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ceeds from the North, as has been suggested by the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Dixon]. Even if this were true, it would be no apology. But, precipitated upon the Senate, as this bill has been, at a moment of general calm, and in the absence of any controlling exigency, and then hurried to a vote in advance of the public voice, as if fearful of arrest, it cannot justly be called the offspring of any popular sentiment. In this respect it differs widely from the Missouri Prohibition, which was adopted only after solemn debate, extending through two sessions of Congress, and ample discussion before the people. As yet, there is no evidence that this attempt, though espoused by Northern politicians, proceeds from that Northern sentiment which throbs and glows, strong and fresh, in the schools, the churches, and the homes of the people. Populi omnes AD AQUILONEM positi Libertatem quandam spirant. And could the abomination which you seek to perpetrate be now submitted to the awakened millions whose souls are truly ripened under Northern skies, it would be flouted at once, with indignant and undying scorn. But the race of men,
“white slaves of the North,”. described and despised by a Southern statesman, is not yet extinct there, Sir. It is one of the melancholy tokens of the power of Slavery, under our political system, and especially through the operations of the National Government, that it loosens and destroys the character of Northern men, exerting its subtle influence even at a distance, - like the black magnetic mountain in the Arabian story, under whose irresistible attraction, the iron bolts which held together the strong timbers of a stately ship, floating securely on the distant wave, were drawn out, till the whole fell apart, and became a disjointed wreck. Alas! too often those principles which give consistency, individuality, and form to the Norther character, which render it stanch, strong, and seaworthy, which bind it together as with iron, are sucked out, one by one, like the bolts of the ill-fated vessel, and from the miserable loosened fragments is formed that human anomaly, a Northern man with Southern principles. Sir, no such man can speak for the North.
1 Bodinus, de Republica, Lib. I. cap. 8, p. 90.
[Here there was an interruption of prolonged applause in the galleries.]
THE PRESIDENT (Mr. STUART in the chair). The Chair will be obliged to direct the galleries to be cleared, if order is not preserved. No applause will be allowed.
SEVERAL VOICES. Let them be cleared now.
MR. SUMNER. Mr. President, this bill is proposed as a measure of peace. In this way you vainly think to withdraw the subject of Slavery from National Politics. This is a mistake. Peace depends on mutual confidence. It can never rest secure on broken faith and injustice. Permit me to say, frankly, sincerely, and earnestly, that the subject of Slavery can never be withdrawn from the National Politics until we return once more to the original policy of our fathers, at the first organization of the Government under Washington, when the national ensign nowhere on the National Territory covered a single slave.
Amidst all seeming discouragements, the great omens are with us. Art, literature, poetry, religion, everything which elevates man, all are on our side. The plough, the steam-engine, the railroad, the telegraph, the book, every human improvement, every generous word anywhere, every true pulsation of every heart which is not a mere muscle and nothing else, gives new encouragement to the warfare with Slavery. The discussion will proceed. Wherever an election occurs, there this question will arise. Wherever men come together to speak of public affairs, there again will it be. No political Joshua now, with miraculous power, can stop the sun in its course through the heavens. It is even now rejoicing, like a strong man, to run its race, and will yet send its beams into the most distant plantations, melting the chains of every slave.
But this movement, or agitation, as it is reproachfully called, is boldly pronounced injurious to the very object desired. Now, without entering into details, which neither time nor the occasion justifies, let me say that this objection belongs to those commonplaces which have been arrayed against every good movement in the world's history, against even knowledge itself, against the abolition of the slave-trade. Perhaps it was not unnatural for the Senator from North Carolina [Mr. BADGER] to press it, even as vehemently as he did ; but it sounded less natural, when it came, though in more moderate phrase, from my distinguished friend and colleague from Massachusetts [Mr. EVERETT]. The past furnishes a controlling example by which its true character may be determined. Call to mind, Sir, that the efforts of William Wilberforce encountered this precise objection, and that the condition of the kidnapped slave was then vindicated, in language not unlike that of the Senator from North Carolina, by no less a person than the Duke of Clarence, of the royal family of Great Britain. In what was called his maiden speech, on the 3d of May, 1792, and preserved in the Parliamentary Debates, he said: “The negroes were not treated in the manner which had so much agitated the public mind. He had been an attentive observer of their state, and had no doubt but he could bring forward proofs to convince their Lordships that their state was far from being miserable: on the contrary, that, when the various ranks of society were considered, they were comparatively in a state of humble happiness.” And only the next year, this same royal prince, in debate in the House of Lords, asserted that the promoters of the abolition of the slavetrade were “either fanatics or hypocrites," and in one of these classes he ranked Wilberforce. Mark now the end. After years of weary effort, the slave-trade was finally abolished; and at last, in 1833, the early vindicator of this enormity, the maligner of a name hallowed among men, was brought to give his royal assent, as William the Fourth, King of Great Britain, to the immortal Act of Parliament, greater far than any victory of war, by which Slavery was abolished throughout the British dominions. Sir, time and the universal conscience have vindicated the labors of Wilberforce. The movement against American Slavery, protected by the august names of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, can calmly await a similar judgment.
Sometimes it is said that this movement is dangerous to the Union. In this solicitude I cannot share. As a lover of concord, and a jealous partisan of all that makes for peace, I am always glad to express my attachment to the Union ; but I believe that this bond will be most truly preserved and most beneficently extended (for I shrink from no expansion where Freedom leads the way) by firmly upholding those principles of Liberty and Justice which were its early corner-stones. The true danger to this Union proceeds not from any abandonment of the “ peculiar institution” of the South, but from the abandonment of the spirit in which the Union was formed, -- not from any warfare upon Slavery within the limits of the Constitution, but from warfare upon Freedom, like that waged by this very bill. The Union is most precious; but more precious far are that “general welfare,” that "domestic tranquillity,” and those “ blessings of Liberty” which it was established to secure, -all which are now wantonly endangered. Not that I love the Union less, but Freedom more, do I now, in pleading this great cause, insist that Freedom, at all hazards, shall be preserved.
The great master, Shakespeare, who with all-seeing mortal eye observed mankind, and with immortal pen depicted the manners as they rise, has presented a scene which may be read with advantage by all who would plunge the South into tempestuous quarrel with the North. I refer to the well-known passage between Brutus and Cassius. Reading this remarkable dialogue, it is difficult not to see in Brutus our own North, and in Cassius the South.
“ Cas. Urge me no more, I shall forget myself ; Have mind upon your health, tempt me no further.
Hear me, for I will speak.
“ Cas. O ye gods! ye gods ! must I endure all this?
“ Bru. All this? Ay, more: fret, till your proud heart break: