I appeal to mothers 
for the truth of it. Mothers ! when you would most 
effectually admonish your children not to drink intoxi- 
cating liquors, do you not point them to this, that, and 


tho other drunkard ? And so long as your children 
keep their eyes on these beacons, they take not one 
step in the pathway, which leads to the drunkard's 
grave and the drunkard's hell. But the danger is, 
that they will avert their eyes frcm these beacons, and 
fasten them on the long and attractive train of sober, 
respectable temperate drinkers, and follow them. There 
is not one youth in this city, whose habits are perilled 
by the presence and influence of drunkards for the 
example of the drunkard is too bad to be contagious. 
On the contrary, there is not one youth in this city, 
whose habits are not in peril from the example of tem- 
perate drinkers. Alas, how many a temperate father 
has made drunkards of his sons, at his own table ! at 
his own table, adorned with decanters of wine ifj 
indeed, that can be called wine, which is, so generally, 
a vile mixture, containing little, or no wine ! Alas, 
how seductive is the way to drunkenness in fashionable 
life 1 And why, therefore, do we wonder, that fashion- 
able life is filled with drunkards ? To the confiding 
and unwary youth, who is just entering on his career 
of liquor drinking, how polite, attractive, and altogeth- 
er unalarming, are the drinking usages of fashionable 
life! These usages are commended by the brilliant 
wit and fascinating song, that are so often associated 
with them: and, more pernicious than all, are the 
smiles of beauty, with which they are too often gar- 
landed. Surely, it is not strange, that, in these circum- 


stances, this youth should sip a little wine. Neverthe- 
less, this little sipping is the beginning of his drunk- 
enness. Surely, it is not strange, that what is so 
apparently harmless should wake no fear in him. 
Nevertheless, it is at the fountain-head of all his woe 
and all his ruin, that this hopeful, happy youth has, 
now, taken his stand. He, very soon, learns to 
drink his full glass. He, very soon, learns to quaff 
his wine, like a gentleman. " Like a gentleman 1" 
Oh, what variety of ruin is covered over by this win- 
ning phrase ! These, however, are but the first steps 
in the way of drunkenness, which our tempted youth 
has taken. His drunkenness is, as yet, but the little 
rill, which meanders through pleasant fields and flow- 
ery gardens. By and by, he drinks several glasses at 
his dinner ; and, a little way further on, he likes bran- 
dy, as well as wine. That rill, of which we spoke, has 
now become a river, that is bearing him to his ruin : 
so gently, however, that he is scarcely sensible of the 
motion. Nevertheless, he is still numbered with tem- 
perate drinkers. He is still safe in his own eyes, and 
in the eyes of others. But time passes on. His appe- 
tite grows every year, and every month, and every 
day. His potations become stronger and deeper, and 
more frequent. All now see, that he is a drunkard. 
The gentle river is swollen into a raging torrent, that 
is hurrying its freight its still precious, though tern- 


porally and eternally ruined freight into the abyss, 
from which there is no return. v 

Such is the end of this youth, whom we chose as 
the type of innumerable millions. How easily he- 
might have been saved from all these transformations 
and all this ruin of the Circean cup, had a friendly 
hand led him, whilst yet he could be led, to the 
immovable rock of total abstinence ! There, and there 
only, he would have been safe from all the woes, which 
threaten every liquor-drinker. So long, as his feet 
remained planted upon that rock, he might have 
exclaimed : " A thousand shall fall at my side and ten 
thousand at my right hand ; but it shall not come nigh 
me. I am safe." 

But some, who hear me, may be ready to ask: 
" What has Congress to do with all this, which I have 
been saying?" We will pass on, then, without any 
further delay, to a question, with which Congress cer- 
tainly has to do. This question is not, whether Govern- 
ment may undertake to promote the cause of temper- 
ance for I have, virtually, admitted it may not But 
it is, whether Government must not do its duty, at 
every point, and even at that point, where the doing 
of its duty helps incidentally the cause of temperance ? 
To explain myself I hold, that the suppression of the 
sale of intoxicating drinks is indispensable to the pro- 
tection of person and property ; and is, therefore, the 
manifest duty of Government At the same time, I 


admit, that the suppression is important, yes, indispen- 
sably to the success of the cause of temperance. Now, 
must Government forbear the suppression, in order to 
avoid rendering an incidental benefit to the cause of 
temperance ? Surely, not for that reason, all will say. 
But I shall be called on to prove, that such suppres- 
sion is needful to the protection of person and property. 
I hold, that it is, because the sale of intoxicating drinks 
is, by far, the most fruitful source of pauperism and 
madness nay, more fruitful of these evils than all 
other sources put together. Indeed, I cannot better 
define a dramshop than to call it a manufactory of pau- 
pers and madmen: and this is a just definition, whether 
we have reference to the filthy, noisy hole, where 
the poor and humble slaves of appetite congregate, or 
to the elegant apartment, which is made attractive to 
the circles of wealth and fashion. Moreover, I charge 
the same character on the stores and distilleries, which 
stand back of the dramshop, and supply it. These 
stores and distilleries are virtual dramshops ; and, in 
all my argument, they are undistinguishable, in respon- 
sibility, from the literal dramshop. 

I certainly need not go into proofs of the fact, that 
the industry of the sober is heavily loaded by the pau- 
perism, which the dramshop imposes on it. That fact 
is as plain, as the sun. And so is the feet, that the 
madmen of the land are, to a great extent, the manu- 
facture of the dramshop. How frightfully insecure are 


both property and life, in the presence of these mad- 
men ? How know we, when we step into the stage- 
coach, die car, the steamboat, especially on the fourth 
of July, or some other holyday, but that the driver, or 
the engineer, has indulged in the maddening draught, 
and that our lives will be required to pay for the indul- 
gence? How know we, when we walk the streets, 
that we shall not meet these madmen flourishing their 
deadly weapons ? How know we, when we leave our 
dwellings, that these madmen will not, in our absence, 
fire those dwellings, and murder their beloved inmates? 

But, still, the right of Government to suppress the 
dramshop is denied. Why should it be ? Is it claimed, 
that there is an overbalance of good in it ? There is 
no good at all hi it. It is " only evil continually." I 
admit that there are nuisances, which the Courts should 
be slow to abate. The mill-pond, for instance, which 
generates disease. The Courts should pause, ere sac- 
rificing the costly and much-needed mill, which the 
pond supplies with water. But the dramshop does not 
fall in this class of nuisances. It has not one redeem- 
ing feature. There is nothing in it to mitigate its 
immitigable wickedness : nothing to set over against 
its unmixed mischief In the case of the former nui- 
sance, there are two sides to be looked at, before 
deciding to abate it In the case of the latter, but one. 

So far from true is it, that Government exceeds its pro- 
vince, in laying its suppressing hand upon the dram- 


shop, there is no duty of Government, that falls more 
clearly within its province. In truth, sir, among all 
the duties of Government, this stands preeminent. 
Indeed, I am prepared to say again, as I have often 
said, that, rather than have things remain, as they now 
are, I would compromise with Government, and sur- 
render all my claims upon its protection from other 
burdens and perils, provided it would stipulate, in turn, 
to protect me from the burdens and perils of the dram- 
shop. It is idle to say, that a people are protected by 
Government, who are left exposed to these perils and 
burdens. Such a people are emphatically unprotected ; 
and their Government is emphatically faithless. 

But why, I ask again, is the right of Government 
to shield its people from the burdens and perils of the 
dramshop denied ? One reason is, because this service, 
not having been rendered hitherto, it would be un- 
popular and odious to render it, now. Another and 
stronger reason is, because there are so many interested 
in continuing these burdens and perils. 

Suppose a shop should be opened in this city, for the 
sale of a very pleasant and exhilarating gas. It infu- 
riates a portion of those, who inhale it, and disposes 
them to burn and kill : and the obvious tendency, in 
the case of most of them, is to make them more or less 
reckless of their own rights and interests, and of the 
rights and interests of others. Nevertheless, the gas 
is so palatable and attractive, that as many as fifty 


persons frequent the shop, to pay a liberal price for it. 
Would Government hesitate to shut up this shop ? 
Certainly not. The number interested in keeping it 
open would be too small for Government to fear. 
And, again, there could be no plea of custom or prescrip- 
tion in its behalf, as in behalf of the dramshop. No " 
Government would destroy this work; and, yet, (oh, 
mad inconsistency 1) it spares, and even patronizes, this 
dram-shop work, which is ten thousand fold more inju- 
rious and destructive. 

Suppose, too, that an establishment for cutting off 
hands should be opened in this city. A score of per- 
sons, debased by rum, weary of work, and eager to 
cast themselves and their families, more entirely, on 
the public charity, hasten to this new establishment, 
and pay their dollar each, for having their hands cut 
off smoothly, and a speedily healing ointment applied 
to the bleeding stumps. Who would doubt the power, 
or disposition, of Government to put an end to this new 
business? No one. For, as in the case of the gas 
shop, there would be comparatively few persons, and 
no plea of usage, on the side of continuing it. And, 
yet, where the establishment in question would cut off 
one pair of hands, the dramshop virtually cuts off a 
hundred pairs. " Far worse than that," said a friend, 
in whose hearing I employed this same illustration. 
" The dramshop cuts off their heads 1" " You are 
wrong," I rejoined. " The dramshop would be com- 


paratively bearable, if it but cut off the heads of its 
victims. Its unspeakably greater wrong to the com- 
munity is to cut off the hands only, and to leave the 
head on, with the hungry mouth in it, to consume the 
sarnings of the industrious and sober." 

Still another reason is given, why Government 
"should not legislate to stop the sale of intoxicating 
Irinks. It is claimed, that such legislation would be a 
sumptuary law. In no just sense, however, would it 
be such a law. If such legislation is called for, in 
yrder to protect persons and property, then, even if it 
should incidentally Rave, in some respects and in some 
directions, the operation of a sumptuary law, it, never- 
thelesss, is not fair to look upon it as a sumptuary law, 
and to treat it with the hostility and contempt due to 
such a law. Suppose, that a certain kind of cloth were 
imported into this country from China ; and that, every- 
where, on opening the bales, a deadly and sweeping 
disease should ensue; would it not be the perfectly 
plain duty of Government to forbid the further import- 
ation of such cloth ? Nevertheless, many might still 
be eager to wear it, as, in the face of whatever prohibi- 
tion, many might still be eager to purchase intoxicating 
drinks. And the one class would be as ready, as the 
other, to stigmatize, as a sumptuary law, the legal pro- 
hibition upon their indulgence. 

But the loudest and longest objection to the suppres- 
sion of the sale of intoxicating drinks by law, is to the 


suppression of it by means of the " Maine law." Now, 
as I admit, that such sale cannot be suppressed by any 
other law than the " Maine law," or a law of its leading 
characteristics, I am bound to vindicate the "Maine 
law." There is not time to examine all its features. 
But the law will be justified in your sight, if I succeed 
in justifying its great distinctive feature; that fea- 
ture, which authorizes the seizure and destruction of 
the liquor, when it is ascertained, that it is to be dis- 
posed of for a drink. 

There is no occasion for discussing the question, 
whether Government may take and dispose of, as it 
will, the property of its citizen, without compensating 
him therefor : nor is there occasion for discussing the 
question, whether, in any circumstances, it may take 
and control his property, without his consent. All I 
need do, at this point, is to prove, that Government 
may take, and treat, as it will, that, which is no longer 
property ; but all rights of property in which are for- 
feited by the guilty and pernicious misuse, to which 
its owner had perverted it. My proof to this end need 
not be a train of formal arguments. A few simple 
illustrations instead will answer the purpose, and will 
save time. 

I will suppose, that there is a loaded pistol in the 
pocket of my friend, who sits at my right hand, [Mr. 
Morgan, of New- York.] 


Mr. MORGAN. Not a supposable case. 

Mr. SMITH. I admit, that it is hardly fair to sup- 
pose it of one, who so trusts in the shielding care of his 
God, and in the good will of his fellow-men, as to be 
above the bad habit of going armed. Nevertheless, 
I trust that, as I have begun with the supposition, 
he will allow me to proceed irfit. 

Now, were I to take this pistol from my friend's 
pocket, and to break it in pieces, I should, of course, 
be legally liable to him for the value of it. But were 
he to take it from his pocket, and to aim it at the gen- 
tleman, who adorns the Speaker's chair nay, who 
from his preeminent judgment, impartiality, self-pos- 
session, dignity, seems to have been made purposely 
for the Speaker's chair then might I wrest it from his 
hand, and dash it in fragments on the floor, and be 
under no legal liability whatever. All the legal liabil- 
ity in the case would be on him, who was guilty of 
putting the weapon to so unprovoked and deadly a 
misuse ; and who, thereby, forfeited all rights of pro- 
perty in it. 

Suppose that Mr. Corcoran, of this city, should, in 
his love to do things on a large scale, purchase a 
barrel of rattlesnakes, for a thousand dollars. He puts 
them in boxes, with glass covers. He and his friends 
are in the habit of standing over these boxes, a few 
minutes, every day, to inspect the serpents, and to 


study the laws, habits, and phenomena, of their being. 
All this is innocent and praiseworthy. But suppose 
Mr. Corcoran wakes up some morning, " troubled," as 
was Saul, with "an evil spirit" for, in these days ? 
when rapping, and tipping, and all sorts of spirits, 
good and bad, stand so thick around us, even Mr. 
Corcoran and other good men are liable to the invasion 
of evil spirits. Mr. Corcoran, now, says : "I am tired 
of looking at these snakes, in their boxes. I wish to 
see them running about, and biting people." So he 
takes the boxes to the door, and lets out the snakes 
upon the ground. In a few hours, they are coursing 
through the city, and biting whom they can. The 
alarm is sounded. Members of Congress, and all, go 
forth to slay the snakes. Had we skin them, when in 


their boxes, Mr. Corcoran could have recovered his 
thousand dollars from us. But, now, Ke cannot recover 
it for he lost all property in the snakes by his reck- 
less and wicked liberation of them, and exposed him- 
self in so doing, to the gravest penalties. 

Suppose, that, some pleasant morning, I take into 
my hand, my gold-headed cane, (if I have such an one,) 
studded with diamonds, that cost ten thousand dollars. 
I go strutting up and down Pennsylvania avenue, 
swollen with the self-consequence of a member of Con- 
gress. I use my cane in knocking down children, on 
the right hand and on the left. A gentleman witnesses 
my pranks; hastens to me; and breaks the cane in 


pieces across his knee. Can I make him pay me any- 
thing? Oh, nol not even if he had broken it in 
pieces across my head. I lost all property in the cane, 
by my wrong, and outrageous, use of it : and the sole 
question now is, not what penalty this gentleman shall 
suffer ; but what penalty I shall suffer, in addition to 
the loss of my cane. 

These supposed cases illustrate the actual case of the 
liquor-owner. Whilst his liquors are put to their 
proper and innocent uses, Government has no right to 
meddle with them. But just as soon as he brings them 
forth to use them in manufacturing paupers and mad- 
men, he loses all property in them : Government may 
destroy them ; and punish the offender, at its discre- 

Let it not be inferred, that I would have Govern- 
ment declare all property forfeited, which is misused. 
It is only an extreme case, which can justify such 
declaration. Of such case Government must be the 
sole judge. Upon its sole responsibility, Government 
is to select the case, as upon their sole responsibility the 
people are to decide, whether to submit to the selection, 
or to rebel against it. The murderous torpedo-box 
Government would not hesitate to choose as such an 
extreme case; and the people would not hesitate to 
acquiesce hi the choice. Such an extreme case, in my 
own judgment, is alcoholic liquor, also, when on sale 
for a drink. Oar patience under the sale of intoxicating 


beverages, with all its burdens, and perils, and woes, 
would be most wonderful and inexplicable, did we not 
know the power of education. "We are educated to 
witness all this, in patience ; and we are educated to it 
by Government itsel Civil Government is mighty to 
educate the people, upward or downward, either in a 
right or wrong direction. So long, as it licenses or 
protects the dramshop, so long it is a mighty influence 
to reconcile the people to the dramshop. The people 
will follow Government, even in its grossest inconsist- 
encies. Government may declare horses, that are 
brought out for racing, to be forfeited. Government 
may declare the gambling apparatus, that is brought 
into public places, to be without the protection of law ; 
and in all this the people will acquiesce, as they ac- 
quiesce in the gross inconsistency with all this of ex- 
tending the shield of Government over the dramshop. 
Gross inconsistency, indeed 1 for the evils of horse- 
racing and gambling are not to be compared with the 
evils of dramshops. Another inconsistency, of which 
Government is guilty in this case, is that, in frowning 
upon horse-racing and gambling, it bub seeks to pro- 
tect the people from demoralization a work, which, 
to say the least, is, when in its hands, of very doubtful 
legitimacy. But when. Government lets the dramshop 
stand, it neglects to protect person and property, at a 
point, where they are far more fearfully exposed than 
at any other point: and, in neglecting such protection, 


it neglects what all admit to be the chief duty in the 
province of Government; and what many, beside 
myself, believe to constitute the sole province of Gov- 

Time forbids, that I should extend my argument, any 
further. Would that Congress might pass such a bill, 
as I have now called for ; and as the people of this 
city did themselves virtually call for, a year ago, by a 
vote of two to one I For Government to break up the 
sale of intoxicating drinks is, as I trust, I have conclu- 
sively shown, no stretching of its functions. I again 
admit, that the sole legitimate work of Government is 
to minister protection to person and property. But, if 
to abate a nuisance, which yields no possible good, and 
which, more than all things else, perils and destroys 
both person and property, is not a part of that work, 
pray what is ? I again admit, that for Government to 
protect person and property from the dramshops of 
this city, as it could do, only by shutting them up, 
would be to render an immense service to the cause of 
temperance in this city, in this nation, in this world. 
I admit, too, that I cannot, consistently, make a direct 
claim for this service, at its hands. Nevertheless, I can 
claim at its hands, the protection of person and pro- 
perty : and, happily, the service in question is neces- 
sarily incidental to such protection. The service can- 
not fail to follow the protection. And who is there, 
that should not rejoice, that so great a direct good and 


so great an incidental good are brought together, and 
are inseparable ? 

The city of Washington is, in sacred language, 
u beautiful for situation." Than that it wears, there is 
no greater human name. It is, too, the capital of a 
great nation ; so great, as to need only to be as good, 
as it is great. Its population is increasing rapidly ; and 
buildings are going up in, and art is embellishing, every 
part of its broad and beautiful amphitheatre. Fifty 
years hence, if our children shall be so wise and vir- 
tuous, as to constitute one nation, here will be two 
hundred thousand people; and here will then be a 
city unsurpassed in intelligence, and in all the refine- 
ments and elegancies, which adorn the highest style of 
social life. Upon all this beauty upon all this glory 
shall the blot of the dramshop remain ? Nay, will 
it be possible to attain to this beauty and glory, if this 
broad and deep blot is suffered to remain ? 

Why, then, should we not, in the clearest terms, 
authorize the suppression of the sale of intoxicating 
drinks, in this city ? Who would be harmed by the 
suppression? What mother, what wife, would shed 
one tear the more, because of it ? What sister would 
heave one sigh the more, because of it? And who of 
us would be the worse for it ? Nay, who of us would 
be the worse for never again using any alcoholic liquors 
for a drink? And who of our successors, on coming 
to this city, would suffer any injury by not meeting the 


temptation of the dramshop? I have spoken of our 
successors in these seats. But for the egotism of it, I 
would add, much in the language of Paul before king 
Agrippa : " I would to Gk>d, that not only they, (our 
successors,) but also all that hear me, this day, were 
both almost and altogether such as I am," in respect to 
intoxicating liquors 1 for it is more than a quarter of 
a century, since I drank any of them ; and, as to my 
children and children's children, they are ignorant of 
the taste of them. Happy ignorance ! may it last as 
long, as they shall last ! Happy ignorance ! may it 
become universal ! 

Let, then, this city be purged of liquor-selling I And 
when that is done, it will be, not only " beautiful for 
situation ; " but, in further sacred language, it will be 
"the joy of the whole earth." The good of every 
land will rejoice in the sight ; and the evil of every 
land will be profitably impressed by it. Moreover, to 
the Government of every land this authorized 1 and 
indispensable exercise of governmental powers will be 
an influential and blessed example. 




JULY 86, 1854. 

THE Bill, making appropriations for the naval serv- 
ice being under consideration, Mr. SMITH said: 

I move to amend the bill by adding, after the follow- 
ing paragraph : 

" For provisions for commission, warrant, and petty 
officers and seamen, including engineers and marines 
attached to vessels for sea-service, $686,200," 

these words: 

" But no intoxicating liquors shall be provided for a 

I hope, sir, that the committee will bear with me in 


my folly my characteristic folly of endeavoring to 
make things better than we find them. The most com- 
mon objection to reforms is, that we should take things 
as we find them. I admit, that we should. But, I add, 
that we should labor to leave them better than we find 

The armies and navies of the world are nurseries of 
drunkenness : and drunkenness is the cause, more than 
all other causes put together, of the insubordinations, 
troubles, crimes, which abound in armies and navies. 
To this appalling fact the American army and navy 
constitute no exception. Now, the bill before us pro- 
poses no change in this respect. On the contrary, it 
would have this evil go on, after the old fashion. But 
the amendment, which I have offered, proposes a 
radical change in this respect; and a change no 
less blessed than radical. 

All are aware that, in every department and employ- 
ment, sober men are more to be relied on than drunken 
men, and are better and happier men. This is as true 
of sailors and soldiers, as of any other men. How 
carefully, then, -should Q-overnment refrain from what- 
ever might encourage intemperate habits in their 
sailors and soldiers I How steadfastly should we refuse 
the folly and the sin of putting the cup of woe and 
ruin and death to their lips 1 

Would we have our armed vessel carry, wherever 
she may go, high evidence of the strength and wisdom 


of America? Then let it be a temperance vessel. 
Were the world to know, that the American army 
and navy are divorced from rum, the world would be 
impressed with the strength and wisdom of America, 
as it never yet has been. Would we make our army 
and navy a far greater terror to our enemies than they 
otherwise can be? Then let us make them a cold 
water army and navy. 

But, sir, we do not wish our navy to harm the world. 
We wish it to bless the world. We would rather have 
it exert a redeeming moral influence than find occasion 
to wield its physical force. Then, sir, let our ships of 
war, whatever lands they may visit, be to those lands 
temperance lecturers. Such temperance lecturers would 
move the world, and bless the world. Would that our 
ships of war might undergo this transformation! 
Little occasion would there then be for the ordinary 
officers of a navy. 

Adopt my amendment, sir, and let it become a law, 
and five years will not pass away, before liquor rations 
will cease from the army, as well as from the navy : 
and ten years will not pass away, before both the army 
and navy will be purged of drunkards. For by that 
time, we shall, in that case, refuse to enlist drunkards 
either into the army or navy. And then, sir, thou- 
sands of fathers and mothers will bless God, and bless 
you for the precious reform, which you shall this day 
have begun. They will remember you with gratitude 


and love. For they will then hope, that if their sons 
shall enter the army or navy, they will, nevertheless, 
escape drunkenness. And the hope that their children 
will not be drunkards, is a precious hope to every right- 
hearted parent as precious to every good parental 
heart, as the apprehension, that they will be drunkards, 
is withering to such a heart. 

And should it be so, sir, that our army and navy 
shall be freed from the curse of rum-drinking, our hope 
will then be quickened, that the whole country will be 
freed from this curse. Judges and law-makers will be 
ashamed to drink rum, when our sailors and soldiers 
have ceased to drink it; and who else will not, then, 
be ashamed to drink it? If only for the happy reflex 
influence upon ourselves of our attempts to introduce 
this reform into the army and navy, these attempts 
would be well paid for. 




AUG U ST 1, 1854. 

THE Civil and Diplomatic Bill was under considera- 
tion, and Mr. BAYLY, of Virginia, had moved to strike 
out the following Senate amendment, namely: 

" To enable the Secretary of State to reimburse to 
Edward Riddle such sums, as shall be satisfactorily 
shown to have been expended by him, or which said 
Riddle may have obligated himself to pay, on account 
of his official position at the Industrial Exhibition at 
London, England, or so much thereof as shall be neces- 
sary, $26,000: provided that no portion of the payments 
made pro rota by contributors at said Exhibition shall 
be regarded as within this appropriation." 

Mr. SMITH moved to increase the sum one dollar, 
and said: 


The honorable gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. Bayly,] 
spoke of a mischievous precedent in this case. There 
is such a precedent. But it is not to be found where 
that gentleman finds it. It will not be found in our 
adoption of the Senate amendment. That mischievous 
precedent came into being when the Government 
embarked in this affair ; and put one of its vessels at 
the service of its citizens. Had the Q-overnmerit kept 
clear of this affair, and confined itself to its sole legiti- 
mate oifice of protecting persons and property, we 
should not have been annoyed by this amendment of 
the Senate. But the Government mixed itself up with 
the proper business of its citizens. Therein was the mis- 
chievous precedent; and in that precedent lies our 
obligation to meet the consequences which we are now 
called on to meet ; and to repay the money which was 
advanced, because we gave a governmental aspect and 
character to the enterprise. 

When our ingenious citizens were tempted by the 
liberality of the Government to put their inventions 
on board this vessel, they did not foresee, that a great 
expense must be incurred between the arrival of their 
fabrics on the English coast and the getting of them 
upon exhibition. This expense they were not able to 
meet. Indeed, they were not there to meet it. The 
question now was what to do with the fabrics. Should 
they be left at Southampton, where they were, or be 
returned to America? Either would have been deeply 


disgraceful to our Government and nation ; for either 
of them would have been attributed to niggardly con- 
duct, on the part of the Government. The represent- 
atives of the various nations of the earth, assembled 
at the Crystal Palace, would have thus attributed it. 
They would have held our Government responsible for 
the failure of these inventions of our citizens to reach 
the Palace for they would, of course, have held the 
importation of these inventions to be a governmental 
enterprise. Surely, if the appearances in the case led 
both Mr. Peabody and Mr. Lawrence to regard the 
importation of the inventions as an enterprise of the 
Government, these strangers and the whole British pub- 
lic, would have been justified in so regarding it. In 
the eyes of all these, then, our Government and nation 
would have been disgraced, if the fabrics had not 
reached the Palace. Honor, therefore, great honor, is 
due to Mr. Peabody for having come forward so gene- 
rously to shield his native land and her Government 
from impending disgrace ; and dishonor, deep dishonor, 
will follow the refusal to enable Mr. Kiddle to repay the 
$26,000, which Mr. Peabody's strong American feel- 
ings prompted him to lend Mr. Riddle. 

I cannot believe, that we are willing to let Mr. Pea- 
body, or Mr. Riddle, lose this money. Sure I am, that 
our country will not be found willing to have either of 
them lose it 



nr FA von OF 


AUGUST 1, 1854. 

THE Civil and Diplomatic Bill was under considera- 
tion,, and Mr. JONES, of Tennessee, had said, that 
the Committee non-concurred in the Senate's amend- 
ment for constructing several custom-houses. Mr. 
SMITH moved to add one dollar to each sum mentioned 
in the Senate's amendment, and said : 

In making this motion I signify that I am in favor 
of building these custom-houses. On what ground it 
is that the building of them is objected to, I do not 
know. Is it on the ground that the tariff system should 
be abandoned; and that, therefore, all custom-houses, 
both existing and prospective, must fell with it ? If 
on that ground, then I welcome the objection, for I 
am an absolute free-trade man, would have Govern- 
ment supported by direct taxes, and do not expect to 


see Government right until it is so supported. But it 
is not on that ground that the building of these custom- 
houses is objected to. None of the objectors propose 
free trade. All are in favor of continuing to defray 
the expenses of Government by duties. Hence all of 
them are to be regarded as in favor of safe and suit- 
able buildings for custom-house business, wherever 
there is enough of such business to make such build- 
ings necessary. I take it for granted that the only 
question in the case, -which these objectors allow to be 
pertinent and influential with them, is, whether there 
is business to warrant the erection of the proposed 
custom-houses. Others must speak for the custom- 
houses recommended in other States. I will confine 
myself to the advocacy of the two recommended* to be 
built hi my own. Both are needed, by the fact that, 
hi each of the towns, (Buffalo and Oswego,) there is a 
vast amount of custom-house business. That of Oswe- 
go, I feel safe in saying, exceeds that of any other town in 
the nation above tide-water. Indeed, there are scarcely 
more than half a dozen towns in the whole nation that 
exceed Oswego in custom-house business. The duties 
payable on bonded and unbonded property passing 
through Oswego in the year 1853, exceeded $696,000. 
This year they will probably exceed $1,000,000. I 
learn from the collector of that port that they amounted, 
up to the 30th June, to $618,276. 

To enforce my claim for a custom-house in Oswego, 


I will read to the committee an extract from a letter 
which I received a fortnight since from the collector : 

" You will see that our business is constantly and largely increas- 
ing. The bonded property received here from Canada this year to 
the end of June, is nearly equal to the total of last year ; and the 
last year showed a very large increase on any former year." 

Speaking of the contracted and unlit building which 
Government leases, the collector says : 

" The custom-house building here is eighteen feet by fifty feet, and 
contains no vault or place of deposit for the public moneys collected 
here except a common iron safe. My clerks and assistants when 
fully employed, as is the case the greater part of the business season, 
are about as closely stowed as children at the desks of a well-filled 
country school-house." 

I would add that the collector has also informed me, 
as a further illustration of the large amount of business 
in his office, that the number of persons employed in 
it is thirty-five. 

I have, now, ended my plea for a custom-house in 
Oswego. Confident I am that the facts in this plea 
cannot be resisted. But if, by possibility, they shall 
be resisted, and Government shall refuse to build a 
custom-house in Oswego, what shall I say to reconcile 
my constituents to such refusal? What pacifying 
explanations will you enable me to make to them? 
What shall I be able to say to them in vindication of 
the justice, impartiality, consistency of Government ? 

[Here the hammer fell.l 


TO ms 


, AUGUST 7, 1864. 

To My Constituents : 

To the end, that you might have ample time to look 
around you for my successor, I apprised you, some 
weeks ago, of my intention to resign my seat in Con- 
gress, at the close of the present session. I now in- 
form you, that I have fulfilled this intention. THe 
session ended, to-day ; and, to-day, I have sent to the 
Secretary of State, at Albany, the necessary evidence 
of my actual resignation. 

I take this occasion for saying, that I am happy to 
learn of your favorable regard for my general course 
in Congress ; and that I am sorry, though not surpris- 
ed, to learn, that there are some things in it, with 
which a few perhaps, more than a few of you are 

And, now, since I have adverted to this dissatisfac- 


tion, it seems proper to say more. How much more ? 
Shall I but add the simple declaration, that, concern- 
ing the things with which you are dissatisfied, I did 
what I thought to be right ? To stop there would not 
be sufficiently respectful to you. You are entitled to 
my reasons to, at least, the principal of them for 
this part of my official conduct : and, I add, that I am 
not to be impatient with you, if they shall fail to satisfy 
you. Nay, I am not to be so vain, as to suppose, that 
it is possible to render sound and satisfying reasons for 
all the numerous things, which I have said and done, 
in Congress. That a life, always so full of errors, 
before my coming to Congress, was to be entirely 
empty of them, whilst in Congress, was not to be 
expected, either by my constituents, or by myself 

I have, always, suffered, very greatly and very un- 
justly, in the world's esteem, because the world has, 
always, persisted in judging me, by the light of its 
own, instead of my own, creeds and practices. To try 
a man's consistency, he must be tried by himself; and 
to try his integrity even, he must, to no small extent, 
be tried by himself by his own beliefs and deeds 
by his own life, both speculative and practical. . 

I noticed strictures upon almost the very first sen- 
tence of my very first speech in Congress, which taught 
me, that my official, no more than my private, life, was 
to be exempt from the injustice to which I have, here, 
alluded. It so happened, that I began that speech 


with expressions of civility toward those around ine, 
and with kind and charitable interpretations of the 
differences between them and myself No sooner was 
th speech in print than many abolitionists complained 
of my courtesy to slaveholders ; and insisted, that I 
had been guilty of making light of the radical differ- 
ences between slavery and abolition between slave- 
holders and abolitionists. Assuming, as they did, that 
I was but " a one-idea abolitionist," they further, and 
very naturally, assumed, that I stood up to make that 
speech, with nothing, but slavery and slaveholders, in 
my eye. Two things, which they should have rement 
bered, they seemed entirely to have forgotten. One 
of these is, that I entered Congress with such peculiar 
theories of Civil Government matured and cherished, 
however visionary and false as, I foresaw, must be, 
continually, bringing out differences between my asso- 
ciates and myself not on the question of slavery only, 
but on innumerable other questions also. The other 
is, that among these theories, is the duty, resting im- 
peratively on the inmates of a legislative hall, to know 
nothing, whilst in such hall, of each other's private 
character and private relations ; and to recognize, and 
treat, each other as gentlemen. This much, at least 
then, can be said in vindication of the opening of the 
speech in question that, however little it correspond- 
ed with the views of others, it faithfully reflected my 
own : and that, so far as it is the duty of every man 


to be, in all circumstances himself, and the duty of all 
others to judge him by himself I was not obnoxious to 

The first complaint of my conduct in Congress, save 
that, which I have, just now, incidentally referred to, 
was, that I voted against the " Homestead Bill" and, 
that, too, after having made a speech in its favor. 
This apparent inconsistency is disposed of by the 
single remark, that it was not, until after the speech, 
that the bill was so amended, as to> confine its benefits 
to white persons. But to relieve myself of this 
apparent inconsistency falls very far short of setting me 
wholly right, hi the eyes of my critics. None the less 
will they continue to say, that, notwithstanding the 
amendment debarred me from doing justice to the 
blacks, I should still have been ready to do justice to 
the whites, and, therefore, to vote for the bill. But 
what if they should come to believe, as, I hold, all 
persons should believe, that it is not the Government, 
but the people and the people equally that own the 
land? then, they would promptly, acquit me of all 
blame in the case. If, for the sake of illustration, the 
light-eyed man and the dark-eyed man -do each really 
own eighty acres of the public land ; then, beyond all 
doubt, it is not justice, which is done to the light-eyed 
man, in voting him one hundred and sixty acres, and 
in leaving none for the dark-eyed man. That can not 
be justice, which is made up, so essentially, of injust- 


ice. That can not be justice, which robs one man to 
add the spoils of robbery to the already full share of 
another. It is true, that this is only a supposed case, 
which I have, here, presented. But, manifestly, the 
principle, in the actual case before us, is the same as in 
this supposed case. Manifestly, the argument could, in 
no wise, be affected by substituting a light-skinned 
man for the light-eyed one, and a darked-skinned 
man for the dark-eyed one. Manifestly, the rights of 
men can no more turn on the color of the skin than on 
the color of the eye. 

I trust, that nothing I have here said will be con- 
strued into an impeachment of the integrity of those, 
who voted for. the " Homestead Bill." Among them 
are some, whom ,1 know to be good, as well as wise, 
men. They surveyed the subject in the light of their 
own philosophy, and not in the light of mine: and, 
hence, they saw not, that their vote went to involve 
both themselves and the recipients of the land in the 
guilt of robbery. 

The next complaint, which came to my ears, was, 
that I refused to become a party to the plan for pre- 
venting the taking of the vote on the Nebraska bill. 
This refusal was a great grief to the abolitionists in 
both Houses of Congress : and I scarcely need say, that 
I love them too well not to grieve in their grief Nev- 
ertheless, I had to persist in the refusal, and in stand- 
ing alone. The wisest of men and the best of men, 


entreated me, over and over again, by my regard for 
my reputation, and by all, that is precious in the cause 
of freedom, not to persevere in this singularity. Nev- 
ertheless and, that, too, notwithstanding obstinacy 
had never been imputed to me I was immovable. 
How could I be moved, when it was my convictions, 
that fastened me to my position ? Years before, in the 
calm studies of my secluded home, I had adopted the 
democratic theory not nominally and coldly and par- 
tially but really and earnestly and fully: and the 
conclusions, which I had arrived at, in circumstances 
so favorable for arriving at just conclusions, I was 
entirely unwilling to repeal, in a season of excitement 
and temptation. I spoke of the democratic theory. 
But the soul of that theory is the majority principle. 
Hence, to violate this principle is to abandon that 
theory. I was, frequently, told, that those rules of the 
House, in the expert use of which the taking of the 
vote on the Nebraska bill could be staved off indefi- 
nitely, were made for the very purpose of enabling the 
minority to hold the majority .at bay, whenever it 
might please to do so. But this did not influence me. 
For, in the first place, I could not "believe, that they 
were made for so wrongful for so anti-democratic a 
purpose: and, in the second place, even had I thus 
believed, I, nevertheless, could not have consented to 
use them for that purpose. There is no rule nay, 
there is no enactment, however solemn or commanding, 


that I can consent to wield against the all-vital and 
sacred majority principle ; or, in other words, against 
democracy itself. 

When I complained, that the plan in question was 
revolution, I was charged with inconsistency; incon- 
sistency with my well-known readiness to rescue a fugi- 
tive slave. It is true, that I would rescue a fugitive 
slave. Nevertheless, I felt not the pertinence of the 
charge of inconsistency. In rescuing him, I take my 
stand outside of the Government, and am a confessed 
revolutionist. Let it be remembered, that it is only, 
whilst and where, I am inside of the Government, that 
I acknowledge myself bound to bow to the will of the 
majority. I bow to it in the legislative hall and in the 
court-room; and everywhere and always do I bow to 
it; until the purposed execution of the decree, that is 
intolerable. Then I rebel. They are guilty of antici- 
pating the only proper time for rebellion, who resort to 
it, during the process of legislation. I sit in the House 
of ^Representatives, and hear my fellow members dis- 
cuss, and see them vote upon, a bill, which wrongs me 
greatly. Argument and persuasion and my vote are 
all, that I can, legitimately, oppose to its passage. If it 
pass, and its enforcement be contemplated, it will be. 
then, for me to decide whether to rebel against the 
Government, and to resist the enforcement 

I need say no more, in explanation, or defence, of 
my grounds for refusing to go into the scheme to pre- 


vent the majority from bringing the House to a vote 
on the Nebraska bill. I will, however, before leaving 
this subject, advert to the fact, that for refusing to go 
into this scheme into this physical struggle, which 
continued through thirty-five successive hours into 
this strife to see which party could go the longer, with- 
out sleeping, and eating, and, I would that I could add, 
without drinking also my reputation for fidelity to the 
anti-slavery cause has suffered not a little, in some 
quarters. Moreover, it is not only in this wise, that I 
suffered loss by refusing to follow the multitude on 
that occasion. My reputation for a sound understand- 
ing, poor as it was before and poor as that of every 
radical and earnest abolitionist must continue to be, 
until abolition shall be in the ascendant is far poorer 
now. It is, I suppose, for my singularity on that 
memorable occasion, that a very distinguished and 
much-esteemed editor tells the world, that I am "defi- 
cient in common sense." I am happy to believe, how- 
ever, that this editor will readily admit, that it is far 
better to be "deficient in common sense" than in com- 
mon honesty: and that, when he shall have read this 
letter, he will clearly see, that, with my views of the 
comprehensive and sacred claims of the majority prin- 
ciple, I could not have gone into the combination in 
question, and yet have retained common honesty. I 
was a fool in this editor's esteem not to go into it. But 
he will now perceive, that I would have been a rogue, 


had I gone into it He will, now, be glad, that I did 
not go into it. For much as he values knowledge, he 
values integrity more. And were he, now, to meet 
me, he would press my hand, and thank me, that I 
played the fool in preference to playing the rogue. 

By the way, will not this editor allow me to remind 
him, that when, a little more than three short years 
ago, I went into different parts of our State to speak 
against certain Senators for their daring to prevent the 
necessary majority of the Senate from passing the Canal 
bill, he had no censures, but rather praises, to bestow 
on me ? It is true, that he and I both desired the suc- 
cess of the Canal bill; and that we both desired the 
defeat of the Nebraska bilL And it is true, therefore, 
that, whilst my principles worked for his and my inter- 
ests and wishes, in the former case, they worked, (at 
least, as some thought,) against them, in the latter. 
Was this, however, a good reason why I should not 
allow them to work in the latter, as well as in the 
former, case? I ask this editor I ask the world 
how it was possible for me to fall in with this policy of 
preventing the vote on the Nebraska bill, unless I was, 
also, prepared to revoke my condemnation of the like 
policy on the part of the Senators, to whom I have 

Let it not be thought, that I call in question either 
the wisdom or integrity of the members of Congress, 
who went into this combination. Wiser and better men 


than myself went into it. Nevertheless, they could 
not have gone into it, had they entertained my views, 
be those views sound or false, of the rights of the 

Ere leaving the Nebraska bill, I will briefly refer to 
the censures, which have been cast on one of my private 
letters. The whole, or none, of that letter should have 
been printed. I was sorry to see disjointed parts of it 
in print. The letter is not before me. But, I remem- 
ber, that I spoke in it against night-sessions of Congress, 
and declared, that, had the hour of three in the morn- 
ing been appointed for taking the vote on the Nebraska 
bill, I should not have been present. This declaration 
has been seized on, to show my low estimate of the value 
of the anti-slavery cause. Now, I have not one word 
to offer in proof, that I do, really and greatly, love this 
cause. If proof to this end is still lacking, even after 
more than a quarter of a century's profession of such 
love, then, most certainly, no proof can be found, that 
can supply the lack. 

It is contended, that I would have been as much 
bound, in the supposed case, to have been present, at 
the taking of the vote, as the editor of a daily newspa- 
per is to be often at his desk, until a late hour of the 
night; and (it might have been added, with as much 
propriety) as the physician is, to pass the whole night 
often, at the bedside of his patient. Now, not to say, 
that this night-labor, on the part of the editor and phy- 


sician, is a foreseen and voluntarily incurred one, and 
is, therefore, in this respect, most widely distinguish- 
able from, the three o'clock appointment; it is enough 
to say,that this night-labor is a necessity, and that this 
three o'clock appointment is not ; and that, hence, it is 
absurd to refer to the labor to justify the appointment 
Had I taken the ground not to obey any summons to 
appear in Congress, at three o'clock in the morning 
not even that, which was prompted by the sudden 
landing of a mighty enemy, or by any other necessity 
then, I confess, it would have been proper to rebuke 
me for resisting a necessity; and proper to put me to 
shame by pointing me to the faithful editor and 
physician, who yield a prompt obedience to the neces- 
sities, which come upon them. 

I denied, that the three o'clock appointment would 
have been a necessity. This denial is abundantly just- 
ified by the fact, that there is nothing in the Nebraska 
bill to make the taking of the vote on it necessary, at 
any time; and by the further fact, that if there is, there, 
nevertheless, remained months before the close of the 
session, and abundant opportunity for the transaction 
of all the possible business of Congress by daylight 

I might dwell on many objections to giving my 
countenance to this three o'clock appointment I will 
detain you with only a few of them; and with but 
glances at these. 1. Some members of Congress are, 
either from age or other causes, too feeble to be com- 


pelled, unless in a case of absolute necessity, to leave 
their beds, at such an unusual hour for leaving them. 

2. At this sleepy hour, few persons are in a state 
for the wise and safe transaction of important business. 

3. As the friend of temperance, both my lips and 
example shall ever testify against any night-session of 
Congress, that is not called for by the clearest necessity. 
What if the majority had appointed the taking of 
the vote on the Nebraska question, in a dramshop ? 
Would you have had me present? I trust not. But 
are you, yet, to learn, that the scenes of a night-session 
of Congress do not, always, differ, in all respects, from 
the scenes of a dramshop ? I was present, a part of the 
night-session, in which the final vote on the Nebraska 
bill was taken; and I was well convinced, that Con- 
gress should avoid all unnecessary night-sessions, until 
Congress loves temperance more, and rum less. Never 
did I witness more gross drunkenness, than I witnessed 
on that occasion. I had to remain until eleven o'clock 
for I had to remain, until I could record my vote 
against the pro-slavery bill. After that, I hurried 
away, full of shame and sorrow. 

It so happened, that Lord Elgin, the Governor of 
Canada, sat by my side, for an hour or more, during 
that evening of sad recollections. The drunkenness 
was perceived by him, as well as by myself. I might 
rather say, it glared upon his observation, as well as 
upon my own. It was, certainly, very polite and kind 


in him to tell me, as he did, in the course of our con- 
versation respecting this disgraceful scene, that he had 
witnessed shameful disorder in the British Parliament 
Nevertheless, his politeness and kindness did not 
relieve me of my deep mortification. 

But, I shall, perhaps, be told, that were it, once, 
understood, that the friends of temperance, and 
decency, and good hours, refuse to appear in Con- 
gress, the latter part of the night; advantage would 
be taken of the refusal, and that part of the night 
would be chosen for mischievous and wicked legisla- 
tion. This supposes two things, however, neither of 
which, I trust, is supposable. It supposes, 1st, that 
a majority of the members of Congress would be 
guilty of such an outrage; and, 2d, that the people 
would be patient under it Had the Nebraska bill 
been passed by calling us from our beds at three 
o'clock, the people would have seen, in this disgrace- 
ful fact, another and a strong reason for condemning 
this bill and its supporters. 

I proceed to notice another, and, so far as I know, 
the only other, passage in my Congressional history, 
that has provoked the public censure. I spoke in 
favor of annexing Cuba to the United States: and 
this, too, even though the slavery of that island were 
not previously abolished. For .having so spoken, I 
have seen myself held up in the newspapers as a fili- 
buster. But I had supposed the filibuster to be one, 


who would get Cuba either by violence or by money . 
and, in the speech referred to, I expressly discarded 
both these means. The union between Cuba and the 
United States, which I approved, is peaceful, and with- 
out purchase. It is to take place, on the sole condition 
of the choice of the two parties the people of Cuba and 
the people of the United States. Their choice of the 
union authorizes the union : and, that too, even though 
all other peoples, Spain herself included, forbid it. 
Indeed, it was only to illustrate the leading doctrine 
of that part of my speech the doctrine, that peoples 
inay unite and divide, as themselves, not as others, 
please that I made my reference to Cuba. 

But whom do I mean by the people of Cuba ? The 
public suppose, that I of course, mean little else than 
the handful of slaveholders, aristocrats, and tyrants, 
upon that island. But, I do not consent to be conclud- 
ed by their supposition. I do not consent to wear their 
spectacles, nor to be measured by their measuring-line, 
nor to be interpreted by their laws of interpretation. 

It is now more than a dozen years, since I stood up 
to read, in a very large assembly, my " Address to the 
Slaves of the United States." This Address acknow- 
ledges slaves to be of the people, and of equal rights 
with any other portion of the people ; and, I add, that 
it, therefore, made me more enemies than any other 
paper I had ever written. I stop not now to justify 
anything in that paper. All my reason for referring 


to it is, to say, that, whether its doctrines are true or 
false, they should, at least, serve to shield me from the 
imputation of ignoring slaves, when I speak of the 
people. Whomsoever others mean, when they speak 
of the people of Cuba, I mean, when I speak of 
them, the black, as well as the white the bond, as 
well as the free. If the poor, outraged slaves of that 
island prefer to be identified with the institutions, for- 
tunes, and prospects, of our country, such preference 
should be allowed to weigh as much, as the like prc 
ference of any other equal portion of her people. To 
say, that their '* poor, poor, dumb mouths" are to be 
unheeded, and that they are to be denied annexation 
to the people of the United States, unless their slavery- 
is previously abolished, is as unreasonable, as to say, 
that the Canadians shall not be annexed to us, until 
the land-monopoly, which oppresses so many of them, 
is abolished. The calamities of neither the one, nor 
the other, are to be allowed to work a forfeiture of 
their rights. 

Now, are the people of Cuba, in my sense of the 
word people, in favor of uniting Cuba with our na- 
tion? If they are, then, and only then, so far as Cuba 
is concerned, am I in favor of it Are the people of 
the United States in favor of it ? I can answer for but 
one of them : and my answer is, that I am. Why am 
I ? I need not explain why, aside from the existence 
of slavery in Cuba, I am in favor of the union for, 


aside from that, who are not in favor of it ? It is from 
my conclusion, that the people of the United States 
should be willing to unite with the people of Cuba, 
even though Cuban slavery be not previously abolish- 
ed, that so many dissent. 

It is not because geographical, and commercial, and 
various kindred considerations do so loudly call for the 
blending of Cuba with our country, that, in spite of 
my being an abolitionist, I go for it. It is because I 
am an abolitionist, more than because I am anything 
else, that I desire this blending. 

With the slaves of no part of the world have I sym- 
pathized more deeply than with the slaves of Cuba 
for theirs is the cruellest and most brutifying of all the 
types of bondage. Practically, American . slavery is 
not so bad as Spanish ; though, in theory, it is more 
absolute and abominable than any other. Happily for 
its victims, American slavery encounters, and is modi- 
fied by, a higher civilization than that, which pervades 
the dominions of Spain, and rejoices in bull-fights. As 
an abolitionist then, and as one, who feels pity for 
every slave, I should be glad to see the condition of 
the slaves of Cuba bettered by the substitution of 
American usages and American influences for Spanish 
usages and Spanish influences. And who knows but 
American laws, in regard to slavery, will, ere long, be 
" rightly interpreted ?" The hope, (though not strong,) 
that they may be, and the fact, that thereby American 


slavery would be " short-lived," did somewhat encour- 
age me, as the reader of the speech in question has 
seen, " to risk the subjection of Cuban slavery to a 
common fete with our own." 

Again, as an abolitionist, I desire the annexation of 
Cuba to our country, because that would end the con- 
nection of Cuba with the African slave trade; and 
would, also, go far to end that trade, everywhere. I 
do not forget the charge, that American slaveholders 
are in favor of reopening that trade with this country. 
But, I know, that the charge is nonsensical. Not only 
does their interest forbid it : but I do them no more 
than justice when I say, that their civilization forbids 
it. They have outgrown the barbarism of the African 
slave trade. May they speedily outgrow other barbar- 
isms, which fell but little short of it ! 

I said, that, for having made the speech referred to 
I mean my speech on the Mexican Treaty the 
newspapers have called me a " filibuster." They have 
called me " pro-slavery" also. But if to be in favor of 
annexing Cuba to our nation makes me " pro-slavery" 
then I have been " pro-slavery" for years, as those of 
you know, who, for years, have heard me speak in 
fevor of it. I readily admit, that if I stood on the 
platform, occupied by many anti-slavery men, and had 
a creed made up of nothing else than " no more slave 
territory," I should deserve to be stigmatized as " pro- 
slavery" for consenting to have Cuba come with her 


slavery into our nation for then, according to my own 
creed, I should be " pro-slavery." But, I thank God, 
that he has not left me to take my stand on that nar- 
row platform, nor on any other like it. My anti-slav- 
ery creed recognizes no law, anywhere, for the highest 
possible crime against the interests, and rights, and 
nature of man. In other words, I know no law for the 
slavery, which exists in any of the present, or which 
shall exist, in any of the future, territory of this 
nation no law for the enslavement of any one, 
either in Cuba or America. I care not what Statute- 
books, or even Constitutions, may say to the contrary. 
To every man, who has a soul in him to every man, 
that is a man truth and honesty are infinitely more 
authoritative than Statute-books and Constitutions : 
and, by all, that is precious in truth and honesty, I will 
never enforce as law, nor even know as law, against 
another, that which, if applied to myself all, that is 
within me, would scorn and scout as law. 

The apprehension, that American slavery would be 
made strong and enduring by the accession of Cuban 
slavery, is not well founded. Such a new element in 
our slavery might, for various reasons, contribute very 
effectively to work the ruin of the whole. But, how- 
ever this may be, who, that desires the overthrow of 
American slavery, does not rejoice, that France and 
England and other nations have, in our day, rid them- 
selves of slavery, and arrayed their influence, if not 


designedly, nevertheless none the less effectually, 
against American slavery ? And who of them should 
not rejoice to see Spain also quit the pro-slavery party 
the party of pro-slavery nations to join the anti- 
slavery party, and the party of anti-slavery nations ? 
But to rid her of Cuba is thus to change her relations 
and influence. Let all the other nations of the earth 
shake themselves of slavery even though it be into 
the lap of America. For were the whole of the foul 
thing gathered there, no sympathy with it could be 
found elsewhere ; and, hence, its years would be few. 

I trust, that, in the light of what I have said, the 
injustice of calling me " pro-slavery " will be apparent. 
Whilst he is "pro-slavery," who would extend slavery 
over lands, where it does not exist, it does not follow, 
that he is " pro-slavery," either in the aims, or in the 
effect, of his policy, who would collect more of exist- 
ing slavery under the same Government. The wish of 
Caligula, that all the necks of the Romans were brought 
into one neck, that so he might have the pleasure of 
decapitating his subjects at a single blow, was certainly 
not a very amiable wish. But we would all excuse the 
wish to have all the necks of slavery brought into one 
neck, if that would facilitate the killing of the monster. 

With this question of the annexation of Cuba our 

patriotism has much to do, and in both directions. 

Under its promptings, there are many, who would add 

to the honor of our country, by adding to her territory ; 



and, under its promptings, there are quite as many, 
who are unwilling to add to her dishonor, by adding 
to her slavery. But neither in the one case, nor in the 
other, are the promptings of patriotism to be trusted. 
For patriotism is not a virtue, but a vice. Least of all, 
is it a Christian grace. In all that compound of affec- 
tions and interests, called patriotism, there is not one 
element, which finds sanction in the lips or life of Jesus 
Christ. Admit, if you please, that patriotism does not 
exhibit the most revolting forms of selfishness. Never- 
theless, it is nothing, even in its most attractive phases, 
but modifications of selfishness. Philanthropy, and 
not patriotism, should be permitted to decide the ques- 
tion, whether we are at liberty to receive Cuba. No 
pride of country, and no shame, that stands in connec- 
tion with such pride, should be allowed any part, or 
influence, in the decision. Our equal love to our bro- 
ther, whoever he may be, and wherever he may be ; 
whatever his complexion or condition; and whether 
his home be on this side, or on that, of whatever 
national boundary ; it is this fraternal love, ever indis- 
solubly connected with true filial love toward his and 
our common Father, which should, alone, be allowed 
to decide the question whether, if Cuba wishes to come 
to us, we will open our, arms to receive her. 

I close my letter with saying, that it is not the great 
amount of slavery, that should most concern us. It is 
rather the weakness of the force, arrayed against it. 


Did the anti-slavery men of our country occupy the 
only true ground the ground, that there cannot, pos- 
sibly, be any Constitutional, or other legal, shelter for 
slavery the ground, that the piratical system, which 
robs its victims of every right, and exposes them to 
every wrong, is, necessarily, an outlaw it would be 
comparatively unimportant, whether they had much, 
or little, slavery to contend with. They would, surely 
and speedily, triumph, in either case. However small 
the amount of slavery, it will last forever, so far as 
anti-slavery men are concerned, provided they continue 
to acknowledge its legality, and to busy themselves in 
the folly of setting limits to this rampant, vaulting, 
matchless crime. On the other hand, however large 
the amount of slavery, it would quickly disappear 
before the influences, which the anti-slavery men would 
muster against it, were they to take the position, that, 
within no limits, not even the narrowest, has slavery 
any rights, or can it have any ; and that within no 
limits, not even the narrowest, does it deserve anything 
better than the sentence of outlawry and death, at the 
hands of all mankind. 

Let the anti-slavery men of our country take this 
position, and they will be no more afraid, than I am, 
to have Cuban slavery come to us. Nay, they will 
then bid it come : for they will then know, that if it 
do come, it will come, riot to be wedded to our slavery, 


but to die with it : that it will come, not to a bridal, 
but a burial. 

Very respectfully, yours, 


THE following extract from a letter of Mr. Smith to 
"Wendell Phillips, dated February 20, 1865, is a further 
defence of his position in regard to the annexation of 
Cuba to the United States. 

" The type of slavery in Cuba is, in some respects, 
more terrible than in any other part of the world. 
The family relation, which, elsewhere, softens the 
horrors of slavery, is to a great extent, unknown 
among the slaves of Cuba. The breeding of our own 
slaves is an alleviating feature in our slavery: and 
slavery is light in the breeding States, compared with 
what it is in the other States. Plantation after planta- 
tion in Cuba has hundreds of males, and scarcely one 
female. The condition and character of the laborers 
on such plantations are, therefore, as brutal, as they 
well can be. Again, so severe is the treatment of the 
Cuban slaves, that they die under it, in a few years. 
The slaves of our own country live, on an average, 
more than thirty years. The slaves of Cuba much less 


than half that time : and, hence, as I pity them, I would 
have Cuba annexed. I would have her annexed too, 
as I pity Africa, who is, every year, robbed of thou- 
sands of her children to supply the murderous waste 
of life in Cuba. But, more than all, do I desire the 
annexation, because I believe it will contribute, mighti- 
ly, to the overthrow of the whole system of American 

"1. It will change Spain into an anti-slavery nation: 
and, then, not only will she be arrayed against Ameri- 
can slavery, but other nations especially France and 
England disembarrassed by her change, will be fax 
more cordially and effectively arrayed against it than 
they have hitherto been. 

"2. The Spanish troops, that, now, uphold slavery in 
Cuba, will, then, be recalled ; and the Creole population 
of more than half a million will, then, be the depend- 
ence for maintaining slavery. But that population, 
never having possessed political power, and, therefore, 
ignorant how to use it ; having strong sympathies with 
the quarter of a million of free blacks, both from being 
legally intermarried with them to a considerable extent, 
and from having but little more intelligence, (for the 
free blacks have schools,) and also from other causes; 
would be but a poor dependence for maintaining slavery. 
Indeed, where have Spanish Creoles proved their readi- 
ness and ability to uphold slavery ? Certainly not in 
Mexico and the South- American States. There they 


proved themselves to be abolitionists, after they had 
escaped from the control of the Spaniards. The truth 
is, that the Spanish Creoles are too nearly on a level 
with the free blacks, in point of circumstances and in- 
telligence, and, therefore, of power, to be relied on to 
uphold slavery. There must, in some important re- 
spects, be a wide space between masters and slaves, or 
the slaves cannot be kept in subjection. 

"3. Cuban slavery is so different a thing from Amer- 
ican slavery, that it cannot coexist with it, unless 
brought into conformity with it. But to attempt the 
conformity would be most strongly to invite an insur- 
rection. The Cuban slave has the legal right to go, 
every year, in quest of a new master. Moreover, it' 
rests with an officer of the Government to fix his price, 
in case of disagreement on that point. He has the legal 
right to buy himself to buy himself, all at once, or, in 
parts a quarter at one time, and a half at another 
as is most convenient for him. Then, again, if the 
slave-mother shall pay a small sum (I believe but 
twenty-five dollars,) before the birth of her child, the 
child ahall be free. Now, will the slaves will the free 
blacks will the Creoles suffer these merciful features 
to be expunged from the system of Cuban slavery? 
Certainly not, until much blood has been spilt. I add t 
will the free blacks suffer their schools to be closed ? 
for the closing of them, will be an indispensable part of 
the conformity of Cuban slavery to American slavery. 


"4. But it will be said, that if a standing army of 
twenty or thirty thousand Spanish troops can maintain 
slavery in Cuba, so, also, can a no greater standing 
American army maintain it there. A several times 
greater army than this will be required to sustain the 
attempt to impart to Cuban slavery the absolute cha- 
racter of our slavery. Arouse the hostility of the free 
blacks, among whom are men of genius and educa- 
tion ; combine with them the nearly half million of 
slaves, the very large majority of whom are from Africa, 
and are as barbarous, as when they left her shores; 
and the victory to be achieved by our standing army 
would be no easy one. A bloody grave for slavery 
did these classes of men dig in St. Domingo : and a no 
less bloody one may they dig for slavery in Cuba. 
Moreover, that grave may be capacious enough for the 
whole of American slavery. Let our infatuated slave 
power get Cuba, if it can. I greatly mistake, if when 
she shall have added these new elements to our popula- 
tion, she does not find, that she has got more than she 
contracted for. Ere leaving this head, I will say, that, 
to propose, in the event of the annexation of Cuba, a 
standing army for the maintenance of her slavery, is 
sheer nonsense. The days of our slavery, if not, in- 
deed, of our republic will be numbered, whenever we 
shall adopt the policy of a standing army for uphold- 
ing slavery. 

"6. Havana is Cuba, as emphatically as Paris is 


France. Admit, that quietness although, by the 
way, it is an ever fearful and anxious quietness is 
maintained there. We should, nevertheless, remember, 
that it is maintained only by means of such a strict 
and stern police, and such an iron despotism, as would 
be impossible, amidst the institutions and influence of 
our republic. Impose only republican restraints upon 
Havana, and anarchy would quick spread through her, 
and through the island. 

"6. Let it not be said, that, because the slaves of 
Louisiana and Florida passed quietly into our political 
jurisdiction, the slaves of Cuba will, also. Not to 
speak of essential differences in their circumstances, the 
former slaves were but a handful, compared with the 

"I say no more of the annexation of Cuba. Whilst I 
hope, that it would help work the overthrow of slavery, 
without violence ; I am confident, that it would help 
work it, in some way." 



[This letter was published by Mr. Douglass in his newspaper.] 

PETERBOBO, August 28, 1854. 


My Dear Friend: I see, in your last paper, your 
letter to myself. I shall take great pleasure in answer- 
ing your questions, since you are of the number of 
those, whose wishes I am especially glad to gratify. 

1. As you are aware, I went to Congress with 
very little hope of the peaceful termination of Ameri- 
can slavery. I have returned with less. I still see no 
evidence, that the North will act effectually for such 
termination for I still see no evidence, that it will act 
honestly for it. It is true, that I learn of anti-Nebras- 
ka indignation meetings, all over the North. But this 
does not greatly encourage me. It is repentance, not 
indignation, which the North needs to feel, and to 


manifest. It becomes not the North to be angry with 
the South about the Nebraska bill, or about any other 
pro-slavery thing. Her duty is to confess her shame 
and sorrow, that her political, ecclesiastical, and com- 
mercial influence has gone to uphold slavery, and to 
deceive the but-too-willing-to-be-deceived South into 
the belief, that slavery is right, or, at least, excusable. 
Had there been such confession, there would have been 
no Nebraska bill to get angry about, or to make party 
capital of. Had there been such confession, the South 
would have no heart to extend slavery. All her con- 
cern would have been to abolish it 

Now, for the North to be honest in the matter of 
slavery, is to treat it as they would any other great 
crime ; and, therefore, to deny, that there can be a law 
for it. It is, in a word, to do unto others, in that 
matter, as they would have others do unto them, in 
it Do the people of the North believe, that they 
would honor and obey slavery, as law, should it ever 
lay claim to their own necks? If they do not, then 
they are dishonest, hi acknowledging it to be law, when 
others are its victims. 

Is it said, that the honesty, which I here commend, 
would exasperate the South? I answer, that it would 
go far to conquer the South. Let the North say: "We 
have sinned against our enslaved brother, in acknow- 
ledging, that the immeasurable crime against him is 
capable of the obligations and sacredness of law. 


We will do so no more whatever Constitutions and 
Statutes may require of us, and however great the 
losses we may suffer in our trade, and in our political 
and religious party connexions." Let the North speak 
such words of penitence and principle and the South 
will listen. When the Northern heart begins to melt, 
the Southern heart, also, will begin to melt. 

It is demonstrations of our honesty, not of our cun- 
ning, which are needed to influence and convert the 
South. The tricks, which Northern Legislatures have 
resorted to, or threatened to resort to, for the purpose of 
evading, or nullifying, the fugitive servant clause of the 
Constitution and the fugitive servant statutes of Con- 
gress, can have no tendency to inspire the South either 
with the fear of us, or the love of us. I need not say it 
for the ten thousandth time that my eyes detect no 
slavery in the Constitution, and that I utterly deny, 
that the attempt to smuggle slavery into it was, at all, 
successful. But the great mass of the Northern people 
widely disagree with me, at this point; and, hence, 
what is required of them by the spirit of truth and the 
God of truth is, not to practice indirection and fraud, 
but frankly to acknowledge, that the South has their 
bond, and that so wicked is the bond, that conscience 
constrains them to refuse, at whatever hazard, to fulfil 

I referred to the fact, that my hope of the bloodless 
termination of American slavery is less now than it 


was, when I went to Congress. I confess, that I did 
hope to find some Southern men there, who are willing 
to aid in bringing about such a termination. But I 
found none of them, who are willing to lift so much, as 
a finger, to this end. A few Southern members of 
Congress seek, by means of nonsensical and wicked 
speculations on the nature of the African and on the 
Divine purposes, to persuade themselves, that slavery is 
right in itself As a matter of course, such contend, 
that slavery should endure forever. But even with the 
mass of them, the case is very little more hopeful. It is 
true, that they admit, that slavery is, in itselfj an evil. 
But they will do nothing to put an end to it They 
had rather amuse themselves with the notion, that 
Colonization will drain it off, or with some other equal- 
ly great absurdity if, indeed, there is, or can be, any 
other as great. The more, however, that I know of 
this class of Southern men, the more satisfied I am, 
that even those of them, who are the most deeply con- 
vinced of the wrongrulness of slavery, regard the evil 
as too formidable for their little courage to grapple 
with. They are cowed in the presence of its magni- 
tude : and they prefer to let it roll on to an indefinite 
future, and to a posterity, which, they hope, will have 
more advantages than now exist, for happily disposing 
of it 

2. You ask, if the anti-slavery cause has anything 
to hope for from the present Congress. It has not 


What can Liberty hope from a Congress, that commits 
so heinous a crime against her, as to pass the Nebraska 
bill ? What from a House of Representatives, not fifty 
members of which dared to say, that they were in favor 
of repealing the Fugitive Slave Act ? 

8. You wish my opinions of the influence of the 
anti-slavery members of Congress. I had rather give 
you my opinions of the members; and, then, you can 
judge for yourself what must be the character and 
extent of the influence, which they exert. I take it 
for granted, that you mean by anti-slavery members 
those only, who are known as abolitionists, and who 
accept the reproach of being abolitionists. 

Chase is wise, learned, upright. He is an able 
lawyer and an able statesman. His range of thought 
and information is wide ; and, even without special 
preparation, he can speak well on the subjects, that 
come before him. 

Sumner is not so ready and versatile, as Chase. 
But put into his hands a subject, which interests his 
heart Peace or Freedom, for instance and give him 
time to elaborate it and where is the man, who can 
speak or write better? Sumner is as guileless and 
ingenuous as a child: and, hence, my astonishment 
at the base and ferocious feeling manifested toward 
him, at one period of the session. Chase and Sumner 
are gentlemen Christian gentlemen. Great is my love 
of them: and were I to add, "passing the love of 


women," I should not be guilty of great extrava- 

Gillette has been in the Senate but a short time : 
long enough, howevef, to give evidence, that he has 
a sound head and a sound heart. He loves the anti- 
slavery cause, as well as Chase and Sumner; and sur- 
passes them in zeal for the no less precious cause of 

To come to the abolitionists in the House. All 
know "Old Giddings." An able man is he. His 
rough, strong, common sense is worth infinitely more 
than the refinement and polish of which so many light- 
minded men are vain. He is ready and powerful in 
debate. An honest and fearless man, too, is he. I 
shall never forget the many proofs which I witnessed 
of his unflinching devotion to the right and the true. 
If his severity upon slaveholders is, sometimes, excess- 
ive, nevertheless it is not for them to complain of it- 
He learned it of them. Or, to say the least, it is a 
very natural retaliation for the wrongs and outrages, 
which, for a dozen or fifteen years, they have been 
industriously heaping upon him. Greatly do I rejoice 
to see that the friends of freedom have taken him up 
for another election to Congress. They honor them- 
selves in honoring him. There should not be one vote 
against him. 

I must not fail to advert, in this connexion, to my 
great obligations to Mr. Giddings for the assistance, 


which he so kindly and generously afforded me, in my 
ignorance of the rules of the House. 

We turn, next, to Edward Wade, of Ohio. A stranger, 
looking over the House, would make no account of 
that black little fellow, who sits in one corner of it 
But let him read Edward Wade's remarkably strong 
speech on the Nebraska bill, or hear one of his pithy 
five minutes speeches, and he will find that he has 
another occasion for applying the Saviour's injunction : 
"Judge not according to the appearance." Wade is an 
eminently conscientious and religious man. I am glad 
to see, that he, too, is nominated for another election to 
Congress. He should be, as often as he is willing 
to take the nomination. 

Colonel DeWitt of Massachusetts was sick much 
of the session. All, who were so fortunate, as to 
become acquainted with him, were impressed with his 
good sense, generous disposition, and agreeable man- 

As Davis of Rhode Island was chosen by the Demo- 
cratic party, that party may not t.TmnV me for calling 
him an abolitionist. Nevertheless, he is one. He has 
a brother's heart for every human being, and that 
makes him an abolitionist. I sat next to hi, during 
the whole session : and I esteemed it no small privilege 
to sit, for so long a time, by the side of one, who is so 
sincere, so affectionate, so philanthropic. Davis is a 
plain, but forcible, speaker. The city of Providence 


owes him much for his effective speeches in behalf of a 
large (perhaps, too large) appropriation for building 
her custom-house. 

I have, now, spoken of all the abolitionists in 
Congress, save myself: and, since, in the judgment of 
many, I have fallen from abolition grace, I had better 
not speak of mysel Do not exult over my apostacy. 
Even you, though a literally " died in the wool" aboli- 
tionist, should rather be admonished by my apostacy to 
take heed lest you yourself fall. 

4. In answer to your fourth question, I would 
say, that all the members of Congress, who belong to 
the Whig or Democratic party, are necessarily " sup- 
porters of slavery." Every national party in this coun- 
try must be pro-slavery. The South will come into no 
party, and abide in no party, that is anti-slavery. I 
cheerfully admit, that there is many a Whig, and that 
there is many a Democrat, earnestly anti-slavery. 
Nevertheless, their individual influence against slavery 
is as nothing compared with their party influence for it. 
As well may a man, with a mill-stone tied to his neck, 
try to save his drowning fellows, as a Whig or a Demo- 
crat try, under his heavy pro-slavery load, to promote 
the anti-slavery cause. His anti-slavery endeavors, 
however sincere, are all frustrated by his pro-slavery 
party connexion: and that connexion must be dis- 
solved ere he can give effect to those endeavors. 
Our national parties, ecclesiastical, as well as political, 


once abolished and the peaceful death of slavery would 
be a speedy event. But the great reason, why we are 
denied the prospect of this happy event, is that the 
members of these parties love them too well, and are 
too far under their infatuating influence, to consent 
to their abolition. 

5. I proceed to answer your last inquiry. There 
are in the House a number of gentlemen of remarkable 
capacity and training for the transaction of business. 
Conspicuously among them are Haven of New- York 
and Orr of South-Carolina, and Phelps of Missouri 
all three of whom are not only judicious, and clear- 
headed, but swift, in business. Breckenridge of Ken- 
tucky is, perhaps, behind none of them. He gave us 
but few specimens of his powers. They were suffi- 
cient, however, to prove, that his very keen and vigor- 
ous intellect is habituated to business. Judging from 
the admirable discharge of his duties, as Speaker, Boyd 
of Kentucky must be, in all respects, one of the best 
business men in the House. Letcher of Virginia, 
and Jones of Tennessee, are as expert in stopping 
business, as any members of the House are in doing it : 
and to stop business is, oftentimes, more meritorious 
and useful than to do it. 

Chandler of Pennsylvania, is prominent among the 
scholars of the House. Judge Perkins of Louisiana, 
struck me as a gentleman of very great refinement, 
both in mind and manner. F. P. Stanton has a rich 
and beautiful mind. Its turn is jas speculative, as 


K. H. Stanton's is practical. The former of these bro- 
thers lives in Tennessee. The latter in Kentucky. 
With the single exception of Kichard, who is all facts 
and figures, the whole Stanton family, in several of its 
generations, is highly poetical. 

The House can boast of wits, also. Ewing of Ken- 
tucky, is inferior to none of them. 

I could name several members of the House who are 
decidedly eloquent. Grov. Smith of Virginia, with his 
lively mind, smooth and ready utterance, and various 
other qualities, must be very effective " on the stump." 
I wish Banks of Massachusetts, would lay hold of 
themes worthy of his fine powers of oratory. He would 
find it easier to be eloquent on them than on inferior 
subjects. Indeed, a great eause is itself eloquence ; and 
the most, which he, who speaks for it, needs to do, is to 
stand out of its way, and let it speak for itself. 

Benton in respect to his remarkable fulness of politi- 
cal knowledge, and, in some other respects also, is, of 
course, the great man of the House. But he is not the 
only strong man there. There are more than twenty 
in that body, who deserve to be called strong men. 
There is no lack of talent in it. I wish I could add, 
that there is no lack of morals and manners in it But, 
whilst some of the members are emphatically gentle- 
men, in their spirit and in their personal habits, there 
are more of them who use profane language, or defile 
themselves with tobacco, or poison themselves with 
rum. I trust, that the day has already dawned, in 


which, it will not be allowed, that gentlemen can be 
guilty of such coarse and insulting wickedness, of such 
sheer nastiness, and of such low and mad sensuality. 
You were a slave, until you had reached manhood. 
Hence, the world is surprised, that you have risen into 
the highest class of public writers and public speakers. 
It is no less cause of surprise, however, that you are 
a dignified and refined gentleman. Nevertheless, 
gentleman, and scholar, and orator, as you are, there 
are strenuous objections to your taking your seat in 
Congress. How ludicrous a figure, in the eye of rea- 
son, is that member of Congress (and there are more 
than fifty such !) who, in one breath, swears, that he 
would not so disgrace himself, as to sit by the side of 
" Fred. Douglass ; " and who, in the next breath, squirts 
his tobacco juice upon the carpet ! 

I became pretty well acquainted with nearly all the 
members of the House. In very many of them there 
was much to please me much, indeed, to win my 
affectionate regards. Nevertheless, I could not be blind 
to the glaring fact, that Congress preeminently needs 
to witness the achievements of the Temperance reform- 
ation, and the Tobacco reformation, and the religion 
of Jesus Christ Your friend, 





THE session that Mr. Smith was in Congress, a bill 
was reported in favor of the sufferers from. French 
spoliations. Mr. Smith took a deep interest in it, and 
hoped that it might be acted upon before the close of 
the Session. But he hoped in vain. The protracted 
discussion on the Nebraska bill shut out many other 
discussions. The following letter indicates Mr. Smith's 
opinion of the merits of the French spoliation bill. 

PKTEEBOEO, January 5, 1855. 

HON. H. 0. GOODWIN, M. 0. : 

Dear Sir : I am happy to see, in the proceedings of 
the House of Representatives, the proposition to take 
up the bill for the relief of the sufferers by French 
spoliations. I am not among these sufferers: and, I 
do not know, that I have a relative among them. 
Nevertheless, I deeply desire the success of the bilL 


Pardon me for asking you, to inquire into the merits 
of the bill, if you have not done so already. I confess, 
that I am all the more free to take this liberty, not 
only from the fact, that you represent my Congressional 
District, but from the feet, that you occupy the seat, 
which the pressure of my fax too extensive private 
business compelled me to resign. 

We must remember the condition of our country in 
1778, in order to estimate rightly the value to her of 
the treaties, which she made with France, in that year. 
The American cause was then struggling through its 
darkest period ; and, unless help should come, it could 
never emerge. Help did come timely and abundant 
help. Those treaties brought it. France joined hands 
with us. Our liberty was achieved : and the Ameri- 
cans, like the delivered Jews, " had light and gladness 
and joy and honor." 

But the deliverance of our country did not suffice to 
fulfill all the obligations of those treaties. We were 
bound to France, as strongly as France was bound to 
us. France had served us : and it was, now, our turn 
to serve her. But to serve her, as the treaties requir- 
ed us to serve her, could only be at vast expense to 

France stood faithfully by us, and expended, in our 
cause, much blood, and some two or three hundred 
millions of dollars. But when the hour of her necessi- 
ties came, we did not stand by her, as our Treaties re- 


quired us to do. She had abundant cause to complain 
of us. But I admit, that she, soon after, afforded us 
as abundant cause to complain of her. She pirated 
upon our ships, and plundered our commerce. Not 
ten millions perhaps not twenty millions could mea- 
sure the damage, which she thus did us. It is true, 
that she committed this crime, under great urgency 
under temptations not easily resisted. Europe was 
combined against her: and she robbed our ships to 
save herself from starving. It is true, too, that she, 
always, confessed the crime ; and, always, promised re- 
paration, when she should be in circumstances to make 
it. It is, also, true, that she did provide for it She 
provided for it, by releasing us from our obligations to 
herself in consideration of our releasing her from the 
claims of our citizens, whom she had plundered. She 
ceased to be the debtor of those citizens : and our na- 
tion became such debtor, in her stead. Our nation 
came into this relation, by virtually taking private pro- 
perty to pay a national debt her debt to France. I 
do not complain of her for doing so. I complain of 
her dishonesty, in never paying for t.hia private proper- 
ty. Repeatedly, has she been called on for payment, 
both by those, who lost the property, and by their 
children and children's children. Oftentimes, they ' 
have come near success. Once, the bill for their relief 
passed both Houses of Congress : and the chief reason, 
if I recollect, why the President vetoed it, was, that 


we needed all the money in the Treasury for prosecut- 
ing our war with Mexico. I trust, that the tune has 
now come, when these petitioners for so long delayed, 
>o obvious, and so needed, justice will succeed in ob- 
taining it. ' 

But there are objections to the payment of the claims 
in question. The first is, that were the claims valid, 
they would have been paid, half a century ago. But 
we must bear in mind the poverty, indebtedness, and 
various embarrassments of our new-born nation, during 
the first part of the present century. It was as difficult 
to pay our debts then, as it is now easy. Moreover, it 
must not be forgotten, that the principal proofs of the 
validity of these claims lay undiscovered among the 
files of the State Department, for some twenty-five 
years. Had these proofs been brought to light, when 
we had a fresh and strong sense of the much, which 
France had yielded to us, in return for our exoneration 
of her from the demands of our injured citizens, we 
would have paid these claims, notwithstanding our 
small ability, at that time, to pay them. In connexion 
with my reference to the long concealment of the chief 
proofs of the validity of these claims, I would state, that 
of the twenty-five Congressional Keports on these 
claims, all, that were adverse to them, were three made 
-luring that concealment. 

The second objection to the payment of these claims 
is, that, even if they were valid, they are now quite too 


old to be acknowledged and paid. Such was the ob- 
jection, as long ago, as when the chief proofs in ques- 
tion were discovered. Even then the sense of the im- 
measurable value of what we had received from France 
had, to a great extent, died out of the public mind. 
Even then, it was felt to be cheaper to turn the back 
on these claims than to acknowledge and pay them. 
But if the age of the claims was so influential an argu- 
ment against them then, much more influential will it 
be like to be now, when that age is doubled. But the 
argument was not then, nor is it now, entitled to any 
influence. At the bar of a sound conscience a just 
claim is never outlawed never obsolete never stale. 
We have been guilty of a very deep wrong, in not pay- 
ing these claims, long ago. Shall we also be guilty of 
taking advantage of our own deep wrong, and of making 
our unjust delay to pay these claims an excuse for dis- 
owning them, and casting them aside ? 

Another objection to the paying of these claims is, 
that they were provided for under treaties, subsequent 
to the Convention of 1800 namely, the Louisiana 
Treaty ; the Florida Treaty ; and Hives' Treaty. My 
answer to this objection is 1st that it is not true : 2d 
that, if true, nevertheless the bill provides against pay- 
ing any of these claims, so far as they are provided for 
in those treaties : and 8d that, whether the objection 
is true or false, the claims have not been paid. 

Another objection is, that the claims are in the hands 


of speculators, who purchased them at a great discount, 
and, in many instances, for a mere trifle. To this ob- 
jection I reply 1st that wherever the claims are, we 
should pay them : 2d that they are not in the hands of 
speculators, but in the hands of the original claimants, 
and their descendants, and the Insurance Companies, 
which lost by the spoliations, and, also, to a small ex- 
tent, in the hands of those, to whom they were trans- 
ferred by the operation of bankrupt and insolvent laws : 
3d that the bill provides, that the purchasers of any of 
these claims shall be allowed no more than they paid 
for them and the interest on what they paid. 

Another objection is, that our treaties with France 
were annulled by an Act of Congress in 1798 ; and 
that, therefore, at the time of the Convention of 1800, 
there were no treaties left to set off against our surren- 
der of the claims of our wronged citizens upon France, 
But that act did not have, and did not pretend to have, 
a retrospective operation. Its language implied the full 
force of the treaties up to the time of the enactment, 
and during most of the spoliations. Again, the act 
could have no power to annul the treaties. It takes 
as many to unmake a bargain, as it does to make it. 
Nothing is better settled than that one of the parties to 
a treaty is incapable of rescinding it. 

I pass on to consider the most relied on objection to 
paying these claims. It is, that we were at war with 
France, at, and after, the time, when they accrued ; that 


our treaties with her were thereby annulled ; and that, 
hence, we had not to purchase satisfaction of the treaties 
by undertaking to pay the debts of France, nor by 
yielding any other consideration. But, in answer to 
this objection, we say, 1st that we do not admit, that 
these treaties could be annulled by war : 2d that we 
were never at war with France war never having been 
declared general reprisals never having been authoriz- 
ed the provisions of Congress being expressly opera- 
tive, only " in case war should break out" the Courts 
of the two nations recognizing no war between them, 
but both holding themselves open to the citizens of 
both nations : 3d that if the Convention of 1800 did 
not recognize, and abrogate, the treaties ; nevertheless, 
as amended by the additional article, in which "the two 
States renounce the respective pretensions, etc.," our 
Government clearly became responsible to satisfy the 
claims hi question : 4th that, even if the treaties were 
not in fact binding upon us, nevertheless we certainly 
did discharge France from those claims, in order, that 
we might be released from the treaties ; and that, hence, 
it is not competent for us to devolve on the claimants 
the loss of our bad bargain. Whether the bargain was 
good or bad, but for it the claims would have continued 
to exist against France, and would have been paid by 

Only one more objection to the payment of these 


claims remains to be noticed. It is, that the claimants 
were prosecuting their business were engaged in their 
commercial pursuits at their own risk. But, if it was 
at their own risk, nevertheless our Government was 
bound to seek redress for the wrongs and losses, which 
the claimants suffered. The Government did seek such 
redress ; and it did obtain it. But it proved a faithless 
agent. Instead of paying over to its principals the in- 
demnity, which it obtained for them, it put that indem- 
nity into its own pocket, and kept it there. Moreover, 
is it right to say, that the commerce in question was 
carried on, at the sole risk of the claimants ? By no 
means. There was not only the general obligation of 
Government to protect, in all such cases ; but in this 
case our Government had especially bound itself to en- 
deavor to get indemnity for losses. At the time it did 
so, our Government was so poor, as to be vitally inter- 
ested in the continuance and extension of our foreign 
commerce. Its empty Treasury was in the most urgent 
need of the duties on imports. Accordingly, the Secre- 
tary of State, Mr. Jefferson, upon the order of Presi- 
dent Washington, issued a paper, as early as the year 
1793, encouraging our merchants, who had embarked 
in this business, to face its risks ; by promising them 
the interposition of Government for their safety. 

But I will bring my, perhaps, too long letter to a 
close. We have seen, that the objections to these claims 


are unreasonable, and, altogether, unworthy of admis- 
sion. We have seen, that, by every just consideration 
they should be paid. Does the bill provide too large a 
sum for their payment ? The sum is far too small. It 
provides but five millions of dollars, though the claims 
amount, including interest, to probably thirty or forty 
millions of dollars. In the year 1800, our Ministers of- 
fered a million and a half of dollars to purchase our re- 
lease from two of the articles in our treaties with France. 
But France would not have sold the release for treble 
that sum. She did, however, discharge us, from all our 
treaty obligations to her, in consideration of our dis- 
charging her from these claims of our plundered citizens. 
It is noteworthy, that the million and a half of dollars 
amount, with the interest thereon, to far more than the 
bill proposes we shall pay. 

I must not omit to remind you, that the authority of 
many of the greatest names in our early history names 
both of jurists and statesmen even Marshall and 
Madison and Jefferson is on the side of the undoubted 
justice of these claims. 

In the name of justice, of humanity, of decency, let 
not Congress again turn away these meritorious claim- 
ants. If we are not willing to pay them ten millions, 
let us, at least, be willing to pay them five. Let us 
pay something on these claims, whilst, as yet, there are 
grandchildren of the original sufferers to receive it 


Most of those sufferers and their immediate descend- 
ants have gone down to the grave:, and, in many 
instances, their last years were years of bitter pov- 
erty, because of our injustice. I repeat it, let us pay 
them something, ere not only the original claimants, 
and their children, but their grandchildren also, shall 
have passed beyond the reach of our returning sense of 
justice. Let me here remark, that our Government 
has provided indemnity, to the amount of many mil- 
lions, for other French spoliations on our commerce, 
and for British, and Spanish, and Danish, and other yet 
spoliations on it. But no provision has it made to re- 
lieve the sufferers in this instance. Cruel discrimina- 
tion ! and as causeless as cruel I I said causeless. It 
is worse than this for the claims before us are espe- 
cially obligatory are peculiarly sacred. 

But it is not alone from regard to the claimants, that 
we should pay these claims. It is also due to the honor 
and the heart of France. She inflicted a deep wrong 
upon many of our citizens. It is true, that, at a great 
price, she purchased reparation for this deep wrong. 
But the reparation was never made : and, until it is, 
not only will her sense of humanity be pained, but her 
merit, in purchasing the reparation, will lack its crown- 
ing glory. I scarcely need add, that our own nation 
will be dishonored in the eyes of other nations, until 
we shall have performed this duty, which France 


bought us to perform ; which, now, whilst our Trea- 
pury is overflowing, it is so easy to perform ; and which 
cannot be postponed again, without manifesting a 
stranger insensibility than ever to the calls of justice 
and humanity. 

Eespectfully yours, 





PBTEEBOEO, September 3, 1855. 


MY DEAR SIR : You ask me why I declined to re- 
ceive mileage. 

1st. I think the per diem allowance of eight dollars is 
an ample compensation for the time the Member 
of Congress is in Washington. I do not say that it is 
too much. The expenses of living in that city are 
very great : and a man, especially if poor, who leaves 
his home and business to serve the public, should 
receive liberal wages. Many Members of Congress are 

2d. Mileage, or eight dollars for every twenty miles 
of travel, makes the remuneration of the Membere 
unequal in some cases very unequal. In consequence 
of it, the most distant Member gets two or three times 
as great a reward for his services as does the nearest 


But surely there is no good reason why it should be 
any greater in one case than in another. 

When, at the close of the session, I settled my 
account with the Government Officer, he offered me 
between four and five hundred dollars for mileage. I 
declined it ; and asked him to pay me, instead, my 
rail-road fare, amounting to upwards of $30, I believe, 
and $48 for six days' time in the journey, and other ex- 
penses. He did so. Why should not every Member's 
account be settled on these principles ? Why should 
any Member receive, on the score of travel, more than 
his fare by boat, car, stage, etc., and also eight dollars a 
day for his other expenses and his time in travelling ? 

I have been told that it is to prevent the removal of 
the Capitol, that this mileage system is continued. But 
whatever be the object, and whether it does or does 
not bribe the distant Members into silence regarding 
such removal, certain it is, that the people should insist 
on the immediate abandonment of a system so iniqui- 
tous and so wasteful. 

Kespectfully your friend, 


University of Toronto 








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