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when they saw that their power was likely to depart, refused submission to the legally expressed will of the people, and plunged the country into civil war. The blackest page of these annals, is that which records the barbarism and brutality produced by slavery; the moral degeneracy of a once poble race of men, becoming so depraved that their hellish passions developed a cruelty and malignity towards prisoners, black and white, unknown in the history of civilized nations. It is slavery alone which can produce men who will murder defenceless prisoners on the field of battle, after resistance has ceased, and starve them to death, as a means of carrying on war. Of such a race, it is not surprising that in their extremity, they should resort to incendiarism, and murder, and assassination.
The record I write will show the development and gradual growth of a sense of justice towards the black race, until it terminated in their emancipation and their recognition as men. The rise and rapid advance of this long servile race, from the slave to the “contraband,” from the “contraband” to the freedman, and from the freedman to the soldier, from the soldier to the citizen, vindicating his manhood on the field of battle, and his claim to citizenship by obedience to law and loyalty to the flag.
This terrible civil war, this baptism of blood, through which the nation has passed, has purified and ennobled it. The soldiers of Grant and Sherman, Thomas and Sheridan, who marched from Cairo to Savannah, from the Potomac to New Orleans, will feel that the country is now doubly dear to them. They have bled for that country; and not a family in the land but has given its sacrifice to death, that the Republic might live. In so glorious and imperial a manner have the American people fought this great struggle for liberty, so grand is the theatre of their future, that the imagination does not set bounds to their coming greatness.
OVERTHROW OF SLAVERY.
SLAVERY FROM 1788, TO THE COMPROMISE MEASURES OF 1850.
OPINION OF THE FATHERS UPON SLAVERY — ORDINANCE OF 1787 —
EARLY ABOLITION SOCIETIES-SLAVERY ABOLISHED IN THE New ENGLAND STATES, NEW YORK, PENNSYLVANIA, AND NEW JERSEY - COTTON AND SLAVERY - LOCATION OF CAPITAL AT WASHINGTON - FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW OF 1793— ADMISSION OF TENNESSEE, ALABAMA AND MISSISSIPPI, as SLAVE STATES PURCHASE OF LOUISIANA AND FLORIDA — MISSOURI COMPROMISE
-SEMINOLE WAR — ANNEXATION OF TEXAS— MEXICAN WARWILMOT PROVISO - CALIFORNIA - ANTI-SLAVERY CONVENTION -SUPPRESSION OF Right OF PETITION —John QUINCY ADAMS — JUDGE HOAR's MISSION - ABOLITION, LIBERTY AND FREESOIL PARTIES — COMPROMISE MEASURES OF 1850.
Constitution in shaping that instrument, tolerated the existence of slavery as a temporary evil, which they regarded as incompatible with the principles of liberty embodied in the Declaration of Independence, upon which they intended to base our institutions. They believed that it was in the course of gradual extinction. It is clear that they never intended it should be a permanent institution, much less that it should extend beyond the limits of the States in which it then existed. The hostility to slavery was so general, that it is believed the Fathers would have embodied abolition as a part of the Constitution, had they not supposed it would soon disappear before the peaceful moral agencies then operating against it. They confidently hoped that public opinion, expressing itself through the press, the religious organizations, public discussion, and rendering its final verdict through the ballot, and securing favorable legislation through State and Congressional action, would secure universal liberty “throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof.” General Washington in a letter to Robert Morris, written in 1786, speaking of slavery, said: “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.” The great leading lawyer and patriot of Maryland, Luther Martin, advocated the abolition of slavery in the Federal Convention of 1787; so also did William Pinckney, in 1789, in the Maryland House of Delegates. The Ordinance of 1787, by which freedom was forever secured to the Northwest, and to the great States of Ohio and Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, was by far the most important anti-slavery measure in American history, between the Declaration of Independence and the great Proclamation of Emancipation by Abraham Lincoln. Its influence has been decisive, on both the moral and martial conflict. Without the votes and influence of the great free Northwest, the offspring of this ordinance, slavery would have triumphed and carried its sway all over the land. It is very true that the love of liberty fostered by the free schools of New England, beginning like a rivulet among her granite hills, gradually widened and expanded until it became a mighty stream; but it was the broad and majestic torrent from the Northwest, like its own majestic Mississippi, which gave to the river of freedom, volume, and power, and irresistible strength, until it broke down all opposition, and swept away and overwhelmed all resistance.
The period immediately following the revolution, is full of evidence that many of the leading men of nearly every State looked upon slavery with abhorrence, and were impatient for
its entire abolition. Mr. Iredell of North Carolina, said in the convention which adopted the Constitution, “when the entire abolition of slavery takes place, it will be an event which must be pleasing to every generous mind and to every friend of human nature.” It was with such views, hopes and expectations on the part of leading statesmen of that day, that the Constitution was adopted. The Constitution itself was based on the great idea embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “ that all men are created
This grand idea which Jefferson made the corner stone of our National Independence, we shall have occasion, bye and bye to see, was the basis of Mr. Lincoln's political creed, the key-note of his administration; the foundation of that political system which he carried out fully by his Proclamation of Emancipation, and the amendment of the Constitution abolishing and prohibiting slavery forever.
In order that slavery might be brought to an end, provision was made in the Constitution that the slave trade might be prohibited by Congress after the year 1808.
It ought to be stated in vindication of the early statesmen of Virginia, that they appreciated the injustice and wrong of slavery, and that as early as 1772, the Legislature of that Commonwealth addressed the King of Great Britian, exposing the inhumanity of Slavery, and expressing the conviction that it was opposed to the security and happiness of the people, and would, in time, endanger their existence. The King in reply, answered, that “upon pair of his highest displeasure the importation of slaves should not be in any respect obstructed.”
“ Pharisaical Britain,” said Benjamin Franklin, referring to the Somerset case, “ to pride thyself in setting free a single slave that happened to land on thy coast, while thy laws continue a traffic whereby so many thousands are dragged into a slavery that is entailed on their posterity.” *
Mr. Jefferson said during the war, “ The way I hope is preparing, under the auspices of Heaven, for a total
* Bancroft's oration upon Lincoln.