The Death of Freedom – Part 3
Even then the proposition that has just been successfully carried would have been rejected with abhorrence. Great and little politicians declare’s that these concessions were made only because the Constitution demanded it. Their sacrifice was Jephtha’s, but so was their necessity, and their lamentation. But any attempt to remove an ancient landmark, any disturbance of ancient settlements, will never be allowed. No concessions to slavery. 0, no! Onily a painful fulfillment of agreements which our fathers made, only a declining to exasperate our brethren of the South by a useless proviso; and so, by soft words and a flattering tongue, by a heart that deceived itself; the governmnent became the bloodhound of the slaveholder, to track and catch his God-like property. So our vast possessiolns, acquired by our blood and treasure, became an Aceldama, a field of blood unto this day. And great men and good men shouted loud hlosannas over these peaceful measures, and declared that Ie who lioldeth the winds in Ilis fists would bind these contending breezes, and that there should be a great calm. Ah! the anaconda was only resting from his bloody feasts. Now and then he opes his ponderous jaws, and swallows dow-n, as a sweet morsel, the body and the soul of a Long, or a Sims, some poor Christian free man or free -Noman. But its fell hunIger does not yet gliaw within. And we only said, ” It is the price of the Uiiion, this precious Union. It is the condition of our couitry’s existence. Throw the slave Daniel into the Southern den of lions. Our farms, our stores, our schlools, must flourish even if a few negroes suffer slightly. They arc half brutes. They cannot feel tire chains, the whip, the auctionblock, the breaking of heart-strings, thle fiery stake of a death. What are they compared with our great and glorious Union?’Off with thleir heads! “‘ And on we marclhed, and boasted, and declared ourselves the standard-bearers of the race, and called onl Europe to witness our glory, to fall at our feet, and follow our illustrious leadership to universal democracy. But that great serpent awoke; nay, rather, lie never slept. IIe bided his time; and when our boasts were loudest, and political calm thle deepest, he said, ” Give up that useless Missouri Compromise. It aggravates the South. It does you no good. It will make no difference in thle end. Slavery can never flourish in those territories. Don’t woulid our feClings by adhlering to its punctilios. You very generously abandoned the WAVilmot Proviso, because of our sensitiveness. Do thle gelnerous thing once more.” We were struck aghast. “‘Give up the Compromise’? Open the gates of the Eden of the continent to this river of’ death, that has burned and blackened so many fair fields? Never! The Thirteen States fought eight years rather than submit to foreign tyranny. We will fight as long rather than surrender a domain twice as large as the Colonies embraced to a domestic tyralnny imimeasurably worse.” Loud rose the cry: “It is ours. It shall remain ours.” And behold, while we cry, our represeuItatives hold it out to the greedy clutch of the slaveliolder. It is grasped. It is swallowed, and to-day the arch tempter is the sole ruler in that Paradise. Freedom, intelligence, and enterprise, art, civilization, and Christianity, every grace and strength of humanity, have fled, as the angels that frequented the holy Eden, and Satan, sin, and death revel in its desecrated forests and prairies, their unquestioned possession. Thus these things are. Not by one step, nor two, have we reached this goal,Obut by a practical inmbruting of the conscience, by yieldi.ng to the demands of this awful iniquity, by violently opposing and abusing its earnest enemies. Had not these members of Congress fought against the anti-slavery movement with fiurious passion, they would not be found to-day enacting this bill. The lilght that was in them is darkness; and how great is that darkness! What an awful depth upon depth of darkness! Great men in the pulpit and the forum set the bad example of mocking at the higher law, and now their bayers on deride the very law which they so idolatrously worship. So comes Pandemonium, no law, but Chaos and old Night. ” Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shline; Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine! Lo, thy dread empire, Chlaos, is restored; Light dies before thy uncreating word: Thy hand, great Anarcib, lets the curtain fall, And universal darkness buries all.” Verily as we have sown, so do we reap this day. Saul is conseliting to the martyr of this first-born of Christianity. Saul, the Pharisee of Pharisees, we, who titlie mint and aniiise and cummin, and neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment and mercy and truth, we stand by while the murderous rocks are being hurled at its head; we share in the robber’s spoils -its sacred lands, with all their hidden but real wealth of happiness and prosperity. You and I, my brethren, have too much to do with this dire act. Have you not said, “Party first, liberty afterward”? Have you not cried, “Union, Union, Union, now and forever,” carefully omitting the word “Liberty,” which alone makes that Union an honor or a blessing? Have you not filled your ears with the shouts, “Our Nation, however bounded, and however ruled,” so that you could not and would not hear the wail of your oppressed fellow-citizens, that heart-broken entreaty fi’om the depths of that vast dungeon, covering a half million of square miles – ” Am I not a man and a brother?” Have you not said, “The slave belongs to his master; how can I interfere?” Hlave you not acknowledged the right of man to say to his brother, his sister, “Thou art my property, to be worked, whipped, starved, sold, ravished, killed, as I will?” IIave you not forgotten often in your daily prayers to pray for those in bonds as bound with them? Iin insolence of heart have you not despised “God’s image cut in ebony; ” ay, cut in ivory too, if that seems to you the more precious? for the blueeyed, yellowv-haired Saxon, no less than his swarthier brother, groans to-day inii that prison-liouse. lIave you not joined in jeers and slanders against the abolitionists, and given ground for the remark of a senator from Georgia, MIr. Toombs, but last Thursday, that “the governmenlt has but little to fear from thle abolitionists. Their greatest achievements have beenI to raise mobs of fugitives and free negroes, and to incite them to murder and other crimes, and their exploits generally end in subornation of perjury, to escape the criminal courts. The whole concern is not worth anI ounce of powder.” lIave you not apologized for, defended, and even applauded the system of slavery, commendilng the graces of the masters, the submission, contentrnent, and even happiness of the slave? IIave you not cherished a pride of caste, declared complexion a IIeaven-appoiiited barrier of separation between the children of Adam, a great gulf, across which no white and wealthy Dives could pass to mingle in perfect unity of feeling and life with a black or tawny Lazarus, barbarous, beggarly, and sore-smitten, as you saw and said, albeit he was even then lying in Abrahlam’s bosom, the best beloved of all his children? Have you not thus declared the diversity of the human race, and given yotr sinful aversion the authority of a divine decree?’ Let him that is without sin among us cast the first stone at those lofty in position and power, who but give the logical and inevitable conclusion to these feelings; who say, ” The negro has no identity of rights with the white,” as you say hlie has none of blood; ” the abolitionist is a madnmaii, scatterinug firebrands, arrows, and death. Money is everything. Alake money. Extend slavery. Crush out abolitionism! ” Anrd it is done. In their grand if gloomy palace of hell sit these slave masters of the people, all of whom are their slaves, and most of whom, if of white faces, hug their chains and kiss their conquerors’ feet. They exult, as did the Pandemonium chiefs over their mragnificent structure. They exclaim witlh the Babylonian monarch, “Is not this great Babylon that I have builded? ” “Surely a
ll the principalities and powers, all the offices and honor of the American continent, shall be ours, and ours forever.” They heed not the footstep of the descending God; they hear not that avenging voice whispering in their heart of hearts, “Tlhou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; ” then what becomes of thy stores of power, pomp, and pride? “An answer sweeps through the troubled night With a shout for the slave and a shout for the right. Hear ye not, hear ye not, through your marble arch, The iron tramp of the millions marlch? The earthquake awakes in a giant start, And breaks the clhain whichl has bound his heart.” By such slow and steady approaches the citadel of liberty has been enclosed, undermined, taken. America is no loinger a free nation. No longer can she boast that in ller borders the rights of man are inviolable. Icrlec may the oppressed find liberty, and the heavy laden rest. Not in obedience to constitutional scruples, not by a sudden surprise, temptation, or fall,tas this destruction come upon her. This act is against all constitutional statements or suggestions. She gives her hand, if not her heart, to the vote. So far from being the first triumph of the Tempter, it is the autumnal fruit of seeds sown by our fathers’ hands, and nurtured and enriched by the assiduous culture of three genlerations. From the ordinance of 1787, which admitted slavery to all our country south of the Ohio, by forbidding it north of that line, and which built up the enormous power of this crime in four of the largest and most influential of our Slave States, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabamna, and Mississippi, we have descended to tlhe ordinance of 1854, which prohibits freedom in all tlhe territory that had been pledged sacredly to liberty, which practically and intentionally forbids any restrictions on the march of this demon over any part of tlhe national domain. Thlere is no national life in us. Beftore the world, before God, wve stand to-day in a bl)acker infamy than rests upon any other power. We have become the basest of kin,gdoms. The lowest of tlhe nations of the earth look down upon us. France has liberated its slaves in Algiers and thle WAVest Indies. Russia has emancipated its serfs, Mexico its citizens. Brazil discourages slavery and encourages its extirpation. Turkey represses this accursed trade. AWe alone, of all Christian, of all heathen lands, avow the div-inc origin of slavery, and accord it unlimnited life. WQ alone tear down thle wvall of separation our fathers had built, and say to tlhe sea of unspeakable crime and agony, “N o longer sh-all it be said to thee, by man or God,’ iere shlall thy proud \waves be stayed;’ but dash, roar, roll onward and onward, engulfing all those vast and blessed regions with an arkless deluge of death.” If Jefferson could say, in his day, ” I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just,” what must we say, \who have seen that country descend from one point of baseness to another, until now African cruelty, Egyptian degradation, or Romanii corruption, in the heig,hts of their excesses, were hardly more vile, were far less guilty? There should be no more Fourth of July, its celebration is a mockery; no more reading of the Declaration of Indepen dence, – we are independent no longer: the slave’s collar and manacles burden our neck and arms; no more boast of our Christianity as a nation, wlhen our President and Con gress exceed Nero and his selate in pagan edicts and crimes; no more vaunts of our greatnless among the nations of the earth. They have heard of our sliameni, they have seeI it, and they rejoice in it. We, raised to heaven by free institutions and all the culture that has ever yet been giveln to man, have voluntarily cast ourselves dowjn to hell. Before God and all the world, America stands to-day the propagandist of slavery, the advocate and practicler of the dogma that man can, and should, and shall own his fellow lman; that we are endowed by the Creator, not with iualien able rights of life, liberty, and thel-c pursuit of happiiess, but of murder, bondage, and the destruction of haplpiness; that there is no sacredness in the miarriage tie, nlo duty to believe in or regard the affections of father or mother, husbaid or wife, brother or sister; thlat the “peculitar ” and very domestic ” institution ” of home life and love is coIifined exclusively to those who have not a drop of Afieican blood in their veiis; that the lhuman auction-block, the wNlhipping-post, the branding-iron, the bloodhound, the gallows-tree, and the stake —in a w-ord, every barbarisnmare the true elements of a nation’s grovwth and glory. Thlese are the doctrines enacted by tlhe prescot CoIigress of thle United States, approved by our present President, atld published to the w-orld as tlhe coinsummate flower of Christian civilization in this land of the Puritan, Ilugucieot, alnd Qualker, in the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Cllrist, the cighteen hundred and fifty-fourthl. The pei that put tlhe figlures of that date of c redemption upon this satanic bill must have sllrunk Trol.the profianity, if the heart and hand that it served were so depraved as to be unconscious of the horrible sin. The deepest depth is reached. There may be a tableland of darkness upon which future legislators and executives shall erect other trophies of their wickedness, the abolition of all laws which tow prevent the bringing or keeping and trading of slaves in the Free States; the reinstatement of the African slave trade- a trade far less cruel than that which is regularly carried on under the protection of our government between Baltinmore and New Orleans; tile enslaving of white laborers as well as those of tie darker hue, who now pine in chains; the acquisition of Cuba by robbery or by open war with Spainl, as we fought with Mexico, to win a new region for this crime; and, at last, and not improbably, a war’ith Great Britain, to prevent Canada’s harborilngl the fugitives from our oppression. Then cometh the end – a return to violence, ignorance, idleness, and bestiality surpassed only by those in that “outer darkness,” the “dogs, sorcerers, whoremonigers, murderers, idolaters, and whosoever lovetli and maketh a lie.” Is this our filture? M\ust our star be hurled from the heavens up whose steeps it was marching with such a rapid, vigorous, and lustrous step? Shall our fiine gold become dimr, our name, long the terror of tyrants, become their byword, our strength for thlie oppressed of all lands change to a rotten reed whichl pierceth the hand that leans upon it, and snaps while it stings? This we are! It is no shall be. The eclipse is on the sun. Darkness is now over all the land. The glow is faded from the heavens, and all isles and continents, even to distant most Asia and Africa, gaze with awe and sadness at the pale, cold light which we shed upon their dreary realms. But yesterday the nation “Stood against the world; now lies she here, And none so poor to do her reverence.