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the Potomac, has the majesty of the laws been at all maintained, if the question of slavery has been in the most remote degree involved 2 There is no law for the slave, or him who desires his freedom: both are beyond the protection of law; and, so far as they are concerned, the majesty of the country is but a broken reed ; and, if a man should attempt to lean on it, he would be pierced through as with a dart. The universal expression is, there is no trust to them ; and yet this is called a land of liberty and of laws. In such a state of things can any thing be more untrue 2 it is neither one nor the other. The slave is restrained because it is said he is born a slave ; the white man, because he must not question such violation of every thing that is just and true, honorable, or of good report. And, consequently, we find in all the arguments brought forward to sustain the system — if argu... ments there are any — a most confused mixture of truth and falsehood, and such an attempt to blend liberty and slavery, that perfect nonsense, or the blending the meaning of words, is the only result ; or else we come off like the platter in Mother Goose's Melodies, wiped perfectly clean: “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, His wife could eat no lean ;. And so betwixt them both They wiped the platter clean.” It is thus with the rights of both the white and colored man: the South will not endure the slave should possess any, and the people at the North cannot endure the white man should open his lips. to assert he has any ; and so, forsooth, for the mess of pottage which it is supposed can be wrung out of the hard earnings of the slave, this whole land, this whole continent, must be delivered over into the hands of despotism; and that beautiful and satisfactory idea, that men, as a body, can govern themselves, and by the light of reason, which as a lamp is placed within the breast of every one, guided by the Spirit of God, is enough to show them in their path, and direct them in the way they should go, must give place to the horrible one that man requires a keeper; that by his Creator a large portion, at least, are made incapable of taking care of themselves, and, in consequence, there must be lords, there must be masters. Are the people of America ready to sanction this doctrine : Are they ready, after passing through the severe struggle they have, now to lay down their arms and submit unresistingly to the chains that are ready to be forged for their limbs Do they mean to give up the contest, and recline in inglorious ease, and let the man be swallowed up in the brute? If so, let slavery be continued; let our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence be blotted from the records of the nation ; let us proclaim to the world we are a debased people; that all we have heretofore said upon the subject of liberty was but a “rhetorical flourish,” unmeaning sounds, and spoken only to deceive ; that we all had ulterior views. It was not the good of man we sought; it was not for him we contended; but, rather, that our own selfishness might be gratified, and that we might have increased opportunity to lord it over our brother man.
We do not yet believe the American people have so far descended in the scale of degradation that they will sanction the proceeding of those at the South who yet hold slaves, or those at the North who encourage them in it. But, rather, that they will come out and assert the purity of their motives, and in all their tribunals they will speak a voice on the side of freedom that shall not be misunderstood.
IN making these, and perhaps in some of our other extracts, we have not strictly followed the precise language, though we have, in all cases, we believe, kept strictly to the idea. We have advanced no thought that was not in the mind of the writer or speaker. We should have had to copy so much from this work, had we used in all cases the language of Mr. Wirt or Mr. Henry, - though the language of both is extremely interesting, and is well worth perusing by every one, – it would have swelled our own volume beyond what might be desirable. As we have, however, made our references when the language is the most closely followed, we hope those who are sensitive on this point will excuse us for any departure we have allowed ourselves in this particular.
In making the following extracts, we are aware it may involve us in some repetition; but, as they help to elucidate our subject, and to show the thoughts and feelings of one of the most distinguished men of the age in which he lived, the anxiety he felt for the liberties of the country, and the jealousy with which he received the adoption of the present Constitution of the United States, in the bearing it might have on those liberties, we have concluded to make them. As we are now entering upon an era either for good or for ill, as the question of slavery may be decided in this country, and upon that decision the happiness of millions, perhaps for many generations, may be involved, all the light that can be thrown upon this discussion, and the thoughts of those who have taken an interest in this subject, and particularly of those who have taken an active part in bringing about a state of society such as that in which we are at present living, should be fairly laid before the community, that they may be able to decide and to judge how far that light should be followed, and wherein the judgment of our predecessors was governed by truth and right IteaSO11. There can be no doubt we should at times follow an ignis fatuus, if we should attempt blindly to follow any one individual in all his imaginings; but yet perhaps we may be able to learn something even from the incoherent wanderings of a dreamer. There is beauty in the flower, though we sometimes crush it beneath our feet; and we, perhaps, should be surprised at the delicacy of its tints and outlines, were we to take more particular notice of its parts, the order and perfection of its arrangements. Nothing is to be looked upon with indifference. A single thought has produced revolutions, and may yet produce many more. The United States may be considered as advancing to a state of manhood. In their child