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Title: Charles Sumner; his Complete Works, v. 4-20 - With an Introduction by Hon. George Frisbie Hoar
Author: Sumner, Charles
Language: English
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         Charles Sumner; his complete works, Volume 4 (of 20)

                             HENRY WILSON
                 [Illustration: Eng^d. by A H Richie]

                Statesman Edition      VOL. IV

                            Charles Sumner

                          HIS COMPLETE WORKS

                           With Introduction


                       HON. GEORGE FRISBIE HOAR


                            LEE AND SHEPARD


                           COPYRIGHT, 1900,
                           LEE AND SHEPARD.

                          Statesman Edition.

                           OF WHICH THIS IS

                                No. 565

                            Norwood Press:
                        NORWOOD, MASS., U.S.A.

                        CONTENTS OF VOLUME IV.


    in the Senate, in Favor of an Allowance to the Widow of
    the late Andrew J. Downing, August 26, 1852                        1

    Speech at the State Convention of the Free-Soil
    Party of Massachusetts, held at Lowell, September 15, 1852         3

    on the Proposition to change the Superintendents of
    Armories, February 23, 1853                                       12

    Rhode Island Committee, March 26, 1853                            15

    in the Senate, on the Proposition to limit the Secret Sessions
    of the Senate, April 6, 1853                                      16

    to Lewis Tappan, Esq., May 17, 1853                               19

    FOR CONSCIENTIOUS SCRUPLES. Speech in Convention
    to revise and amend the Constitution of Massachusetts,
    June 21, 1853                                                     20

    Speech in Convention to revise and amend the
    Constitution of Massachusetts, June 22, 1853                      25

    Letter to the Mayor of Boston, for the Celebration
    of July 4, 1853                                                   32

    Speech on the Proposition to amend the Basis of the
    House of Representatives of Massachusetts, in the Convention
    to revise and amend the Constitution of that
    State, July 7, 1853                                               33

    the Report from the Committee on the Bill of Rights, in
    the Convention to revise and amend the Constitution of
    Massachusetts, July 25, 1853                                      62

    Festival in Commemoration of the Embarkation
    of the Pilgrims, August 1, 1853                                   73

  IRELAND AND IRISHMEN. Letter to a Committee of Irish-born
    Citizens, August 2, 1853                                          80

    COMPROMISE. Speech in the Senate, against the
    Repeal of the Missouri Prohibition of Slavery north of
    36° 30´ in the Nebraska and Kansas Bill, February 21, 1854        81

  WHEN WILL THE NORTH BE AROUSED? Letter to a Personal
    Friend, March 30, 1854                                           137

    to a Massachusetts Committee, May 1, 1854                        138

    Speech in the Senate, on the Night of the Final Passage
    of the Nebraska and Kansas Bill, May 25, 1854                    140

    POWER. Letter to a Massachusetts Committee, May 29, 1854         157

    ACT. Speech in the Senate, on the Boston Petition for
    the Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, June 26, 1854              159

    Speech in the Senate on the Boston Petition for the
    Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, June 28, 1854                  172

    to the Mayor of Boston, for the Celebration of July 4, 1854      228

    SLAVE ACT. Minority Report to the Senate of the
    United States, on the Bill granting to the Widow of
    James Batchelder a Provision for her Future Support,
    July 13, 1854                                                    230

    the Cape Cod Association of Massachusetts, July 30, 1854         237

    in the Senate, July 31, 1854                                     239

    OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. Speech before the
    Republican State Convention at Worcester, September 7,
    1854                                                             255

    Norfolk Agricultural Society, September 25, 1854                 280

    Committee at Syracuse, New York, September 28, 1854              282

    THE LIFE OF GRANVILLE SHARP. Address before the
    Mercantile Library Association of Boston, on the Evening
    of November 13, 1854                                             283

    Senate, on introducing a Bill to secure Wages to Seamen
    in Case of Wreck, February 12, 1855                              324

  AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. Letter to a Committee of
    the Massachusetts Legislature, February 12, 1855                 331

    SLAVE ACT. Speech in the Senate against Mr. Toucey's
    Bill, and for the Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, February
    23, 1855                                                         333


            OF THE LATE ANDREW J. DOWNING, AUGUST 26, 1852.

The Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill being under consideration,
Mr. Pearce, of Maryland, under instructions from the Committee
on Finance, moved the following amendment:--

    "For the payment of the arrears of salary due to the late Rural
    Architect, A. J. Downing, deceased, from the 1st of May, 1852,
    to the date of his death, and a further allowance to his widow,
    equal to the salary for one year, $2,500: _Provided_, that the
    said sum shall be in full of all claim for the services of the
    said deceased, and for all models, specifications, and drawings,
    designed for the benefit of the United States, which are not in its

In the course of the debate which ensued, Mr. Sumner spoke as follows.

Mr. President--The laborer is worthy of his hire; and I believe at this
moment there is no question of charity to the widow of the late Mr.
Downing. The simple proposition is, to make compensation for services
rendered to the United States by this eminent artist as superintendent
of the public grounds in Washington. And since the plans he has left
behind and the impulse he has given to improvements here by his
remarkable genius will continue to benefit us, though he has been
removed, it is thought reasonable to continue his salary to the close
of the unexpired year from which it commenced. These plans alone have
been valued at five thousand dollars, and we are to have the advantage
of them. In pursuance of these, his successor will be able to proceed
in arranging the public grounds, and in embellishing the national
capital, without further expenditure for others. Thus, as I said at
the outset, it is not a question of charity, but of compensation; and
on this ground I doubt not the estate of the departed artist deserves
the small pittance it is proposed to pay. For myself, I should be much
happier to vote a larger appropriation, believing, that, over and above
the services actually rendered in the discharge of his duties, these
plans are amply worth it, and that we shall all feel better by such
recognition of our debt.

Few men in the public service have vindicated a title to regard
above Mr. Downing. At the age of thirty-seven he has passed away,
"dead ere his prime,"--like Lycidas, also, "floating upon his watery
bier,"[1]--leaving behind a reputation above that of any other citizen
in the beautiful department of Art to which he was devoted. His labors
and his example cannot be forgotten. I know of no man among us, in any
sphere of life, so young as he was at his death, who has been able to
perform services of such true, simple, and lasting beneficence. By
wide and active superintendence of rural improvements, by labors of
the pen, and by the various exercise of his genius, he has contributed
essentially to the sum of human happiness. And now, Sir, by practical
services here in Washington, rendered at the call of his country, he
has earned, it seems to me, this small appropriation, not as a charity
to his desolate widow, but as a remuneration for labor done. I hope the
amendment will be agreed to.

    [1] Mr. Downing was accidentally drowned in the Hudson River.



The annual State Convention of the Free-Soil Party of Massachusetts
met at Lowell September 15, 1852. It was organized with the following
officers: Hon. Stephen C. Phillips, of Salem, President,--Rodney
French, of New Bedford, George B. Atwood, of Taunton, William Jackson,
of Newton, George F. Williams, of Boston, Charles Beck, of Cambridge,
John B. Alley, of Lynn, Benjamin F. Thompson, of Winchester, John
Nesmith, of Lowell, John Edgell, of Gardner, Francis Bates, of
Springfield, Calvin Marden, of Pittsfield, Vice-Presidents,--George
M. Brooks, of Concord, Edmund Anthony, of New Bedford, William S.
Robinson, of Lowell, Andrew J. Aiken, of Adams, Benjamin F. White, of
Weymouth, Secretaries.

Eloquent speeches were made by the President, Hon. S. C. Phillips,
Hon. Henry Wilson, Hon. John W. Graves, Hon. E. L. Keyes, Hon. Rodney
French, Dr. Caleb Swan, Richard H. Dana, Jr., Esq., Hon. Horace Mann,
Hon. Amasa Walker, Hon. Anson Burlingame, and Seth Webb, Jr., Esq.
The resolutions adopted by the Convention were reported by Hon. C. F.
Adams. Hon. Horace Mann was nominated as candidate for Governor, and
Hon. Amasa Walker as candidate for Lieutenant-Governor.

Early in the proceedings Mr. Sumner was introduced to the audience by
the President. This incident is copied from the report in the papers,
as is also the speech which he made, with the interruptions.

    "The President remarked, that there was one gentleman present
    whom the Convention would all delight to hear: he alluded to our
    distinguished Senator in Congress, Hon. Charles Sumner.

    "The name of Mr. Sumner was received with 'three times three'
    rousing cheers, and the waving of hats, canes, handkerchiefs,
    &c.; which demonstrations of regard were renewed as he made his
    appearance on the platform."

    Among those on the platform was Captain Drayton, called "The Hero
    of the Pearl," recently liberated from prison through the exertions
    of Mr. Sumner (_ante_, p. 49), who took his seat "amid the hearty
    cheers of the whole assembly."


I should be dull indeed,--dull as a weed,--were I insensible to this
generous, heart-speaking welcome. After an absence of many months,
I have now come home to breathe anew this invigorating Northern air
[_applause_], to tread again the free soil of our native Massachusetts
[_cheers_], and to enjoy the sympathy of friends and fellow-citizens.
[_Renewed applause._] But, while glad in your greetings, thus
bounteously lavished, I cannot accept them for myself. I do not deserve
them. They belong to the cause [_applause_] which we all have at heart,
and which binds us together. [_Cheers._]

Fellow-citizens, I have not come here to make a speech. The occasion
requires no such effort. Weary with other labors, and desiring rest,
I have little now to say,--and that little will be too much, if about
myself. If, at Washington, during a long session of Congress,--my first
experience of public life,--I have been able to do anything which meets
your acceptance, I am happy. [_Cheers._] I have done nothing but my
duty. ["_Hear! hear!_"] Passing from this, and taking advantage of
the kind attention with which you honor me, let me add one word in
vindication of our position as a _national party_.

We are on the eve of two important elections,--one of National
officers, and the other of State officers. A President and
Vice-President of the United States and members of Congress are to be
chosen; also, Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of the Commonwealth,
and members of the Legislature. And at these elections we are to
cast our votes so as most to advance the cause of Freedom under the
National Constitution. [_Cheers._] This is our peculiar object,--though
associated with it are other aims, kindred in their humane and liberal

Against Freedom both the old parties are banded. Opposed to each other
in the contest for power, they concur in opposing every effort for the
establishment of Freedom under the National Constitution. [_Applause._]
Divided as parties, _they are one_ as supporters of Slavery. On this
question we can have no sympathy with either, but must necessarily be
against both. ["_Hear! hear!_"] They sustain Slavery in the District
of Columbia: we are against it. They sustain the coastwise Slave-Trade
under the National Flag: we abhor it. [_Cheers._] They sustain the
policy of silence on Slavery in the Territories: we urge the voice
of positive prohibition. They sustain that paragon of legislative
monsters,--unconstitutional, unchristian, and infamous,--the Fugitive
Slave Bill [_sensation_]: we insist on its repeal. [_Great applause._]
They concede to the Slave Power new life and protection: we cannot
be content except with its total destruction. [_Enthusiasm._] Such,
fellow-citizens, is the difference between us.

And now, if here in Massachusetts there be any who, on grounds of
policy or conscience, feel impelled to support Slavery, let them go
and sink in the embrace of the old parties. [_Applause._] There they
belong. On the other hand, all sincerely opposed to Slavery, who desire
to act against Slavery, who seek to bear their testimony for Freedom,
who long to carry into public affairs those principles of morality
and Christian duty which are the rule of private life,--let them
come out from both the old parties, and join us. [_Cheers._] In our
organization, with the declared friends of Freedom, they will find a
place in harmony with their aspirations. [_Enthusiasm._]

There is one apology, common to the supporters of both the old parties,
and often in their mouths, when pressed for inconsistent persistence
in adhering to these parties. It is dogmatically asserted that there
can be but two parties,--that a new party is impossible, particularly
in our country,--and that, therefore, all persons, however opposed to
Slavery, must be content in one of the old parties. This assumption,
which is without foundation in reason, is so often put forth, that
it has acquired a certain currency; and many, who reason hastily, or
implicitly follow others, have adopted it as the all-sufficient excuse
for their conduct. Confessing their own opposition to Slavery, they
yield to the domination of party, and become dumb. All this is wrong
morally, and therefore must be wrong practically.

Party, in its true estate, is the natural expression and agency of
different forms of opinion on important public questions, and itself
assumes different forms precisely according to the prevalence of
different opinions. Thus, in the early Italian republics there were for
a while the factions of Guelphs and Ghibellines, rival supporters of
Pope and Emperor,--also of Whites and Blacks, taking their names from
the color of their respective badges,--and in England, the two factions
of the White and Red Roses, in which was involved the succession to
the crown. In all these cases the party came into being, died out, or
changed with the objects originating it. If there be in a community
only two chief antagonist opinions, then there will be but two parties
embodying these opinions. But as other opinions practically prevail
and seek vent, so must parties change or multiply. This is so strongly
the conclusion of reason and philosophy, that it could not be doubted,
even if there were no examples of such change and multiplicity. But we
need only turn to the recent history of France and England, the two
countries where opinion has the freest scope, to find such examples.

Thus, for instance, in France,--and I dwell on this point because
I have myself observed, in conversation, that it is of practical
importance,--under Louis Philippe, anterior to the late Republic, there
was the party of Legitimists, supporters of the old branch of Bourbons,
and the party of Orleanists, supporters of the existing throne: these
two corresponding at the time, in relative rank and power, to our
Whigs and Democrats. Besides these was a third party, _the small
band of Republicans, represented in the Legislature by a few persons
only_, but strong in principles and purposes, which in February, 1848,
prevailed over both the others. [_Applause._] On the establishment of
the Republic, the multiplication of parties continued, until, with
the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press, all were equally
overthrown by Louis Napoleon, and their place supplied by the enforced
unity of despotism.

In England, the most important measure of recent reform, the abolition
of the laws imposing a protective duty on corn, was carried only by a
third party. Neither of the two old parties could be brought to adopt
this measure and press it to consummation. A powerful public opinion,
thwarted in the regular parties, had recourse to a new one, neither
Whig nor Tory, but formed from both the old ones, where Sir Robert
Peel, the great Conservative leader, took his place, side by side,
in honorable coalition, with Mr. Cobden, the great Liberal leader.
["_Hear! hear!_"] In this way the Corn Laws were finally overthrown.
The multiplicity of parties engendered by this contest still continues
in England. At the general election for the new Parliament which
has just taken place, the strict lines of ancient parties seemed to
be effaced, and many were returned, not as Whigs and Tories, but as
Protectionists and Anti-Protectionists.

Thus by example in our own day we confirm the principle of political
philosophy, that parties naturally adapt themselves in character and
number to prevailing public opinion.

At the present time, in our country, there exists a deep, controlling,
conscientious feeling against Slavery. [_Cheers._] You and I, Sir, and
all of us, confess it. While recognizing the Constitution, we desire
to do everything in our power to relieve ourselves of responsibility
for this terrible wrong. ["_Yes! yes!_"] We would vindicate the
Constitution, and the National Government it has established,
from all participation in this outrage. [_Cheers._] Both the old
political parties, forgetful of the Fathers, and of the spirit of the
Constitution, not only refuse to be agents or representatives in any
degree of our convictions, but expressly discourage and denounce them.
Thus baffled in effort for utterance, these convictions naturally seek
expression in a new agency, _the party of Freedom_. [_Cheers._] Such
is the party, representing the great doctrines of Human Rights, as
enunciated in our Declaration of Independence, and inspired by a truly
Democratic sentiment, now assembled here under the name of the Free
Democracy. [_Cheers._]

The rising public opinion against Slavery cannot flow in the old
political channels. It is impeded, choked, and dammed back. But if not
_through_ the old parties, then _over_ the old parties [_tremendous
cheering_], this irresistible current _shall_ find its way.
[_Enthusiasm._] It cannot be permanently stopped. If the old parties
will not become its organs, they must become its victims. [_Cheers._]
The party of Freedom will certainly prevail. [_Sensation._] It may be
by entering into and possessing one of the old parties, filling it with
our own strong life; or it may be by drawing to itself the good and
true from both who are unwilling to continue in a political combination
when it ceases to represent their convictions; but, in one way or the
other, its ultimate triumph is sure. [_Great applause._] Of this let no
man doubt. [_Repeated cheers._]

At this moment we are in a minority. At the last popular election
in Massachusetts, there were twenty-eight thousand Free-Soilers,
forty-three thousand Democrats, and sixty-four thousand Whigs. But this
is no reason for discouragement. According to recent estimates, the
population of the whole world amounts to about eight hundred millions.
Of these only two hundred and sixty millions are Christians, while
the remaining five hundred and forty millions are mainly Mahometans,
Brahmins, and Idolaters. Because the Christians are in this minority,
that is no reason for renouncing Christianity, and for surrendering
to the false religions [_cheers_]; nor do we doubt that Christianity
will yet prevail over the whole earth, as the waters cover the sea.
["_Hear! hear!_"] The friends of Freedom in Massachusetts are likewise
in a minority; but they will not therefore renounce Freedom [_cheers_],
nor surrender to the political Mahometans, Brahmins, and Idolaters of
Baltimore ["_Never! never!_"]; nor can they doubt that their cause,
like Christianity, will yet prevail. [_Enthusiastic cheers._]

Our party commends itself. But it is also commended by our candidates.
[_Cheers._] In all that makes the eminent civilian or the accomplished
statesman fit for the responsibilities of government, they will proudly
compare with any of their competitors [_applause_], while they are dear
to our hearts as able, well-tried, loyal supporters of those vital
principles which we seek to establish under the Constitution of the
United States. [_Applause._] In the Senate, Mr. Hale [_cheers_] is
admitted to be foremost in aptitude and readiness for debate, whether
in the general legislation of the country, or in constant and valiant
championship of our cause. [_Applause._] His genial and sun-like nature
irradiates the antagonism of political controversy [_cheers_], while
his active and practical mind, richly stored with various experience,
never fails to render good service. [_Great cheering._]

Of Mr. Julian, our candidate for the Vice-Presidency, ["_Hear! hear!_"]
let me say simply, that, in ability and devotion to our principles, he
is a worthy compeer of Mr. Hale. To vote for such men will itself be a
pleasure. But it will be doubly so, when we reflect that in this way
we do something to accomplish a noble work, with which the happiness,
welfare, and fame of our country are indissolubly connected. [_Repeated
and enthusiastic cheers._]

With such a cause and such candidates, no man can be disheartened. The
tempest may blow,--but ours is a life-boat, not to be harmed by wind
or wave. The Genius of Liberty sits at the helm. I hear her voice of
cheer, saying, "Whoso sails with me comes to shore!"

Mr. Sumner resumed his seat amid heartiest and long-protracted applause.



The Army Appropriation Bill being under discussion, Mr. Davis, of
Massachusetts, moved the following amendment:--

    "That from and after the first day of July next, the Act of
    Congress approved August 23, 1842, be so modified, that the
    President may, if in his opinion the public interest demands it,
    place over any of the armories a superintendent who does not belong
    to the Army."

In the course of the debate, Mr. Sumner spoke as follows.

Mr. President,--I do not desire to speak upon the general subject of
the manufacture of arms under the authority of the United States, which
has been opened in debate by honorable Senators. What I have to say
will be on the precise question before the Senate, and nothing else.
That question, as I understand it, is on the amendment proposed by my
colleague [Mr. DAVIS], according to which the Act of 1842 is
to be so far modified, that the President, in his discretion, may place
over the armories persons not of the army,--leaving it, therefore, to
his judgment whether the superintendent shall be a military man or a
civilian. This is all.

The Senate is exhorted not to act precipitately. But the character
of this proposition excludes all idea of precipitation. We do not
determine absolutely that the system shall be changed, but simply that
it may be changed in the discretion of the President. This discretion,
which will be exercised only after ample inquiry, stands in the way of
all precipitation; and this is my answer to the Senator from Illinois

Again, it is urged, that under a military head the armories are better
administered than they would be under a civil head, and that the
arms are better and cheaper; and here my friend from South Carolina,
who sits before me [Mr. BUTLER], dwelt with his accustomed
glow upon the success with which this manufacture is conducted at
the national armories, and the extent to which it is recognized in
Europe. But, Sir, in the precise question before you the merits of the
armories are not involved. We do not undertake to judge the military
superintendents or their works. The determination of this question is
referred to the President; and this is my answer to the Senator from
South Carolina.

The objections to this amendment of my colleague, then, seem to
disappear. But there are two distinct arguments in its favor, which, at
the present moment, do not seem to me susceptible of any answer.

In the first place, there are complaints against the existing system,
which ought to be heard. A memorial from five hundred legal voters of
Springfield, now on your table, bears testimony to them. Letters to
myself and others, from persons whose opinions I am bound to regard,
set them forth sometimes in very strong language. The administration of
the arsenal at Springfield is commended by many; but there are others
who judge it differently. As now conducted, it is sometimes represented
to be the seat of oppressive conduct, and the occasion of heart-burning
and strife, often running into local politics. In the eyes of some this
arsenal is little better than a sore on that beautiful town. Now on
these complaints and allegations I express no opinion. I do not affirm
their truth or untruth. What I know of the superintendent makes it
difficult for me to believe that anything unjust, oppressive, or hard
can proceed from him. But the whole case justifies inquiry at least,
and such will be secured by the proposition before the Senate. This is
the smallest thing we can do.

This proposition is enforced by another consideration which seems to me
entitled to weight. I have nothing to say now on the general question
of reducing the army or modifying the existing military system. But
I do affirm, confidently, that the genius of our institutions favors
civil life rather than military life,--and that, in harmony with this,
it is our duty, whenever the public interests will permit, to limit
and restrict the sphere of military influence. This is not a military
monarchy, where the soldier is supreme, but a republic, where the
soldier yields to the civilian. But the law, as it now stands, gives to
the soldier an absolute preference in a service which is not military,
and which, from its nature, belongs to civil life. The manufacture of
arms is a mechanical pursuit, and, for myself, I can see no reason why
it should not be placed in charge of one bred to the business. Among
the intelligent mechanics of Massachusetts there are many fully fit to
be at the head of the arsenal at Springfield; but by the existing law
all these are austerely excluded from any such trust. The idea which
has fallen from so many Senators, that the superintendent of an armory
ought to be a military man, that a military man only is competent, or
even that a military man is more competent than a civilian, seems to me
as illogical as the jocular fallacy of Dr. Johnson, that he "who drives
fat oxen should himself be fat."



                                             WASHINGTON, March 26, 1853.

    Dear Sir,--I cannot promise myself the pleasure of being in Rhode
    Island at the time you propose, and am therefore constrained to
    decline the invitation with which you have honored me.

    But let me assure you, that, in all our political contests, I see
    no question comparable in practical importance, as surely there is
    none equal in moral grandeur, to that which is presented by the
    Free Democracy, and which now enlists your sympathies.

    Both the old parties unite in upholding Slavery. It becomes all
    good citizens to unite in upholding Freedom; nor should any one
    believe that his single vote may not exert an influence on the

    Believe me, dear Sir, faithfully yours,

    GEORGE L. CLARKE, Chairman of the State Central Committee of the
    Free Democracy of Rhode Island.


                SESSIONS OF THE SENATE, APRIL 6, 1853.

The following resolution was submitted by Mr. Chase, of Ohio.

    "_Resolved_, That all sessions and all proceedings of the Senate
    shall be public and open, except when matters communicated in
    confidence by the President shall be received and considered,
    and in such other cases as the Senate by resolution from time to
    time shall specially order; and so much of the thirty-eighth,
    thirty-ninth, and fortieth rules as may be inconsistent with this
    rule is hereby rescinded."

In the debate which ensued, Mr. Sumner spoke as follows.

Mr. President,--Party allusions and party considerations have been
brought to bear upon this question. I wish to regard it for a moment in
the light of the Constitution, and in the spirit of our institutions.
In the Constitution there is no injunction of secrecy on any of the
proceedings of the Senate; nor is there any requirement of publicity.
To the Senate is left the determination of its rules of proceeding.
Thus abstaining from all regulation of this matter, the framers of
the Constitution obviously regarded it as in all respects within the
discretion of the Senate, to be exercised from time to time as it
thinks best.

The Senate possesses three important functions: _first_, the
legislative or parliamentary power, where it acts concurrently with
the House of Representatives, as well as the President; _secondly_,
the diplomatic power, or that of "advice and consent" to treaties with
foreign countries in concurrence with the President; and, _thirdly_,
the executive power, or that of "advice and consent" to nominations
by the President for offices under the Constitution. I say nothing
of another, rarely called into activity, the sole power to try

At the first organization of the Government, the proceedings of the
Senate, whether in legislation or on treaties or nominations, were
with closed doors. In this respect legislative business and executive
business were alike. This continued down to the second session of the
Third Congress, in 1794, when, in pursuance of a formal resolution,
the galleries were opened so long as the Senate were engaged in their
legislative capacity, unless where, in the opinion of the Senate,
secrecy was required; and this rule has continued ever since. Here was
an exercise of discretion, in obvious harmony with public sentiment and
the spirit of our institutions.

The change now proposed goes still further. It opens the doors
on all occasions, whether legislative or executive, except when
specially ordered otherwise. The Senator from South Carolina [Mr.
BUTLER] says that the Senate is a confidential body, and
should be ready to receive confidential communications from the
President. But this will still be the case, if we adopt the resolution
now submitted to us. The limitation proposed seems adequate to all
exigencies, while the general rule will be publicity. Executive
sessions with closed doors, shrouded from the public gaze and public
criticism, constitute an exceptional part of our system, too much in
harmony with the proceedings of other Governments less liberal in
character. The genius of our institutions requires publicity. The
ancient Roman, who bade his architect so to construct his house that
his guests and all that he did could be seen by the world, is a fit
model for the American people.


              LETTER TO LEWIS TAPPAN, ESQ., MAY 17, 1853.

                                                   BOSTON, May 17, 1853.

    Dear Sir,--I know Mr. Schmidt by the good name he has won, and I
    have also had the pleasure of making his personal acquaintance.
    I understand him to be a scholar, believing in the demand which
    Liberty in our country now makes upon every citizen. Thus
    endowed in mind and character, he will address his compatriots
    from Germany, in their own language, with persuasive power. I
    trust he will find the opportunity he covets; and I know of none
    which promises better than his present plan of a Weekly German
    Antislavery Newspaper at Washington.

    The number of persons to be addressed by such a journal is very
    large; and they should be easy converts. The German emigrant who
    is not against Slavery here leads us to doubt the sincerity of his
    opposition to the Tyranny he has left behind in his native land.

    Believe me, dear Sir,
    faithfully yours,




                   MASSACHUSETTS,[2] JUNE 21, 1853.

Propositions of amendment on the general subject of the Militia being
under consideration in Committee of the Whole, Mr. Sumner spoke as

I should like to call the attention of the Committee to the precise
question on which we are to vote. This does not, as it seems to me,
properly open the discussion to which we have been listening. I do not
understand that it involves the topics introduced by my friend opposite
[Mr. WILSON],--the present condition of Europe, the prospects
of the liberal cause in that quarter of the globe, or the extent to
which that cause may be affected by a contemporaneous movement for
peace. Nor do I understand that the important considerations introduced
by the gentleman on my right [Mr. WHITNEY, of Boylston],
regarding the extent to which Government may be intrusted with the
power of the sword, can materially influence our decision. I put these
things aside at this time.

    [2] The members of this Convention were not required to have their
    domiciles in the places which they represented. Mr. Sumner sat as
    member for Marshfield, by which place he was chosen while absent
    from the State.

The question is on the final passage of the fifteen resolutions
reported by the Committee on the Militia. And here let me adopt a
suggestion dropped by my friend opposite [Mr. WILSON]. He
regretted, if I understood him, that this whole subject was not
compressed into one or two resolutions. Am I right?

MR. WILSON. The gentleman is correct.

MR. SUMNER. I agree with him. I regret that it was not
compressed into one or two resolutions. I object to these resolutions
for several reasons. In the first place, there are too many; in
the second place, at least two of them seem to be an assumption of
power belonging to Congress, and therefore at least of doubtful
constitutionality; and, in the third place, because twelve of them
undertake to control matters which it were better to leave with the

On the formation of the Constitution of Massachusetts, in 1780, it was
natural that our fathers should introduce details with regard to the
militia and its organization. The Constitution of the United States had
not then been made. But since the establishment of this Constitution
the whole condition of the militia is changed. Among the powers
expressly given to Congress is the power "to provide for organizing,
arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part
of them as may be employed in the service of the United States,
_reserving_ to the States respectively the appointment of the officers,
and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress." And Congress has proceeded to exercise this
power by the organization of a national militia. Whatever might have
been the original inducement to multiform provisions on this subject in
the Constitution of Massachusetts, none such exists at this day, and
it is impolitic at least to introduce them.

I fear that they are more than impolitic. I will not argue here the
question of Constitutional Law; but I appeal to the better judgment
of my professional brethren--and I am happy to see some of them
lingering at this late hour--that any attempt on the part of the
State to interfere, in any way, by addition or subtraction, with
the organization of the national militia, is an experiment which we
should not introduce into the permanent text of our organic law.
If the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States on the
powers of Congress are to prevail, then, it seems to me, any such
assumption, in a case where the original power of Congress is clear,
will be unconstitutional and void. In the famous case of _Prigg_
v. _Pennsylvania_, after an elaborate discussion at the bar, all
State legislation on the subject of fugitive slaves was declared
unconstitutional and void, while Congress is recognized as the sole
depository of power on this subject. According to my recollection, it
was expressly held that legislation by Congress excluded all State
legislation on the same subject, whether to control, qualify, or
_superadd_ to the remedy enacted by Congress. I commend gentlemen, now
so swift with these provisions, to the study of this precedent. It is
comparatively recent; and the principle of interpretation which it
establishes is applicable to State laws on the militia, even though
entirely inapplicable to State laws on fugitive slaves,--for the simple
reason, that in the former case the original power of Congress is
clear, while in the latter it is denied.

But the States are not without power over the militia. In the very
grant to Congress is a reservation to them as follows: "reserving
to the States respectively the appointment of the officers, and
the authority of training the militia according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress." And here is precisely what the States can do.
They may appoint the officers and train the militia.

Now, Sir, the first two resolutions before us transcend the powers of
the State. They touch the enrolment and organization of the militia,
and on this account are an assumption of power forbidden by the
principle to which I have referred. The other thirteen resolutions,
with the exception of the seventh, are in the nature of a military
code, concerning the choice of officers, all of which should be left to
the action of the Legislature.

In conformity with these views, Mr. Chairman, and in the hope of
presenting a proposition on which the Convention may unite, I propose
to strike out all after the preamble and insert two resolutions, as

    ART. 1. The Governor shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army
    and Navy of the State, and the Militia thereof, excepting when
    these forces shall be actually in the service of the United
    States,--and shall have power to call out the same to aid in the
    execution of the laws, to suppress insurrection, and to repel

    ART. 2. The appointment of officers and the training of the Militia
    shall be regulated in such manner as may hereafter be deemed
    expedient by the Legislature; and all persons, who from scruples
    of conscience shall be averse to bearing arms, shall be excused on
    such conditions as shall hereafter be prescribed by law.

The first of these resolutions is identical with the seventh
resolution of the Committee. The second provides for the exercise by
the Legislature of powers expressly reserved to the States over the
appointment of officers and the training of the militia; and taking
advantage of the Act of Congress which allows the States to determine
who shall be exempted from military duty, it plants in the text of the
Constitution a clause by which this immunity is secured to all persons
who from scruples of conscience are averse to bearing arms. I believe
we cannot go far beyond these without doing too much, while these seem
to me enough.


                     MASSACHUSETTS, JUNE 22, 1853.

On 22d June the following resolution was brought forward by Mr.

    "_Resolved_, That no distinction shall ever be made, in the
    organization of the volunteer militia of this Commonwealth, on
    account of color or race."

On this proposition Mr. Sumner spoke as follows.

I HAVE a suggestion for my friend opposite [Mr. WILSON], in
regard to the form of his proposition, which, if he accepts it, will,
as it seems to me, absolutely remove his proposition from the criticism
of my most eloquent friend before me [Mr. CHOATE], and from
the criticism of other gentlemen who have addressed the Convention.
I suggest to strike out the word "militia," and substitute the words
"military companies," so that his proposition will read, "that in the
organization of the volunteer military companies of the Commonwealth
there shall be no distinction of color or race."

    MR. WILSON. I accept the suggestion, and will amend my proposition

MR. SUMNER. Now the proposition, as amended, I assert, is
absolutely consistent with the Constitution of the United States, and,
I believe, in conformity with the public sentiment of Massachusetts.

A brief inquiry will show that it is consistent with the Constitution
of the United States, and in no respect interferes with the
organization of the National Militia. That Constitution provides for
organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and gives Congress
full power over the subject,--in which particular, be it observed, it
is clearly distinguishable from that of fugitive slaves, over whom no
such power is given. To be more explicit, I will read the clause. It
is found in the long list of enumerated powers of Congress, and is as
follows: "The Congress shall have power to provide for organizing,
arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part
of them as may be employed in the service of the United States,
reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the officers,
and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress." And then, at the close of the section, it is
further declared, that Congress shall have power "to make _all laws
which shall be necessary and proper_ for carrying into execution the
foregoing powers."

In pursuance of this power, Congress has proceeded, by various laws,
"to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and
for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of
the United States." The earliest of these laws, still in force, is
entitled "An act more effectually to provide for the national defence,
by _establishing an uniform_ militia throughout the United States."[3]
This was followed by several acts in addition. Congress, then, has
undertaken to exercise the power of "organizing" the militia under the

Here the question arises, to what extent, if any, this power, when
already exercised by Congress, is exclusive in character. Among the
powers delegated to Congress there may be some not for the time being
exercised. For instance, there is the power "to fix the standard of
weights and measures." Practically, this has never been exercised by
Congress; but it is left to each State within its own jurisdiction.
On the other hand, there is a power, belonging to the same group, "to
establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the
United States," which, when exercised by Congress, has been held so far
exclusive as to avoid at once all the bankrupt and insolvent laws of
the several States.

    [3] Act of May 8, 1792, ch. 33.

I might go over all the powers of Congress, and find constant
illustration of the subject. For instance, there is the power
"to establish an uniform rule of naturalization," on which Chief
Justice Marshall once remarked, "That the power of naturalization is
_exclusively_ in Congress does not seem to be, and certainly ought not
to be, controverted."[4] There is the power "to regulate commerce with
foreign nations and among the several States," which was early declared
by the Supreme Court to be exclusive, so as to prevent the exercise of
any part of it by the States.[5] There is the power over patents and
copyrights, which is also regarded as exclusive. So also is the power
"to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas,
and offences against the Law of Nations." So also is that other power,
"to establish post-offices and post-roads." All these powers, as in the
case of the power over the National Militia, have been exercised by
Congress, and even if not absolutely exclusive in original character,
have become so by exercise.

    [4] Chirac _v._ Chirac, 2 Wheaton, 269.

    [5] Gibbons _v._ Ogden, 9 Wheaton, 198.

Now, Sir, upon what ground do gentlemen make any discrimination in
the case of the power over the National Militia? I know of none which
seems at all tenable. It is natural that the States should desire to
exercise this power, since it was so important to them before the
Union; but I do not see how any discrimination can be maintained at
the present time. Whatever may have been the original importance
of the militia to each State, yet, when the National Constitution
was formed, and Congress exercised the power delegated to it over
this subject, the militia of the several States was absorbed into
one uniform body, organized, armed, and disciplined as the National
Militia. To the States respectively, according to the express language
of the Constitution, was left "the appointment of the officers, and
the authority of training the militia according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress." To this may be added the implied power of
"governing" them when in the service of the State. This is all. The
distinct specification of certain powers, as reserved to the States,
excludes the States from the exercise of all other powers not specified
or clearly implied. In other words, they are excluded from all power
over the "organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia," at least
after Congress has undertaken to enact laws for this purpose.

The history of the adoption of the several parts of this clause in the
National Convention reflects light upon its true meaning. The first
part, in regard to organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia,
was passed by a vote of nine States against two; the next, reserving
the appointment of officers to the States, after an ineffectual attempt
to amend it by confining the appointment to officers under the rank
of general officers, was passed without a division; and the last,
reserving to the States the authority to train the militia according
to the discipline prescribed by Congress, was passed by a vote of
seven States against four.[6] It seems, then, that there was strong
opposition in the Convention, even to the secondary reservation of "the
authority of training the militia." But this power is not reserved
unqualifiedly. The States are to train the militia "according to the
_discipline prescribed_ by Congress": not according to any discipline
determined by the States, or by the States concurrently with the
National Government, but absolutely _according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress_,--nor more, nor less: thus distinctly
recognizing the essentially exclusive character of the legislation of
Congress on this subject.

    [6] Madison's Debates, August 23, 1787.

This interpretation derives confirmation from the manner in which
the militia of England was constituted or organized at the time of
the adoption of the National Constitution. To the crown was given
"the _sole right_ to govern and command them," though they were
"officered" by the Lord Lieutenant, the Deputy Lieutenants, and other
principal landholders of the county.[7] The Commentaries of Sir William
Blackstone, from which this description is drawn, were familiar to
the members of the Convention; and it is reasonable to suppose, that,
in the distribution of powers between the National Government and the
States, on this subject, the peculiar arrangement prevailing in the
mother country was not disregarded.

    [7] Blackstone, Commentaries, I. 412, 413.

If it should be said, that the adoption of this conclusion would
affect the character of many laws enacted by States, and thus
far recognized as ancillary to the National Militia, it may be
replied, that the possibility of these consequences cannot justly
influence our conclusions on a question which must be determined
by acknowledged principles of Constitutional Law. In obedience to
these same principles, the Supreme Court, in the case of _Prigg_ v.
_Pennsylvania_, after asserting a power over fugitive slaves which
is controverted, has proceeded to annul a large number of statutes
in different States. Mr. Justice Wayne in this case said, "that the
legislation by Congress upon the provision, as the supreme law of the
land, _excludes all State legislation upon the same subject_,--and
that no State can pass any law or regulation, or interpose such as
may have been a law or regulation when the Constitution of the United
States was ratified, _to superadd to_, control, qualify, or impede
a remedy enacted by Congress for the delivery of fugitive slaves to
the parties to whom their service or labor is due."[8] Without the
sanction of any express words in the Constitution, and chiefly, if not
solely, impressed by the importance of consulting "unity of purpose or
uniformity of operation"[9] in the legislation with regard to fugitive
slaves, the Court assumed a power over this subject, and then, as a
natural incident to this assumption, excluded the States from all
sovereignty in the premises.

    [8] Prigg _v._ Pennsylvania, 16 Peters, 636.

    [9] Ibid., 624.

If this rule be applicable to the pretended power over fugitive slaves,
it is still more applicable to the power over the militia which nobody
questions. Besides, I know of no power which so absolutely requires
what has been regarded as an important criterion, "unity of purpose or
uniformity of operation." No uniform military organization can spring
from opposite or inharmonious systems, and all systems proceeding from
different sources are liable to be opposite or inharmonious.

Now, Sir, let us apply this reasoning to the matter in hand. In
Massachusetts there exists, and has for a long time existed, an
anomalous system, familiarly and loosely described as the Volunteer
Militia, not composed absolutely of those enrolled under the laws of
the United States, but a smaller, more select, and peculiar body. It
cannot be doubted that the State, by virtue of its _police powers_
within its own borders, has power to constitute or organize a body of
_volunteers_ to aid in enforcing its laws. But it does not follow that
it has power to constitute or organize a body of volunteers who shall
be regarded as part of the National Militia. And, Sir, I make bold
to say that the volunteer militia--I prefer to call it the volunteer
military companies--cannot be regarded as part of the National Militia.
It is no part of that _uniform militia_ which it was the object of the
early Act of Congress to organize. It may appear to be part of this
system, it may affect to be, but I pronounce it a mistake to suppose
that it is so in any just constitutional sense.

As a local system, disconnected from the National Militia, and not in
any way constrained by its organization, it is within our jurisdiction.
We are free to declare the principles which shall govern it. We
may declare, that, whatever may be the existing law of the United
States with regard to its enrolled militia,--and with this I propose
no interference, because it would be futile,--I say, Massachusetts
may proudly declare that in her own volunteer military companies,
marshalled under her own local laws, there shall be no distinction of
race or color.



                                                   BOSTON, July 1, 1853.

    Dear Sir,--It will not be in my power to unite with the City
    Council of Boston in the approaching celebration of our national
    anniversary; but I beg to assure you that I am not insensible to
    the honor of their invitation.

    The day itself comes full of quickening suggestions, which can need
    no prompting from me. And yet, with your permission, I would gladly
    endeavor to associate at this time one special aspiration with the
    general gladness. Allow me to propose the following toast.

    _The Railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific._--Traversing a
    whole continent, and binding together two oceans, this mighty
    thoroughfare, when completed, will mark an epoch of human progress
    second only to that of our Declaration of Independence. May the day
    soon come!

    Believe me, dear Sir, faithfully yours,


    HON. BENJAMIN SEAVER, Mayor, &c.

                             PROPER BASIS.


Mr. President,--If the question under consideration were less important
in its bearings, or less embarrassed by conflicting opinions, I should
hesitate to break the silence which I have been inclined to preserve
in this Convention. In taking the seat to which I was unexpectedly
chosen while absent from the Commonwealth, in another sphere of duty,
I felt that it would be becoming in me, and that my associates here
would recognize the propriety of my course, considering the little
opportunity I had enjoyed of late to make myself acquainted with the
sentiments of the people on proposed changes, especially in comparison
with friends to whom this movement is mainly due,--on these accounts,
as also on other accounts, I felt that it would be becoming in me
to interfere as little as possible with these debates. To others I
willingly left the part which I might have taken.

And now, while I think, that, since our labors began, weeks, even
months, have passed, and that the term is already reached, when,
according to the just expectations and earnest desires of many, they
should be closed, I feel that acts rather than words, that votes
rather than speeches,--at least such as I might hope to make,--are
needed here, to the end that the Convention, seasonably and effectively
completing its beneficent work, may itself be hailed as a Great Act in
the history of the Commonwealth.

But the magnitude of this question justifies debate; and allow me to
add, that the State, our common mother, may feel proud of the ability,
the eloquence, and the good temper with which it has thus far been
conducted. Gentlemen have addressed the Convention in a manner which
would grace any assembly that it has been my fortune to know, at home
or abroad. Sir, the character of these proceedings gives new assurance
for the future. The alarmist, who starts at every suggestion of change,
and the croaker, who augurs constant evil from the irresistible
tendency of events, must confess that there are men here to whose
intelligence and patriotism, under God, the interests of our beloved
Commonwealth may well be intrusted. Yes, Sir, Massachusetts is safe.
Whatever the result even of the present important question, whichsoever
scheme of representation may be adopted, Massachusetts will continue to
prosper as in times past.

In the course of human history, two States, small in territory,
have won enviable renown by genius and devotion to Freedom, so that
their very names awaken echoes: I refer to Athens and Scotland. But
Athens,--even at Salamis, repelling the Persian host, or afterwards,
in the golden days of Pericles,--and Scotland, throughout her long
struggle with England, down to the very Act of Union at the beginning
of the last century,--were each inferior, in population and wealth,
to Massachusetts at this moment. It belongs to us, according to our
capacities, to see that this comparison does not end here. Others may
believe that our duty is best accomplished by standing still. I like
to believe that it can be completely done only by constant, incessant
advance in all things,--in knowledge, in science, in art, and lastly in
government itself, destined to be the bright consummation, on earth, of
all knowledge, all science, and all art.

       *       *       *       *       *

In framing our Constitution anew, we encounter a difficulty which
at its original formation, in 1780, perplexed our fathers,--which
perplexed the Convention of 1820,--which with its perplexities
has haunted successive Legislatures and the whole people down to
this day,--and which now perplexes us. This difficulty occurs in
determining the Representative System, and proceeds mainly from the
corporate claims of towns. From an early period in the State, towns,
both great and small, with slight exceptions, have sent one or more
representatives to the Legislature. In primitive days, when towns
were few and the whole population was scanty, this arrangement was
convenient at least, if not equitable. But now, with the increased
number of towns, and the unequal distribution of a large population, it
has become inconvenient, if not inequitable. The existing system does
not work well, and we are summoned to reform it.

And here, Sir, let me congratulate the Convention, that, on this most
important question, transcending every other, all of us, without
distinction of party, are in favor of reform. All are Reformers. The
existing system finds no advocate on this floor. Nobody here will
do it reverence. If the call of the Convention were not already
amply vindicated, if there were doubt anywhere of its expediency,
the remarkable concurrence of all sides in condemning the existing
representative system shows that we have not come together without

The orders of the day have been filled with various plans to meet the
exigency. Most of these aimed to preserve the corporate representation
of towns; some of them, at least one from the venerable gentleman from
Taunton [Mr. MORTON], and another from the venerable gentleman
from Boston [Mr. HALE], favored an opposite system, hitherto
untried among us, and proposed to divide the State into districts.
The question has been between these hostile propositions; and that is
the question which I propose to consider, in the light of history and
abstract principle, as also with reference to present exigencies. I
shall speak, _first_, of the origin and nature of the Representative
System, and its proper character under American institutions; and,
_secondly_, I shall endeavor to indicate the principles which may
conduct us to a practical conclusion in the present debate. Entering
upon this service at so late a stage of the discussion, I feel like a
tardy gleaner in a well-traversed field; but I shall proceed.


I begin with the Origin and Nature of the Representative System. This
is an invention of modern times. In antiquity there were republics and
democracies, but there was no Representative System. Rulers were chosen
by the people, as in many Commonwealths; senators were designated by
the king or by the censors, as in Rome; ambassadors or legates were
sent to a Federal Council, as to the Assembly of the Amphictyons; but
in no ancient state was any body of men ever constituted by the people
to represent them in the administration of their internal affairs.
In Athens, the people met in public assembly, and directly acted for
themselves on all questions, foreign or domestic. This was possible
there, as the State was small, and the Assembly seldom exceeded five
thousand citizens,--a large town-meeting, or mass-meeting, we might
call it,--not inaptly termed "that fierce democratie" of Athens.

But where the territory was extensive, and the population scattered and
numerous, there could be no assembly of the whole body of citizens. To
meet this precise difficulty the Representative System was devised. By
a machinery so obvious that we are astonished it was not employed in
the ancient Commonwealths, the people, though scattered and numerous,
are gathered, by their chosen representatives, into a small and
deliberative assembly, where, without tumult or rashness, they consider
and determine all questions which concern them. In every representative
body, properly constituted, the people are practically present.

Nothing is invented and perfected at the same time; and this system is
no exception to the rule. In England, where it reached its earliest
vigor, it has been, and still is, anomalous in character. The existing
divisions of the country, composed of boroughs, cities, and counties,
were summoned by the king's writ to send representatives, with little
regard to equality of any kind, whether of population, taxation, or
territory. Their existence as corporate units was the prevailing title.
The irregular operation of the system, increasing with lapse of time,
provoked a cry for Parliamentary Reform, which, after a struggle of
more than fifty years, ending in a debate that occupied the House of
Commons more than fifty days, was finally carried; but, though many
abuses and inequalities were removed, yet the anomalous representation
by counties, cities, and boroughs still continued. And this, Sir, is
the English system.

Pass now to the American system. I say American system,--for to our
country belongs the honor of first giving to the world the idea of
a system which, discarding corporate representation, founded itself
absolutely on equality. Let us acknowledge with gratitude that from
England have come five great and ever memorable institutions, by
which Liberty is secured: I mean the Trial by Jury,--the writ of
_Habeas Corpus_,--the Representative System,--the Rules and Orders
of Debate,--and, lastly, that benign principle which pronounces
_that its air is too pure for a slave to breathe_: perhaps the five
most important political establishments of modern times. This glory
cannot be taken from the mother country. But America has added to
the Representative System another principle, without which it is
incomplete, and which, in the course of events, is destined, I cannot
doubt, to find acceptance wherever the Representative System is
employed: I mean the _principle of equality_.

Here in Massachusetts, home of the ideas out of which sprang the
Revolution, this principle had its earliest expression. And it is not
a little curious that this very expression was suggested by the two
evils of which we now complain,--namely, a practical inequality of
representation, and a too numerous House.

In the earliest days of the Colony, while the number of freemen was
small and gathered in one neighborhood, there was no occasion for any
representative body. All could then meet in public assembly, as at
ancient Athens; in fact, they did so meet, and in this way discharged
the duties of legislation. But as the freemen became scattered and
numerous, it was found grievous to compel the personal attendance
of the whole body, and, as a substitute, the towns were empowered,
in 1634, to assemble in General Court by deputies.[10] Here was the
establishment of the Representative System in Massachusetts, which
has continued, without interruption, down to our day. The size of the
House and the relative representation of towns have varied at different
times; but the great principle of representation, by which a substitute
is provided for the whole body of the people, has constantly been
preserved. Still a feeling has long prevailed that the system had not
yet received its final form, while, with more or less precision, has
been discerned that principle of equality which is essential to its

    [10] Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts, Vol. I. pp. 30,
    39. Charters and General Laws of the Colony and Province of
    Massachusetts Bay, Appendix, p. 713. Records of the Governor and
    Company of the Massachusetts Bay, Vol. I. pp. 116-118.

Among the acts of the first General Court of the Revolution was
one passed in the summer of 1775, after the Battle of Bunker Hill,
"declaratory of the right of the towns and districts to elect
and depute a representative or representatives to serve for and
represent them in the General Court." By this act all provisions of
previous acts denying to certain towns and districts the right of
sending a representative were declared null and void, and every town
containing thirty qualified voters was authorized to send one.[11]
The immediate consequence was the two evils to which I have already
referred,--namely, inequality of representation, and a too numerous
House: but the whole number of representatives which aroused the
complaints of that day was three hundred and five.

    [11] Charters and General Laws of Massachusetts Bay, Appendix, pp.
    796, 797.

These grievances were the occasion of a Convention of delegates from
the towns of Essex County, at Ipswich, April 25, 1776, where was
adopted a Memorial, afterwards presented and enforced at the bar of
the House by John Lowell. In this remarkable document occurs the
first development, if not the first proclamation, of the principle of
equality in representation. Here, Sir, is the fountain and origin of an
idea full of strength, beauty, and truth. Listen to the words of these
Revolutionary fathers.

    "If this representation is equal, it is perfect; as far as it
    deviates from this equality, so far it is imperfect, and approaches
    to that state of slavery; and the want of a just weight in
    representation is an evil nearly akin to being totally destitute of
    it. An inequality of representation has been justly esteemed the
    cause which has in a great degree sapped the foundation of the once
    admired, but now tottering, fabric of the British Empire; and we
    fear, that, if a different mode of representation from the present
    is not adopted in this Colony, our Constitution will not continue
    to that late period of time which the glowing heart of every true
    American now anticipates....

    "We cannot realize that your Honors, our wise political fathers,
    have adverted to the present inequality of representation in this
    Colony, to the growth of the evil, or to the fatal consequences
    which will probably ensue from the continuance of it.

    "Each town and district in the Colony is by some late regulations
    permitted to send one representative to the General Court, if
    such town or district consists of thirty freeholders and other
    inhabitants qualified to elect; if of one hundred and twenty,
    to send two. No town is permitted to send more than two, except
    the town of Boston, which may send four. There are some towns
    and districts in the Colony in which there are between thirty
    and forty freeholders, and other inhabitants qualified to elect,
    only; there are others besides Boston in which there are more than
    five hundred. The first of these may send one representative; the
    latter can send only two. If these towns as to property are to
    each other in the same respective proportion, is it not clear to
    a mathematical demonstration that the same number of inhabitants
    of equal property in the one town have but an _eighth_ part of the
    weight in representation with the other?--and with what colorable
    pretext? we would decently inquire."[12]

    [12] From the original MS. in the Massachusetts Archives, Vol. 156.

Under the pressure of this powerful state paper the obnoxious law
was repealed, and one "providing for a _more equal_ representation"
substituted; but the evil was only partially remedied. Then followed
an unsuccessful effort to make a Constitution in 1777-8, which failed
partly through dissatisfaction with its disposal of this very question.
The County of Essex was again heard in another document, now known as
the "Essex Result," and among the most able and instructive in our
history, from which I take the following important words.

    "The rights of representation should be so equally and impartially
    distributed, that the representatives should have the same views
    and interests with the people at large. They should think, feel,
    and act like them, and, in fine, should be an exact miniature of
    their constituents. They should be, if we may use the expression,
    the whole body politic, with all its property, rights, and
    privileges reduced to a smaller scale, _every part being diminished
    in just proportion_. To pursue the metaphor, if, in adjusting the
    representation of freemen, _any ten are reduced into one, all the
    other tens should be alike reduced; or, if any hundred should be
    reduced to one, all the other hundreds should have just the same

    [13] Result of the Convention of Delegates holden at Ipswich, in
    the County of Essex, who were deputed to take into Consideration
    the Constitution and Form of Government proposed by the Convention
    of the State of Massachusetts Bay, (Newburyport, 1778,) pp. 29, 30.
    See also Memoir of Theophilus Parsons, by his Son, Appendix, pp.
    359-402, where this remarkable paper will be found.

Mark well these words. Here is the Rule of Three, for the first time
in history, applied to representation. This, Sir, is not the English
system. I call it, with pride, the American system.

In another place the document proceeds as follows.

    "The rights of representation should also be held sacred and
    inviolable, and for this purpose representation should be fixed
    upon known and easy principles; and the Constitution should
    make provision that recourse should constantly be had to those
    principles within a very small period of years, to rectify the
    errors that will creep in through lapse of time or alteration of

    [14] Result, p. 33.

Then, distinctly, it proposes a system of districts, in words which I

    "In forming the first body of legislators, let regard be had only
    to the representation of persons, not of property. This body
    we call the House of Representatives. Ascertain the number of
    representatives. It ought not to be so large as will induce an
    enormous expense to Government, nor too unwieldy to deliberate with
    coolness and attention, nor so small as to be unacquainted with
    the situation and circumstances of the State. One hundred will be
    large enough, and perhaps it may be too large. We are persuaded
    that any number of men exceeding that cannot do business with such
    expedition and propriety as a smaller number could. However, let
    that at present be considered as the number. Let us have the number
    of freemen in the several counties in the State, and let these
    representatives be apportioned among the respective counties in
    proportion to their number of freemen.... As we have the number of
    freemen in the county, and the number of county representatives,
    by dividing the greater by the less we have the number of freemen
    entitled to send one representative. Then add as many adjoining
    towns together as contain that number of freemen, or as near as may
    be, and _let those towns form one district_, and proceed in this
    manner through the county."[15]

    [15] Result, pp. 49-51.

       *       *       *       *       *

    MR. HALLETT, for Wilbraham (interrupting). Will the gentleman state
    who was the author of that Essex paper?

    MR. SUMNER. Theophilus Parsons is the reputed author of the
    document known as the "Essex Result."

    MR. HALLETT. Yes, Sir, it was Theophilus Parsons who was the author
    of that, and John Lowell of the other; and good old Tory doctrines
    they are.

    MR. SUMNER. If these be Tory doctrines, I must think well of

Sir, notwithstanding these appeals, sustained with unsurpassed ability,
the American system failed to be adopted in the Constitution of 1780.
The anomalous English system was still continued; but, as if to
cover the departure from principle, it was twice declared that the
representation of the people should be "founded upon the principle of
equality." This declaration still continues as our guide, while the
irregular operation of the existing system, with its inequalities and
large numbers, is a beacon of warning.

Following closely upon these efforts in Massachusetts, this principle
found an illustrious advocate in Thomas Jefferson. In his "Notes on
Virginia," written in 1781, he sharply exposes the inequalities of
representation;[16] and a short time afterwards, when the victory
at Yorktown had rescued Virginia from invasion and secured the
independence of the United Colonies, he prepared the draught of a
Constitution for his native State, which, disowning the English system,
and recognizing the very principle that had failed in Massachusetts,
expressly provided that "the number of delegates which each county
may send shall be _in proportion to the number of its qualified
electors_; and the whole number of delegates for the State shall be so
_proportioned to the whole number of qualified electors in it_, that
they shall never exceed three hundred nor be fewer than one hundred....
If any county be reduced in its qualified electors below the number
authorized to send one delegate, let it be annexed to some adjoining
county."[17] This proposition, which is substantially the Rule of
Three, did not find favor in Virginia, which State, like Massachusetts,
was not yet prepared for such a charter of electoral equality; but it
still stands as a monument at once of its author and of the true system
of representation.

    [16] Query XIII.

    [17] Notes on Virginia, Appendix, No. II.: Works, Vol. VIII., p.

The American system, though first showing itself in Massachusetts and
Virginia, found its earliest practical exemplification a few years
later in the Constitution of the United States. By the Articles of
Confederation each State was entitled to send to Congress not less
than two nor more than seven representatives, and in the determination
of questions each State had one vote only. This plan was rejected
by the framers of the new Constitution, and another was adopted,
till then untried in the history of the world. It was declared that
"representatives and direct taxes shall be _apportioned_ among the
several States which may be included within this Union _according to
their respective numbers_": not according to property, not according
to territory, not according to any corporate rights, _but according to
their respective numbers_. And this system has continued down to our
day, and will continue immortal as the Union itself. Here is the Rule
of Three actually incorporated into the Representative System of the
United States.

An attempt has been made to render this system odious, or at least
questionable, by charging upon it something of the excesses of the
great French Revolution. Even if this rule had prevailed at that time
in France, it would be bold to charge upon it any such consequences.
But it is a mistake to suppose that it was then adopted in that
country. The republican Constitution of 1791 was not founded upon
numbers only, but upon numbers, territory, and taxation combined,--a
mixed system, which excluded the true idea of personal equality. At
the peaceful, almost bloodless, Revolution of 1848, under the lead
of Lamartine, a National Assembly was convened on the simple basis
of population, and one representative was allowed for every forty
thousand inhabitants. Here, indeed, is the Rule of Three; but the idea
originally came from our country.

    MR. HALLETT. Will the gentleman for Marshfield allow me to make one
    more inquiry?

    MR. SUMNER. Certainly.

    MR. HALLETT. Do I understand the gentleman to say that the Rule of
    Three was applied to representation in the United States?

    MR. SUMNER. I mean to say that the representation in the lower
    House of Congress was apportioned according to numbers; and this is
    the Rule of Three.

A practical question arises here, whether this rule should be applied
to the whole body of population, including women, children, and
unnaturalized foreigners, or to those only who exercise the electoral
franchise,--in other words, to voters. It is probable that the rule
would produce nearly similar results in both cases, as voters, except
in few places, would bear a uniform proportion to the whole population.
But it is easy to determine what the principle of the Representative
System requires. Since its object is to provide a practical substitute
for meetings of the people, it should be founded, in just proportion,
on the numbers of those who, according to our Constitution, can
take part in those meetings,--that is, upon the qualified voters.
The representative body should be a miniature or abridgment of the
electoral body,--in other words, of those allowed to participate in
public affairs. If this conclusion needs authority, it may be found in
the words of Mr. Madison, in the Debates on the National Constitution.
"It has been very properly observed," he says, "that representation is
an expedient by which the meeting of the people themselves is rendered
unnecessary, _and that_ _the representatives ought, therefore, to bear
a proportion to the votes which their constituents, if convened, would
respectively have_."[18]

    [18] Madison's Debates, July 14, 1787, Vol. II. p. 1102.

The Rule of Three, then, applied to voters, seems to me sound; but
whether applied to voters or population, it is the true rule of
representation, and stands on irreversible principles. In my view, it
commends itself to the natural reason so obviously, so instinctively,
that I do not feel disposed to dwell upon it. But since it is called in
question, I shall be excused for saying a few words in its behalf. Its
advantages present themselves in several aspects.

_First._ I put in the front its constant and equal operation throughout
the Commonwealth. Under it, every man will have a representative
each year, and every man will have the same representative power as
every other man. In this respect it recognizes a darling idea of
our institutions, which cannot be disowned without weakening their
foundations. It gives to the great principle of human equality a new
expansion and application. It makes all men, in the enjoyment of the
electoral franchise, whatever their diversities of intelligence,
education, or wealth, or wheresoever they may be within the borders of
the Commonwealth, whether in small town or in populous city, absolutely
equal at the ballot-box.

I know that there are persons, Sir, who do not hesitate to assail the
whole doctrine of the equality of men, as enunciated in our Declaration
of Independence and in our Bill of Rights. In this work two eminent
statesmen of our own country and England have led the way.[19] But it
seems to me, that, if they had chosen to comprehend the meaning of
the principle, much, if not all, of their objection would have been
removed. Very plain it is that men are not born equal in physical
strength or in mental capacity, in beauty of form or health of body.
This is apparent to all, and the difference increases with years.
Diversity or inequality in these respects is the law of creation. But
as God is no respecter of persons, and as all are equal in his sight,
whether rich or poor, whether dwellers in cities or in fields, so are
all equal in natural rights; and it is an absurd declamation--of which
no gentleman in this Convention is guilty--to adduce, in argument
against them, the physical or mental inequalities by which men are
characterized. Now I am not prepared to class the electoral franchise
among inherent, natural rights, common to the whole human family,
without distinction of age, sex, or residence; but I do say, that from
the equality of men, which we so proudly proclaim, we derive a just
rule for its exercise. For myself, I accept this principle, and, just
so far and just so soon as possible, I would be guided by it in the
system of Representation. But there are other reasons still.

    [19] See _ante_, Vol. II. p. 331.

_Secondly._ The Rule of Three, as applied to representation, is
commended by its simplicity. It supersedes all the painful calculations
to which we have been driven, the long agony of mathematics, as it was
called by my friend over the way [Mr. GILES], and is as easy
in application as it is just.

_Thirdly._ This rule is founded in Nature, and not in Art,--on
natural bodies, and not on artificial bodies,--on men, and not on
corporations,--on souls, and not on petty geographical lines. On this
account it may be called a natural rule, and, when once established,
will become fixed and permanent, beyond all change or desire of change.

And, _fourthly_, this rule removes, to every possible extent,
those opportunities of political partiality and calculation, in
the adjustment of representation, which are naturally incident to
any departure from precise rule. It was beautifully said of Law
by the greatest intellect of Antiquity, that it is _mind without
passion_; and this very definition I would extend to a rule which,
with little intervention from human will, is graduated by numbers,
passionless as law itself in the conception of Aristotle. The object
of free institutions is to withdraw all concerns of State, so far
as practicable, from human discretion, and place them under the
shield of human principles, to the end, according to the words of our
Constitution, that there may be "a government of laws, and not of men."
But, just in proportion as we depart from precise rule, it becomes a
government of men, and not of laws.

Such considerations as these, thus briefly expressed, seem to vindicate
this rule of representation. But I would not forget the arguments
adduced against it. These assume two distinct forms: one founded on
the character of our towns and the importance of preserving their
influence; the other founded on the alleged necessity of counteracting
the centralization of power in the cities. Now of these in their order.

And, first, of the importance of preserving our towns. Sir, I yield to
no man in appreciation of the good done by these free municipalities.
The able member for Erving [Mr. GRISWOLD], who began this
debate, the eloquent member for Berlin [Mr. BOUTWELL], and my
excellent friend of many years, the accomplished member for Manchester
[Mr. DANA], in the masterly speeches which they have addressed
to the Convention, attributed no good influence to the towns which I
do not recognize also. With them I agree, cordially, that the towns
of Massachusetts, like the municipalities of Switzerland, have been
schools and nurseries of freedom,--and that in these small bodies men
were early disciplined in those primal duties of citizenship, which, on
a grander scale, are made the foundation of our whole political fabric.
But I cannot go so far as to attribute this remarkable influence to the
assumed fact, that each town by itself was entitled to a representative
in the legislative body. At the time of the Revolution this was the
prerogative of most towns, though not of all; but it cannot be regarded
as the distinctive, essential, life-giving attribute: at most, it was
only an incident.

Sir, the true glory of the towns then was, that they were organized on
the principle of self-government, at a time when that principle was not
generally recognized,--that each town by itself was a little republic,
where the whole body of freemen were voters, with powers of local
legislation, taxation, and administration, and, especially, with power
to choose their own head and all subordinate magistrates. The boroughs
of England have possessed the power to send a member--often two
members--to Parliament; but this has not saved them from corruption;
nor has any person attributed to them, though in the enjoyment of this
franchise, the influence which has proceeded from our municipalities.
The reason is obvious. They were organized under charters from the
crown, by which local government was vested, not in the whole body of
freemen, but in small councils, or select classes, originally nominated
by the crown, and ever afterwards renewing themselves. No such abuse
prevailed in our municipalities; and this political health at home,
Sir, and not the incident of exclusive representation in a distant
Legislature, has been the secret of their strength. I would cherish it

This brings me, in the next place, to the objection founded on
centralization of power in the cities. It is said that wealth,
business, population, and talent, in multitudinous forms, all tend to
the cities, and that the excessive influence of this concentrated mass,
quickened by an active press, by facilities of concert, and by social
appliances, ought to be counterbalanced by allotment to the towns of
representative weight beyond their proportion of numbers. Now, Sir,
while confessing and regretting the present predominance of the cities,
I must be permitted to question the propriety of the proposed remedy.
And here, differing in some respects from friends on both sides, I make
an appeal for candid judgment of what I shall candidly say.

Let us deal fairly by the cities. No student of history can fail to
perceive that they have performed different parts at different stages
of the world. In Antiquity, they were the acknowledged centres of
power, often of tyranny. In the Middle Ages, they became the home of
freedom, and the bridle to feudalism. For this service they should
be gratefully remembered. And now there is another change. The armed
feudalism is overthrown; but it is impossible not to see that it
has yielded to a commercial feudalism, whose seat is in the cities,
and which, in its way, is hardly less selfish and exacting than the
feudalism of the iron hand. My friend, the member for Manchester [Mr.
DANA], was clearly right, when he said that the Boston of
to-day is not the Boston of our fathers. Let me be understood. I make
no impeachment of individuals, but simply indicate those combined
influences proceeding from the potent Spirit of Trade, which, though
unlike that Spirit of the Lord where is Liberty, is not inconsistent
with the most enlarged munificence. I think, while confessing the
abounding charities of the rich men whose eulogy we have heard
more than once in this debate, it must be admitted that those pure
principles which are the breath of the Republic now find their truest
atmosphere in calm retreats, away from the strife of gain and the hot
pavements of crowded streets. Sir, it is not only when we look upon the
fields, hills, and valleys, clad in verdure, and shining with silver
lake or rivulet, that we are ready to exclaim,--

            "God made the country, and man made the town."

But, Sir, while maintaining these opinions, I cannot admit the
argument, that the centralized power of the cities may be counteracted
by degrading them in the scale of representation. This cannot be
purposely done, without departing from fundamental principles, and
overthrowing the presiding doctrine of personal equality. Cities are
but congregations of men; and men exert influence in various ways,--by
the accident of position, the accident of intelligence, the accident
of property, the accident of birth, and, lastly, by the vote. It is
the vote only which is not an accident; and it should be the boast of
Massachusetts, that all men, whatever their accidents, are equal in
their votes.

    Here the hammer of the President fell, as the hour expired; but, by
    unanimous consent, Mr. Sumner proceeded.

The idea of property as a check upon numbers, which on a former
occasion found such favor in this hall, is now rejected in the
adjustment of our representative System. And, Sir, I venture to predict
that the proposition, newly broached in this Commonwealth, to restrain
the cities by curtailment of their just representative power, will
hereafter be as little regarded.


MR. PRESIDENT,--Such is what I have to say on the history and
principles of the Representative System, particularly in the light of
American institutions; and this brings me to the _practical question_
at this moment. I cannot doubt that the District System, as it is
generally called, whereby the representative power will be distributed
in just proportion, according to the Rule of Three, among the voters
of the Commonwealth, is the true system, destined at no distant day
to prevail. And gladly would I see this Convention hasten the day
by presenting it to the people for adoption in the organic law. To
this end I have striven by my votes. But, Sir, I cannot forget what
has passed. The votes already taken show that the Convention is not
prepared for this radical change; and I am assured by gentlemen more
familiar with public sentiment than I can pretend to be, that the
people are not yet prepared for it.

Thus we are brought to the position occupied successively by the
Conventions of 1780 and 1820, each of which, though containing warm
partisans of the District System, shrank from its adoption--as in
Virginia, the early recommendation of Jefferson, and his vehement
support at a later day, have been powerless to produce this important
amendment. John Lowell, who appeared at the bar of the Massachusetts
Legislature in 1776 to vindicate the principle of equality in
representation, and Theophilus Parsons, author of the powerful tract
which proposed to found the Representative System on the Rule of Three,
were both members of the first Convention,--and I know not if the
District System has since had any abler defenders. To these I might
add the great name of John Adams, who early pleaded for equality of
representation, and declared, in words adopted by the Essex Convention,
that the Representative Assembly should be "an exact portrait in
miniature of the people at large."[20] In the Convention of 1820, the
District System was cherished and openly extolled by a distinguished
jurist, at that time a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United
States,--Joseph Story,--whose present fame gives additional importance
to his opinions. And yet the desire of these men failed. The corporate
representation of towns was preserved, and the District System
pronounced impracticable. In the Address put forth by the Convention of
1780, and signed by its President, James Bowdoin, these words may be

    [20] Thoughts on Government: Works, Vol. IV. pp. 195, 205. Essex
    Result, p. 29.

    "You will observe that we have resolved that representation ought
    to be founded on the principle of Equality; but it cannot be
    understood thereby that each town in the Commonwealth shall have
    weight and importance in a just proportion to its numbers and
    property. An exact representation would be unpracticable, even
    in a system of government arising from the state of Nature, and
    much more so in a State already divided into nearly three hundred

    [21] Journal of the Convention, p. 219.

The Convention seem to have recognized the theoretic fitness of
an "exact representation," but did not regard it as feasible in a
State already divided into nearly three hundred corporations. In the
Convention of 1820, Joseph Story, who has been quoted by my eloquent
friend [Mr. CHOATE], used language which, though not so strong
as that of the early Address, has the same result.

    "In the Select Committee, I was in favor of a plan of
    representation in the House founded on population, as the most just
    and equal in its operation. I still retain that opinion. There
    were serious objections against this system, and it was believed
    by others that the towns could not be brought to consent to yield
    up the corporate privileges of representation, which had been
    enjoyed so long, and were so intimately connected with their pride
    and their interests. I felt constrained, therefore, with great
    reluctance, to yield up a favorite plan. I have lived long enough
    to know, that, in any question of government, something is to be
    yielded up on all sides. Conciliation and compromise lie at the
    origin of every free government; and the question never was and
    never can be, what is absolutely best, but what is relatively wise,
    just, and expedient. I have not hesitated, therefore, to support
    the plan of the Select Committee, as one that, on the whole, was
    the best that, under existing circumstances, could be obtained."[22]

    [22] Debates, etc., in the Convention to revise the Constitution of
    Massachusetts, 1820-21, p. 136 _c._ Story's Miscellaneous Writings,
    p. 518.

Sir, I am not insensible to these considerations, or to the authority
of these examples. A division of the State into districts would be a
change, in conformity with abstract principles, which would interfere
with existing opinions, habitudes, and prejudices of the towns, all of
which must be respected. A change so important in character cannot be
advantageously made, unless supported by the permanent feelings and
convictions of the people. Institutions are formed _from within_, not
_from without_. They spring from custom and popular faith, silently
operating with internal power, not from the imposed will of a lawgiver.
And our present duty here, at least on this question, may be in some
measure satisfied, if we aid this growth.

Two great schools of jurisprudence for a while divided the learned mind
of Germany,--one known as the Historic, the other as the Didactic. The
question between them was similar to that now before the Convention.
The first regarded all laws and institutions as the growth of custom,
under constant influences of history; the other insisted upon positive
legislation, giving to them a form in conformity with abstract reason.
It is clear that both were in a measure right. No lawgiver or statesman
can disregard either history or abstract reason. He must contemplate
both. He will faithfully study the Past, and will recognize its
treasures and traditions; but, with equal fidelity, he will set his
face towards the Future, where all institutions will at last be in
harmony with truth.

I have been encouraged to believe in the practicability of the District
System by its conformity with reason, and by seeing how naturally
it went into operation under the Constitution of the United States.
But there is a difference between that case and the present. A new
Government was then founded, with new powers, applicable to a broad
expanse of country; but the Constitution of Massachusetts was little
more than a continuation of preëxisting usages and institutions, with
all dependence upon royalty removed. This distinction may help us now.
If the country were absolutely new, without embarrassment from existing
corporate rights,--_claims_ I would rather call them,--it might easily
be arranged according to the most approved theory, as Philadelphia is
said to have been originally laid out on the model of the German city
which its great founder had seen in his travels.[23] But to bring our
existing system into symmetry, and to lay it out anew, would seem to
be a task--at least I am reluctantly led to this conclusion by what I
have heard here--not unlike that of rebuilding Boston, and of shaping
its compact mass of crooked streets into the regular rectangular forms
of the city of Penn. And yet this is not impossible. With each day, by
demolishing ancient houses and widening ancient ways, changes are made
which tend to this result.

    [23] Julius, Nordamerikas Sittliche Zustände, Band I. p. 92.

Sir, we must recognize the existing condition of things, remedy all
practical grievances so far as possible, and set our faces towards the
true system. We must act in the Present, but be mindful also of the
Future. There are proper occasions for compromise, as most certainly
there are rights beyond compromise. But the Representative System is an
expedient or device for ascertaining the popular will, and, though well
satisfied that this can be best founded on numbers, I would not venture
to say, in the present light of political science, that the right of
each man to an equal representation, according to the Rule of Three,
and without regard to existing institutions or controlling usages, is
of that inherent and lofty character--like the God-given right to life
or liberty--which admits of no compromise.

       *       *       *       *       *

Several grievances exist, which will be removed by the proposed
amendments. There is one which I had hoped would disappear, but which
is the necessary incident of corporate representation: I mean the
unwieldy size of the House.

It is generally said that a small body is more open to bribery and
corruption than a large body; but, on the other hand, I have heard
it asserted that the larger is more exposed than the smaller. I put
this consideration aside. My objection to a large House is, that it is
inconvenient for the despatch of public business. There is a famous
saying of Cardinal de Retz, that every assembly of more than one
hundred is a mob; and Lord Chesterfield applied the same term to the
British House of Commons. At the present time that body has nominally
six hundred and fifty-four members. It is called by Lord Brougham
"preposterously large"; but a quorum for business is forty only; and
it is only on rare occasions of political importance that its benches
are completely occupied. The House of Lords, nominally, has four
hundred and fifty-nine members; but a quorum in this body consists of
three only;[24] and much of its business is transacted in a very thin

    [24] According to the old rule, _Tres faciunt collegium._

The experience of Congress, as also of other States, points to a
reduction of our present number. Indeed, for many years this was
a general desire through the State. In the earliest Colonial days
every town was allowed three deputies; but in five years the number,
on reaching thirty-three, was reduced to two for each.[25] At a
later day, in 1694, a great contest in the House was decided by a
vote of twenty-six against twenty-four.[26] In the agitating period
between 1762 and 1773, covering the controversies which heralded the
Revolution, the House consisted, on an average, of one hundred and
twenty members; and only on one occasion the magnitude of the interest
is reported by Hutchinson to have drawn together so many as one hundred
and thirteen. At the last session of the Provincial Legislature, in
May, 1774, when the Revolutionary conflict was at hand, the complete
returns of the Journal show one hundred and forty. In 1776 there
was a House of three hundred and five; but this "enormous and very
unwieldy size," according to the language of the time, was assigned
as a reason for a new Constitution. I regret that we cannot profit by
this experience. A House of two hundred and fifty, or, since we are
accustomed to large congregations,[27] of three hundred at most, would
be an improvement on the present system.

    [25] Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay,
    Vol. I. pp. 118, 250, 254.

    [26] Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts, Vol. II. p. 77.

    [27] The House for many years numbered upwards of five hundred
    members,--in 1835, '36, and '37 swelling to the truly "enormous and
    unwieldy size" of 615, 619, and 635; and even under the greatly
    reduced apportionment established by the Amendment of 1840, the
    numbers in the two years (1851 and 1852) preceding the present
    Convention were no less than 396 and 402. See Gifford and Stowe's
    Manual for the General Court, (Boston, 1860,) p. 130.

There are two proposed improvements which I hail with satisfaction:
one relates to the small towns, and the other to the cities. The small
towns will have a more constant representation; and this of itself is
an approach to the true principle of representation, which should be
constant as well as equal. The cities will be divided into districts,
and this I regard of twofold importance: first, as the beginning of a
true system; and, secondly, as reducing the power which the cities, by
the large number of their representatives, chosen by general ticket,
now exercise.

A respected gentleman, now in my eye, has reminded me that in boyhood
his attention was arrested in this House by what was called "the Boston
seat," reserved exclusively for the Boston members, who sat together
on cushions, while other members were left to such accommodation as
they could find on bare benches. This discrimination ceased long
ago. But it seems to me that this reserved and cushioned seat is
typical of another discrimination, which Boston, in common with the
cities, still enjoys. Sir, in voting for forty-four representatives,
the elector in Boston exercises a representative power far exceeding
that of electors in the country; and the majority which rules Boston
and determines the whole delegation exercises a representative power
transcending far that of any similar number in the Commonwealth. This
is apparent on the bare statement, as forty-four sticks are stronger in
one compact bundle than when single or in small parcels. Thus, while
other counties are divided, the delegation from Boston is united. In
all political contests, it is like the well-knit Macedonian phalanx, or
the iron front of the Roman legion, in comparison with the disconnected
individual warriors against whom they were engaged. This abuse will be
removed; and here is the beginning, I had almost said the inauguration,
of a true electoral equality in our Commonwealth.

And now, in conclusion, while thanking gentlemen for the kind attention
with which they have honored me, let me express briefly the result to
which I have come. I have openly declared my convictions with regard
to the District System, and in accordance with these have recorded my
votes in this Convention. These votes, which reveal my inmost desires
on this matter, I would not change. But the question is not now between
the District System, which I covet so much for Massachusetts, and the
proposed amendments, but between these amendments and the existing
system. On this issue I decide without hesitation. I shall vote, Sir,
for the propositions of amendment before the Convention, should they
come to a question on their final passage, not because they are all
that I desire, not because they satisfy the requirement of principles
which I cannot deny, not because they constitute a permanent adjustment
of this difficult question, but because they are the best which I can
now obtain, because they reform grievances of the existing system, and
because they begin a change which can end only in the establishment of
a Representative System founded in reality, as in name, on _Equality_.
Their adoption will be the triumph of conciliation and harmony,
and will furnish new testimony to the well-tempered spirit of our
institutions, where

                "jarring interests, reconciled, create
            The according music of a well-mixed State."


                     MASSACHUSETTS, JULY 25, 1853.

As Chairman of the Committee on the Bill of Rights, Mr. Sumner
submitted a Report, on which, in Committee of the Whole, he spoke as

Mr. Chairman,--As Chairman of the Committee on the Preamble and Bill of
Rights, it is my duty to introduce and explain their Report. It will
be perceived that it is brief, and proposes no important changes. But
in justice to the distinguished gentlemen with whom I have the honor
of being associated on that Committee, I deem it my duty to suggest
that the extent of their labors must not be judged by this result.
It appears from the proceedings of the Convention of 1820, that the
Committee on the Bill of Rights at that time sat longer than any other
Committee. I believe that the same Committee in the present Convention
might claim the same preëminence. Their records show twenty different

At these sessions, the Preamble and the Bill of Rights, in its thirty
different propositions, were passed in review and considered clause by
clause; the various orders of the Convention, amounting to twelve in
number, the petitions addressed to the Convention and referred to the
Committee, as also informal propositions from members of the Convention
and others were considered, some of them repeatedly and at length.
On many questions there was a decided difference of opinion, and on
a few the Committee was nearly equally divided. But after the best
consideration we could bestow in our protracted series of meetings, it
was found that the few simple propositions now on your table were all
upon which a majority of the Committee could be brought to unite. As
such I was directed to present them. Admonished by the lapse of time
and the desire to close these proceedings, I might be content with this
simple statement.

But, notwithstanding the urgency of our business, I cannot allow
the opportunity to pass--indeed, I should not do my duty--without
attempting for a brief moment to show the origin and character of this
part of our Constitution. In this way we may learn its weight and
authority, and appreciate the difficulty and delicacy of any change in
its substance or even its form. I will try not to abuse your patience.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Preamble and Bill of Rights, like the rest of our Constitution,
were from the pen of John Adams,--among whose published works the
whole document, in its original draught, may be found. At the time
when he rendered this important service to his native Commonwealth and
to the principles of free institutions everywhere, he was forty-four
years of age. He was also quite prepared. The natural maturity of his
powers had been enriched by the well-ripened fruit of assiduous study
and of active life, both of which concurred in him. The examples of
Greece and Rome and the writings of Sidney and Locke were especially
familiar to his mind. The Common Law he had made his own, and mastered
well its whole arsenal of Freedom. For a long time the vigorous and
unfailing partisan of the liberal cause in Boston, throughout its
many conflicts,--then in Congress, whither he was transferred, the
irresistible champion of Independence,--and then the republican
representative of the United, but still struggling, Colonies at the
Court of France,--in the brief interval between two foreign missions,
only seven days after landing from his long ocean voyage, he was chosen
a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and at once brought all
his varied experience, rare political culture, and eminent powers to
the task of adjusting the framework of government for Massachusetts. As
his work, it all claims our regard; and no part bears the imprint of
his mind so much as the Preamble and Bill of Rights; nor is any other
part authenticated as coming so exclusively from him.

At the time of its first adoption the Massachusetts Bill of Rights
was more ample in provisions and more complete in form than any
similar declaration in English or Colonial history. Glancing at its
predecessors, we learn something of its sources. First came, long back
in the thirteenth century, Magna Charta, with generous safeguards of
Freedom, wrung from King John by the Barons at Runnymede. From time
to time these liberties were confirmed, and, after an interval of
centuries, they were again ratified, near the beginning of the unhappy
reign of Charles the First, by a Parliamentary Declaration, to which
the monarch assented, known as the Petition of Right, which, in its
very title, reveals the humility with which the rights of the people
were then maintained. Finally, in a different tone and language, at
the Revolution of 1688, when James the Second was driven from his
dominions, a "Declaration of the true, ancient, and indubitable rights
and liberties of the people of the kingdom," familiarly known as the
Bill of Rights, was delivered by the Convention Parliament to the new
sovereigns, William and Mary, and embodied in the Act of Settlement,
by virtue of which they sat on the throne. These, Sir, are English

Their influence was not confined to England. It crossed the ocean. From
the beginning the Colonists were tenacious of the rights and liberties
of Englishmen, and at various times and in various forms declared them.
Connecticut, as early as 1639, Virginia in 1624 and 1776, Pennsylvania
in 1682, New York in 1691,--and I might mention others still,--put
forth Declarations, brief and meagre, but kindred to those of the
mother country. In the Colony of New Plymouth, the essential principles
of Magna Charta were proclaimed in 1636, under the name of "The General
Fundamentals"; and in 1641 the inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay
announced, in words worthy of careful study, that "the free fruition of
such Liberties, Immunities, and Privileges, as Humanity, Civility, and
Christianity call for, as due to every man in his place and proportion,
without impeachment and infringement, hath ever been and ever will
be the tranquillity and stability of Churches and Commonwealths, and
the denial or deprival thereof the disturbance, if not the ruin, of
both."[28] Such was the Preamble to the "Body of Liberties" of the
Massachusetts Colony in 1641. It would be difficult to find any text
more comprehensive than these remarkable words,--the object being
"Liberties, Immunities, and Privileges," to such extent "as Humanity,
Civility, and Christianity call for"; and this Declaration, broader
than Magna Charta, became the inspiration of Massachusetts, if not
of the Nation. Nor does Massachusetts stand alone in this honor.
Connecticut is by her side.[29]

    [28] Preamble to the Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Colony,
    1641: Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc., 3d Ser. Vol. VIII. p. 216. See also
    General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusetts Colony, revised and
    reprinted by Order of the General Court, 1672, p. 1.

    [29] The Preamble in combination with the first Article of the
    Massachusetts Body of Liberties was adopted as the Preamble to
    the Connecticut Code of 1650. See Public Records of the Colony of
    Connecticut, edited by J. H. Trumbull, (Hartford, 1850,) p. 509;
    and compare with Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc., _ut supra_.

I should not do justice to this "Body of Liberties," if I did not call
attention to at least four different declarations. There is, first,
the clause: "There shall never be any bond slavery, villenage, or
captivity amongst us, unless it be lawful captives taken in just wars,
and such strangers as willingly sell themselves or are sold to us"; and
although this provision falls short of that universal freedom which
is our present aspiration, it is a plain limitation upon Slavery, and
marks the hostility of the Colony. Another declaration sets an example
of hospitality: "If any people of other nations, professing the true
Christian religion, shall flee to us from the tyranny or oppression
of their persecutors, or from famine, wars, or the like necessary
and compulsory cause, they shall be entertained and succored amongst
us according to that power and prudence God shall give us." And it
is further declared: "Every person within this jurisdiction, whether
inhabitant or foreigner, shall enjoy the same Justice and Law that
is general for the Plantation, which we constitute and execute one
towards another, without partiality or delay." Here is nothing less
than Equality before the Law, without this compendious term. There is
another declaration, which has the same exalted character: "Every man,
whether inhabitant or foreigner, free or not free, shall have liberty
to come to any public Court, Council, or Town Meeting, and either
by speech or writing to move any lawful, seasonable, and material
question, or to present any necessary motion, complaint, petition,
bill, or information, whereof that meeting hath proper cognizance, so
it be done in convenient time, due order, and respective manner." Such
declarations as these belong to the history of Freedom.

In the animated discussions immediately preceding the Revolution,
the rights and liberties of Englishmen were constantly asserted as
the birthright of the Colonists. This was often by formal resolution
or declaration, couched at first in moderate phrase. At the outrage
of the Stamp Act, a Congress of delegates from nine Colonies, held
at New York in October, 1765, put forth a series of resolutions
embodying "_Declarations of our humble opinion_ respecting the most
essential rights and liberties of the Colonists."[30] The humility
of this language recalls the English Petition of Right under Charles
the First. This was followed in 1774 by the Declaration of the
Continental Congress, which, in another tone and with admirable force,
in ten different propositions, arrays the rights which belong to "the
inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable
Laws of Nature, the Principles of the English Constitution, and the
several Charters or Compacts."[31]

    [30] Proceedings of the Congress at New York, p. 5. Hutchinson's
    History of Massachusetts, Vol. III., Appendix, p. 479.

    [31] Journals of Congress, October 14, 1774, Vol. I. p. 28.

                "Time's noblest offspring is the last";

and the whole Colonial series is aptly closed by the Declaration of
Independence, announcing not merely the rights of Englishmen, but the
rights of men.

Only a few brief weeks before the Declaration of Independence,
Virginia, taking the lead of her sister Colonies, established a
Constitution, to which was prefixed an elaborate Declaration of Rights.
This remarkable document, which became the immediate precedent for
the whole country, marks an epoch in political history. Massachusetts
and Connecticut had already led the way in that early and most
comprehensive Preamble, which has been too little noticed; but in
all English Declarations of Rights, and generally even in those of
the Colonies, stress was laid upon the liberties and privileges of
Englishmen. The rights claimed even by the Continental Congress of
1774, in their masculine Declaration, were the rights of "free and
natural-born subjects within the realm of England." But the Virginia
Bill of Rights, standing at the front of its first Constitution,
discarded all narrow title from mere English precedent, planted
itself on the eternal law of God, above every human ordinance, and
openly proclaimed that "all men are by nature equally free and
independent,"--a declaration which is repeated, though in other
language, by the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

       *       *       *       *       *

The policy of Bills of Rights is sometimes called in question. It has
been said that they were originally privileges or concessions extorted
from the king, and, though expedient in a monarchy, are of little
value in a republic. As late as 1821, in the Convention for revising
the Constitution of New York, doubts of their utility were openly
expressed by Mr. Van Buren. But they are now above question. State
after State, ending with California, follows the example of Virginia
and Massachusetts, and places its Bill of Rights in the front of its
Constitution. Nor can I doubt that much good is done by this frank
assertion of fundamental principles. The public mind is instructed,
people learn to know their rights, liberal institutions are confirmed,
and the Constitution is made stable in the hearts of the community.
Bills of Rights are lessons of political wisdom and anchors of liberty.
They are the constant index, and also scourge, of injustice and wrong.
In Massachusetts, Slavery itself disappeared before the declaration
that "all men are born free and equal," interpreted by a liberty-loving

    [32] See, on this subject, a paper entitled "The Extinction of
    Slavery in Massachusetts," by Emory Washburn: Coll. Mass. Hist.
    Soc., 4th Ser. Vol. IV. pp. 333-346.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Convention of 1780 the Bill of Rights formed a prominent subject
of interest. The necessity of such a safeguard had been pressed
upon the people, and its absence from the Constitution of 1778 was
unquestionably a reason for the rejection of that ill-fated effort.
Indeed, the Constitution was openly opposed because it had no Bill of
Rights. In the array of objections at the period was the following,
which I take from an important contemporaneous publication: "That
a Bill of Rights, clearly ascertaining and defining the rights of
conscience and that security of person and property which every member
in the State hath a right to expect from the supreme power thereof,
ought to be settled and established previous to the ratification of any
Constitution for the State."[33] Accordingly, at the earliest moment
after the organization of the Convention, a motion was made, "that
there be a Declaration of Rights prepared previous to the framing a new
Constitution of Government," which after adoption gave way to another,
"that the Convention _will prepare_ a Declaration of Rights," and this
motion prevailed by a nearly unanimous vote,--the whole number present,
as returned by the monitors, being two hundred and fifty-one, of whom
two hundred and fifty voted in the affirmative.[34] Thus emphatically
did the early fathers of Massachusetts manifest their watchfulness for
the rights of the people; and there is good reason to believe, also,
that among the motives which stimulated it was a determination in this
way to abolish Slavery.[35] The Convention then resolved to "proceed
to the framing a new Constitution of Government." A grand Committee
of thirty was chosen to perform these two important duties; and this
Committee, after extended discussion, intrusted to John Adams alone
the preparation of a Declaration of Rights, and to a Sub-Committee,
consisting of James Bowdoin, Samuel Adams, and John Adams, the
duty of preparing the Form of a Constitution, which Sub-Committee
again delegated the task to John Adams: so that to the pen of this
illustrious citizen we are indebted primarily both for the Declaration
of Rights and the Form of the Constitution.[36]

    [33] Essex Result, p. 4.

    [34] Journal of the Convention, pp. 22, 23.

    [35] This was the testimony of the late Rev. Charles Lowell, who
    had received it from his father, Hon. John Lowell, a member of
    the Convention, in whose family was a tradition that the latter
    obtained the insertion of the words "all men are born free and
    equal," for this declared purpose. See, _ut supra_, Coll. Mass.
    Hist. Soc., 4th Ser. Vol. IV. p. 340.

    [36] Observations on the Reconstruction of Government in
    Massachusetts during the Revolution: Works of John Adams, Vol. IV.
    pp. 215, 216.

It is not difficult to trace most, if not all, of the ideas and
provisions of our Preamble and Declaration of Rights to their primitive
sources. The Preamble, where the body politic is founded on the fiction
of the Social Compact, was doubtless inspired by the writings of
Sidney and Locke, and by the English discussions at the period of the
Revolution of 1688, when this questionable theory did good service
in response to the assumptions of Filmer, and as a shield against
arbitrary power. Of different provisions in the Bill of Rights, some
are in the very words of Magna Charta,--others are derived from the
ancient Common Law, the Petition of Right, and the Bill of Rights
of 1688,--while, of the thirty Articles composing it, no less than
nineteen,[37] either wholly or in part, may be found substantially in
the Virginia Bill of Rights: but these again are in great part derived
from the earlier fountains.

    [37] Namely, Articles 1, 2, 4-10, 12-18, 20, 26, 30. The Virginia
    Bill of Rights consists of sixteen Articles, three of which (the
    5th, 6th, and 8th) are divided in the Massachusetts Declaration,
    constituting respectively the substance of Articles 30 and 8, 9 and
    10, 12 and 13.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, Sir, you have before you for revision and amendment this early
work of our fathers. I do not stop to consider its peculiar merits.
With satisfaction I might point to special safeguards by which our
rights have been protected against usurpation, whether executive,
legislative, or judicial. With pride I might dwell on those words
which banished Slavery from our soil, and rendered the Declaration
of Independence here with us a living letter. But the hour does not
require or admit any such service. You have a practical duty, which I
seek to promote; and I now take leave of the whole subject, with the
simple remark, that a document proceeding from such a pen, drawn from
such sources, with such an origin in all respects, speaking so early
for Human Rights, and now for more than threescore years and ten a
household word to the people of Massachusetts, should be touched by the
Convention only with exceeding care.


                   OF THE PILGRIMS, AUGUST 1, 1853.

The President, Richard Warren, Esq., said they had already been
delighted with the words of a distinguished member of the Senate of
the United States [Mr. EVERETT.] They were favored with the
presence of another; and he would give as a sentiment:--

    _The Senate of the United States_,--The concentrated light of the
    stars of the Union.

In his reply, Mr. Sumner attempted to obtain a hearing for the
Antislavery cause and the Party of Freedom. In picturing the English
Puritans he had in mind our Antislavery Puritans, who, like their
prototypes, were at first "Separatists," and then "Independents." The
abuse showered on each was the same. Though nothing is said directly on
present affairs, they were clearly discerned behind the Puritan veil.
Such was the sensibility in certain quarters, that it was objected
to as out of place. Others were pleased with its fidelity. Among the
latter was the poet John G. Whittier, who wrote at the time: "Its tone
and bearing are unmistakable, and yet unobjectionable.... When I read
the toast which called thee up, I confess I could see very little
appropriateness in it; in fact, it seemed to me a very unpromising
text, and I almost feared to read the sermon. I enjoyed it all the
better for my misgivings."

Mr. President,--You bid me speak for the Senate of the United States.
But I know well that there is another voice here, of classical
eloquence, which might more fitly render this service. As one of the
humblest members of that body, and associated with the public councils
for a brief period only, I should prefer that my distinguished
colleague [Mr. EVERETT], whose fame is linked with a long
political life, should speak for it. And there is yet another here
[Mr. HALE], who, though not at this moment a member of the
Senate, has, throughout an active and brilliant career, marked by a
rare combination of ability, eloquence, and good-humor, so identified
himself with the Senate in the public mind that he might well speak for
it always, and when he speaks, all are pleased to listen. But, Sir, you
have ordered it otherwise.

From the tears and trials at Delft Haven, from the deck of the
Mayflower, from the landing on Plymouth Rock, to the Senate of the
United States is a mighty contrast, covering whole spaces of history,
hardly less than from the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus to that
Roman Senate which on curule chairs swayed Italy and the world. From
these obscure beginnings of poverty and weakness, which you now piously
commemorate, and on which all our minds naturally rest to-day, you bid
us leap to that marble Capitol, where thirty-one powerful republics,
bound in common fellowship and welfare, are gathered together in
legislative body, constituting One Government, which, stretching from
ocean to ocean, and counting millions of people beneath its majestic
rule, surpasses far in wealth and might any government of the Old World
when the little band of Pilgrims left it, and now promises to be a
clasp between Europe and Asia, bringing the most distant places near
together, so that there shall be no more Orient or Occident. It were
interesting to dwell on the stages of this grand procession; but it is
enough, on this occasion, merely to glance at them and pass on.

Sir, it is the Pilgrims that we commemorate to-day, not the Senate.
For this moment, at least, let us tread under foot all pride of
empire, all exultation in our manifold triumphs of industry, science,
literature, with all the crowding anticipations of the vast untold
Future, that we may reverently bow before the Forefathers. The day is
theirs. In the contemplation of their virtue we derive a lesson which,
like truth, may judge us sternly, but, if we can really follow it, like
truth, shall make us free. For myself, I accept the admonition of the
day. It may teach us all, though few in numbers or alone, never, by
word or act, to swerve from those primal principles of duty, which,
from the landing on Plymouth Rock, have been the life of Massachusetts.
Let me briefly unfold the lesson,--though to the discerning soul it
unfolds itself.

Few persons in history have suffered more from contemporary
misrepresentation, abuse, and persecution, than the English Puritans.
At first a small body, they were regarded with indifference and
contempt. But by degrees they grew in numbers, and drew into their
company education, intelligence, and even rank. Reformers in all ages
have had little of blessing from the world they sought to serve.
But the Puritans were not disheartened. Still they persevered. The
obnoxious laws of conformity they vowed to withstand, till, in the
fervid language of the time, "they be sent back to the darkness from
whence they came." Through them the spirit of modern Freedom made
itself potently felt, in great warfare with Authority, in Church, in
Literature, and in State,--in other words, for religious, intellectual,
and political emancipation. The Puritans primarily aimed at religious
freedom: for this they contended in Parliament, under Elizabeth and
James; for this they suffered: but, so connected are all these great
and glorious interests, that the struggles for one have always helped
the others. Such service did they do, that Hume, whose cold nature
sympathized little with their burning souls, is obliged to confess that
"the precious spark of Liberty had been kindled and was preserved by
the Puritans alone," and he adds, that "to this sect the English owe
the whole freedom of their Constitution."

As among all reformers, so among them were differences of degree. Some
continued within the pale of the National Church, and there pressed
their ineffectual attempts in behalf of the good cause. Some at length,
driven by conscientious convictions, and unwilling to be partakers
longer in its enormities, stung also by cruel excesses of magisterial
power, openly disclaimed the National Establishment, and became a
separate sect, first under the name of Brownists, from the person
who led in this new organization, and then under the better name of
Separatists. I like this word, Sir. It has a meaning.[38] After long
struggles in Parliament and out of it, in Church and State, prolonged
through successive reigns, the Puritans finally triumphed, and the
despised sect of Separatists, swollen in numbers, and now under the
denomination of Independents,[39] with Oliver Cromwell at their head
and John Milton as his Secretary, ruled England. Thus is prefigured
the final triumph of all, however few in numbers, who sincerely devote
themselves to Truth.

The Pilgrims of Plymouth were among the earliest of the Separatists. As
such, they knew by bitter experience all the sharpness of persecution.
Against them the men in power raged like the heathen. Against them the
whole fury of the law was directed. Some were imprisoned, all were
impoverished, while their name became a by-word of reproach. For safety
and freedom the little band first sought shelter in Holland, where they
continued in obscurity and indigence for more than ten years, when they
were inspired to seek a home in this unknown Western world. Such, in
brief, is their history. I could not say more of it without intruding
upon your time; I could not say less without injustice to them.

    [38] Our Abolitionists and Free-Soilers were Separatists.

    [39] Like the Republican party.--whose triumph is here foreshadowed.

Rarely have austere principles been expressed with more gentleness
than from their lips. By a covenant with the Lord, they had vowed to
walk in all his ways, according to their best endeavors, _whatsoever
it should cost them_,--and also to receive whatsoever truth should
be made known from the written word of God. Repentance and prayers,
patience and tears, were their weapons. "It is not with us," said
they, "as with other men, whom small things can discourage or small
discontentments cause to wish themselves at home again." And then
again, on another occasion, their souls were lifted to utterance like
this: "When we are in our graves, it will be all one, whether we have
lived in plenty or penury, whether we have died in a bed of down or
on locks of straw." Self-sacrifice is never in vain, and with the
clearness of prophecy they foresaw that out of their trials should come
a transcendent Future. "As one small candle," said an early Pilgrim
Governor, "may light a thousand, so the light kindled here may in some
sort shine even to the whole nation." And these utterances were crowned
by the testimony of the English governor and historian, whose sympathy
for them was as little as that of Hume for the Puritans, confessing
it doubtful "whether Britain would have had any colonies in America
at this day, if religion had not been the grand inducement,"--thus
honoring our Pilgrims.

And yet these men, with such sublime endurance, lofty faith, and
admirable achievement, are among those sometimes called "Puritan
knaves" and "knaves-Puritans," and openly branded by King James as
"very pests in the Church and Commonwealth." The small company of our
forefathers became jest and gibe of fashion and power. The phrase "men
of one idea" was not invented then; but, in equivalent language, they
were styled "the pinched fanatics of Leyden." A contemporary poet and
favorite of Charles the First, Thomas Carew, lent his genius to their
defamation. A masque, from his elegant and careful pen, was performed
by the monarch and his courtiers, turning the whole plantation of New
England to royal sport. The jeer broke forth in the exclamation, that
it had "purged more virulent humors from the politic body than guaiacum
and all the West Indian drugs have from the natural bodies of this

And these outcasts, despised in their own day by the proud and great,
are the men whom we have met in this goodly number to celebrate,--not
for any victory of war,--not for any triumph of discovery, science,
learning, or eloquence,--not for worldly success of any kind. How poor
are all these things by the side of that divine virtue which, amidst
the reproach, the obloquy, and the hardness of the world, made them
hold fast to Freedom and Truth! Sir, if the honors of this day are not
a mockery, if they do not expend themselves in mere self-gratulation,
if they are a sincere homage to the character of the Pilgrims,--and I
cannot suppose otherwise,--then is it well for us to be here. Standing
on Plymouth Rock, at their great anniversary, we cannot fail to be
elevated by their example. We see clearly what it has done for the
world, and what it has done for their fame. No pusillanimous soul here
to-day will declare their self-sacrifice, their deviation from received
opinions, their unquenchable thirst for liberty, an error or illusion.
From gushing multitudinous hearts we now thank these lowly men that
they dared to be true and brave. Conformity or compromise might,
perhaps, have purchased for them a profitable peace, but not peace of
mind; it might have secured place and power, but not repose; it might
have opened present shelter, but not a home in history and in men's
hearts till time shall be no more. All must confess the true grandeur
of their example, while, in vindication of a cherished principle,
they stood alone, against the madness of men, against the law of the
land, against their king. Better the despised Pilgrim, a fugitive for
freedom, than the halting politician, forgetful of principle, "with a
Senate at his heels."

    [40] This masque, entitled _Coelum Britannicum_, was performed
    at Whitehall, February 18, 1633.

Such, Sir, is the voice from Plymouth Rock, as it salutes my ears.
Others may not hear it; but to me it comes in tones which I cannot
mistake. I catch its words of noble cheer:--

    "New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
    They must upward still and onward who would keep abreast of Truth:
    Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
    Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter

                         IRELAND AND IRISHMEN.


                                            BOSTON, August 2, 1853.

    Gentlemen,--It is not in my power to be with you on the evening of
    the celebration at Faneuil Hall, but, I pray you, do not consider
    me insensible to the honor of your invitation.

    Permit me to say that no country excites a generous sympathy more
    than Ireland; nor is any society more genial and winning than that
    of Irishmen.

    Believe me, Gentlemen, faithfully yours,


                       THE LANDMARK OF FREEDOM:


                       BILL, FEBRUARY 21, 1854.

Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark. _And all the people
shall say, Amen._--DEUTERONOMY, xxvii. 17.

"The Nebraska Debate," as it was called at the time, was one of
the most remarkable in our history. It grew out of the proposition
to overturn the famous Missouri Compromise, so as to admit Slavery
into the vast territory west of the Mississippi, where it had been
prohibited by that Compromise. The country was startled by the outrage.
Many who had tried to reconcile themselves to the Fugitive Slave Bill,
as required by the Constitution, were maddened by this most audacious
attempt. Even assuming that the Fugitive Slave Bill was in any sense
justifiable, there was nothing to justify this flagrant violation of
plighted faith, where Slavery was the inexorable robber. Here began
those heats which afterwards showed themselves in blood. Never was the
action of Congress watched with more anxiety. Speeches were read as
never before, especially those opposed to this new aggression. That
of Mr. Sumner was extensively circulated in various editions, and he
received numerous letters expressing sympathy and gratitude. The tone
of these illustrates the reception of the speech. The late Rufus W.
Griswold, so well known in contemporary literature, wrote from New
York on the day after its delivery: "The admirable speech which you
delivered in the Senate yesterday will bring you a wearying quantity
of approving letters; but, though aware of this, I cannot refrain from
assuring you of my own admiration of it and gratitude for it, nor from
telling you that all through the city it appears to be the subject of
applauding conversation.... I congratulate you on having made a speech
so worthy of an American Senator, and calculated to be so serviceable
to the cause of Liberty." Frederick Douglass, who watched the contest
from a distance with the interest of a former slave, wrote: "All the
friends of Freedom in every State and of every color may claim you
just now as their representative. As one of your sable constituents,
I desire to thank you for your noble speech for Freedom and for your
country, which I have now read twice over." An original Abolitionist
wrote: "Let me thank you from my heart of hearts for your noble
speech. It is everything that we could wish,--bold, free, and true.
God will surely bless you!" The feeling of the hour appeared also
in the following from John G. Whittier: "I am unused to flatter any
one, least of all one whom I love and honor; but I must say, in all
sincerity, that there is no orator or statesman living in this country
or in Europe whose fame is so great as not to derive additional
lustre from such a speech. It will live the full life of American
history." Professor C. S. Henry, of the New York University, wrote:
"I thank you for your noble speech on the Nebraska Bill. In every
quality of nobleness transcendently noble. Unsurpassed in tone and
temper,--unrivalled in impregnable soundness and judicious statement
of positions, in clearness and logical force of historical recital,
in conclusiveness of reasoning, in beautiful fitness of style, and in
the true eloquence of a justice-loving soul." Among the curiosities of
praise, considering the political position of the writer, was a letter
from Pierre Soulé, our minister at Madrid, and formerly Senator from
Louisiana, containing the following passage: "Que je profite de cette
occasion pour vous dire combien j'ai été heureux du succès, et pour
mieux dire, du triomphe éclatant que vous avez obtenu à l'occasion de
votre discours sur le _Nebraska Bill_. Courage! _Sic itur ad astra._
Mais que dis-je? Vous y êtes déjà, et habile qui réussirait vous
en déloger." These are examples only; but they help to exhibit the
condition of the public mind. The North was aroused, and felt as never
before towards those who spoke in its behalf.

       *       *       *       *       *

The origin of the debate will appear from a statement of facts.

On the 14th of December, 1853, Mr. Dodge, of Iowa, asked and obtained
leave to introduce a bill to organize the Territory of Nebraska, which
was read a first and second time by unanimous consent and referred to
the Committee on Territories. This was a simple Territorial Bill, in
the common form, containing no allusion to Slavery, and not in any
way undertaking to touch the existing Prohibition of Slavery in this

On the 4th of January, 1854, Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, as Chairman of
the Committee on Territories, reported this bill back to the Senate
with various amendments, accompanied by a special report. By this bill
only a single Territory was constituted, under the name of Nebraska;
the existing Prohibition of Slavery was not directly overthrown, but
it was declared that the States formed out of this Territory should
be admitted into the Union "with or without Slavery," as they should

On the 16th of January, Mr. Dixon, of Kentucky, in order to accomplish
directly what the bill did only indirectly, gave notice of an
amendment, to the effect that the existing Prohibition of Slavery
"shall not be so construed as to apply to the Territory contemplated by
this Act, or to any other Territory of the United States; but that the
citizens of the several States or Territories shall be at liberty to
take and hold their slaves within any of the Territories of the United
States, or of the States to be formed therefrom."

On the next day, January 17, Mr. Sumner, in order to preserve the
existing Prohibition, gave notice of the following amendment.

    "_Provided_, That nothing herein contained shall be construed
    to abrogate or in any way contravene the Act of March 6, 1820,
    entitled 'An Act to authorize the people of Missouri Territory to
    form a Constitution and State Government, and for the admission of
    such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original
    States, and to prohibit Slavery in certain Territories'; wherein it
    is expressly enacted, 'that in that territory ceded by France to
    the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of
    thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, not included
    within the limits of the State contemplated by this Act, slavery
    and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of
    crimes, whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall
    be, and is hereby, forever prohibited.'"

It is worthy of remark, that at this stage the proposition of Mr. Dixon,
and also that of Mr. Sumner, were equally condemned by the _Washington
Union_, the official organ of the Administration. It had not then
been determined to sustain the repeal.

On the 23d of January, Mr. Douglas, from the Committee on Territories,
submitted a new bill, as a substitute for that already reported. Here
was a sudden change, by which the Territory was divided into two,
Nebraska and Kansas, and the Prohibition of Slavery was directly
overthrown. According to his language at the time, there were
"incorporated into it one or two other amendments, which make the
provisions of the bill upon other and more delicate questions more
clear and specific, so as to avoid all conflict of opinion." It was
formally enunciated in the bill, that the Prohibition of Slavery "was
superseded by the principles of the legislation of 1850, commonly
called the Compromise Measures, and is hereby declared inoperative."
This of course superseded the proposed amendment of Mr. Dixon, who
subsequently declared his entire assent to the bill in its new form.
It also presented the issue directly raised in Mr. Sumner's proposed

On the next day, January 24th, when the amended bill had just been laid
upon the tables of Senators, and without allowing the necessary time
even for its perusal, Mr. Douglas pressed its consideration upon the
Senate. After some debate it was postponed until the 30th of January,
and made the special order from day to day until disposed of.

Meanwhile an appeal to the country was put forth by a few Senators and
Representatives in Congress, calling themselves Independent Democrats.
The only Senators who signed this appeal were Mr. Chase and Mr.
Sumner. It was entitled, "Shall Slavery be permitted in Nebraska?"
and proceeded in strong language to expose the violation of plighted
faith and the wickedness about to be perpetrated. This document was
extensively circulated, and did much to awaken the public.

On the 30th of January the Senate proceeded to the consideration of
the bill, when Mr. Douglas took the floor and devoted himself to
denunciation of the appeal by the Independent Democrats, characterizing
its authors as "Abolition confederates," and particularly arraigning
Mr. Chase and Mr. Sumner, the two Senators who had signed it. When he
sat down, Mr. Chase replied at once to the personal matters introduced,
and was followed by Mr. Sumner, in the few remarks below; and this was
the opening of the great debate which occupied for months the attention
of the country.

Mr. President,--Before the Senate adjourns I crave a single moment. As
a signer of the address referred to by the Senator from Illinois [Mr.
DOUGLAS], I openly accept, before the Senate and the country,
my full responsibility for it, and deprecate no criticism from any
quarter. That document was put forth in the discharge of a high public
duty,--on the precipitate introduction into this body of a measure
which, as seems to me, is not only subversive of an ancient landmark,
but hostile to the peace, the harmony, and the best interests of the
country. But, Sir, in doing this, I judged the act, and not its author.
I saw only the enormous proposition, and nothing of the Senator.

The language used is strong, but not stronger than the exigency
required. Here is a measure which reverses the time-honored policy
of our fathers in the restriction of Slavery,--which sets aside the
Missouri Compromise, a solemn compact, by which all the territory ceded
by France under the name of Louisiana, north of thirty-six degrees and
thirty minutes north latitude and not included within the limits of
Missouri, was "forever" consecrated to Freedom,--and which violates,
also, the alleged compromises of 1850: and all this opening an immense
territory to Slavery. Such a measure cannot be regarded without
emotions too strong for speech; nor can it be justly described in
common language. It is a soulless, eyeless monster,--horrid, unshapely,
vast: and this monster is now let loose upon the country.

Allow me one other word of explanation. It is true I desired that the
consideration of this measure should not be pressed at once, with
indecent haste, as was proposed, even before the Senate could read the
bill in which it is embodied. You may remember that the Missouri Bill,
as appears from the Journals of Congress, when first introduced, in
December, 1819, was allowed to rest upon the table nearly two months
before the discussion commenced. The proposition to undo the only part
of that work which is now in any degree within the reach of Congress
should be approached with even greater caution and reserve. The people
have a right to be heard on this monstrous scheme; and there is no
apology for that driving, galloping speed which shall anticipate their
voice, and, in its consequences, must despoil them of this right.

The debate was continued from day to day. On the 7th of February Mr.
Douglas proposed still another change in his bill. There seemed to be
a perpetual difficulty in adjusting the language by which the existing
Prohibition of Slavery should be overthrown. He now moved to strike out
the words referring to this Prohibition, and to insert the following:--

    "Which, being inconsistent with the principles of non-intervention
    by Congress with Slavery in the States and Territories, as
    recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the
    Compromise Measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void: it
    being the true intent and meaning of this Act not to legislate
    Slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom,
    but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate
    their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the
    Constitution of the United States."

On the 15th of February this amendment was adopted by a vote of
thirty-five yeas to ten nays. The debate was then continued upon the
pending substitute reported by the Committee for the original bill.

On the 21st of February Mr. Sumner took the floor and delivered the
following speech.


Mr. President,--I approach this discussion with awe. The mighty
question, with untold issues, oppresses me. Like a portentous cloud
surcharged with irresistible storm and ruin, it seems to fill the whole
heavens, making me painfully conscious how unequal to the occasion I
am,--how unequal, also, is all that I can say to all that I feel.

In delivering my sentiments to-day I shall speak frankly, according
to my convictions, without concealment or reserve. If anything fell
from the Senator from Illinois [Mr. DOUGLAS], in opening this
discussion, which might seem to challenge a personal contest, I desire
to say that I shall not enter upon it. Let not a word or a tone pass
my lips to divert attention for a moment from the surpassing theme,
by the side of which Senators and Presidents are but dwarfs. I would
not forget those amenities which belong to this place, and are so
well calculated to temper the antagonism of debate; nor can I cease
to remember, and to feel, that, amidst all diversities of opinion, we
are the representatives of thirty-one sister republics, knit together
by indissoluble ties, and constituting that Plural Unit which we all
embrace by the endearing name of country.

The question for your consideration is not exceeded in grandeur by
any which has occurred in our national history since the Declaration
of Independence. In every aspect it assumes gigantic proportions,
whether we consider simply the extent of territory it affects, or the
public faith and national policy which it assails, or that higher
question--that _Question of Questions_, as far above others as Liberty
is above the common things of life--which it opens anew for judgment.

It concerns an immense region, larger than the original Thirteen
States, vying in extent with all the existing Free States,--stretching
over prairie, field, and forest,--interlaced by silver streams, skirted
by protecting mountains, and constituting the heart of the North
American continent,--only a little smaller, let me add, than three
great European countries combined,--Italy, Spain, and France,--each of
which, in succession, has dominated over the globe. This territory has
been likened, on this floor, to the Garden of God. The similitude is
found not merely in its pure and virgin character, but in its actual
geographical situation, occupying central spaces on this hemisphere,
which, in their general relations, may well compare with that "happy
rural seat." We are told that

                "Southward through Eden went a river large":

so here a stream flows southward which is larger than the Euphrates.
And here, too, all amid the smiling products of Nature, lavished by
the hand of God, is the lofty Tree of Liberty, planted by our fathers,
which, without exaggeration, or even imagination, may be likened to

                              "the Tree of Life,
            High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit
            Of vegetable gold."

It is with regard to this territory that you are now called to exercise
the grandest function of lawgiver, by establishing rules of polity
which will determine its future character. As the twig is bent the
tree inclines; and the influences impressed upon the early days of an
empire, like those upon a child, are of inconceivable importance to its
future weal or woe. The bill now before us proposes to organize and
equip two new territorial establishments, with Governors, Secretaries,
Legislative Councils, Legislators, Judges, Marshals, and the whole
machinery of civil society. Such a measure at any time would deserve
the most careful attention. But at the present moment it justly excites
peculiar interest, from the effort made--on pretences unsustained by
facts, in violation of solemn covenant, and in disregard of the early
principles of our fathers--to open this immense region to Slavery.

According to existing law, this territory is now guarded against
Slavery by a positive Prohibition, embodied in the Act of Congress
approved March 6th, 1820, preparatory to the admission of Missouri into
the Union as a sister State, and in the following explicit words:--

    "SEC. 8. _And be it further enacted_, That in all that territory
    _ceded by France to the United States, under the name of
    Louisiana_, which lies north of thirty-six degrees and thirty
    minutes north latitude, not included within the limits of the
    State contemplated by this Act, SLAVERY AND INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE,
    otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the parties
    shall have been duly convicted, SHALL BE, AND IS HEREBY, FOREVER

It is now proposed to set aside this Prohibition. But there seems to be
a singular indecision as to the way in which the deed shall be done.
From the time of its first introduction, in the Report of the Committee
on Territories, the proposition has assumed different shapes; and it
promises to assume as many as Proteus,--now one thing in form, and now
another,--now like a serpent, and then like a lion,--but in every form
and shape identical in substance; with but one object,--the overthrow
of the Prohibition of Slavery. At first it proposed simply to declare
that the States formed out of this territory should be admitted into
the Union "with or without Slavery," and did not directly assume to
touch this Prohibition. For some reason this was not satisfactory, and
then it was precipitately proposed to declare that the Prohibition in
the Missouri Act "was superseded by the principles of the legislation
of 1850, commonly called the Compromise Measures, and is hereby
declared inoperative." But this would not do; and it is now proposed to
enact, that the Prohibition, "being inconsistent with the principles
of non-intervention by Congress with Slavery in the States and
Territories, as recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called
the Compromise Measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void."

       *       *       *       *       *

All this is to be done on pretences founded upon the Slavery
enactments of 1850. Now, Sir, I am not here to speak in behalf of
those measures, or to lean in any way upon their support. Relating to
different subject-matters, contained in different acts, which prevailed
successively, at different times, and by different votes,--some persons
voting for one, and some for another, and very few for all,--they
cannot be regarded as a unit, embodying conditions of compact, or
compromise, if you please, adopted equally by all, and therefore
obligatory on all. But since this broken series of measures is adduced
as apology for the proposition now before us, I desire to say, that,
such as they are, they cannot, by any rule of interpretation, by any
charming rod of power, by any magic alchemy, be transmuted into a
repeal of that original Prohibition.

On this head there are several points to which I would merely call
attention, and then pass on. _First_: The Slavery enactments of
1850 did not pretend, in terms, to touch, much less to change, the
condition of the Louisiana Territory, which was already fixed by
Congressional enactment. The two transactions related to different
subject-matters. _Secondly_: The enactments do not directly touch the
subject of Slavery, during the Territorial existence of Utah and New
Mexico; but they provide prospectively, that, when admitted as States,
they shall be received "with or without Slavery." Here certainly
can be no overthrow of an Act of Congress which directly concerns a
Territory _during its Territorial existence_. _Thirdly_: During all
the discussion of these measures in Congress, and afterwards before
the people, and through the public press, at the North and the South
alike, no person was heard to intimate that the Prohibition of Slavery
in the Missouri Act was in any way disturbed. _Fourthly_: The acts
themselves contain a formal provision, that "nothing herein contained
shall be construed to impair or qualify anything" in a certain article
of the Resolution annexing Texas, where it is expressly declared, that,
in any State formed out of territory north of the Missouri Compromise
line, "Slavery or involuntary servitude, except for crime, shall be

I do not dwell on these things. These pretences have been amply
refuted by able Senators who have preceded me. It is clear, beyond
contradiction, that the Prohibition of Slavery in this Territory was
not superseded, or in any way contravened, by the Slavery Acts of
1850. The proposition before you is, therefore, original in character,
without sanction from any former legislation, and it must, accordingly,
be judged by its merits, as an original proposition.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, Sir, let it be remembered that the friends of Freedom are
not open to any charge of aggression. They are now standing on the
defensive, guarding the early intrenchments thrown up by our fathers.
No proposition to abolish Slavery anywhere is now before you, but, on
the contrary, a proposition to abolish Freedom. The term Abolitionist,
so often applied in reproach, justly belongs, on this occasion, to him
who would overthrow this well-established landmark. He is, indeed,
no Abolitionist of Slavery; let him be called, Sir, Abolitionist of
Freedom. For myself, whether with many or few, my place is taken. Even
if alone, my feeble arm should not be wanting as a bar against this

On two distinct grounds, "strong both against the deed," I arraign
it: _First_, in the name of Public Faith, as an infraction of solemn
obligations, assumed beyond recall by the South, on the admission of
Missouri into the Union as a Slave State. _Secondly_, I arraign it in
the name of Freedom, as an unjustifiable departure from the original
Antislavery policy of our fathers. These two heads I shall consider
in their order, glancing, under the latter, at the objections to the
Prohibition of Slavery in the Territories.

Before I approach the argument, indulge me with a few preliminary
words on the character of this proposition. Slavery is the forcible
subjection of one human being, in person, labor, and property, to
the will of another. In this simple statement is involved its whole
injustice. There is no offence against religion, against morals,
against humanity, which, in the license of this enormity, may not stalk
"unwhipped of justice." For the husband and wife there is no marriage;
for the mother there is no assurance that her infant child will not
be ravished from her breast; for all who bear the name of Slave there
is nothing that they can call their own. Without a father, without a
mother, almost without a God, the slave has nothing but a master. It
would be contrary to that Rule of Right which is ordained by God, if
such a system, though mitigated often by patriarchal kindness, and by
plausible physical comfort, could be otherwise than pernicious. It is
confessed that the master suffers not less than the slave. And this
is not all. The whole social fabric is disorganized; labor loses its
dignity; industry sickens; education finds no schools; and all the
land of Slavery is impoverished. And now, Sir, when the conscience
of mankind is at last aroused to these things, when, throughout the
civilized world, a slave-dealer is a by-word and a reproach, we, as a
nation, are about to open a new market to the traffickers in flesh that
haunt the shambles of the South. Such an act, at this time, is removed
from all reach of that palliation often vouchsafed to Slavery. This
wrong, we are speciously told by those who seek to defend it, is not
our original sin. It was entailed upon us, so we are instructed, by our
ancestors; and the responsibility is often thrown, with exultation,
upon the mother country. Now, without stopping to inquire into the
value of this apology, which is never adduced in behalf of other
abuses, and which availed nothing against that kingly power imposed by
the mother country, but overthrown by our fathers, it is sufficient for
the present purpose to know that it is now proposed to make Slavery our
own original act. Here is a fresh case of actual transgression, which
we cannot cast upon the shoulders of any progenitors, nor upon any
mother country, distant in time or place. The Congress of the United
States, the people of the United States, at this day, in this vaunted
period of light, will be responsible for it, so that it shall be said
hereafter, so long as the dismal history of Slavery is read, that in
the year of Christ 1854 a new and deliberate act was passed by which a
vast territory was opened to its incursions.

Historic instances show how such an act will make us solitary among
the nations. In autocratic Russia, the serfdom which constitutes
the "peculiar institution" of that great empire is never allowed to
travel with the imperial flag, according to American pretension,
into provinces newly acquired by the common blood and treasure, but,
by positive prohibition, in harmony with the general conscience,
is carefully restricted within its ancient confines; and this
prohibition--the Wilmot Proviso of Russia--is rigorously enforced on
every side, in all the provinces, as in Bessarabia on the south, and
Poland on the west, so that, in fact, no Russian nobleman is able to
move into these important territories with his slaves. Thus Russia
speaks for Freedom, and disowns the slaveholding dogma of our country.
India, the land of caste, and Turkey, the abode of polygamy, both
fasten upon Slavery the stigma of reprobation. The Barbary States of
Africa, occupying the same parallels of latitude with the Slave States
of our Union, and resembling them in the nature of their boundaries,
their productions, their climate, and the "peculiar institution" which
sought shelter in both, are changed into Abolitionists. Algiers, seated
on the line of 36° 30´, is dedicated to Freedom. Tunis and Morocco are
doing likewise.

As the effort now making is extraordinary in character, so no
assumption seems too extraordinary to be advanced in its support. The
primal truth of the Equality of Men, proclaimed in our Declaration
of Independence, is assailed, and this Great Charter of our country
discredited. Sir, you and I will soon pass away, but that charter will
continue to stand above impeachment or question. The Declaration of
Independence was a Declaration of Rights, and the language employed,
though general in character, must obviously be confined within the
design and sphere of a Declaration of Rights, involving no such
pitiful absurdity as was attributed to it yesterday by the Senator
from Indiana [Mr. PETTIT]. Sir, who has pretended that all
men are born equal in physical strength or in mental capacities, in
beauty of form or health of body? Certainly not the signers of the
Declaration of Independence, who could have been guilty of no such
self-stultification. Diversity is the law of creation, unrestricted
to race or color. But as God is no respecter of persons, and as all
are equal in his sight, both Dives and Lazarus, master and slave, so
are all equal in natural inborn rights; and pardon me, if I say it
is a mere quibble to adduce, in argument against this vital axiom
of Liberty, the physical or mental inequalities by which men are
characterized, or the unhappy degradation to which, in violation
of a common brotherhood, they are doomed. To deny the Declaration
of Independence is to rush on the bosses of the shield of the
Almighty,--which, in all respects, the supporters of this measure seem
to do.

To the delusive suggestion of the Senator from North Carolina [Mr.
BADGER], that by overthrow of this Prohibition the number of
slaves will not be increased, that there will be simply a beneficent
diffusion of Slavery, and not its extension, I reply at once, that this
argument, if of any value, if not mere words and nothing else, would
equally justify and require the overthrow of the Prohibition of Slavery
in the Free States, and, indeed, everywhere throughout the world. All
the dikes, which, in different countries, from time to time, with the
march of civilization, have been painfully set up against the inroads
of this evil, must be removed, and every land opened anew to its
destructive flood. It is clear, beyond dispute, that by the overthrow
of this Prohibition Slavery will be quickened, and slaves themselves
will be multiplied, while new room and verge will be secured for the
gloomy operations of Slave Law, under which free labor will droop,
and a vast territory be smitten with sterility. Sir, a blade of grass
would not grow where the horse of Attila had trod; nor can any true
prosperity spring up in the footprints of a slave.

But it is argued that slaves will be carried into Nebraska only in
small numbers, and therefore the question is of little practical
moment. My distinguished colleague [Mr. EVERETT], in his
eloquent speech, hearkened to this apology, and allowed himself, while
upholding the Prohibition, to disparage its importance in a manner
from which I feel obliged, kindly, but most strenuously, to dissent.
Sir, the very census attests its vital consequence. There is Missouri,
at this moment, with Illinois on the east and Nebraska on the west,
all covering nearly the same spaces of latitude, and resembling
each other in soil, climate, and natural productions. Mark now the
contrast! By the potent efficacy of the Ordinance of the Northwestern
Territory Illinois is a Free State, while Missouri has eighty-seven
thousand four hundred and twenty-two slaves; and the simple question
which challenges answer is, whether Nebraska shall be preserved in the
condition of Illinois or surrendered to that of Missouri? Surely this
cannot be treated lightly. But I am unwilling to measure the exigency
of the Prohibition by the number of persons, whether many or few, whom
it may protect. Human rights, whether in a multitude or the solitary
individual, are entitled to equal and unhesitating support. In this
spirit, the flag of our country only recently became the impenetrable
panoply of a homeless wanderer who claimed its protection in a distant
sea;[41] and in this spirit I am constrained to declare that there is
no place accessible to human avarice or human lust or human force,
whether the lowest valley or the loftiest mountain-top, whether
the broad flower-spangled prairies or the snowy caps of the Rocky
Mountains, where the Prohibition of Slavery, like the commandments of
the Decalogue, should not go.

    [41] Martin Koszta, Hungarian by birth, who had made the
    preliminary declaration of citizenship, and had a protection from
    the United States Consul at Smyrna, was, July 2, 1853, surrendered
    by an Austrian man-of-war in the harbor of Smyrna at the demand of
    a man-of-war of the United States.


And now, Sir, in the name of that Public Faith which is the very
ligament of civil society, and which the great Roman orator tells us it
is detestable to break even with an enemy, I arraign this scheme, and
hold it up to the judgment of the country. There is an early Italian
story of an experienced citizen, who, when told by his nephew, at
the University of Bologna, that he had been studying the science of
_Right_, said in reply, "You have spent your time to little purpose.
It would have been better, had you learned the science of _Might_, for
that is worth two of the other"; and the bystanders of that day all
agreed that the veteran spoke the truth. I begin, Sir, by assuming
that honorable Senators will not act in this spirit,--that they will
not wantonly and flagitiously discard any obligation, pledge, or
covenant, because they chance to possess the power,--that they will not
substitute _might_ for _right_.

Sir, the proposition before you involves not merely the repeal of
existing law, but the infraction of solemn obligations, originally
proposed and assumed by the South, after protracted and embittered
contest, as a covenant of peace, with regard to certain specified
territory therein described, namely, "All that territory ceded by
France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana,"--according
to which, in consideration of the admission into the Union of Missouri
as a Slave State, Slavery was forever prohibited in all the remaining
part of this territory which lies north of 36° 30´. This arrangement
between different sections of the Union, the Slave States of the first
part and the Free States of the second part, though usually known as
the Missouri Compromise, was at the time styled a COMPACT. In
its stipulations for Slavery, it was justly repugnant to the conscience
of the North, and ought never to have been made; but on that side it
has been performed. And now the unperformed outstanding obligations to
Freedom, originally proposed and assumed by the South, are resisted.

Years have passed since these obligations were embodied in the
legislation of Congress, and accepted by the country. Meanwhile the
statesmen by whom they were framed and vindicated have, one by one,
dropped from this earthly sphere. Their living voices cannot now be
heard, for the conservation of that Public Faith to which they were
pledged. But this extraordinary lapse of time, with the complete
fruition by one party of all the benefits belonging to it under the
compact, gives to the transaction an added and most sacred strength.
Prescription steps in and with new bonds confirms the original work,
to the end, that, while men are mortal, controversies shall not be
immortal. Death, with inexorable scythe, has mowed down the authors of
this compact; but, with conservative hour-glass, the dread destroyer
has counted out a succession of years, which now defile before us, like
so many sentinels, to guard the sacred landmark of Freedom.

       *       *       *       *       *

A simple statement of facts, derived from the Journals of Congress
and contemporary records,[42] will show the origin and nature of
this compact, the influence by which it was established, and the
obligations it imposed.

    [42] As the volumes of the Annals of Congress covering the
    proceedings on the Missouri Compromise were not published when
    this speech was made, Mr. Sumner was obliged to rely upon the
    National Intelligencer and Niles's Register. In the present edition
    references are made to the Annals of Congress.

As early as 1818, at the first session of the Fifteenth Congress, a
bill was reported to the House of Representatives, authorizing the
people of the Missouri Territory to form a Constitution and State
Government, for the admission of such State into the Union; but
at that session no final action was had. At the next session, in
February, 1819, the bill was again brought forward, when an eminent
Representative of New York, whose life was spared till this last
autumn, Mr. James Tallmadge, moved a clause prohibiting any further
introduction of slaves into the proposed State, and securing Freedom
to the children born within the State, after admission into the Union,
on attaining the age of twenty-five years. This important proposition,
which assumed a power not only to prohibit the ingress of Slavery
into the State, _but also to abolish it there_, was passed in the
affirmative, after a vehement debate of three days. On a division of
the question, the first part, prohibiting the further introduction
of slaves, was adopted by eighty-seven yeas to seventy-six nays; the
second part, providing for the emancipation of children, was adopted
by eighty-two yeas to seventy-eight nays. Other propositions to thwart
the operation of these amendments were voted down, and on the 17th
of February the bill was read a third time, and passed with these
important restrictions.

In the Senate, after debate, the provision for the emancipation of
children was struck out by thirty-one yeas to seven nays; the other
provision, against the further introduction of Slavery, was struck
out by twenty-two yeas to sixteen nays. Thus emasculated, the bill
was returned to the House, which, on the 2d of March, by a vote of
seventy-eight nays to seventy-six yeas, refused its concurrence. The
Senate adhered to their amendments, and the House, by seventy-eight
yeas to sixty-six nays, adhered to their disagreement; and so at this
session the Missouri Bill was lost: and here was a temporary triumph
for Freedom.

Meanwhile the same controversy was renewed on the bill pending at the
same time for the organization of the Territory of Arkansas, then known
as the southern part of the Territory of Missouri. The restrictions
already adopted in the Missouri Bill were moved by Mr. Taylor, of New
York, subsequently Speaker; but, after at least five close votes, on
the yeas and nays, in one of which the House was equally divided,
eighty-eight yeas to eighty-eight nays, they were lost. Another
proposition by Mr. Taylor, simpler in form, that Slavery should not
hereafter be introduced into this Territory, was lost by ninety nays
to eighty-six yeas; and the Arkansas Bill, on the 20th of February,
was read the third time and passed. In the Senate, Mr. Burrill, of
Rhode Island, moved, as an amendment, the prohibition of the further
introduction of Slavery into this Territory, which was lost by nineteen
nays to fourteen yeas. And thus, without any provision for Freedom,
Arkansas was organized as a Territory: and here was a triumph of

At this same session Alabama was admitted as a Slave State, without any
restriction or objection.

It was in the discussion on the Arkansas Bill, at this session, that
we find the earliest suggestion of a Compromise. Defeated in his
efforts to prohibit Slavery in this Territory, Mr. Taylor stated that
"he thought it important that some line should be designated beyond
which Slavery should not be permitted," and he moved its prohibition
hereafter in all Territories of the United States north of 36° 30´
north latitude, _without any exception of Missouri, which is north of
this line_. This proposition, though withdrawn after debate, was at
once welcomed by Mr. Livermore, of New Hampshire, as "made in the true
spirit of _compromise_." It was opposed by Mr. Rhea, of Tennessee, on
behalf of Slavery, who avowed himself against every restriction,--and
also by Mr. Ogle, of Pennsylvania, on behalf of Freedom, who was
"opposed to any compromise by which Slavery in any of the Territories
should be recognized or sanctioned by Congress." In this spirit it
was opposed and supported by others, among whom was General Harrison,
afterwards President of the United States, who "assented to the
expediency of establishing some such line of discrimination," but
proposed a line due west from the mouth of the Des Moines, thus
constituting the northern, and not the southern boundary of Missouri,
the partition line between Freedom and Slavery.

This idea of Compromise, though suggested by Mr. Taylor, was thus early
adopted and vindicated in this very debate by an eminent character--Mr.
Louis McLane, of Delaware--who has since held high office in the
country,[43] and enjoyed no common measure of public confidence. Of all
the leading actors in these early scenes, he and Mr. Mercer alone are
yet spared. On this occasion he said:--

    "The fixing of a line on the west of the Mississippi, north of
    which Slavery should not be tolerated, _had always been with him
    a favorite policy_, and he hoped the day was not distant, when,
    upon principles of _fair compromise_, it might constitutionally be

    [43] Secretary of State and Minister to England under President
    Jackson, and a second time Minister to England under President Polk.

    [44] Annals of Congress, 15th Cong. 2d Sess., Feb. 17, 1819, Vol.
    II. col. 1228.

The present attempt, however, he regarded as premature. After opposing
the restriction on Missouri, he concluded by declaring:--

    "At the same time, I do not mean to abandon the policy to which
    I alluded in the commencement of my remarks. I think it but fair
    that both sections of the Union should be accommodated on this
    subject, with regard to which so much feeling has been manifested.
    The same great motives of policy which reconciled and harmonized
    the jarring and discordant elements of our system originally, and
    which enabled the framers of our happy Constitution to compromise
    the different interests which then prevailed upon this and other
    subjects, if properly cherished by us, will enable us to achieve
    similar objects. If we meet upon principles of reciprocity, we
    cannot fail to do justice to all. _It has already been avowed by
    gentlemen on this floor, from the South and the West, that they
    will agree upon a line which shall divide the slaveholding from
    the non-slaveholding States. It is this proposition I am anxious
    to effect; but I wish to effect it by some COMPACT which shall be
    binding upon all parties and all subsequent Legislatures_,--which
    cannot be changed, and will not fluctuate with the diversity of
    feeling and of sentiment to which this empire, in its march, must
    be destined. There is a vast and immense tract of country west of
    the Mississippi yet to be settled, and intimately connected with
    the northern section of the Union, _upon which this compromise can
    be effected_."[45]

    [45] Ibid., 1235.

The suggestions of Compromise were at this time vain: each party was
determined. The North, by the prevailing voice of its Representatives,
claimed all for Freedom; the South, by its potential command of the
Senate, claimed all for Slavery.

The report of this debate aroused the country. For the first time
in our history, Freedom, after animated struggle, hand to hand, was
kept in check by Slavery. The original policy of our fathers in the
restriction of Slavery was suspended, and this giant wrong threatened
to stalk into all the broad national domain. Men at the North were
humbled and amazed. The imperious demands of Slavery seemed incredible.
Meanwhile the whole subject was adjourned from Congress to the
people. Through the press and at public meetings, an earnest voice
was raised against the admission of Missouri into the Union without
the restriction of Slavery. Judges left the bench, and clergymen the
pulpit, to swell the indignant protest which went up from good men
without distinction of party or pursuit.

The movement was not confined to a few persons, nor to a few States.
A public meeting at Trenton, in New Jersey, was followed by others in
New York and Philadelphia, and finally at Worcester, Salem, and Boston,
where committees were organized to rally the country. The citizens
of Baltimore, in public meeting at the court-house, with the mayor
in the chair, resolved "that the future admission of slaves into the
States which may hereafter be formed west of the Mississippi ought to
be prohibited by Congress." Villages, towns, and cities, by memorial,
petition, and prayer, called upon Congress to maintain the great
principle of the Prohibition of Slavery. The same principle was also
commended by the resolutions of State Legislatures; and Pennsylvania,
inspired by the teachings of Franklin and the convictions of the
respectable denomination of Friends, unanimously asserted at once
the right and the duty of Congress to prohibit Slavery west of the
Mississippi, solemnly calling upon her sister States "to refuse to
covenant with crime." New Jersey and Delaware followed. Ohio asserted
the same principle: so did Indiana. The latter State, not content with
providing for the future, severely censured one of its Senators for
his vote to organize Arkansas without the prohibition of Slavery. The
resolutions of New York were reinforced by the recommendation of De
Witt Clinton.[46]

Amidst these excitements Congress came together in December, 1819,
taking possession of these Halls of the Capitol for the first time
since their desolation by the British. On the day after the receipt
of the President's Message two several Committees of the House were
constituted, one to consider the application of Maine, and the other of
Missouri, to enter the Union as separate and independent States. With
only the delay of a single day, the bill for the admission of Missouri
was reported to the House without the restriction of Slavery; but, as
if shrinking from the immediate discussion of the great question it
involved, afterwards, on motion of Mr. Taylor, of New York, modified by
Mr. Mercer, of Virginia, its consideration was postponed for several
weeks: all which, be it observed, is in open contrast with the manner
in which the present discussion has been precipitated upon Congress.
Meanwhile the Maine Bill, when reported to the House, was promptly
acted upon, and sent to the Senate.

In the interval between the report of the Missouri Bill and its
consideration by the House, a Committee was constituted, on motion of
Mr. Taylor, of New York, to inquire into the expediency of prohibiting
the introduction of Slavery into the Territories west of the
Mississippi. This Committee, at the end of a fortnight, was discharged
from further consideration of the subject, which, it was understood,
would enter into the postponed debate on the Missouri Bill.

    [46] See Niles's Weekly Register, Vol. XVII. _passim_.

This early effort to interdict Slavery in the Territories by special
law is worthy of notice on account of expressions of opinion it
drew forth. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Taylor declared that
"he presumed there was no member--he knew of none--who doubted the
constitutional power of Congress to impose such a restriction on the

    [47] Annals of Congress, 16th Cong. 1st Sess., I. 802.

A generous voice from Virginia recognized at once the right and duty
of Congress. This was from Charles Fenton Mercer, who declared, that,
"when the question proposed should come fairly before the House, he
should support the proposition.... He should record his vote against
suffering the dark cloud of calamity which now darkened his country
from rolling on beyond the peaceful shores of the Mississippi."[48]

    [48] Ibid., 803.

At length, on the 25th of January, 1820, the House resolved itself
into Committee of the Whole on the Missouri Bill, and proceeded with
its discussion, day by day, till the 28th of February, when it was
reported back with an amendment excluding Slavery from the proposed
State. At the opening of the debate an amendment was offered with a
view to Compromise, when Mr. Smith, of Maryland, for many years an
eminent Senator of that State, but at this time a Representative, while
opposing the restriction of Missouri, vindicated the prohibition of
Slavery in the Territories.

    "He said that he rose principally with a view to state his
    understanding of the proposed amendment, namely: That it retained
    the boundaries of Missouri as delineated in the bill; that it
    prohibited the admission of slaves west of the west line of
    Missouri, and north of the north line; that it did not interfere
    with the Territory of Arkansas, or the uninhabited land west
    thereof. _He thought the proposition not exceptionable_, but
    doubted the propriety of its forming a part of the bill. He
    considered the power of Congress over the Territory as supreme,
    unlimited, before its admission; that Congress could impose on its
    Territories any restriction it thought proper; and the people,
    when they settled therein, did so under a full knowledge of the
    restriction. If citizens go into the Territory thus restricted,
    they cannot carry with them slaves. They will be without slaves,
    and will be educated with prejudices and habits such as will
    exclude all desire on their part to admit Slavery, when they shall
    become sufficiently numerous to be admitted as a State. And this is
    the advantage proposed by the amendment."[49]

    [49] Annals of Congress, _ut supra_, I. 940, 941, January 26, 1820.

Meanwhile the same question was presented to the Senate, where a
conclusion was reached earlier than in the House. A clause for the
admission of Missouri was moved by way of tack to the Maine Bill.
To this an amendment was moved by Mr. Roberts, of Pennsylvania,
prohibiting the further introduction of Slavery into the State, which,
after a fortnight's debate, was defeated by twenty-seven nays to
sixteen yeas.

The debate in the Senate was of unusual interest and splendor. It
was especially illustrated by an effort of eminent power from that
great lawyer and orator, William Pinkney. Recently returned from
a succession of missions to foreign courts, and at this time the
acknowledged chief of the American bar, particularly skilled in
questions of Constitutional Law, his course as a Senator from Maryland
was calculated to produce a profound impression. A speech from him,
which for two days[50] drew to this Chamber an admiring throng, and at
the time was fondly compared with the best examples of Greece and Rome,
is without any record; but another, made shortly afterwards, remains to
us, and here we find the first authoritative proposition and statement
of what has been since known as the Missouri Compromise. This latter
effort was mainly directed against the restriction upon Missouri, but
it began and ended with the idea of Compromise. "Notwithstanding," he
says, "occasional appearances of rather an unfavorable description,
I have long since persuaded myself that the _Missouri question_, as
it is called, might be laid to rest with innocence and safety by some
_conciliatory compromise_ at least, by which, as is our duty, we might
reconcile the extremes of conflicting views and feelings, without
any sacrifice of constitutional principle." And he closed with the
hope that the restriction on Missouri would not be pressed, but that
the whole question "might be disposed of in a manner satisfactory to
all, _by a prospective prohibition of Slavery in the territory to the
north and west of Missouri_."[51] Here let me remark, that, in the
nomenclature of the time, the term "restriction" was applied to the
requirement of Freedom proposed for the State of Missouri, while the
term "prohibition" was applied to the outlying territory north of a
certain line.

    [50] January 21 and 24, 1820: Annals of Congress, _ut supra_, I.
    232, 236.

    [51] Ibid., I. 389-417, February 15, 1820. Wheaton's Life of
    Pinkney, Appendix, pp. 573-612.

The compromise proposed was abandonment of the "restriction," with
recognition of the "prohibition."

This authoritative proposition of Compromise from the most powerful
advocate of the unconditional admission of Missouri, was made in the
Senate on the 15th of February. From various indications, it seems to
have found prompt favor in that body. On the 16th of February, the
union of Maine and Missouri in one bill prevailed there by twenty-three
yeas to twenty-one nays. The next day, Mr. Thomas, of Illinois, who
had always voted with the South against any restriction upon Missouri,
introduced the famous clause prohibiting Slavery in territory north of
36° 30´ outside this State, which constitutes the eighth section of
the Missouri Act. An effort was made to include within the prohibition
"the whole country west of the Mississippi, except Louisiana, Arkansas,
and Missouri"; but the South united against such extension of the area
of Freedom, and it was defeated by twenty-four nays to twenty yeas.
The prohibition, as moved by Mr. Thomas, then prevailed by thirty-four
yeas to only ten nays. Among those in the affirmative were both the
Senators from each of the Slave States, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky,
Delaware, Maryland, and Alabama, and also one of the Senators from each
of the Slave States, Mississippi and North Carolina, including in the
honorable list the familiar names of William Pinkney, James Brown, and
William Rufus King.

This bill, thus amended, is the first legislative embodiment of the
Missouri Compact or Compromise, the essential conditions of which
were the admission of Missouri as a State without any restriction of
Slavery, and the prohibition of Slavery in all the remaining territory
of Louisiana north of 36° 30´.[52] Janus-faced, with one front towards
Freedom and another towards Slavery, this must not be confounded with
the simpler proposition of Mr. Taylor, at the preceding session, to
prohibit Slavery in all the territory north of 36° 30´, including
Missouri. The compromise now brought forward, following the early
lead of Mr. McLane, both recognized and prohibited Slavery north of
36° 30´. Here, for the first time, these two opposite principles
commingled in one legislative channel; and it is immediately subsequent
to this junction that we discern the precise responsibility assumed
by different parties. And now observe the indubitable and decisive
fact. This bill, thus composed, containing these two elements, this
double measure, finally passed the Senate by a test vote of twenty-four
yeas to twenty nays. The yeas embraced every Southern Senator except
Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina, and William Smith, of South

MR. BUTLER, of South Carolina (_interrupting_), Mr. Gaillard,
of South Carolina, voted with Mr. Smith.

MR. SUMNER. No, Sir: the Journal, which I now hold in my
hand, shows that he voted for the bill with the Compromise. I repeat,
that the yeas on this vital question embraced every Southern Senator
except Mr. Macon and Mr. Smith. The nays embraced every Northern
Senator, except the two Senators from Illinois, one Senator from Rhode
Island, and one from New Hampshire. And this, Sir, is the record of the
first stage in the adoption of the Missouri Compromise. First openly
announced and vindicated on the floor of the Senate by a distinguished
Southern statesman, it was forced on the North by an almost unanimous
Southern vote.

    [52] The eminent Judge Story, who was then in Washington, mentions
    these conditions in a private letter, under date of February 27,
    1820, as follows: "There is a great deal of heat and irritation,
    but most probably a compromise will take place, admitting Missouri
    into the Union without the restriction, and imposing it on all the
    other Territories."--_Letter to Stephen White, Esq._: Life and
    Letters of Story, Vol. I. pp. 362, 363.

       *       *       *       *       *

While things had thus culminated in the Senate, discussion was still
proceeding in the House on the original Missouri Bill. This was for
a moment arrested by the reception from the Senate of the Maine
Bill, amended by tacking to it a bill for the admission of Missouri,
embodying the Compromise. Upon this the debate was brief and the
decision prompt. The House was not disposed to abandon the substantial
restriction of Slavery in Missouri for what seemed its unsubstantial
prohibition in an unsettled territory. The Senate's amendments to
the Maine Bill were all rejected, and the bill left in its original
condition. This was done by large votes. Even the Prohibition of
Slavery was thrown out, by one hundred and fifty-nine yeas to eighteen
nays, both North and South uniting against it,--though, in this small,
but persistent minority, we find two Southern statesmen, Samuel Smith
and Charles Fenton Mercer. The Senate, on receiving the bill back from
the House, insisted on their amendments. The House in turn insisted on
their disagreement. According to parliamentary usage, a Committee of
Conference between the two Houses was now appointed. Mr. Thomas, of
Illinois, Mr. Pinkney, of Maryland, and Mr. James Barbour, of Virginia,
composed this important Committee on the part of the Senate; and Mr.
Holmes, of Massachusetts, from the District of Maine, Mr. Taylor, of
New York, Mr. Lowndes, of South Carolina, Mr. Parker, of Massachusetts,
and Mr. Kinsey, of New Jersey, on the part of the House.

Meanwhile the House voted on the original Missouri Bill. An amendment
peremptorily interdicting all Slavery in the new State was adopted
by ninety-four yeas to eighty-six nays; and thus the bill passed
the House and was sent to the Senate on the 1st of March. So, after
an exasperated and protracted discussion, the two Houses were at a
dead-lock. The double-headed Missouri Compromise was the ultimatum
of the Senate. The restriction of Slavery in Missouri, involving, of
course, its prohibition in all the unorganized territories, was the
ultimatum of the House.

At this stage, on the 2d of March, the Committee of Conference made
their report, which was urged at once upon the House by Mr. Lowndes,
the distinguished representative from South Carolina, and one of her
most cherished sons. And here, Sir, at the mention of this name,
still so fragrant among us, let me for one moment stop this current
of history, to express the honest admiration with which he inspires
me. Mr. Lowndes died before my memory of political events, but he is
still endeared by the self-abnegation of a single utterance,--_that the
Presidency is an office not to be sought or declined_,--a sentiment
which by its beauty, in one part at least, shames the vileness of
aspiration in our day. Such a man, on any occasion, would be a host;
but he now threw his great soul into the work. He even objected to
a motion to print the Report, on the ground "that it would imply a
determination in the House to delay a decision of the subject to-day,
which he had hoped the House was fully prepared for." The question then
followed on striking out the restriction in the Missouri Bill. The
report in the "National Intelligencer"[53] says:--

    "Mr. Lowndes spoke briefly in support of the Compromise recommended
    by the Committee of Conference, and urged with great earnestness
    the propriety of a decision which would restore tranquillity to the
    country, which was demanded by every consideration of discretion,
    of moderation, of wisdom, and of virtue."

    "Mr. Mercer [of Virginia] followed on the same side with great
    earnestness, and had spoken about half an hour, when he was
    compelled by indisposition to resume his seat."

    [53] See also Annals of Congress, _ut supra_, II. 1578, 1586, March
    2, 1820.

Such efforts, pressed with Southern ardor, were not unavailing. In
conformity with the report of the Committee, the whole question was
forthwith put at rest. Maine and Missouri were admitted into the
Union as independent States. The restriction of Slavery in Missouri
was abandoned by a vote in the House of ninety yeas to eighty-seven
nays; and the prohibition of Slavery in territories north of 36° 30´,
exclusive of Missouri, was substituted by a vote of one hundred and
thirty-four yeas to forty-two nays. Among the distinguished Southern
names in the affirmative are Louis McLane, of Delaware, Samuel Smith,
of Maryland, William Lowndes, of South Carolina, and Charles Fenton
Mercer, of Virginia. The title of the Missouri Bill was amended in
conformity with this prohibition, by adding the words, "and to prohibit
Slavery in certain Territories." _The bills then passed both Houses
without a division_; and on the morning of the 3d of March, 1820, the
"National Intelligencer" contained an exulting article, entitled "The
Question Settled."

Another paper, published in Baltimore, immediately after the passage of
the Compromise, vindicated it as a perpetual compact, which could not
be disturbed. The language is so clear and strong that I will read it,
although it has been already quoted by my able and excellent friend
from Ohio [Mr. CHASE].

    "_It is true, the Compromise is supported only by the letter
    of a law repealable by the authority which enacted it; but the
    circumstances of the case give to this law a MORAL FORCE equal
    to that of a positive provision of the Constitution; and we do
    not hazard anything by saying that the Constitution exists in its
    observance._ Both parties have sacrificed much to conciliation. _We
    wish to see the COMPACT kept in good faith_, and trust that a kind
    Providence will open the way to relieve us of an evil which every
    good citizen deprecates as the supreme curse of this country."[54]

    [54] Niles's Weekly Register, March 11, 1820.

Sir, the distinguished leaders in this settlement were all from the
South. As early as February, 1819, Louis McLane, of Delaware, urged it
upon Congress, in the form of a "compact binding upon all subsequent
Legislatures." It was in 1820 brought forward and upheld in the Senate
by William Pinkney, of Maryland, and passed in that body by the vote
of every Southern Senator except two, against the vote of every
Northern Senator except four. In the House it was welcomed at once by
Samuel Smith, of Maryland, and Charles Fenton Mercer, of Virginia.
The Committee of Conference, through which it finally prevailed, was
filled, on the part of the Senate, with inflexible partisans of the
South, such as might fitly represent the sentiments of its President,
John Gaillard, a Senator from South Carolina; on the part of the House,
it was nominated by Henry Clay, the Speaker, a Representative from
Kentucky. This Committee, thus constituted, drawing its double life
from the South, was unanimous in favor of the Compromise, with but
one dissenting voice, and that from the North,--John W. Taylor, of
New York. A private letter from Mr. Pinkney, written at the time, and
preserved by his distinguished biographer, shows that the report made
by the Committee came from him.

    "The bill for the admission of Missouri into the Union (_without_
    restriction as to Slavery) may be considered as passed. That
    bill was sent back again this morning from the House, _with
    the restriction as to Slavery_. The Senate voted to amend it
    by striking out the restriction (twenty-seven to fifteen), and
    proposed, as another amendment, _what I have all along been the
    advocate of, a restriction upon the vacant territory to the north
    and west, as to Slavery_. To-night the House of Representatives
    have agreed to _both_ of these amendments, in opposition to their
    former votes, and this affair is settled. To-morrow we shall (of
    course) recede from our amendments as to Maine (our object being
    effected), and both States will be admitted. _This happy result has
    been accomplished by the Conference, of which I was a member on the
    part of the Senate, and of which I proposed the report which has
    been made._"[55]

    [55] Wheaton's Life of Pinkney, p. 167.

Thus again the Compromise takes its life from the South. Proposed
in the Committee by Mr. Pinkney, it was urged on the House of
Representatives, with great earnestness, by Mr. Lowndes, of South
Carolina, and Mr. Mercer, of Virginia: and here again is the most
persuasive voice of the South. When passed by Congress, it next came
before the President, James Monroe, of Virginia, for his approval, who
did not sign it till after the _unanimous_ opinion, in writing, of his
Cabinet, composed of John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, John C.
Calhoun, Smith Thompson, and William Wirt,--a majority of whom were
Southern men,--that the prohibition of Slavery in the Territories was
constitutional. Thus yet again the Compromise takes its life from the

As the Compromise took its life from the South, so, in the judgment of
its own statesmen at the time, and according to unquestionable facts,
the South was the conquering party. It gained forthwith its darling
desire, the first and essential stage in the admission of Missouri
as a Slave State, successfully consummated at the next session,--and
subsequently the admission of Arkansas, also as a Slave State. From the
crushed and humbled North it received more than the full consideration
stipulated in its favor. On the side of the North the contract has
been more than executed. And now the South refuses to perform the part
which it originally proposed and assumed in this transaction. With the
consideration in its pocket, it repudiates the bargain which it forced
upon the country. This, Sir, is a simple statement of the present

A subtile German has declared that he could find heresies in the
Lord's Prayer; and I believe it is only in this spirit that any flaw
can be found in the existing obligations of this compact. As late as
1848, in the discussions of this body, the Senator from Virginia [Mr.
MASON], who usually sits behind me, but who is not now in his
seat, while condemning it in many aspects, says:--

    "Yet, as it was agreed to, as a Compromise, by the _South_, for the
    sake of the Union, _I would be the last to disturb it_."[56]

    [56] Congressional Globe, 30th Cong. 1st Sess., Vol. XIX.,
    Appendix, p. 887.

Even this determined Senator recognized it as an obligation which
he would not disturb. And, though disbelieving the original
constitutionality of the arrangement, he was clearly right. I know,
Sir, that it is in form simply a Legislative Act; but as the Act
of Settlement in England, declaring the rights and liberties of
the subject and settling the succession of the Crown, has become a
permanent part of the British Constitution, irrepealable by any common
legislation, so this Act, under all the circumstances attending its
passage, also by long acquiescence, and the complete performance of
its conditions by one party, has become part of our fundamental law,
irrepealable by any common legislation. As well might Congress at
this moment undertake to overhaul the original purchase of Louisiana
as unconstitutional, and now, on this account, thrust away that
magnificent heritage, with all its cities, States, and Territories,
teeming with civilization. The Missouri Compact, in its unperformed
obligations to Freedom, stands at this day as impregnable as the
Louisiana purchase.

I appeal to Senators about me not to disturb it. I appeal to the
Senators from Virginia to keep inviolate the compact made in their
behalf by James Barbour and Charles Fenton Mercer. I appeal to the
Senators from South Carolina to guard the work of John Gaillard and
William Lowndes. I appeal to the Senators from Maryland to uphold the
Compromise which elicited the constant support of Samuel Smith, and was
first triumphantly pressed by the unsurpassed eloquence of Pinkney.
I appeal to the Senators from Delaware to maintain the landmark of
Freedom in the Territory of Louisiana early proposed by Louis McLane.
I appeal to the Senators from Kentucky not to repudiate the pledges
of Henry Clay. I appeal to the Senators from Alabama not to break the
agreement sanctioned by the earliest votes in the Senate of their late
most honored fellow-citizen, William Rufus King. Sir, I have heard of
honor that felt a stain like a wound. If there be any such in this
Chamber,--and surely there is,--it will hesitate to take upon itself
the stain of this transaction.

Sir, Congress may now set aside this obligation, repudiate this
plighted faith, annul this compact; and some of you, forgetful of
the _majesty of honest dealing_, in order to support Slavery, may
consider it advantageous to use this power. To all such let me commend
a familiar story. An eminent leader in Antiquity, Themistocles,
once announced to the Athenian Assembly, that he had a scheme in
contemplation, highly beneficial to the State, but which could not be
made public. He was thereupon directed to communicate it to Aristides,
surnamed the Just, and, if approved by him, to put it in execution.
The brief and memorable judgment of Aristides was, that, while nothing
could be more advantageous to Athens, nothing could be more unjust; and
the Assembly, responding at once, commanded that the project should be
abandoned. It appears that it was proposed to burn the combined Greek
fleet, then enjoying the security of peace in a neighboring sea, and
thus confirm the naval supremacy of Athens.[57] A similar proposition
is now brought before the American Senate. You are asked to destroy
a safeguard of Freedom, consecrated by solemn compact, under which
the country is reposing in the security of peace, and thus confirm
the supremacy of Slavery. To this institution and its partisans the
proposition may seem advantageous; but nothing can be more unjust. Let
the judgment of the Athenian democracy be yours.

This is what I have to say upon this head. I now pass to the second
branch of the argument.

    [57] Plutarch, Themistocles.


Mr. President,--It is not only as an infraction of solemn compact,
embodied in ancient law, that I oppose this bill; I arraign it as a
flagrant and extravagant departure from the original policy of our
fathers, consecrated by their lives, opinions, and acts.

[Here Mr. Sumner proceeded to set forth the Antislavery policy at the
foundation of the Government,--less fully than in the earlier speech,
_Freedom National, Slavery Sectional_, but substantially in the same
vein. After alluding to the memorial of Franklin, addressed to the
first Congress under the Constitution, he proceeded as follows.]

The memorial of Franklin, with other memorials of a similar character,
was referred to a Committee, and much debated in the House, which
finally sanctioned the following resolution, and directed the same to
be entered upon its Journals, namely:--

    "That Congress have no authority to interfere in the emancipation
    of slaves, or in the treatment of them, within any of the
    States: _it remaining with the several States alone to provide
    any regulations therein which humanity and true policy may

This resolution, declaring the principle of non-intervention by
Congress with Slavery in the States, was adopted by the same Congress
which had solemnly affirmed the Prohibition of Slavery in all the
existing territory of the Union; so that one may be regarded as the
complement of the other. And it is on these double acts, at the first
organization of the Government, and the recorded sentiments of the
founders, that I take my stand, and challenge all question.

In the country, at this time, there was strictly no dividing line
between Antislavery and Proslavery. The Antislavery sentiment was
thoroughly national, broad and general, pervading alike all parts of
the Union, and uprising from the common heart of the entire people.
The Proslavery interest was strictly personal and pecuniary, and had
its source simply in the self-interest of individual slaveholders. It
contemplated Slavery only as a domestic institution, not as a political
element, and merely stipulated for its security where it actually
existed within the States.

    [58] Annals of Congress, 1st Cong. 2d Sess., II. 1472-74, March 23,

Sir, the original policy of the country, begun under the Confederation,
and recognized at the initiation of the new Government, is clear and
unmistakable. Compendiously expressed, it was _non-intervention by
Congress with Slavery in the States, and its prohibition in all the
national domain_. In this way discordant feelings on this subject
were reconciled. Slave-masters were left at home in their respective
States, under the protection of local laws, to hug Slavery without
interference from Congress, while all opposed to it were exempted from
any responsibility therefor in the national domain. This, Sir, is the
common ground on which our political fabric was reared; and I do not
hesitate to say that it is the only ground on which it can stand in
permanent peace.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our Republic has swollen in population and power, but it has shrunk
in character. It is not now what it was in the beginning, a Republic
merely permitting, while it regretted Slavery,--tolerating it only
where it could not be removed, and interdicting it where it did not
exist,--but a mighty Propagandist, openly favoring and vindicating
it,--visiting, also, with displeasure all who oppose it.

Sir, our country early reached heights which it could not keep. Its
fall was gentle, but complete. At the session of Congress immediately
following the ratification of the Prohibition of Slavery in the
national domain, a transfer of the territory now constituting Tennessee
was accepted from North Carolina (2d April, 1790), loaded with the
express proviso, "that no regulations made or to be made by Congress
shall tend to emancipate slaves": a formal provision, which, while
admitting the power of Congress over Slavery in the Territories, waived
the prevailing policy of executing it. This was followed, in 1798, by
the transfer from Georgia of the region between her present western
limit and the Mississippi, under a similar condition. In both these
cases apology may be found in the very terms of the transfer, and in
the fact that the region constituted part of two States where Slavery
actually existed,--though it will be confessed that even here there
was a descent from that summit of Freedom on which the Nation had so
proudly rested.

Without tracing this downward course through its successive stages, let
me refer to facts which too palpably reveal the abyss that has been
reached. Early in our history no man was disqualified for public office
by reason of his opinions on this subject; and this condition continued
for a long period. As late as 1820, John W. Taylor, Representative from
New York, who pressed with so much energy, not merely the prohibition
of Slavery in the Territories, but its restriction in the State of
Missouri, was elected to the chair of Henry Clay, as Speaker of the
other House. It is needless to add, that no determined supporter of the
prohibition of Slavery in the Territories at this day could expect that
eminent trust.... To such lowest deep has our Government descended!

These things prepare us to comprehend the true character of the change
with regard to the Territories. In 1787 all existing national domain
was promptly and unanimously dedicated to Freedom, without opposition
or criticism. The interdict of Slavery then covered every inch of
soil belonging to the National Government. Louisiana, an immense
region beyond the bounds of the original States, was subsequently
acquired, and in 1820, after a vehement struggle which shook the whole
land, discomfited Freedom was compelled, by a dividing line, to a
partition with Slavery. This arrangement, which, in its very terms, was
exclusively applicable to a particular territory purchased from France,
has been accepted as final down to the present session of Congress;
but now, Sir, here in 1854, Freedom is suddenly summoned to surrender
even her hard-won moiety. Here are the three stages: at the first, all
consecrated to Freedom; at the second, only half; at the third, all
grasped by Slavery. The original policy of the Government is absolutely
reversed. Slavery, which at the beginning was a sectional institution,
with no foothold anywhere on the National Territory, is now exalted
as national, and all our broad domain is threatened by its blighting

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus much for what I have to say, at this time, of the original policy,
consecrated by the lives, opinions, and acts of our fathers. Certain
reasons are adduced for the proposed departure from their great
example, which, though of little validity, I would not pass in silence.

The Prohibition of Slavery in the Territories is assailed, as beyond
the power of Congress, and an infringement of local sovereignty. On
this account, at this late day, it is pronounced unconstitutional.
Now, without considering minutely the sources from which the power
of Congress over the national domain is derived,--whether from
express grant in the Constitution to make rules and regulations for
the government of the Territory, or from power, necessarily implied,
to govern territory acquired by conquest or purchase,--it seems to
me impossible to deny its existence, without invalidating a large
portion of the legislation of the country, from the adoption of the
Constitution down to the present day. This power was asserted before
the Constitution. It was not denied or prohibited by the Constitution
itself. Exercised from the first existence of the Government, it has
been recognized by the three departments, Executive, Legislative, and
Judicial. Precedents of every kind are thick in its support. Indeed,
the very bill now before us assumes a control of the Territory clearly
inconsistent with those principles of sovereignty which are said to be
violated by Congressional prohibition of Slavery.

Here are provisions determining the main features of the Government,
the distribution of powers in the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial
departments, and the manner in which they shall be respectively
constituted,--securing to the President, with the consent of the
Senate, the appointment of Governor, Secretary, and Judges, and to the
people only the election of the Legislature,--and even ordaining the
qualifications of voters, the salaries of the public officers, and
the daily compensation of the members of the Legislature. Surely, if
Congress may establish these provisions, without interference with the
rights of territorial sovereignty, it is absurd to say that it may not
also prohibit Slavery.

In this very bill there is an express prohibition on the Territory,
borrowed from the Ordinance of 1787, and repeated in every Act
organizing a Territory, or even a new State, down to the present time,
where it is expressly declared that "no tax shall be imposed upon the
property of the United States." Now here is a clear and unquestionable
restriction upon the Territories and States. The public lands of the
United States, situated within an organized Territory or State, cannot
be regarded as the _instruments_ and _means_ necessary and proper
to execute the sovereign powers of the nation, like fortifications,
arsenals, and navy-yards. They are strictly in the nature of _private
property_ of the nation, and as such, unless exempted by the foregoing
prohibition, would clearly be within the scope of local taxation,
liable, like the lands of other proprietors, to all customary burdens
and incidents. Mr. Justice Woodbury has declared, in a well-considered
judgment, that, "where the United States own land situated within
the limits of particular States, and over which they have no cession
of jurisdiction, for objects either special or general, little doubt
exists that the rights and remedies in relation to it are usually such
as apply to other land-owners within the State."[59] I assume, then,
that without this prohibition these lands would be liable to taxation.
Does any one question this? Nobody. The conclusion, then, follows, that
by this prohibition you propose to deprive the present Territory, as
you have deprived other Territories,--ay, and States,--of an essential
portion of its sovereignty.

    [59] United States _v._ Ames, 1 Woodbury & Minot, 80.

And these, Sir, are not vain words. The Supreme Court of the United
States has given great prominence to the sovereign right of taxation in
the States. In the case of _Providence Bank_ v. _Billings and Pittman_,
4 Peters, 561, they declare,--

    "That the taxing power is of vital importance; _that it is
    essential to the existence of Government_; that the relinquishment
    of such a power is never to be assumed."

And again, in the case of _Dobbins_ v. _Commissioners of Erie County_,
16 Peters, 447, they say:--

    "Taxation is a sacred right, _essential to the existence of
    Government, an incident of sovereignty_. The right of legislation
    is coëxtensive with the incident, to attach it upon all persons and
    property within the jurisdiction of a State."

Now I call upon Senators to remark, that this sacred right, reputed so
essential to the very existence of Government, is abridged in the bill
before us.

For myself, I do not doubt the power of Congress to fasten this
restriction upon the Territory, and afterwards upon the State, as is
always done; but I am at a loss to see on what grounds this restriction
can be placed, which will not also support the Prohibition of Slavery.
The former is an unquestionable infringement of sovereignty, as
declared by our Supreme Court, far more than can be asserted of the

I am unwilling to admit, Sir, that the Prohibition of Slavery in the
Territories is in any just sense an infringement of local sovereignty.
Slavery is an infraction of the immutable Law of Nature, and as such
cannot be considered a natural incident to any sovereignty, especially
in a country which has solemnly declared, in its Declaration of
Independence, the unalienable right of all men to life, _liberty_, and
the pursuit of happiness. In an age of civilization, and in a land of
rights, Slavery may still be tolerated _in fact_; but its prohibition
within a municipal jurisdiction by the government thereof--as by one of
the States of the Union,--cannot be considered an infraction of natural
rights; nor can its prohibition by Congress in the Territories be
regarded as an infringement of local sovereignty, founded, as it must
be, on natural rights.

Then comes another argument, most fallacious in its character. It
is asserted, that, inasmuch as the Territories were acquired by the
common treasure, they are the common property of the whole Union, and
therefore no citizen can be prevented from carrying into them his
slaves, without infringement of the equal rights and privileges which
belong to him as a citizen of the United States. But it is admitted
that the people of this very Territory, when organized as a State, may
exclude slaves, and in this way abridge an asserted right, founded on
the common property in the Territory. Now, if this can be done by the
few thousand settlers who constitute the State Government, the whole
argument founded on the acquisition of the Territories by a common
treasure is futile and evanescent.

But this argument proceeds on an assumption which cannot stand. It
assumes that Slavery is a National Institution, and that property in
slaves is recognized by the Constitution of the United States. Nothing
can be more false. By the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United
States, and also by the principles of the Common Law, Slavery is a
local municipal institution, deriving its support exclusively from
local municipal laws, and beyond the sphere of these laws it ceases to
exist, except so far as it may be preserved by the uncertain clause
for the rendition of fugitives from service. Madison thought it wrong
to admit in the Constitution the idea that there can be property in
men; and I rejoice to believe that no such idea can be found there. The
Constitution regards slaves always as "persons," with the rights of
"persons,"--never as property. When it is said, therefore, that every
citizen may enter the national domain with his property, it does not
follow, by any rule of logic or of law, that he may carry his slaves.
On the contrary, he can carry only that property which is admitted such
by the universal Law of Nature, written by God's own finger on the
heart of man. In vain do you speak of "rights" in the Territories,--as
if this august word could be profaned to characterize such a claim.

The relation of master and slave is sometimes classed with the
"domestic relations." Now, while it is unquestionably among the powers
of any State, within its own jurisdiction, to change the existing
relation of husband and wife, and to establish polygamy, I presume no
person would contend that a polygamous husband, resident in one of
the States, would be entitled to enter the National Territory with
his harem,--his property, if you please,--and there claim immunity.
Clearly, when he passes the bounds of that local jurisdiction which
sanctions polygamy, the peculiar domestic relation would cease: and it
is precisely the same with Slavery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sir, I dismiss these considerations. The Prohibition of Slavery in the
Territory of Kansas and Nebraska stands on foundations of living rock,
upheld by the early policy of the Fathers, by constant precedent, and
time-honored compact. It is now in your power to overturn it; you may
remove the sacred landmark, and open the whole vast domain to Slavery.
To you is committed this high prerogative. Our fathers, on the eve of
the Revolution, set forth in burning words, among their grievances,
that George the Third, "determined to keep open a market where men
should be bought and sold, had prostituted his negative for suppressing
every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable
commerce."[60] Sir, like the English monarch, you may now prostitute
your power to this same purpose. But you cannot escape the judgment of
the world, nor the doom of history.

    [60] First Draught of the Declaration of Independence: Jefferson's
    Writings, Vol. I. p. 23.

It will be in vain, that, while doing this thing, you plead in apology
the principle of _self-government_, which you profess to recognize in
the Territories. Sir, this very principle, when truly administered,
secures equal rights to all, without distinction of race or color, and
makes Slavery impossible. By no rule of justice, and by no subtilty of
political metaphysics, can the right to hold a fellow-man in bondage
be regarded as essential to self-government. The inconsistency is too
flagrant. It is apparent on the bare statement. It is like saying _two_
and _two_ make _three_. In the name of Liberty you open the door to
Slavery. With professions of Equal Rights on the lips, you trample on
the rights of Human Nature. With a kiss upon the brow of that fair
Territory, you betray it to wretchedness and shame. Well did the
patriot soul exclaim, in bitter words, wrung out by bitter experience,
"O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!"[61]

    [61] "O Liberté, que de crimes on commet en ton nom!"--MME. ROLAND.

In vain, Sir, you will plead that this measure proceeds 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._[62] 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.

    [62] Bodinus, de Republica, Lib. I. cap. 8, p. 90.

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 Northern 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.

[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 slave-trade 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.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "_Bru._ Hear me, for I will speak.
    Must I give way and room to your rash choler?

       *       *       *       *       *

    "_Cas._ O ye gods! ye gods! must I endure all this?

    "_Bru._ All this? Ay, more: fret, till your proud heart break:
    _Go, show your slaves how choleric you are,
    And make your bondmen tremble._ Must I budge?
    Must I observe you? Must I stand and crouch
    Under your testy humor?

       *       *       *       *       *

    "_Cas._ Do not presume too much upon my love;
    I may do that I shall be sorry for.

    "_Bru._ _You have done that you should be sorry for._
    There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats;
    For I am armed so strong in honesty,
    That they pass by me as the idle wind,
    Which I respect not.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "_Cas._ A friend should bear his friend's infirmities, But Brutus
    makes mine greater than they are.

    "_Bru._ I do not, TILL YOU PRACTISE THEM ON ME.

    "CAS. You love me not.

    "_Bru._ I do not like your faults."

And the colloquy proceeding, each finally comes to understand the
other, appreciates his character and attitude, and the impetuous,
gallant Cassius exclaims, "Give me your hand!"--to which Brutus
replies, "And my heart too!" Afterwards, with hand and heart united, on
the field of Philippi they together upheld the liberties of Rome.

The North and the South, Sir, as I fondly trust, amidst all
differences, will ever have hand and heart for each other; and
believing in the sure prevalence of Almighty Truth, I confidently
look forward to the good time, when both will unite, according to the
sentiments of the Fathers and the true spirit of the Constitution,
in declaring Freedom, and not Slavery, NATIONAL, to the end
that the Flag of the Republic, wherever it floats, on sea or land,
within the National jurisdiction, may cover none but freemen. Then
will be achieved that Union contemplated at the beginning, against
which the storms of faction and the assaults of foreign power shall
beat in vain, as upon the Rock of Ages,--and LIBERTY, seeking

                    WHEN WILL THE NORTH BE AROUSED?

             LETTER TO A PERSONAL FRIEND, MARCH 30, 1854.

The following private letter found its way into the public prints.

                                        SENATE CHAMBER, March 30, 1854.

    My dear----: Your letter has cheered and strengthened me. It came
    to me, too, with pleasant memories of early life. As I read it, the
    gates of the Past seemed to open, and I saw again the bright fields
    of study in which we walked together.

    Our battle here has been severe, and much of its brunt has fallen
    upon a few. For weeks my trials and anxieties were intense. It is a
    satisfaction to know that they have found sympathy among good men.

    But the Slave Power will push its tyranny yet further, and there is
    but one remedy,--Union at the North without distinction of party,
    to take possession of the National Government, and administer it in
    the spirit of Freedom, and not of Slavery. Oh, when will the North
    be aroused?

    Ever sincerely yours,




                                            SENATE CHAMBER, May 1, 1854.

    My Dear Sir,--I cannot be with you at your meeting on Wednesday
    next: my post of duty is here. But I must not lose the opportunity
    afforded by your invitation to express anew my abhorrence of the
    outrage upon Freedom and public faith attempted by the Nebraska
    Bill, and to offer my gratitude to those who unite in the good work
    of opposing it.

    In this warfare there is room for every human activity. By speech,
    vote, public meeting, sermon, and prayer, we have already striven.
    But a new agent is now announced. It is proposed to organize a
    company of Liberty-loving citizens, who shall enter upon the broad
    lands in question, and by example, voice, and vote, trained under
    the peculiar institutions of Massachusetts, overrule the designs of
    slave-masters. The purpose has a nobleness which gives assurance of

    With a heart full of love for Massachusetts, her schools,
    libraries, churches, and happy homes, I should hesitate to counsel
    any one to turn away from her, a voluntary exile. I do not venture
    such advice. But if any there be among us, to whom our goodly
    Commonwealth seems narrow, and who incline to cast their lines in
    other places,--to such I would say, that they will do well, while
    becoming, each for himself, the artificer of his fortune, to enter
    into the Sacred Legion by which Liberty shall be safely guarded
    in Nebraska and Kansas. Thus will mingle public good with private

    The Pilgrim Fathers turned their backs upon their native land to
    secure Liberty for themselves and their children. The emigrants
    whom you organize have a higher motive. Liberty for _themselves_
    and their children is already secured in Massachusetts. They will
    go to secure Liberty for _others_,--to guard an immense territory
    from the invasion of Slavery, and to dedicate it forever to
    Liberty. In such an expedition volunteers may win a victory of
    peace, which history will record with admiration and gratitude.

    Believe me, dear Sir,

    Very faithfully yours,


    THOMAS DREW, Esq., Chairman of the Committee.

                              AND KANSAS.

                NEBRASKA AND KANSAS BILL, MAY 25, 1854.

Among the important incidents of the Nebraska Debate was a protest
from three thousand clergymen of New England, which was severely
denounced by the supporters of the aggression, especially by
Mr. Douglas. Particular objection was taken to the words, "In the
name of Almighty God, and in his presence," which were employed by
the protestants. The heats on both sides increased. At a later stage
Mr. Sumner felt constrained to speak again, which he did for himself
and the much-abused clergy. This brief effort attracted unusual attention.
It seemed to meet the rising sentiments of the people, and
especially of the clergy. Rev. Dr. Allen, formerly President of Bowdoin
College, wrote: "Our _Northampton Courier_ of yesterday contained
your bold and admirable midnight speech. I thank you for
what you said for the clergy, but more especially what you said for the
country and for Freedom." Rev. Dr. Storrs, of Braintree, Massachusetts,
an eminent Congregationalist, wrote: "I took my pen only to
say a single word,--to tell you of my grateful admiration of your
courage, faithfulness, and eloquence in defence of truth and godliness
against the increasing tide of hellish principles and passions." Rev.
Theodore Parker wrote: "I have had no time to thank you for your
noble speech till this minute. Nat. Bowditch says it is the best
speech delivered in the Senate of the United States in his day. You
never did a thing more timely, or which will be more warmly welcomed
than this." George S. Hillard, a friend of many years, but differing
in position on political questions, wrote: "Your last brief speech on
the Nebraska Bill is capital. I think it the best speech you have ever
made. The mixture of dignity and spirit is most happy. We are
going to fill up that region with free laborers, and secure it against
Slavery." John G. Whittier wrote: "It was the fitting word; it
entirely satisfied me; and with a glow of heart I thanked God that
its author was my friend." As the speech received the sympathy of
friends, so it aroused all the bad passions on the side of Slavery. The
manifestation that ensued will appear in a note at the end.

The original debate in the Senate on the Nebraska and Kansas Bill,
in which Mr. Sumner took part, was closed by the passage of that
bill--after a protracted session throughout the night--on the morning
of Saturday, March 4, 1854, by a vote of thirty-seven yeas to fourteen
nays. The bill was then sent to the House of Representatives. It was
there taken up and referred to the Committee of the Whole; but, owing
to the mass of prior business, it became impossible to reach it. Under
these circumstances, a fresh bill, nearly identical with that which
passed the Senate, was introduced and passed the House. This, of
course, required the action of the Senate. On the 23d of May a message
from the House announced its passage, and asked the concurrence of the
Senate. It was at once read a first time; but, on the objection of Mr.
Sumner, its second reading was stopped for that day. The next day, on
motion of Mr. Douglas, all prior orders were postponed for the purpose
of considering it. The debate upon it continued during that day and
the next. The interest it excited was attested by crowded galleries to
the end. Among spectators on the floor of the Senate was the Earl of
Elgin, Governor-General of Canada, with his suite, then in Washington
to negotiate the Canadian Reciprocity Treaty. Late in the night of the
last day, after the bill was reported to the Senate, and the question
put by the Chair, "Shall the bill be engrossed and read a third time?"
Mr. Sumner took the floor and said:--

Mr. President,--It is now midnight. At this late hour of a session
drawn out to unaccustomed length, I shall not fatigue the Senate by
argument. There is a time for all things, and the time for argument
has passed. The determination of the majority is fixed; but it is not
more fixed than mine. The bill which they sustain I oppose. On a former
occasion I met it by argument, which, though often attacked in debate,
still stands unanswered and unanswerable. At present I am admonished
that I must be content with a few words of earnest protest against the
consummation of a great wrong. Duty to myself, and also to the honored
Commonwealth of which I find myself the sole representative in this
immediate exigency, will not allow me to do less.

But I have a special duty, which I would not omit. Here on my desk are
remonstrances against the passage of this bill, some placed in my hands
since the commencement of the debate to-day, and I desire that these
voices, direct from the people, should be heard. With the permission of
the Senate, I will offer them now.

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. STUART in the chair). The remonstrances
    can be received by unanimous consent.

    SEVERAL VOICES. Let them be received.

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair hears no objection.

MR. SUMNER. Taking advantage of this permission, I now present
the remonstrance of a large number of citizens of New York against the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise.

I also present the memorial of the religious Society of Friends in
Michigan against the passage of the Nebraska Bill, or any other bill
annulling the Missouri Compromise Act of 1820.

I also present the remonstrance of the clergy and laity of the Baptist
denomination in Michigan and Indiana against the wrong and bad faith
contemplated in the Nebraska Bill.

But this is not all. I hold in my hand, and now present to the Senate,
one hundred and twenty-five separate remonstrances, from clergymen
of every Protestant denomination in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, constituting the six
New England States. These remonstrances are identical in character
with the larger one presented by my distinguished colleague [Mr.
EVERETT],--whose term of service here ends in a few days by
voluntary resignation, and who is now detained at home by illness,--and
were originally intended as part of it, but did not arrive in season
for annexation to that interesting and weighty document. They are
independent in form, though supplementary in nature, helping to swell
the protest of the pulpits of New England.

With pleasure and pride I now do this service, and at this last stage
interpose the sanctity of the pulpits of New England to arrest an
alarming outrage,--believing that the remonstrants, from their eminent
character and influence as representatives of the intelligence and
conscience of the country, are peculiarly entitled to be heard,--and,
further, believing that their remonstrances, while respectful in form,
embody just conclusions, both of opinion and fact. Like them, Sir, I do
not hesitate to protest against the bill yet pending before the Senate,
as a great moral wrong, as a breach of public faith, as a measure full
of danger to the peace, and even existence, of our Union. And, Sir,
believing in God, as I profoundly do, I cannot doubt that the opening
of an immense region to so great an enormity as Slavery is calculated
to draw down upon our country his righteous judgments.

"In the name of Almighty God, and in his presence," these remonstrants
protest against the Nebraska Bill. In this solemn language, most
strangely pronounced blasphemous on this floor, there is obviously
no assumption of ecclesiastical power, as is perversely charged, but
simply a devout observance of the Scriptural injunction, "Whatsoever
ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord." Let me add,
also, that these remonstrants, in this very language, have followed the
example of the Senate, which, at our present session, has ratified at
least one important treaty beginning with these precise words, "In the
name of Almighty God." Surely, if the Senate may thus assume to speak,
the clergy may do likewise, without imputation of blasphemy, or any
just criticism, at least in this body.

I am unwilling, particularly at this time, to be betrayed into anything
like a defence of the clergy. They need no such thing at my hands.
There are men in this Senate justly eminent for eloquence, learning,
and ability; but there is no man here competent, except in his own
conceit, to sit in judgment on the clergy of New England. Honorable
Senators, so swift with criticism and sarcasm, might profit by their
example. Perhaps the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. BUTLER],
who is not insensible to scholarship, might learn from them something
of its graces. Perhaps the Senator from Virginia [Mr. MASON],
who finds no sanction under the Constitution for any remonstrance
from clergymen, might learn from them something of the privileges
of an American citizen. And perhaps the Senator from Illinois [Mr.
DOUGLAS], who precipitated this odious measure upon the
country, might learn from them something of political wisdom. Sir, from
the first settlement of these shores, from those early days of struggle
and privation, through the trials of the Revolution, the clergy are
associated not only with the piety and the learning, but with the
liberties of the country. New England for a long time was governed by
their prayers more than by any acts of the Legislature; and at a later
day their voices aided even the Declaration of Independence. The clergy
of our time speak, then, not only from their own virtues, but from
echoes yet surviving in the pulpits of their fathers.

For myself, I desire to thank them for their generous interposition.
Already they have done much good in moving the country. They will
not be idle. In the days of the Revolution, John Adams, yearning for
Independence, said, "Let the pulpits thunder against oppression!" And
the pulpits thundered.[63] The time has come for them to thunder again.
So famous was John Knox for power in prayer, that Queen Mary used to
say she feared his prayers more than all the armies of Europe. But our
clergy have prayers to be feared by the upholders of wrong.

    [63] A specimen is an address by Rev. Thomas Allen, Minister
    of Pittsfield, Mass., entitled "Instruction and Counsel of a
    Country Clergyman, given to his People, Lord's Day, June 20, 1779,
    immediately after reading [to them] the Address of the Honorable
    Congress to the Inhabitants of these United States." See Boston
    Independent Chronicle, July 15, 1779.

There are lessons taught by these remonstrances, which, at this moment,
should not pass unheeded. The Senator from Ohio [Mr. WADE],
on the other side of the chamber, has openly declared that Northern
Whigs can never again combine with their Southern brethren in support
of Slavery. This is a good augury. The clergy of New England, some
of whom, forgetful of the traditions of other days, once made their
pulpits vocal for the Fugitive Slave Bill, now, by the voices of
learned divines, eminent bishops, accomplished professors, and faithful
pastors, uttered in solemn remonstrance, unite at last in putting
a permanent brand upon this hateful wrong. Surely, from this time
forward, they can never more render it any support. Thank God for this!
Here is a sign full of promise for Freedom.

These remonstrances have especial significance, when 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, "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
to go further into this debate; but I object to the reception of the

       *       *       *       *       *

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 chamber, you treat them with an indignity which becomes more
marked, because it is the constant habit of the Senate to welcome
remonstrances from members of the Society of Friends in their religious
character, and from all other persons, by any designation which they
may adopt. Booksellers remonstrate against the international copyright
treaty; last-makers against a proposed change in the patent laws;
and only lately the tobacconists have remonstrated against certain
regulations touching tobacco: and all these remonstrances are received
with respect, and referred to appropriate committees in the Senate. But
the clergy of New England, when protesting against a wicked measure,
which, with singular unanimity, they believe full of peril and shame to
our country, are told to stay at home. Almost the jeer is heard, "Go
up, thou bald head!" If not well, it is at least natural, that the act
you are about to commit should be attended by this concordant outrage.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the Kansas and Nebraska Bill came forth a demon. Down to this time
the hostility to Mr. Sumner in the Senate was limited. It now became
more general, although he had said nothing in any way to justify it,
except that he had exposed Slavery and the pretensions in its behalf.
From the Senate it extended among the partisans of Slavery.

Meanwhile an incident in Boston was used to arouse a feeling against
him. On the evening of the 24th of May Anthony Burns was seized there
as a fugitive slave, on the claim of a citizen of Virginia, and
detained by the marshal in a room of the Court-House. In the course of
the evening of the 26th, immediately after a meeting at Faneuil Hall,
addressed by Abolitionists, the Court-House was attacked by a number of
citizens, and in the defence, James Batchelder, one of the guard, was
killed. The report of his death caused a great sensation at Washington.
It was received while the impression of Mr. Sumner's midnight speech
was still fresh, and was at once attributed to that effort. Mr. Sumner
was treated as responsible for this act, and the official organs of the
Administration openly denounced him as "murderer." It was predicted
in the speech that the bill would "scatter dragons' teeth," which he
was assured would "fructify in civil strife and feud"; but plainly
there was nothing to suggest or excite violence, even if at the time
the speech had been known in Boston, as it was not. It was concluded on
the morning of the 26th of May, at too late an hour for the telegraph,
and in fact was not known in Boston until it reached there by mail on
the 27th; but Batchelder was killed on the previous evening. And yet,
in the face of these unquestionable facts, there was a cry against Mr.

The _Union_, which was the official organ, thus broke forth on the
morning of May 30th.

    "Boston in arms against the Constitution, and an Abolition fanatic,
    the distant leader, safe from the fire and the fagot he invokes
    from his seat in the Senate of the United States, _giving the
    command_. Men shot down in the faithful discharge of duty to a
    law based upon a constitutional guaranty, and _the word which
    encourages the assassin_ given by a man who has sworn on the
    Holy Evangelists and in the presence of his Maker to support the
    Constitution of the country. But our Charles Sumner tells us that
    a new era has been inaugurated, ... that the Constitution shall
    not be obeyed, and that Slavery shall at all and every hazard be
    uprooted and destroyed, in spite of all that has been pledged and
    written in other days."

The _Star_, another organ of the Administration, repeated the
imputations of the _Union_, in a long article, of which the following
is a specimen.

    "If Southern gentlemen are threatened and assaulted, while legally
    seeking to obtain possession of property for the use of which they
    have a solemn constitutional guaranty, if legal rights can only
    be sought for and established at the bayonet's point, _certain
    Northern men now in our midst_ will have to evince a little more
    circumspection than they have ever evinced in their walk, talk, and

    "Public sentiment in Alexandria is intensely excited in
    condemnation of Sumner and his allies. We know that it increases in
    this city every hour. The masses look upon Sumner as responsible
    for the death of Batchelder. They attribute, and justly, the
    action of the murderers to the counsel of Sumner. We hope that the
    public sentiment against these Abolition miscreants who infest
    Congress and our fair city, and fill the atmosphere in which they
    move with the odor of a brothel, will not descend to acts of
    personal violence. Such conduct can find no justification. But let
    public opinion condemn these men everywhere,--in the street, in
    the Capitol, in every place where men meet. _Let Sumner and his
    infamous gang_ feel that he cannot outrage the fame of his country,
    counsel treason to its laws, incite the ignorant to bloodshed
    and murder, and still receive the support and countenance of the
    society of this city, which he has done so much to vilify.

    "While the person of a Virginia citizen is only safe from
    rudeness and outrage behind the serried ranks of armed men,
    Charles Sumner is permitted to walk among the 'slave-catchers'
    and 'fire-eaters' of the South in peace and security. While he
    incites his constituents to resist the Federal laws _even to the
    shedding of blood_, concocts his traitorous plots, and sends
    forth his incendiary appeals under the broad protecting panoply
    of the laws he denounces, he retains his seat in the Senate, and
    yet daily violates the official oath which he took to support the
    Constitution of the United States."

Such articles were plainly intended to excite a mob against Mr. Sumner.
The conspiracy obtained headway in Alexandria. One proposition was, to
seize him as hostage for the surrender of the fugitive slave whose case
was then pending in Boston; another was, to inflict upon him personal
indignity and violence; another was, "to put a ball through his head."
These menaces were communicated to him, and he was warned to leave
Washington. This he refused to do, and he insisted upon walking to the
Senate by Pennsylvania Avenue, always unarmed. At a restaurant, where
he dined, he was directly menaced and insulted. The following telegram
in the New York _Times_, under date of May 31, states the case briefly.

    "A strenuous and systematized effort is making here and in
    Alexandria to raise a mob against Senator Sumner, in retaliation
    for the Boston difficulty.... The _Star_ of this evening has two
    articles, the incendiary purpose of which cannot be mistaken.
    Senator Sumner himself has been several times warned to-day of
    personal danger, and assured that persons bearing close relation to
    the Administration are inciting the people to violence against him.
    Northern men are much excited in consequence, and if an outrage
    is committed, there is a probability that there will be serious

The same telegram was sent to other places. Throughout New England it
excited great sensation, attested at once by the public press and by
private letters. The following was received by Mr. Sumner, under date
of May 31, from Joseph R. Hawley, of Connecticut, afterwards a general
in the War, and Governor of Connecticut.

    "If you really think there is any danger worth mentioning, I wish
    you would telegraph me instantly. I will come to Washington by
    the next train, and quietly _stay by_. I have revolvers, and can
    use them,--and while there should not be a word of unnecessary
    provocation, still, if anybody in Alexandria or Washington _really_
    means to trouble you, or any other Free Democrat there, you know
    several can play at that game. I feel comparatively little anxiety
    as to the result in Boston. Let them hunt slaves till the people
    get sick of it. But such threats as are conveyed by that despatch
    should be quietly prepared for, and met as they deserve."

George Livermore, of Boston, gave expression to the same anxiety in a
different form. He wrote thus, under date of June 3.

    "There is but one feeling here respecting the infamous threats of
    the _Union_ and _Star_. _Let the minions of the Administration and
    of the Slavocracy harm one hair of your head, and they will raise
    a whirlwind that will sweep them to destruction._ I have read your
    closing remarks on the Nebraska Bill with the greatest admiration,
    and most heartily indorse every word and sentiment. You never made
    a better speech. What higher praise could I offer? Many persons not
    of the Free-Soil party have spoken of it in terms of the highest

The violence was postponed; but the malignant spirit continued active.

Beyond the sentiment of indignation at the menaces to which Mr. Sumner
was exposed arose another against Slavery. Persons who had been cold or
lukewarm before were excited now. Here again contemporary newspapers
and private letters testify. John B. Alley, for several years
afterwards the representative from Essex, wrote thus, under date of
June 5.

    "The most eventful week that Boston has ever seen has just passed,
    and I cannot refrain from troubling you with a description of the
    state of feeling here. In the first place, allow me to congratulate
    you upon the glorious position you occupy in the hearts of the
    people of Boston. Praises from the lips of the most ultra Hunker
    Whigs have greeted my ears (I need not tell you with how much
    pleasure) during the past week.

    "Boston, it is true, has been humbled in the dust, and it is hard,
    terribly hard, to be compelled to witness the surrender of a
    panting fugitive into the hands of the Slave-Hunters; but never,
    since I have been engaged in the Antislavery cause, have I seen
    occasion for rejoicing as now.

    "Thank God, the chains that have bound the people to their old
    organizations have been snapped asunder, and they have proved in
    this case but as packthreads upon the arms of an unshorn Samson....
    Your speech in defence of the clergy is noble, and wonderfully
    effective, apparently, in stirring up their sympathies for the

Numerous letters describe the surrender to which Mr. Alley alludes. The
following from R. H. Dana, Jr., under date of June 5, gives details.

    "Judging from present appearances, there are few Compromise men
    left in Boston. I firmly believe that in the providence of God it
    has been decreed that one cup more should be put to our lips, and
    that it should not pass away until we had drained it to the dregs.
    To this end, a folly has been put in their counsel and a madness
    in their hearts, that they might do the things that should work in
    the end the utmost good. The delays, the doubts as to the propriety
    of the decision (more than doubts even with the moderate), the
    military indignities and violence, the noonday procession, the
    refusal to sell, the Presidential intervention, all have tended
    to the desired effect. Poor Burns himself looked with terror to a
    renewal of slavery. Not that Colonel Suttle was cruel. He has never
    lived with Suttle, but he is intelligent, reads and writes, is weak
    in his injured head, and therefore of little value, and liable to
    be sold and abused.

    "Batchelder was not a deputy-marshal. He is only a man who has
    volunteered, this third time, against advice, to help catch and
    keep a fugitive slave. You observe the marshal only calls him one
    of his 'guards.' This guard were a precious set of murderers,
    thieves, bullies, blacklegs,--with a very few men who went into it
    from party bias, old Hunker Democratic truckmen. Batchelder was a
    truckman, I am told, and may be personally respectable for aught
    I know. I can give you no advice as to the pension. They ought
    to know what Batchelder was. It seems to me unconstitutional and
    unprecedented. If it can be defeated without your stir, it would
    be better, no doubt. I do not find there is any feeling for his
    case here. He volunteered for the duty, and met the consequences.
    He voluntarily risked his life for pay, in an odious and dangerous
    business, and lost it."

George Livermore, always a decided Whig, who had written under date of
June 3, wrote again, under date of June 13:--

    "I am, as I always have been, a Conservative Whig, but I am ready
    to fraternize with _anybody who will do the most for Freedom_; and
    if one who has heretofore been called a Democrat or a Free-Soiler
    will do more for this cause than a candidate who has been called a
    Whig, he shall have my vote, and my hearty coöperation in every way
    in my power."

A merchant of Boston wrote at the same time:--

    "I rejoice that a man of your sympathies and sensibilities is
    not here to see the Court-House again in chains, and justice
    administered behind bayonets. The only retaliation at present
    proposed is a petition to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act, now in the
    News-Room, on its second day, with several thousand names attached.
    But what is the use of petition, or polished sentences and rounded
    periods, in a contest with the pirate honor of Slavery? It is like
    an attempt to hew down a mountain of granite with a glass pick-axe."

The sentiments of the people, and particularly of the clergy, are
sketched by Rev. George C. Beckwith, Secretary of the Peace Society, in
a letter dated June 2, from which an extract is given.

    "You will have learned ere this that the deed is done.--the deed
    of shame and degradation to our good old State. I witnessed the
    scene from an insurance office on State Street, and never before
    felt such a sense of degradation. I am glad that so many seemed to
    share it with me: for I observed a sort of funereal sadness on the
    vast masses before and around me. There were groans and hisses at
    even our own troops, the militia, that had come out at the call of
    our mayor; but every effort to get up any counter applause proved a

    "I took my pen, however, for another purpose, as you will
    get from other sources a better account of this day's public
    proceedings. I wish to say a word about our clerical friends,
    whom you have vindicated with so much spirit and force in your
    brief speech before the Senate. They met yesterday morning, almost
    without notice, to the number of some four or five hundred, for
    consultation on this subject. I never attended a meeting that
    evinced a truer spirit or a greater amount of moral power. Little
    or no effervescence on the surface, but a depth of feeling, a
    calmness of conviction, and an energy of purpose, from which, I am
    well satisfied, the whole country will hear in due time.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "I think I am still true to my peace principles, but my heart is
    stirred to its lowest depths of indignation; and I say frankly to
    men who applaud what our forefathers did, that _we_ have now even
    _stronger_ reasons for resistance to the Slave Power than they had
    to the usurpations of England."

Thomas Sherwin, late head-master of the Boston High School, and once a
tutor of Mr. Sumner at Harvard University, wrote as follows.

    "You, Sir, in my opinion, command the highest respect from the
    people, not only of Massachusetts, but of the entire Union. To
    yourself, Chase, Giddings, Smith, Benton, and a few others, the
    great majority of our people look for protection against the
    machinations of politicians who would bring upon our country the
    contempt of the civilized world, and upon the Government the
    execration of unborn millions."

These extracts prepare the way for the next scene in the drama.



                                          SENATE CHAMBER, May 29, 1854.

    Gentlemen,--For the present my post of duty is here, so that I must
    forego the pleasure of meeting our friends on Wednesday next. The
    Massachusetts host, I am glad to learn, will be reinforced on that
    occasion by brave voices from other States. Mr. Giddings you will
    be glad to welcome.

    Could I meet my fellow-citizens, I should not lose the opportunity
    of sounding the alarm and exhorting them to action. The Nebraska
    Bill has passed, but it is a mistake to suppose that the
    propagandists of Slavery will stop here. Other audacities are
    at hand. More land from Mexico is sought, on which to extend
    a nefarious institution. The calamities of war with Spain,
    incalculably disastrous to the commerce of New York and Boston,
    are all to be braved in order to appropriate slaveholding Cuba. An
    intrigue is now pending to secure a foothold in Hayti; and even the
    distant valley of the Amazon is embraced in these gigantic schemes,
    by which the despotism of the Slave Power is to be established,
    while you and I, and all of us from the North, are to bow down
    before it. For myself, I will not bow down; but, Gentlemen, you
    will understand that no individual can effectually oppose these

    This can be done only in one way. As all at the South, without
    distinction of party, unite for Slavery, so all at the North,
    without distinction of party, forgetting vain differences of Whig
    and Democrat, must unite for Freedom, and, rising in majority and
    might, take control of the National Government. For this work
    the people are now ready; and they can surely accomplish it, if
    they will. The only impediment, at this moment, is to be found in
    those blind or selfish politicians who perversely seek a triumph
    of mere party, instead of a triumph of Freedom. Neither the Whig
    party nor the Democratic party, through its national organization
    dependent on slaveholding wings, is competent to the exigency. The
    slaveholding wings can be kept in concert with the Northern wings
    only when they give the law to the movement. For a poor triumph
    of party, the North yields, in advance, all that is dear to it,
    and, while vainly calling itself _national_, helps to instal the
    _sectional_ power of Slavery in the National Government. This must
    be changed.

    With an earnest soul, devoted to the triumph of the righteous
    cause, and indifferent to the name by which I may be called, I
    would say to all at this time, Abandon old party ties; forget old
    party names; let by-gones be by-gones; and for the sake of Liberty,
    and to secure the general welfare, now unite against the Despotism
    of Slavery, and in this union let past differences disappear.

    Believe me, Gentlemen,

    Very faithfully yours,


    Hon. F.W. BIRD, JAMES M. STONE, Committee.


                  FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT, JUNE 26, 1854.

The midnight speech of Mr. Sumner on the Kansas and Nebraska Bill
contained language which was soon justified. In pronouncing the bill
"the best on which Congress ever acted," he said that it annulled all
past compromises with Slavery, and "thus it puts Freedom and Slavery
face to face, and bids them grapple." And this was the case in Boston,
immediately after the passage of the bill, when a fugitive slave was
surrendered. The indignation was general, and a petition for the repeal
of the Fugitive Slave Act was extensively signed, in the following

    "To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives in
    Congress assembled: The undersigned, men of Massachusetts, ask for
    the repeal of the Act of Congress of 1850 known as the FUGITIVE

There were twenty-nine hundred petitioners, among whom were many who
had heretofore sustained this atrocious measure; but they felt at last
relieved from this service. In this respect this petition marks an
epoch in public sentiment.

Its reception in the Senate marks an epoch there. It was presented on
the 22d of June, by Mr. Rockwell, the new Senator in Mr. Everett's
place, who moved its reference to the Committee on the Judiciary. Other
petitions of like character had been treated very unceremoniously. This
was debated at length, and finally referred according to the motion of
Mr. Rockwell.

On the 26th of June the debate began, in which Mr. Jones, of Tennessee,
Mr. Rockwell, of Massachusetts, then again Mr. Jones, and Mr. Brodhead,
of Pennsylvania, took part. At this stage Mr. Sumner spoke as follows.

Mr. President,--I begin by answering the interrogatory propounded by
the Senator from Tennessee [Mr. JONES]: "Can any one suppose,
that, if the Fugitive Slave Act be repealed, this Union can exist?"
To which I reply at once, that, if the Union be in any way dependent
on an act--I cannot call it a _law_--so revolting in every aspect as
that to which he refers, then it ought not to exist. To much else that
has fallen from that Senator I do not desire to reply. Matters already
handled again and again, in the long-drawn-out debates of this session,
he has discussed at length. Like the excited hero of Macedonia, he has
renewed past conflicts,--

    "And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain."

Of what the Senator said on the relations of Senators, North and South,
of a particular party, it is not my province to speak. And yet I do not
turn from it without expressing at least some confidence that men from
the North, whether Whigs or Democrats, will neither be cajoled by any
temptation nor driven by any lash from the support of those principles
which are inseparable from the true honor and welfare of the country.
At last there will be, I trust, a backbone in the North.

My colleague has already remarked that this petition proceeds from
persons many of whom were open supporters of the alleged Compromises
of 1850, including even the odious Fugitive Slave Act. I have looked
over the long list, and, so far as I can judge, find this to be true.
And, in my opinion, the change shown by these men is typical of the
change in the community of which they constitute a prominent part. Once
the positive upholders of the Fugitive Slave Act, they now demand its
unconditional repeal.

There is another circumstance worthy of especial remark. This petition
proceeds mainly from persons connected with trade and commerce. Now
it is a fact too well known in the history of England, and of our
own country, that these persons, while often justly distinguished by
individual charities, have been lukewarm in opposition to Slavery.
Twice in English history did "the mercantile interest" frown upon
endeavors to suppress the atrocity of Algerine Slavery; steadfastly
in England it sought to baffle Wilberforce's great effort for the
abolition of the African slave-trade; and at the formation of our
own Constitution, it stipulated a sordid compromise, by which this
same detested, Heaven-defying traffic was saved for twenty years from
American judgment. But now it is all changed,--at least in Boston.
Representatives of "the mercantile interest" place themselves in the
front of the new movement against Slavery, and, by their explicit
memorial, call for the removal of a grievance which they have bitterly
felt in Boston.

Mr. President, this petition is interesting to me, first, as it asks
a repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, and, secondly, as it comes from
Massachusetts. That repeal I shall be glad, at any time, now and
hereafter, as in times past, to sustain by vote and argument; and I
trust never to fail in any just regard for the sentiments or interests
of Massachusetts. With these few remarks I would gladly close. But
there has been an arraignment, here to-day, both of myself and of the
Commonwealth which I represent. To all that has been said of myself
or the Commonwealth, so far as it is impeachment of either, so far as
it subjects either to any real censure, I plead openly, for myself
and for Massachusetts, "Not guilty." But pardon me, if I do not submit
to be tried by the Senate, fresh from the injustice of the Nebraska
Bill. In the language of the Common Law, I put myself upon "God and the
country," and claim the same trial for my honored Commonwealth.

So far as the arraignment touches me personally, I hardly care to
speak. It is true that I have not hesitated, here and elsewhere, to
express my open, sincere, and unequivocal condemnation of the Fugitive
Slave Act. I have denounced it as at once a violation of the law of
God, and of the Constitution of the United States; and I now repeat
this denunciation.

Its violation of the Constitution is manifold; and here I repeat but
what I have often said. Too often it cannot be set forth, so long as
the infamous statute blackens the land.

It commits the great question of human freedom,--than which none
is more sacred in the law,--not to a solemn trial, but to summary

It commits this great question, not to one of the high tribunals of the
land, but to the unaided judgment of a single petty magistrate.

It commits this great question to a magistrate appointed, not by the
President with the consent of the Senate, but by the Court,--holding
his office, not during good behavior, but merely during the will of the
Court,--and receiving, not a regular salary, but fees according to each
individual case.

It authorizes judgment on _ex parte_ evidence, by affidavit, without
the sanction of cross-examination.

It denies the writ of _habeas corpus_, ever known as the palladium of
the citizen.

Contrary to the declared purposes of the framers of the Constitution,
it sends the fugitive back "at the public expense."[64]

    [64] See Madison's Debates, August 28, 1787.

Adding meanness to the violation of the Constitution, it bribes the
Commissioner by a double fee to pronounce against Freedom. If he dooms
a man to Slavery, the reward is ten dollars; but saving him to Freedom,
his dole is five dollars.

This is enough, but not all. On two other capital grounds do I oppose
the Act as unconstitutional: first, as it is an assumption by Congress
of powers not delegated by the Constitution, and in derogation of the
rights of the States; and, secondly, as it takes away that essential
birthright of the citizen, trial by jury, in a question of personal
liberty and a suit at Common Law. Thus obnoxious, I have always
regarded it as an enactment totally devoid of all constitutional, as
it is clearly devoid of all moral obligation, while it is disgraceful
to the country and the age. And, Sir, I have hoped and labored for the
creation of such a Public Opinion, firm, enlightened, and generous,
as should render this Act practically inoperative, and should press,
without ceasing, upon Congress for its repeal. For all that I have thus
uttered I have no regret or apology, but rather joy and satisfaction.
Glad I am in having said it; glad I am now in the opportunity of
affirming it all anew. Thus much for myself.

In response for Massachusetts, there are other things. Something surely
must be pardoned to her history. In Massachusetts stands Boston. In
Boston stands Faneuil Hall, where, throughout the perils which preceded
the Revolution, our patriot fathers assembled to vow themselves to
Freedom. Here, in those days, spoke James Otis, full of the thought
that "the people's safety is the law of God."[65] Here, also, spoke
Joseph Warren, inspired by the sentiment that "death with all its
tortures is preferable to Slavery."[66] And here, also, thundered
John Adams, fervid with the conviction that "consenting to Slavery
is a sacrilegious breach of trust."[67] Not far from this venerable
hall--between this Temple of Freedom and the very court-house to which
the Senator [Mr. JONES] has referred--is the street where, in
1770, the first blood was spilt in conflict between British troops and
American citizens, and among the victims was one of that African race
which you so much despise. Almost within sight is Bunker Hill; further
off, Lexington and Concord. Amidst these scenes a Slave-Hunter from
Virginia appears, and the disgusting rites begin by which a fellow-man
is sacrificed. Sir, can you wonder that our people are moved?

            "Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,
             Loyal and neutral, in a moment? _No man._"

    [65] Rights of the British Colonies (Boston, 1764), p. 10.

    [66] Letter to Edmund Dana, March 19, 1766: Loring's Hundred Boston
    Orators, 2d ed., p. 51.

    [67] Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law: Works, Vol. III. p.

It is true that the Slave Act was with difficulty executed, and that
one of its servants perished in the madness. On these grounds the
Senator from Tennessee charges Boston with fanaticism. I express
no opinion on the conduct of individuals; but I do say, that the
fanaticism which the Senator condemns is not new in Boston. It is
the same which opposed the execution of the Stamp Act, and finally
secured its repeal. It is the same which opposed the Tea Tax. It is
the fanaticism which finally triumphed on Bunker Hill. The Senator
says that Boston is filled with traitors. That charge is not new.
Boston of old was the home of Hancock and Adams. Her traitors now are
those who are truly animated by the spirit of the American Revolution.
In condemning them, in condemning Massachusetts, in condemning these
remonstrants, you simply give proper conclusion to the utterance on
this floor, that the Declaration of Independence is "a self-evident

Here I might leave the imputations on Massachusetts. But the case is
stronger yet. I have referred to the Stamp Act. The parallel is of such
aptness and importance, that, though on a former occasion I presented
it to the Senate, I cannot forbear from pressing it again. As the
precise character of this Act may not be familiar, allow me to remind
the Senate that it was an attempt to draw money from the Colonies
through a stamp tax, while the determination of certain questions of
forfeiture under the statute was delegated, not to the Courts of Common
Law, but to Courts of Admiralty, without trial by jury. This Act was
denounced in the Colonies at its passage, as contrary to the British
Constitution, on two principal grounds, identical in character with
the two chief grounds on which the Slave Act is now declared to be
unconstitutional: first, as an assumption by Parliament of powers not
belonging to it, and an infraction of rights secured to the Colonies;
and, secondly, as a denial of trial by jury in certain cases of
property. On these grounds the Stamp Act was held to be an outrage.

The Colonies were aroused against it. Virginia first declared herself
by solemn resolutions, which the timid thought "treasonable,"--yes,
Sir, "treasonable,"[68]--just as that word is now applied to recent
manifestations of opinion in Boston,--even to the memorial of her
twenty-nine hundred merchants. But these "treasonable" resolutions
soon found response. New York followed. Massachusetts came next. In
an address from the Legislature to the Governor, the true ground of
opposition to the Stamp Act, coincident with the two radical objections
to the Slave Act, are clearly set forth, with the following pregnant

    "We deeply regret it that the Parliament has seen fit to pass such
    an act as the Stamp Act; we flatter ourselves that the hardships of
    it will shortly appear to them in such a point of light as shall
    induce them, in their wisdom, to repeal it; _in the mean time we
    must beg your Excellency to excuse us from doing anything to assist
    in the execution of it_."[69]

    [68] Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts, Vol. III. p. 119.

    [69] Journal of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts Bay,
    October 24, 1765, p. 135. Hutchinson, Vol. III., Appendix, p. 474.

The Stamp Act was welcomed in the Colonies by the Tories of that day,
precisely as the unconstitutional Slave Act has been welcomed by an
imperious class among us. Hutchinson, at that time Lieutenant-Governor
and Judge in Massachusetts, wrote to Ministers in England:--

    "The Stamp Act is received among us with as much decency as could
    be expected. It leaves no room for evasion, and will execute

    [70] Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol. V. p. 272.

Like Judges of our day, in charges to Grand Juries, he resolutely
vindicated the Act, and admonished "the jurors and people" to obey.[71]
Like Governors of our day, Bernard, in his speech to the Legislature
of Massachusetts, demanded unreasoning submission. "I shall not,"
says this British Governor, "enter into any disquisition of the policy
of the Act. I have only to say that it is an Act of the Parliament of
Great Britain."[72] The elaborate answer of Massachusetts--the work
of Samuel Adams, one of the pillars of our history--was pronounced
"the ravings of a parcel of wild enthusiasts,"[73] even as recent
proceedings in Boston, resulting in the memorial before you, have been
characterized on this floor. Am I not right in this parallel?

    [71] Ibid.

    [72] Journal of the House of Representatives, September 25, 1765,
    p. 119. Hutchinson, Vol. III. p. 467.

    [73] Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol. V. p. 349.

The country was aroused against the execution of the Act. And here
Boston took the lead. In formal instructions to her Representatives,
adopted unanimously in town meeting at Faneuil Hall, the following rule
of conduct was prescribed:--

    "We therefore think it our indispensable duty, in justice to
    ourselves and posterity, as it is our undoubted privilege, in the
    most open and unreserved, but decent and respectful terms, to
    declare our greatest dissatisfaction with this law: _and we think
    it incumbent upon you by no means to join in any public measures
    for countenancing and assisting in the execution of the same_,
    but to use your best endeavors in the General Assembly to have
    the inherent, unalienable rights of the people of this Province
    asserted and vindicated, and left upon the public records, that
    posterity may never have reason to charge the present times with
    the guilt of tamely given them away."[74]

    [74] Boston Gazette, September 23, 1765.

The opposition spread and deepened, with a natural tendency to outbreak
and violence. On one occasion in Boston, it showed itself in the
lawlessness of a mob most formidable in character, even as is now
charged. Liberty, in her struggles, is too often driven to force.
But the town, at a public meeting in Faneuil Hall, called without
delay, on the motion of the opponents of the Stamp Act, with James
Otis as Chairman, condemned the outrage. Eager in hostility to the
execution of the Act, Boston cherished municipal order, and constantly
discountenanced all tumult, violence, and illegal proceeding. On these
two grounds she then stood: and her position was widely recognized. In
reply, March 24, 1766, to an address from the inhabitants of Plymouth,
her own consciousness of duty done is thus expressed:--

    "If the inhabitants of this metropolis have taken _the warrantable
    and legal measures to prevent that misfortune, of all others
    the most to be dreaded, the execution of the Stamp Act_, and,
    as a necessary means of preventing it, have made any spirited
    applications for opening the custom-houses and courts of
    justice,--_if, at the same time, they have bore their testimony
    against outrageous tumults and illegal proceedings_, and given
    any example of the love of peace and good order, next to the
    consciousness of having done their duty is the satisfaction of
    meeting with the approbation of any of their fellow-countrymen."[75]

    [75] Boston Gazette, March 31, 1766.

Thus was the Stamp Act annulled, even before its actual repeal, which
was pressed with assiduity by petition and remonstrance, at the
next meeting of Parliament. Among potent influences was the entire
concurrence of the merchants, and especially a remonstrance against
the Stamp Act by merchants of New York, like that now made against
the Slave Act by merchants of Boston. Some at first sought only its
mitigation. Even James Otis began with this moderate aim. The King
himself showed a disposition to yield to this extent. But Franklin,
who was then in England, when asked whether the Colonies would submit
to the Act, if mitigated in certain particulars, replied: "No, never,
unless compelled by force of arms."[76] Then it was that the great
Commoner, William Pitt, in an ever-memorable speech, uttered words
which fitly belong to this occasion. He said:--

    "Sir, I have been charged with giving birth to sedition in America.
    They have spoken their sentiments with freedom against this unhappy
    Act, and that freedom has become their crime. Sorry I am to hear
    the liberty of speech in this House imputed as a crime. But the
    imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty I mean to
    exercise. No gentleman ought to be afraid to exercise it. It is
    a liberty by which the gentleman who calumniates it might have
    profited. He ought to have profited. He ought to have desisted from
    his project. The gentleman tells us America is obstinate, America
    is almost in open rebellion. I rejoice that America has resisted.
    Three millions of people, so dead to all the feelings of Liberty as
    voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments
    to make slaves of the rest.... I would not debate a particular
    point of law with the gentleman; but I draw my ideas of Freedom
    from the vital powers of the British Constitution,--not from the
    crude and fallacious notions too much relied upon, as if we were
    but in the morning of Liberty. I can acknowledge no veneration
    for any procedure, law, or ordinance, that is repugnant to reason
    and the first elements of our Constitution.... The Americans have
    been wronged. They have been driven to madness by injustice....
    Upon the whole, I will beg leave to tell the House what is really
    my opinion. _It is, that the Stamp Act be repealed, absolutely,
    totally, and immediately,--that the reason for the repeal be
    assigned, because it was founded on an erroneous principle._"[77]

    [76] Hansard, Parliamentary History, XVI. 140.

    [77] Hansard, Parliamentary History, XVI. 103-108. Bancroft,
    History of the United States, V. 391-395.

Thus spoke this great orator, at the time tutelary guardian of American
Liberty. He was not unheeded. Within less than a year from its original
passage, the Stamp Act--assailed as unconstitutional on the precise
grounds which I now occupy in assailing the Slave Act--was driven from
the statute-book.

Sir, the Stamp Act was, at most, an infringement of _civil_ liberty
only, not of _personal_ liberty. How often must I say this? It touched
questions of property only, and not the personal liberty of any man.
Under it, no freeman could be seized as a slave. There was an unjust
tax of a few pence, with the chance of amercement by a single judge
without jury; but by this statute no person could be deprived of that
vital right of all which is to other rights as soul to body,--_the
right of a man to himself_. Who can fail to see the difference between
the two cases, and how far the tyranny of the Slave Act is beyond the
tyranny of the Stamp Act? The difference is immeasurable. And this will
yet be pronounced by history.

I call upon you, then, to receive the petition, and hearken to its
prayer. All other petitions asking for change in existing legislation
are treated with respect, promptly referred and acted upon. This
should not be an exception. The petition asks simply the repeal of an
obnoxious statute, which is entirely within the competency of Congress.
It proceeds from a large number of respectable citizens, whose
autograph signatures are attached. It is brief and respectful, and, in
its very brevity, shows that spirit of freedom which should awaken a
generous response. In refusing to receive it or refer it, according
to the usage of the Senate, or in treating it with any indignity, you
offer an affront not only to these numerous petitioners, but also to
the great Right of Petition, which is never more sacred than when
exercised in behalf of Freedom against an odious enactment. Permit me
to add, that by this course you provoke the very spirit which you would
repress. There is a plant which is said to grow when trodden upon. It
remains to be seen if the Boston petitioners have not something of this
quality. But this I know, Sir,--that the Slave Act, like Vice, is

                  "a monster of so frightful mien,
            As, to be hated, needs but to be seen."

And the occurrences of this day will make it visible to the people in
new forms of injustice.

                         REPLY TO ASSAILANTS:


               OF THE FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT, JUNE 28, 1854.

The preceding speech was followed by a debate without example in anger,
excitement, and brutality. Mr. Butler, of South Carolina, Mr. Mason, of
Virginia, Mr. Pettit, of Indiana, Mr. Dixon, of Kentucky, Mr. Mallory,
of Florida, and Mr. Clay, of Alabama, vied with each other in bullying
denunciation of Mr. Sumner.

Mr. Butler began by claiming that the American Revolution was
carried through by "slaveholding States," thus making boast for
Slavery,--and then turned to pour contempt upon Mr. Sumner, whose
speech he characterized as "a species of rhetoric intended to feed the
fires of fanaticism in his own State"; then it was "a Fourth of July
Oration,"--"vapid rhetoric,"--"a species of rhetoric which ought not
to come from a scholar,"--"a rhetoric with more fine color than real
strength"; and then he announced, "If sectional agitation is to be
fed by such sentiments, such displays, and such things as come from
the honorable gentleman near me, I say we ought not to be in a common
confederacy, and we should be better off without it." Then again, "If
the object be to make the issue between the North and the South, let
the issue come." He then asked if Massachusetts "would send fugitives
back to us after trial by jury or any other mode?" Then, turning to
Mr. Sumner, he demanded, with much impetuosity of manner, "Will this
honorable Senator tell me that he will do it?" To which Mr. Sumner
promptly replied, "Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?"
The _Globe_ reports the disorderly ejaculations which followed from
Mr. Butler, winding up with the words, "You stand in my presence as
a coëqual Senator, and tell me that it is a dog's office to execute
the Constitution of the United States?" Here Mr. Sumner remarked, "I
recognize no such obligation,"--meaning, plainly, no obligation to
return a fugitive slave.

Mr. Mason, afterwards so conspicuous in the Rebellion, followed in
similar vein. He began by saying: "I say, Sir, the dignity of the
American Senate has been rudely, wantonly, grossly assailed by a
Senator from Massachusetts,--and not only the dignity of the Senate,
but of the whole people, trifled with in the presence of the American
Senate, either ignorantly or corruptly, I do not know which, nor do I
care." He then proceeded to vindicate the "gentleman from Virginia" who
had sought his slave in Boston, denounced Mr. Sumner for having "the
boldness to speak here of such a man as a slave-hunter," and boasted
that the law had been executed in Boston,--that "in that city, within
the last fortnight, it has done its office, and done it in the presence
of a mob, which that Senator and his associates roused and inflamed to
the very verge of treason, subjecting them to traitors' doom, while he
and his associates sat here and kept themselves aloof from danger."
Then he exclaimed: "Why, Sir, am I speaking of a fanatic, one whose
reason is dethroned? Can such a one expect to make impressions upon the
American people from his vapid, vulgar declamation here, accompanied by
a declaration that he would violate his oath now recently taken?"

All that was said by these two representatives of Slavery was
intensified and aggravated by Mr. Pettit, of Indiana, who charged Mr.
Sumner with openly declaring in the Senate that he would violate his
oath, and then proceeded to foreshadow a proposition for his expulsion.
At the same time he vindicated at length his original statement, that
the construction put upon the Declaration of Independence by the
Abolitionists of the country "made it a self-evident lie, instead of a
self-evident truth." At this stage the Senate adjourned, leaving the
question of reference still pending.

The next day was occupied by other business, contrary to the declared
desire of Mr. Sumner, who said that he had "something further to say"
upon the petition. On the 28th of June the attack on Mr. Sumner was
renewed by Mr. Pettit, but without taking up the petition. An attempt
was made to stifle further debate. Motions to postpone, and then to lay
on the table, were proposed, when Mr. Sumner remarked:--

I am unwilling to stand in the way of the general wish of the Senate
to go on with its business; I desire at all times to promote its
business; but this question has been presented and debated. Several
Senators have already expressed themselves on it. Other Senators within
my knowledge expect to be heard. I too, Sir, claim the privilege of
being heard again, in reply to remarks which have fallen from honorable
Senators. I hope, therefore, the memorial will have no disposition that
shall preclude its complete discussion.

The Senate refused to postpone, and Mr. Mallory, of Florida, afterwards
Secretary of the Navy in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis, began the
assault on Mr. Sumner, expressing horror at his declarations in the
Senate, and then adducing his early language in the Boston speech
so often referred to. The future rebel dwelt with unction on the
obligations of an oath, saying: "Sir, if there be any principle in the
breast of the American citizen which more than any other lies at the
foundation of law, morals, and society, it is his habitual observance
and recognition of _all_ the sacred obligations of an oath; and this
no man knows better than the Senator himself." Mr. Clay, of Alabama,
afterwards a violent rebel, succeeded in interpolating into the speech
of Mr. Mallory a tirade of personality and brutality, which will be
found in the _Globe_, and, after presenting a portrait meant for
Mr. Sumner, "who held himself irresponsible to all law, feeling the
obligation neither of the Divine law, nor of the law of the land, _nor
of the law of honor_," proceeded to ask, "How would such a miscreant be
treated? Why, if you could not reach him with the arm of the municipal
law, if you could not send him to the Penitentiary, you would _send
him to Coventry_." And the orator of Slavery wound up by saying: "If
we cannot restrain or prevent this eternal warfare upon the feelings
and rights of Southern gentlemen, we may rob the serpent of his fangs,
we can paralyze his influence, by placing him in that nadir of social
degradation which he merits."

This brief account of the debate is important, as showing the
atmosphere of the Senate, and the personal provocation, when Mr. Sumner
at last obtained the floor and spoke as follows.

Mr. President,--Since I had the honor of addressing the Senate two days
ago, various Senators have spoken. Of these, several have alluded to me
in terms clearly beyond the sanction of parliamentary debate. Of this
I make no complaint, though, for the honor of the Senate, at least, it
were well, had it been otherwise. If to them it seems fit, courteous,
parliamentary, let them

                "unpack the heart with words,
            And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
            A scullion";

I will not interfere with the enjoyment they find in such exposure
of themselves. They have given us a taste of their quality. Two
of them, the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. BUTLER],
who sits immediately before me, and the Senator from Virginia [Mr.
MASON], who sits immediately behind me, are not young. Their
heads are amply crowned by Time. They did not speak from any ebullition
of youth, but from the confirmed temper of age. It is melancholy to
believe that in this debate they showed themselves as they are. It were
charitable to believe that they are in reality better than they showed

I think, Sir, that I am not the only person on this floor, who,
listening to these two self-confident champions of that peculiar
fanaticism of the South, was reminded of the striking words of
Jefferson, picturing the influence of Slavery, where he says: "The
whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the
most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism, on the one
part, and degrading submission on the other. Our children see this, and
learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal.... The parent
storms. The child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on
the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to the
worst of passions, and, thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in
tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. _The
man must be a prodigy, who can retain his manners and morals undepraved
by such circumstances._"[78] Nobody, who witnessed the Senator from
South Carolina or the Senator from Virginia in this debate, will
place either of them among the "prodigies" described by Jefferson.
As they spoke, the Senate Chamber must have seemed to them, in the
characteristic fantasy of the moment, a plantation well-stocked with
slaves, over which the lash of the overseer had free swing. Sir, it
gives me no pleasure to say these things. It is not according to my
nature. Bear witness that I do it only in just self-defence against the
unprecedented assaults and provocations of this debate. In doing it, I
desire to warn certain Senators, that, if, by any ardor of menace, or
by any tyrannical frown, they expect to shake my fixed resolve, they
expect a vain thing.

    [78] Notes on Virginia, Query XVIII.

There is little that fell from these two champions, as the fit was
on, which deserves reply. Certainly not the hard words they used
so readily and congenially. The veteran Senator from Virginia [Mr.
MASON] complained that I had characterized one of his
"constituents"--a person who went all the way from Virginia to Boston
in pursuit of a slave--as Slave-Hunter. Sir, I choose to call things
by their right names. White I call white, and black I call black. And
where a person degrades himself to the work of chasing a fellow-man,
who, under the inspiration of Freedom and the guidance of the North
Star, has sought a freeman's home far away from coffle and chain,--that
person, whosoever he may be, I call Slave-Hunter. If the Senator from
Virginia, who professes nicety of speech, will give me any term more
precisely describing such an individual, I will use it. Until then, I
must continue to use the language which seems to me so apt. But this
very sensibility of the veteran Senator at a just term, truly depicting
an odious character, shows a shame which pleases me. It was said by a
philosopher of Antiquity that a blush is the sign of virtue; and permit
me to add, that, in this violent sensibility, I recognize a blush
mantling the cheek of the honorable Senator, which even his plantation
manners cannot conceal.

And the venerable Senator from South Carolina, too, [Mr.
BUTLER,]--he has betrayed his sensibility. Here let me say
that this Senator knows well that I always listen with gurgles
forth,--sometimes tinctured by generous ideas,--except when, forgetful
of history, and in defiance of reason, he undertakes to defend what
is obviously indefensible. This Senator was disturbed, when, to his
inquiry, personally, pointedly, and vehemently addressed to me, whether
I would join in returning a fellow-man to Slavery, I exclaimed: "Is thy
servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" In fitful phrase, which
seemed to come from unconscious excitement, so common with the Senator,
he shot forth various cries about "dogs," and, among other things,
asked if there was any "dog" in the Constitution? The Senator did
not seem to bear in mind, through the heady currents of that moment,
that, by the false interpretation he fastens upon the Constitution, he
has helped to nurture there a whole kennel of Carolina bloodhounds,
trained, with savage jaw and insatiable scent, for the hunt of flying
bondmen. No, Sir, I do not believe that there is any "kennel of
bloodhounds," or even any "dog," in the Constitution.

But, Mr. President, since the brief response which I made to the
inquiry of the Senator, and which leaped unconsciously to my lips, has
drawn upon me such various attacks, all marked by grossness of language
and manner,--since I have been charged with openly declaring a purpose
to violate the Constitution, and to break the oath which I have taken
at that desk, I shall be pardoned for showing simply how a few plain
words will put all this down. The authentic report in the "Globe" shows
what was actually said. The report in the "Sentinel" is substantially
the same. And one of the New York papers, which has been put into my
hands since I entered the Senate Chamber to-day, under its telegraphic
head, states the incident with substantial accuracy,--though it omits
the personal, individual appeal addressed to me by the Senator, and
preserved in the "Globe." Here is the New York report.

    "MR. BUTLER. I would like to ask the Senator, if Congress
    repealed the Fugitive Slave Law, would Massachusetts execute
    the Constitutional requirements, and send back to the South the
    absconding slaves?

    "MR. SUMNER. Do you ask me if I would send back a slave?

    "MR. BUTLER. Why, yes.

    "MR. SUMNER. 'Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this

    [79] New York Daily Times, June 27, 1854.

To any candid mind, either of these reports renders anything
further superfluous. The answer is explicit and above impeachment.
Indignantly it spurns a service from which the soul recoils, while it
denies no constitutional obligation. But Senators who are so swift
in misrepresentation, and in assault upon me as disloyal to the
Constitution, deserve to be exposed, and it shall be done.

Now, Sir, I begin by adopting as my guide the authoritative words
of Andrew Jackson, in 1832, in his memorable veto of the Bank of
the United States. To his course at that critical time were opposed
the authority of the Supreme Court _and his oath to support the
Constitution_. Here is his triumphant reply.

    "If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the whole ground of
    this Act, it ought not to control the coördinate authorities of
    this Government. The Congress, the Executive, and the Court must,
    each for itself, be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution.
    _Each public officer, who takes an oath to support the
    Constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it,
    and not as it is understood by others._ It is as much the duty of
    the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the President,
    to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or resolution
    which may be presented to them for passage or approval, as it is
    of the Supreme Judges, when it may be brought before them for
    judicial decision.... The authority of the Supreme Court must not,
    therefore, be permitted to control the Congress or the Executive,
    when acting in their legislative capacities, but to have only such
    influence as the force of their reasoning may deserve."[80]

    [80] Senate Journal, 22d Cong. 1st Sess., pp. 438, 439.

Mark these words: "Each public officer, who takes an oath to support
the Constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it,
and not as it is understood by others." Yes, Sir, AS HE UNDERSTANDS
IT, _and not as it is understood by others_. Does any Senator
here dissent from this rule? Does the Senator from Virginia? Does the
Senator from South Carolina? [_Here Mr. Sumner paused, but there was no
reply._] At all events, I accept the rule as just and reasonable,--in
harmony, too, let me assert, with that Liberty which scorns the dogma
of _passive obedience_, and asserts the inestimable right of private
judgment, whether in religion or politics. In swearing to support the
Constitution at your desk, Mr. President, I did not swear to support it
as _you_ understand it,--oh, no, Sir!--or as the Senator from Virginia
understands it,--by no means!--or as the Senator from South Carolina
understands it, with a kennel of bloodhounds, or at least a "dog" in
it, "pawing to get free his hinder parts," in pursuit of a slave. No
such thing. Sir, I swore to support the Constitution _as I understand
it_,--nor more, nor less.

But Andrew Jackson was not alone in this rule of conduct. Statesmen
before and since have declared it also,--nobody with more force and
constancy than Jefferson, who was, indeed, the author of it, so far
as anybody can be the author of what springs so obviously from common
sense. Repeatedly he returns to it, expressing it in various forms.
"Each department," he insists, "is truly independent of the others,
and has an equal right to decide for itself _what is the meaning of
the Constitution_ in the cases submitted to its action, and especially
where it is to act ultimately and without appeal."[81] I content
myself with a single text from this authority. The same rule was also
announced by Hon. John Holmes, a Representative from Massachusetts,
afterwards Senator from Maine, in the famous debate on the admission
of Missouri. "This Constitution," he declares, "which I hold in my
hand, I am sworn to support, not according to legislative or judicial
exposition, _but as I shall understand it_."[82] Here is the rule of
Jackson, almost in his language, twelve years before he uttered it.

    [81] Letter to Judge Roane, Sept. 6, 1819: Writings, Vol. VII. p.
    135. See also, p. 178, Letter to Mr. Jarvis, Sept. 28, 1820; and,
    Vol. VI. pp. 461, 462, Letter to W. H. Torrance, June 11, 1815.

    [82] Annals of Congress, 16th Cong. 1st Sess., I. 967, Jan. 27,

And since Jackson we have the rule stated with great point in this very
Chamber, by no less an authority--at least with Democrats--than Mr.
Buchanan. Here are a few words from his speech on the United States

    "If all the judges and all the lawyers in Christendom had decided
    in the affirmative, when the question is thus brought home to
    me as a legislator, bound to vote for or against a new charter,
    upon my oath to support the Constitution, _I must exercise my own
    judgment_. I would treat with profound respect the arguments and
    opinions of judges and constitutional lawyers; but if after all
    they failed to convince me that the law was constitutional, I
    should be guilty of perjury before high Heaven, if I voted in its
    favor.... Even if the judiciary had settled the question, I should
    never hold myself bound by their decision.... I shall never consent
    to place the political rights and liberties of this people in the
    hands of any judicial tribunal."[83]

    [83] Congressional Globe, July 6, 1841, Appendix, pp. 162, 163.

In short, he would exercise his own judgment: and this is precisely
what I intend to do on the proposition to hunt slaves.

Now I will not occupy your time, nor am I so disposed at this moment,
nor does the occasion require it, by entering upon any minute criticism
of the clause in the Constitution touching the surrender of "fugitives
from service." A few words only are needful. Assuming, Sir, in the face
of commanding rules of interpretation, all leaning towards Freedom,
that, in the evasive language of this clause, "paltering in a double
sense," the words employed can be judicially regarded as justly
applicable to fugitive slaves, which, as you ought to know, Sir, is
often most strenuously and conscientiously denied, thus sponging the
whole clause out of existence, except as a provision for the return of
persons actually bound by lawful contract, but on which I now express
no opinion,--assuming, I say, this interpretation, so hostile to
Freedom, and derogatory to the members of the National Convention, who
solemnly declared that they would not give any sanction to Slavery,
or admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property
in men,--assuming, I repeat, an interpretation which every principle
of the Common Law, claimed by our fathers as their birthright, must
disown,--admitting, for the moment only, that the Constitution of
the United States has any words which in any legal intendment can
constrain fugitive slaves,--then I desire to say, that, as I understand
the Constitution, this clause does not impose upon me, as Senator or
citizen, any obligation to take part, directly or indirectly, in the
surrender of a fugitive slave.

Sir, as Senator, I have taken at your desk the oath to support the
Constitution, _as I understand it_. And understanding it as I do, I
am bound by that oath, Mr. President, to oppose all enactments by
Congress on the subject of fugitive slaves, as a flagrant violation
of the Constitution; especially must I oppose the last act, as a
tyrannical usurpation, kindred in character to the Stamp Act, which
our fathers indignantly refused to obey. Here my duties, under the
oath which I have taken as Senator, end. There is nothing beyond. They
are all absorbed in the constant, inflexible, righteous obligation to
oppose every exercise by Congress of any power over the subject. In no
respect by that oath can I be compelled to duties _in other capacities,
or as a simple citizen_, especially when revolting to my conscience.
Now in this interpretation of the Constitution I may be wrong; others
may differ from me; the Senator from Virginia may be otherwise minded,
and the Senator from South Carolina also; and they will, each and all,
act according to their respective understanding. For myself, I shall
act according to mine. On this explicit statement of my constitutional
obligations I stand, as upon a living rock; and to the inquiry, in
whatever form addressed to my personal responsibility, whether I would
aid, directly or indirectly, in reducing or surrendering a fellow-man
to bondage, I reply again, "Is thy servant a dog, that he should do
this thing?"

And, Sir, looking round upon this Senate, I might ask fearlessly, how
many there are, even in this body,--if, indeed, there be a single
Senator,--who would stoop to any such service? Until some one rises
and openly confesses his willingness to become a Slave-Hunter, I will
not believe there can be one. [_Here Mr. Sumner paused, but nobody
rose._] And yet honorable and chivalrous Senators have rushed headlong
to denounce me because I openly declared my repudiation of a service
at which every manly bosom must revolt. "Sire, I have found in
Bayonne good citizens and brave soldiers, _but not one executioner_,"
was the noble utterance of the Governor of that place to Charles the
Ninth of France, in response to the royal edict for the massacre of
St. Bartholomew;[84] and such a spirit, I trust, will yet animate the
people of this country, when pressed to the service of "dogs."

    [84] Sismondi, Histoire de France, Tom. XIX. p. 177, note.

To that other question which has been proposed, whether Massachusetts,
by State laws, will carry out the offensive clause in the Constitution
according to the understanding of the venerable Senator from South
Carolina, I reply, that Massachusetts, at all times, has been ready to
do her duty under the Constitution, as she understands it, and I doubt
not will ever continue of this mind. More than this I cannot say.

In quitting this topic, I cannot forbear to remark that the assault
on me for my disclaimer of all constitutional obligation, resting
upon me as Senator or citizen, to aid in enslaving a fellow-man, or
in surrendering him to Slavery, comes with ill grace from the veteran
Senator from Virginia, a State which, by its far-famed resolutions of
1798, claimed to determine its constitutional obligations, even to
the extent of openly declaring two different Acts of Congress null
and void; and it comes even more strangely from the venerable Senator
from South Carolina, a State which, in latter days, has arrayed
itself openly against the national authorities, and which threatens
nullification as often as babies cry.

Surely the Senator from South Carolina, with his silver-white locks,
would have hesitated to lead this assault upon me, had he not for the
moment been entirely oblivious of the history of the State which he
represents. Not many years have passed since an incident occurred at
Charleston, in South Carolina,--not at Boston, in Massachusetts,--which
ought to be remembered. The postmaster of that place, acting under a
controlling Public Opinion there, informed the head of his Department
at Washington that he had determined to suppress all _Antislavery_
publications, and requested instructions for the future. Thus, in
violation of the laws of the land, the very mails were rifled,
and South Carolina smiled approbation. But still further. The
Postmaster-General, Mr. Kendall, after prudently alleging, that, as
he had not seen the papers in question, he could not give an opinion
of their character, proceeded to say that he had been _informed_ that
they were inflammatory, incendiary, and insurrectionary, and then

    "By no act or direction of mine, official or private, could I be
    induced to aid knowingly in giving circulation to papers of this
    description, directly or indirectly. _We owe an obligation to the
    law_, but a _higher_ one to the communities in which we live; and
    if the former be perverted to destroy the latter, _it is patriotism
    to disregard them_. Entertaining these views, I cannot sanction,
    and will not condemn, the step you have taken."[85]

    [85] Letter of Postmaster-General to Postmaster at Charleston, S.
    C., August 4, 1835: Niles's Weekly Register, 4th Ser. Vol. XII. p.

Such was the approving response of the National Government to the
Postmaster of Charleston, when, for the sake of Slavery, and without
any constitutional scruple, he set himself against an acknowledged law
of the land. And yet the venerable Senator from South Carolina now
presumes to denounce me, when, for the sake of Freedom, and in the
honest interpretation of my constitutional obligations, I decline an
offensive service.

There is another incident in the history of South Carolina, which, as
a loyal son of Massachusetts, I cannot forget, and which rises now
in judgment against the venerable Senator. Massachusetts ventured to
commission a distinguished gentleman, of blameless life and eminent
professional qualities, who had served with honor in the other House
[Hon. SAMUEL HOAR], to reside at Charleston for a brief
period, in order to guard the rights of her free colored citizens,
assailed on arrival there by an inhospitable statute, so gross in its
provisions that an eminent character of South Carolina, a Judge of the
Supreme Court of the United States [Hon. WILLIAM JOHNSON],
had condemned it as "trampling on the Constitution," and "a direct
attack upon the sovereignty of the United States."[86] Massachusetts
had read in the Constitution a clause closely associated with that
touching fugitives from service, to the following effect: "The citizens
of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of
citizens in the several States," and supposed that this would yet be
recognized by South Carolina. But she was mistaken. Her venerable
representative, an unarmed old man, with hair as silver-white almost
as that of the Senator before me, was beset in Charleston by a
"respectable" mob, prevented from entering upon his duties, and driven
from the State,--while the Legislature stepped forward to sanction
this shameless, lawless act, by placing on the statute-book an order
for his expulsion. And yet, Sir, the excitable Senator from South
Carolina is fired by the fancied delinquencies of Massachusetts
towards Slave-Hunters, and also by my own refusal to render them any
aid or comfort; he shoots questions in volleys, assumes to measure our
duties by his understanding, and ejaculates a lecture at Massachusetts
and myself. Sir, before that venerable Senator again ventures thus,
let him return to his own State, seamed all over with the scars of
Nullification, and first lecture there. Ay, Sir, let him look into his
own heart, and lecture himself.

    [86] Letter to John Quincy Adams, July 3, 1824; Opinion in Ex parte
    Henry Elkison, August 7, 1823: Report No. 80, Com. H. of R., 27th
    Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 20, 1843, Appendix, pp. 14, 29.

       *       *       *       *       *

But enough for the present on the extent of my constitutional
obligations to become Slave-Hunter. There are, however, yet other
things in the assault of the venerable Senator, which, for the sake
of truth, in just defence of Massachusetts, and in honor of Freedom,
shall not be left unanswered. Alluding to those days when Massachusetts
was illustrated by Otis, Hancock, and "the brace of Adamses," when
Faneuil Hall sent forth notes of Liberty which resounded even to South
Carolina, and the very stones in the streets of Boston rose in mutiny
against tyranny, the Senator with the silver-white locks, in the very
ecstasy of Slavery, broke forth in exclamation that Massachusetts
was then "slaveholding," and he presumed to hail these patriots
representatives of "hardy, slaveholding Massachusetts." Sir, I repel
the imputation. True, Massachusetts was "hardy"; but she was not, in
any just sense, "slaveholding." Had she been so, she could not have
been "hardy." The two characteristics are inconsistent as weakness and
strength, as disease and health,--I had almost said, as death and life.

The Senator opens a page on which I willingly dwell. Sir, Slavery
never flourished in Massachusetts; nor did it ever prevail there at
any time, even in early colonial days, in such measure as to be a
distinctive feature of her progressive civilization. Her few slaves
were for a term of years or for life. If, in fact, their issue was
sometimes held in bondage, it was never by sanction of any statute or
law of Colony or Commonwealth. Such has been the solemn and repeated
judgment of her Supreme Court.[87] In all her annals, no person was
ever born a slave on the soil of Massachusetts. This, of itself, is an
answer to the imputation of the Senator.

    [87] Littleton _v._ Tuttle, 4 Mass., 128, note; Lanesborough _v._
    Westfield, 16 Mass., 75; Edgartown _v._ Tisbury, 10 Cush., 410;
    Jackson _v._ Phillips et als., 14 Allen, 562.

Benign and brilliant Acts of her Legislature, at an early date, show
her sensibility on this subject. Unhappily, in 1645, two negroes were
brought from the coast of Guinea in a Boston ship. Instead of holding
them as slaves, the record shows "a resolve to send them back."[88]
One year later, "a negro interpreter, with others, unlawfully taken,"
became the occasion of another testimony. Thus spoke Massachusetts:--

    "The General Court, conceiving themselves bound by the first
    opportunity to bear witness against the heinous and crying sin of
    man-stealing, as also to prescribe such timely redress for what is
    past, _and such a law for the future, as may sufficiently deter all
    others belonging to us to have to do in such vile and most odious
    courses, justly abhorred of all good and just men_, do order, that
    the negro interpreter, with others, unlawfully taken, be, by the
    first opportunity, at the charge of the country for present, sent
    to his native country of Guinea, and a letter with him, of the
    indignation of the Court thereabouts, and justice thereof."[89]

    [88] Mass. Records, Oct. 14, 1645, Vol. III. p. 49. Winthrop,
    History of New England, Vol. II. p. 244.

    [89] Mass. Records, Nov. 4, 1646, Vol. III. p. 84.

Note the language: "Such vile and most odious courses, justly abhorred
of all good and just men." Better words could not be employed against
the infamies of Slavery in our day. The Colony that could issue this
noble decree was inconsistent with itself, when it permitted its
rocky soil to be pressed by the footstep of a single slave. But a
righteous public opinion early and constantly set its face against
Slavery. As early as 1701 the following vote appears on the Records of
Boston: "The Representatives are desired to promote the encouraging
the bringing of white servants, _and to put a period to negroes being
slaves_."[90] Perhaps, in all history, this is the earliest testimony
from any official body against Negro Slavery, and I thank God that it
came from Boston, my native town. In 1705 a heavy duty was imposed upon
every negro imported into the Province;[91] in 1712 the importation
of Indians as servants or slaves was strictly forbidden;[92] but
the general subject of Slavery attracted little attention till the
beginning of the controversy which ended in the Revolution, when the
rights of the blacks were blended by all true patriots with those
of the whites. Sparing unnecessary detail, suffice it to say, that,
as early as 1770, one of the courts of Massachusetts, anticipating
by two years the renowned judgment in Somerset's case, established
within its jurisdiction the principle of emancipation, and, under its
touch of magic power, changed slave into freeman. Similar decisions
followed from other courts. In 1776 the whole number of blacks, both
free and slave, sprinkled thinly over "hardy" Massachusetts, was
five thousand two hundred and forty-nine, being to the whites as one
to sixty-five,[93]--while in "slaveholding" South Carolina the number
of negro slaves at that time was not far from one hundred thousand,
being at least one slave for every freeman, thus rendering that Colony
anything but "hardy." In these figures I give South Carolina the
benefit of the most favorable estimates. Good authorities make the
slaves at that time in this State more than twice as numerous as the
freemen.[94] At last, in 1780, even before the triumph of Yorktown led
the way to that peace which set its seal upon National Independence,
Massachusetts, glowing with the struggles of the Revolution, and filled
with the sentiments of Freedom, placed foremost in her Declaration
of Rights those emphatic words, "All men are born free and equal,"
and by this declaration exterminated every vestige of Slavery within
her borders. All hail, then, to Massachusetts! the just and generous
Commonwealth in whose behalf I have the honor to speak.

    [90] Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc., 2d Ser. Vol. VIII. p. 184. Drake's
    History and Antiquities of Boston, p. 525.

    [91] Acts and Laws of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, 1705,
    Ch. VI. § 6.

    [92] Ibid., 1711-12, Ch. V.

    [93] Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc., Vol. IV. p. 198.

    [94] Hewatt, History of South Carolina, Vol. II. p. 292; Drayton,
    View of South Carolina, p. 103; Mills, Statistics of South
    Carolina, p. 177. In harmony with these is the recent History of
    South Carolina, by William Gilmore Simms, (ed. 1860,) p. 199.

Thus, Sir, does the venerable Senator err, when he presumes to vouch
Massachusetts for Slavery, and to associate this odious institution
with the names of her great patriots.

But the venerable Senator errs yet more, if possible, when he
attributes to "slaveholding" communities a leading part in those
contributions of arms and treasure by which independence was secured.
Here are his exact words, as I find them in the "Globe," revised by

    "Sir, when blood was shed upon the plains of Lexington and
    Concord, in an issue made by Boston, to whom was an appeal made,
    and from whom was it answered? The answer is found in the acts of
    slaveholding States,--_animis opibusque parati_. Yes, Sir, the
    independence of America, to maintain republican liberty, was won
    by the arms and treasure, by the patriotism and _good faith_, of
    slaveholding communities."[95]

    [95] Congressional Globe, 33d Cong. 1st Sess., June 26, 1854, Vol.
    XXVIII. p. 1516.

Observe, Sir, the words as emphasized by himself. Surely, the Senator,
with his silver-white locks, all fresh from the outrage of the Nebraska
Bill, and that overthrow of a solemn compact, cannot stand here and
proclaim the "_good faith_ of slaveholding communities," except in
irony,--yes, Sir, in irony. And let me add, that, when this Senator
presumes to say that American Independence "was won by the arms and
treasure of _slaveholding_ communities," he speaks either in irony or
in ignorance.

The question which the venerable Senator from South Carolina opens
by his vaunt I have no desire to discuss; but since it is presented,
I confront it at once. This is not the first time, during my brief
service here, that this Senator has sought on this floor to provoke
comparison between slaveholding communities and the Free States.

    MR. BUTLER [_from his seat_]. You cannot quote a single instance in
    which I have done it. I have always said I thought it was in bad
    taste, and I have never attempted it.

MR. SUMNER. I beg the Senator's pardon. I always listen to
him, and I know whereof I affirm. He has profusely dealt in it. I
allude now only to a single occasion. In his speech on the Nebraska
Bill, running through two days, it was one of his commonplaces.
There he openly presented a contrast between the Free States
and "slaveholding communities" in certain essential features of
civilization, and directed shafts at Massachusetts which called to his
feet my distinguished colleague at that time [Mr. EVERETT],
and more than once compelled me to take the floor. And now, Sir, the
venerable Senator, not rising from his seat and standing openly before
the Senate, undertakes to deny that he has dealt in such comparisons.

    MR. BUTLER. Will the Senator allow me?

    MR. SUMNER. Certainly: I yield the floor to the Senator.

    MR. BUTLER. Whenever that speech is read,--and I wish the Senator
    had read it before he commented on it with a good deal of
    rhetorical enthusiasm,--it will be found that I was particular not
    to wound the feelings of the Northern people who were sympathizing
    with us in the great movement to remove odious distinctions. I was
    careful to say nothing that would provoke invidious comparisons;
    and when that speech is read, notwithstanding the vehement
    assertion of the honorable Senator, he will find, that, when I
    quoted the laws of Massachusetts, particularly one Act which I
    termed the _Toties Quoties_ Act, by which every negro was whipped
    every time he came into Massachusetts, I quoted them with a view
    to show, not a contrast between South Carolina and Massachusetts,
    but to show that in the whole of this country, from the beginning
    to this time,--even in my own State,--I made no exception,--public
    opinion had undergone a change, and that it had undergone the same
    change in Massachusetts; for at one time they did not regard this
    institution of Slavery with the same odium that they do at this
    time. That was the purpose; and I challenge the Senator, as an
    orator of fairness, to look at it and see if it is not so.

    MR. SUMNER. Has the Senator done?

    MR. BUTLER. I may not be done presently; but that is the purport of
    that speech.

MR. SUMNER. Will the Senator refer to his own speech? He now
admits, that, under the guise of an argument, he did draw attention to
what he evidently regarded an odious law of Massachusetts. And, Sir, I
did not forget, that, in doing this, there was, at the time, an apology
which ill concealed the sting.[96] But let that pass. The Senator is
strangely oblivious of the statistical contrasts which he borrowed from
the speech of a member of the other House, and which, at his request,
were read by a Senator before him on this floor. The Senator, too, is
strangely oblivious of yet another imputation, which, at the very close
of his speech, he shot as a Parthian arrow at Massachusetts. It is he,
then, who is the offender; and no hardihood of denial can extricate
him. For myself, Sir, I understand the sensibilities of Senators from
"slaveholding communities," and would not wound them by a superfluous
word. Of Slavery I speak strongly, as I must; but thus far, even at the
expense of my argument, I have avoided the contrasts founded on detail
of figures and facts which are so obvious between the Free States and
"slaveholding communities"; especially have I shunned all allusion to
South Carolina. But the venerable Senator to whose discretion that
State has intrusted its interests here will not allow me to be still.

    [96] The following, from the _Congressional Globe_ (33d Cong. 1st
    Sess., Appendix, p. 234), will show the spirit of Mr. Butler's
    remarks, on the occasion referred to.

    "MR. BUTLER. ... I have said, that, before the adoption of the
    Missouri Compromise, even the Northern States were not so very
    kind and philanthropic towards this race, which is now under the
    peculiar care of the Senator from Massachusetts, as he would
    represent. I have before me a statute of that State, which I ask my
    friend from Alabama [Mr. C. C. Clay], who sits beside me, to read."

    [Here Mr. Clay read from the Act in question (withholding the
    title, "_An Act for suppressing and punishing of Rogues, Vagabonds,
    Common Beggars, and other Idle, Disorderly, and Lewd Persons_") a
    section prohibiting the tarrying of vagrant negroes in the State
    _longer than two months_, on pain, in case of complaint, and
    continuance after due warning, of being "whipped not exceeding ten
    stripes, and ordered to depart out of the Commonwealth within ten
    days; and if he or she shall not so depart, the same process to be
    had and punishment inflicted, and so _toties quoties_."]

    "MR. BROADHEAD. What is the date of that statute?

    "MR. BUTLER. Seventeen hundred and eighty-eight; and it remained
    on the statute-book _in full force_ until 1823, until after the
    adoption of the Missouri Compromise. I will call it the _Toties
    Quoties_ Act. The negroes were to be whipped every time they
    happened to get to Boston, or any other place in Massachusetts.
    That is a specimen of statutory philanthropy at least."

    To this Mr. Sumner replied at once:--

    "The Senator from South Carolina is so jealous of the honor of
    his own State, that he will pardon me, if I interrupt him for one
    moment, merely to explain the offensive statute to which he has
    referred. I have nothing to say in vindication of it: I simply
    desire that it should be understood. This statute, which bears date
    1788, anterior to the National Government, was applicable only to
    Africans or negroes not citizens of some one of the United States;
    and, according to contemporary evidence, it was intended to protect
    the Commonwealth against the vagabondage of fugitive slaves. But I
    do not vindicate the statute; I only explain it; and I add, that it
    has long since been banished from the statute-book."

    There is a Report to the Massachusetts Legislature by Theodore
    Lyman, Jr., as Chairman of a Committee "to report a Bill concerning
    the Admission into this State of Free Negroes and Mulattoes," dated
    January 16, 1822, which confirms the position of Mr. Sumner. After
    a few preliminary remarks, it is said:--

    "The Committee have already found in the statute-books of this
    Commonwealth a law, passed in 1788, regulating the residence in
    this State of certain persons of color. They believe that _this law
    has never been enforced_, and, ineffectual as it has proved, they
    would never have been the authors of placing among the statutes a
    law so arbitrary in its principle, and in its operation _so little
    accordant with the institutions, feelings, and practices of the
    people of this Commonwealth_."

    The Report then goes into a history of the public acts and
    proceedings in relation to colored persons in Massachusetts, from
    the earliest colonial times down to the date of the enactment, in
    order to show the spirit of the people towards this class, and
    concludes with observations like the following:--

    "The feelings of the people disclosed since the year 1760 in the
    votes of towns and in the verdicts of juries, ... the fact that
    there is no law at present in force which makes a distinction
    between white and black persons, ... the same law which allows
    justices to expel blacks from the State after a certain notice
    expressly recognizing the right of blacks to become citizens (a
    law, the constitutionality of which has been called in question,
    and which it is well known was passed on the same day as the
    Abolition Act of March, 1788, in order to prevent the State from
    being overrun with runaway slaves),--blacks having the same public
    provisions for education, and the same public support in case of
    sickness and poverty,--many blacks before and during the Revolution
    having obtained their freedom by a legal process, and, as the
    spirit of the Constitution of this State abrogates all exclusive
    laws, thereby becoming invested with all the rights of freemen,
    and with a capability of becoming freeholders, ... and, above all,
    the construction given to the first principle in the Declaration
    of Rights at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, both
    in the public mind and in the courts of law,--clearly manifest
    and demonstrate that the people of this Commonwealth have always
    believed negroes and mulattoes to possess the same right and
    capability to become citizens as white persons."

God forbid that I should do injustice to South Carolina! I know well
the gallantry of many of her sons. I know the response which she made
to the appeal of Massachusetts for union against the Stamp Act--the
Fugitive Slave Act of that day--by the pen of Christopher Gadsden.
And I remember with sorrow that this patriot was obliged to confess,
at the time, her "weakness in having such a number of slaves," though
it is to his credit that he recognized Slavery as "crime."[97] I
have no pleasure in dwelling on the humiliations of South Carolina;
I have little desire to expose her sores; I would not lay bare even
her nakedness. But the Senator, in his vaunt for "slaveholding
communities," has made a claim for Slavery so derogatory to Freedom,
and so inconsistent with history, that I cannot allow it to pass

    [97] Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol. V. pp. 294, 425,

       *       *       *       *       *

This, Sir, is not the first time, even during my little experience
here, that the same claim has been made on this floor; and this seems
the more astonishing, because the archives of the country furnish such
ample and undoubted materials for its refutation. The question of the
comparative contributions of men by different States and sections of
the country in the war of the Revolution was brought forward as early
as 1790, in the first Congress under the Constitution, in the animated
and protracted debate on the assumption of State debts by the Union.
On that occasion, Fisher Ames, a Representative from Massachusetts,
famous for classic eloquence, moved a call upon the War Department
for the number of men furnished by each State to the Revolutionary
armies. The motion, though vehemently opposed, was carried by a small
majority. Shortly afterwards an answer to the call was received from
the Department, at that time under the charge of General Knox. This
answer, which is one of the documents of our history, places beyond
cavil or criticism the exact contributions in arms made by each State.
Here it is,--taken from the original, in a volume of the "American
State Papers,"[98] published under the authority of Congress. This is

    [98] Military Affairs, Vol. I. pp. 14-19. Compare with Coll. New
    Hamp. Hist. Soc., Vol. I. p. 236.

_Statement of the number of troops and militia furnished by the several
States, for the support of the Revolutionary War, from 1775 to 1783,

                    Number of    Number of   Total militia   Conjectural
                   continental    militia.  and continental  estimate of
  NORTHERN STATES.   troops.                     troops.        militia.
    New Hampshire    12,496        2,093         14,589           3,700
    Massachusetts    67,907       15,155         83,062           9,500
    Rhode Island      5,908        4,284         10,192           1,500
    Connecticut      32,039        7,792         39,831           3,000
    New York         17,781        3,312         21,093           8,750
    Pennsylvania     25,608        7,357         32,965           2,000
    New Jersey       10,726        6,055         16,781           2,500
                     ------       ------         ------          ------
            Total   172,465       46,048        218,513          30,950

    Delaware          2,387          376          2,763           1,000
    Maryland         13,912        5,464         19,376           4,000
    Virginia         26,678        4,163         30,841          21,880
    North Carolina    7,263        2,706          9,969          12,000
    South Carolina    6,417        ----           6,417          25,850
    Georgia           2,679        ----           2,679           9,900
                     ------       ------         ------          ------
            Total    59,336       12,709         72,045          74,630

At this time there was but little difference in numbers between the
population of the Southern States and that of the Northern States. By
the census of 1790 the Southern had a population of 1,851,804; the
Northern a population of 1,882,615. Notwithstanding this essential
equality of population in the two sections, the North furnished vastly
more men than the South.

Of continental troops, the Southern States furnished 59,336; the
Northern, 172,465: making about three men furnished to the continental
army by the Northern States to one from the Southern.

Of militia whose services are authenticated by the War Office, the
Southern States furnished 12,709; the Northern, 46,048: making nearly
four men contributed to the militia by the Northern States to one from
the Southern.

Of militia whose services are not authenticated by the War Office,
but are set down in the return as "conjectural" only, we have 74,630
furnished by the Southern States, and 30,950 by the Northern: making,
under this head, five men contributed by the Southern to two from the
Northern. The chief services of the Southern States, for which the
venerable Senator now claims so much, it will be observed with a smile,
were _conjectural_ only.

Looking, however, at the sum-total of continental troops, authenticated
militia, and "conjectural" militia, we have 146,675 from the Southern
States, while 249,463 were from the Northern: making upwards of 100,000
men contributed to the war by the Northern more than by the Southern.

The disparity swells, when we compare South Carolina and Massachusetts
directly. Of continental troops and authenticated militia and
"conjectural" militia, South Carolina furnished 32,267, while
Massachusetts furnished 92,562: making nearly three for every one
furnished by South Carolina. Look, however, at the continental troops
and the authenticated militia from the two States, and here you
will find only 6,417 furnished by South Carolina, while 83,062 were
furnished by Massachusetts,--_being thirteen times more than by South
Carolina, and much more than by all the Southern States together_. Here
are facts and figures of which the Senator ought not to be ignorant.

So obvious was this at the time, that we find John Adams recording
in his Autobiography, that "almost the whole army was derived
from New England."[99] General Knox, in a letter to Colonel Joseph
Ward, of Massachusetts, under date of July 28, 1780, with regard to
the reestablishment of the army, has a few words in point. After
complaining of the general inertness, as sufficient "to induce a
ready belief that the mass of America have taken _a monstrous deal of
opium_," he says:--

    "It is true, the Eastern States and New York have done something in
    this instance, but no others. Propagate this truth."[100]

    [99] Works, Vol. III. p. 48; see also p. 87.

    [100] Jackson's History of Newton, p. 517.

In a letter to General Gates, under date of Philadelphia, March 23,
1776, John Adams touches a difference in sentiment between the Northern
and Southern States, which of itself accounts for this disparity of
military contributions.

    "However, my dear friend Gates, all our misfortunes arise from
    a single source, _the reluctance of the Southern Colonies to
    republican government_."[101]

    [101] Works, Vol. I. p. 207.

Nothing could be stronger, although it is painful to think that it was

Foreign testimony, also, is in harmony with the official Statement.
The Marquis de Chastellux, who travelled through the States towards
the close of the Revolution, records somewhere that he "never met
anybody from the North who had not been in the army." So marked and
preeminent was the service of the Northern States, ay, Sir, so peculiar
and special was the service of Boston, from which comes the present
petition, that the Revolution was known in Europe by the name of this
patriotic town. Edmund Burke exclaimed in Parliament: "The cause of
Boston is become the cause of all America. Every part of America is
united in support of Boston. By these acts of oppression you have made
Boston the Lord Mayor of America."[102] And it was the same on the
Continent. Our fathers in arms for Independence were known as "the
insurgents of Boston." The French King was praised for protecting with
his arms what was called "the justice of the Bostonians."[103] In
saying this, I do not speak vaguely or without authority.

    [102] Hansard, Parliamentary History, Vol. XVIII. col. 45.

    [103] Vie Publique et Privée de Louis XVI., p. 43. See also
    Memoir of the Right Honorable Hugh Elliot, by the Countess of
    Minto, published since this speech, where will be found (p. 48) a
    letter from a fine lady of Vienna, who, writing to Mr. Elliot in
    1775, confesses that she has been "Bostonian at heart": _J'etais
    Bostonienne de coeur._

Did occasion require, I might go further, and minutely portray the
imbecility of Southern States, and particularly of South Carolina,
in the War of the Revolution, as compared with Northern States. This
is a sad chapter, upon which I dwell unwillingly. Faithful annals
record, that, as early as 1778, the six South Carolina regiments,
composing, with the Georgia regiment, the regular force of the Southern
Department, did not, in the whole, muster above eight hundred men;
nor was it possible to fill up their ranks. The succeeding year, the
Governor of South Carolina, pressed by British forces, offered to
stipulate the neutrality of his State during the war, leaving its
permanent position to be decided at the peace: a premonitory symptom
of the secession menaced in our own day. After the fatal field of
Camden, no organized American force was left in this region. The three
Southern States--_animis opibusque parati_, according to the vaunt
of the Senator--had not a single battalion in the field. During all
this period the men of Massachusetts were serving their country, not
at home, but away from their own borders: for, from the Declaration of
Independence, Massachusetts never felt the pressure of a hostile foot.

The offer of the Governor of South Carolina to stipulate the neutrality
of his State during the war has been sometimes called in question. But,
unhappily, the case is too clear. General Moultrie, who commanded at
Charleston, under the Governor, and whose name has been since given to
one of the forts in the harbor there, has furnished an authentic record
in two volumes, entitled "Memoirs of the American Revolution, so far as
it related to the States of North and South Carolina and Georgia." He
is my witness. As the British approached, the Governor and his Council
became frightened, and proceeded forthwith to talk about capitulation.
At last, after debate, "the question was carried for giving up the town
upon a neutrality."[104] Colonel John Laurens was requested to carry
this offer of capitulation from the Governor to General Prevost, the
British commander; but "he begged to be excused from carrying such
a message; that it was much against his inclination; that he would
do anything to serve his country, but he could not think of carrying
such a message as that." Other envoys were found who most reluctantly
undertook this service. The message was as follows:--

    "To propose a neutrality during the war between Great Britain and
    America, and the question, _whether the State shall belong to Great
    Britain or remain one of the United States_, be determined by the
    treaty of peace between those two powers."[105]

    [104] Moultrie, Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 432.

    [105] Ibid., p. 433.

The same story is told by others. Ramsay, himself of South Carolina, in
his "History of the American Revolution," says:--

    "Commissioners from the garrison were instructed 'to propose a
    neutrality during the war between Great Britain and America, and
    that the question, _whether the State shall belong to Great Britain
    or remain one of the United States_, be determined by the treaty of
    peace between these powers.'"[106]

    [106] History of the American Revolution, Vol. II. p. 118.

Chief Justice Marshall, in his authentic work, thus chronicles the
disgraceful business:--

    "The town was summoned to surrender, and the day was spent in
    sending and receiving flags. The neutrality of South Carolina
    during the war, leaving the question, _whether that State should
    finally belong to Great Britain or the United States_, to be
    settled in the treaty of peace, was proposed by the garrison, and
    rejected by Prevost."[107]

    [107] Life of Washington, Vol. I. (2d edition) pp. 298, 299.

It is also presented with precision by Professor Bowen, of Harvard
University, in his recent Life of General Lincoln, who remarks on it as

    "This proposal did not come merely from the commander of a military
    garrison, in which case, of course, it would have been only
    nugatory; the Governor of the State, clothed with discretionary
    powers, was in the place, and probably most of his Council along
    with him. Whether such a proposition would have been justifiable
    under any circumstances is a question that needs not be discussed;
    at any rate, it would not have evinced much honorable or patriotic
    feeling. But to make such an offer in the present case was conduct
    little short of treason."[108]

    [108] Life of Benjamin Lincoln: Sparks's American Biography, 2d
    Ser. Vol. XIII. p. 285.

This author concludes an animated review of the proposition with the
remark, that it "was equivalent to an offer from the State to return to
its allegiance to the British Crown."[109]

    [109] Life of Benjamin Lincoln: Sparks's American Biography, 2d
    Ser. Vol. XIII. p. 286.

The fate of the State was typified in the capture by the British, some
time afterwards, of the ship "South Carolina," of forty guns, the
largest and most costly of our infant navy, and called by Cooper "much
the heaviest ship that ever sailed under the American flag, until the
new frigates were constructed during the War of 1812."[110] But here is
the same story. Her service was altogether inadequate.

    [110] History of the Navy of the United States (2d edition), Vol.
    I. p. 213.

At last, the military genius and remarkable exertions of General
Greene, a Northern man, who assumed the command of the Southern army,
prevailed in rescuing South Carolina from British power. But the trials
of this successful leader reveal in a striking manner the weakness
of the "slaveholding" State he saved. Some of these are graphically
presented in his letters.

Writing to President Reed, of Pennsylvania, under date of 4th May,
1781, he says:--

    "The strength and resources of these [Southern] States to support
    the war have been greatly magnified and overrated; and those
    whose business and true interest it was to give a just state of
    the situation of things have joined in the deception, and, from a
    false principle of pride of having the country thought powerful,
    have led people to believe it was so. It is true, there were many
    inhabitants, but they were spread over a great extent of country,
    and near equally divided between the King's interest and ours. The
    majority is greatly in favor of the enemy's interest now, as great
    numbers of the Whigs have left the country.... The love of pleasure
    and the want of principle among many of those who are our friends
    render the exertions very languid in support of our cause; _and
    unless the Northern States can give more effectual support, these
    States must fall_."[111]

    [111] Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, Vol. II. p. 351.
    Johnson's Life and Correspondence of Nathaniel Greene, Vol. II. p.

Writing to Colonel Davie, under date of 23d May, 1781, General Greene
again exposes the actual condition of the country.

    "The animosity between the Whigs and Tories of this State renders
    their situation truly deplorable. There is not a day passes
    but there are more or less who fall a sacrifice to this savage
    disposition. The Whigs seem determined to extirpate the Tories,
    and the Tories the Whigs. Some thousands have fallen in this way
    in this quarter, and the evil rages with more violence than ever.
    If a stop cannot be soon put to these massacres, the country will
    be depopulated in a few months more, as neither Whig nor Tory can

    [112] Gordon, History of the Rise, etc., of the Independence of the
    United States, Vol. IV. p. 99.

To Lafayette, General Greene, under date of 29th December, 1780,
describes the weakness of his troops.

    "It is now within a few days of the time you mentioned of being
    with me. Were you to arrive, you would find a few ragged,
    half-starved troops in the wilderness, destitute of everything
    necessary for either the comfort or convenience of soldiers....
    The country is almost laid waste, and the inhabitants plunder one
    another with little less than savage fury. We live from hand to
    mouth, and have nothing to subsist on but what we collect with
    armed parties. In this situation, I believe you will agree with
    me, there is nothing inviting this way, especially when I assure
    you our whole force fit for duty, that are properly clothed and
    properly equipped, does not amount to eight hundred men."[113]

    [113] Johnson's Life and Correspondence of Greene, Vol. I. p. 340.

Writing to Mr. Varnum, a member of Congress, the General says:--

    "There is a great spirit of enterprise prevailing among the militia
    of these Southern States, especially with the volunteers. But their
    mode of going to war is so destructive, that _it is the greatest
    folly in the world to trust the liberties of a people to such a
    precarious defence_."[114]

    [114] Ibid., p. 397.

Nothing can be more authentic or complete than this testimony. Here,
also, is what is said by David Ramsay, an estimable citizen of South
Carolina, in his History of the Revolution in that State, published in
1785, only a short time after the scenes which he describes.

    "While the American soldiers lay encamped in this inactive
    situation," (in the low country near Charleston,) "their tattered
    rags were so completely worn out, that seven hundred of them were
    as naked as they were born, excepting a small slip of cloth about
    their waists; and they were nearly as destitute of meat as of

    [115] History of the Revolution of South Carolina, Vol. II. p. 258.

To the same effect is a letter from Greene to Sumter, under date of
Jan. 15, 1781.

    "It is a great misfortune that the little force we have is in
    such a wretched state for want of clothing. More than one half
    our numbers are in a manner naked, so much so that we cannot put
    them on the least kind of duty. Indeed, there is a great number
    that have not a rag of clothes on them, except a little piece of
    blanket, in the Indian form, around their waists."[116]

    [116] Johnson's Life and Correspondence of Greene, Vol. I. p. 393.

The military weakness of this "slaveholding community" is but too
apparent. As I show its occasion, you will join with me in amazement
that a Senator from South Carolina should attribute Independence to
anything "slaveholding." The records of the country, and various
voices, all disown his vaunt for Slavery. The State of South Carolina
itself, by authentic history, disowns it. I give the proofs.

The first is from the debate on the Confederation in the Continental
Congress, as early as July, 1776, when the following passage occurred,
which I quote from "Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress
in 1775 and 1776," preserved by John Adams. Mr. Lynch, a young
representative of South Carolina, showing the sensibilities, if not
the evil spirit, engendered by Slavery, speaking in behalf of the
Southern States, said: "If it is debated whether their slaves are their
property, there is an end of the Confederation. Our slaves being our
property, why should they be taxed more than the land, sheep, cattle,
horses, &c.?" Without noticing the menace against the Confederation,
the beginning of a long line, Franklin replied, with sententious
authority: "Slaves rather weaken than strengthen the State, and there
is therefore some difference between them and sheep. _Sheep will never
make any insurrections._"[117] Franklin touched the point.

    [117] Works of John Adams, Vol. II. p. 498. See also Bancroft's
    History of the United States, Vol. IX. p. 52.

And now listen, if you please, to peculiar and decisive testimony,
under date of 29th March, 1779, from the Secret Journals of the
Continental Congress.

    "The Committee appointed to take into consideration _the
    circumstances of the Southern States_, and the ways and means for
    their safety and defence, report, ... That the State of South
    Carolina (as represented by the Delegates to the said State, and by
    Mr. Huger, who has come hither at the request of the Governor of
    the said State, on purpose to explain the particular circumstances
    thereof) is UNABLE to make any effectual efforts with militia, by
    reason of the great proportion of citizens _necessary to remain at
    home, to prevent insurrections among the negroes_, and to prevent
    the desertion of them to the enemy; that the state of the country,
    and _the great numbers of those people among them_, expose the
    inhabitants to great _danger_, from the endeavors of the enemy to
    excite them either to revolt or desert."[118]

    [118] Secret Journals, Vol. I. pp. 107, 108.

Here is South Carolina secretly disclosing her military weakness, and
its ignoble occasion: thus repudiating in advance the vaunt of her
Senator, who finds strength and gratulation in Slavery rather than
in Freedom. It was during the war, and in the confessional of the
Continental Congress, that, on bended knees, she shrived herself. But
the same ignominious confession was made, some time after the war, in
open debate, on the floor of Congress, by Mr. Burke, a Representative
from South Carolina.

    "There is not a gentleman on the floor who is a stranger to the
    feeble situation of our State, when we entered into the war to
    oppose the British power. _We were not only without money, without
    an army or military stores, but we were few in number, and likely
    to be entangled with our domestics, in case the enemy invaded

    [119] Annals of Congress, 1st Cong. 2d Sess., II. 1484, March 30,

Similar testimony to this weakness was borne by Mr. Madison in open
debate in Congress.

    "Every addition they [Georgia and South Carolina] receive to their
    number of slaves _tends to weaken, and render them less capable of

    [120] Ibid., 1st Cong. 1st Sess., I. 340, May 13, 1789.

The historian of South Carolina, Dr. Ramsay, a contemporary observer of
the very scenes which he describes, to whom I have already referred,
also exposes this weakness.

    "The forces under the command of General Prevost marched through
    the richest settlements of the State, where are the fewest white
    inhabitants in proportion to the number of slaves. _The hapless
    Africans, allured with hopes of freedom, forsook their owners_,
    and repaired in great numbers to the royal army. They endeavored
    to recommend themselves to their new masters by discovering where
    their owners had concealed their property, and were assisting in
    carrying it off."[121]

    [121] History of South Carolina, Vol. I. pp. 312, 313.

The same candid historian, describing the invasion of the next year,

    "The slaves a _second_ time _flocked_ to the British army."[122]

    [122] Ibid., p. 334.

At a still later day, Mr. Justice Johnson, of the Supreme Court of the
United States, and a citizen of South Carolina, in his elaborate Life
of General Greene, speaking of negro slaves, makes the same unhappy
admission. He says:--

    "But the number dispersed through these [Southern] States was
    very great,--_so great as to render it impossible for the citizens
    to muster freemen enough to withstand the pressure of the British

    [123] Life of Greene, Vol. II. Appendix, p. 472.

Here is illustration from an English pamphlet entitled "Account of the
Duckenfield Hall Estate Negroes, 1806, Law Case," where will be found
the following incident.

    "In 1779 I bought ten negroes, which, with sixty others, were taken
    by a privateer from a plantation in South Carolina."

Thus from every quarter are we conducted to the same conclusion.

And all this cumulative and unimpeachable testimony is reinforced by
testimony of an earlier day, also from South Carolina. The Assembly of
the Colony represented to the King, in 1734, that they were

    "Subject to _many intestine dangers from the great number of
    negroes_ that are now among us."[124]

    [124] Grahame, History of the United States, Vol. III. p. 161.

Another representation shortly afterwards declared:--

    "If any stop be put to the exportation of rice from South Carolina
    to Europe, it ... may render the whole Colony an easy prey to their
    neighbors, the Indians and Spaniards, _and also to those yet more
    dangerous enemies, their own negroes, who are ready to revolt on
    the first opportunity_, and are eight times as many in number as
    there are white men able to bear arms."[125]

    [125] Ibid., p. 215.

Thus was it before, as during the Revolution,--weakness always, nothing
but weakness.

And this is precisely according to human experience. It was in South
Carolina as it had been in other lands where Slavery prevailed. Here I
read the testimony of a remarkable writer, Archbishop Whately.

    "For if there be any one truth which the deductions of reason
    alone, independent of history, would lead us to anticipate,
    and which again history alone would establish independently of
    antecedent reasoning, it is this: that a whole class of men
    placed permanently under the ascendency of another as subjects,
    without the rights of citizens, must be _a source, at the best,
    of weakness, and generally of danger, to the State_.... It is
    notorious, accordingly, how much Sparta was weakened and endangered
    by the Helots, always ready to avail themselves of any public
    disaster as an occasion for revolt."[126]

    [126] Essays on Some of the Dangers to Christian Faith, pp.
    214-216, note F, 2d edition. See also Bacon's Essays, with
    Annotations by Whately, pp. 127-130: Annotations to Essay XV.

The Archbishop then recalls how Hannibal for sixteen years maintained
himself in Italy against the Romans, and, though scantily supplied
from Carthage, recruited his ranks by the aid of Roman subjects. Truly
does he say that every page of history teaches the same lesson, and
proclaims in every different form, "How long shall these men be a snare
unto us?"[127]--and also, "The remnant of these nations which thou
shalt not drive out shall be pricks in thine eyes and thorns in thy

    [127] Exodus, x. 7.

    [128] Numbers, xxxiii. 58.

       *       *       *       *       *

Surely, Sir, this is enough, and more. From authentic documents,
including the very muster-rolls of the Revolution, we learn the small
contributions of men and the military weakness of the Southern States,
particularly of South Carolina, as compared with the Northern States;
and from the very lips of South Carolina herself, on four different
occasions,--by a Committee, by one of her Representatives in Congress,
by her historian, and by an eminent citizen,--we have the confession,
not only of weakness, but that this weakness was caused by Slavery. And
yet, in the face of this combined and authoritative testimony, we are
called to listen, in the American Senate, to the arrogant boast, from
a venerable Senator, that American Independence was achieved by the
arms and treasure of "slaveholding communities": an assumption baseless
as the fabric of a vision, in any way it may be interpreted,--whether
as meaning baldly that Independence was achieved by those Southern
States, the peculiar home of Slavery, or that it was achieved by any
strength or influence which came from that noxious source. Sir, I speak
here for a Commonwealth of just renown, but I speak also for a cause
which is more than any Commonwealth, even that which I represent; and
I cannot allow the Senator to discredit either. Not by Slavery, but
in spite of Slavery, was Independence achieved. Not _because_, but
_notwithstanding_, there were "slaveholding communities," did triumph
descend upon our arms. It was the inspiration of Liberty Universal that
conducted us through the Red Sea of the Revolution, as it had already
given to the Declaration of Independence its mighty tone, resounding
through the ages. "Let it be remembered," said the Nation, speaking by
the voice of the Continental Congress, at the close of the war, "that
it has ever been the pride and boast of America, that the rights for
which she contended were THE RIGHTS OF HUMAN NATURE."[129]
Yes, Sir, in this behalf, and by this sign, we conquered.

    [129] Address to the States, April 26, 1783: Journal of Congress,
    Vol. VIII. p. 201.

Such, Sir, is my answer on this head to the Senator from South
Carolina. If the work which I undertook has been done thoroughly,
he must not blame me. Justice demanded that it should be thorough.
But, while thus repelling insinuations against Massachusetts,
and assumptions for Slavery, I would not unnecessarily touch the
sensibilities of that Senator, or of the State which he represents. I
cannot forget, that, amidst all diversities of opinion, we are bound
together by ties of a common country,--that Massachusetts and South
Carolina are sister States, and that the concord of sisters ought to
prevail between them; but I am constrained to declare, that, throughout
this debate, I have sought in vain any token of that just spirit which
within the sphere of its influence is calculated to promote the concord
whether of State or of individuals.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, for the present, I part with the venerable Senator from
South Carolina. Pursuing his inconsistencies, and exposing them to
judgment, I had almost forgotten his associate leader in the wanton
personal assault upon me in this long debate,--I mean the veteran
Senator from Virginia [Mr. MASON], who is now directly in my
eye. With imperious look, and in the style of Sir Forcible Feeble,
that Senator undertakes to call in question my statement, that the
Fugitive Slave Act denies the writ of _Habeas Corpus_; and in doing
this, he assumes a superiority for himself, which, permit me to tell
him now in this presence, nothing in him can warrant. Sir, I claim
little for myself; but I shrink in no respect from any comparison with
that Senator, veteran though he be. Sitting near him, as has been
my fortune since I had the honor of a seat in this chamber, I have
come to know something of his conversation, something of his manners,
something of his attainments, something of his abilities, something
of his character,--ay, Sir, and something of _his_ associations; and,
while I would not disparage him in any of these respects, I feel that
I do not exalt myself unduly, that I do not claim too much for the
position which I hold or the name which I have established, when I
openly declare, that, as Senator of Massachusetts, and as man, I place
myself at every point in unhesitating comparison with that honorable
assailant. And to his peremptory assertion, that the Fugitive Slave Act
_does not_ deny the _Habeas Corpus_, I oppose my assertion, peremptory
as his own, that it _does_,--and there I leave that issue.

Mr. President, I welcome the sensibility which the Senator from
Virginia manifests at the exposure of the Fugitive Slave Act. He is
the author of that enormity. From his brain came forth the soulless
monster. He is, therefore, its natural guardian. The Senator is, I
believe, a lawyer. And now, since at last he shows parental solicitude
to shield his offspring, he must do more than vainly parry the
objection that it denies the great writ of _Habeas Corpus_. It is true,
Sir, if anything but Slavery were in question, such an objection, if
merely plausible, would be fatal; but it is not to be supposed that
the partisans of an institution founded on denial of human rights can
appreciate the proper efficacy of that writ. Sir, I challenge the
Senator to defend his progeny,--not by assertion, but by reason. Let
him rally all the ability, learning, and subtilty which he can command,
and undertake the impossible work.

Let him answer this objection: The Constitution, by an amendment
which Samuel Adams hailed as a protection against the usurpations of
the National Government, and which Jefferson asserted was its very
"foundation," has solemnly declared that "the powers not delegated to
the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the
States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Stronger words could not be employed to limit the powers under the
Constitution, and to protect the people from all assumptions of the
National Government, particularly in derogation of Freedom. By the
Virginia Resolutions of 1798, which the Senator is reputed to accept,
this limitation of the powers of the National Government is recognized
and enforced. The Senator himself is understood, on all questions not
affecting the claims of Slavery, to espouse this rule in its utmost
strictness. Let him now indicate, if he can, any article, clause,
phrase, or word in the Constitution which gives to Congress any power
to establish a "uniform law throughout the United States" on the
subject of fugitive slaves. Let him now show, if he can, from the
records of the National Convention, one jot of evidence inclining to
any such power. Whatever its interpretation in other respects, the
clause on which this bill purports to be founded gives no such power.
Sir, nothing can come out of nothing; and the Fugitive Slave Act is,
therefore, without any source or origin in the Constitution. It is an
open and unmitigated usurpation.

When the veteran Senator of Virginia has answered this objection,
when he is able to find in the Constitution a power which is not to
be found, and to make us see what is not to be seen, then let him
answer another objection. The Constitution has secured the inestimable
right of Trial by Jury "in suits at Common Law, where the value in
controversy shall exceed twenty dollars." Of course Freedom is not
susceptible of pecuniary valuation; therefore there can be no question
that the claim for a fugitive slave is within this condition. In
determining what is meant by "suits at Common Law," recourse must be
had to the Common Law itself, precisely as we resort to that law in
order to determine what is meant by "Trial by Jury." Let the Senator,
if he be a lawyer, undertake to show that a claim for a fugitive slave
is not, according to early precedents and writs,--well known to the
framers of the Constitution, especially to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
and John Rutledge, of South Carolina, both of whom had studied law
at the Temple,--a _suit at Common Law_, to which, under the solemn
guaranty of the Constitution, is attached the Trial by Jury, as an
inseparable incident. Let the Senator show this, if he can.

And, Sir, when the veteran Senator has found a power in the
Constitution where none exists, and has set aside the right of Trial
by Jury in a suit at Common Law, then let him answer yet another
objection. By the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States,
a claim for a fugitive slave is declared to be _a case under the
Constitution_,[130] within the judicial power; and this judgment of
the Court is confirmed by common sense and Common Law. Let the Senator
show, if he can, how such exalted exercise of judicial power can be
confided to a single petty magistrate, appointed, not by the President,
with the advice and consent of the Senate, but by the Court,--holding
his office, not during good behavior, but merely during the will of
the Court,--and receiving, not a regular salary, but fees according to
each individual case. Let the Senator answer this objection, if, in
any way, by twist of learning, logic, or law, he can.

    [130] Prigg _v._ Pennsylvania, 16 Peters, 616.

Thus, Sir, do I present the issue directly on this monstrous enactment.
Let the author of the Fugitive Slave Bill meet it. He will find me
ready to follow him in argument,--though I trust never to be led, even
by his example, into any departure from those courtesies of debate
which are essential to the harmony of every legislative body.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such, Mr. President, is my response to all that has been said in this
debate, so far as I deem it in any way worthy of attention. To the two
associate chieftains in this personal assault, the veteran Senator from
Virginia, and the Senator from South Carolina with the silver-white
locks, I have replied completely. It is true that others have joined
in the cry which these associates first started; but I shall not be
tempted further. Some there are best answered by silence, best answered
by withholding the words which leap impulsively to the lips. [_Here Mr.
Sumner turned to Mr. Mallory and Mr. Clay._]

And now, giving to oblivion all these things, let me, as I close,
dwell on a single aspect of this discussion, which will render it
memorable. On former occasions like this, the right of petition has
been vehemently assailed or practically denied. Only two years ago,
memorials for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, presented by me,
were laid on your table, Mr. President, without reference to any
Committee. All is changed now. Senators have condemned the memorial,
and sounded in our ears the cry of "Treason! treason!"--but thus
far, throughout this excited debate, no person has so completely
outraged the spirit of our institutions, or forgotten himself, as to
persevere in objecting to the reception of the memorial, and its proper
reference. It is true, the remonstrants and their representatives here
are treated with indignity; but the great right of petition, the sword
and buckler of the citizen, though thus dishonored, is not denied.
Here, Sir, is a triumph for Freedom.

When Mr. Sumner had finished, Mr. Clay, of Alabama, made haste to say,
"He has put the question, whether any Senator upon this floor would
assist in returning a fugitive slave? No response was made to the
interrogatory; and lest he should herald it to the world that there was
no Senator upon this floor who had the _moral courage_ to say 'Ay,' in
response to the interrogatory, I tell him that I would do it." To which
Mr. Sumner replied at once, "Then let the Senator say the _immoral

Mr. Butler rose to reply, when Mr. Badger asked his "friend from
South Carolina, whether it would not be better for him to allow us
now to adjourn?" To which Mr. Butler answered: "No, Sir; I would not
subject myself to the temptation of preparing a reply that might have
something in it, that, like a hyena, I was scratching at the graves in
Massachusetts, to take revenge for the elaborate and vindictive assault
that has been made by the gentleman who has just spoken." The _Globe_
shows his continued anger and excitement, which broke out especially at
the comparison Mr. Sumner made between the Stamp Act and the Slave Act,
and at his refusal to surrender a fugitive slave. These seemed to be
the two grounds of offence. On the latter point, Mr. Butler, contrary
to Mr. Sumner's positive declaration, was persistent in saying that
he had denied the obligation of his oath to support the Constitution,
when he had only denied his obligation to surrender a fugitive slave.
At this stage, Mr. Fessenden, of Maine, remarked: "The answer made by
the Senator from Massachusetts was in these precise words: 'I recognize
no such obligation.' I did not understand that Senator as meaning to
say that he would not obey the Constitution, or would disregard his
oath,--nor, allow me to say, was he so understood by many gentlemen
on this side of the chamber; but he simply meant to say (I certainly
so understood him) that he did not consider that the Constitution
imposed any such obligation upon him. That is all." Before the debate
closed, Mr. Toucey, of Connecticut, said: "I beg leave to ask the
Senator from Massachusetts whether he now recognizes an obligation to
return a fugitive slave? I put the question in general language: Does
he recognize the obligation to return a fugitive slave?" Mr. Sumner
then said, "To that I answer distinctly, _No_." The petition was then
referred to the Committee.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Mr. Sumner resumed his seat, after his speech in reply to his
assailants, Mr. Chase, who sat next to him, said: "You have struck
Slavery the strongest blow it ever received; you have made it reel to
the centre." The rage of its representatives was without bounds. The
suggestion of Mr. Pettit to expel him was the first idea, which at last
gave way to that of Mr. Clay to put him in Coventry. The first was not
abandoned at once. It was seriously entertained. The newspapers of the
time represent that it was under consideration from the day of his
speech,--that "the opposition to Mr. Sumner is general and bitter in
the Senate, and that it would be rash, therefore, to assert that the
resolution will not be presented, and that, if presented, it will not
be carried." It was added, that four Northern Senators were pledged to
the resolution. The _Evening Post_ said, jestingly: "The Washington
_Union_, and those of whom it is the special organ, are as much puzzled
what to do with Senator Sumner as the Lilliputians were how to dispose
of Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, when he made his appearance among them."
Other papers treated the subject more gravely. The _National Era_, at
Washington, said: "When we heard that a project for the expulsion of
Mr. Sumner was under consideration among some Senators, we scouted the
report as simply ridiculous; but there is no limit to the insolence
and folly of some men. On inquiry, we learned that such a project was
seriously canvassed."

       *       *       *       *       *

This debate was profoundly felt throughout the country. Mr. Sumner's
speech was telegraphed to the North, and extensively read. People
there were smarting under the repeal of the Missouri Prohibition and
the attempt to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. They were glad to find
the audacious pretensions of the slave-masters repelled in Congress.
Newspapers were enthusiastic. The correspondent of the New York _Times_

    "This able, triumphant vindication, which covered the assailants
    with confusion, told with the more effect because it was
    unexpected. It had been supposed that Mr. Sumner would submit
    quietly to any indignity that might be heaped upon him; but the
    people, doubtless, when they read his speech, will acknowledge
    that he held in reserve, and knew when and how to use, weapons of
    defence far keener than the bowie-knife, and far more certain and
    fatal than the duellist's rifle; and his countrymen will honor the
    moral courage that enabled him to bear unflinchingly all the cruel
    taunts of his misreckoning assailants, until the time had arrived
    for drawing the arrows of Truth.... I have not been accustomed to
    praise the Senator who is now my theme; but that heart must be
    cold, and that judgment lamentably distorted, which could withhold
    from Mr. Sumner his well-earned tribute for to-day's acquittance."

The Springfield _Republican_ thus characterizes the speech:--

    "Curiosity has been greatly stimulated to see it in full, and it
    will amply repay attention. Mr. Sumner has made more brilliant,
    classical, scholarly speeches, but never one more effective,
    nor one upon which his fame as Congressional debater can more
    creditably rest. It was a full vindication of himself and of
    Massachusetts, and its influence and effect have been marked at
    Washington. It ended the discussion which the South so vauntingly
    provoked. There has been no essay at reply. It carried the war into
    the bowels of his opponents in a manner not ordinarily excusable,
    but, after the provocation which had been given, in this instance
    most abundantly justifiable. His annihilation of his accusers was

In a speech at Providence shortly afterwards, Mr. Giddings, of the
House of Representatives, referred to this effort, which he heard, in
sympathetic terms.

    "They assailed Sumner because he said, 'Is thy servant a dog, that
    he should do this thing?' in reply to the question, whether he
    would assist in the capture of a fugitive slave? He was assailed
    by the whole Slave Power in the Senate, and for a time he was the
    constant theme of their vituperation. The maddened waves rolled
    and dashed against him for two or three days, until eventually
    he obtained the floor himself. Then he arose and threw back the
    dashing surges with a power of inimitable eloquence utterly
    indescribable.... I assure you that last week was the proudest week
    I ever saw. Sumner stood inimitable, and hurled back the taunts of
    his assailants with irresistible force. There he stood towering
    above the infamous characters who had attempted to silence him,
    while I sat and listened with rapturous emotion."

The interest awakened by the conflict in the Senate and the part borne
by Mr. Sumner can be understood only by reading the testimony of the
time in private letters, which have additional value in the light of
subsequent events. It will be seen how Mr. Sumner was supported, and
what already was the sentiment of the North.

Letters came from unknown persons, saying, "I want to thank you
for that speech." On the next day after its delivery Rev. Theodore
Parker wrote:--

    "I never felt so proud of you as now, and can't go to bed without first
    thanking you for the noble words which Apthorp has just read me of
    yours from the _Transcript_ of to-night. Even phlegmatic---- is roused
    up with your fire. God bless you!"

Hon. John P. Hale, of the Senate, wrote from Dover, N. H., under
date of July 3d:--

    "As I came from Washington to this place, in New York, Boston, and
    in steamboats and railroad cars, I heard but one expression in
    regard to your speech, and that was of unmingled gratification.
    I have heard all classes, Whigs and others, and there is no
    exception. Ladies particularly are in ecstasies at it. Mrs.
    Hale says, 'Give him my thanks for his speech.' The feeling of
    gratification at your speech is so great, that people do not think,
    much less speak, of the Billingsgate by which you were assailed."

Hon. Henry Wilson thus expressed his feelings in a letter from Boston:--

    "I write to say to you that you have given the heaviest blow you
    ever struck to the slaveholding oligarchy. All our friends are
    delighted, and men, who, even up to this hour have withheld all
    words of commendation, are proud of your speech, and loud in their

John A. Andrew, Esq., wrote:--

    "Your recent rencontre with the wild beasts of Ephesus has been
    a brilliant success. I have regarded that debate with pride and
    gratification. I am glad it has occurred for many reasons, private
    and personal, as well as public and universal. And I have heard
    no person refer to it but in terms the most gratifying to my
    friendship for you, and my interest in the controversy itself. I
    think our friends here are in good spirits and full of hope.

    "How do those people treat you now, since they have come to close
    quarters with you? I hope you will spare not. You had ample
    occasion, and now I hope you will keep up the war _aggressively_;
    never fail to attack them, in the right way, whenever they deserve
    it. The insolence of the presumption to stand between a man and his
    own conscientious interpretation of the Constitution, especially
    when they defiantly and every day dare everybody to tread on their
    coat-tails, at the price of treason and rebellion, under the name
    of '_disunion_,' is utterly unbearable.

    "I only wish they _would_ expel you, and Chase, and Gillette,--all

Wendell Phillips was most earnest, as follows:--

    "The storm of letters of congratulation is perhaps lulled a little
    by this time, and you'll have a moment's leisure to receive the
    admiring thanks of an old friend. Amid so much that was sad and
    dark at home, it has been delightful to sun one's self now and then
    in the glad noon of hope at Washington. The whole State is very
    proud of you just now. If your six years were out this next winter,
    I think you'd be run in again without a competitor, and by a vote
    of all parties.

    "All your late efforts have been grand: see the benefit of being
    insulted. Your last richly merited the claim you made of being
    _thorough_. I liked and entirely approved the self-respect with
    which you put your own opinion side by side with the Virginian's
    and left it. You claimed not a tittle too much, and he deserved
    just that sort of treatment.

    "If, amid such universal congratulation, it be any joy to you to
    hear my amen, be assured it is most heartily shouted."

Rev. Joshua Leavitt, the lifelong Abolitionist, wrote from New

    "I have just read the full report of your speech with intense
    satisfaction. It is a glorious work. The report, the echo, the
    effect in the other fleet, shows that it was such a broadside as
    they never had before."

John Jay wrote from Bedford, New York, the country home of his
grandfather, the Chief Justice:--

    "I have read your speech of the 28th June with, I think, more
    thorough satisfaction and delight than any other in my life,
    not excepting even your first speech on the Fugitive Bill, for
    which I waited so impatiently, as your first great blow in the
    Senate against American Slavery. Your last is a glorious, a most
    triumphant effort, and has given you a proud and commanding
    position before the country, as the long hoped-for Champion of
    the North, before whose fearless front and avenging arm Southern
    insolence at length shall quail. How the Free States will receive
    your words is already clear, if doubt could have been entertained
    of it, by the tone generally of the public press, and the delight
    manifested, both in the town and country, by almost all who speak
    of it. In our quiet neighborhood I find people talking of it
    enthusiastically whom I never before heard express the slightest
    feeling on the Slavery question."

Rev. Convers Francis, the eminent professor of Harvard University,

    "When I came to that answer of yours, 'Is thy servant a dog, that
    he should do this thing?' I could not but cry out, 'That is just
    the thing! Mr. Sumner could not have found in all literature or
    history elsewhere so fitting words for reply, when he was asked
    whether he would send back a slave.' And your admirable application
    of Jefferson's description of the manners produced by Slavery
    did my very heart good. I have heard but one opinion of these
    speeches from every side: indeed, there can be but one,--that which
    expresses unmingled admiration and delight."

Dr. Joseph Sargent, of Worcester, wrote:--

    "You must allow me to thank you for your reply to the assaults of
    Mr. Pettit and Mr. Clay. It is a personal matter with me, and all
    of us; for we have felt ourselves insulted, and we are satisfied.
    I have read all your speeches in the Senate with instruction and
    gratification; but this has warmed me so that I cannot withhold my
    thanks, though I trespass on your time. The whole community feels
    as I do. Men stop their business to ask each other if they have
    read Mr. Sumner's speech, and even men calling on me to visit their
    sick families forget their errand till they have put the universal
    question. We have hitherto admired your forbearance, but your reply
    is as dignified and noble as your forbearance, while it is strong,
    rich, and Saxon. We have had nothing like it since the Hülsemann
    letter. I will say no more, but I could say no less."

Theophilus P. Chandler, Esq., of Boston, wrote:--

    "I cannot express the pleasure your friends have enjoyed at the
    result of the late Senatorial conflict. Old Fogies read your speech
    with satisfaction, although some complain of the Jackson doctrine."

Count Gurowski wrote from Newport:--

    "You showed what is the real backbone of a gentleman, considered in
    the higher moral or philosophical point of view, by far superior to
    what your assailers conceive or are able to imagine in their vulgar
    or low conceptions."

Rev. William H. Furness, the distinguished divine and devoted
Abolitionist, wrote:--

    "I congratulate you upon having been blackguarded and denounced. It
    has redounded to your honor. It has proved a rare success. I think
    you should thank God for placing you, in his wise Providence, in a
    position which, utterly hateful as it must be to you (fighting with
    wild beasts at Ephesus), proves to furnish occasion for the heroic
    element. I can dimly surmise how much it costs you to stand there;
    but I doubt not the experience you are having testifies that it
    will pay the cost, and a great deal more. I may be mistaken, but,
    from all I have learned of your position in the Senate, things look
    as if those Southern men, after trying to steal your sting away by
    all sorts of courtliness and courtesy, and trying in vain, have
    turned upon you like rabid dogs, with the intent to tear you in
    pieces. They have not done it, nor will they."

Hiram Barney, Esq., of New York, wrote:--

    "I congratulate you on that day's work. It was well and nobly done.
    I have seen something of your assailants, and know something of
    their habits and manners, and can appreciate your forbearance.
    It is a shame that you should be obliged to meet so much that is
    disgusting to the taste and shocking to the moral sense in the
    American Senate. But it is a matter of just pride that the friends
    of Freedom there are gentlemen, and always win upon the field of

William C. Russell, Esq., of New York, afterwards professor at Cornell
University, wrote:--

    "I am delighted beyond measure by your reply to the Southern
    chivalry. It is grand, gentlemanly, cool, pointed, well aimed, and
    true metal. I do not wonder that Mr. Butler did not want to play
    vampire to Massachusetts. The fact is, it is getting to be rather
    serious work to interfere with the old Commonwealth; and I shall
    be surprised, if the Southern bull-dogs do not bay in some other

Hon. Charles P. Huntington, of Northampton, afterwards Judge of
the Superior Court of the County of Suffolk, wrote:--

    "I have been, as usual, exceedingly gratified with the manner,
    style, and spirit in which you have met your Senatorial
    responsibilities on this trying Nebraska question. But the reply to
    the personal attacks and insults of Butler and Mason last week has
    gratified me more than anything that has fallen from your lips,--so
    severe, yet so just,--so cutting, yet so keen and polished,--so
    decided, manly, and bold,--so indicative of backbone, as well as
    pith and marrow, that your adversaries were fairly hung up and

Hon. Charles G. Loring, the eminent lawyer, wrote:--

    "Your reply to the Southern gentlemen, who seem to think that a
    Northern man must be craven, elicited general and great admiration.
    I heartily enjoyed it, and think that Mr. Mason must have had at
    least one experience in his life of the comfort of being squeezed
    through the little end of the horn. You will doubtless be treated
    with some consideration by these worthies hereafter. In what school
    of blackguardism was Clay of Alabama graduated? He certainly is a
    magnificent specimen of Southern chivalry. You would have great
    reason to thank him for placing you in Coventry, at a distance
    beyond hailing from him and his compeers."

Andrew Ritchie, Esq., of Boston, wrote:--

    "These gentlemen have been unfortunate in attacking you. You have
    punished them in a most exemplary manner, without descending
    to their vulgar level. You have exposed their ignorance of our
    Revolutionary history, vindicated the character of your own State,
    and brought forward, to their utter confusion, their own General
    Jackson, to justify your remark that you would not voluntarily
    do anything to promote the execution of what you deemed an
    unconstitutional law. In a word, you have taught these orators how
    much more effective is a _caustic civility_ of reply than coarse,
    intemperate reviling."

Hon. S. E. Sewall, the constant Abolitionist, of Boston, wrote:--

    "It is hardly necessary for me to tell you, what you probably see
    in the newspapers, that you have become one of the most popular men
    in Massachusetts. Even the Whigs are beginning to find out that you
    have maintained the character of the State far better than their
    own Senator.

    "I suppose the idea of expelling you from the Senate, which was
    reported in the papers some weeks ago, could never have been
    seriously entertained. But the mere suggestion of such an outrage
    roused many men who had never been your political friends; for
    everybody felt that to attempt such an act would be an indignity to
    the State not to be tolerated.

    "I find that I have left to the end of my letter, what I meant to
    have said in the beginning, that all your friends are delighted
    with your course in Congress under the very trying circumstances
    of the present session. We all agree that you have fought a good

William I. Bowditch, Esq., of Boston, communicated the following

    "One gentleman whom I saw this forenoon said that he involuntarily
    gave three cheers, when he had finished reading your speech; and an
    'old Hunker' said to me smilingly, 'I really don't know but that I
    shall myself come out at last a Sumner man.'"

Dr. James W. Stone, an indefatigable member of the Free-Soil party,

    "But I should not only fail to express my own feelings, but also
    the universal satisfaction here evinced, did I long delay to
    tell you, even if I have time to do nothing more, how great the
    enthusiasm is in your behalf, for your noble reply to the unworthy
    assaults from Pettit, whose name is more significant of his mental
    than of his physical calibre, from Butler the faithless, and from
    Clay the slave-hunter, _et id omne genus_. I doubt whether even
    you can repress the enthusiasm which so earnestly demands a public
    reception for you on your return home."

Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, afterwards General, and Representative in
Congress, wrote:--

    "My interest in the subject of the speeches procured me the reports
    while they were being delivered. At that time I was at Concord, in
    court, seeing people of all parties; and I can assure you, from
    observation, that your course in the Senate is sanctioned by the
    approving sentiment of Massachusetts."

Robert Carter, Esq., the journalist and writer, wrote from Cambridge:--

    "A month ago I thought your popularity had reached a wonderfully
    high pitch, that you had at a leap overcome prejudices and
    misconceptions that seemed likely to be surmounted only by the
    gradual toil of years. But the last week has wrought even greater
    wonders. Multitudes, formerly your enemies and revilers, are
    not merely willing to tolerate you, not merely willing to be
    satisfied with you, but have become actually proud of you, as their
    representative, and the champion of Massachusetts and the North. I
    hear on all sides nothing but commendations and exultations."

John C. Dodge, Esq., of Boston, wrote:--

    "I rejoice that Massachusetts has found a defender who will,
    without fear or favor, tell the whole truth, when she is
    assailed. And I assure you that such is the voice of nearly our
    whole community. Whigs, Democrats, and Free-Soilers unite in the
    expression of approbation and pleasure."

Hon. Albert G. Browne, of Salem, wrote:--

    "Let me say seriously, frankly, your reputation as a fearless,
    brave, and true man is firmly established,--confidence also in your
    discretion and good judgment, as shown in this last debate and in
    the management of this whole affair. There is a settled conviction
    that you know how to withstand the entreaties or coolness of
    friends, when your thoughts are not their thoughts,--that you have
    shown great moral and physical courage, united with admirable
    ability, in meeting and discomfiting the foes of Freedom, when, in
    your opinion, the right time had come."

Professor Edward T. Channing, of Harvard University, whose memory
is dear to a large circle of pupils, wrote to a friend:--

    "Sumner has done nobly. He is erect and a man of authority among
    the slave holders, dealers, and hunters. He has made an historical
    era for the North; for at least one among us has dared to confront
    the insolent. He makes cowards of them, or rather shows what
    cowards they are at the South. So will it ever be, when the Truth
    is bold; though it is rare for a young or old hero in politics
    to produce effect so rapidly. Still, and notwithstanding, and
    nevertheless, our Whigs would send Apollyon to the Senate as soon
    as Sumner, if his term should expire when they are uppermost."

T. C. Connolly, Esq., under date of August 21, reported from Washington
the opinion of Mr. Gales, the very able editor of the _National

    "I rejoice in the assurance universally felt here, that your
    position in the Senate will be far more pleasant in the future than
    it has been in the past. I enjoyed the pleasure of a conversation
    with Mr. Gales on this subject a few days since. He introduced
    your name, and remarked that the absence of sympathy in your views
    could not influence his fair judgment of your worth. He was an
    attentive reader of the debates of the Senate, and he had seen
    that every step you had taken was a step upward, and that they
    who had affected to contemn were at length driven into a tacit
    acknowledgment of their very great error. He spoke in particular of
    the reproofs you had found it necessary to administer to Senators
    around you, and said, that, while they were exceedingly severe and
    effective, they were equally just, and unaccompanied by a single
    word that could be regarded as incompatible with the place and
    presence in which you stood."

Men particularly interested in the Peace Cause united in the prevailing

Of these, Hon. Amasa Walker, afterwards a Representative in Congress
from Massachusetts, wrote:--

    "Your reply to the slaveholders is capital, and receives universal
    admiration in this quarter. It was just such a flagellation as the
    slavocrats deserved, and such a one as they never received before
    in the Senate. I think, from what I can observe, that your course
    is universally popular, always excepting the mercenary minions of
    the Government."

J. P. Blanchard, Esq., devoted to Peace, wrote:--

    "I take this occasion to express my warm admiration of the spirit
    and power you have exhibited in your late contest with Messrs.
    Butler, Pettit, _et id genus omne_. I am rejoiced and grateful
    that your 'backbone' has proved strong enough to stand such a test
    without bending: that I have not given you this acknowledgment
    earlier is because, being very busy, I did not take time to write a
    letter for that purpose only, as I knew you were so well acquainted
    with my sympathies that the expression of them was unnecessary.
    I am glad to understand that you have received commendations on
    this score from sources where a short time ago you would not have
    expected them."

Elihu Burritt, the Missionary of Peace, wrote:--

    "And now I want to thank you with my whole heart for your grand and
    brave rejoinder to Butler and Mason. It was the best, bravest thing
    done in the Senate this many a year. I think more hearts in the
    Free States will glory in your courageous and overwhelming reply to
    these plantation Senators than in any public effort of your life.
    You must have made it, too, on short notice. I never read anything
    with more satisfaction."

Other letters attest a change in sentiment among those who had been
lukewarm on Slavery, and perhaps adverse to Mr. Sumner.

Hon. Daniel Shattuck, of Concord, wrote:--

    "Being one of the old-time Whigs, I was not pleased with your
    election to the high seat which you hold: for that opinion you will
    forgive me, I am sure, when I say that I go with you now heart
    and soul, and approve all you have said in defence of your native
    State, whose sons I know approve your course and wish you God-speed.

George M. Browne, Esq., of Boston, wrote:--

    "Differing with you as I do in political sentiments, and having no
    other connection with public affairs than what pertains to every
    citizen, I desire nevertheless to express to you, what I believe
    to be the general feeling among all classes of reflecting minds
    here, an admiration for the dignified and gentlemanly bearing with
    which you have gone through the contest and rebuked the ruffian
    onslaught,--and to say, moreover, that we should, I have no doubt,
    all unite, from all sides, as one man, in sending you back to the
    Senate, should the maniac threats of expulsion by any possibility
    be carried into effect."

    The following poem, suggested by this debate, belongs to this

                               TO C. S.

      I have seemed more prompt to censure wrong
    Than praise the right,--if seldom to thine ear
    My voice hath mingled with the exultant cheer
    Borne upon all our Northern winds along,--
    If I have failed to join the fickle throng
    In wide-eyed wonder that thou standest strong
    In victory, surprised in thee to find
    Brougham's scathing power with Canning's grace combined,--
    That he, for whom the ninefold Muses sang,
    From their twined arms a giant athlete sprang,
    Barbing the arrows of his native tongue
    With the spent shafts Latona's archer flung,
    To smite the Python of our land and time,
    Fell as the monster born of Crissa's slime,
    Like the blind bard who in Castalian springs
    Tempered the steel that clove the crest of kings,
    And on the shrine of England's freedom laid
    The gifts of Cumæ and of Delphi's shade,--
    Small need hast thou of words of praise from me.
    Thou knowest my heart, dear friend, and well canst guess,
    That, even though silent, I have not the less
    Rejoiced to see thy actual life agree
    With the large future which I shaped for thee,
    When, years ago, beside the summer sea,
    White in the moon, we saw the long waves fall
    Baffled and broken from the rocky wall,
    That to the menace of the brawling flood
    Opposed alone its massive quietude,
    Calm as a fate, with not a leaf nor vine
    Nor birch-spray trembling in the still moonshine,
    Crowning it like God's peace. I sometimes think
    That night-scene by the sea prophetical,
    (For Nature speaks in symbols and in signs,
    And through her pictures human fate divines,)--
    That rock, wherefrom we saw the billows sink
    In murmuring rout, uprising clear and tall
    In the white light of heaven, the type of one
    Who, momently by Error's host assailed,
    Stands strong as Truth, in greaves of granite mailed,
    And, tranquil-fronted, listening over all
    The tumult, hears the angels say, Well done!

    J. G. W.

    _11th month, 25th, 1854._



                                        SENATE CHAMBER, 1st July, 1854.

Dear Sir,--I have been honored by the invitation of the municipal
authorities of Boston to unite with them in commemorating the
approaching anniversary of our National Independence.

Please tender to them my gratitude, that they have thus remembered me,
an absent citizen, who tries to serve truth and justice in the sphere
where he has been placed. Pleasure would take me home among congenial
souls, but duty keeps me here.

The approaching anniversary of Independence in Boston should be
something more than a show and expense. It ought to be the occasion
of a practical vow to those primal principles of Freedom which have
been assailed. Our municipal history should be carefully read, and,
unless we are prepared to disown our fathers, the conduct of Boston
at memorable times should be set forward anew, as an example which
her children must never forget. I do not refer to the violent act by
which her harbor was converted into a "teapot"; but I would especially
dwell on the peaceful opposition, which, according to her own records,
now preserved at the City Hall, she organized against a tyrannical
and unconstitutional Act of Parliament,--"bearing testimony against
outrageous tumults and illegal proceedings," but never failing to
"take legal and warrantable measures to prevent that misfortune, of
all others the most to be dreaded, the execution of the Stamp Act."
The City Clerk will find these words in his books, under date of
24th March, 1766, whence I have with my own hand copied them. With
this great precedent of Freedom in my memory, I ask the municipal
authorities--should I be remembered at their hospitable board--to
propose in my name the following sentiment.

_The City of Boston._--While still in colonial dependence, and with
no aim at revolution, her municipal fathers steadfastly opposed the
execution, within her borders, of an unconstitutional and tyrannical
Act of Parliament, until, without violence or collision, it was at
first practically annulled, and at last repealed. Truly honoring the
Fathers, let Boston not depart from their example.

    I remain, dear Sir, your faithful servant,

                                                        CHARLES SUMNER.



                        SUPPORT, JULY 13, 1854.

    An attempt was made to obtain a pension for the widow of James
    Batchelder, killed in Boston, while guarding Anthony Burns,
    the fugitive slave, on the evening of May 26, 1854. A bill was
    reported from the Committee on Pensions. Mr. Sumner and Mr. Seward,
    constituting a minority of the Committee, made the following
    adverse report, which was drawn up by the former.

                  VIEWS OF MR. SUMNER AND MR. SEWARD.

The undersigned, a minority of the Committee on Pensions, cannot concur
with the majority of the Committee in reporting a bill for the relief
of the widow of the late James Batchelder. They also dissent from the
report accompanying the bill, which, however, is understood not to
proceed from a majority of the Committee.

In granting pensions, or bounties of a kindred nature, it has been the
habit of the Committee to require evidence of all essential facts and
circumstances,--not, indeed, according to the rigorous forms of a court
of law, but with substantial fulness and authenticity. Applications for
pensions are constantly rejected for defect of testimony. But this
reasonable practice, which is a necessary safeguard against abuse, has
been disregarded in the present case. No evidence of any kind--not
a shred or particle--was produced. The majority of the Committee
undertook to act at once, on loose and general report, gathered from
the public press at a moment of excitement. In this report they have
obviously proceeded with more haste than discretion. Such a course
cannot be in conformity with approved precedents. In itself it will be
a bad precedent for the future.

But this proceeding seems more obnoxious to comment, when it is known
that it appears, from the very sources on which the Committee relied,
that the facts in question are all at this moment the subject of
judicial inquiry, _still pending_, in the courts at Boston. Several
citizens have been indicted for participation in the transaction to
which reference is made, and in which Batchelder is said to have
been killed. Their trials have not yet taken place, but are near at
hand. Under these peculiar circumstances, the indiscreet haste of the
Committee, thus acting in advance of authentic evidence, and _lite
pendente_, is enhanced by possible detriment to the grave interests
of justice, which all will admit should not be exposed to partisan
influence from abroad. The report accompanying the bill, without any
aid from human testimony, undertakes to pronounce dogmatically on facts
which will be in issue on these trials. Anticipating the court, and
literally without a hearing, it gives judgment on absent persons, as
well as on distant events.

On grounds irrespective of the merits of the case, the undersigned
object to any action upon it on the present evidence, and in the
existing state of things. They object for two reasons: _first_,
that such action would become a bad precedent, opening the way to a
disregard of evidence in the distribution of pensions and bounties;
and, _secondly_, that it would be an interference--offensive, though
indirect--with the administration of justice, in matters _still
pending_, and involving the fortunes of several citizens. These reasons
are ample.

But on other grounds, of a different character, and vital to the merits
of the case, the undersigned must dissent from the majority of the

Regarding the Act of Congress usually known as the Fugitive Slave Act
as unconstitutional, while it is justly condemned by the moral sense
of the communities where it is sought to be enforced, the undersigned
are not disposed to recognize any services rendered in its enforcement
as meritorious in character. Especially are they unwilling to depart
beyond the clear line of precedent, in voting bounties on account of
such services. This of itself is sufficient reason for opposition to
the proposed bill.

But admitting for the moment the asserted constitutionality of the
Fugitive Slave Act, and its conformity with just principles of duty,
and admitting further, that efforts for its enforcement are to be
placed in the same scale with efforts to enforce other Acts of
Congress, of acknowledged constitutionality, and clear conformity with
just principles of duty, then the undersigned beg leave to submit,
that, according to the practice of our country, such efforts have not
been considered as entitled to the ordinary reward of pensions or
kindred bounties.

The pensions and kindred bounties of our country have been founded
exclusively on _military_ and _naval_ services. In England, _civil_
services, whether on the bench, in diplomacy, or in the departments
of State, are subjects of pension; but it is otherwise here. With us
there are no general laws to this end; nor are there special laws of
such clear meaning and character as to become precedents, sanctioning
pensions or bounties for civil service. A report of this Committee,
made by its Chairman at this very session of Congress, states the rule
and practice of Congress. Here is the whole report.


               "APRIL 11, 1854.--Ordered to be printed.

            "Mr. JONES, of Iowa, made the following report.

    "_The Committee on Pensions, to whom was referred the petition of
    Rebecca Bright, beg leave to report_:--

    "That the petitioner is the widow of Jacob Bright, an armorer,
    who was killed at the navy-yard in this city by the bursting of a
    shell. _He being an employee of the Government, and in no sense to
    be regarded as in its 'military or naval service,' the Committee
    can find no reason, founded in law or justice, for pensioning
    his widow._ Her case is precisely that of the widow of a laborer
    or mechanic employed by the day or month upon any public work.
    They therefore recommend that the prayer of the petitioner be

    [131] Reports of the Committees of the Senate, 33d Cong. 1st Sess.,
    No. 199.

And yet, in the very teeth of this recommendation, made by themselves
at this very session, the Committee now propose to bestow a bounty upon
such services. If the Committee were right in their former report, they
cannot be right now.

The report accompanying the bill shows that three of the Committee have
felt that their recommendation needed the support of precedents, and
they have ransacked the records for them. Two only are produced.

The first is an Act of Congress, bearing date June 7, 1794, which
provides "that the sum of two thousand dollars be allowed to the widow
of Robert Forsyth, late marshal of the district of Georgia, for the use
of herself and the children of the said Robert Forsyth." On search in
the office of the Secretary of the Senate, where this bill originated,
and also at the Treasury, where the money was paid, no papers have been
found showing the occasion of this grant; nor has anybody undertaken to
state any. This precedent, then, can be of little value in establishing
an important rule in the dispensation of national bounties.

The only other precedent adduced by the Committee is an Act bearing
date May 8, 1820, providing "that the Postmaster-General be, and he
hereby is, authorized and directed to pay to the widow of John Heaps,
late of the city of Baltimore,--who, while employed as a carrier of the
mail of the United States, and having the said mail in his custody,
was beset by ruffians and murdered,--out of the money belonging to the
United States, arising from the postage of letters and packets, five
hundred dollars in ten equal semiannual payments." On this precedent
Congress will surely hesitate to establish a rule which will open a new
drain upon the country.

The general laws do not award pensions or bounties for services in
enforcing the revenue laws of the country; and it is not known that any
special acts have ever been passed rewarding such services, though
they have often been rendered at imminent danger to life, as well from
shipwreck as from the violence of smugglers. The proposed bill will
be an apt precedent for bounty in this large class of cases; and it
may properly be opposed by all who are not ready for a new batch of

The undersigned venture to make a single comment further on the
report accompanying the bill. This report, not content with assigning
reasons for its proposed bounty, proceeds to take cognizance of the
conduct of the people of Massachusetts, the citizens, the soldiers,
the marshal and his deputies, the mayor and police of Boston, in the
recent transaction, and assumes to hold the scales of judgment. In
this respect it evinces an indiscreet haste, similar to that already
displayed in acting on the present proposition, without authentic
evidence, and during the pendency of judicial investigations. It
appears from the public journals, out of which all our information
on this matter is derived, that the conduct of several public
functionaries, on this occasion, in Massachusetts, has been seriously
drawn in question. The marshal of the district is openly charged with
making the arrest of the alleged fugitive under the fraudulent pretence
that he was a criminal,--a scandalous device, which no honest man can
regard without reprobation. The mayor of Boston is also openly charged
with violation of the primal principles of free institutions and of
the law of the land, in surrendering the city for the time being into
the possession of a military force, and thus establishing there that
supremacy of arms under which all law is silent. But on these things
the undersigned express no opinion. They desire only to withhold all
assent from the blindfold ratification which the report accompanying
the bill volunteers, without reason or occasion, to the conduct of
public functionaries, as well as of others, who, according to some
evidence, may have acted very badly.

                                                        CHARLES SUMNER.
                                                     WILLIAM H. SEWARD.



Here, again, is an effort against the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave

                                         SENATE CHAMBER, July 30, 1854.

    Dear Sir,--I have been honored by the Cape Cod Association with
    an invitation to unite with them in their approaching festival at

    Amidst these unprecedented heats it is pleasant merely to think
    of the seaside; much pleasanter would it be to taste for a day
    its salt, refreshing air, especially with cherished friends, and
    stirred by historical memories, in these times bracing to the soul.
    But my duties will keep me here.

    In that part of Massachusetts to which you invite me was born
    James Otis, one of our immortal names. He early saw the beauty of
    Liberty, and in those struggles which preceded the Revolution gave
    his eloquent tongue to her support. To the tyrannical _Writs of
    Assistance_, offspring of sovereign power, and at that day regarded
    as constitutional, he offered inflexible resistance, saying, "I
    will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers and faculties God
    has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and
    villany on the other. I cheerfully submit myself to every odious
    name for conscience' sake. Let the consequences be what they will,
    I am determined to proceed." And then again he declared of this
    outrageous process, "It is a power that places the liberty of every
    man in the hands of every petty officer." With this precision he
    struck at an engine of tyranny, and with fervid eloquence exposed
    it to mankind. Such a character should not be forgotten at your
    commemoration. Were I there, I might ask leave to propose the
    following sentiment.

    _The memory of James Otis, of Barnstable, the early orator of
    American Liberty._--Massachusetts cherishes the fame of her patriot
    child. Let her also imitate his virtues.

        I remain, dear Sir, very faithfully yours,

                                                        CHARLES SUMNER.


                              SLAVE ACT.

                 DEBATE IN THE SENATE, JULY 31, 1854.

All efforts of the friends of Freedom in Congress encountered
opposition at every stage. Attempts by John Quincy Adams to present
petitions were thwarted in every way that vindictive rage could prompt.
Propositions for the repeal of obnoxious laws sustaining Slavery
were stifled. To accomplish this result, parliamentary courtesy and
parliamentary law were both set at defiance. On a former occasion,[132]
when Mr. Sumner brought forward his motion for the repeal of the
Fugitive Slave Act, he was refused a hearing, and obtained it only by
taking advantage of the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, and
moving an amendment to it, which no parliamentary subtlety or audacity
could declare to be out of order. On the presentation of petitions
against the Fugitive Slave Act, from time to time, he was met by
similar checks. Meanwhile anything for Slavery was always in order. An
experience of a single day will show something of this.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 31st of July, 1854, Mr. Seward, of New York, under instructions
from the Committee on Pensions, reported a bill, which had already
passed the House of Representatives, for the relief of Betsey Nash, a
poor and aged woman, whose husband had died of wounds received in the
war of 1812, and asked for its immediate consideration. This simple
measure, demanded by obvious justice, was at once embarrassed by an
incongruous proposition for the support of Slavery. Mr. Adams, of
Mississippi, moved, as an amendment, another bill, for the relief of
Mrs. Batchelder, widow of a person killed in Boston, while aiding as
a volunteer in the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. In the face
of various objections this amendment was adopted. Mr. Sumner at once
followed by a proposition in the following words:--

"_Provided_, That the Act of Congress, approved September 18, 1850, for
the surrender of fugitives from service or labor, be, and the same is
hereby, repealed."

This was ruled out of order, as "not germane to the bill under
consideration"; and the two bills, hitched together,--one for a
military pension, and the other for contribution to the widow of a
Slave-Hunter,--were put on their passage. Mr. Sumner then sprang for
the floor, when a struggle ensued, which is minutely reported in the
_Congressional Globe_. The careful reader will observe, that in order
to cut off an effort to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act, at least two
unquestionable rules of parliamentary law were overturned.

    [132] See _ante_, p. 80.

MR. SUMNER. In pursuance of notice, I now ask leave to
introduce a bill.

MR. STUART (of Michigan). I object to it, and move to take up
the River and Harbor Bill.

The other bill is not disposed of. The third reading of a Bill for the
relief of Betsey Nash.

The bill was then read a third time and passed.

MR. SUMNER. In pursuance of notice, I ask leave to introduce a
bill, which I now send to the table.

MR. STUART. Is that in order?

MR. SUMNER. Why not?

MR. BENJAMIN (of Louisiana). There is a pending motion of the
Senator from Michigan to take up the River and Harbor Bill.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That motion was not entertained,
because the Senator from Massachusetts had and has the floor.

MR. STUART. I make the motion now.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair thinks it is in order to give
the notice.

MR. SUMNER. Notice has been given, and I now, in pursuance of
notice, introduce the bill. The question is on its first reading.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The first reading of a bill.

MR. NORRIS (of New Hampshire). I rise to a question of order.

MR. SUMNER. I believe I have the floor.

MR. NORRIS. But I rise to a question of order. I submit that
that is not the question. The Senator from Massachusetts has given
notice that he would ask leave to introduce a bill. He now asks that
leave. If there be objection, the question must be decided by the
Senate whether he shall have leave or not. Objection is made, and the
bill cannot be read.

MR. SUMNER. Very well; the first question, then, is on
granting leave, and the title of the bill will be read.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (to the Secretary). Read the title.

The Secretary read it as follows: "A Bill to repeal the Act of Congress
approved September 18, 1850, for the surrender of fugitives from
service or labor."

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on granting leave to
introduce the bill.

MR. SUMNER. And I have the floor.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts is
entitled to the floor.

MR. SUMNER. I shall not occupy much time, nor shall I debate
the bill. Some time ago, Mr. President, after the presentation of the
Memorial from Boston, signed by twenty-nine hundred citizens without
distinction of party, I gave notice that I should, at a day thereafter,
ask leave to introduce a bill for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act.
Desirous, however, not to proceed prematurely, I awaited the action of
the Committee on the Judiciary, to which the Memorial, and others of
a similar character, were referred. At length an adverse report was
made, and accepted by the Senate. From the time of that report down
to this moment, I have sought an opportunity to introduce this bill.
Now, at last, I have it. At a former session, Sir, in introducing a
similar proposition, I considered it at length, in an argument which I
fearlessly assert----

MR. GWIN (of California). I rise to a point of order. Has the
Senator a right to debate the question, or say anything on it, until
leave be granted?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. My impression is that the question is
not debatable.[133]

MR. SUMNER. I propose simply to explain my bill,--to make a
statement, not an argument.

MR. GWIN. I make the point of order.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. I am not aware precisely what the rule
of order on the subject is; but I have the impression that the Senator
cannot debate----

MR. SUMNER. The distinction is this----

MR. GWIN. I insist upon the application of the decision of the

MR. MASON (of Virginia). Mr. President, there is one rule of
order that is undoubted: that, when the Chair is stating a question of
order, he must not be interrupted by a Senator. There is no question
about that rule of order.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator did not interrupt the Chair.

MR. SUMNER. The Chair does me justice in response to the
injustice of the Senator from Virginia.


MR. MASON. The Senator is doing that very thing at this
moment. I am endeavoring to sustain the authority of the Chair, which
certainly has been violated.

    [133] Nothing is clearer, under the rules of the Senate, than
    that Mr. Sumner was in order, when, on introducing his bill, he
    proceeded to state the causes for doing it.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. It is the opinion of the Chair that the
debate is out of order. I am not precisely informed of what the rule
is; but such is my clear impression.

MR. WALKER (of Wisconsin). If the Senator from Massachusetts
will allow me, I will say a word here.

MR. SUMNER. Certainly.

MR. WALKER. It is usual, upon notice being given of intention,
to ask leave to introduce a bill. The bill is sent to the Chair, and it
is taken as a matter of course that the Senator asking it has leave.
But in this instance, differing from the usual practice, objection
has been made to leave being granted. The necessity is imposed, then,
of taking the sense of the Senate on granting leave to the Senator to
introduce his bill. That, then, becomes the question. The question for
the Chair to put is, Shall the Senator have leave?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That was the question proposed.

MR. WALKER. Now, Sir, it does seem to me that it is proper,
and that it is in order, for the Senator to address himself to the
Senate, with the view of showing the propriety of granting the leave
asked for. He has a right to show that there would be propriety on the
part of the Senate in granting the leave. I think, therefore, as this
may become a precedent in future in regard to other matters, that it
should be settled with some degree of deliberation.

MR. GWIN. Let the Chair decide the question.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair has decided that debate was
not in order, in his opinion.

MR. SUMNER. From that decision of the Chair I most
respectfully take an appeal.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. From that ruling of the Chair an appeal
is taken by the Senator from Massachusetts. The question is on the

MR. BENJAMIN. In order to put a stop to the whole debate, I
move to lay the appeal on the table. That is a motion which is not

MR. SUMNER. Is that motion in order?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Certainly it is in order.[134]

MR. WELLER (of California). I desire to make one remark in
regard to the rule.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. It is not in order now. The question
must be taken without debate.

MR. SUMNER. Allow me to state the case as it seems to me.
I was on the floor, and yielded it to the Senator from Wisconsin
strictly for the purpose of an explanation. When he finished, I was
in possession of the floor; and then it was that the Senator from
Louisiana, on my right----

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Will the Senator from Massachusetts
give leave to the Chair to explain?

MR. SUMNER. Certainly.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. A point of order was made by the
Senator from California [Mr. GWIN], that debate was not in
order upon the question of granting leave; and the Chair so decided.
The Senator from Massachusetts then lost the floor, as I apprehend, and
he certainly did by following it up by an appeal. After that he could
go no further. He lost the floor then again for a second time, and then
it was that the Senator from Louisiana intervened with another motion,
which is certainly in order, to lay the appeal on the table. That is
not debatable. This, it seems to me, is the state of the case.

    [134] The motion was clearly out of order: first, because in the
    Senate an appeal from the decision of the Chair on a question of
    order cannot be laid on the table; and, secondly, because Mr.
    Sumner was already on the floor, so that Mr. Benjamin could not
    make a motion.

MR. CHASE (of Ohio). Will the Chair allow me to make a single


MR. CHASE. The Senator from Massachusetts rose and held
the floor during the suggestion made to the Chair by the Senator
from Wisconsin. The Chair then, after the Senator from Wisconsin had
finished his suggestion, declared his opinion to be, notwithstanding
the suggestion, that debate was not in order. The Senator from
Massachusetts then took an appeal, and retained the floor for the
purpose of addressing the Senate on that appeal. While he occupied the
floor, the Senator from Louisiana rose and moved to lay the appeal upon
the table. That will be borne out by the gentlemen present.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That is so; but the Chair does not
understand that debate was in order on the appeal. The appeal was to be
decided without debate, and therefore the Senator from Massachusetts
necessarily lost the floor after he took the appeal.

MR. BELL (of Tennessee). I would inquire whether there is not
a bill already pending for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. I have not inquired of the Secretary,
but it is my belief there is a similar bill pending; but it was not on
that ground the Chair made this ruling.

MR. BELL. I would inquire whether there is not such a bill
pending? Did not the honorable Senator from Ohio some time ago bring in
such a bill?

MR. WELLER. I think he did.

MR. CHASE. No, Sir.

MR. BELL. Then I am mistaken.

MR. CHASE. My bill is not on that subject.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on the motion of the
Senator from Louisiana, to lay on the table the appeal taken by the
Senator from Massachusetts from the decision of the Chair.

MR. CHASE. I ask if the motion of the Senator from Louisiana
is in order, when the Senator from Massachusetts retained the floor for
the purpose of debating the appeal?

MR. BENJAMIN. The Senator is not in order in renewing that
question, which has already been decided by the Chair.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. If the Chair acted under an erroneous
impression in supposing that debate on the appeal was not in order,
when it actually is, it was the fault of the Chair, and it would not
have been in order for the Senator from Louisiana to make the motion
which he did make, while the Senator from Massachusetts was on the
floor. But the Chair recognized the Senator from Louisiana, supposing
that the Senator from Massachusetts had yielded the floor. The Senator
had taken an appeal; he followed it up by no address to the Chair,
indicating an intention that he intended to debate the appeal, or the
Chair certainly should so far have recognized him. But the Chair would
reconsider his ruling in that respect, with the consent of the Senator
from Louisiana.

MR. BRIGHT (of Indiana). The Chair will permit me to suggest
that I think the motion proper to be entertained now is the one
proposed by the Senator from New Hampshire [Mr. NORRIS].
The Senator from Massachusetts presented his bill; the Senator from
New Hampshire raised the question as to whether the Senate would
grant leave to introduce it; and I think the proper question to be
put now is, Will the Senate grant leave to introduce a bill repealing
the Fugitive Slave Law? The effect of the motion of the Senator from
Louisiana would be to lay the subject on the table, from which it might
be taken at any time for action. For one, I desire to give a decisive
vote now, declaring that I am unwilling to legislate upon the subject,
that I am satisfied with the law as it reads, and that I will not aid
the Senator from Massachusetts, or any Senator, in----

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana is certainly
not in order.

MR. BRIGHT. I certainly am in order in calling the attention
of the Chair to the fact that the Senator from New Hampshire----

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana is not in

MR. BRIGHT. Then I will sit down and ask the Chair to state
wherein I am out of order.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. In discussing a question which is not
before the Senate.

MR. BRIGHT. I claim that the motion is before the Senate. The
Senator from New Hampshire raised the question immediately, that----

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair decides otherwise.

MR. BRIGHT. Then I appeal from the decision of the Chair, and
I state this as my point of order: that, before the bill was presented
in legal parlance, the Senator from New Hampshire raised the question
as to whether the Senate would grant leave, and that is the point now
before the Senate.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair will state the question which
he supposes to be pending. The Senator from California made a point
of order, that debate on the bill proposed to be introduced by the
Senator from Massachusetts was not in order. The Chair so ruled. From
that ruling the Senator from Massachusetts took an appeal. The Chair
supposed that the Senator from Massachusetts had yielded the floor,
and he gave the floor to the Senator from Louisiana, who moved to lay
that appeal on the table. That is the question which is now pending.
The Chair before suggested, that, if the Senator from Massachusetts
had not yielded the floor, he had made a mistake in giving the floor
to the Senator from Louisiana, but he did not suppose that the Senator
from Massachusetts, after taking the appeal, without some indication of
his intention to debate it, could continue to hold the floor, and he
therefore recognized the Senator from Louisiana. The Chair is sorry, if
he did the Senator from Massachusetts injustice in that respect; but he
did not hear him, and recognized the Senator from Louisiana.

MR. BRIGHT. I would respectfully ask the Chair what has become
of the motion submitted by the Senator from New Hampshire?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair did not understand him to
submit a motion, but the Senator from California took his point of

MR. BRIGHT. I wish to inquire of the Senator from New
Hampshire whether he has withdrawn his motion?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. It was not entertained. It is not
in his power to say whether it was withdrawn or not, for it was not

MR. NORRIS. I think I can inform my friend from Indiana how
the matter stands. The Senator from Massachusetts proposed to introduce
a bill on notice given. I raised the question, that it could not be
introduced without leave of the Senate, if there was objection.

MR. SUMNER. Do I understand the Senator to say without notice
given? I asked leave to introduce the bill in pursuance of notice.

MR. NORRIS. The Senator from Massachusetts, I have already
stated, offered his bill agreeably to previous notice.

MR. SUMNER. Precisely.

MR. NORRIS. The question was then raised, whether it could be
received, if there was objection? The question arose, whether leave
should be granted to the Senator from Massachusetts to introduce the

MR. SUMNER. That is the first question.

MR. NORRIS. The Senator from Massachusetts, upon the question
of granting leave, undertook to address the Senate. He was then called
to order by my friend from California for discussing that question. The
Chair sustained the objection of the Senator from California. From the
decision of the Chair the Senator from Massachusetts took an appeal;
and that is where the question now stands, unless the Senator from
Louisiana had a right to make the motion which he did make, which was
to lay the appeal on the table.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is, unless the Senator
from Louisiana will disembarrass the Chair by withdrawing it, on the
motion of the Senator from Louisiana to lay the appeal on the table.

MR. SUMNER. On that motion I ask for the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

MR. FOOT (of Vermont). On what motion have the yeas and nays
been ordered?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. On the motion of the Senator from

MR. WALKER. I wish to know, before voting, what will be the
effect of a vote given in the affirmative on this motion? Will it carry
the bill and the whole subject on the table?

MR. FOOT. An affirmative vote carries the whole measure on the

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, Sir; if the motion to lay on the
table be agreed to, it carries the bill with it.


MR. BENJAMIN. The question is, whether, on the motion for
leave to introduce the bill, there shall be debate? The Chair has
decided that there shall be no debate. Those who vote "yea" on my
motion to lay the appeal of the Senator from Massachusetts on the table
will vote that there is to be no debate upon the permission to offer
the bill, and then the question will be taken upon granting leave.

MR. WALKER. The Chair decides differently. The Chair decides,
if I understand, that it will carry the bill on the table. Then how can
we ever reach the question of leave, when objection is made?

MR. WELLER. I object to this discussion. The Chair will decide
that question when it arises. It does not arise now. I insist that the
Secretary shall go on and call the roll.

MR. WALKER. Suppose some of us object to it?

MR. WELLER. Then I object to your discussing it.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair, on reflection, thinks that
the motion, if agreed to, would not have a further effect than to bring
up the question of granting leave.

MR. BRIGHT. I desire to understand the Chair. I do not wish
to insist on anything that is not right, or that is not within the
rules. That I insist upon having. The honorable Senator from Louisiana
is right in his conclusions as to his motion, provided he had a right
to make the motion; but I doubt whether he had a right to make that
motion while the motion of the honorable Senator from New Hampshire was
pending. I do not wish, however, to consume the time of the Senate.
If the effect of the decision of the Chair is to bring us back to the
question as to whether we shall receive the bill or not, I will yield
the floor.


MR. BRIGHT. Very well.

MR. SUMNER. Before the vote is taken, allow me to read a few
words from the Rules and Orders, and from Jefferson's Manual.

    "One day's notice, at least, shall be given of an intended motion
    for leave to bring in a bill."

That is the 25th rule of the Senate; and then to that rule, in the
publication which I now hold in my hand, is appended, from Jefferson's
Manual, the following decisive language:--

    "When a member desires to bring in a bill on any subject, _he
    states to the House, in general terms, the causes for doing it_,
    and concludes by moving for leave to bring in a bill entitled, &c.
    Leave being given, on the question, a committee is appointed to
    prepare and bring in the bill."

Now I would simply observe, that my purpose was merely to make a

MR. BENJAMIN. I call to order.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator had presented his bill,
and was debating it afterwards. The question is on the motion of the
Senator from Louisiana to lay the appeal on the table, and on that the
yeas and nays have been ordered.

The question, being taken by yeas and nays, resulted,--yeas 35, nays
10, as follows:--

    YEAS,--Messrs. Adams, Atchison, Bell, Benjamin, Brodhead, Brown,
    Butler, Cass, Clay, Cooper, Dawson, Dodge, of Iowa, Evans,
    Fitzpatrick, Geyer, Gwin, Johnson, Jones, of Iowa, Jones, of
    Tennessee, Mallory, Mason, Morton, Norris, Pearce, Pettit, Pratt,
    Rusk, Sebastian, Slidell, Stuart, Thompson, of Kentucky, Thomson,
    of New Jersey, Toombs, Toucey, and Weller,--35.

    NAYS,--Messrs. Chase, Fessenden, Fish, Foot, Gillette, Rockwell,
    Seward, Sumner, Wade, and Walker,--10.

    So the appeal was ordered to lie on the table.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The question now is on granting leave
to introduce the bill.

MR. SUMNER. On that question I ask for the yeas and nays.

MR. STUART. I rise to a question of order; and I think, if
the Chair will consider it for the moment, he will, or at least I
hope he will, agree with me. The parliamentary law is the law under
which the Senate act. Whenever there is a motion made to lay on the
table a subject connected with the main subject, and it prevails, it
carries the whole question with it. It is different entirely from the
rules in the House of Representatives. The rules in the House vary the
parliamentary law, and you may there move to lay a matter on the table,
because that is the final vote, and is equivalent to rejecting it,
and a motion to take it up from the table is not in order. But now the
Presiding Officer will see, that, if this course be pursued, the Senate
may grant leave to introduce this bill, they may go on and pass it, and
yet next week it will be in order for the Senator from Massachusetts
to move to take up the appeal which the Senate has just laid on the
table; whereas the whole subject on which his appeal rested might have
been passed and sent to the other House. That surely cannot be so. The
ruling of the Chair in this respect, therefore, I suggest is wrong, and
the motion to lay on the table carries the whole subject with it. It
is important to have the matter settled for the future practice of the

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. At the first mooting of the
proposition, the Chair was of that opinion; but he is perfectly
satisfied now that it did not carry the whole question with it. The
question was on the motion to lay the appeal on the table, and that
motion was exhausted when it did lay the appeal on the table. It did
not reach back to affect the question of granting leave. That is now
the question before the Senate. On that the yeas and nays have been
asked for by the Senator from Massachusetts.

    The yeas and nays were ordered.

MR. STUART. I will not take an appeal from the decision
of the Chair, but I only wish to say, that, as I am
satisfied I am right, I do not wish, by acquiescing in the
decision of the Chair, to embarrass us when such occasions
may arise again.

The question, being taken by yeas and nays upon granting leave to
introduce the bill, resulted,--yeas 10, nays 35, as follows:--

YEAS,--Messrs. Chase, Dodge, of Wisconsin, Fessenden, Foot, Gillette,
Rockwell, Seward, Sumner, Wade, and Walker,--10.

NAYS,--Messrs. Adams, Atchison, Bell, Benjamin, Bright, Brodhead,
Brown, Butler, Cass, Clay, Cooper, Dawson, Evans, Fitzpatrick,
Geyer, Gwin, Johnson, Jones, of Iowa, Jones, of Tennessee, Mallory,
Mason, Morton, Norris, Pearce, Pettit, Pratt, Rusk, Sebastian, Slidell,
Stuart, Thompson, of Kentucky, Thomson, of New Jersey, Toombs,
Toucey, and Weller,--35.

So the Senate refused to grant leave to introduce the bill.


                          SEPTEMBER 7, 1854.

The Free-Soil party, having assumed the name of Republican party,
held its Annual Convention at Worcester, September 7, 1854. It was
organized by the following officers: Hon. Robert Rantoul, of Beverly,
the venerable father of the late Mr. Rantoul, as President; George
R. Russell, of West Roxbury, B. W. Gage, of Charlestown, Samuel
Hopkins, of Northampton, Charles Shute, of Hingham, Albert Currier,
of Newburyport, Warren Lovering, of Medway, Adam Harrington, of
Shrewsbury, Francis Watkins, of Hinsdale, Robert Sturtevant, of Savoy,
Asaph Churchill, of Dorchester, Richard P. Waters, of Beverly, William
Washburn, of Boston, Charles Beck, of Cambridge, Benjamin B. Sisson,
of Westport, Joel Shed, of Bridgewater, Augustus Morse, of Leominster,
Foster Hooper, of Fall River, Levi Reed, of Abington, John A. Andrew,
of Hingham, Vice-Presidents; Joseph Denny, of Worcester, William H.
Harris, of Worcester, E. W. Stacy, of Milford, Charles R. Ladd, of
Chicopee, William H. DeCosta, of Charlestown, Secretaries. At the same
Convention Hon. Henry Wilson was nominated for Governor, and Hon.
Increase Sumner for Lieutenant-Governor. John A. Andrew, Esq., was made
Chairman of the State Committee.

Mr. Sumner's reception in the Convention was quickened by recent
events in which he had borne part. It is thus described in a report of
the Convention.

    "At this point the Hon. Charles Sumner entered the hall. His
    reception was such as is rarely accorded to a public man. The
    whole vast audience rose as one man to welcome him, and the most
    deafening cheers of welcome resounded for several minutes. We have
    never seen a more hearty and enthusiastic demonstration in honor of
    any man. It was the spontaneous homage of true men to the man who
    had upheld the Freedom standard and carried it into the thickest of
    the fight,--to the man who had upheld the honor of Massachusetts
    in the Senate, vindicated her opinions, and thrown back upon her
    assailants the taunts and insults which they had never ceased to
    heap upon her. The cheering, as our Senator appeared upon the
    platform and took his seat, was loud and long continued."

Mr. Sumner was at once called to speak. His speech is given as reported
by the Boston _Traveller_, which ran a special train in one hour
from Worcester, a distance of forty miles, in order to lay it before the
public without delay.

In this speech Mr. Sumner had two objects,--first, to vindicate
the necessity of the Republican party, and, secondly, to destroy
the operation of the Fugitive Slave Act in Massachusetts, showing
especially that citizens are not constrained to its support. His
position with regard to the oath to support the Constitution was much
discussed at the time, and the _National Intelligencer_, in elaborate
articles by Mr. Gales, undertook to call him to account. To the latter
he replied by letter. The speech had an extensive circulation.

Mr. Sumner came to the Convention at the invitation of Mr. Andrew,
Chairman of the Provisional State Committee, whose first letter, dated
July 22, 1854, was as follows.

    "You will have seen, before receiving this note, the report of the
    meeting at Worcester, at which _a new party was begun_, and the
    steps preliminary to a State nominating convention taken. I think,
    in spite of strong opposition from the Whig presses and fuglemen,
    who cannot bear to give up their factitious powers and influence,
    that there is a great popular movement commenced, which may, under
    proper cultivation, disclose a splendid result in the fall. But
    more depends upon the aid you can give than upon that of any one
    man. Your recent battles in the Senate have shut the mouth of
    personal opposition, wrung applause from the unwilling, excited a
    State's pride and gratitude, such as rarely it is the fortune of
    any one to win. Your presence at the nominating convention, to be
    held on the 10th of August,--probably at Springfield,--is a point
    which must be agreed to at once. It will secure a most triumphant
    meeting, certainly in point of numbers and enthusiasm. I want you
    to write to me at once, permitting me to say to any of our friends
    that you _will_ attend the meeting. A speech of half an hour, or
    an hour, is all that you _need_ make, though you could have three
    hours, if you would use them.... I am bold, speak urgently, since
    I am, as Chairman of the Provisional State Committee, officially
    responsible for the utmost exertions to serve the cause in this

This was followed by another letter from Mr. Andrew, dated August
28, 1854, as follows.

    "I, however, wish to have the authority now to say definitely to
    all inquirers that you will be present on the 7th, and address
    the convention, and I wish this to be considered as a formal and
    official invitation. There are constant references made to the
    hope of seeing and hearing you there, on all hands. Everybody
    counts for that gratification. And we can do nothing which will
    so completely secure a triumphant gathering as to announce your
    name. The whole Free-Soil party, proud of your recent achievements,
    and grateful for the many exhibitions of your devotedness to our
    principles at all times of hazard and necessity, and the people
    of all parties, who feel you to have been the most conspicuously
    representative man to whom Massachusetts has intrusted her interest
    in Congress since the death of John Quincy Adams, are alike anxious
    to greet you.

    "I do not wish you to feel under the necessity of preparing for one
    of your greatest speeches. No one will demand that of you. They
    only want you to come, and to say what seems to yourself proper to
    say at the time."

The speech drew from Mr. Chase the following expression.

    "Your speech was just the thing. I read it with delighted
    admiration. Only one thing abated my pleasure,--the dissolution of
    the Independent Democracy. I am now without a party: but no matter;
    I shall soon cease to have any connection with politics."

Mr. Seward wrote thus:--

    "I have read your noble speech. It is eminently able, and in a tone
    that is as characteristic as it is worthy of you. Of its particular
    direction, as relates to parties, it is not becoming me to speak.
    Its merits as an argument are unsurpassed."


After months of constant, anxious service in another place, away
from Massachusetts, I am permitted to stand among you again, my
fellow-citizens, and to draw satisfaction and strength from your
generous presence. [_Applause._] Life is full of change and contrast.
From slave soil I have come to free soil. [_Applause._] From the
tainted breath of Slavery I have passed into this bracing air of
Freedom. [_Applause._] And the heated antagonism of debate, shooting
forth its fiery cinders, is changed into this brimming, overflowing
welcome, while I seem to lean on the great heart of our beloved
Commonwealth, as it palpitates audibly in this crowded assembly. [_Loud
and long applause._]

Let me say at once, frankly and sincerely, that I am not here to
receive applause or to give occasion for tokens of public regard, but
simply to unite with fellow-citizens in new vows of duty. [_Applause._]
And yet I would not be thought insensible to the good-will now swelling
from so many honest bosoms. It touches me more than I can tell.

During the late session of Congress, an eminent supporter of the
Nebraska Bill said to me, with great animation, in language which I
give with some precision, that you may appreciate the style as well as
the sentiment, "I would not go through all that you do _on this nigger
question_ for all the offices and honors of the country." To which I
naturally and promptly replied, "Nor would I,--for all the offices and
honors of the country." [_Laughter and long applause._] Not in such
things are the inducements to this warfare. For myself, if I have been
able to do aught in any respect not unworthy of you, it is because I
thought rather of those commanding duties which are above office and
honor. [_Cries of "Good! good!" and loud applause._]

And now, on the eve of an important election in this State, we are
assembled to take counsel how best to perform those duties which we
owe to our common country. We are to choose eleven Representatives in
Congress,--also, Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and members of the
Legislature, which last will choose a Senator of the United States,
to uphold, for five years ensuing, the principles and honor of
Massachusetts. If in these elections you were governed by partialities
or prejudices, personal or political, or merely by the exactions of
party, I should have nothing to say now, except to dismiss you to the
ignoble work. ["_That is it!_" "_Good! good!_"] But I assume that you
are ready to renounce these influences, and press forward with single
regard to the duties now incumbent.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here two questions occur, absorbing all others: _first_, what are
our political duties here in Massachusetts at the present time? and,
_secondly_, how, and by what agency, shall they be performed? What and
how? These are the two questions, of which I shall briefly speak in
their order, attempting no elaborate discussion, but aiming to state
the case so that it will be intelligible to all who hear me.

       *       *       *       *       *

And first, what are our present duties here in Massachusetts? Unfolding
these, I need not dwell on the wrong and shame of Slavery, or on the
character of the Slave Power--that Oligarchy of Slaveholders--now
ruling the Republic. These you understand. And yet there are two
outrages, fresh in recollection, which I must not fail to expose, as
natural manifestations of Slavery and the Slave Power. One is the
repeal of the Prohibition of Slavery in the vast Missouri Territory,
now known as Kansas and Nebraska, contrary to time-honored compact and
plighted faith. The other is the seizure of Anthony Burns on the free
soil of Massachusetts, and his surrender, without judge or jury, to a
Slave-Hunter from Virginia, to be thrust back into perpetual bondage.
["_Shame! shame!_"] These outrages cry aloud to Heaven, and to you,
people of Massachusetts! [_Sensation._] Their intrinsic wickedness is
enhanced by the way in which they were accomplished. Of the first I
know something from personal observation; of the latter I am informed
only by public report.

It is characteristic of the Slave Power not to stick at the means
supposed needful in carrying forward its plans; but never, on any
occasion, were its assumptions so barefaced and tyrannical as in the
passage of the Nebraska Bill.

This bill was precipitated upon Congress without one word of public
recommendation from the President, without notice or discussion in any
newspaper, and without a single petition from the people. It was urged
by different advocates, on two principal arguments, so opposite and
inconsistent as to slap each other in the face [_laughter_]: one, that,
by the repeal of the Prohibition, the territory would be absolutely
open to the entry of slaveholders with their slaves; and the other,
that the people there would be left to determine whether slaveholders
should enter with their slaves. With some, the apology was the alleged
rights of slaveholders; with others, the alleged rights of the people.
With some, it was openly the extension of Slavery; and with others,
openly the establishment of Freedom, under the pretence of "popular
sovereignty." The measure thus upheld in defiance of reason was carried
through Congress in defiance of all the securities of legislation.

It was carried, _first_, by _whipping in_, through Executive influence
and patronage, men who acted against their own declared judgment and
the known will of their constituents; _secondly_, by _thrusting out
of place_, both in the Senate and House of Representatives, important
business, long pending, and usurping its room; _thirdly_, by _trampling
under foot_ the rules of the House of Representatives, always before
the safeguard of the minority; and, _fourthly_, by _driving it to a
close_ during the present Congress, so that it might not be arrested
by the indignant voice of the people. Such were some of the means by
which the Nebraska Bill was carried. If the clear will of the people
had not been defied, it could not have passed. If the Government had
not nefariously interposed, it could not have passed. If it had been
left to its natural place in the order of business, it could not have
passed. If the rules of the House and the rights of the minority had
not been violated, it could not have passed. If it had been allowed to
go over to another Congress, when the people might be heard, it would
have failed, forever failed.

Contemporaneously with the final triumph of this outrage at Washington,
another dismal tragedy was enacted at Boston. In those streets where
he had walked as freeman Anthony Burns was seized as slave, under the
base pretext that he was a criminal,--imprisoned in the Court-House,
which was turned for the time into fortress and barracoon,--guarded by
heartless hirelings, whose chief idea of Liberty was license to wrong
[_loud applause, and cries of "That's it! that's it!"_],--escorted by
intrusive soldiers of the United States,--watched by a prostituted
militia,--and finally given up to a Slave-Hunter by the decree of a
petty magistrate, who did not hesitate to take upon his soul the awful
responsibility of dooming a fellow-man, in whom he could find no fault,
to a fate worse than death. How all this was accomplished I need not
relate. Suffice it to say, that, in doing this deed of woe and shame,
the liberties of all our citizens, white as well as black, were put in
jeopardy, the Mayor of Boston was converted to a tool [_applause_], the
Governor of the Commonwealth to a cipher [_long continued applause_],
the laws, the precious sentiments, the religion, the pride and glory
of Massachusetts were trampled in the dust, and you and I and all of us
fell down while the Slave Power flourished over us. [_"Shame! shame!"
and applause._]

These things in themselves are bad, very bad; but they are worse,
when regarded as natural offspring of the Oligarchy now swaying the
country. And it is this Oligarchy which, at every political hazard,
we must oppose, until it is overthrown. Lord Chatham once exclaimed,
that the time had been, when he was content to bring France to her
knees; now he would not stop till he had laid her on her back. Nor
can we be content with less in our warfare. We must not stop till we
have laid the Slave Power on its back. [_Prolonged cheers._] And,
fellow-citizens, permit me to say, not till then will the Free States
be absolved from all political responsibility for Slavery, and relieved
from that corrupt spirit of compromise which now debases at once their
politics and their religion; nor till then will there be repose for
the country. [_Immense cheering._] Indemnity for the past and security
for the future must be our watchwords. [_Applause._] But these can be
obtained only when Slavery is dispossessed of present vantage-ground,
by driving it back exclusively within the limits of the States, and
putting the National Government, everywhere within its constitutional
sphere, openly, actively, and perpetually on the side of Freedom. The
consequences of this change of policy would be of far-reaching and
incalculable beneficence. Not only would Freedom become national and
Slavery sectional, as was intended by our fathers, but the National
Government would become the mighty instrument and herald of Freedom,
as it is now the mighty instrument and herald of Slavery. Its powers,
its treasury, its patronage, would all be turned, in harmony with the
Constitution, to promote Freedom. The Committees of Congress, where
Slavery now rules,--Congress itself, and the Cabinet also,--would all
be organized for Freedom. The hypocritical disguise or renunciation
of Antislavery sentiment would cease to be necessary for the sake of
political preferment; and the Slaveholding Oligarchy, banished from the
National Government, and despoiled of ill-gotten political consequence,
without ability to punish or reward, would cease to be feared, either
at the North or the South, until at last the citizens of the Slave
States, where a large portion have no interest in Slavery, would demand
Emancipation, and the great work would commence. Such is the obvious
course of things. To the overthrow of the Slave Power we are summoned
by a double call, one political and the other philanthropic,--first,
to remove an oppressive tyranny from the National Government, and,
secondly, to open the gates of Emancipation in the Slave States. [_Loud

While keeping this great purpose in view, we must not forget details.
The existence of Slavery anywhere within the national jurisdiction,
in the Territories, in the District of Columbia, or on the high seas
beneath the national flag, is an unconstitutional usurpation, which
must be opposed. The Fugitive Slave Bill, monstrous in cruelty, as
in unconstitutionality, is a usurpation, which must be opposed. The
admission of new Slave States, from whatsoever quarter, from Texas
or Cuba [_applause_], Utah or New Mexico, must be opposed. And to
every scheme of Slavery, whether in Cuba or Mexico, on the high seas
in opening the slave-trade, in the West Indies, or in the Valley of
the Amazon, whether accomplished or merely plotted, whether pending
or in prospect, we must send forth an EVERLASTING NO!
[_Long continued applause._] Such is the present, immediate duty of
Massachusetts, without compromise or hesitation.

Thus far I have spoken of duties in national matters; but there are
other duties of pressing importance, here at home, not to be forgotten
or postponed. It is often said that charity should begin at home.
Better say, _charity should begin everywhere_. While contending
with the Slave Power on the broad field of national politics, we
must not forget the duty of protecting the liberty of all who tread
the soil of Massachusetts. [_Immense cheering._] Early in Colonial
history Massachusetts set her face against Slavery. At the head of
her Declaration of Rights she solemnly asserted that all men are born
free and equal, and in the same Declaration surrounded the liberties
of all within her borders by the inestimable rights of Trial by Jury
and _Habeas Corpus_. Recent events on her own soil have taught the
necessity of new safeguards to these great principles,--to the end that
Massachusetts may not be the vassal of South Carolina and Virginia,
that the Slave-Hunter may not range at will among us, and that the
liberties of all may not be violated with impunity.

I am admonished that I must not dwell longer on these things. Suffice
it to say that our duties in National and State affairs are identical,
and may be described by the same formula: In the one case to put the
National Government, in all its departments, and in the other case
the State Government, in all its departments, openly, actively, and
perpetually on the side of Freedom. [_Loud applause._]

       *       *       *       *       *

Having considered _what_ our duties are, the question now
presses, _How_ shall they be performed?--by what agency, by what
instrumentality, in what way?

The most obvious way is by choosing men to represent us in the National
Government, and also at home, who will recognize these duties, and
be ever loyal to them [_cheers_],--men who at Washington will not
shrink from conflict with Slavery, and also other men who at home
in Massachusetts will not shrink from the same conflict when the
Slave-Hunter appears. [_Loud applause, and cries of "Good! good!"_] In
the choice of men we are driven to the organization of parties; and
here the question arises, By what form of organization, or by what
party, can these men be best secured? Surely not by the Democratic
party, as at present constituted [_laughter_]: though, if this party
were true to its name, pregnant with human rights, it would leave
little to be desired. In this party there are doubtless individuals
anxious to do all in their power against Slavery; but indulge me
in saying, that, so long as they continue members of a party which
upholds the Nebraska Bill, they can do very little. [_Applause and
laughter._] What may we expect from the Whig party? [_A voice,
"Resolutions."_] If more might be expected from the Whig party than
the Democratic party, candor must attribute much of the difference to
the fact that the Whigs are _out of power_, while the Democrats are
_in power_. [_Long continued cheers._] If the cases were reversed, and
the Whigs were in power, as in 1850, I fear, that, notwithstanding
the ardor of individuals and the Resolutions of Conventions [_great
laughter_],--made, I fear, too often, merely to be broken,--the party
might be brought to sustain an outrage as great as the Fugitive Slave
Bill. [_Laughter and applause._] But, without dwelling on these things
(to which I allude with diffidence, and, I trust, in no uncharitable
temper or partisan spirit), I desire to say that no party which
calls itself _National_, according to the common acceptation of the
word,--which leans upon a slaveholding wing [_cheers_], or is in
combination with slaveholders [_cheers_],--can at this time be true
to Massachusetts. [_Great applause._] And the reason is obvious. It
can be presented so as to penetrate the most common understanding.
_The essential element of such a party, whether declared or concealed,
is Compromise; but our duties require all constitutional opposition
to Slavery and the Slave Power, without Compromise._ ["_That's it!_"
"_Good! good!_"] It is difficult, then, to see how we can rely upon the
Whig party.

To the true-hearted, magnanimous citizens ready to place Freedom
above Party, and their Country above Politicians, I appeal. [_Immense
cheering._] Let them leave old parties, and blend in an organization
which, without compromise, will maintain the good cause surely to the
end. Here in Massachusetts a large majority concur in sentiment on
Slavery,--a large majority desire the overthrow of the Slave Power.
These must not scatter their votes, but unite in one firm, consistent
phalanx [_applause_], whose triumph will constitute an epoch of
Freedom, not only in this Commonwealth, but throughout the land. Such
an organization is presented by this Republican Convention, which
announces its purpose to coöperate with the friends of Freedom in
other States. [_Cheers._] As REPUBLICANS, we go forth to encounter the
_Oligarchs_ of Slavery. [_Great applause._]

Through this organization we shall secure the election of men who,
unseduced and unterrified, will at Washington uphold the principles
of Freedom,--and also here at home, in our own community, by example,
influence, and vote, will help invigorate Massachusetts. I might go
further, and say that by no other organization can we reasonably hope
to obtain such men, unless in rare and exceptional cases.

Men are but instruments. It will not be enough to choose those who are
loyal. Other things must be done here at home. In the first place, all
existing laws for the protection of human freedom must be rigorously
enforced [_applause, and cries of "Good!"_]; and since these are
found inadequate, there must be new laws for this purpose within the
limits of the Constitution. Massachusetts will do well in following
Vermont, which by special law places the fugitive slave under the
safeguard of Trial by Jury and the writ of _Habeas Corpus_. But a
Legislature true to Freedom will not fail in remedies. [_Applause._] A
simple prohibition, declaring that no person, holding the commission
of Massachusetts as Justice of the Peace, or other magistrate, shall
assume to act as a Slave-Hunting Commissioner, or as counsel of any
Slave-Hunter, under some proper penalty, would go far to render the
existing Slave Act inoperative. [_Applause._] There are not many so
fond of this base trade as to continue in it, when the Commonwealth
sets upon it a legislative brand.

Besides more rigorous legislation, Public Opinion must be invoked
to step forward and throw over the fugitive its protecting ægis.
A Slave-Hunter will then be a by-word and reproach; and all his
instruments, especially every one who volunteers in this vileness
without positive obligation of law, will naturally be regarded as part
of his pack, and share the ignominy of the chief hunter. [_Laughter
and cheers._] And now, from authentic example, drawn out of recent
history, learn how the Slave-Hunter may be palsied by contrition. I
take the story from late letters on Neapolitan affairs by the eminent
English statesman, Mr. Gladstone, who has copied it from an Italian
writer. A most successful member of the Neapolitan police, Bolza, of
the hateful tribe known as _sbirri_, whose official duties involved
his own personal degradation and the loathing of others, has left a
record of the acute sense retained of his shame by even such a man. "I
absolutely forbid my heirs," says this penitent official, "to allow any
mark, of whatever kind, to be placed over the spot of my burial,--much
more any inscription or epitaph. I recommend my dearly beloved wife
to impress upon my children the injunction, that, in soliciting any
employment from Government, they shall ask for it elsewhere than in the
_executive police_, and not, unless under extraordinary circumstances,
to give her consent to the marriage of any of my daughters with a
member of that service."[135] Thus testifies the Italian instrument of
legal wrong. Let public opinion here in Massachusetts once put forth
its might, and every instrument of the Fugitive Slave Act will feel a
kindred shame. [_Great applause._] They will resign. When, under the
heartless Charles the Second of England, the Act of Uniformity went
into operation, upwards of two thousand pulpits were vacated by the
voluntary withdrawal of men who thought it better to face starvation
than treachery to their Master. Here is an example for us. Let
magistrates and officers, called to enforce a cruel injustice, take

    [135] Two Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen, on the State
    Prosecutions of the Neapolitan Government, by the Right Hon. W. E.
    Gladstone, (London, 1851,) Letter II. p. 45.

It is sometimes gravely urged, that, since the Supreme Court of the
United States has affirmed the constitutionality of the Fugitive Act,
there only remains to us, in all places, whether in public station or
in private life, the duty of absolute submission. Yes, Sir, that is the
assumption, which you will perceive is applied to the humblest citizen
who holds no office and has taken no oath to support the Constitution,
as well as to the public servant who is under the special obligations
of an official oath. Now, without stopping to consider the soundness
of the judgment affirming the constitutionality of this Act, let me
say that the Constitution, as I understand it, exacts no such _passive
obedience_. In taking the oath to support the Constitution, it is as I
understand it, and not as other men understand it. [_Loud applause._]

In adopting this rule, first authoritatively enunciated by Andrew
Jackson, when, as President of the United States, in the face of the
Supreme Court, he asserted the unconstitutionality of the Bank, I
desire to be understood as not acting hastily. Let me add, that, if
it needed other authority in its support, it has the sanction also of
the distinguished Cabinet by which he was then surrounded, among whom
were that unsurpassed jurist, Edward Livingston, Secretary of State,
and that still living exemplar of careful learning and wisdom, Roger B.
Taney, then Attorney-General, now Chief-Justice of the United States.
Beyond these, it has the unquestionable authority of Thomas Jefferson,
by whom it was asserted again and again as a rule of conduct. Thus, if
any person at this day be disposed to deal sharply with me on account
of the support which I now most conscientiously give to this rule,
let him remember that his thrusts will pierce not only myself, the
humblest of its supporters, but also the great fame of Andrew Jackson
and of Thomas Jefferson,--patriots both of eminent life and authority,
on whose Atlantean shoulders this principle of Constitutional Law will
ever firmly rest.

Reason here is in harmony with authority. From the necessity of
the case I must swear to support the Constitution either _as I do
understand it_ or _as I do NOT understand it_. [_Laughter._]
But the absurdity of dangling on the latter horn of the dilemma compels
me to take the former, and there is a natural end of the argument.
[_Great laughter and cheers._] Is there a person in Congress or out
of it, in the National Government or State Government, who, when this
inevitable alternative is presented, will venture to say that he
swears to support the Constitution as he does _not_ understand it?
[_Laughter and applause._] The supposition is too preposterous. But
let me ask gentlemen disposed to abandon their own understanding of
the Constitution, and to submit their conscience to the standard of
other men, By whose understanding do they swear? Surely not by that
of the President: this is not alleged: but by the understanding of
the Supreme Court. In other words, to this Court, being at present
nine persons,--represented by a simple majority, it may be of _one_
only,--is accorded the power of fastening such interpretation as
they see fit upon any part of the Constitution,--adding to it, or
subtracting from it, or positively varying its requirements,--actually
making and unmaking the Constitution; and to their work all good
citizens must bow, as of equal authority with the original instrument,
ratified by solemn votes of the whole people! [_Great applause._]
If this be so, the oath to support the Constitution is hardly less
offensive than the famous "et cætera" oath devised by Archbishop Laud,
where the subject swore to certain specified things, with an "&c."
added. Such an oath I have not taken. ["_Good! good!_"] An old poet
anticipates my objection:--

   "Who swears _&c._ swears more oaths at once
    Than Cerberus out of his triple sconce;
    Who views it well with the same eye beholds
    The old half serpent in his numerous folds

    [136] Cleveland. See Hudibras, ed. Grey, Part I. Canto 2, Note to
    v. 650.

The power of our Supreme Court is great, and its sphere is vast;
but there are limits to its power and its sphere. According to the
Constitution, "the judicial power shall extend to _all cases_ in
law and equity, arising under the Constitution, the laws of the
United States, and treaties"; but it by no means follows that the
interpretation of the Constitution, _incident_ to the trial of these
"cases," is final. Of course, the judgment in the "case" actually
pending is final, as the settlement of a controversy, for weal or
woe, to the litigating parties; but as a _precedent_ it is not final
even on the Supreme Court itself. When cited afterwards, it will be
regarded with respect as an _interpretation of the Constitution_, and,
if nothing appears against it, of controlling authority; but, at any
day, in any litigation, at the trial of any "case," it will be within
the unquestionable competency of the Court to review its own decision,
_so far as it establishes any interpretation of the Constitution_. If
the Court itself be not constrained by its own precedents, how can
coördinate branches, under oath to support the Constitution, and, like
the Court itself, called _incidentally_ to interpret the Constitution,
be constrained by them? In both instances, the power to interpret is
simply _incident_ to other principal duties, as the trial of "cases,"
the making of laws, or the administration of government; and it seems
as plainly _incident_ to a "case" of legislation or of administration
as to a "case" of litigation. And on this view I shall act with entire
confidence, under the oath I have taken.

For myself, let me say, that I hold judges, and especially the Supreme
Court, in much respect; but I am too familiar with the history of
judicial proceedings to regard them with any superstitious reverence.
[_Sensation._] Judges are but men, and in all ages have shown a full
share of human frailty. Alas! alas! the worst crimes of history have
been perpetrated under their sanction. The blood of martyrs and of
patriots, crying from the ground, summons them to judgment. It was
a judicial tribunal which condemned Socrates to drink the fatal
hemlock, and which pushed the Saviour barefoot over the pavements
of Jerusalem, bending beneath his cross. It was a judicial tribunal
which, against the testimony and entreaties of her father, surrendered
the fair Virginia _as a slave_,--which arrested the teachings of the
great Apostle to the Gentiles, and sent him in bonds from Judæa to
Rome,--which, in the name of the Old Religion, persecuted the saints
and fathers of the Christian Church, and adjudged them to a martyr's
death, in all its most dreadful forms,--and afterwards, in the name
of the New Religion, enforced the tortures of the Inquisition, amidst
the shrieks and agonies of its victims, while it compelled Galileo to
declare, in solemn denial of the great truth he had disclosed, that the
earth did not move round the sun. It was a judicial tribunal which, in
France, during the long reign of her monarchs, lent itself to be the
instrument of every tyranny, as during the brief Reign of Terror it did
not hesitate to stand forth the unpitying accessary of the unpitying
guillotine. Ay, Sir, it was a judicial tribunal in England, surrounded
by all forms of law, which sanctioned every despotic caprice of Henry
the Eighth, from the unjust divorce of his queen to the beheading of
Sir Thomas More,--which lighted the fires of persecution that glowed at
Oxford and Smithfield, over the cinders of Latimer, Ridley, and John
Rogers,--which, after elaborate argument, upheld the fatal tyranny
of ship money against the patriot resistance of Hampden,--which, in
defiance of justice and humanity, sent Sidney and Russell to the
block,--which persistently enforced the laws of Conformity that our
Puritan fathers persistently refused to obey, and afterwards, with
Jeffreys on the bench, crimsoned the pages of English history with
massacre and murder, even with the blood of innocent women. Ay, Sir, it
was a judicial tribunal in our own country, surrounded by all forms of
law, which hung witches at Salem,--which affirmed the constitutionality
of the Stamp Act, while it admonished "jurors and people" to obey,--and
which now, in our day, lends its sanction to the unutterable atrocity
of the Fugitive Slave Act. [_Long continued applause, and three cheers
for Sumner._]

Of course judgments of courts are binding upon inferior tribunals,
and their own executive officers, whose virtue does not prompt them
to resign rather than aid in executing an unjust mandate. Over all
citizens, whether in public or private station, they will naturally
exert, _as precedents_, an impartial influence. This I admit. But no
man, who is not lost to self-respect, and ready to abandon that manhood
which is shown in the Heaven-directed countenance, will voluntarily
aid in enforcing a judgment which in conscience he believes wrong. He
will not hesitate "to obey God rather than men," and calmly abide the
peril he provokes. Not lightly, not rashly, will he take the grave
responsibility of open dissent; but if the occasion requires, he will
not fail. Pains and penalties may be endured, but wrong must not be
done. [_Cheers._] "Where I cannot obey I am willing to suffer," was the
exclamation of the author of "Pilgrim's Progress," when imprisoned for
disobedience to an earthly statute. Elsewhere I have said what I now
repeat and proclaim on the house-top. Better suffer injustice than do
it. Better be even the poor slave returned to bondage than the unhappy
Commissioner. [_Applause and sensation._]

I repeat, judges are but men, and I know no difference between the
claim of power now made for them and that other insulting pretension
put forth sometimes in the name of a king and sometimes of a people.
Listen to what King James of England once wrote: "It is atheism
and blasphemy to dispute what God can do: good Christians content
themselves with his will revealed in his word. So it is presumption and
high contempt in a subject to dispute what a king can do, or say that
a king cannot do this or that: but rest in that which is the king's
revealed will in his law."[137] Thus wrote one who was called "the
wisest fool of Christendom." And so we are to rest in that popular will
revealed in the Fugitive Slave Act, and ratified by the Supreme Court.
The rabble of revolutionary France, in a spirit kindred to that of King
James, cried out, as the executioner's cart tracked its way in blood,
"We can do what we please,"--adding, "There is no God." Of course,
if there were no God, they could not do as they pleased; nor could
the king, whose pretension for himself was no better than that of the
rabble. But there is a God, to be obeyed in all things, although kings,
people, and even courts, assert the contrary.

    [137] Speech in the Star-Chamber, June 20, 1616: Works of the Most
    High and Mighty Prince, James, by the Grace of God King of Great
    Britain, &c., (London, 1616, folio,) p. 557. See also Finch's Law,
    p. 81.

The whole dogma of _passive obedience_ must be rejected, whatever guise
it assumes, under whatever _alias_ it skulks,--whether in tyrannical
usurpations of king, parliament, or judicial tribunal,--whether in
exploded theories of Sir Robert Filmer, or rampant assumptions of
the Fugitive Slave Act. The rights of the civil power are limited;
there are things beyond its province; there are matters out of its
control; there are cases in which the faithful citizen may say,--ay,
_must_ say,--"I will not obey." One of the highest flights of Mirabeau
was, when, addressing the National Assembly of France, he protested
against a law then pending, and exclaimed, "If you make such a law,
I swear never to obey it!"[138] No man now responds to the words of
Shakespeare, "If a king bid a man be a villain, he is bound by the
indenture of his oath to be one." Nor, in this age of civilization and
liberty, will any prudent reasoner, who duly considers the rights of
conscience, claim for any earthly magistrate or tribunal, howsoever
styled, a power which the loftiest monarch of a Christian throne,
wearing on his brow "the round and top of sovereignty," dare not assert.

    [138] Projet de Loi sur les Émigrations, 28 Février, 1791:
    OEuvres, (Paris, 1834,) Tom. III. p. 85.

On this twofold conclusion I rest, and do not doubt the final result.
The citizen who has sworn to support the Constitution is constrained to
support it simply as he understands it. The citizen whose private life
has kept him from assuming the obligations of official oath may bravely
set at nought the unrighteous ruling of a magistrate, and, so doing, he
will serve justice, though he expose himself to stern penalties.

Fellow-citizens of Massachusetts, our own local history is not without
encouragement. In early colonial days, the law against witchcraft, now
so abhorrent to reason and conscience, was regarded as constitutional
and binding,--precisely as the Fugitive Slave Act, not less abhorrent
to reason and conscience, is regarded as constitutional and binding. A
special Court of Oyer and Terminer, with able judges, whose names are
entwined with our history, enforced this law at Salem by the execution
of nineteen persons as witches,--precisely as petty magistrates,
acting under sanction of the Supreme Court of the United States, and
also of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, have enforced the Fugitive
Act by the reduction of two human beings to slavery. The clergy of
Massachusetts, particularly near Boston, and also Harvard College,
were for the law. "Witchcraft," shouted Cotton Mather from the pulpit,
"is the most nefandous high treason," "a capital crime,"--even as
opposition to the Fugitive Act has been denounced as "treason."

But the law against witchcraft was not triumphant long. The General
Court of the Province first became penitent, and asked pardon of God
for "all the errors of his servants and people in the late tragedy."
Jurymen united in condemning and lamenting the delusion to which they
had yielded under the decision of the judges, and acknowledged that
they had brought the reproach of wrongful bloodshed on their native
land. Sewall, one of the judges, and author of the early tract against
Slavery, "The Selling of Joseph," whose name lives freshly in his
liberty-loving descendant [Hon. S. E. SEWALL] [_applause_],
stood up in his place at church, before the congregation, and implored
the prayers of the people, that the errors he had committed might not
be visited by the judgments of an avenging God on his country, his
family, or himself. And now, in a manuscript diary of this departed
judge, may be read, on the margin against the contemporary record, in
his own handwriting, words of saddest interjection and sorrow: _Væ! væ!
væ!_ Woe! woe! woe![139] [_Sensation._]

    [139] Holmes, Annals, Vol. I. p. 440, note. In similar spirit, John
    Winthrop, the early Governor of Massachusetts, on his death-bed
    refused to sign an order to banish a heterodox person, saying, "I
    have done too much of that work already."--Hutchinson, History of
    Massachusetts, Vol. I. p. 142.

The parallel between the law against witchcraft and the Fugitive Act
is not yet complete. It remains for our Legislature, successor of that
original General Court, to lead the penitential march. [_Laughter._] In
the slave cases there have been no jurymen to recant [_laughter_]; and
it is too much, perhaps, to expect any magistrate who sanctioned the
cruelty to imitate by public penitence the magnanimity of other days.
Yet it is not impossible that future generations may be permitted to
read, in some newly exhumed diary or letter by one of these troubled
functionaries, words of woe not unlike those wrung from the soul of
Sewall. [_Sensation._]

       *       *       *       *       *

Fellow-citizens, one word in conclusion: Be of good cheer. ["_That's
it!_"] I know well the difficulties and responsibilities of the
contest; but not on this account do I bate a jot of heart or hope.
[_Applause._] At this time, in our country, there is little else to
tempt into public life an honest man, who wishes, by something that he
has done, to leave the world better than he found it. There is little
else to afford any of those satisfactions which an honest man can
covet. Nor is there any cause which so surely promises final success.
There is nothing good--not a breathing of the common air--which is not
on our side. Ours, too, are those great allies described by the poet,--

              "Exultations, agonies,
    And love, and man's unconquerable mind."

And there are favoring circumstances peculiar to the present moment.
By the passage of the Nebraska Bill, and the Boston kidnapping case,
the tyranny of the Slave Power is unmistakably manifest, while at
the same time all compromises with Slavery are happily dissolved,
so that Freedom stands face to face with its foe. The pulpit, too,
released from ill-omened silence, now thunders for Freedom, as in
the olden time. [_Cheers._] It belongs to Massachusetts, nurse of
the men and principles which made the earliest Revolution, to vow
herself anew to her ancient faith, as she lifts herself to the great
struggle. Her place now, as then, is in the van, at the head of the
battle. [_Sensation._] To sustain this advanced position with proper
inflexibility, three things are needed by our beloved Commonwealth, in
all her departments of government,--the same three things which once,
in Faneuil Hall, I ventured to say were needed by every representative
of the North at Washington. The first is _backbone_ [_applause_]; the
second is BACKBONE [_renewed applause_]; and the third is
BACKBONE. [_Long continued cheering, and three cheers for "Backbone."_]
With these Massachusetts will be felt and respected, as a positive
force in the National Government [_applause_], while at home, on her
own soil, free at last in reality as in name [_applause_], all her
people, from Boston islands to Berkshire hills, and from the sands of
Barnstable to the northern line, will unite in the cry,--

   "No slave-hunt in our borders! no pirate on our strand!
    No fetters in the Bay State! no slave upon our land!"


                          SEPTEMBER 25, 1854.

ANOTHER voice against the Fugitive Slave Act.

                                            BOSTON, September 25, 1854.

My Dear Sir,--I am grateful for the honor done me by the invitation of
your Society, and also for the kind manner in which you have conveyed
it. But another engagement promises to occupy my time so as to deprive
me of the pleasure thus kindly offered.

From the mother earth we may derive many lessons, and I doubt not they
will spring up abundantly in the footprints of the Norfolk Agricultural
Society. There is one that comes to my mind at this moment, and which
is of perpetual force.

The good farmer obeys the natural laws; nor does he impotently attempt
to set up any behest of man against the ordinances of God, determining
day and night, summer and winter, sunshine and rain. The good citizen
will imitate the good farmer; nor will he impotently attempt to set up
any statute of man against the ordinances of God, which determine good
and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice. Let me express these
correlative ideas in a sentiment which I trust may be welcome at your

_The Good Farmer and the Good Citizen_: Acting in conformity with the
laws of God, rather than the statutes of man, they know that in this
way only can true prosperity be obtained.

    Believe me, dear Sir, with much respect,

                    Very faithfully yours,

                                                        CHARLES SUMNER.



                          SEPTEMBER 28, 1854.

The escape of the Fugitive Slave, Jerry, at Syracuse, was commemorated
at a public meeting, to which Mr. Sumner was invited. His answer was
published at the time as "from a man who is not afraid to speak out."

                                            BOSTON, September 28, 1854.

    Dear Sir,--I cannot be with you at Syracuse, according to the
    invitation with which I have been honored; but I shall rejoice at
    every word uttered there which helps to lay bare the true nature of
    Slavery, and its legitimate offspring, the Fugitive Slave Bill.

    That atrocious enactment has no sanction in the Constitution of
    the United States or in the law of God. It shocks both. The good
    citizen, at all personal hazard, will refuse to obey it.

                Yours very faithfully,

                                                        CHARLES SUMNER.


                      ILLUSTRATED BY THE LIFE OF

                           GRANVILLE SHARP.

                     EVENING OF NOVEMBER 13, 1854.

                          Veluti in speculum.

Here was another effort to obtain a hearing for unwelcome truth. While
portraying the life and character of Granville Sharp, Mr. Sumner
was saying what he had most at heart on Slavery, and exposing that
swiftness which had been shown here in support of the Fugitive Slave
Act. Describing the simple championship of the Englishman, he presented
an example for imitation. Showing how Slavery had been overturned in
England, he exhibited the essential rule of interpretation, by which,
in the absence of precise words of sanction, it necessarily becomes
impossible. Condemning the London merchants who contributed to support
this wrong, and also the able lawyers who lent themselves to the same
cause, he presented a picture where our merchants and lawyers might see
themselves. Extolling that conscience which sustained Granville Sharp
in his career, he vindicated all among us who would not bow before

The address was well received. The tide was then turning. Since then
the lecture-room has been free. The condition of the public mind was
noticed at the time. One newspaper said, that "a Boston audience of the
kind then and there present would not have listened to it with patience
four years ago,"--that, "valuable as the lecture is on account of its
literary merits, its real importance consists in marking an era in
Boston opinion." Another paper says, with enthusiasm, "That Mr. Sumner
should have delivered such a lecture before 'the solid men of Boston'
is a great, a sublime fact in American history," and, after proceeding
in this strain, concludes with the remark, that "it is one of the most
striking examples of whipping one set of people over the backs of
another that we ever heard of."



I have been honored by an invitation to deliver an address,
introductory to the annual course of lectures which your Association
bountifully contributes to the pastime, instruction, and elevation of
our community. You know, Sir, something of the reluctance with which,
embarrassed by other cares, I undertook this service,--yielding to
kindly and persistent pressure, which only a nature sterner than mine
could resist. And now I am here to perform what I promised.

I am to address the Mercantile Library Association of Boston,
numbering, according to your last Report, two thousand and
seventy-eight members, and possessing a library of more than fifteen
thousand volumes. With so many members and so many books, yours is
an institution of positive power. Two distinct features appear in
its name. It is, primarily, an association of persons in mercantile
pursuits; and it is, next, an association for the improvement of
its members, particularly through books. In either particular it
is entitled to regard. But it possesses yet another feature, more
interesting still, which does not appear in its name. It is an
association of YOUNG MEN, with hearts yet hospitable to
generous words, and with resolves not yet vanquished by the trials and
temptations of life. Especially does this last consideration fill me
with a deep sense of the privilege and responsibility to which you have
summoned me. I am aware, that, according to usage, the whole circle
of knowledge, thought, and aspiration is open to the speaker; but, as
often as I have revolved the occasion in my mind, I have been brought
back to the peculiar character of your Association, and have found
myself unwilling to touch any theme not addressed to you especially as

I might fitly speak to you of books; and here, while considering
principles to govern the student in his reading, it would be pleasant
to dwell on the profitable delights, better than a "shower of cent per
cent," on the society, better than fashion or dissipation, and on that
completeness of satisfaction, outvying the possessions of wealth, and
making the "library dukedom large enough,"--all of which are found
in books. But I leave this theme. I might also fitly speak to you of
young men, their claims and duties; and here again, while enforcing
the precious advantages of Occupation, it would be pleasant to unfold
and vindicate that reverence which Antiquity wisely accorded to youth,
as the season of promise and hope, pregnant with an unknown future,
and therefore to be watched with tenderness and care,--to show how in
every young man the uncertain measure of capacities yet undeveloped
gives scope to magnificence of anticipation beyond any reality,--and to
inquire what must be done, that all this anticipation may not wholly
die while the young man lives. But there are other things which beckon
me away. Not on books, not on youth must I speak, but on yet another
topic, suggested directly by the name of your Association.

With your kind permission, I shall speak to-night on what this age
requires from the mercantile profession, or rather, since nothing is
justly required which is not due, what the mercantile profession owes
to this age. I would show the principle by which we are to be guided
in making the _account current_ between the mercantile profession and
Humanity, and, might I so aspire, hold up the _Looking-Glass of the
Good Merchant_. And since example is better than precept, and deeds
are more than words, I shall exhibit the career of a remarkable man,
whose simple life, beginning as apprentice to a linen-draper, and never
getting beyond a clerkship, shows what may be accomplished by faithful,
humble labor, and reveals precisely those qualities which in this age
are needed to crown the character of the Good Merchant.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I hold every man a debtor to his profession," was a saying of Lord
Bacon, repeated by his contemporary and rival, Lord Coke. But this
does not tell the whole truth. It restricts within the narrow circle
of a profession obligations which are broad and universal as humanity.
Rather should it be said that every man owes a debt to mankind. In
determining the debt of the merchant, we must first appreciate his
actual position in the social system.

At the dawn of modern times trade was unknown. There was nothing then
like a policy of insurance, a bank, a bill of exchange, or even a
promissory note. The very term "chattels," so comprehensive in its
present application, yet, when considered in its derivation from the
mediæval Latin _catalla_, cattle, reveals the narrow inventory of
personal property in those days, when "two hundred sheep" were paid by
a pious Countess of Anjou for a coveted volume of Homilies. The places
of honor and power were then occupied by men who had distinguished
themselves by the sword, and were known under the various names of
Knight, Baron, Count, or--highest of all--Duke, _Dux_, leader in war.

Under these influences the feudal system was organized, with its
hierarchy of ranks, in mutual relations of dependence and protection;
and society for a while rested in its shadow. The steel-clad chiefs who
enjoyed power had a corresponding responsibility, while the mingled
gallantry and gentleness of chivalry often controlled the iron hand. It
was the dukes who led the forces; it was the counts or earls who placed
themselves at the head of their respective counties; it was the knights
who went forth to do battle with danger, in whatever form, whether from
robbers or wild beasts. It was the barons of Runnymede--there was no
merchant there--who extorted from King John that Magna Charta which
laid the corner-stone of English and American liberty.

Meanwhile trade made its humble beginnings. But for a long time the
merchant was of a despised caste, only next above the slave who was
sold as a chattel. If a Jew, he was often compelled, under direful
torture, to surrender his gains; if a foreigner, he earned toleration
by inordinate contribution to the public revenue; if a native, he
was treated as caitiff too mean for society, and only good enough to
be taxed. In the time of Chaucer he had so far come up, that he was
admitted to the promiscuous company, ranging from knight to miller, who
undertook the merry pilgrimage from the Tabard Inn to Canterbury; but
the gentle poet satirically exposes his selfish talk:--

   "His resons spake he ful solempnely,
    Souning alway the encrese of his winning:
    He wold the see were kept for any thing
    Betwixen Middelburgh and Orewell."[140]

    [140] Canterbury Tales, Prologue, 276-279.

The man of trade was so low, that it took him long to rise. A London
merchant, the famous Gresham, in the time of Elizabeth, founded
the Royal Exchange, and a college also; but trade continued still
a butt for jest and gibe. At a later day an English statute gave
new security to the merchant's accounts; but the contemporaneous
dramatists exhibited him to the derision of the theatre, and even the
almanacs exposed his ignorant superstitions by chronicling the days
supposed to be favorable or unfavorable to trade. But in the grand
mutations of society the merchant throve. His wealth increased, his
influence extended, and he gradually drew into his company decayed or
poverty-stricken members of feudal families, till at last in France
(I do not forget the exceptional condition of Italy), at the close of
the seventeenth century, an edict was put forth, which John Locke has
preserved in the journal of his travels, "that those who merchandise,
but do not use the yard, shall not lose their gentility"[141]
(admirable discrimination!); and in England, at the close of the
eighteenth century, his former degradation and growing importance
were attested in the saying of Dr. Johnson, that "an English merchant
is a new species of gentleman."[142] But this high arbiter, bending
under feudal traditions, would not even then concede to him any
merit,--proclaiming that there were "no qualities in trade that should
entitle a man to superiority,"--that "we cannot think that a fellow,
by sitting all day at a desk, is entitled to get above us,"--and to
the supposition by his faithful Boswell, that a merchant might be a
man of enlarged mind, the determined moralist replied: "Why, Sir, we
may suppose any fictitious character; but there is nothing in trade
connected with an enlarged mind."[143]

    [141] King's Life of Locke, Vol. I. p. 104.

    [142] Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. Croker, (London, 1835,) Vol.
    II. p. 294, note, anno 1765.

    [143] Boswell's Johnson, Vol. V. pp. 63, 64, Oct. 18, 1773.

In America feudalism never prevailed, and our Revolution severed the
only cord by which we were connected with this ancient system. It
was fit that the Congress which performed this memorable act should
have for its President a merchant. It was fit, that, in promulgating
the Declaration of Independence, by which, in the face of kings,
princes, and nobles, the New Era was inaugurated, the education of the
counting-house should flaunt conspicuously in the broad and clerkly
signature of JOHN HANCOCK. Our fathers "builded better than
they knew"; and these things are typical of the social change then
taking place. By yet another act, fresh in your recollection, and of
peculiar interest to this assembly, has our country borne the same
testimony. A distinguished merchant of Boston, who has ascended through
all the gradations of trade, honored always for private virtues as
well as public abilities,--need I mention the name of ABBOTT
LAWRENCE?--has been sent to the Court of St. James as ambassador
of our Republic, and with that proud commission, higher than any patent
of nobility, taken precedence of nobles in that ancient realm. Here I
see the triumph of personal merit, but still more the consummation of a
new epoch.

Yes, Sir! say what you will, this is the day of the merchant. As in the
early ages war was the great concern of society, and the very pivot
of power, so is trade now; and as feudal chiefs were the "notables,"
placed at the very top of their time, so are merchants now. All things
attest the change. War, which was once the universal business, is
now confined to a few; once a daily terror, it is now the accident
of an age. Not for adventures of the sword, but for trade, do men
descend upon the sea in ships, and traverse broad continents on iron
pathways. Not for protection against violence, but for trade, do men
come together in cities, and rear the marvellous superstructure of
social order. If they go abroad, or if they stay at home, it is trade
that controls them, without distinction of persons. In our country
every man is trader: the physician trades his benevolent care; the
lawyer trades his ingenious tongue; the clergyman trades his prayers.
And trade summons from the quarry choicest marble and granite to build
its capacious homes, and now, in our own city, displays warehouses
which outdo the baronial castle, and sales-rooms which outdo the ducal
palace. With these magnificent appliances, the relations of dependence
and protection, marking the early feudalism, are reproduced in the
more comprehensive feudalism of trade. There are European bankers who
vie in power with the dukes and princes of other days, and there are
traffickers everywhere whose title comes from the ledger and not the
sword, fit successors to counts, barons, and knights. As the feudal
chief allocated to himself and his followers that soil which was the
prize of his strong arm, so now the merchant, with grasp more subtle
and reaching, allocates to himself and his followers, ranging through
multitudinous degrees of dependence, all the spoils of every land,
triumphantly won by trade. I would not press this parallel too far;
but at this moment, especially in our country, the merchant, more
than any other character, stands in the very boots of the feudal
chief. Of all pursuits or relations, his is now the most extensive and
formidable, making all others its tributaries, and bending at times
even the lawyer and the clergyman to be its dependent stipendiaries.

Such, in our social system, is the merchant; and on this precise and
incontrovertible statement I found his duties. Wealth, power, and
influence are not for self-indulgence merely, and just according to
their extent are the obligations _to others_ which they impose. If,
by the rule of increase, to him that hath is given, so in the same
degree new duties are superadded: nor can any man escape from their
behests. If the merchant be in reality our feudal lord, he must render
feudal service; if he be our modern knight, he must do knightly deeds;
if he be the baron of our day, let him maintain baronial charity to
the humble,--ay, Sir, and baronial courage against tyrannical wrong,
whatsoever form it may assume. Even if I err in attributing to him this
peculiar position, I do not err in attributing to him these duties;
for his influence is surely great, and he is at least a man, bound by
simple manhood to regard nothing human as foreign to his heart.

The special perils which aroused the age of chivalry have passed away.
Monsters, in the form of dragons, griffins, or unicorns, no longer
ravage the land. Giants have disappeared from the scene. Robbers have
been dislodged from castle and forest. Godeschal the Iron-hearted,
and Robin Hood, are each without descendants. In the new forms which
society assumes, touched by the potent wand of trade, there is no place
for any of these. But wrong and outrage are not yet extinct. Cast out
of one body, they enter straightway another, whence, too, they must be
cast out. Alas! in our day, amidst all this teeming civilization, with
the horn of Abundance at our gates, with the purse of Fortunatus in
our hands, with professions of Christianity on our lips, and with the
merchant installed in the high places of Chivalry, there are sorrows
not less poignant than those which once enkindled knightly sympathy,
and there is wrong which vies in loathsomeness with early monsters, in
power with early giants, and in existing immunity with robbers once
sheltered by castle and forest,--stalking through your streets in
the abused garb of Law itself, and by its hateful presence dwarfing
all the atrocities of another age. A wicked man is a deplorable
sight; but a wicked law is worse than any wicked man, even than the
wretch who steals human beings from their home in Africa; nor can its
outrage be redressed by any incidental charities, perishing at night
as manna in the wilderness. Like the monster, it must be overpowered;
like the robber, it must be chained; like the wild beast, it must be

To the merchant, then, especially to the young merchant, I appeal,
by the position you have won and by the power which is yours,--go
forth to redress these grievances, whatever they may be, whether in
the sufferings of the solitary soul or audaciously organized in the
likeness of law. That I may not seem to hold up any impracticable
standard, that the path of duty may not appear difficult, and that
no young man need hesitate, even though he find himself alone and
opposed by numbers, let me present briefly, as becomes the hour, the
example and special achievement of GRANVILLE SHARP, the
humble Englishman, who, without wealth, fame, or power, did not
hesitate to set himself against the merchants of the time, against
the traditions of the English bar, against the authority of learned
lawyers, and against the power of magistrates, until, by persevering
effort, he compelled the highest tribunal of the land to declare the
grand constitutional truth, that the slave who sets his foot on British
ground becomes that instant free. His character of pure and courageous
principle may be little regarded yet; but as time advances, it will
become a guiding luminary. There are stars aloft, centres of other
systems, in such depths of firmament that only after the lapse of ages
does their light reach this small ball which we call earth.

Be assured, Mr. President, I shall not tread on forbidden ground. To
the occasion and to your Association I shall be loyal; but let me be
loyal also to myself. Thank God, the great volume of the Past is always
open, with its lessons of warning and example. Nor will the assembly
which now does me the honor to listen to me be disposed to imitate
the pious pirates of the Caribbean Sea, who daily recited the Ten
Commandments, always omitting the injunction, "Thou shalt not steal."
I know well the sensitiveness of certain consciences. This is natural.
It is according to the decrees of Providence, that whosoever has been
engaged in meanness or wickedness should be pursued, wherever he moves,
by reproving voices, speaking to him from the solitudes of Nature,
from the darkness of night, from the hum of the street, and from every
book that he reads, like fiery tongues at Pentecost, until at last the
confession of Satan himself can alone express his wretchedness:--

   "Me miserable! which way shall I fly?
    Which way I fly is Hell: _myself am Hell!_"

GRANVILLE SHARP was born at Durham, in 1735. His family was of great
respectability and of ancient lineage. His grandfather was Archbishop
of York, confidential chaplain and counsellor of the renowned
Chancellor, Heneage Finch, Lord Nottingham. His less conspicuous
father was archdeacon and prebendary of the Church, who, out of his
ecclesiastical emoluments, knew how to dispense charity, while rearing
his numerous children to different pursuits. Of these, Granville
was the youngest son, and, though elder brothers were educated for
professional life, he was destined to trade, a portion being set apart
by his father to serve as his apprentice-fee in London. With this view
his back was turned upon the learned languages, and his instruction
was confined chiefly to writing and arithmetic; but at this time he
read and enjoyed all the plays of Shakespeare, perched in an apple-tree
of his father's orchard. When fifteen years old, he was bound as
apprentice to a Quaker linen-draper in London, and at this tender
age left his father's house. Of his apprenticeship he has given an
interesting glimpse.

    "After I had served about three years of my apprenticeship, my
    master, the Quaker, died, and I was turned over to a Presbyterian,
    or rather, as he was more properly called, an Independent. I
    afterward lived some time with an Irish Papist, and also with
    another person, who, I believe, had no religion at all."[144]

    [144] Memoirs, by Prince Hoare, (London, 1820,) p. 28.

Although always a devoted member of the Church of England, these
extraordinary experiences in early life placed him above the prejudice
of sect, and inspired a rule of conduct worthy of perpetual memory,
which he presents as follows.

    "It has taught me to make a proper distinction between the
    OPINIONS of men and their PERSONS. The former I can freely condemn,
    without presuming to judge the individuals themselves. Thus freedom
    of argument is preserved, as well as Christian charity, leaving
    personal judgment to Him to whom alone it belongs."[145]

    [145] Memoirs, p. 29.

Only two years before the enrolment of Granville Sharp among London
apprentices,--that class so famous in local history,--another person,
kindred in benevolence, and now in fame, Howard, the philanthropist, on
whose career Burke has cast the illumination of his genius, finished
service in the same place, as apprentice to a wholesale grocer. I do
not know that these two congenial natures--or yet another contemporary
of lowly fortunes, Robert Raikes, the inventor of Sunday schools--ever
encountered in the world. But they are joined in example,--and the
life of an apprentice, in all its humilities, seems radiant with their
presence, as with heavenly light. Perhaps among the apprentices of
Boston there may be yet a Granville Sharp or John Howard. And just in
proportion as the moral nature asserts its rightful supremacy here will
such a character be hailed of higher worth than the products of all the
mills of Lowell, backed by all the dividends and discounts of State

Shortly after the completion of his apprenticeship and entrance upon
business, Sharp lost both his parents, and very soon thereafter,
abandoning trade, obtained a subordinate appointment as supernumerary
clerk in the Ordnance Office, where, after six years' service,
he became simply "clerk in ordinary." Meanwhile, conscientiously
fulfilling this life of routine and labor, not unlike the toils of
Charles Lamb at the India House, he pursued, in moments saved from
business and snatched from sleep, a series of studies, which, though
undervalued by his modesty, the scholar may envy. That he might better
enjoy and vindicate that Book which he reverently accepted as the
rule of life, he first studied Greek and then Hebrew, obtaining such
command of both languages as to employ them skilfully in the field of
theological controversy. Music and French he studied also, and our own
English tongue too, on the pronunciation of which he wrote an excellent

These quiet pursuits were interrupted by an incident which belongs
to the romance of truth. An unhappy African, by the name of Jonathan
Strong, was brought as a slave from Barbadoes to London, where, after
brutal outrage, at which the soul shudders, inflicted by the person who
called himself master,--I regret to add lawyer also,--he was turned
adrift on the unpitying stones of the great metropolis, lame, blind,
and faint, with ague and fever, and without a home. In this plight,
while staggering along in quest of medical care, he was met by the Good
Samaritan, Granville Sharp, who, touched by his misfortunes, bound up
his wounds, gave him charitable assistance, placed him in a hospital,
and watched him through a protracted illness, until at last health and
strength returned, and he was able to commence service as freeman in a
respectable home. In this condition, after the lapse of two years, he
was recognized in the street by his old master, who at once determined
to entrap him, and to hold him as slave. By deceitful message the
victim was tempted to a public house, where he was shocked to encounter
his cruel claimant, who, without delay, seized and committed him to
prison. Here again was the Good Samaritan, Granville Sharp, who lost no
time in enjoining upon the keeper of the prison, at his peril, not to
deliver the African to any person whatever, and then promptly invoked
the intervention of the Mayor of London. At the hearing before this
magistrate, it appeared that the claimant had already undertaken, by
formal bill of sale, to convey the alleged slave to another person,
who, by an agent, was in attendance to take him on board a ship bound
for Jamaica. As soon as the case was stated, the Mayor gave judgment in
words worthy of imitation. "The lad," said this righteous judge, "has
not stolen anything, and is not guilty of any offence, and is therefore
at liberty to go away." The agent of the claimant, not disheartened,
seized him by the arm, and still claimed him as "property,"--yes,
even as property! Sharp, in ignorance of legal proceedings, was for a
moment perplexed, when the friendly voice of the coroner, who chanced
to be near, whispered, "Charge him"; on which hint, our philanthropist,
turning at once to the brazen-faced claimant, said, with justifiable
anger of manner, "Sir, I charge you, in the name of the King, with
an assault upon the person of Jonathan Strong, and all these are my
witnesses,"--when, to avoid immediate commitment, and the yawning cell
of the jail, he let go his piratical, slave-hunting grasp, "and all
bowed to the Lord Mayor and came away, Jonathan following Granville
Sharp, and no one daring to touch him."[146]

    [146] Memoirs, pp. 32-35. Clarkson's History of the Abolition of
    the African Slave-Trade, Vol. I. pp. 57-60.

But the end was not yet. By this accidental and disinterested act of
humanity Sharp was exposed at the same time to personal insult and
to a suit at law. The discomfited claimant--the same lawyer who had
originally abandoned the slave in the streets of London--called on him
"to demand gentlemanlike satisfaction"; to which the philanthropist
replied, that, as "he had studied the law so many years, he should want
no satisfaction that the law could give him." And he nobly redeemed
his word; for he applied himself at once to his defence against the
legal process instituted by the claimant for an alleged abstraction of
_property_. Here begins his greatness.

It is in collision with difficulty that the sparks of genuine character
appear. This simple-hearted man, now vindictively pursued, laid his
case before an eminent solicitor, who, after ample consideration with
learned counsel, among whom was the celebrated Sir James Eyre, did
not hesitate to assure him, that, under the British Constitution, he
could not be defended against the action. An opinion given in 1729,
by the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General of the time, Yorke and
Talbot,--two great names in the English law, and each afterwards
Lord Chancellor,--was adduced, declaring, under their respective
signatures, "that a slave, by coming from the West Indies to Great
Britain or Ireland, either with or without his master, _doth not_
become free," and "that the master may legally compel him to return
to the plantations"; and Lord Mansfield, the Chief Justice, was
reported as strenuously concurring in this opinion, to the odious
extent of delivering up fugitive slaves to their claimants. With these
authorities against him, and forsaken by professional defenders, Sharp
was not disheartened; but, though, according to his own striking
language, "totally unacquainted either with the practice of the
law or the foundations of it, having never in his life opened a
law-book except the Bible," he was inspired to depend on himself. An
unconquerable will, and instincts often profounder in their teaching
than any learning, were now his counsellors. For nearly two years,
during which the suit was still pending, he gave himself to intense
study of the British Constitution in all its bearings upon human
liberty. During these researches he was confirmed in his original
prepossessions, and aroused to undying hostility against Slavery, which
he plainly saw to be without any sanction in the Constitution. "_The
word_ SLAVES," he wrote, "_or anything that can justify the
enslaving of others, is not to be found there, God be thanked!_"[147]
And I, too, say, God be thanked!

    [147] Memoirs, p. 38.

The result of these studies was embodied in a tract, entitled "A
Representation of the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of tolerating
Slavery, or of admitting the least Claim of Private Property in the
Persons of Men in England." This was submitted to his counsel, one
of whom was the famous commentator, Sir William Blackstone, and, by
means of copies in manuscript, circulated among gentlemen of the bar,
until the lawyers on the other side were actually intimidated, and
the Slave-Hunter, failing to bring forward his action, was mulcted in
treble costs; and thus ended that persecution of our philanthropist. In
1769 this important tract was printed.

Thus far it was an individual case only which engaged his care.
Another soon followed, where, through his chivalrous humanity, the
intolerable wrongs of a woman kidnapped in London and transported as
slave to Barbadoes, were redressed,--so far as earthly decree could
go. Learning the infinite woe of Slavery, he was now aroused to broader
effort. Shocked by an advertisement in a London newspaper,--such as
often appeared in those days,--of "a black girl to be sold, of an
excellent temper and willing disposition,"--he at once protested to the
Chancellor, Lord Camden, against such things as a "notorious breach of
the laws of Nature, humanity, and equity, and also of the established
law, custom, and Constitution of England";[148] and in the same year,
May 15, 1769, by letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he solemnly
appealed against the Slave-Trade, and thus by many years heralded
the labors of Clarkson and Wilberforce. "I am myself convinced," he
said, "that nothing can thrive which is in any way concerned in that
unjust trade. I have known several instances which are strong proofs
to me of the judgments of God, even in this world, against such a
destructive and iniquitous traffic."[149] In these things he showed
not only his love of justice, but his personal independence. "Although
I am a _placeman_," he wrote on another occasion, "and indeed of a
very inferior rank, yet I look on myself to be perfectly independent,
because I have never yet been afraid to do and avow whatever I thought
just and right, without the consideration of consequences to myself:
for, indeed, I think it unworthy of a _man_ to be afraid of the world;
and it is a point with me never to conceal my sentiments on any subject
whatever, not even from my superiors in office, _when there is a
probability of answering any good purpose by it_."[150]

    [148] Memoirs, p. 49.

    [149] Ibid., p. 45.

    [150] Ibid., p. 67.

Still again was his protecting presence enlisted to save a fellow-man
from bondage; and here it is necessary to note the new form of outrage.
A poor African, Thomas Lewis, once a slave, was residing quietly at
Chelsea, in the neighborhood of London, when he was suddenly seized by
his former master, who, with the aid of two ruffians, bought for the
fiendish purpose, dragged him on his back into the water, and thence
into a boat lying in the Thames, when, with legs tied, and mouth
gagged by a stick, he was rowed down to a ship bound for Jamaica,
under a commander previously enlisted in the conspiracy, to be sold
for a slave on arrival in that island. But this diabolical act, though
warily contrived, did not escape notice. The cries of the victim, on
his way to the boat, reached the servants of a neighboring mansion,
who witnessed the deadly struggle, but did not venture a rescue.
Their mistress, a retired widow, mother of the eminent naturalist and
traveller, Sir Joseph Banks, on learning what had passed, instantly
put forth her womanly exertion. Without the hesitation of her sex,
she hurried to Granville Sharp, now known for knightly zeal to succor
the distressed, laid before him the terrible story, and insisted upon
vindicating the freedom of the stranger at her own expense. All honor
to this woman! A simple warrant, first obtained by Sharp, was scouted
by the captain, whose victim, bathed in tears, was already chained to
the mast. The great writ of _Habeas Corpus_ was next invoked; and the
ship, which had contumaciously proceeded on its way, was boarded in the
Downs, happily within British jurisdiction, by a faithful officer, who,
in the name of the King of England, unbound the African, and took him
back to freedom.

A complaint was now presented against the kidnappers, who were at
once indicted by the grand jury. The cause was removed to the King's
Bench, and on the 20th of February, 1771, brought into court before
Lord Mansfield. The defence set up, that the victim was their slave,
and therefore property to be rightfully seized. Here the question was
distinctly presented, whether any such property was recognized by
the British Constitution? The transcendent magistrate who presided
on the occasion saw the magnitude of the issue, and sought to avoid
its formal determination by presenting the subordinate point, whether
the claimant, supposing such property recognized, was able to prove
the man to be his? The kidnappers were found guilty; but judgment
against them was waived, on the recommendation of Lord Mansfield, who,
be it observed, at every stage, shrank from any act by which Slavery
in England should be annulled, and on this occasion avowed his "hope
that the question never would be finally discussed." Sharp was justly
indignant at this craven conduct, which, with all gentleness of manner,
but with perfect firmness, he did not hesitate to arraign as open
contempt of the true principles of the Constitution.[151]

    [151] Memoirs, pp. 52-61.

Alas! it is the natural influence of Slavery to make men hard.
Gorgon-like, it turns to stone. Among the judicial magistrates of the
time, Lord Mansfield was not alone. His companion in contemporary
fame, Blackstone, shared the petrifaction. The first edition of his
incomparable Commentaries openly declared, that a slave, on coming
to England, became at once a freeman; but, in a subsequent edition,
after the question had been practically presented by Granville Sharp,
the text was pusillanimously altered to an abandonment of this great
constitutional principle; and our intrepid philanthropist hung his
head with shame and anxiety, while the counsel for the Slave-Hunters
triumphantly invoked this tergiversation as new authority against

    [152] Memoirs, pp. 91, 92, note. The text of the first edition
    (1765), as quoted by Sharp's biographer, Hoare, was as follows:
    "And this spirit of liberty is so deeply implanted in our
    Constitution, and rooted even in our very soil, that a Slave, or a
    Negro, the moment he lands in England, falls under the protection
    of the laws, and, with regard to all national rights, becomes _eo
    instanti_ a freeman." As altered, the latter part was found to read
    thus: " ... a negro, the moment he lands in England, falls under
    the protection of the laws, and so far becomes a freeman; though
    the master's right to his service may _possibly_ still continue."
    Hoare remarks, that he finds this reading in the fifth edition,
    1773. It appears also in an edition printed at Philadelphia so
    early as 1771. And thus the text was finally left by the author,
    and so remains. In the third edition, printed at Oxford in 1768,
    for "_possibly_" in the last clause we have the word "probably." Of
    this prior reading Hoare makes no mention.

The day was at hand when the great philanthropist was to be vindicated,
even by the lips of the great magistrate. The Slavery question could
not be suppressed: the Chief Justice of England could not suppress it.
Drive out Nature with a pitchfork, and still she will return. Only
a few months elapsed, when a memorable case arose, which presented
the question distinctly for judgment. A negro, James Somerset, whose
name, in the establishment of an immortal principle, will help to
keep alive the appellation of the ducal house to which it originally
belonged,--was detained in irons on board a ship lying in the Thames,
and bound for Jamaica. On application to Lord Mansfield in his behalf,
supported by affidavits, December 3, 1771, a writ of _Habeas Corpus_
was directed to the captain of the ship, commanding him to return
the body of Somerset into court, with the cause of his detention. In
course of time, though somewhat tardily, the body was produced, and
for cause of detention it was assigned, that he was the property of
Charles Stewart, Esq., _of Virginia_, who had held him in Virginia
as a slave,--that, when brought as such to London, he ran away from
the service of his master, but was recovered, and finally delivered on
board the ship to be carried to Jamaica, there to be sold as the slave
and property of the _Virginia gentleman_.[153] As no facts were in
issue here, the whole cause hinged on the Constitutionality of Slavery
in England; and the great question which the Chief Justice had sought
to avoid, and on which the Commentator had changed sides, was once
again to be heard.

    [153] Since this Address, private papers have seen the light, by
    which it appears, that the claimant was cashier and paymaster of
    customs in North America, and for some years previous to this
    important case _resided in Boston_, where Somerset was known.
    Through all the arguments he is spoken of as from Virginia, and
    reference is constantly made to the laws of Virginia; nor is
    this mistake astonishing, when it is understood that an orator
    in Parliament once spoke of the "Island of Virginia," and nobody
    corrected him.--Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings for 1863-64, p. 324:
    _Villenage_, by Emory Washburn.

That the proceedings might have a solemnity in some degree
corresponding to their importance, the cause was brought by Lord
Mansfield before the King's Bench, where it was continued from time to
time, according to the convenience of counsel and the court, running
through months, and occupying different days in January, February, and
May, down to the 22d June, 1772, when judgment was finally delivered.
During all this period, Somerset, having recognized with sureties for
his appearance in court, was left at large. To Granville Sharp he had
repaired at once, and by him was kindly welcomed and effectually aided.
Under the advice of this humble clerk, counsel learned in the law were
retained, who were instructed by him in the grounds of defence. At his
expense, too, out of his small means, the proceedings were maintained.
"Money," he nobly said, "has no value but when it is well spent; and
I am thoroughly convinced that no part of my little pittance of ready
money can ever be better bestowed than in an honest endeavor to crush a
growing oppression, which is not only shocking to humanity, but in time
must prove even dangerous to the community."[154] On the other side the
costs were defrayed by a subscription among the merchants. Hear this,
merchants of Boston, justly jealous of the good name of your calling,
and hang your heads with shame!

    [154] Memoirs, p. 57.

To the glory of the English bar, the eminent counsel for the slave
declined all fee for their valuable and protracted services; and here
let me pause for one moment to pay them an unaffected tribute. They
were five in number: Mr. Serjeant Davy, who opened the cause with
the proposition, "that no man at this day _is_ or _can be_ a slave
in England,"--Mr. Serjeant Glynn,--Mr. Mansfield, afterward Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas,--Mr. Hargrave, and Mr. Alleyne,--each
of whom was patiently heard by the Court at length. The argument of
Mr. Hargrave, who early volunteered his great learning in the case,
is one of the masterpieces of the bar. This was his first appearance
in court; but it is well that Liberty on that day had such support.
For all these gallant lawyers, champions of the Right, there is honor
ever increasing, which the soul spontaneously offers, while it turns
in sorrow from the counsel, only two in number, who allowed themselves
to be enlisted on the side of Slavery. I know well that in Westminster
Hall there are professional usages--which happily do not prevail in our
country, where every such service depends purely on _contract_--by
which a barrister thinks himself constrained to assume any cause
properly presented to him. If this service depended on contract there,
as with us, the sarcasm of Ben Jonson would be strictly applicable:--

                                "This fellow,
    For six sols more, would plead against his Maker."[155]

    [155] The Fox, Act IV. sc. 2.

But I undertake to affirm that no usage, professional or social,
can give any apology for joining the pack of the Slave-Hunter. Mr.
Dunning, one of the persons in this predicament, showed that he acted
against his better nature.[156] The first words in his argument were:
"It is incumbent on me to justify the detainer of the negro." Pray,
why incumbent on him? He was then careful to show that he did not
maintain any absolute property in him; and he proceeded to say, among
other things, that it was his misfortune to address an audience, the
greater part of which, he feared, was prejudiced the other way,--that,
for himself, he would not be understood to intimate a wish in favor
of Slavery, but that he was bound in duty to maintain those arguments
most useful to the claimant, so far as consistent with the truth; and
he concluded with this conscience-stricken appeal: "I hope, therefore,
I shall not suffer in the opinion of those whose honest passions are
fired at the name of Slavery; I hope I have not transgressed my duty
to Humanity."[157] Clearly the lawyer had transgressed his duty to
Humanity. No man can rightfully enforce a principle which violates
human nature; nor can any subtilty of dialectics, any extent of
erudition, or any grandeur of intellect sustain him. Notwithstanding
the character for liberal principles which John Dunning acquired,
and which breathes in his sensitive excuses,--notwithstanding
his double fame at once in Westminster Hall and Saint Stephen's
Chapel,--notwithstanding the peerage which he won,--this odious service
rendered to a Slave-Hunter, calling himself a Virginia gentleman, cries
in judgment against him, and will continue to cry, as time advances.
(Do not start, Mr. President,--I am narrating occurrences in another
hemisphere and another century.) As well undertake a Slave-Hunt in
the deserts of Africa as in the streets of London. As well pursue the
fugitive with the hired whip of the overseer as with the hired argument
of the lawyer. As well chase him with the baying of the blood-hound
as with the tongue of the advocate. It is the lawyer's clear duty to
uphold _human rights_, whether in the loftiest or the lowliest; and
when he undertakes to uphold a wrong outrageous as Slavery, his proper
function is so far reversed that he can be aptly described only in the
phrase of the Roman Church, _Advocatus Diaboli_, the Devil's Advocate.

    [156] A private letter from the claimant to James Murray, Esq., of
    Boston, dated London, June 15, 1772, carries us back to the times,
    and even to the court-room. "I am told," writes the claimant, "that
    some young counsel flourished away on the side of liberty, and
    acquired great honor. Dunning was dull and languid, and would have
    made a much better figure on that side also." Of course he would.
    After speaking of the "load of abuse thrown on L--d M----, for
    hesitating to pronounce judgment in favor of freedom," the claimant
    says, "Dunning has come in also for a pretty good share for taking
    the wrong side." (Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings for 1863-64, pp.
    323, 324.) Abolitionists had begun to be critical.

    [157] Howell's State Trials, XX. 71-76.

Passing from counsel to court, we find occasion for gratitude and
sorrow. The three judges, Aston, Willes, and Ashhurst, who sat at the
side of Lord Mansfield, were silent through the whole proceedings,
overawed, perhaps, by his commanding authority, so that he alone seems
to be present. Of large intellect, and extensive studies, running
into all regions of learning,--with a silver-tongued voice, and an
amenity of manner which gave constant charm to his presence,--with
unsurpassed professional and political experience combined,--early
companion of Pope, and early competitor of Pitt,--having already once
refused the post of Prime Minister, and three times refused the post
of Chancellor,--he stood forth, at the period when the poor slave was
brought before him, an acknowledged master of jurisprudence, and, take
him for all in all, the most finished magistrate England had then
produced. But his character had one fatal defect, too common on the
bench. He lacked _moral firmness_,--happily not lacking in Granville
Sharp. Still more, he was not naturally on the side of Liberty, as
becomes a great judge, but always, by blood and instinct, on the side
of prerogative and power,--an offence for which he was arraigned by
his contemporary, Junius, and for which posterity will hold him to
strict account. But his luminous mind, prompt to perceive the force
of principles, could not resist the array of argument now marshalled
for Freedom. He saw clearly that a system like Slavery could not find
home under the British Constitution, _which nowhere mentions the name
Slave_; and yet he shrank from the sublime conclusion. More than once
he coquetted with the merchants, who had the case so much at heart,
and twice ignobly suggested that the claimant might avoid the decision
of the great question, fraught with Freedom or Slavery to multitudes,
simply by manumitting the individual. And when at last the case could
not be arrested by any device, or be longer postponed,--when judgment
was inevitable,--he came to the work, not warmly or generously, but in
trembling obedience to the Truth, which waited to be declared.

On other occasions, of purely commercial character, his judgments
are more learned and elaborate, besides being reported with more
completeness and care; but no judgment of equal significance ever fell
from the great Oracle. From various sources I have sought its precise
import.[158] It is remarkable for several rules, which it clearly
enunciates, and which, though often assaulted, still stand as reason
and as law. Of these, the first is expressed in these simple words: "If
the parties will have judgment, _fiat justitia, ruat coelum_: let
justice be done, whatever be the consequence." The Latin phrase which
here plays such a prominent part, though of classical stamp, cannot be
traced to any classical origin, and it has even been asserted that it
was freshly coined by Lord Mansfield on this occasion, worthy of such
commanding truth in such commanding phrase. But it is of older date,
and from another mint,--though it is not too much to say, that it took
its currency and authority from him. Coming from such a conservative
magistrate, it is of peculiar importance. With little expansion, it
says openly: To every man his natural rights; justice to all, without
distinction of person, without abridgment, and without compromise. Let
justice be done, though it drags down the pillars of the sky. Thus
spoke the Chief Justice of England.[159]

    [158] It is strange that there should be no single satisfactory
    report of this memorable judgment. That usually quoted from
    Howell's State Trials, Vol. XX. coll. 80-82, was copied from
    Lofft, a reporter generally avoided as authority. There is another
    report in Hoare's Memoirs of Sharp, pp. 89-91; also another in
    Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices, Vol. II. p. 419; and still
    another, and in some respects the best, in the Appendix (No. 8) to
    a tract published by Sharp in 1776, entitled "The Just Limitation
    of Slavery in the Laws of God, compared with the Unbounded Claims
    of the African Traders and British American Slaveholders." It is
    considered and quoted in other contemporary tracts.

    [159] A British writer, giving an account of the Somerset case,
    says of this maxim, that "it has found its way into use as a
    classical expression, and, as no one has been able to find it in
    any Latin author, it is supposed to have been of Lord Mansfield's
    own coining." (Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, July 31, 1852, N. S.
    Vol. XVIII. p. 71: _Slaves in Britain_.) This is a mistake. The
    precise phrase will be found in Ward's "Simple Cobler of Aggawamm
    in America," written in 1615, and first printed in 1647,--"It
    is lesse to say, _Statuatur veritas, ruat Regnum_, than _Fiat
    justitia, ruat Coelum_" (p. 14); but its origin, in substance,
    if not in form, is earlier. There is little doubt that it does not
    occur in any Latin author. Its Latinity is good, and might belong
    to the classical period. The latter clause, _ruat coelum_, has
    classical authority, as in the passage of Terence, showing that
    it was a common saying in his time, "Quid si redeo ad illos _qui
    aiunt_, Quid si nunc _coelum ruat_?" (Heauton., Act. IV. sc. 3.)
    The idea is also Roman. On the European continent, and especially
    in Germany, the maxim has another form, which is common,--_Fiat
    justitia, pereat mundus_. Binder, in his _Novus Thesaurus Adagiorum
    Latinorum_, (Stuttgart, 1861,) cites it in this form as _Regula
    Juris_, explained as "a designation for the maxims, taken from the
    _Corpus Juris_ and the works of the different ancient civilians,
    which have become proverbial." In the same authority is the
    hexameter verse, _Fiat justitia, pereat licet integer orbis_, from
    Johannis Leibi _Studentica_ (Coburg, 1627). In England the maxim
    was current in other forms. As early as February 26, 1624-5, in
    a letter to the English ambassador at Holland, alluding to "the
    business of Amboyne," we meet _Fiat justitia et ruat mundus_.
    (Birch's Court and Times of James I., Vol. II. p. 500.) In a
    speech in the House of Commons, December 22, 1640, against the
    judges who pronounced in favor of ship-money, an orator says:
    "If ever any nation might justifiably, we certainly may now, now
    most properly, most seasonably, cry out, and cry aloud, _Vel
    sacra regnet justitia vel ruat coelum_." And he concludes with
    a motion, "That a special committee may be appointed to examine
    the whole carriage of that extrajudicial judgment, ... and, upon
    report thereof, to draw up a charge against the guilty; and then
    _Lex currat, fiat justitia_. (Parl. Hist., 2d ed., London, 1763,
    Vol. IX. p. 192.) In the answer of the Duke of Richmond (January
    31, 1641-2) to the charge of the Commons, it is said: "_Magna est
    veritas et prevalebit_. I wish it may do so in what concerns me.
    _Regnet justitia et ruat coelum._" (Parl. Hist., Vol. X. p. 254.
    Also, Howell's State Trials, Vol. IV. col. 116.) The first clause
    of the maxim is an old law phrase, found in Law Dictionaries, and
    often repeated. A letter, dated London, May 4, 1621, relating the
    fine and degradation of Lord Bacon, concludes, _Fiat justitia_.
    (Birch's James I., Vol. II. p. 252.) Charles I., in a letter to the
    Lords, dated May 11, 1641, interceding for Strafford, said: "But
    if no less than his life can satisfy my people, I must say, _Fiat
    justitia_." (Parl. Hist. Vol. IX. p. 316. Howell's State Trials,
    Vol. III. col. 1520.) If not classical in authority, the maxim is
    not without interest from association with great events of English
    history, while it is a perpetual injunction to justice. Shakespeare
    gives expression to similar truth, when he says, "Be just and fear

And still another rule, hardly less important or less commanding, was
clearly proclaimed in these penetrating words: "I care not for the
supposed _dicta_ of judges, however eminent, _if they be contrary to
all principle_"; or, in other language, In vain do you invoke great
names in the law, even the names of Hardwicke and Talbot, and my own
learned associate, Blackstone, in behalf of an institution which defies
reason and outrages justice. Human precedent is powerless against
immutable principle. Thus again spoke the Chief Justice of England.

Braced by these rules, the next stages were logically easy. And here
he uttered words which are like a buttress to Freedom. He declared,
that, tracing Slavery to _natural principles_, it can never be
supported: that is to say, Slavery is a violation of the great law
of Nature, established by God himself, coextensive in space and time
with the Universe. Again he proclaimed, Slavery cannot stand on any
reason, moral or political, but only by virtue of _positive law_; and
he clinched his conclusion by the unquestionable truth, that, in a
matter so _odious_, the evidence and authority of this law must be
taken strictly: in other words, a wrong like Slavery, which finds no
support in natural law or in reason, can be maintained, if at all, only
by some dread mandate, from some sovereign authority, irresistibly
clear and incapable of a double sense, which declares in precise and
unequivocal terms, that men guilty of no crime may be held as _slaves_,
and be submitted to the bargains of the market-place, the hammer of
the auctioneer, and the hunt of the blood-hound. Clearly no such
mandate could be shown in England. After asserting the obvious truth,
that rights cannot depend on any discrimination of color, and thus
discarding the profane assumptions of race, while he quoted apt Roman

    "Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses,"

the Chief Justice concluded, "And therefore let the negro be
discharged." Such was this immortal judgment. I catch its last words,
already resounding through the ages, with the voice of deliverance to
an enslaved people.

From Westminster Hall, where he had been held so long in painful
suspense, the happy freedman, with glad tidings of deliverance, hurried
to his angel protector, Granville Sharp, who, though organizing and
sustaining these proceedings, was restrained by unobtrusive modesty
from all attendance in court, that he might in no wise irritate the
Chief Justice, unfortunately prepossessed against his endeavor. And
thus closed the most remarkable constitutional battle in English
history, fought by a simple clerk, once apprentice to a linen-draper,
against the merchants of London, backed by great names in law, and by
the most exalted magistrate of the age. Like the stripling David, he
went forth to the contest with only a sling and a few smooth stones
from the brook; and Goliath fell prostrate. Not merely the individual
slave, but upwards of fourteen thousand human beings,--four times as
many slaves as could be counted throughout New England at the adoption
of the National Constitution,--rejoiced in emancipation; a slave-hunt
was made impossible in the streets of London; and a great principle was
set up which will stand forever as a Landmark of Freedom.

This triumph, hailed at the time by the friends of human happiness
with exultation and delight, was commemorated by poetry and eloquence.
It prompted Cowper, in his "Task," to these touching verses:--

   "Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
    Receive our air, that moment they are free:
    They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
    That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
    And jealous of the blessing. Spread it, then,
    And let it circulate through every vein
    Of all your Empire, that, where Britain's power
    Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too."

It inspired Curran to a burst of eloquence, grand, and familiar to all
who hear me.

    "I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes Liberty
    commensurate with and inseparable from British soil,--which
    proclaims even to the stranger and sojourner, the moment he sets
    his foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads
    is holy and consecrated by the genius of Universal Emancipation.
    No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced,--no
    matter what complexion, incompatible with Freedom, an Indian or an
    African sun may have burnt upon him,--no matter in what disastrous
    battle his liberty may have been cloven down,--no matter with what
    solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of Slavery:
    the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar
    and the god sink together in the dust, his soul walks abroad in
    her own majesty, his body swells beyond the measure of his chains
    that burst from around him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated,
    and disenthralled by the irresistible genius of Universal

    [160] Defence of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, January 29, 1794:
    Speeches, ed. Davis, (London, 1847,) p. 182.

     It was this triumph which lifted Brougham, in our own day, to one
    of those vivid utterances by which truth is flashed upon unwilling

    "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 to the
    heart, the sentence is the same that rejects it. In vain you tell
    me of laws that sanction such a claim. There is a law above all the
    enactments of human codes,--the same throughout the world, the same
    in all times: ... it is the law written on the heart of man by the
    finger of his Maker; 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."[161]

    [161] Speech on Negro Slavery, July 13, 1830: Works, Vol. X. p. 216.

Granville Sharp did not rest from labor. The Humanities are not
solitary. Where one is found, there will others be also. The advocate
of the slave in London was naturally the advocate of liberty for all
everywhere. In this spirit he signalized himself against that scandal
of the English law, the hateful system of Impressment, while he
encountered no less a person than Dr. Johnson, whom he did not hesitate
to charge with "plausible sophistry and important self-sufficiency, as
if he supposed that the mere sound of words was capable of altering
the nature of things";[162] also, against the claims of England in
the controversy with her American colonies, zealously maintaining our
cause in a publication, of which it is said seven thousand copies were
printed in Boston[163]; also, in establishing a colony of liberated
slaves at Sierra Leone, on the coast of Africa, predecessor of our
more successful Liberia; and, finally, as leader, not only against
the Slave-Trade, but also against Slavery itself, so that he was
hailed "Father of the cause in England," and was placed at the head of
the illustrious committee by which it was conducted, though his rare
modesty prevented him from taking the chair to which he was unanimously
elected. But no modesty could check his valiant soul in conflict with
wrong. Not content with his warfare in court, he addressed Lord North,
the Prime Minister, warning him in the most earnest manner to take
measures for the immediate abolition of Slavery in all the British
dominions, as utterly irreconcilable with the principles of the British
Constitution and the established religion of the land, and solemnly
declaring that "it were better for the nation that their American
dominions had never existed, or even that they had sunk in the sea,
than that the kingdom of Great Britain should be loaded with the horrid
guilt of tolerating such abominable wickedness."[164] With similar
boldness, in an elaborate work, he arraigned the doctrine of _Passive
Obedience_, advanced now in favor of judicial tribunals, as once in
favor of kings, and he openly affirmed, as unquestionable truth, that
every public ordinance contrary to reason, justice, natural equity, or
the written word of God, must be promptly rejected.[165] Other things,
too, I might mention; but I am admonished that I must draw to a close.
Pardon me, if I touch yet one other shining point in his career.

    [162] Memoirs, p. 169.

    [163] A Declaration of the People's Natural Right to a Share in the
    Legislature (London, 1774). Memoirs, pp. 172, 173.

    [164] Memoirs, pp. 78-80.

    [165] The Law of Passive Obedience, p. 82, note.

The news of the Battle of Bunker Hill, which reached London at the end
of July, 1775, found him at his desk, still a clerk in the Ordnance
Office, and by position obliged to participate in the military
preparations now required. He was unwilling to be concerned, even
thus distantly, in what he regarded as "that unnatural business"; and
though a close attendance on his office for seventeen years, to the
neglect of all other worldly opportunities, made it important to him
as a livelihood, yet he resolved to sacrifice it. Out of regard to his
great worth and the respect he had won, he was indulged at first with
leave of absence; but when hostilities in the Colonies advanced beyond
any prospect of speedy accommodation, then he vacated his office. This
man of charity, who lived for others, was now left without support.
But he was happy in the testimony he had borne to his principles: nor
was he alone. Lord Effingham, and also the eldest son of Lord Chatham,
threw up commissions in the army rather than serve on the side of
injustice. They were all clearly right. It is vain to suppose that any
human ordinance, whether from King, Parliament, or Judicial Tribunal,
can vary our moral responsibilities, or release us from obedience to
God. And since no man can stand between us and God, it belongs to each
conscience for itself to determine its final obligations, and where
pressed to an unrighteous act,--as if to slay, or, what is equally bad,
to enslave, a fellow-man charged with no crime,--then at every peril to
disobey the mandate. The example of Granville Sharp on this occasion is
not the least among the large legacies of wisdom and fidelity which he
has left to mankind.

All these are especially commended to us, as citizens of the United
States, by the early and constant interest which he manifested in our
country. By pen and personal intercession he vindicated our political
rights,--and when independence was secured, his sympathies did not
abate, as witness his correspondence with Adams, Jay, Franklin, and
America's earliest Abolitionist, Anthony Benezet. His name became an
authority here,--at the South as well as the North,--and the colleges,
including Brown University, Harvard University, and William and
Mary, of slaveholding Virginia, vied with each other in conferring
upon him their highest academic honors. But the growing numbers of
the Episcopal Church had occasion for special gratitude, only to be
repaid by loyal regard for his character and life. On separation
from the mother country, they were left without Episcopal head. To
repair this deprivation, Granville Sharp, in published writings
extensively circulated, proposed the election of bishops by the
churches, and their subsequent consecration in England, as congenial
to the usage of early Christians, and, after much correspondence and
many impediments, enjoyed the satisfaction of presenting two bishops
elect from America--one of whom was the exemplary Bishop White, of
Philadelphia--to the Archbishop of Canterbury, by whom the Christian
rite of laying on of hands was performed; and thus was the English
Episcopacy communicated to this continent. I know not that the powerful
religious denomination befriended by him in its infancy has ever
sympathized with the great effort by which his name is exalted; but
they should at least repel the weak imputation, so often levelled
against all who are steadfast against Slavery, that their benefactor
was "a man of one idea."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. President, I have striven to keep within the open field of history
and philanthropy, on neutral ground; but you would not forgive me, if,
on this occasion, I forbore to adduce the most interesting testimony
of Granville Sharp touching that much debated clause in our National
Constitution which has been stretched to the surrender of fugitive
slaves. Anterior to the Constitution, even during colonial days, he
wrote, that any law which orders the arrest or rendition of fugitive
slaves, or in any way tends to deprive them of legal protection, is
to be deemed "a corruption, null and void in itself"; and at a later
period, in an elaborate communication to the Abolition Society of
Maryland,--mark, if you please, of slaveholding Maryland,--which was
printed and circulated by this society, as "the production of a great
and respectable name," calculated to relieve persons "embarrassed by a
conflict between their principles and the obligations imposed by unwise
and perhaps unconstitutional laws," he exposed the utter "illegality"
of Slavery, and especially of "taking up slaves that had escaped from
their masters."[166] But, in a remarkable letter to Franklin, dated
January 10, 1788,--a short time after the Constitution had left the
hands of the Convention, and some months before its final adoption
by the people,--and which has never before been adduced, even in the
thorough discussion of this question, the undaunted champion, who had
not shrunk from conflict with the Chief Justice of England, openly
arraigned the National Constitution. Here are his words.

    "Having been always zealous for the honor of free governments, I
    am the more sincerely grieved to see the new Federal Constitution
    stained by the insertion of two most exceptionable clauses: the
    one in direct opposition to a most humane article, ordained by
    the first American Congress to be perpetually observed" (referring
    to the sufferance of the slave-trade till 1808); "and the other,
    in equal opposition to an express command of the Almighty, 'not
    to deliver up the servant that has escaped from his master,' &c.
    _Both clauses, however_, (the 9th section of the 1st article, and
    the latter part of the 2d section of the 3d [4th] article,) _are so
    clearly null and void by their iniquity, that it would be even a
    CRIME to regard them as law_."[167]

    [166] Letter to the Maryland Society for Promoting the Abolition of
    Slavery, (Baltimore, 1793,) pp. 2, 3.

    [167] Memoirs, p. 253.

It does not appear that Franklin ever answered this letter, in the
short term of life which remained to him. But, in justice to his
great name, I desire to express my conviction here, of course without
argument, that this patriot philosopher never attributed to the clause,
which simply provides for the surrender of fugitives from "service or
labor," without the mention of _slaves_, any such meaning as it has
since been made to assume. And Granville Sharp himself, in putting upon
it the interpretation he did, forgot the judgment he had extorted from
Lord Mansfield, affirming that any law out of which Slavery is derived
must be construed _strictly_; and, stranger still, he forgot his own
unanswerable argument, _that the word SLAVES is nowhere to be
found in the British Constitution_. The question under the fugitive
clause of our Constitution is identical with that happily settled in

       *       *       *       *       *

In works and contemplations like these was the life of our
philanthropist prolonged to a generous old age, cheered by the esteem
of the good, informed by study, and elevated by an enthusiastic faith,
which always saw the world as the footstool of God; and when, at last,
in 1813, bending under the burden of seventy-seven winters, he gently
sank away, it was felt that a man had died in whom was the greatness of
goodness. Among the mourners at his grave stood William Wilberforce;
and over the earthly remains of this child of lowly beginnings were now
dropped the tears of a royal duke. The portals of that great Temple of
Honor, where are treasured England's glories, swung open at the name of
England's earliest Abolitionist. A simple tablet, from the chisel of
Chantrey, representing an African slave on his knees in supplication,
and also the lion and the lamb lying down together, with a suitable
inscription, was placed in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, in
close companionship with those stones which bear the names of Chaucer,
Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Goldsmith, Gray. As the Muses
themselves did not disdain to watch over the grave of one who had done
well on earth, so do the poets of England keep watch over the monument
of Granville Sharp. Nor is his place in that goodly company without
poetical title. The poet is simply _creator_; and he who was inspired
to create freemen out of slaves was poet of the loftiest style. Not in
the sacred Abbey only was our philanthropist commemorated. The city of
London, centre of those Slave-Hunting merchants over whom his great
triumph was won, now gratefully claimed part of his renown. The marble
bust of England's earliest Abolitionist was installed at Guildhall,
home of metropolitan justice, pomp, and hospitality, in the precise
spot where once had stood the bust of Nelson, England's greatest
Admiral, and beneath it was carved a simple tribute, of more perennial
worth than all the trophies of Trafalgar:--

                           GRANVILLE SHARP,

                     OF HER HIGHEST COURT OF LAW,
                            BRITISH GROUND
                         BECOMES THAT INSTANT

Gentlemen of the Mercantile Library Association,--such was Granville
Sharp, and such honors England to her hero paid. And now, if it be
asked, why, in enforcing the duties of the Good Merchant, I select his
name, the answer is prompt. It is in him that the merchant, successor
to the chivalrous knight, aiming to fulfil his whole duty, may find
a truer prototype than in any stunted, though successful votary of
trade, while the humble circumstances of his life seem to make him an
easy example. Imitating him, commerce would thrive none the less, but
goodness more. Business would not be checked, but it would cease to be
pursued as the "one idea" of life. Wealth would still abound; but there
would be also that solid virtue, never to be moved from truth, which,
you will admit, even without the admonition of Plato, is better than
all the cunning of Dædalus or all the treasures of Tantalus.[168] The
hardness of heart engendered by the accursed greed of gain, and by the
madness of worldly ambition, would be overcome: the perverted practice,
that _Policy is the best Honesty_, would be reversed; and _Merchants
would be recalled, gently, but irresistibly, to the great PRACTICAL
DUTIES of this age_, and thus win the palm of true honesty, which
trade alone can never bestow.

    [168] Euthyphron, § 12.

          "Who is the HONEST MAN?
    He that doth still and strongly good pursue,
    To GOD, his neighbor, and himself, most true."[169]

YOUNG MERCHANTS OF BOSTON! I have spoken to you frankly and
faithfully, trusting that you would frankly and faithfully hearken to
me. And now, in the benison once bestowed upon the youthful Knight, I
take my leave: "Go forth! be brave, loyal, and successful!"

    [169] Herbert, The Temple: _Constancy_.

                   WAGES OF SEAMEN IN CASE OF WRECK.

              SEAMEN IN CASE OF WRECK, FEBRUARY 12, 1855.

On the 26th of December, 1854, Mr. Sumner introduced the following

    "_Resolved_, That the Committee on Commerce be directed to consider
    if any legislation be needed in order to secure the wages of
    merchant seamen in the case of wreck."

On the 12th of February, 1855, Mr. Sumner followed up this resolution
by introducing a bill, which was read twice and referred to the
Committee on Commerce, as follows:--

    "_A Bill to secure Wages to Seamen in case of Wreck._

    "_Be it enacted_, &c., That, in case of wreck or loss of any ship
    or vessel of the United States, every seaman belonging thereto
    shall be entitled to his wages up to the period of such wreck
    or loss, whether such ship or vessel shall or shall not have
    previously earned freight, provided such seaman shall have exerted
    himself to the utmost to save the ship, cargo, and stores; and in
    any trial of the question of services, the master, although a party
    to the suit, shall be a competent witness on this question.

    "SEC. 2. _And be it further enacted_, That every stipulation, by
    which any seaman shall consent to abandon his wages, in case of
    wreck or loss of the ship or vessel, or in case of the failure to
    earn freight, shall be wholly void."

On this bill Mr. Sumner spoke as follows.

Mr. President,--In introducing this bill, I desire to make a brief
explanation, which shall, at least, be a record of my views with regard
to it.

The bill proposes an amelioration of the existing Maritime Law in
respect to the wages of merchant seamen, which, so far as England is
concerned, has been made already by Act of Parliament, and in our
country can be accomplished only by Act of Congress.

By existing Maritime Law, the seaman's wages depend upon a technical
rule, which sometimes occasions hardship. Freight is compendiously said
to be the mother of wages. In conformity with this fanciful idea, wages
are made to depend upon the earning of freight, unless the freight is
waived by agreement of the owner, or the voyage or freight is lost by
negligence, fraud, or misconduct of the owner or master, or voluntarily
abandoned. In case of wreck, the sailor has simply the chance of
something under the name of salvage, if the fragments saved happen to
be of any value; but if the loss be total, then he is without remedy.
In wrecks, which occur with melancholy frequency, on our churlish
winter coast, this hardship adds even to the sorrows of disaster. Thus,
as in a case which has actually arisen, a crew may commence service at
Calcutta, may navigate the Indian Ocean, double the Cape of Good Hope,
and bring their ship safely within sight of land, and then, by total
loss of ship and cargo, from acknowledged perils of the sea, they may
lose everything, even their right to wages, and may find themselves
in a strange port, the prey of poverty. Nor can any merit, either
throughout the protracted voyage or in the hour of peril and shipwreck,
prevent the operation of this technical rule.

There is also another circumstance which constrains the poor sailor.
The owner may insure his ship, and also his freight, so that he may
lose nothing but the premium he pays; but the sailor is not allowed to
protect himself by insurance from loss of wages: his loss is literally

Now this technical rule, which fastens the wages of the sailor to the
fortunes of the vessel, or, in other words, makes the right dependent
on the successful issue of the enterprise for which he is hired, must
be considered an offshoot of Mediæval Maritime Law. It is not found
in the Roman Law, nor in the maritime legislation of the Eastern
Empire, nor in that early compilation which goes under the name of
the Rhodian Laws. An eminent American judge, who sheds great light
upon maritime jurisprudence,--I refer to the learned and able Judge
Ware, of the District Court of Maine,--says, in a judicial opinion,
that "it owes its origin to the necessities and peculiar hazards which
maritime commerce had to encounter in the Middle Ages, when to the
dangers of the winds and waves were added the more formidable perils
of piracy and robbery."[170] The rule, having been thus established,
was preserved in the maritime jurisprudence of Europe, when the special
exigencies in which it had its birth ceased to exist. It has outlived
the circumstances and excuses of its origin, and now survives to vex,
oppress, and disappoint the most needy, if not the most meritorious, of
all concerned in the business of the seas.

    [170] _The Dawn_, Daveis, 133.

This hard rule survives with us, but not everywhere. The greatest
commercial nation of the world has led the way in its abolition, and
set an example to the United States. The Act of Parliament, of 7th and
8th Victoria, ch. 112, sec. 17 (at the close),--called "The Merchant
Seamen's Act,"--provides that

    "In all cases of wreck or loss of the ship, every surviving seaman
    shall be entitled to his wages up to the period of the wreck or
    loss of the ship, whether such ship _shall or shall not have
    previously earned freight_: provided the seaman shall produce a
    certificate from the master or chief surviving officer of the ship,
    to the effect that he had exerted himself to the utmost to save the
    ship, cargo, and stores."

But the sailor was not completely protected by this provision.
Experience in England showed that the cunning of agents was able to
introduce into the shipping articles an agreement waiving the right
to wages in case of loss, which the unthrifty sailor signed, ignorant
or careless of its import. To remedy this abuse, a further Act of
Parliament, of 13th and 14th Victoria, ch. 93, sec. 53,--known as "The
Mercantile Marine Act,"--

    "No seaman shall, by reason of any agreement, forfeit his lien
    upon the ship, or be deprived of any remedy for the recovery of
    his wages, to which he would otherwise have been entitled; and
    every stipulation which is inconsistent with any provision of this
    Act, or of any other Act relating to merchant seamen, and every
    stipulation by which any seaman consents _to abandon his right to
    wages in the case of the loss of the ship_, or to abandon any right
    which he may have or obtain in the nature of salvage, _shall be
    wholly inoperative_."

The bill which I now introduce is grounded on the provisions quoted
from the two Acts of the British Parliament, and contains two
principles: _first_, that seamen shall be paid their wages down to the
time of the loss of the ship, in case they serve faithfully to the
last; and, _secondly_, that they shall not be permitted to lose their
wages through any agreement in the shipping articles.

In some details I have departed from the British Act. It does not
seem advisable to make the wages dependent on "a certificate from
the master or chief surviving officer of the ship," but to leave the
question of services open to proof in any way, according to received
rules of evidence. Therefore I have said that the wages shall be paid,
"_provided_ the seaman shall have exerted himself to the utmost to
save the ship, cargo, and stores." The reasons for this course are
clear. Masters are often part owners of American ships, and thus have
a personal interest adverse to the sailor. In a mood of selfishness
or recklessness, they might refuse the certificate, even though well
earned. Now, in constructing a protection to the sailor, it does
not seem prudent to make his wages dependent upon any such quarter.
Indeed, it is hardly just to take from him the right to establish
his claim before the Admiralty Court, merely because an interested
master refuses a certificate, when, perhaps, plenary proof might be
furnished _aliunde_. Moreover, if the question were put in control of
the master, he might obtain an improper influence over the minds of the
crew, inducing them even to sacrifice truth in the event of litigation
between owners and underwriters.

There can be no harm in leaving the question of fact to be proved by
competent witnesses, like every other question of fact: and the seamen
should be competent witnesses for each other. A sagacious court will
know how to weigh their testimony, should it come in conflict with that
of the officers. It seems proper that the master, too, though a party
to the suit,--as in the case of a libel against him _in personam_, or
in a suit at Common Law,--should be competent to testify to the conduct
of the libellant or plaintiff,--in other words, whether he has "exerted
himself to the utmost"; and I have introduced into the bill a provision

The British Act of 7th and 8th Victoria contains another defect. It
limits the wages to "every surviving seaman." I can see no good
reason why the wife and children of the sailor who has perished in the
forlorn hope perhaps, in the cause of all, should be deprived of the
humble wages so dearly earned by their natural protector, and thus be
compelled to feel a new deprivation added to their bereavement. In the
proposed bill there is no such limitation.

Beyond this brief statement, I need not on this occasion add another
word. Already Congress has shown a disposition to modify the rigorous
Maritime Law in some of its provisions. In 1851 it made a change in the
liability of ship-owners as common carriers. But this very liability
originated, to a certain extent, in the same principles from which is
derived the liability of the seamen, if they fail to bring the ship and
cargo to port. Ship-owners and sailors were both treated as insurers.
This was in the age of force, before the contract of insurance had
spread its broad protection over commerce in every sea. The seaman
should share this protection. He should be treated as not necessarily
either pirate or coward.

In the discussions of the Senate on the proposed change in the
liability of ship-owners, it was effectively urged by my immediate
predecessor, a distinguished Senator from Massachusetts, the late
Robert Rantoul, Jr., that, if the United States failed to adopt that
measure, the other maritime nations would have an advantage in the
carrying trade. It is equally true, that, unless we adopt the measure
now proposed, Great Britain will have the advantage of us in the rate
of seamen's wages; for, under her existing laws, the seaman can afford
to work cheaper on board a British ship than under the American flag.

The measure now proposed is of direct importance to the hundred and
fifty thousand seamen constituting the mercantile marine of the United
States. It also concerns the million of men constituting the mercantile
marine of the civilized world, any of whom, in the vicissitudes of the
sea, may find themselves in American bottoms. I commend it as a measure
of enlightened philanthropy, and also of simple justice.

I ask that the bill, having been read twice, be referred to the
Committee on Commerce.

The motion was agreed to.

                      AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.

                          FEBRUARY 12, 1855.

                                     SENATE CHAMBER, February 12, 1855.

    Dear Sir,--In response to your inquiry, I beg leave to say, that
    I am happy in an opportunity to bear my testimony against Capital
    Punishment. My instincts were ever against it, and, from the time
    when, while yet a student of law, I read the classical report to
    the Legislature of Louisiana, by that illustrious jurist, Edward
    Livingston, I have been constantly glad to find my instincts
    confirmed by reason. Nothing of argument or experience since has in
    any respect shaken the original and perpetual repugnance with which
    I have regarded it. Punishment is justly inflicted by human power,
    with a twofold purpose: _first_, for the protection of society,
    and, _secondly_, for the reformation of the offender. Now it seems
    to me clear, that, in our age and country, the taking of human life
    is not _necessary_ to the protection of society, while it reduces
    the period of reformation to a narrow, fleeting span. If not
    necessary, it cannot come within the province of _self-defence_,
    and is unjustifiable.

    It is sad to believe that much of the prejudice in favor of the
    gallows may be traced to three discreditable sources: _first_,
    the spirit of vengeance, which surely does not properly belong to
    man; _secondly_, unworthy timidity, as if a powerful, civilized
    community would be in peril, if life were not sometimes taken by
    the government; and, _thirdly_, blind obedience to the traditions
    of another age. But rack, thumbscrew, wheel, iron crown, bed of
    steel, and every instrument of barbarous torture, now rejected with
    horror, were once upheld by the same spirit of vengeance, the same
    timidity, and the same tradition of another age.

    I trust that the time is at hand, when Massachusetts, turning
    from the vindictive gallows, will provide a comprehensive system
    of punishment, which by just penalties and privations shall deter
    from guilt, and by just benevolence and care shall promote the
    reformation of its unhappy subjects. Then, and not till then,
    will our beloved Commonwealth imitate the Divine Justice, which
    "desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn
    from his wickedness and live."

        Believe me, dear Sir, very faithfully yours,

                                                        CHARLES SUMNER.


                        THE DEMANDS OF FREEDOM:


             OF THE FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT, FEBRUARY 23, 1855.

On the 23d of February, 1855, on motion of Mr. Toucey, of Connecticut,
the Senate proceeded to the consideration of "a bill to protect
officers and other persons acting under the authority of the United
States," by which it was provided that "suits commenced or pending in
any State Court against any officer of the United States, or other
person, for or on account of any act done under any law of the United
States, or under color thereof, or for or on account of any right,
authority, claim, or title set up by such officer or other person,
under any law of the United States," should be removed for trial to
the Circuit Court of the United States. It was seen at once that under
these words an attempt was made to oust the State Courts of cases
arising from trespasses and damages under the Fugitive Slave Act; and
the bill was pressed, as everything for Slavery was always pressed,
even on Friday, to the exclusion of the private claims to which that
day was devoted under the rules of the Senate. A debate commenced,
which was continued with much animation and feeling late into the night.

Mr. Sumner seized this opportunity to urge again his proposition to
repeal the Fugitive Slave Act. Just before the final question, he took
the floor and spoke as follows.

Mr. President,--On a former occasion, as Slavery was about to clutch
one of its triumphs, I rose to make my final opposition at midnight.
It is now the same hour. Slavery is pressing again for its accustomed
victory, which I undertake again for the moment to arrest. It is hardly
an accidental conjunction which constantly brings Slavery and midnight

Since eleven o'clock this forenoon we have been in our seats, detained
by the dominant majority, which, in subservience to Slavery, refuses to
postpone this question or to adjourn. All other things are neglected.
Various public interests, at this late stage of the session, demanding
attention, are put aside. According to usage of the Senate, Friday
is devoted to private claims. I am accustomed to call it our day of
_justice_,--glad, that, since these matters are referred to us, at
least one day in the week is thus set apart. But Slavery grasps this
whole day, and changes it to a day of _injustice_. By the calendar,
which I hold in my hand, it appears that upwards of seventy-five
private bills, with which are associated hopes and fears of widows
and orphans, and of all who come to Congress for relief, are on your
table,--neglected, ay, Sir, sacrificed, to the bill now urged with so
much pertinacity. Like Juggernaut, the bill is driven over prostrate
victims. And here is another sacrifice to Slavery.

I do not adequately expose this bill, when I say it is a sacrifice to
Slavery. It is a sacrifice to Slavery in its most odious form. Bad
as Slavery is, it is not so bad as hunting slaves. There is seeming
apology for Slavery at home, in States where it prevails, founded
on difficulties in the position of the master and the relations of
personal attachment it sometimes excites; but every apology fails, when
you seek again to enslave the fugitive whom the master cannot detain
by duress or kindness, and who, by courage and intelligence, under
guidance of the North Star, can achieve a happy freedom. Sir, there is
wide difference between Slaveholder and Slave-Hunter.

But the bill before you is to aid in the chase of slaves. This is
its object. This is its "being's end and aim." And this bill, with
this object, is pressed upon the Senate by the honorable Senator from
Connecticut [Mr. TOUCEY]. Not from slave soil, but from free
soil, comes this effort. A Senator from the North, a Senator from New
England, lends himself to the work, and with unnatural zeal helps to
bind still stronger the fetter of the slave.

    MR. RUSK (of Texas) [_interrupting_]. Will the honorable Senator
    allow me to interrupt him?

    MR. SUMNER. Certainly.

    MR. RUSK. I ask him to point out the words in this bill where
    Slavery is mentioned.

MR. SUMNER. I am glad the Senator from Texas asks the
question, for it brings attention at once to the true character of this
bill. I know its language well, and also its plausible title. On its
face it purports to be "a bill to protect officers and other persons
acting under the authority of the United States"; and it provides for
the transfer of certain proceedings from State Courts to the Circuit
Courts of the United States. And yet, Sir, by the admission of this
whole debate, stretching from noon to midnight, it is a bill to bolster
up the Fugitive Slave Act.

    MR. RUSK. I have not listened to the debate, but I ask the Senator
    to point out in the bill the place where Slavery is mentioned. If
    the Constitution and laws appoint officers, and require them to
    discharge duties, will he abandon them to the mob?

MR. SUMNER. The Senator asks me to point out any place in this
bill where "Slavery" is mentioned. Why, Sir, this is quite unnecessary.
I might ask the Senator to point out any place in the Constitution
of the United States where "Slavery" is mentioned, or where the word
"slave" can be found, and he could not do it.

    MR. RUSK. That is evading the question. I asked the Senator to
    point out in the bill the clause where Slavery is mentioned. The
    bill proposes to protect officers of the United States, whom you
    appoint, in discharging their duties. If they are to be left
    unprotected, repeal your law.

MR. SUMNER. I respond to the Senator with all my heart,
"Repeal your law." Yes, Sir, repeal the Fugitive Act, which now
requires the support of supplementary legislation. Remove this ground
of offence. And before I sit down, I hope to make that very motion.
Meanwhile I evade no question propounded by the honorable Senator; but
I do not consider it necessary to show that "Slavery" is mentioned in
the bill. It may not be found there in name; but Slavery is the very
soul of the bill.

    [Mr. RUSK rose.]

MR. SUMNER. The Senator has interrupted me several times; he
may do it more; but perhaps he had better let me go on.

    MR. RUSK. I understand the Senator; but I make no boast of that

MR. SUMNER. Very well. At last I am allowed to proceed. Of
the bill in question I have little to say. Its technical character has
been exposed by various Senators, and especially by my valued friend
from Ohio [Mr. CHASE] who opened this debate. Suffice it
to say, that it is an intrusive and offensive encroachment on State
Rights, calculated to subvert the power of States in the protection
of the citizen. This consideration alone would be ample to secure
its rejection, if the attachment to State Rights, so often avowed by
Senators, were not utterly lost in stronger attachment to Slavery. But
on these things, although well worthy of attention, I do not dwell.
Objectionable as the bill may be on this ground, it becomes much more
so when regarded as an effort to bolster up the Fugitive Slave Act.

Of this Act it is difficult to speak with moderation. Conceived in
defiance of the Constitution, and in utter disregard of every sentiment
of justice and humanity, it should be treated as an outlaw. It may have
the form of legislation, but it lacks every essential element of law.
I have so often exposed its character on this floor, that I shall be
brief now.

There is an argument against it which has especial importance at this
moment, when the Fugitive Act is made the occasion of new assault on
State Rights. _This very Act is an assumption by Congress of power
not delegated to it under the Constitution, and an infraction of
rights secured to the States._ You will mark, if you please, the
double aspect of this proposition, in asserting not only an assumption
of power by Congress, but an infraction of State Rights. And this
proposition, I venture to say, defies answer or cavil. Show me, Sir,
if you can, the clause, sentence, or word in the Constitution which
gives to Congress any power to legislate on this subject. I challenge
honorable Senators to produce it. I fearlessly assert that it cannot
be found. The obligations imposed by the "fugitive" clause, _whatever
they may be_,[171] rest upon States, and not upon Congress. I do not
now undertake to say what these obligations are,--but simply, that,
whether much or little, they rest upon States. And this interpretation
is sustained by the practice of Congress on another kindred question.
The associate clause touching "privileges of citizens" is never made
a source of power. It will be in the recollection of the Senate,
that, during the last session, the Senator from Louisiana [Mr.
BENJAMIN], in answer to a question from me, openly admitted
that there were laws of the Southern States, bearing hard upon colored
citizens of the North, which were unconstitutional; but when I pressed
the honorable Senator with the question, whether he would introduce or
sustain a bill to carry out the clause of the Constitution securing to
these citizens their rights, he declined to answer.

    [171] Here, as in other places, Mr. Sumner did not recognize that
    the language of the Constitution was applicable to "fugitive

    MR. BENJAMIN. I think, Mr. President, I have a right to set the
    record straight upon that point. I rose in the Senate on the
    occasion referred to, as will be perfectly well recollected by
    every Senator present, and put a respectful question to the Senator
    from Massachusetts. Instead of a reply to my question, he put a
    question to me, which I answered, and then I put my question.
    Instead of replying to that, he again put a question to me.
    Considering that as an absolute evasion of the question which I put
    to him, I declined having anything further to say in the discussion.

MR. SUMNER. The Senator from Louisiana will pardon me, if
I suggest that there is an incontrovertible fact which shows that
the evasion was on his part. The record testifies not only that he
did not reply, but that I was cut off from replying by efforts and
votes of himself and his friends. Let him consult the "Congressional
Globe," and he will find it all there.[172] I can conceive that it
might be embarrassing for him to reply, since, had he declined to
carry out the clause in question, it would be awkward, at least, to
vindicate the Fugitive Slave Act, which is derived from an identical
clause in the Constitution. And yet there are Senators on this floor,
who, careless of the flagrant inconsistency, vindicate the exercise
of power by Congress under the "fugitive" clause, while their own
States at home deny any power of Congress under the associate clause,
on the "privileges of citizens," assume to themselves complete right
to determine the obligations of this clause, and then, in practical
illustration of their assumption, ruthlessly sell into Slavery colored
citizens of the North.

    [172] Congressional Globe, 33d Cong. 1st Sess., July 18, 1854, Vol.
    XXVIII. pp. 1790-91.

    MR. BUTLER [_interrupting_]. Does the Senator allude to my State?

    MR. RUSK. No,--to mine.

    MR. BUTLER. If he means South Carolina, I will reply to him.

MR. SUMNER. I do allude to South Carolina, and also to other
Southern States,--but especially to South Carolina. If I allude
to these States, it is not to bring up and array the hardships of
individual instances, but simply to show the position occupied by them
on a constitutional question, identical with that in the Fugitive Act.
And now, at the risk of repetition, if I can have your attention for a
brief moment, without interruption, I will endeavor to state anew this

The rules of interpretation, applicable to the clause of the
Constitution securing to "the citizens of each State all privileges
and immunities of citizens in the several States," are equally
applicable to its associate clause, forming part of the same section,
in the same article, and providing that "persons held to service or
labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another,
shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or
labor may be due." Of this there can be no doubt.

If one of these clauses is regarded as a compact between the States, to
be carried out by them respectively, according to their interpretation
of its obligations, without intervention of Congress, then the other
must be so regarded; nor can any legislative power be asserted of
Congress under one clause which is denied under the other. This
proposition cannot be questioned. Now mark the consequences.

Congress, in abstaining from all exercise of power under the first
clause, when required to protect the liberty of colored citizens,
while assuming power under the second clause, in order to obtain the
surrender of fugitive slaves, shows an inconsistency, which becomes
more monstrous when it is considered that in the one case the general
and commanding interests of Liberty are neglected, while in the other
the peculiar and subordinate interests of Slavery are carefully
assured; and such an exercise of power is an alarming evidence of that
influence of Slavery in the National Government which has increased, is
increasing, and ought to be overthrown.

Looking more precisely at these two clauses, we arrive at the true
conclusion. According to express words of the Constitution, in the
Tenth Amendment, "the powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to
the States respectively, or to the people"; and since no powers are
delegated to the United States in the clause relating to "privileges
and immunities of citizens," or in the associate clause of the same
section, relating to the surrender of "persons held to service or
labor," therefore all legislation by Congress, under either clause,
must be an assumption of undelegated powers, and an infraction of
rights secured to the States respectively, or to the people: and such,
I have already said, is the Fugitive Slave Act.

I might go further, and, by the example of South Carolina, vindicate
to Massachusetts, and every other State, the right to put such
interpretation upon the "fugitive" clause as it shall think proper. The
Legislature of South Carolina, in a series of resolutions adopted in
1844, asserts the following proposition:--

    "_Resolved_, That free negroes and persons of color are not
    citizens of the United States _within the meaning of the
    Constitution_, which confers upon the citizens of one State the
    privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States."[173]

    [173] Reports and Resolutions of the General Assembly of South
    Carolina, Sess. 1844, December 5, p. 160.

Here is a distinct assumption of right to determine the _persons_ to
whom certain words of the Constitution are applicable. Now nothing
can be clearer than this: If South Carolina may determine for itself
whether the clause relating to the "privileges and immunities of
citizens" be applicable to _colored citizens_ of the several States,
and may solemnly deny its applicability, then may Massachusetts, and
every other State, determine for itself whether the other clause,
relating to the surrender of "persons held to service or labor," be
really applicable to _fugitive slaves_, and may solemnly deny its

Mr. President, I have said enough to show the usurpation by Congress
under the "fugitive" clause of the Constitution, and to warn you
against abetting this usurpation. But I have left untouched those other
outrages, many and great, which enter into the existing Fugitive Slave
Act, among which are the denial of trial by jury, the denial of the
writ of _Habeas Corpus_, the authorization of judgment on _ex parte_
evidence without the safeguard of cross-examination, and the surrender
of the great question of Human Freedom to be determined by a mere
Commissioner, who, according to the requirement of the Constitution, is
grossly incompetent to any such service. I have also left untouched the
hateful character of this enactment, as a barefaced subversion of every
principle of humanity and justice. And now, Sir, we are asked to lend
ourselves anew to this enormity, worthy only of indignant condemnation;
we are asked to impart new life to this pretended law, this false
Act of Congress, this counterfeit enactment, this monstrosity of
legislation, which draws no life from the Constitution, as it clearly
draws no life from that Supreme Law which is the essential fountain of
life to every human law.

Sir, the bill before you may have the approval of Congress; and in yet
other ways you may seek to sustain the Fugitive Slave Act. But it will
be in vain. You undertake what no legislation can accomplish. Courts
may come forward, and lend it their sanction. All this, too, will be in
vain. I respect the learning of judges; I reverence the virtue, more
than learning, by which their lives are often adorned. Nor learning,
nor virtue, when, with mistaken force, bent to this purpose, can avail.
I assert confidently, Sir, and ask the Senate to note my assertion,
that there is no court, howsoever endowed with judicial qualities or
surrounded by public confidence, which is strong enough to lift this
Act into permanent consideration or respect. It may seem for a moment
to accomplish the feat. Its decision may be enforced, amidst tears and
agonies. A fellow-man may be reduced anew to slavery. But all will
be in vain. This Act cannot be upheld. Anything so entirely vile, so
absolutely atrocious, would drag an angel down. Sir, it must drag down
every court or judge venturing to sustain it.

And yet, Sir, in zeal for this enormity, Senators announce their
purpose to break down the recent legislation of States, calculated to
shield the liberty of the citizen. "It is difficult," says Burke, "to
frame an indictment against a whole people." But here in the Senate,
where are convened the jealous representatives of the States, we hear
whole States arraigned, as if already guilty of crime. The Senator from
Louisiana [Mr. BENJAMIN], in plaintive tones sets forth the
ground of proceeding, and more than one State is summoned to judgment.
It would be easy to show, by critical inquiry, that this whole charge
is without just foundation, and that all the legislation so much
condemned is as clearly defensible under the Constitution as it is
meritorious in purpose.

Sir, the only crime of these States is, that Liberty is placed before
Slavery. Follow the charge, point by point, and this is apparent. In
securing to every person claimed as slave the protection of trial
by jury and the _Habeas_ _Corpus_, they simply provide safeguards
strictly within the province of every State, and rendered necessary by
the usurpation of the Fugitive Act. In securing the aid of counsel to
every person claimed as slave, they but perform a kindly duty, which
no phrase or word in the Constitution can be tortured to condemn.
In visiting with severe penalties every malicious effort to reduce
a fellow-man to slavery, they respond to the best feelings of the
human heart. In prohibiting the use of county jails and buildings as
barracoons and slave-pens,--in prohibiting all public officers, holding
the commission of the State, in any capacity, whether as Chief Justice
or Justice of the Peace, whether as Governor or Constable, from any
service as slave-hunter,--in prohibiting the _volunteer militia_ of the
State, in its organized form, from any such service, the States simply
exercise a power under the Constitution, recognized by the Supreme
Court of the United States even while upholding Slavery in the fatal
_Prigg_ case, by POSITIVE PROHIBITION, to withdraw its own
officers from this offensive business.

For myself, let me say that I look with no pleasure on any possibility
of conflict between the two jurisdictions of State and Nation; but I
trust, that, if the interests of Freedom so require, the States will
not hesitate. From the beginning of this controversy, I have sought,
as I still seek, to awaken another influence, which, without the
possibility of conflict, will be mightier than any Act of Congress or
the sword of the National Government: I mean an enlightened, generous,
humane, Christian public opinion, which shall blast with contempt,
indignation, and abhorrence all who, in whatever form or under whatever
name, undertake to be agents in enslaving a fellow-man. Sir, such
an opinion you cannot bind or subdue. Against its subtile, pervasive
influence your legislation and the decrees of courts will be powerless.
Already in Massachusetts, I am proud to believe, it begins to prevail;
and the Fugitive Act there will soon be a dead letter.

Mr. President, since things are so, it were well to remove this Act
from our statute-book, that it may no longer exist as an occasion of
ill-will and a point of conflict. Let the North be relieved from this
usurpation, and the first step will be taken towards permanent harmony.
The Senator from Louisiana [Mr. BENJAMIN] has proclaimed anew
to-night, what he has before declared on this floor, "that Slavery is a
subject with which the Federal Government has nothing to do." I thank
him for teaching the Senate that word. True, most true, Sir, ours is a
Government of Freedom, having nothing to do with Slavery. This is the
doctrine which I have ever maintained, and am happy to find recognized
in form, if not in reality, by the Senator from Louisiana. The Senator
then proceeded to declare that "all that the South asks is to be let
alone." This request is moderate. And I say, for the North, that all we
ask is to be let alone. Yes, Sir, let us alone. Do not involve us in
the support of Slavery. Hug the viper to your bosoms, if you perversely
will, within your own States, until it stings you to a generous
remorse, but do not compel us to hug it too; for this, I assure you, we
can never do.

The Senator from Louisiana, with these professions on his lips,
proceeds to ask, doubtless with complete sincerity, but in strange
forgetfulness of our country's history: "Did we ever bring this
subject into Congress?" Yes, Sir, that was his inquiry,--as if there
was any moment, from the earliest days of the Republic, when the
supporters of Slavery ceased to bring this subject into Congress.
Almost from the beginning it has been here, through the exercise of
_usurped power_, nowhere given under the Constitution: for I am glad
to believe that the Constitution of my country contains no words out
of which Slavery, or the power to support Slavery, can be derived;
and this conclusion, I doubt not, will yet be affirmed by the courts.
And yet the honorable Senator asks, "Did we ever bring this subject
into Congress?" The answer shall be plain and explicit. Sir, you
brought Slavery into Congress, when, shortly after the adoption of the
Constitution, you sanctioned it in the District of Columbia, within the
national jurisdiction, and adopted that barbarous slave code, still
extant on your statute-book, which the Senator from Connecticut [Mr.
GILLETTE] so eloquently exposed to-night. You brought Slavery
into Congress, when, at the same period, you accepted the cession of
territories from North Carolina and Georgia, now constituting States
of the Union, with conditions in favor of Slavery, and thus began to
sanction Slavery in territories within the exclusive jurisdiction of
Congress. You brought Slavery into Congress, when, at different times,
you usurped a power, not given by the Constitution, over fugitive
slaves, and by most offensive legislation thrust your arms into
distant Northern homes. You brought Slavery into Congress, when, by
express legislation, you regulated the coastwise slave-trade, and thus
threw the national shield over a traffic on the coast of the United
States which on the coast of Congo you justly brand as "piracy." You
brought Slavery into Congress, when, from time to time, you sought to
introduce new States with slaveholding Constitutions into the National
Union. And, permit me to say, Sir, you brought Slavery into Congress,
when you called upon us, as you have done even at this very session, to
pay for slaves, and thus, in defiance of a cardinal principle of the
Constitution, pressed the National Government to recognize property in
man. And yet the Senator from Louisiana, with strange simplicity, says
that the South only asks to be let alone. Sir, the honorable Senator
borrows the language of the North, which, at each of these usurpations,
exclaims, "Let us alone!" And let me say, frankly, that peace can never
prevail until you do let us alone,--until this subject of Slavery
is banished from Congress by the triumph of Freedom,--until Slavery
is driven from its usurped foothold, and Freedom is made _national_
instead of _sectional_,--and until the National Government is brought
back to the precise position it occupied on the day that Washington
took his first oath as President of the United States, when there was
no Fugitive Act, and the national flag, as it floated over the national
territory within the jurisdiction of Congress, nowhere covered a single

And now, Sir, as an effort in the true direction of the Constitution,
in the hope of beginning the divorce of the National Government from
Slavery, and to remove all occasion for the proposed measure under
consideration, I shall close these remarks with a motion to repeal the
Fugitive Act. Twice already, since I have had the honor of a seat in
this chamber, I have pressed that question to a vote, and I mean to
press it again to-night. After the protracted discussion involving the
character of this enactment, such a motion belongs logically to this
occasion, and fitly closes its proceedings.

At a former session, on introducing this proposition, I discussed it
at length, in an argument which I fearlessly assert never has been
answered, and now, in this debate, I have already touched upon various
objections. There are yet other things which might be urged. I might
exhibit abuses which have occurred under the Fugitive Act,--the number
of free persons it has doomed to Slavery, the riots it has provoked,
the brutal conduct of its officers, the distress it has scattered,
the derangement of business it has caused,--interfering even with the
administration of justice, changing courthouses into barracks and
barracoons, and filling streets with armed men, amidst which law is
silent. All these things I might expose. But in these hurried moments I
forbear. Suffice it to say, that the proposition to repeal the existing
Fugitive Act stands on fundamental principles which no debate or
opposition can shake.

There are considerations belonging to the present period which give
new strength to this proposition. Public Opinion, which, under a
popular government, makes and unmakes laws, and which for a time was
passive and acquiescent, now lifts itself everywhere in the States
where the Act is sought to be enforced, and demands a change. Already
three States, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Michigan, by formal
resolutions presented to the Senate, have concurred in this demand.
Tribunals of law are joining at last with the people. The Superior
Court of Cincinnati has denied the power of Congress over this
subject. And now, almost while I speak, comes the solemn judgment of
the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, delivered after elaborate argument,
on successive occasions, before a single judge, and then before the
whole bench, declaring this Act a violation of the Constitution. In
response to public opinion, broad and general, if not universal, at
the North, swelling alike from village and city, from seaboard and
lake,--judicially attested, legislatively declared, and represented
also by numerous petitions from good men without distinction of
party,--in response to this Public Opinion, as well as in obedience
to my own fixed convictions, I deem it my duty not to lose this
opportunity of pressing the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act once more
upon the Senate. I move, Sir, to strike out all after the enacting
clause in the pending bill, and insert instead these words:--

    "That the Act of Congress, approved September 18, 1850, usually
    known as the 'Fugitive Slave Act,' be, and the same is hereby,

And on this motion I ask the yeas and nays.

    On taking his seat, Mr. Sumner was followed by Mr. Butler, of South
    Carolina, when the following passage occurred.

    MR. BUTLER. Mr. President, I have no idea of irritating sectional
    differences. If gentlemen have the opinions which it seems the
    gentleman from Massachusetts entertains, be it so. I assure him
    I do not intend to bandy words with him. He talks as if he was
    disposed to maintain the Constitution of the United States; but if
    I were to put to him a question now, I would ask him one which he,
    perhaps, would not answer me honestly.

    MR. SUMNER. I will answer any question.

    MR. BUTLER. Then I ask you honestly now, whether, all laws of
    Congress being put out of the question, you would recommend to
    Massachusetts to pass a law to deliver up fugitives from slavery?

    MR. SUMNER. The Senator asks me a question, and I answer, frankly,
    that no temptation, no inducement, would draw me in any way to
    sanction the return of any man to slavery. Others will speak for
    themselves. In this respect I speak for myself.

    MR. BUTLER. I do not rise now at all to question the right of the
    gentleman from Massachusetts to hold his seat, under the obligation
    of the Constitution of the United States, with the opinions which
    he has expressed; but, if I understand him, he means, that, whether
    this law or that law or any other law prevails, he disregards the
    obligations of the Constitution of the United States.

    MR. SUMNER. Not at all. That I never said. I recognize the
    obligations of the Constitution.

    MR. BUTLER. He says he recognizes the obligations of the
    Constitution of the United States. I see, I know he is not a
    tactician, and I shall not take advantage of the infirmity of a
    man who does not know half his time exactly what he is about.
    [_Laughter._] But, Sir, I will ask that gentleman one question:
    If it devolved upon him as a representative of Massachusetts, all
    Federal laws being put out of the way, would he recommend any law
    for the delivery of a fugitive slave under the Constitution of the
    United States?

    MR. SUMNER. Never.

    MR. BUTLER. I knew that. Now, Sir, I have got exactly what is the
    truth, and what I intend shall go forth to the Southern States....
    When the gentleman talks in the way he does, I choose to rebuke
    him. Any man who comes up here with a philanthropy inconsistent
    with what is practical justice and liberty, I do not say that I
    scorn him,--I use no such word,--but by heavens[174]....

    [174] Congressional Globe, 33d Cong. 2d Sess., Appendix, Vol.
    XXXI. p. 246. The tone of Senator Butler on this occasion shows the
    intolerable spirit of Slavery, which would not endure Mr. Sumner.

    The question, being taken by yeas and nays on the amendment offered
    by Mr. Sumner, resulted,--yeas 9, nays 30,--as follows.

    YEAS.--Messrs. Brainerd, Chase, Cooper, Fessenden, Gillette,
    Seward, Sumner, Wade, and Wilson,--9.

    NAYS.--Messrs. Adams, Badger, Bayard, Bell, Benjamin, Bright,
    Brown, Butler, Clay, Dawson, Douglas, Fitzpatrick, Geyer, Gwin,
    Hunter, Jones, of Iowa, Jones, of Tennessee, Mallory, Mason,
    Morton, Pearce, Pettit, Rusk, Sebastian, Shields, Slidell, Thomson,
    of New Jersey, Toucey, Weller, and Wright,--30.

    So the amendment was rejected.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

We have attempted to reproduce the spelling and punctuation of the
original. Some spelling and punctuation, accents and formatting markup
have been normalized and include the following:

    ..."very pests in the Church and Conmowealth."
    was changed to
    ..."very pests in the Church and Commonwealth."

    ...Here on my desk are remonstances
    was changed to
    ...Here on my desk are remonstrances

    ...The difference is inmeasurable.
     was changed to
    ...The difference is immeasurable.

The oe ligature has been expanded.

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