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[301] which he called ‘a prostitution of the official organ of the Parent Society to party purposes.’ The essay was as much out of place as one on infant sprinkling would have been. It had filled him with grief and amazement, and, as a peace man and an abolitionist, he denied all Birney's allegations. He rejected the ‘no-government’ epithet as libellous. ‘We religiously hold to government’—of heaven, not of man. Taking up the arguments of his censor, he disposed of them in a number of syllogisms, the fundamental one being as follows:

To “endeavor to influence Congress” is required by the Anti-Slavery Constitution;

But Congress can be influenced independent of political action at the polls;

Therefore, such action is not required by the Constitution.

Moreover, Congress was to be influenced as an existing body; the creation of it was not in question. Moral action, again, was alone contemplated by the Constitution; but this was enjoined by nature and by God. Political action was a privilege, and constituted no moral test whatever. In the nature of the case it could not be a test for women, minors, aliens (all of whom were to be found among the subscribers to the Constitution), while conscientious scruples debarred from it Covenanters, non-resistants, many of the Society of Friends, some of the signers of the Declaration of Sentiments, and not a few of the framers of the Constitution itself. Yet these were shown to the door by Mr. Birney, as disqualified for membership: ‘In other words, the American Anti-Slavery Society ought, and was designed, to be a thoroughly political organization.’ To this self-constituted Board of Inspection non-resistants gave notice that they would not leave the Society, seeing no difficulty in harmonious action, conscientiously, as heretofore. The charge that it was absurd in them to petition Congress, they met by affirming that however inconsistent they might appear

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J. G. Birney (2)
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