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course, the perplexities of the situation, the irritation of criticism from without,-but Nature has no use for excuses. If there is a cancer in the system it is useless to plead the expense of the surgery or the pain of the knife. The alternative is simple-removal or death.
It is always impossible to distinguish closely in the causes of events between the action of human will and the wider forces which we call Nature or Providence. But in some eras we distinguish more clearly than in others the effect of human personalities. For example, in the making of the Constitution we see a difficult situation taken wisely and resolutely in hand by a group of strong men; they made themselves a part of Fate. But in the fluctuating history of slavery, with its final catastrophe, we seem to be looking at elemental movements; masses of men drifting under impulses, with no leadership adequate to the occasion. The men who seemingly might have mastered the situation, and brought it to a peaceful and right solution, either could not or would not do it.
What happened was, that two opposite social systems, existing within the same political body, came into rivalry, into hostility, and at last into direct conflict. In the early stages, slavery had on its side the advantage of an established place under the law, the support of its local communities becoming more and more determined, the long-time indifference and inertia of the free States, custom, conservatism, timidity, race prejudice. But against all this were operating steadily two tremendous forces. In the race for industrial advantage which is at last the decisive test, free society was superior to slave society by as much as the freeman is superior to the slave. The advantage of the Northern farmer or mechanic over the negro slave was the measure of the advantage of the North over the South. In increase of wealth; in variety, intensity, and productiveness
of social life; in immigration; in intellectual progress, the free States outstripped the slave States by leaps and bounds. And, again, in the conscience of humanity,-in mankind's sense of right and wrong, which grows ever a more potent factor in the world's affairs,-the tide was setting steadily and swiftly against slavery. To impatient reformers who, as Horace Mann said, were always in a hurry, while God never is, the tide might seem motionless or refluent, as to him who looks hastily from the ocean shore; but as the sea follows the moon, the hearts of men were following the new risen luminary of humanity's God-given rights.
And so, under each special phase of the conflict, slavery had against it that dominant force which acts on one side in the material progress of society, and on the other side in the human conscience; that force-" some call it Evolution, and others call it God."
THE MEXICAN WAR
We have seen that about 1832-3 a new distinctness and prominence was given to the slavery question by various events, the substantial victory of the South Carolina nullifiers, and the leadership thenceforth of the South by Calhoun; Nat Turner's rising, and the rejection by Virginia of the emancipation policy; the compensated liberation of the West India slaves by the British Government; and the birth of aggressive Abolitionism under the lead of Garrison. We have now to glance at the main course of history for the next twenty years. Party politics had for a time no direct relation to slavery. The new organizations of Whigs and Democrats disputed on questions of a national bank, internal improvements, and the tariff. The Presidency was easily won in 1836 by Jackson's lieutenant, Van Buren; but the commercial crash of 1837 produced a revulsion of feeling which enabled the Whigs to elect Benjamin Harrison in 1840. His early death gave the Presidency to John Tyler of Virginia, who soon alienated his party, and who was thoroughly Southern in his sympathies and policy.
The newly aroused anti-slavery enthusiasm in the North found expression in petitions for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. It was not intrinsically a great matter, but it was the one point where the national authority seemed clearly to have a chance to act-questions of new territory being for the time in abeyance. Petitions poured in on Congress with thousands of signatures—then with tens, then hundreds of thousands. There was a hot
struggle as to whether the petitions should be received at all by the Senate and House. John Quincy Adams, willing after his Presidency to serve in the humbler capacity of congressman, was the champion of the right of petition. Calhoun had entered the Senate in 1832 and remained there with a brief intermission until his death in 1850. He stood independent of the two great parties, with his own State always solidly behind him, and with growing influence over the whole South. He was the leader in opposing the admission of the petitions. He maintained that any discussion in Congress of such a topic was injurious and incendiary; he voiced the new sentiment of the South that all agitation of slavery was an invasion of its rights. "Hands off!" was the cry. The question was settled in 1836, after long debates, by another compromise, proposed by James Buchanan of Pennsylvania; the petitions were given a formal reception, but instantly rejected without debate.
Another burning question was the circulation of antislavery documents through the Southern mails. In 1835 a mob in Charleston broke open the post-office, and made a bonfire of all such matter they could find. The social leaders and the clergy of the city applauded. The postmastergeneral under Jackson, Amos Kendall, wrote to the local postmaster who had connived at the act: "I cannot sanction and will not condemn the step you have taken." Jackson asked Congress to pass a law excluding anti-slavery literature from the mails. Even this was not enough for Calhoun; he claimed that every State had a right to pass such legislation for itself, with paramount authority over any act of Congress. But the South would not support him in this claim; and indeed he was habitually in advance of his section, which followed him generally at an interval of a few years. Congress refused to pass any law on the subject. But the end was reached without law; Southern
postmasters systematically refused to transmit anti-slavery documents-even of so moderate character as the New York Tribune-and this was their practice until the Civil War. "A gross infraction of law and right!" said the North. "But," said the South, "would you allow papers to circulate in your postoffices tending directly to breed revolt and civil war? If the mails cannot be used in the service of gambling and lotteries, with far more reason may we shut out incitements to insurrection like Nat Turner's."
On a similar plea all freedom of speech in Southern communities on the question of slavery was practically denied. Anti-slavery men were driven from their homes. In Kentucky, one man stood out defiantly and successfully. Cassius M. Clay opposed slavery, advocated its compensated abolition, and was as ready to defend himself with pistols as with arguments. He stood his ground to the end, and in 1853 he settled Rev. John G. Fee at Berea, who established a group of anti-slavery churches and schools, which was broken up after John Brown's raid, but after the war was revived as Berea College. But as a rule free speech in the South was at an end before 1840. No man dared use language like that of Patrick Henry and Madison; and Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, if newly published, would have been excluded from the mails and its author exiled.
South Carolina passed a law under which negro seamen on ships entering her ports were put in jail while their vessel remained, and if the jail fees were not paid, they were sold into slavery. When Massachusetts seamen suffered under this law, the State government in 1844 dispatched an eminent citizen, Samuel Hoar, to try to secure a modification of the enactment. Arriving in Charleston, accompanied by his daughter, Mr. Hoar was promptly visited in his hotel by a committee of prominent men and obliged to leave the city and State at once.