Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

name of Adam GIBSON, was claimed as the Slave of a citizen of Maryland, and delivered up on proofs of a most loose and unsatisfactory character. Upon being offered to the supposed master, he was refused as not the right man, and sent back to Philadelphia! This flagrant case, which showed how entirely the liberty of freemen was at the mercy of perjured conspirators, must have the good effect of making Commissioners and Judges more careful in their perquisitions into the status of a person claimed as a Slave.

This good effect was witnessed in the second Slave case in New York, that of HENRY LONG, claimed as a Fugitive from Virginia. The hearing was removed from the Commissioner's Office to the District Court, before Judge Judson, and it lasted several days. His counsel, Messrs. Jay, WHITEHEAD, and WHITE, interposed every species of legal obstruction, and defended him to the last with admirable skill and perseverance. Mr. GEORGE Wood, who had presided over the Castle Garden Slave-catching Meeting, signalized his sense of Constitutional duty, and dishonored a long life of professional eminence, by appearing as the swift counsellor of the Slave-hunter. All efforts in favor of the unhappy wretch were in vain, and he was delivered up to his claimant, and duly forwarded, under an escort of United States police, to Richmond.

Previous to, as well as after these cases, the public sentiment against the Bill was expressed in public meetings, held in various parts of the Free States. A great meeting of the colored people of New York, was held early in October, at which vent was given to the agony alarm, into which that unhappy class of our countrymen was thrown by that infernal legislation, in resolutions and speeches of the most exciting character, and embodied in a well-written and cogent Address to the People of New York, entreating them to do what they could to procure its repeal. On the fourth of October, a great meeting of the colored citizens of Boston was held in Belknap Street Church, of the most resolute and enthusiastic character. Besides stringent resolutions, an Address of the Fugitive Slaves to the Clergy of Massachusetts, was adopted, urging them by all the motives of patriotism, humanity, and religion, “to lift up their voices like a trumpet against the Fugitive Slave Bill, designed for our sure and immediate re-enslavement.” “Thus,” it concludes, "will you exalt the Christian religion, oppose the mightiest obstacle that stands in the way of human redemption, exert such a moral influence as shall break the rod of the oppressor, secure for yourselves the blessings of those who are ready to perish, and hear the thrilling declaration in the great day of judgment,

of

*Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it unto me.

On the fourteenth of October, one of the greatest and noblest meetings ever held in Faneuil Hall, filled the Cradle of Liberty to overflowing, for the denunciation of the Law, and the expression of sympathy and co-operation with the Fugitive. It was held in consequence of a wish expressed by the Fugitive Slaves, residing in Boston, for a public expression of the feelings and intentions of the citizens of Boston, in regard to the Fugitive Bill. The Call was signed by JOSIAH QUINCY and a great number of most respectable citizens of all political parties. The Hon. CHARLES FRANCIS Adams presided, and opened the meeting, after a most impressive prayer by the Rev. Dr. LOWELL, with a speech full of fiery indignation at this new wickedness, and worthy of his name and the place. Mr. Douglass spoke on behalf of the Fugitive Slaves, with his usual effectiveness. Messrs. WENDELL PHILLIPS, THEODORE PARKER, and CHARLES L. REMOND, made earnest and deeply impressive speeches. The following resolutions, offered by RICHARD H. Dana, Jr., Esq., were passed by acclamation :

“Whereas, the recent act of Congress, known as the Fugitive Slave Law, has caused great anxiety among our fellow-citizens of color, driving some of them from their homes and leaving others in a state of doubt and terror, incompatible with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquillity, their natural rights, and the blessings of life which are guaranteed to every individual by the Constitution of Massachusetts; and whereas, we have assembled here in Faneuil Hall, at their request, to consider the condition of the Fugitive Slaves and other colored persons of this city, under said Law, and have deliberated and counselled together; therefore,

Resolved, That our moral sense revolts against the new Fugitive Slave Law, believing it to involve the height of injustice and inhumanity, since it violates the golden rule of Christianity, of doing unto others as we would have them do to us, and the command of God himself, uttered from Mount Sinai, “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant that hath escaped from his master unto thee.'

Resolved, That as citizens, we denounce this Law as contradictory to the Declaration of Independence, as inconsistent with the purposes

of the Constitution of the United States, which was ordained to establish justice, and secure the blessings of liberty, and as in direct violation of its provisions, because it takes away the benefit of the Habeas Corpus,

the right of the people to be secure in their persons against unreasonable seizures, and deprives men of their liberty without due process of law.

Resolved, That we cannot believe that any citizen can be found in this city or vicinity, so destitute of love for his country and his race, and so devoid of all sense of justice, as to take part in returning a Fugitive under this Law.

Resolved, That we individually pledge to our colored fellow-citizens who may be endangered by this Law, all the aid, co-operation, and relief, which the obligations of each of us to the supreme law of God and right impose upon us; and we accordingly advise Fugitive Slaves and other colored inhabitants of this city and vicinity to remain with us. We have no fear that any one will be taken back to the land of bondage, and we trust that such as have already fled in fear will return to their business and their homes.

Resolved, That as we believe this Law to be repugnant to the will of a vast majority of the people of the United States, their Senators and Representatives ought to demand its INSTANT REPEAL at the next session of Congress.”

A Committee of fifty was appointed to act as a Committee of Vigilance and Safety, " to take all measures they shall deem expedient, to protect the colored people of this city in the enjoyment of their lives and liberties." These duties were well performed by them during the peril of the CRAFTS, and we doubt not they will be found equally prompt and energetic should any fresh necessity unhappily arise. .

Great meetings were also held in a multitude of places, in which a determined resolution to trample the Law under foot was manifested. At Lynn, Worcester, Springfield, New Bedford, Hingham, Syracuse, Buffalo, Albany, Pittsburg, and an uncounted number of other places, these assemblies were held, breathing a generous rage at the enacted wickedness, and a deliberate purpose to resist it. At Worcester, it was

Resolved, That it is our imperative duty to strive for the abolition of the Law at the earliest period possible, and that until such repeal is effected, we declare our unwavering purpose to disregard its provisions, and pledge ourselves never to assist in the recapture of Fugitive Slaves, but, on the contrary, to use all righteous means for their escape and protection, and abide the consequences.

Resolved, That we prefer to meet all the penalties imposed for the performance of the obligations which Christianity enjoins, rather than escape the punishment by a violation of those sacred duties which we owe to our fellow-men.'

And it was farther voted, that in case the Marshal, or any other

person should appear in the town, in search of a Slave, alarm should be given by ringing the bells !

The following are a portion of the Springfield resolves :

Resolved, That 'resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.'

Resolved, That we know of no tyranny more galling, nor oppression more degrading, than that law which would change a man to a thing.

Resoloed, That it is the inalienable right and solemn duty of all men oppressed by such a law, to emancipate themselves. Therefore, those who have accomplished this great object for themselves and children, are worthy of all honor, of the sympathy, kind regards, and protection of all true lovers of liberty.

Resolved, That that portion of our population who have escaped from the house of bondage, have by their own act in the providence of God, become free and independent, and have a right to dwell with us upon

free soil. Resolved, That whereas they never were a party to that compact which provides for delivering up Fugitives from Slavery, therefore they are justified in using such means for the protection of themselves and families as God and Nature have given them.

Resolved, That we here pledge ourselves to our fellow-citizens to stand by each other in determined resistance to this Law, and to Fugitives from the South to protect them from their pursuers, and we will, if necessary, suffer the consequences.

Voted, That alarm be given by ringing of the bells whenever an attempt may be made to arrest a Fugitive.

At Syracuse, a very great meeting was held, at which the principal citizens assisted, which was inspired with the most burning zeal against the Law and its infamous makers, and the most cordial sympathy towards the endangered Fugitives. The following are a portion of the resolutions.

Resolved, That every intelligent man and woman, throughout our country, ought to read attentively, and understand the provisions of this Law in all its details; so that they may be fully aware of its diabolical spirit, and cruel ingenuity, and prepare themselves to oppose all attempts to enforce it.

Resolved, That we are summoned to withstand the execution of this Law, not only by the highest consideration of the claims of suffering fellow beings upon our sympathy and aid, but by a proper regard to our own personal safety. As Slaveholders are no respecters of complexion, there can be no security that their arrests, under this jaw, might not fall upon some descendants of the Anglo-Saxon race, as well as of the African.

Resolved, That the friends of freedom and humanity ought to agitate more than ever, the question which this Law was devised to settle. Let the country be rocked by discussion from centre to circumference until every one who has a heart may be aroused to inquire what is his or her duty, and fired with the determination to do it.”

The question coming up before the Chicago (Ill.) Common Council, as to their duties as municipal officers, in relation to the Bill, that body defined its position in the following emphatic manner, by a vote of ten to three.

"Whereas, the Fugitive Slave act, recently passed by Congress, is revolting to our moral sense, and an outrage upon our feelings of justice and humanity, because it disregards all the securities which the Constitution and laws have thrown around personal liberty, and its direct tendency is to alienate the people from their love and reverence for the Government and institutions of our country; therefore

* Resolved, That as the Supreme Court of the United States solemnly adjudged that State officers are under no obligations to fulfil duties imposed upon them as such officers, by acts of Congress, we do not therefore consider it our duty, or the duty of the city officers of the city of Chicago, to aid or assist in the arrest of Fugitives from oppression.”

Of course we can only record a very small part of the action which was taken at a very small part of the meetings held throughout the Free States, as a testimony against the Abominable Bill. Those that we have given are a fair sample of their spirit. These meetings, - it will be recollected, were not meetings of “ technical Abolitionists," nor yet of Free Soil men peculiarly, but were characterized by the presence of the principal members of the other parties, and not unseldom presided over by one of the municipal authorities. We are confident that the sense of these meetings expresses that of the best portion of the population, and foreshadows the execration with which that detestable law will be branded by this generation, as well as by the impartial voice of posterity. It may contend, indeed, for the preeminence of badness with the proposed non-legislation which is to give Slavery the new world which it has long sighed to conquer ; but in absolute, downright, unblushing, unmistakeable, outspoken villainy, it stands by itself. Indeed, the one may be regarded as the complement of the other. Both together make up the grand “Statesmanshipof the present hour. Statesmanship, in this country, being always to be

« AnteriorContinuar »