‘We admit that the mode of political action to be pursued by1 abolitionists is not strictly a question of principle, but rather one of sound expediency. We have never opposed the formation of a third party as a measure inherently wrong, but have always contended that the abolitionists have as clear and2 indisputable a right to band themselves together politically for the attainment of their great object as those of our fellow-citizens who call themselves Whigs or Democrats. . . . But every reflecting mind may easily perceive that to disregard the dictates of sound expediency may often prove as injurious to an enterprise as to violate principle. It is solely on this ground that we oppose what is called the “Liberty Party.” . . . The rash, precipitate, almost factious manner in which it was formed, early excited our distrust as to the disinterestedness of the movement; and though we are not disposed to question the honesty of many who support it, we still remain to be convinced that its tendency is good.’We cannot follow here the doings or fortunes of the Liberty Party. In spite of its brave words at Albany3 about maintaining the moral agitation along with the new political movement, the task was impossible in the nature of things. If the anti-slavery organization was to be made partisan, it must be wholly so; otherwise there would have to be two sets of machinery, and two sets of workers promoting different objects on different planes— of pure principle and of half-a-loaf expediency.4 One or
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2 Ante, 2.245, 313.
3 Ante, 2.434.
4 Mrs. Child, telling in the Standard of the first anti-slavery meeting she ever attended ‘in which political rather than moral arguments gave a leading tone to the proceedings,’ relates: ‘I came from that meeting sad and disheartened. The moral elevation, the trust in God, which had been usually inspired by abolition gatherings, was wanting’ (Lib. 11: 109). ‘It is as impossible,’ wrote Mr. Garrison, ‘for men to be moral reformers and political partisans at the same time, as it is for fire and gunpowder to harmonize together’ (Lib. 12: 179).
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