and legalize a new slave trade. A new slave trade! Consider this well. You cannot forget the horrors of what is called ‘the middle passage,’ when the crowds of unfortunate human beings, stolen, and borne by sea far from their warm African homes, are pressed on shipboard into spaces of smaller dimensions for each than a coffin. And yet the deadly consequences of this middle passage have been supposed to fall short of those, which are sometimes undergone by the wretched caravans, driven from the exhausted lands of the Northern slave States to the sugar plantations nearer to the sun of the South. It is supposed, that one-quarter part often perish in these removals. I see them, in imagination, on this painful passage, chained in bands or troops, and driven like cattle, leaving behind what has become to them a home and a country (alas! what a home, and what a country!)—husband torn from wife, and parent from child, and sold anew into a more direful captivity. Can this take place with our consent, nay, without our most determined opposition? If the slave trade is to receive a new adoption from our country, let us have no part or lot in it. Let us wash our hands of this great guilt. As we read its horrors, may each of us be able to exclaim, with a conscience void of offence, ‘Thou canst not say I did it.’ God forbid, that the votes and voices of the freemen of the North should help to bind anew the fetter of the slave! God forbid, that the lash of the slave-dealer should be nerved by any sanction from New England! God forbid, that the blood which spirts from the lacerated, quivering flesh of the slave, should soil the hem of the white garments of Massachusetts! But we are told that all exertions will be vain, and that the admission of a new slave State is ‘a foregone conclusion.’ But this is no reason why we should shrink from our duty. ‘I will try,’ was the exclamation of an American general on the field of battle. ‘England expects every man to do his duty,’ was the signal of the British admiral. Ours is a contest holier than those which aroused these animating words. Let us try; let every man do his duty. And suppose New England stands alone in these efforts; suppose Massachusetts stands alone; is it not a noble solitude? Is it not a position of honor? Is it not a position where she will find companionship with all that is great and generous in the past—with all the disciples of truth, of right, of liberty? It has not been her wont on former occasions to inquire whether she should stand alone. Your honored ancestor, Mr. Chairman, who from these walls regards our proceedings to-night, did not ask whether Massachusetts would be alone,. when she
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.