Slike strani
PDF
ePub

prospects. But I have never learned to do it, and therefore cannot be a popular anniversary speaker. Mr. President, I cannot read the tokens of our rising great. ness. I do not thus decypher the signs of the passing times. I see, and rejoice to see the progress of our Bible, Tract, and Missionary Societies, our Sunday Schools, our Temperance, and Peace, and Moral Reform, and Anti-Slavery efforts. Had it not been for these, we should have been shipwrecked long ago. And yet, for five and twenty years, Mr. President, have I watched with aching heart and anxious eye, the retrograde movement of our republic. — Yes! Retrogade! What ? amid all our glorious institutions and cheering reforms ? — Yes, sir ! Retrograde! Do not the Secretaries of the Mission, Tract, and Education Boards assure us that the increase of population is outrunning the increase of evangelical instruction ? That the march of the man of sin is unchecked? Do not our records of increasing crimes assure us, that vice and heathenism are gaining ground? And, Mr. President, when the words of Washington, of Jefferson, of Franklin, of Rush, and of Pinckney, cannot be repeated without the cry of “fanaticism," and the threat of disunion and blood; when Faneuil Hall becomes the cradle of slavery, are we not admonished, sir, that Liberty, as well as intelligence and virtue, are on the wane.

But how is this ? methinks I hear some one inquiring ! - How is it that we can be going backwards, with all this rapid and visible movement onwards ? Do we not see the improvements that are making every day? Do we not mark the progress that is making, week by week ? How is all this?

I will tell you how it is, Mr. President. It is as when the stately ship cuts through the water, at the rate of four miles an hour, while the under current is carrying the whole body of the ocean, ship and all, backwards, six miles an hour !

Mr. President, were you ever entering the straits of Malacca, eastward bound, towards the close of the south-west Monsoon, just as it was dying away, to be succeeded by a six months' blast from the north-east - dead ahead ?

I have, Sir, and well do I remember that intense anxiety and peril. How anxiously did we watch the lingering winds ! How sedulously spread the flow. ing sail !

How solicitously mark our progress through the rippling waves ! When the customary time had elapsed, we began to look out for the high mountains of Queda ahead, when hark! the man aloft cries out “ Land ho !!! From the quarter deck comes the instant response Where-away? (i. e. in what direction ?) Astern, Sir!”“ Astern ? ' • Ay, Sir, Astern ! Di. rectly over the larboard quarter.' “ What land can there be in that direction ?

- Hand up the chart.” A moment’s glance decides the mystery. It is the Nicobar Islands, and with all our cheering progress through the water, instead of having crossed the Straits of Malacca, we had been drifting back into the bay of *Bengal! The coral reefs were but a little distance from us, where many a gallant bark had laid her bones. The favorable monsoon was whispering its last sighs. Our passage through the straits must be speedily secured, or our best resort was a six months anchorage ground, or a circuitous voyage through the Southern and Pacific Oceans – twenty thousand miles instead of five hundred, to the port of our destination !

Such, Sir, is the precise condition of our ship of state, our bark of moral reform, when our wise pilots are exclaiming — "Too fast ! Take care ! You are going too fast !”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Too fast ? Mr. Presdent. Unless we can go faster than we have yet done, we must soon take up the lamentation “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and our work is not done!”

Seriously, Mr. President, I know not what calculations others are making, but I expect the next six or twelve months will decide the destiny of our Republic ; and nothing but the most gigantic and unprecedented efforts can avail us anything. Some people seem to suppose the crisis has already passed, that the day of mobs has gone by, and that there is no danger of despotic legislation against freedom of speech and of the press. There is a little respite, at the present moment, I know, and we ought to improve it ; there is a temporary calm, and we should prepare for the tempest it betokens ! If I mistake not, Sir, the aristocracy of this nation, at the North and at the South, are concentrating their energies for such a struggle with freedom, as the world has never yet witnessed. Never, Sir, was the cause of universal despotism called upon to make such an onset before. She has contended with bayonets and brute force, and on that battle ground, Sir, she is at home. But never, Sir, since the days of Moses and Aaron, has she been thus challenged by moral power, by the breath of almighty truth, to such

Will she surrender at discretion ? No, Sir! Gog and Magog are already marshalling their legions. Just at this crisis, they bardly know where to begin. They are calling on each other to take the lead. The South calls upon the North. Congress is looking to State Authorities, the States to Congress, and mob law is resting on her oars to see whether statute law will do her despotic work more effectually. If so, well. If not, she rushes like the famished lioness

a contest.

to her prey.

Mark me, Sir, though no son of a prophet, I predict there will yet be a fearful effort to crush the liberties of this people by legislation. Our literary, theological, and political giants are not furbishing their

steel and mustering their armies for nothing. The trial will be made, unless foreclosed by their sudden and simultaneous exposure before the entire people. This is the work that is needed now. If it is not promptly done, the people will sleep on, till their chains are riveted, and despotism established on her throne. Or if this effort should fail — if legislation should not succeed — then, Sir, some six or twelve months hence, unless discomfited by our broad flash of pure light, entering into every dark crevice of our land, the combined forces of aristocracy and anarchy will be let loose again not in the mere boy's play of hurling rotten eggs and brick-bats — not in the mere predatory skirmishes of southern Lynch law ; but in that nameless development of which the annals of the world afford no parallel — before the records of which the bloody story of the first French Revolution will become stale and insipid — in a word, by that unprecedented catastrophe, for wbich the unprecedented blessings and corruptions of this nation have for so long a period been ripening her !

Mr. President, what are abolitionists doing? What are they expecting? Is it by less than the Levitical tithe of income? Is it by two or three days' labor, or rather amusement, in the course of the coming year, that they can save themselves, their country, their posterity, their liberties, and the cause of holy freedom on the earth? No, Sir! They have not begun to understand the crisis, nor their responsibilities - no, nor even their personal interests. We stand, Sir, where John Hancock and John Adams stood, when they signed the Declaration we have now signed, of inalienable human rights! We stand, Sir, as they did, with a price upon our heads, and the halter preparing for our necks, unless

We succeed, and that speedily. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. We must do the same, Sir. And it must not be a “ mere flourish of rhetoric.” The pledge must be part of the price! What shall it profit a man, to save his wealth and lose his own life? or his liberty, which is dearer than life?

To resume the illustration I just used, Sir, We are entering upon the crisis of our voyage. The narrow passage is before us — the hidden shoals are around and beneath us. Dark scuds are lowering on the horizon. The coral groves are just under our stern. The Monsoon of freedom, enjoyed by our fathers, seems dying away. Our sails are spread — we are rippling the water. But the currents, Sir, bow set the currents ? The landmarks, where are they? Aye, Sir, the landmarks! The syren song is, “ you' are going too fast.” Alas, Sir, you are not going half fast enough! Shake out every reef. Stretch every rag of canvass. Lash the watchman to the mast-head. Look out for the land astern, lest the voyage be lost, and ages of darkness and tempests intervene, before the setting in of another favorable Monsoon.

Rev. C. P. Grosvenor introduced, and ably advocated the following resolution.

Resolved, That the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, having incurred great expense, and being now deeply in debt, in consequence of its great exertions in the cause of abolition, we recommend to auxiliary Societies and other friends of the cause, to contribute liberally in aid of its funds — and that a collection be now taken and a subscription be now opened, for this purpose.

This resolution was sustained also by S. E. Sewall, Esq. of this city, Geo. Russell of Kingston, and Isaac Winslow of Danvers, each in a strain of remark, which evinced a spirit ready to spend and be spent in a cause, to which they were asking others to contribute. In consequence of this appeal, a contribution was immediately gathered of $105 in cash, and in subscriptions amounting to $1045 for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and $75 dollars for the Liberator.

The following resolutions were then offered and supported in a short, impressive speech by Dr. Sylvanus Brown.

Resolved, That the members of this Convention consider their sentiments as abolitionists to be in strict conformity with the spirit and precept of the Gospel, and that as such we believe it is our religious duty to propagate them, and to pray for their universal extension and success.

Resolved, That it is the duty of this Convention and of all true and consistent abolitionists to ascribe their success to God - and peculiarly at this time it is our duty and privilege with thanksgiving and praise to say, hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Resolved, l'hat relying on God for wisdom, strength and guidance, we will unitedly and individually implore his Omnipotent help, to eradicate Slavery from our beloved country — in the full belief of that gracious promise, that every plant that our Heavenly Father bath not planted shall be rooted up.

Rev. Orange Scott then introduced the following resolution, which was adopted unanimously.

Resolded, That we mark with grateful reverence the example set before us by the philanthropists of Britain respecting the abolition of Slavery, and report to them, with hearts deeply penetrated, the faithfulness and success of the no

ble spirits they have sent to our aid; and that in view of this entire awakened country, roused by George Thompson to a knowledge of its cherished enmity to einancipation, we owe to him, and those who granted his aid to our request, to be more and more faithful to the cause, to which he sacrificed all his personal interests at the hazard of his life.

MR. PRESIDENT:

Great Britain bas truly, set us a noble example. She has abolished slavery throughout her dominions. She has learned that colored men have souls - that colored men have rights. An act of the British Parliament, which took effect on the 1st of August, 1834, created, in a single day, eight hundred thousand British citizens ! yes sir, cight hundred thousand goods and chattels changed into intelligent beings, claiming and enjoying the rights of citizens ! A relic only of by-gone dark ages remains — the six years apprenticeship system, to prepare the slaves for freedom. But, sir, while the light of these apprenticeship Islands may be compared to the stars of heaven, Antigua and Bermuda, where emancipation was immediate and unconditional, shine forth with the splendor of the sun at noon day, showing us, incontrovertibly, that immediate emancipation is safest and best. And we cannot believe, that the British Parliament will suffer the apprenticeship system to continue through the six years.

We find it very convenient, Mr. President, to apologize for the present race of man-stealers, by saying slavery was imposed upon us, when we were British colonies. But when England repents of her sins and washes out her stains, and then sends her eloquent Thompson to lecture us on the evils of slavery, and stir us op to repentance, we shrink from the light which makes manifest, and cry out “foreign emissary !” We love our sins too well to be willing to accept of any aid, foreign or domestic, in getting rid of them. Mr. Thompson, however, has been signally instrumental in waking up our country. We had long been under the influence of a deadly lethargy — but the charm is broken. There is now an excitement through the whole length and breadth of the land. Every eye and every ear is open.

The spirit of inquiry has gone forth. The abolitionists and their opponents have accomplished one object, which they have had in view from the beginning, that is, to wake up public attention to the subject of slavery. The rights of the colored man are now everywhere discussed ; and though in most instances, but one side of the subject is presented, yet better so than not at all. Slavery cannot be touched, pro or con, without making abolitionists. Let us have anything but dead silence. Our opponents are well aware that abolitionism is the certain result of discussion. And, therefore, to hush us to silence, they thunder and storm — they agitate the subject to put it to rest.

The visit of our beloved brother Thompson, in connection with other means, has called forth (not created) the enmity, of slaveholders and their apologists, to emancipation. It existed before ; but the abolition hook has drawn out this Leviathan.

Mr. President, the abolition field is the world — and Mr. Thompson is still in that field His voice shall still be heard — his influence shall still be felt. England keeps up this discussion, and will till the last slave is freo !

It has been tauntingly said, that Mr. Thompson, in his mission to this country, was supported by a society of ladies. This circumstance, Sir, gives additional importance to that missi The ladies were among the most efficient advocates of the suffering slave in England. And, indeed, they generally take the lead in

every good work. Who stood by the cross of Christ when he was crucified, after the most of his disciples had forsook him and fled ? Two women. Who were first at his sepulchre, on the morn of his resurrection ? Women. And women, Sir, are constitutionally abolitionists. We are not ashamed to acknowledge that the womın and children are with us. Let us secure the cooperation of the ladies, and the gentlemen will not be far in the rear.

And now, sir, what have the abolitionists done? or rather, in the words of Henry Clay, “ what have they not done? Col. Penton says they have put back emancipaion fifty years ! Indeed! A set of “ addle-headed fools" who are incapable of doing either good or hurt, have put back emancipation fifty years ! But this seems to imply that there was some advance towards emancipation — if so, in what did it consist ? Slaveholders tell us they never intend to emancipate their slaves ---that they have the same objections to emancipation, however remote, as lo immediate. How then could the abolitionists put that back fifty years, which is never to take place ? Why, Sir, before half of fifty years are gone, every slave in our country will be as free as Col. Benton!

“But why,” it is often asked, “ do you discuss the subject of slavery in the North? There are no slaves here." So it seems we must not discuss the question in the North, because there are no slaves here — nor in the South, because there are slaves there. And the conclusion is, it must not be discussed at all. But, Sir, slavery will never be abolished, except by violent means, till the subject shall have been generally discussed, and that discussion, must, as a matter of course, commence in the North.

So far from being permitted to go to the South in person, even our publications are Lynched, ere they reach their place of destination Northern discussion is, at present, the onLY REMEDY. I know not that any-other has been proposed or thought of. It is pretty generally admitted on all sides, that color on can never free our conntry from slavery – und those who oppose discussion, propose nothing as a substitute. We are then to choose between something and nothing. We have seen the effect of the discussion of the slave question in England, and we never will give it up here till something better is proposed.

Sir, slavery is a sin against God and the rights of humanity — and this is a sufficient reason for discussing it anywhere and everywhere. The principle that one man can hold property in another, is a wicked principle, under all circumstances and in all places. The principle, the thing itself, is the same in the hands of a minister, church member, or infidel. No hands, no circumstances can sinctify it, or make it good. It is evil, only evil, and that continually. Slavery has been driven by the abolitionists into every nook and corner, till finally, as the last resort, it has taken refuge in the Bible and there we are willing to meet it. By that book let it be tried, and by that it shall stand or fall.

Slavery, Mr. President, is a national sin, and, therefore, we discuss it in the North. It exists under the jurisdiction of the General Government. We hold the same relation to the sin of slavery in the District of Columbia and in the Territories, as the Southern States do. Northern Representatives and Senators make a part of that Congress, which must abolish slavery in those places, if it be ever abolished. But, Sir, I must stop. My heart is full. I should be glad to say more, but the lateness of the hour precludes further remarks from me. star of freedom. has arisen. 'The light of universal emancipation dawns upon our land, and upon the world. The redemption of millions draws nigh. A national jubilee is at hand !

The day

« PrejšnjaNaprej »