XLIII.The battle between Slavery and Freedom had been waxing hotter with every debate during the spring of 1854. On the 22d of June, Mr. Rockwell, of Massachusetts, presented the following memorial, numerously signed, chiefly by the citizens of Boston, and moved its reference to the Committee on the Judiciary:
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled: The undersigned, men of Massachusetts, ask for the repeal of the Act of Congress of 1850, known as the Fugitive Slave Bill.Mr. Sumner spoke on the reference of the memorial two days later. We extract portions of his remarks:
Mr. President: I begin by answering the interrogatory propounded by the Senator from Tennessee [Mr. Jones]. He asks, ‘Can any one suppose that, if the Fugitive Slave Act be repealed, this Union can exist?’ To which I reply at once, that if the Union be in any way dependent on an Act—I cannot call it a law—so revolting in every regard as that to which he refers, then it ought not to exist. To much else that has fallen from that Senator I do not desire to reply. He has discussed at length matters already handled again and again in the long drawn out debates of this session. Like the excited hero of Macedonia, he has renewed past conflicts,And thrice he routed all his foes,Of what the Senator has said on the relations of Senators, North and South, of a particular party, it is not my province to speak. And yet I cannot turn from it without expressing, at least, a single aspiration, that men from the North, whether Whigs or Democrats, will neither be cajoled nor driven by any temptation, or lash, from the support of those principles of freedom which are inseparable from the true honor and welfare of the country. At last, I trust, there will be a back-bone in the North. This memorial proceeds mainly from persons connected with trade and commerce. Now, it is a fact too well known in the history of England, and of our own country, that these persons, while often justly distinguished by their individual charities and munificence, have been lukewarm in their opposition to Slavery. Twice in English history the
And thrice he slew the slain.