one of the greatest of American orators, made several speeches in Congress that will always command our highest admiration; but the one to which a somewhat extended reference is made in another chapter, when an attempt was made by the slaveholders to expel him from that body, easily ranks among the first three exhibitions of American eloquence.
I quite agree with Mr. Curtis
in giving the Faneuil Hall speech of Wendell Phillips
a pre-eminent place.
A meeting had been called to denounce the murder of Lovejoy
, the Abolitionist editor.
The audience was composed in large part of pro-slavery rowdies, who were bent on capturing or breaking up the meeting.
One of their leaders — a high official of the State of Massachusetts
, by the way-made a speech in which he justified the murderous act. “That speech must be answered here and now,” exclaimed a young man in the audience.
“Answer it yourself,” shouted those about him. “I will,” was the reply, “if I can reach the platform.”
To the platform he was assisted, and although an attempt was made for a time to howl him down, he persisted, and before long so interested and charmed his hearers that his triumph was complete.
It did not take the country long to realize that in that young man, who was Wendell Phillips
, a new oratorical luminary had arisen.
He took up the work of lecturing as a profession, treating on other subjects as well as slavery; but when slavery was the subject no charge was made for his services.
Said Frederic Hudson
, the noted New York editor, in 1860: “It is probable that there is not another ”