previous next
‘ [440] great people could or should have borne with equanimity’ this practical exemplification of the ‘cosmopolitan vagueness and extravagance’ embodied in the Liberator motto, ‘Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind.’ Further, that while it would now be foolish and unjust to throw stones at the abolitionists for seeking foreign coadjutors, ‘it would be at least as foolish and unjust to make it a reproach to the rest of the American people, that they felt the dragging of foreigners into the most difficult and important question of their politics to be an insult (Schimpf), and that they did not regard this question simply from the point of view of human beings (Menschen), or citizens of the world, but, before all, approached it as Americans.’1

This dictum is open to the comment that the ‘cosmopolitan vagueness and extravagance’ of the Declaration of Independence on which the abolitionists relied for their own justification, was designed to command universal assent, and has, in fact, as a seminal principle, never ceased to work changes and upheavals in foreign countries from the first French Revolution downwards. Further, that mouths which were repeating and applauding, every Fourth of July, the self-evident truth that ‘all men are created equal’ were, morally speaking, choked against crying down a foreigner who joined them in offering homage to it.2 It must also be clear that a people which had blessed Polish banners in Faneuil Hall3 had nothing to complain of in an agitation conducted by non-partisan non-resistants, and kept strictly within the

1 See in Lib. 4.201 the Boston Courier's approval of the Salem Gazette, which called Thompson an ‘itinerant stirrer up of strife,’ and declared. ‘The pride of our countrymen will not long submit to foreign interference.’

2 ‘Meanwhile, every true citizen of that country must necessarily be content to have his self-government tried by the test of these principles [the truths of the Declaration], to which, by his citizenship, he has become a subscriber. . . . and he will quarrel with no results fairly brought out by such a test, whether they inspire him with shame or with complacency. In either case, he will be animated by them’ (Harriet Martineau's “Society in America,” Part 1, Politics).

3 Ante, p. 250.

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.
George Thompson (1)
French Revolution (1)
Harriet Martineau (1)
Lib (1)
Americans (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 4th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: