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FREEDOM NATIONAL, SLAVERY SEC

TIONAL

SPEECH IN THE SENATE, ON A MOTION TO REPEAL THE FUGITIVE SLAVE

Act, August 26, 1852.

Nihil autem gloriosius libertate præter virtutem, si tamen libertas recte a virtute sejungitur. - JOHN OF SALISBURY.

If any man thinks that the interest of these Nations and the interest of Christianity are two separate and distinct things, I wish my soul may never enter into his secret. — OLIVER CROMWELL.

Mr. Madison thought it WRONG to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.

Debates in the Federal Convention, August 25, 1787.

"O Slave, I have bought thee." " That is thy business," he replied. 66 Wilt thou run away ?” “ That is my business," said the slave.

Arabian Proverb.

Aliæ sunt leges Cæsarum, aliæ Christi: aliud Papinianus, aliud Paulus noster præcipit.

St. JEROME, Epistola ad Oceanum de Morte Fabiolæ.

If the marshal of the host bids us do anything, shall we do it, if it be against the great captain? Again, if the great captain bid us do anything, and the king or the emperor commandeth us to do another, dost thou doubt that we must obey the commandment of the king or emperor, and contemn the commandment of the great captain? Therefore, if the king or the emperor bid one thing, and God another, we must obey God, and contemn and not regard neither king nor emperor.

HENRY VIII., Glasse of Truth.

Si la peste avoit des charges, des dignités, des honneurs, des bénéfices et des pensions à distribuer, elle auroit bientôt des théologiens et des jurisconsultes qui soutiendroient qu'elle est de droit divin, et que c'est un péché de s'opposer à ses ravages

ABBÉ DE MABLY, Droits et Devoirs du Citoyen, Lettre II,

Cleanthes. What, to kill innocents, Sir? It cannot be.

It is no rule in justice there to punish.
Lawyer. Oh, Sir,

You understand a conscience, but not law.
Cleanthes. Why, Sir, is there so main a difference?
Lawyer. You 'll never be good lawyer, if you understand not that.
Cleanthes. I think, then, 't is the best to be a bad one.

MASSINGER, The Old Law, Act I, Sc. 1.

Among the assemblies of the great
A greater Ruler takes his seat;
The God of heaven as judge surveys
Those gods on earth and all their ways.

Why will ye, then, frame wicked laws ?
Or why support the unrighteous cause ?

ISAAC WATTS.

WHEN Mr. Sumner entered the Senate, he found what were known as the Compromise Measures already adopted, among which was the odious Fugitive Slave Bill. These were maintained by the constant assumption that Slavery was a national institution, entitled to the protection of the Nation, while those who opposed them were denounced as Sectionalists. These words were made to play a great part. Both the old parties, Whig and Democrat, plumed themselves upon being national, and one of their hardest hits at a political opponent was to charge him with sectionalism. Mr. Sumner undertook, while showing the unconstitutionality and offensive character of the Fugitive Slave Bill, to turn these party words upon his opponents, insisting that Slavery was Sectional and Freedom National. The title of the speech embodies this fundamental idea, which was generally adopted by the opponents of Slavery.

In making this effort Mr. Sumner had against him both the old parties, fresh from their National Conventions. The Democrats had just nominated Franklin Pierce for the Presidency, and the Whigs General Scott; but the two parties concurred on the Slavery Question, and especially in support of the Fugitive Slave Bill, which was named in both platforms.

The Democrats, in their platform, declared as follows :

“That the Democratic party will resist all attempts at renewing, in Congress or out of it, the agitation of the Slavery question, under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made."

The Whigs, in their platform, declared as follows :66 That

.... we will discountenance all efforts to continue or renew such agitation, whenever, wherever, or however the attempt may be made.”

Here was nothing less than a joint gag, which would have been enforced against Mr. Sumner, as it had been a few weeks before, if he had not succeeded in planting himself on a motion clearly in order, which opened the whole question. Before speaking, he was approached by several, who asked him to give up his purpose, or at least, if he spoke, not to divide the Senate. To all he replied, that, God willing, he should speak, and would press the question to a vote, if he were left alone. A curious parallel to this incident will be found in the Life of Sir Fowell Buxton, when this eminent Abolitionist was pressed not to bring forward in the House of Commons his motion against Slavery, and especially not to divide the House. Against the entreaties of friends, personal and political, he persevered ; and this firmness of purpose was the beginning of that victory by which shortly afterwards British Emancipation was secured. 1

From the statement in the Globe it appears that Mr. Sumner spoke for three hours and three quarters, when a debate ensued, in which the following Senators took part: Messrs. Clemens, of Alabama, Badger, of North Carolina, Dodge, of Iowa, Hale, of New Hampshire, Douglas, of Illinois, Weller, of California, Chase, of Ohio, Rusk, of Texas, Toucey, of Connecticut, Bradbury, of Maine, Hunter, of Virginia, James, of Rhode Island, Bright, of Indiana, Cooper, of Pennsylvania, Butler, of South Carolina, Brodhead, of Pennsylvania, Pratt, of Maryland, Mason, of Virginia, and Cass, of Michigan.

Mr. Clemens opened the debate with personal attack which is a specimen of the brutalities of Slavery ; but there was no call to order. He was followed by Mr. Badger, who undertook a formal reply, but could not avoid the personalities which were so natural to speakers vindicating Slavery. He began by remarking : “I think I may say, without hazard or fear of contradiction, that the Senate of the United States never heard a more extraordinary speech than that which has just been delivered by the Senator from Massachusetts, extraordinary in its character, and most extraordinary in the time and the occasion which the gentleman chose for its delivery. .... Three hours and three quarters has the gentleman occupied, at this late period of the session, with this discussion.” After considering at some length the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Bill, especially in answer to Mr. Sumner, he proceeded to quote from the speech at Faneuil Hall (ante, Vol. II. pp. 398 – 424) denouncing the Fugitive Slave Bill, and then said, “I shudder, when I think of these expressions.” Numerous quotations followed, and he charged upon the speech a pernicious influence on the public mind, stimulating to violence. After exposing the former speech, Mr. Badger proceeded to comment again upon that just made. "This speech, Mr. President, is well calculated to stir up the people of Massachusetts. They look to the honorable Senator for direction and guidance; they consider him a 'marvellous proper man,' and, availing himself of his influence over them, he delivers himself of such a tirade of

Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, by his Son, Ch. 18,

abuse upon the law of his own country- a law passed by this very Cenate, in which he knows there are many gentlemen who voted for and still support that law — as is calculated, if any one lent a moment's credence to what he says, to cover us with scorn. . . . . Does he hope to accomplish anything, except to stir up sedition at home against this law, and make the streets of Boston again the scene of disgraceful riots and lawless violence by the lawless opposers of the Constitution and laws of the United States ? Never, Sir, since I have been a member of this body, has the Senate witnessed such an exhibition.” Then, with a sneer at Antislavery men as of “one idea,” the Senator added, that, admitting everything they say as to the desirableness of abolishing Slavery, it is utterly impracticable.'

Mr. Dodge and Mr. Douglas insisted upon the obligations under the Constitution. So did Mr. Toucey, Mr. Bradbury, Mr. Bright, and others. Mr. Cass justified his original support of the Compromise measures by his fear for the Union, saying, “To speak in ordinary language, I was almost frightened to death. .... I would have voted for twenty Fugitive Slave Laws, if I had believed the safety of the Union depended upon my doing so ; and then he added : “Sir, the Fugitive Slave Law is now in force. It shall never be touched, or altered, or shaken, or repealed, by any vote of mine. That is the plain English of it.

Mr. Weller imitated Mr. Clemens and Mr. Badger in personalities. He began by a confession as follows. I will say, Sir, at the outset, that this is the first time in the course of my life that I have listened to the whole of an Abolition speech. I did not know that it was possible that I could endure a speech for over three hours upon the subject of the Abolition of Slavery. But this oration of the Senator from Massachusetts to-day has been so handsomely embellished with poetry, both Latin and English, so full of classical allusions and rhetorical flourishes, as to make it much more palatable than I supposed it could have been made.” He then proceeded to say, among other things, “If the constituents of the Senator from Massachusetts follow his direction, if they obey his counsels, murder, I repeat, is

able ; and upon your hands, Sir, ay, upon your hands [addressing Mr. SUMNER], must rest the blood of those murdered men. ... This forcible resistance is not only calculated to strike at the very foundation of our republican institutions by dissolving the Union, but to bring upon the head of the learned Senator from Massachusetts the blood of murdered men. He who counsels murder is himself a murderer.” Here Mr. Weller followed the lead of Mr. Badger in misrepresenting the speech just made. Mr. Sumner interrupted him to say,

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