to the editor by nine eminent citizens of St. Louis
(including H. R. Gamble
, her present provisional Governor), urging him “to pass over in silence everything connected with the subject of Slavery;” which, in due time, he respectfully declined.
The immediate cause of the excitement here alleged was the illegal and violent seizure, in Illinois
, of two white men suspected of having decoyed slaves away from Saint Louis
The suspected persons, having been forcibly brought to St. Louis
, and there tried and convicted by a mob, which voted, 40 to 20, to whip, rather than hang them, were accordingly taken two miles back of the city, and there whipped between one and two hundred lashes — the sixty wealthy and respectable citizens taking turns in applying the lash.
A public meeting was thereupon held, wherein it was gravely
2. Resolved, That the right of free discussion and freedom of speech exists under the Constitution; but that, being a conventional reservation made by the people in their sovereign capacity, does not imply a moral right, on the part of the Abolitionists, to freely discuss the subject of Slavery, either orally or through the medium of the press.
It is the agitation of a question too nearly allied to the vital interests of the slaveholding States to admit of public disputation; and so far from the fact, that the movements of the Abolitionists are constitutional, they are in the greatest degree seditious, and calculated to excite insurrection and anarchy, and, ultimately, a disseverment of our prosperous Union.
3. Resolved, That we consider the course pursued by the Abolitionists, as one calculated to paralyze every social tie by which we are now united to our fellow-man, and that, if persisted in, it must eventually be the cause of the disseverment of these United States; and that the doctrine of amalgamation is peculiarly baneful to the interests and happiness of society.
The union of black and white, in a moral point of view, we consider as the most preposterous and impudent doctrine advanced by the infatuated Abolitionists — as repugnant to judgment and science, as it is degrading to the feelings of all sensitive minds — as destructive to the intellect of after generations, as the advance of science and literature has contributed to the improvement of our own. In short, its practice would reduce the high intellectual standard of the American mind to a level with the Hottentot; and the United States, now second to no nation on earth, would, in a few years, be what Europe was in the darkest ages.
4. Resolved, That the Sacred Writings furnish abundant evidence of the existence of Slavery from the earliest periods.
The patriarchs and prophets possessed slaves — our Saviour recognized the relation between master and slave, and deprecated it not: hence, we know that He did not condemn that relation; on the contrary, His disciples, in all countries, designated their respective duties to each other.
Therefore, Resolved, That we consider Slavery, as it now exists in the United States, as sanctioned by the sacred Scriptures.
, on his return to the city, put forth an address to “My fellow-citizens,” wherein he said:
Of the first resolution passed at the meeting of the 24th October, I have nothing to say, except that I perfectly agree with the sentiment, that the citizens of the non-slaveholding States have no right to interfere with the domestic relations between master and slave.
The second resolution, strictly speaking, neither affirms nor denies anything in reference to the matter in hand.
No man has a moral right to do anything improper.
Whether, therefore, he has the moral right to discuss the question of Slavery, is a point with which human legislation or resolutions have nothing to do. The true issue to be decided is, whether he has the civil, the political right, to discuss it, or not. And this is a mere question of fact.
In Russia, in Turkey, in Austria, nay, even in France, this right most certainly does not exist.
But does it exist in Missouri?
We decide this question by turning to the Constitution of the State.
The sixteenth section, article thirteenth, of the Constitution of Missouri, reads as follows:
“That the free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and that every person may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.”
Here, then, I find my warrant for using, as Paul did, all freedom of speech.
If I abuse that right, I freely acknowledge myself