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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 552   View pdf image (33K)
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nation preserved, with all his rights and privi-
leges as they before existed. I cannot believe
there is a citizen now within reach of my
voice who would wilfully and maliciously
destroy this government framed by our fath-
ers; a government handed down from sire to
son; a government which has bestowed upon
us in times past so many blessings; I say I
cannot believe that there is any one among us
who would wilfully and maliciously and
treacherously destroy this government. Many
of us may be under the influence of mistaken
ideas; many of us may in the heat of passion
and in the excitement of the moment say and
do things which upon proper reflection we
would refrain from. But all of us would join
together, aye, to-day, if we could welcome
back this whole country as one country, as a
united brotherhood, upon the foundation upon
which it rested years ago. I believe if that
could be done, hosannas would rise from every
man here, be he democrat or whig, be he
what is termed "secession," or be he Union.
Truly our sight is clouded, our perception
dulled by the veil of fanaticism in which we
are now enveloped. May we not hope that
the day will soon come when amidst the
mighty storm which now prevails, amidst its
darkness and thunderings, amidst its earth-
quakes and lightnings, the veil will be rent
in twain again, when the God of justice, of
peace, of mercy and of truth shall restore
this people to His favor and His blessings.
Mr. TODD. I have no disposition whatever
to prolong this debate, or to put off action
upon the; article now under consideration.
And if I were satisfied that it is the desire
of this House to discontinue the debate im-
mediately, it would he highly gratifying to
me, and I should deem it a privilege, to give
my vote now without any further considera-
tion of this article. I am not willing to be
responsible fur the continuance of this debate.
And if it is the sense of this House, and it can
be expressed to me in any way, that we
should take the vote without any further dis-
cussion, I am willing and anxious to forego
any desire I may have entertained to offer any
remarks upon this subject.
Mr. BERRY, of Prince George's. I will
state that this is a very important subject,
and I know that there are a number of mem-
bers of this Convention who desire to be heard
upon it. We want to have a full, free discus-
sion of the subject, and would like to hear
the gentleman from Caroline (Mr. Todd,) or
any other gentleman who may desire to
speak; we will listen to him as long as he
may please to address the House upon this
Mr. TODD. Than, as there seems to be an
indication that this discussion must be pro-
longed, I will proceed.
Mr. President, I have taken but a small por-
tion of the time of this Convention, and shall
therefore hope for a kind indulgence and a
charitable hearing from most of its members,
I have already received a token of what I may
expect from certain gentlemen, and I rise to-
day under the embarrassing impression that
I shall be called to the confessional, as on a
previous occasion, to answer any personal
interrogatories in relation to my private life
and my general relations to society, that may
be suggested by professional ingenuity, or
prompted by a warm and characteristic South-
ern chivalry. Sir, I wish to give notice in
the beginning that, as on a former occasion, I
shall not stoop to answer personalities; but
if gentlemen curious on the subject, will call
on me privately, it will afford me pleasure to
give them an autobiographical sketch of my
life, and how I .came to be in this Conven-
I have arisen, Mr. President, to present
some of the reasons that wilt influence my
vote upon the article, the consideration of
which is now pending. And first of all per-
mit me to define my views of slavery. They
are not of the extreme character. I cannot
agree either with those who contend that
slavery is necessarily, under all circumstan-
ces, sinful—or with those on the other ex-
treme, who claim for it divine authority, and
demand of the civilization and Christianity
of the age, its universal recognition.
Sir, were I to contend that slaveholding
is, per se, morally wrong, I should place my-
self in opposition to my own convictions,
which are the growth of any own observation
and experience, and in opposition also to the
teachings of that large and influential branch
of the Christian church of which I am happy
to be a member, which, while it has in its
church discipline from its first organization
in this country, almost a century gone by,
steadily propounded the question—"What
shall be done for the extirpation of the great
evil of slavery?" has, at the same time,
through all that period, opened ifs doors of
communion to both the master and the slave.
I wish further to quality my position by a
denial of any sympathy with negro equality;
and the additional declaration, that I favor
compensation from the General Government
to loyal slaveholders, as a remuneration tor
the loss and inconvenience they may sustain
by emancipation.
I propose, Mr. President, to discuss the fol-
lowing proposition:
That, in its aggregated existence and in-
fluence, slavery is an evil—a great evil—a.
moral, social and political evil, and ought, in
the language above quoted, to be extirpated.
And first, slavery is an evil, because it is
the invasion of a natural right.
I grew up from my cradle surrounded by,
and under the influence of slavery, and was
taught to justify it—to believe it right. But
I remember, as amongst the earliest reflec-
tions of my unsophisticated mind, the query,
"how can it be that I have a right to the

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 552   View pdf image (33K)
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