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CHAPTER IX.

Delivers a Speech at the Plymouth Festival—its peroration quoted

-makes his memorable Speech in the Senate, The Landmark of Freedom; Freedom National-extracts—his final protest for himself and the Clergy of New England against Slavery in Nebraska and Kansas—his remarks on that occasion.

On the 1st of August, 1853, Mr. Sumner made a brilliant speech at the Plymouth Festival in commemoration of the embarkation of the Pilgrims. His remarks on that interesting occasion were particularly felicitous, glowing with the flame of patriotic eloquence. His address was truly a noble Finger-point from Plymouth Rock," in the closing sentiments of which we have these words :

“Sir, if the honors of this day are not a mockery; if they do not expend themselves in mere

; selfish gratulation; if they are a sincere homage to the character of the Pilgrims—and I cannot suppose otherwise,—then is it well for us to be here. Standing on Plymouth Rock, at their great anniversary, we cannot fail to be elevated by their example. We see clearly what it has done for the world, and what it has done for their fame. No pusillanimous soul here to-day will declare their self-sacrifice, their deviation from received opinions, their unquenchable thirst for liberty, an error or illusion. From gushing multitudinous hearts we now thank these lowly men that they dared to be true and brave. Conformity or compromise might, perhaps, have purchased for them a profitable peace, but not peace of mind; it might have

, secured place and power, but not repose; it might have opened a present shelter, but not a home in history and in men's hearts till time shall be no

All will confess the true grandeur of their example, while, in vindication of a cherished principle, they stood alone, against the madness of men, against the law of the land, against their king. Better be the despised Pilgrim, a fugitive for freedom, than the halting politician, forgetful of principle, with a Senate at his heels.'

Such, sir, is the voice from Plymouth Rock, as it salutes my ears. Others may not hear it. But to me it comes in tones which I cannot mistake. I catch its words of noble cheer :

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• New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good un

couth; They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of

Truth : Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires ! we ourselves must Pilgrims be, Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate win

ter sea.'"

The next great senatorial effort of Mr. Sumner was his speech against the repeal of the Missouri prohibition of Slavery north of 36° 30' in the Ne. braska and Kansas Bill, delivered in the Senate, February 21, 1854. This speech, which is known by the title of The Landmark of Freedom ; Freedom National, is one of the ablest and most earnest vindications of national justice ever made in a legislative body. The opening remarks, which we quote, are very forcible and eloquent, and afford an excellent example of Mr. Sumner's character as a lover of right and a defender of freedom.

“MR. PRESIDENT: I approach this discussion with awe.

The mighty question, with its untold issues, oppresses me. Like a portentous cloud, surcharged with irresistible storm and ruin, it seems to fill the whole heavens, making me painfully conscious how unequal I am to the occasionhow unequal, also, is all that I can say, to all that I feel.

“In delivering my sentiments here to-day, I shall speak frankly-according to my convictions, without concealment or reserve. But if any thing fell from the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Douglas), in opening this discussion, which might seem to challenge a personal contest, I desire to say that I shall not enter upon it. Let not a word or a tone pass my lips, to direct attention, for a moment, from the transcendent theme,—by the side of which Senator's and Presidents are but dwarfs. I would not forget those amenities which belong to this place, and are so well calculated to temper the antagonism of debate; nor can I cease to remember and to feel, that, amidst all diversities of opinion, we are the representatives of thirty one sister republics, knit together by indissoluble tie, and constituting that Plural Unit, which we all embrace by the endearing name of country.

“The question presented for your consideration is not surpassed in grandeur by any which has occurred in our national history since the Declaration of Independence. In every aspect it assumes gigantic proportions, whether we simply consider the extent of territory it concerns, or the public faith and national policy which it assails, or that higher question—that Question of Questions, -as far above others as Liber

is above the common things of life—which it opens anew for judgment.

“It concerns an immense region, larger than the original thirteen States, vying in extent with all the existing free States-stretching over prairie, field, and forest-interlaced by silver streams, skirted by protecting mountains, and constituting the heart of the North American continent--only a little smaller, let me add, than the three great European countries combined—Italy, Spain, and

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France-each of which, in succession, has dom. inated over the globe. This territory has already been likened, on this floor, to the Garden of God. The similitude is found, not merely in its present pure and virgin character, but in its actual geographical situation, occupying central spaces on this hemisphere, which, in their general relations, may well compare with that early Asiatic home. We are told that,

"Southward through Eden went a river large;' so here a stream flows southward which is larger than the Euphrates. And here, too, amidst all the smiling products of nature, lavished by the hand of God, is the lofty tree of Liberty, planted by our fathers, which, without exaggeration, or even imagination, may be likened to

the tree of life,
High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit

Of vegetable gold.'” The closing passages of this speech exhibit a high order of declamation :

“ The Prohibition of Slavery in the territory of Kansas and Nebraska stands on foundations of adamant, upheld by the early policy of the Fathers, by constant precedent, and time-honored compact. It is now in your power to overturn it; you may remove the sacred landmark, and open the whole vast domain to Slavery. To you is committed this

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