Слике страница
PDF
ePub

72

UNION AGAINST THE SECTIONALISM OF SLAVERY.

spirit of the Constitution and the sentiments of the Fathers, Freedom, and not Slavery, is national, while Slavery, and not Freedom, is sectional. Though this proposition commends itself at once, and is sustained by the history of the Constitution, yet both the great parties, under the influence of the Slave Power, have reversed the true application of its terms. A National Whig is simply a Slavery Whig, and a National Democrat is simply a Slavery Democrat, in contradistinction to all who regard Slavery as a sectional institution, within the exclusive control of the States, and with which the Nation has nothing to do. In upholding Freedom everywhere under the National Government, we oppose a pernicious sectionalism, which falsely calls itself national. All this will yet be seen and acknowledged.

Amidst the difficulties and defections at the present moment, the Future is clear. Nothing can permanently obstruct Truth. But our duties increase with the occasion; nor will the generous soul. be deterred by the greatness of the peril. Any such will be content to serve Freedom, to support her supporters, and to leave the result to Providence. Better be where Freedom is, though in a small minority or alone, than with Slavery, though surrounded by multitudes, whether Whigs or Democrats, contending merely for office and place. Believe me, dear Sir, ever faithfully yours,

CHARLES SUMNER. Hon. E. L. KEYES.

STRIKE, BUT HEAR”: ATTEMPT TO DISCUSS THE

FUGITIVE SLAVE BILL.

REMARKS IN THE SENATE, ON TAKING UP THE RESOLUTION INSTRUCT

ING THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY TO REPORT A BILL FOR IMMEDIATE REPEAL OF THE FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT, JULY 27 AND 28, 1852.

MR

R. PRESIDENT, --I have a resolution which I

desire to offer; and as it is not in order to debate it to-day, I give notice that I shall expect to call it up to-morrow, at an early moment in the morning hour, when I shall throw myself upon the indulgence of the Senate to be heard upon it.

The resolution was then read, as follows:

Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be instructed to consider the expediency of reporting a bill for the immediate repeal of the Act of Congress, approved September 18, 1850, usually known as the Fugitive Slave Act.”

In pursuance of this notice, on the next day, 28th July, during the morning hour, an attempt was made by Mr. Sumner to call it up, that he might present his views on Slavery.

MR. PRESIDENT, — I now ask permission of the Senate to take up the resolution which I offered yesterday. For that purpose, I move that the prior orders be postponed, and upon this motion I desire to say a word. In asking the Senate to take up this resolution for consideration, I say nothing now of its merits, nor of

[blocks in formation]

74

ATTEMPT TO DISCUSS THE FUGITIVE SLAVE BILL.

the arguments by which it may be maintained; nor do I at this stage anticipate any objection to it on these grounds. All this will properly belong to the discussion of the resolution itself, — the main question, when it is actually before the Senate. The single question now is, not the resolution, but whether I shall be heard upon it.

As a Senator, under the responsibilities of my position, I have deemed it my duty to offer this resolution. I may seem to have postponed this duty to an inconvenient period of the session; but had I attempted it at an earlier day, I might have exposed myself to a charge of a different character. It might then have been said, that, a new-comer and inexperienced in this scene, without deliberation, hastily, rashly, recklessly, I pushed this question before the country. This is not the case

I have taken time, and, in the exercise of my most careful discretion, at last ask the attention of the Senate. I shrink from any appeal founded on a trivial personal consideration ; but should I be blamed for delay latterly, I may add, that, though in my seat daily, my bodily health for some time past, down to this very week, has not been equal to the service I have undertaken. I am not sure that it is now, but I desire to try.

And now again I say, the question is simply whether I shall be heard. In allowing me this privilege, this right, I may say, — you do not commit yourselves in any way to the principle of the resolution ; you merely follow the ordinary usage of the Senate, and yield to a brother Senator the opportunity which he craves, in the practical discharge of his duty, to express convictions dear to his heart, and dear to large numbers

now.

of his constituents. For the sake of these constituents, for my own sake, I now desire to be heard. Make such disposition of my resolution afterward as to you shall seem best; visit upon me any degree of criticism, censure, or displeasure; but do not refuse me a hearing "Strike, but hear."

A debate ensued, in which Messrs. Mason, of Virginia, Brooke, of Mississippi, Charlton, of Georgia, Gwin, of California, Pratt, of Maryland, Shields, of Illinois, Douglas, of Illinois, Butler, of South Carolina, Borland, of Arkansas, and Hunter, of Virginia, took part. Objections to taking up the resolution were pressed on the ground of “want of time,” “the lateness of the session,” and “danger to the Union.”

The question being put upon the motion by Mr. Sumner to take up his resolution, it was rejected, Yeas 10, Nays 32,

as follows. YEAS, — Messrs. Clarke, Davis, Dodge, of Wisconsin, Foot, Hamlin, Seward, Shields, Sumner, Upham, and Wade: 10.

NAYS, — Messrs. Borland, Brodhead, Brooke, Cass, Charlton, Clemens, De Saussure, Dodge, of Iowa, Douglas, Downs, Felch, Fish, Geyer, Gwin, Hunter, King, Mallory, Mangum, Mason, Meriwether, Miller, Morton, Norris, Pearce, Pratt, Rusk, Sebastian, Smith, Soulé, Spruance, Toucey, and Weller : 32.

Mr. Sumner was thus deprived of an opportunity to present his views on this important subject, and it was openly asserted that he should not present them during the pending session. Such was the pro-slavery tyranny which prevailed. He was thus driven to watch for an opportunity, when, according to the rules of the Senate, he might be heard without impediment. On one of the last days of the session it

came.

TRIBUTE TO ROBERT RANTOUL, JR.

SPEECH IN THE SENATE, ON THE DEATH OF Hon. ROBERT RANTOUL, JR.,

AUGUST 9, 1852.

A MESSAGE was received from the House of Representatives, by Mr. Hayes, its Chief Clerk, communicating to the Senate information of the death of the Hon. ROBERT RANTOUL, JR., a member of the House of Representatives from the State of Massachusetts, and the proceedings of the House thereon.

The resolutions of the House of Representatives were read. Mr. Sumner said:

[ocr errors]

R. PRESIDENT, — By formal message of the

House of Representatives we learn that one of our associates in the public councils is dead. Only a few brief days — I had almost said hours — have passed since he was in his accustomed seat. Now he is gone from us forever. He was my colleague and friend ; and yet, so sudden has been this change, that no tidings even of his illness came to me before I learned that he was already beyond the reach of mortal aid or consolation, and that the shadows of the grave were descending upon him. He died here in Washington, late on Saturday evening, 7th August; and his earthly remains, accompanied by the bereaved companion of his life, with a Committee of the other House, are now far on the way to Massachusetts, there to mingle, dust to dust, with his natal soil.

« ПретходнаНастави »