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The Board of Managers of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society present themselves this year to their constituents for the Twentieth time, to render an account of their ministry. For the period of twentyone years that this Society has been in existence, we think that we can claim for it the praise of undeviating, unswerving devotion to the object for which it was created. With all its imperfections of performance, all its shortcomings and errors, it has done a great work, the precursor only of greater yet to come. From this Society have sprung the American Anti-Slavery Society and all its numerous auxiliaries. It was the first organized body, in America, that attacked Slavery on the principle of its inherent sinfulness, and enforced the consequent duty of Immediate Emancipation. It found the nation in a state of lethargy as to the condition and rights of their enslaved countrymen; it has aroused it to an earnestness of conflict on one side and the other, which can never cease but in the victory of Freedom. All the events of an hisa torical character which have marked the annals of the last twenty years may be distinctly traced to the agitation which this Society set first on foot in this country. The enemies of Impartial Freedom have been forced to throw aside their disguises and to stand forth the open defenders of Slavery upon its merits. The politics of the country have been compelled to take openly the course into which our institutions were contrived secretly to direct them. Freedom and Slavery have been brought face to face in single combat, with the world for spectators. And though the first successes may appear to have been found crowning the worser side, we have no fear for the issue of the conflict. Of this battle the events of the last year have made most important parts ;- perhaps the most important in their meaning and
in their issues of any that have as yet marked the combat.
We must pray your indulgence for the scanty justice which our time and space will permit us to do to them.
The Thirty-First Congress, which died a natural death on the Fourth of March last, distinguished itself above all its predecessors by the abandoned profligacy of its subservience to the Slave Power. Its deeds, which justly entitle it to the epithet bestowed by one of its admirers, (Mr. Rufus CHOATE) of “the Congress of Compromises,” we recorded at length in our last Report. The expiring session of 1850–51 was remarkable for a silence as expressive and more ominous than all the loud-mouthed excitement of the longer session. Silence was the Order of the Day. Slavery was a tabooed subject. Every petition for the Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law, or for any other matter leading to a reöpening of the Slavery question, was promptly laid on the table. But its presence was all the more vividly felt for this attempt to close the eyes of the nation to it. The newspapers at the capital and throughout the land never resounded more loudly with the question than during this very season of silence. Even in Congress, itself, it would at times compel a reluctant hearing. Mr. GidDINGS in the House and Mr. Hale in the Senate made occasions to utter hated truths in unwilling ears. The plan which that wily Slaveholder, Mr. Clay, initiated for the removal of the Free Colored People to Africa, under the disguise of an armament of war-steamers for the Suppression of the African Slave Trade, gave Mr. Hale an opportunity of exposing the inconsistency of love of Slavery in America and hatred of the trade from which it sprung in Africa. The members of Congress felt themselves so insecure in their fidelity to the Union they had saved, that they prepared and signed a Pledge of Total Abstinence from Speech on this subject and of withholding support from any Presidential Candidates who did not accept the Gospel of Compromise. After this season of rest from the Pro-Slavery orgies of the preceding session, this Evil Congress gave up the ghost in those convulsions of debauchery and ruffianism that have marked the ending of so many of its predecessors. It would be a bold thing, perhaps, to affirm that none to come can surpass its infamy, (for who can calculate the possibilities of American wickedness ?) but it is safe to say that it has
bettered the example of any that has gone before it. The Congress that admitted Texas, even that which declared war with Mexico, must hide their diminished heads in the presence of this newer and more gigantic culprit. Of the seed that they planted and watered their late successor has reaped the harvest and poured its poisonous growth into our bosoms. They robbed Mexico of broad provinces and steeped her soil with the blood of thousands in the process, but this latest born of time has shown the designs worse than robbery towards which the Nation thus stalked through crime and gore. It is true one golden remnant was saved out of the maw of all-devouring, still insatiate Slavery; but it was only at the cost of giving to Texas a territory equal to New England for the purposes of Slavery and Ten Millions of money to help her in the infernal propagandism.
Slavery being thus excluded from California by the character of the population its golden sands had drawn thither, by the act of the inhabitants themselves, through no favor or goodwill of Congress or the Government, the balance was to be made to preponderate in some way on the side towards Slavery. So New Mexico and Utah were left without any protection against its incursions, but with every opportunity and facility for it to enter in and possess the land. In the face of the array of geographical impossibilities which Mr. WEBSTER had conjured up to darken counsel and perplex the minds of men, we hear accounts of the actual emigration of masters and Slaves into those territories, and the violent probability that both, and the almost unquestionable certainty that one, will ere long demand admission to the Union as a Slave State. And as if these concessions were not enough, this Evil Congress cast the Fugitive Slave Bill as a makeweight into the scale, as stern Brennus did his sword, more as an insult to the vanquished than for the actual difference it would make in the result. Not satisfied with carving a new Slave State out of Texas, as a counterpoise to California and holding the door open by force for Slavery to take possession of the other two Territories, if it see good, it takes away
from • the North the trial by jury in cases of personal liberty, appoints
dependent officers of the Courts to perform functions from which Hale or Mansfield might have shrunk, so fearful are the responsibilities and so vital are the interests involved, bribes them to decide adverse to liberty, and compels all the good people of the nation to be art and part of this national scheme of kidnapping under penalty of fine and imprisonment. These are some of the acts which will make the Thirty-First Congress infamously memorable to the latest posterity.
Other Congresses have done villanously, but thou hast surpassed them all.
It has been not more fruitful of public wickedness than it has been fertile in the development of personal depravity. It has seen the Thunderer of the Wilmot Proviso break the bolts which he himself had forged, (if he did not lie,) and hurl the fragments at those who had dared to believe him to be an honest man. It has seen Whig Representatives, elected on the faith that non-extension of Slavery was one of the fundamental articles of their creed, bullied or cajoled into withholding the only sufficient security against its interminable spread. The possession of power has shown that Whigs become worse than Democrats when that fatal gift has caused their virtue to depart from out them. The frantic fears of trade, the delusive hopes of CottonSpinners, the desperate chances of Presidential possibilities, worked a magic change in the minds and hearts, or at least in the expression of the same, of the dwellers in great cities and villages where the voice of the Spindle is ever heard. The new thunders at Washington found their altered tone reëchoed from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, not to mention the minims for which the law cares not. The members of “ the real Anti-Slavery party” were the loudest to shout hosannahs when the law erecting them into Slavecatchers was passed. One would think, to listen to their servile speech, that it was a journey like the path to Heaven” to be hounded on by a Slavehunter on the track of a wretched negro, and that this was the main object for which our institutions were founded and builded up. If the tone of the press, and the voice of public meetings called for the support of these iniquities, are to be accepted as the authentic utterance of the sense of the general mind at the North, the Evil Congress might well boast of having as evil a Constituency. If it were true that those frothy and vaporing demonstrations of Pro-Slavery zeal fitly expressed the feelings of the Northern mind, one might well despair of the Republic. For a people that is swift to proclaim that it is not worth saving, cannot be saved even by Almighty grace.
But we have faith to believe, we have cause to know, that this is not the case. Bad as the North is, corrupted and depraved as it has become by its long communications with Slavery, there is yet left a remnant sufficient to save themselves, if not the nation. The House of Representatives, thank God, do not entirely represent those standing behind them. It is true, and it will probably continue so, that the worser parts of such a polity as ours control the better for a time,
and that the prestige of success often crowns their worst endeavors. But this is but temporary and apparent, as may be seen in this very case in hand, unfavorable as it may at first sight appear to be. The more remote workings of the diabolical legislation of this Congress as to New Mexico and Utah and Texas cannot yet be discerned. But how is it as to matters nearer home? The suppression of agitation was the first good fruit the new tree of liberty was expected to bring forth. Has there ever been a time when the excitement of the public mind, South and North, has been so intense as since this olive-branch budded? Has not the very silence of Congress been a perpetual occasion of remark, whether exulting or disparaging, which was only agitation in disguise ? And have they been freed from the intrusion of the National Spectre, by this magic line of compromise which they had described about them ? Let Mr. GIDDINGS in the House and Mr. Clay in the Senate answer. Then the Slaveholders were taught to expect a general return of their lost tribes, now scattered abroad among the Gentiles, back into their patriarchal bosoms. Doubtless they saw in beatific vision the multitudes that shouted Great is Slavery and Daniel is its Prophet in Faneuil Hall, in Castle Garden, in Washington Square, would proclaim a grand battue and drive their living game before them into their toils. How far these visions have been fulfilled we shall have occasion to tell in its appropriate place. But lamentable may
have been the diabolical successes of the Slavecatchers, we have their own word for it, that they have by no means come up to their expectations.
The “ being's end and aim ” of this Congress, as of all others, was the making-up of Presidential candidates. All these demonstrations were part of the game played upon that chess-board for that stake. We have great comfort in believing that the basest of these gamesters are fated to disappointment. We must have a President, probably, but it is not likely to be any of the prominent players for it, unless, indeed, some concatenation of circumstances may conspire to make the Hero of Mexico the successor of the Hero of Buena Vista. But General Scott lacks the qualification which made his subordinate and inferior his successful competitor at the last nomination. Blood is not enough without blacks. He must bear sable as well as gules upon his coat armor who looks to be saluted suzerain of these realms. It is as essential as sixteen quarters to qualify the suitor of a German princess. Mr. Clay has been beaten too often to leave him the
chance of a nomination. Mr. WEBSTER has bid high and paid dearly for the lying