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[46] practically pledged the free States against any further reopening of the question, and sealed their complicity in the maintenance and protection of the accursed institution. While that measure was pending, John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State, lamented the fatality by which all the most eloquent orators were found on the pro-slavery side.
‘There is,’ he wrote, ‘a great mass of cool judgment and1 of plain sense on the side of freedom and humanity, but the ardent spirits and passions are on the side of oppression. O! if but one man could arise with a genius capable of comprehending, a heart capable of supporting, and an utterance capable of communicating those eternal truths which belong to the question,—to lay bare in all its nakedness that outrage upon the goodness of God, human slavery,—now is the time, and this is the occasion, upon which such a man would perform the duties of an angel upon earth.’

The Massachusetts statesman who confided this fervent wish to his diary and then, as Cabinet minister, gave his assent to the Compromise, was clearly not the man for the occasion, and he little dreamed that the one he sighed for was even then, in his own State of Massachusetts, mastering the use of the weapon with which, a decade later, he was to startle and arouse a guilty nation. Neither did he recognize and welcome him when the tocsin of the Liberator convulsed the South with terror, and proclaimed the beginning of the end of slavery. As little did Caleb Cushing suspect that the apprentice-boy who put his editorials in type, and in whom, as a bright and promising lad, he took a friendly interest, was destined to prove his assertion that colonization was impossible, and gradual emancipation impracticable, and to show the only right and safe way to cure a gigantic evil. And no more did the boy himself realize for what work he was marked out.2

1 J. Quincy's Memoir of J. Q. Adams, p. 102.

2

He knew not that his chosen hand,
Made strong by God, his native land
Would rescue from the shameful yoke
Of Slavery—the which he broke!

Coleridge, after Stolberg's Tell's Birthplace.

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