previous next
[5] against Southern slavery,--that it may not result in Northern slavery; because time has shown that it sends out its poisonous branches over all our fair land, and corrupts the very air we breathe. Our fate is bound up with that of the South, so that they cannot be corrupt and we sound; they cannot fall, and we stand. Disunion is coming, unless we discuss this subject; for the spirit of freedom and the spirit of slavery are contending here for the mastery. They cannot live together: as well, like the robber of classic fable, chain the living and the dead together, as bind up such discordant materials, and think it will last. We must prosper, and a sound public opinion root out slavery from the land, or there must grow up a mighty slaveholding State to overshadow and mildew our free institutions.

I have said, Mr. President, that we owe gratitude to Mr. Adams for his defence of the right of petition. A little while ago it would have been absurd to talk of gratitude being due to any man for such a service. It would have been said, “Why, he only did his duty, what every other man would have done; it was too simple and plain a case to need a thought.” But it is true that, now, even for this we ought to be grateful. And this fact is another, a melancholy proof of the stride which the influence of slavery has made within a few years. It throws such dimness over the minds of freemen that what would once have been thought the alphabet of civil right, they hail as a discovery.

But I will not wander from my subject to slavery; it is our own rights which are at issue; and the first cry that awakened the nation to the importance of that issue, was the voice of the Ex-President. On that “gray discrowned head” were fixed, in awful suspense, the eyes of the nation. Others came at length to his aid. I wish this resolution may pass, that, as far as in us lies,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Quincy Adams (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: