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was indispensable, as we know it was, to contract these engagements expressed and implied, no covenant made by man ever rested on the basis of a sounder morality. They tell us that although you have the strict right, according to the writers on public law, to whom Mr. Curtis has referred, to restore the fugitive slave to his master, yet that the virtue of compassion commands you not to do so. But in order to enable ourselves to do all that good, and avert all that evil-boundless and inappreciable both — which we do and avert by the instrumentality of a Union under a common government, may we not, on the clearest moral principles, agree not to exercise compassion in that particular way? The mere virtue of compassion would command you to rescue any prisoner. But the citizen, to the end that he may be enabled, and others be enabled, to indulge a more various and useful compassion in other modes, agrees not to indulge it practically in that mode. Is such a stipulation immoral? No more so is this of the Constitution.
They tell us that slavery is so wicked a thing, that they must pursue it, by agitation, to its home in the States ; and that if there is an implied engagement to abstain from doing so, it is an engagement to neglect an opportunity of doing good, and void in the forum of conscience. But was it ever heard of, that one may not morally bind himself to abstain from what he thinks a particular opportunity of doing good ? A contract in general restraint of philanthropy, or any other useful calling, is void; but a contract to abstain from a specific sphere of exertion, is not void, and may be wise and right. To entitle himself to instruct heathen children on week days, might not a pious missionary engage not to attempt to preach to their parents on Sunday ? To win the opportunity of achieving the mighty good summed up in the pregnant language of the preamble to the Constitution, such good as man has not on this earth been many times permitted to do or dream of, we might well surrender the privilege of reviling the masters of slaves with whom we must “either live or bear no life.”
Will the philanthropist tell you that there is nothing conspicuous enough, and glorious enough for him, in thus refraining from this agitation, just because our relations to the South, under the Constitution, seem to forbid it ? Aye, indeed! it even so ? Is his morality of so ambitious and mounting a
type that an effort, by the exercise of love or kindness or tolerance, to knit still closer the hearts of a great people, and thus to insure ages of peace of progress,
of enjoyment to so vast a mass of the family of man, seems too trivial a feat ? Oh, how stupendous a mistake! What achievement of philanthropy bears any proportion to the pure and permanent glory of that achievement whereby clusters of contiguous States, perfectly organized governments in themselves every one, f
full of energy, conscious of strength, full of valor, fond of war, instead of growing first jealous, then hostile, — like the tribes of Greece after the Persian had retired, — like the cities of Italy at the dawn of the modern world, are melted into one, so that for centuries of internal peace, the grand agencies of amelioration and advancement shall operate unimpeded; the rain and dew of Heaven descending on ground better and still better prepared to admit them; the course of time — the Providence of God — leading on that noiseless
- leading on that noiseless progress whose wheels shall turn not back, whose consummation shall be in the brightness of the latter day. What achievement of man may be compared with this achievement ? For the slave, alone, what promises half so much? And this is not glorious enough for the ambition of philanthropy!
No, Fellow-citizens — first of men are the builders of empires! Here it is, my friends, here — right here — in doing something in our day and generation towards “ forming a more perfect Union ” — in doing something by literature, by public speech, by sound industrial policy, by the careful culture of fraternal love and regard, by the intercourse of business and friendship, by all the means within our command - in doing something to leave the Union, when we die, stronger than we found it, — here — here is the field of our grandest duties and highest rewards. Let the grandeur of such duties, let the splendor of such rewards, suffice us. Let them reconcile and constrain us to turn from that equivocal philanthropy which violates contracts, which tramples on law, which confounds the whole subordination of virtues, which counts it a light thing that a nation is rent asunder, and the swords of brothers sheathed in the bosoms of brothers, if thus the chains of one slave may be violently and prematurely broken.
SPEECH DELIVERED IN FANEUIL HALL.
OCTOBER 31, 1855.
I am gratified, beyond the power of language to express, by your kindness. By this thronging audience I am even more gratified. In this alone I hope I see the doom of the geographical party. It would have been a thing portentous and mournful, if commercial Boston had not thus poured itself into this Hall, to declare, by its ten thousand voices, against the first measure tending practically and with a real menace to a separation of the States ever yet presented, or certainly in our time presented, to the judgment or the passions of the people of America. Who should be of the earliest to discern and of the wisest to decide the true great question of the day? Did anybody suppose that your intelligence could not see what a proposition to organize the people of this country into two great geographical parties must come to if successful ? Did anybody suppose that, seeing this, you would help it on, or fall asleep upon it? You, the children of the merchant princes, — you, whose profession of commerce and arts give you to know and feel, with a sort of professional consciousness and intensity, our republic to be one, -one and undivided; one and indivisible, let us say,—you, whose hearts, abroad, yet untravelled, have sometimes leaped up when you have seen the radiant flag, burning on the waste sea, along the desolate and distant coast, beneath unfamiliar constellations ;—and when you have felt your country's great arm around you, were you expected to be indifferent upon a proposition to rend her into two great rabid factions, or to be cheated into a belief that there was no such proposition before the country at all ?
Thank God, this sight dispels both branches of this mis
apprehension. The city is here, all right and straight out! Commerce is here! Commerce, in whose wants, on whose call, the Union, this Union, under this Constitution, began to be; Commerce that rocked the cradle is here, not to follow the hearse, but to keep off the murderer; or, if they prefer it, to keep off the doctor!
The arts, the industry, of civilization, of intellect, and of the people, are here; they to which the mines and wheat-fields and cotton-grounds of a bountiful and common country supply that raw material which they give back in shapes of use and taste and beauty — they
they are here;— they who celebrated the establishment of the government by long processions of the trades, by music and banners, and thanksgiving to God, — singing together as morning stars over the rising ball, for the hope of a future of rewarded labor — they are here to bear witness, that the prayers of the fathers have been graciously heard, and to remember and to guard that instrumentality of constitutional union, to which, under his goodness, they owe all these things. Aye, and the charities, the philanthropy, the humanity, that dwell in these homes and hearts, are here to make their protest against the first step to moral treason - charities that love all human kind; yet are comprehended all and enfolded in the dear name of country, — philanthropy and humanity — not spasmodic, not savage, not the cold phrase of the politician, not hypocritical, not impatient, but just, wise, combining, working with -not in spite of — the will of the Highest, sowing the seed with tears, with trust, and committing the harvest to the eternal
of God - these are here. Yes, we are all here. We come to ratify the ratification. We come to say to our excellent representatives in the late Convention, again and again, Well done, good and faithful! We come to engage our hearty support and our warmest good wishes for the success of the candidates they have nominated, every man of them. We come to declare that upon trying ourselves by all the approved tests, we are perfectly satisfied that we are alive; that we are glad we are alive, since there is work to do worthy of us; that we prefer to remain for the present, Whigs! Constitutional Whigs! Massachusetts Whigs! Faneuil Hall Whigs! Daniel Webster and Henry Clay Whigs ! — that we have no new party to choose to-night; that, when we have, we shall
choose any other, aye, any other, than that which draws the black line of physical and social geography across the charmed surface of our native land, and finds a republic on one side to love, and nothing but an aristocracy to be “abhorred” and “avoided ” on the other! Take any shape but that! We come to protest, with all possible emphasis and solemnity, against the inauguration, as they call it, of the party of the sections. We say that for any object which constitutional
patriotism can approve, such a party is useless. We say, that for its own avowed objects, if it has any specific and definite objects which are constitutional and just, it is useless. We say, that if defeated in its attempt to get possession of the national government, the mere struggle will insure the triumph of that very administration on which it seems to make war; will make the fortune of certain. local dealers in politics; will agitate and alienate and tend to put asunder whom God hath joined. We hold that if it should succeed in that attempt, it would be the most terrible of public calamities. I, for one, do not believe that this nation could bear it. I am not, it is true, quite of the mind of the Senator from Ohio, who dared to tell an assembly in Maine, not many days since, that there is now no union between us and the South; that the pretended Union is all meretricious; that there is no heart in it; that Russia does not hate England, nor England Russia, more than the men of the North and the men of the South hate each other. The allegation is, I think, yet untrue; the pleasure, the apparent pleasure and exultation with which he uttered it, is nothing less than awful! But yet, when we keep in view, as ever we must, the grand and unalterable conditions and peculiarities of the American national life; the capital fact lying underneath that we are historically, by constitutional law, and to a vast practical extent, a mere neighborhood of separate and sovereign States, united practically by a written league, or more accurately, by a government holding only a few great powers, and touching a few large objects; united better, perhaps, so far as united at all, by the moral ties of blood and race, a common flag, the memory of common dangers, the heritage of a common glory; - united thus, partially by that subtile essence of nationality, the consciousness of unity, the pride of unity, - itself a spirit of recent creation, requiring still to be