Imágenes de páginas

declare they understood the question better than we.

If any man at this day sincerely believes that 3 proper division of local from Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the Federal Territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful evi. dence and fair argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to history, and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that “our fathers who framed the government under which we live" were of the same opinion--thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man at this day sin. cerely believes “our fathers who framed the government under which we live" used and applied principles, in other cases, which ought to have led them to understand that a proper division of local from Federal authority, or some part of the Constitution, forbids the Fed. eral Government to control as to slavery in the Federal Territories, he is right to say so. But he should, at the same time, brave the responsi. bility of declaring that, in his opinion, he un. derstands their principles better than they did themselves ; and especially should he not shirk that responsibility by asserting that they "un. derstood the question just as well, and even better, than we do now."

Bat enough! Let all who believe that "our

tathers who framed the government unde. which we live understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now," speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask-all Republicans desiremin relation to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and pro. tected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity. Let all the guaranties those fathers gave it be not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, maintained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so far as I know or believe, they will be content.

And now, if they would listen-as I suppose they will not-I would address a few words to the Southern people.

I would say to them: You consider yourselves & reasonable and a just people, and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and jus tice you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to “Black Republicans." In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of " Black Re. publicanism" as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite. -license, so to speak-among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now can you or not be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves ? Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear 'us deny or justify.

You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue ; and the burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party has no existence in your section--gets no votes in your section. The fact is substantially true ; but does it prove the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape this conclusion ; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your section this very year. You will then be. gin to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section is a fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and remains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong principle or prac. tice, the fault is ours; but this brings you to where you ought to have started to a discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. It yur principle, put in practice, would wrong you section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section ; and so meet us as if it were possible that something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No! Then you really believe that the principle which “our fathers who framed the government under which we live" thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, is in fact so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation with out a moment's consideration.

Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory, which act embodied the policy of the government upon that subject up to and at the very moment he penned that warning ; and about one year after he penned it, he wrote Lafayette that he considered that prohibition a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should at some time have a confederacy of free States.',

Bearing this in mind, and seeing that section.

« AnteriorContinuar »