had now been in the Senate for nearly twelve years, and Massachusetts
was to re-elect him for the third term, or choose another man. What were called his extreme views, had alienated from him large
numbers of his party, and especially in Massachusetts
it was known that in attempting his re-election, his friends would encounter the most bitter opposition.
The First Proclamation of Emancipation,—September 22, 1862,— had filled the hearts of his friends with new hope, and inspired his enemies with greater malignity.
A meeting was called of the citizens of Boston
, to respond to the First Proclamation, and once more,—October 6th—the Senator
was to address his constituents in Faneuil Hall.
Before an immense meeting, which was transported with the greatest enthusiasm, he pronounced his well-known speech on the policy of Emancipation, in the opening of which he uttered the following words in defence of his public course:
Such are accusations to which I briefly reply.
Now that we are all united in the policy of Emancipation, they become of little consequence; for even if I was once alone, I am no longer so. With me are the loyal multitudes of the North, now arrayed by the side of the President, where, indeed, I have ever been.
If you will bear with me yet longer in allusions which I make with reluctance, I would quote, as my unanswerable defence, the words of Edmund Burke, when addressing his constituents at Bristol.
‘And now, gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride on the nature of the charges that are against me. I do not here stand before you accused of venality, or of neglect of duty.
It is not said that, in the long period of my service, I have in a single instance sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition or to my fortune.
It is not alleged, that, to gratify any anger or revenge of my own or of my party, I have had a share in wronging or oppressing any description of men, or any one man of any description.
No! the charges against me are all of one kind,—that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far,—further than a cautious policy would warrant, and further than the opinion of many would go along with me. In every accident which may happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in depression, and distress, I will call to mind this accusation, and be comforted.’
Among the passages in eloquence which can never die, I know none
more beautiful or heroic.
If I invoke its protection, it is with the consciousness, that, however unlike in genius and fame, I am not unlike its author in the accusations to which I have been exposed.
fellow-citizens, a year has passed since I addressed you; but, during this time, what events of warning and encouragement!
Amidst vicissitudes of war, the cause of Human Freedom has steadily and grandly advanced,—not, perhaps, as you could desire, yet it is the only cause which has not failed.
Slavery and the Black Laws are abolished in the national capital; slavery interdicted in all the national territory; Hayti and Liberia recognized as independent republics in the family of nations; the slave-trade placed under the ban of a new treaty with Great Britain; all persons in the military and naval service prohibited from returning slaves, or sitting in judgment on the claim of a master; the slaves of Rebels emancipated by coming within our lines; a tender of compensation for the abolition of Slavery: such are some of Freedom's triumphs in the recent Congress.
Amidst all doubts and uncertainties of the present hour, let us think of these things and be comforted.
I cannot forget, that, when I last spoke to you, I urged the liberation of the slaves of the Rebels, and especially that our officers should not be permitted to surrender back to Slavery any human, being seeking shelter within our lines; and I further suggested, if need were, a Bridge of Gold for the retreating fiend.
And now all that I then proposed is embodied in the legislation of the country as the supreme law of the land.