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it is urged, as has been often done in this debate, that the proposition still pending proceeds from the North. Yes, Sir, proceeds from the North: for that is its excuse and apology. The ostrich is reputed to hide its head in the sand, and then vainly imagine its coward body beyond the reach of pursuers. In similar spirit, honorable Senators seem to shelter themselves behind scanty Northern votes, and then vainly imagine that they are protected from the judgment of the country. The pulpits of New England, representing in unprecedented extent the popular voice there, now proclaim that six States, with all the fervor of religious conviction, protest against your outrage. To this extent, at least, I maintain it does not come from the North.
From these expressions, and other tokens which daily greet us, it is evident that at last the religious sentiment of the country is touched, and, through this sentiment, I rejoice to believe that the whole North will be quickened with the true life of Freedom. Sir Philip Sidney, speaking to Queen Elizabeth of the spirit in the Netherlands, animating every man, woman, and child against the Spanish power, exclaimed, “It is the spirit of the Lord, and is irresistible." A kindred spirit now animates the Free States against the Slave Power, breathing everywhere its involuntary inspiration, and forbidding repose under the attempted usurpation. It is the spirit of the Lord, and is irresistible. The threat of disunion, too often sounded in our ears, will be disregarded by an aroused and indignant people. Ah, Sir, Senators vainly expect peace. Not in this way can peace come. In passing such a bill as is now threatened, you scatter, from this dark midnight hour, no seeds of harmony and good-will, but, broadcast through the land, dragons' teeth, which haply
may not spring up in direful crops of armed men, yet, I am assured, Sir, will fructify in civil strife and feud.
From the depths of my soul, as loyal citizen and as Senator, I plead, remonstrate, protest, against the passage of this bill. I struggle against it as against death; but, as in death itself corruption puts on incorruption, and this mortal body puts on immortality, so from the sting of this hour I find assurance of that triumph by which Freedom will be restored to her immortal birthright in the Republic.
Sir, the bill you are about to pass is at once the worst and the best on which Congress ever acted. Yes, Sir, WORST and BEST at the same time.
It is the worst bill, inasmuch as it is a present.victory of Slavery. In a Christian land, and in an age of civilization, a time-honored statute of Freedom is struck down, opening the way to all the countless woes and wrongs of human bondage. Among the crimes of history, another is soon to be recorded, which no tears can blot out, and which in better days will be read with universal shame. Do not start. The Tea Tax and Stamp Act, which aroused the patriot rage of our fathers, were virtues by the side of your transgression; nor would it be easy to imagine, at this day, any measure which more openly and wantonly defied every sentiment of justice, humanity, and Christianity. Am I not right, then, in calling it the worst bill on which Congress ever acted ?
There is another side, to which I gladly turn. Sir, it is the best bill on which Congress ever acted; for it annuls all past compromises with Slavery, and makes any future compromises impossible. Thus it puts Freedom and Slavery face to face, and bids them grapple. Who can doubt the result?
It opens wide the door of the
Future, when, at last, there will really be a North, and the Slave Power will be broken, - when this wretched Despotism will cease to dominate over our Government, no longer impressing itself upon everything at home and abroad, -- when the National Government will be divorced in every way from Slavery, and, according to the true intention of our fathers, Freedom will be established by Congress everywhere, at least beyond the local limits of the States.
Slavery will then be driven from usurped foothold here in the District of Columbia, in the National Territories, and elsewhere beneath the national flag; the Fugitive Slave Bill, as vile as it is unconstitutional, will become a dead letter; and the domestic Slave-Trade, so far as it can be reached, but especially on the high seas, will be blasted by Congressional Prohibition. Everywhere within the sphere of Congress, the great Northern Hammer will descend to smite the wrong; and the irresistible cry will break forth,
forth, “No more Slave States !"
Thus, Sir, standing at the very grave of Freedom in Nebraska and Kansas, I lift myself to the vision of that happy resurrection by which Freedom will be assured, not only in these Territories, but everywhere under the National Government. More clearly than ever before, I now penetrate that great Future when Slavery must disappear. Proudly I discern the flag of my country, as it ripples in every breeze, at last in reality, as in name, the Flag of Freedom, -- undoubted, pure, and irresistible. Am I not right, then, in calling this bill the best on which Congress ever acted ?
Sorrowfully I bend before the wrong you commit. Joyfully I welcome the promises of the Future.
When Mr. Sumner took his seat, he was succeeded by Mr. Mason, of Virginia, who spoke as follows.
I understand that the petitions which the Senator [Mr. SUMNER] who has just taken his seat offers were to be admitted, as they were offered, by the unanimous consent of the Senate. Two of them, when offered, were sent to the President's table. The last he has reserved, and made the vehicle for communicating the sentiments of the pulpits of New England to the Senate, on the subject of this bill. I object to its reception; and I object to it because I understand that Senator to say that it is verbatim the petition that was presented by his honorable colleague, who is not now with us, in which the clergy presented themselves in this Senate and to the country as a third. estate, speaking not as American citizens, but as clergymen, and in that character only. I object to its reception. I object to it, that I may not in any manner minister to the unchristian purposes of the clergy of New England, as the Senator has just announced them. I object to it, that I may be in no manner responsible for the prostitution of their office (once called holy and sacred, with them no longer so) in the face of the Senate and of the American people. I object to it, that the clergymen of my own honored State, and of the South, may, as holding a common office in the ministry of the Gospel, be in no manner confounded with or contaminated by these clergymen of New England, if the Senator represents them correctly.
Sir, if the Senator has represented these clergymen correctly, I rejoice that there is to be a separation between the Church North and the Church South; for, I say, if these men dare to lay aside the character of American citizens, and come here profaning their office, profaning the name of the Almighty, for the purpose of political alliances, they are unworthy of their associates in the Church. Sir, it is the first time in the history of this country that a Church of any denomination has asserted a right to be heard, as a Church, upon the floors of legislation; and if the Senator represents that body correctly, they have profaned their office, and I predict now a total separation between the Church North and the Church South, if I understand the sentiments of the Church South. The Church there, I know, is yet pure in its great and holy mission. When its ministers address themselves from the pulpit, they are heard with respect, under the sanctity of their office. You find none of them coming here to the doors of legislation to mingle in political strife. They truly hold themselves “unspotted from the world.”
If the Senator who has just taken his seat has correctly expounded the clergymen of New England, I object to that petition. If he has correctly stated that it is verbatim copied from the petition presented by his colleague, I say it is a prostitution of their office to the embrace of political party; and the Senate shall not, by my assent, be made the medium of so unholy an alliance. I do not mean
I do not mean to go further into this debate; but I object to the reception of the petition.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The petitions cannot be received without unanimous consent.
MR. SUMNER. It may be, Sir, at this moment, within the competency of the honorable Senator from Virginia to object to the reception of these remonstrances; but I am satisfied that at another time his calmer judgment will not approve this course, much less the ground on which now, as well as on a former occasion, he has undertaken .to impeach the right of clergymen to appear by petition or remonstrance at the bar of Congress. Sir, in refusing to receive these remonstrances, or in neglecting them in any way, on reasons assigned in this