Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

SPEECH OF REV. DR. HAGUE,

At the Indignation Meeting in Albany, June 6, 1865. Mr. President, it has been asked, in the spirit of ultra-conservatism, why should a clergyman leave his pulpit and the peaceful routine of his profession, to mingle with statesmen and civilians upon any occasion touching which the opinions of the community may be divided? Why should he thus hazard his influence for the spiritual good of men with any class or party! Recently, ex-Governor Washburn, of Massachusetts, in declining to attend a meeting of this character, gave, as his excuse, that he did not feel at liberty to commit the Law School of the University with which he is connected to any thing that might be deemed a party measure ; and the Hon. Edward Everett, also, has assigned as a reason for non-attendance under similar circumstances, that he had retired from public life! But, sir, it has been aptly asked, had he also retired from private life? [Applause.] By a strange combination of events, the great principles that lie at the basis of public and private welfare are in jeopardy throughout this country; and I promptly answer your call to unite in public action with my fellow-citizens on this occasion, because I would not have it supposed by any human being that, I would be the minister of a Christianity that is capable of indifference to evils so momentous. [Applause.] When freedom of speech is struck down in the Capitol, when that liberty which is dearer than life is assailed by many hands, let the opinion prevail that Christianity has too high and too holy an office to take any part in the contest, or to lift aloud the voice of her testimony, and at once she “resents the foul indignity, claps her wings and takes her flight, leaving nothing in her room but a base and sanctimonious hypocrisy !” [Applause.] If a pagan audience in a Roman theatre could feel one electrical thrill produced by that celebrated line of a noble poet, “I am a man, and am indifferent to nothing that affects humanity,” surely it is fitting for me to say in this presence-I am a Christian minister; and since the fortunes of humanity are intrusted to my country, I am indifferent to nothing that affects her destiny. [Applause.]

а

Mr. President, I will not detain you, nor my fellow-citizens here assembled, by any elaborate description of the outrages and the shocking enormities that have been committed in Washington and Kansas, which have elsewhere been subjected to a searching analysis, and commented upon in terms of honest, indignant reprobation. Our hearts have been stirred to their depths by a perusal of these blood-stained records ; our slumbers have been disturbed by frightful visions of the homes of freemen wrapped in flames; of the smouldering ruins of prosperous towns, and of families robbed of their hard earnings by hordes of border-ruffians, sustained and stimulated to deeds of violence by a national administration, whose complicated policy, like a wiry net-work moved by the hundred-handed giant of ancient story, has been so extended and contracted as to “crush out” the young communities who sought a peaceful settlement upon the unoccupied soil of Kansas.

While moved with grief in view of these calamities and of this national disgrace, a voice of eloquent remonstrance reaches us from the nation's Capitol. An honored senator, a scholar, a gentleman, well versed in the rules of debate, rises in his place, traces the rise and progress of this lawlessness, and charges the responsibility attached to it upon its real authors and supporters. Surrounded by men who met his calm gaze with glances of defiant wrath, and under the eye of a presiding officer able and ready to resist the least infringement of the rules of parliamentary debate, he, nevertheless, bore himself with an unsurpassed dignity, commanded their attention, and gained a moral victory. But the arrows of truth rankle in the hearts of his enemies. After the hour of adjournment he still retains his chair, bends down over his manuscript, and plies his pen in order to prepare his letters for the mail ; and there, in all the unsuspiciousness of an honest heart, while performing his duty, he is suddenly felled by a stealthy blow from the bludgeon of an assassin, and the floor of the Senate chamber is stained with gore! From that hour to this that bloody stain bath put forth a voice, and like the blood of Abel, hath called to heaven and earth for avenging justice. It shall not call in vain! [Applause.]

But then, Mr. President, let us be assured, it is not merely sympathy with the personal sufferings of men, women, and children in Kansas, that stirs the spirit of the North, and fills this hall to-night with a throng of indignant men. It is not merely sympathy with the personal wrongs of Charles Sumner, as the gallant defender of these injured people, that draws multitudes together in assemblies like this, from the Atlantic to the great Lakes. Oh, no! Sympathy with personal wrongs is a mighty principle, but it does not develop itself after this fashion. But, sir, these things are the signs of a more portentous evil that lies away back of this whole array of atrocities. In the person of Charles Sumner freedom of speech has been struck down, and in the palliations as well as in the applause that followed it, the reign of ruffianism has been inaugurated and proclaimed at the national Capitol. The people see in this series of outrages a deliberately formed conspiracy against liberty—a conspiracy to employ ruffian force in conjunction with the overwhelming power of the general government, to subserve the ends and aims of an audacious slavery propagandism. [Applause.]

Does any one ask, sir, why these things are so-why borderruffianism is triumphant, and why the temple of liberty has been desecrated by deeds of infamy that would bring disgrace upon the veriest despotism on the earth? Sir, this state of things has an instructive history; and in one important particular, public opinion needs to be rightly directed by a clear view of the facts of that history. Public opinion, guided by the lights of southern politics, has been, for some time, accustomed to attribute the origination of all our troubles connected with slavery to the fanatical abolitionism of the North, exciting the South to fanatical reactions. But this statement of the case comes from a very narrow view of the past. History will not justify it. I wish to call the attention of every man in this house, who may be interested in our civil history, to the statements I am about to make on this point, for it has sometimes been seen that even men of learning, well read in their country's annals, in relation to this subject, have been misguided by erroneous and unjust impressions. It has often been said that Massachusetts was the prolific source of that fanatical abolitionism which irritated, galled, and alarmed the South; but the truth is, South Carolina became, first of all, the genial hot-bed of that pro-slavery fanaticism, which has, for the last quarter of a century, agitated the whole country, startled it from hard-earned repose by the announcement of revolting doctrines, by gigantic schemes of slavery propagandism, and by reckless efforts for the attainment of supremacy. South Carolina, who now applauds her sons while wielding bludgeons in their ruffian war upon free men and free speech, has been the original plague-spot upon our body-politic, whence has proceeded that fatal virus that has diffused poison through all its veins. [Applause.]

Yes, Mr. President, you often hear it said by us conservatists (for I claim to have a place in the ranks of conservatism), [laughter], that to the abolition-ultraism of Massachusetts, which as an organized force is now about twenty-five years of age, is to be attributed all the agitation which has since shaken the republic to its centre. But, sir, the organized fanaticism of proslavery had an earlier birth than that, at the South, and was developed in fulness of form before Garrisonian abolitionism had produced the slightest stir in the country. If any one doubt this statement, let him turn to the pages of such a work as the African Repository; let him look at the number for the month of October, 1830, and he will find the leading article, “ An Appeal to South Carolina.” It is an able article. It was written by a southern man; it was published at Washington, with the approbation of many southern men. It contains an argument addressed to the chivalrous little State against the course she had been previously pursuing in banishing from her borders all the agents of the American Colonization Society, on the ground that even their cautious efforts for gradual emancipation were hostile to the permanent interests of slavery, and it closes with a solemn warning against the fearful consequences of adopting a policy which involved the idea of the perpetuation of the slavesystem. To that appeal South Carolina would not listen. Here she stood before the world an embodiment of pro-slavery fanaticism, muffling the trumpet of free speech within all her boundaries, although its notes fell only upon the ears of white men; and from that time she has moved forward with steady step in her bad career, until her policy has become predominant—until the moral sense of neighboring States has become debauched by her doctrines--until the federal government has become subservient to her bidding - until territory consecrated to freedom has been filched from its rightful owners—until the Senate chamber has been stained with blood shed by her applauded ruffianism-until freemen, who deem it barbarous to carry pistols or bowie-knives, tamely whisper their honest sentiments at the corners of the streets in the National Capital ! This terrible regime, which has now issued in a reign of terror at Washington, originated, not in Massachusetts, but in South Carolina. [Applause.]

But, sir, this South Carolinian policy did not represent, twenty years ago, the spirit of the South. It was not a Virginian policy; it was not a North Carolinian or a Georgian policy. Kentucky, the home of Henry Clay, Tennessee, and other States, favored the humane sentiment of gradual emancipation. These States still honored the names of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and the men who framed the ordinance of 1787. It was said by Senator Corwin, in his celebrated speech of 1848, that there were not to be found three counties in the State of Virginia, that had not expressed their desire, by public resolutions, that the Western Territories should all be settled by agriculturists, mechanics, artisans, by free proprietors, and not by a race of slaves. Such was the spirit of the Old South. But there has now sprung into being a Young South, scouting the doctrines of their fathers, madly set upon wielding the sceptre of a great slave-power, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and yielding themselves as willing captives to grace the triumph of this rampant South Carolinianism. [Applause.]

And what, sir, are the chief elements which distinguish this policy of South Carolinianism? It is distinguished, sir, by a sentiment and by a doctrine. Its leading sentiment is the scoRN OF

Its leading doctrine is that SLAVERY IS A GOOD THING, SANCTIONED BY CHRISTIANITY, THE PERMANENT BASIS OF THE SOCIAL SYSTEM, TO BE PERPETUATED AND EXTENDED. South 'arolinianism looks down with contempt upon those who rise to fortune by their own energies, or those who proceed from the loins of men who have cut their path to distinction by their own hands. Alas, what an insult to Senatorial dignity was perpetrated when men of blood and ancestry were expected to acknowledge the equality of Gen. Wilson, whose sobriquet with them was "the Natic Shoemaker !”. Had they not suffered enough from the

FREE LABOR.

« AnteriorContinuar »