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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 589   View pdf image (33K)
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589
holder and give him all that he might ask,
the tiling began to grow so hard, and the
light shining through the darkness began to
be so strong, that even the gleam of gold
might not hide it from the eyes of the most
interested; and they resolved that come what
would hereafter, the territory of the United
States should be free; that come what would,
slavery should never progress beyond the
boundaries of the States in which it existed.
They then contemplated nothing more. They
elected a President who was bound to carry
into operation their will expressed by his
election.
Then came slavery to its fair, legitimate
place; for true to all the instincts of the in-
stitution, with all the light that God and
religion, and education, and freedom, and
Christ, had thrown upon it, it would rather
rule in hell than serve in heaven; and it
ruptured the bonds that bound the Southern
country to the North, because its extension
was stopped. Do the advocates of slavery
thick what this war is? Do the gentlemen
that think three years is so short a time for
opinion and conviction to change, think how
near this war has come to an end? Do they
think the mother whose son went out in the
pride of his manhood to die for his country,
and whom she believes has been slain by the
upholders of slavery, will teach her children
that come after that boy, to maintain slavery
in this land? Will the father, strong pro-
slavery man as he may have been, who has
sacrificed perhaps his three sons in saving his
country, and who believes them to have been
destroyed by the upholders of slavery, teach
other children and raise up another family to
support slavery? Think you this is the ope-
ration of the human mind? When you have
taken from a man all that is highest, dearest,
and bast, do you think be will aid you to
take more from him? Do gentlemen think of
the treasure that has been spent and the blood
that bus been spilled? Do they remember
that all the free men of the North, who,
either by sickness, or by wounds, or bysudden
death upon the battle-field, have gone down
to the grave protesting against slavery, were
a body of men most of them in the prime of
life and with a bright future before them,
nearly equal in number to all the slaveholders
of the South? I tell you that the blood of
redemption has been shed, man for man.
Are the people of this country to forget all
that? More treasure than they ever accumu-
lated through all their traffic with the South,
they have spent gladly to preserve their coun-
try. They are prepared to double it; they
are prepared to triple it. They are prepared
to give their last son, and the fathers are pre-
pared to go; but they will not have this war
now to cease until slavery shall be forever
crushed. Though the land of the North be
depopulated, though its treasure be depleted,
this war has now gone so far, and they have
seen so clearly that slavery and slavery alone
is the cause of this war, that I stand here to-
day believing and praying that this war shall
cot cease until slavery shall be abolished
through the length and breadth of this land.
A wiser and more eloquent man than I
foresaw this long ago. Patrick Henry said
in Virginia, that if the time ever came when
she raised her arm against the Federal Gov-
ernment, one proclamation by the President
of the United States would be enough to free
every slave in the South, The time has
come. It is now simply a question of en-
durance, and a question of time.
Slavery exists only by local law. The
civilized world deny its existence as property.
As property, as a question of international
law, it does not exist. There is no power
existing in the United States to-day to make
the thing claimed upon the floor of this House
as property, recognized by any nation with
which it has amicable treaties. It exists only
by local laws. It is within the power of the
law of the State clearly and beyond dispute,
to put an end to its existence whenever it
may so please Gentlemen forget that slavery
has been a test question for some years, not
only here but in every State in the United
States. They apparently forget, what they
ought to have known, that when the tide
upon which they have been riding so triumph-
antly in its flow, should begin to ebb, the in-
stitution of slavery was gone. They might
have known that whenever the time should
come when the voice of humanity and of
God could be heard, there would be no half-
way measures. There would be no gradual
sweeping it away; but quick as was the evil
to come, quick would it go, if haply with
the sin we might throw off the consequences,
if having sown the storm we might forbear
to reap the whirlwind, or the whirlwind set-
ting forth might haply bestayed, and no more
be visited upon our people.
Every reason which has been alleged or
given for maintaining slavery could be given
with equal justice by Barbary for holding its
Christians prisoners in bondage. No less a
man than Benjamin Franklin made this state-
ment to Mr. Jackson, and showed that every
argument urged in favor of African slavery
would exactly apply word for word to the
case of Christian prisoners languishing upon
the shores of Barbary. Fourteen millions of
immortal souls are brought from Africa in
the African slave trade, in different parts of
the world, and this is right. This, gentle-
men tell us, is the legitimate offshoot of the
Christian religion. For this Christ came into
the world that nations should be founded on
slavery; that men should control the bodies
and souls of their fellows, the Son of God
died upon the cross. But I will not conde-
scend to meet an argument—assertions of
such a kind as this. I leave it to the en-
lightened sense of the world I will not put


 
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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 589   View pdf image (33K)
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