but the champion of the fundamental principles of the Constitution
The right of petition we had thought as firmly fixed in the soil of America
as the Saxon
race which brought it here.
It was the breath of life during our colonial history, and is recognized on every page of our history since as the bulwark of civil liberty.
Antiquity and the historical associations of our mother country had rendered it so sacred that we looked confidently to that for protection and redress, when all other means should fail.
Upon the friends of abolition, of free discussion, of equal rights, throughout the land, insult had been heaped on insult, and outrage added to outrage, till we thought that malice had done its worst.
All the outworks that guard the citadel of liberty had been in turn overthrown.
The dearest rights of freemen had been, one by one, torn from us. We had heard, at a time of profound peace, in the midst of our most crowded cities, the voice of the multitude once and again overwhelm the voice of the laws, almost without the shadow of an attempt at resistance on the part of the civil magistrate
We had seen a price set by a Southern legislature on the head of a citizen of Massachusetts
, for presuming to think as he pleased, and to speak what he thought, within the borders of the old Commonwealth; and this insult had been answered only by a recommendation on the part of our own Executive that whoever dared to move the question of slavery should be proceeded against at common law. We had long known that we held our lives and property at the will of the mob; but now, as if by common consent, the North
seems ready to yield to Southern threats the right to speak and to think.
“The time had come when eloquence was to be gagged, and reason to be hoodwinked,” We had heard in old Faneuil
, and from the