Chapter 11: George Thompson, M. P.—1851.Thompson renews his old triumphs in the Eastern and Middle States, and takes a leading part in the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Liberator, at which a gold watch is presented to Garrison.
Thompson was the great central fact in Mr. Garrison's inner life and public activity during the eight months of the Englishman's stay in America. They had been well-nigh inseparable but for exceptionally numerous indispositions which now and again, throughout the year 1851, drove the editor of the Liberator from his post to a sick bed. As it was, they journeyed and lectured not a little together, in Massachusetts and New York State, and enjoyed such genial social intercourse as all the circumstances of an inspiriting time, the hospitality of abolitionists like Bourne Spooner of Plymouth, John T. Sargent of Boston, or Samuel J. May of Syracuse, N. Y., the companionship of wits like Quincy and Phillips and the Westons, and the fusion of noble and charming elements effected by the annual Anti-Slavery Bazaar, fostered in an ever memorable degree. Two occasions of this sort in particular stand out as unsurpassable in feeling, and in the talent which gave them lustre. The first, and the most touching, was the soiree held in1 Cochituate Hall, Boston, on the evening of January 24, 1851, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Liberator. The time selected was at the close of the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. ‘You would have enjoyed the Soiree,’ wrote Wendell Phillips2 to Elizabeth Pease:
perfectly extempore—so much so that E. Q. did not know he was to be chairman till I moved it, and3 then he filled the chair with all that wit and readiness that is possessed by all the Quincys. It was unique—the heartiest  anti-slavery gathering I ever saw. Thompson had been very ill in the country and was looking quite ghastly, fit for a sick bed, but spoke gloriously; and his presence was, in a great degree, the inspiration to the rest. Add to that, Garrison in tears—the occasion—and the company scarred with many a struggle—and you will easily see that we should feel deeply, and, like all times of deep feeling, it should be mingled of mirth and profound emotion. Such hours come rarely in life.‘I give you joy,’ said Edmund Quincy in his function of4 chairman,
on this happy occasion of our assembling ourselves together. . . . It is often our lot to weep with those that weep. It is our felicity to-night to rejoice with those that rejoice. And who, I should like to know, have a better right to5 rejoice than the American abolitionists? Who have a better right to look upon the world with eyes of joy and gratitude than they who are attempting to rescue the slave from his despair, and the country from its disgrace? I hold that we, of all men and of all women in this broad land, are those who have a right to rejoice, and to thank God for the lot which he has appointed us. And although our usual course lies in different paths from this, although it is not often that we find ourselves assembling on a festive occasion like the present, I am sure that we are not of those who,To the temperate toast—“Success and prosperity to the good ship Liberator in her new departure, and health and long life to the pilot who has weathered so many storms” Lib. 21.18.—which was greeted with nine cheers, Mr. Garrison replied:When God sends a cheerful hour, refrain!
Mr. President—friends of freedom and humanity:— 6 If I could only put myself out of the bill to-night—if I could only be reduced to utter forgetfulness—there would be no drawback in my enjoyment of the festivities of the occasion. But this is a commemoration somewhat personal to myself; and although many have supposed that I have no objection to personalities, yet I do not like to be pointed at myself (in a case like the present), though I am rather apt to point at others. (Laughter.) The truth is, he who commences any reform which at last becomes one of transcendant importance and is crowned with victory, is always ill-judged and unfairly estimated. At the  outset he is looked upon with contempt, and treated in the most opprobrious manner, as a wild fanatic or a dangerous disorganizer. In due time the cause grows and advances to its sure triumph; and in proportion as it nears the goal, the popular estimate of his character changes, till finally excessive panegyric is substituted for outrageous abuse. The praise on the one hand, and the defamation on the other, are equally unmerited. In the clear light of Reason, it will be seen that he simply stood up to discharge a duty which he owed to his God, to his fellowmen, to the land of his nativity.Continuing, the speaker passed in rapid review his antislavery career and the origin of the Liberator, of which he held up the tiny first number; paid by the way his never forgotten tribute to Benjamin Lundy; and gratefully acknowledged once more the indispensable pecuniary7 support given him by Samuel E. Sewall and Ellis Gray Loring. To complete the retrospect, he read some of the menacing letters he had been accustomed to receive from the South, and confessed his early expectation of martyrdom in the cause, especially after the State of Georgia had offered its reward for his abduction.8
But enough in regard to the insults and dangers of the9 past. If the Liberator has wrought any change in public sentiment in favor of those who are meted out and trodden underfoot, it has been solely through the power of truth. No person shall deceive me with the idea that I deserve anything. Oh, if I can only say that I have done my duty—that I have not failed to “remember them that are in bonds as bound with them” —it is all I desire. One thing I can truly affirm:—I have counted nothing too dear to peril in the cause to which my life is devoted. For that cause I have sacrificed whatever is desirable in a good reputation, or pleasant in human friendship, or alluring in worldly advancement. For it I have broken the strongest political ties, and divorced myself from once venerated religious associations; assured that whatever is hostile to its progress must be inherently corrupt or erroneous, whatever its pretensions to patriotism or piety. Here I must pause. I am wholly unable to express my feelings. I thank you for this kind manifestation of your regard. But, without your cooperation, what could I have  done? It is such as I see around me, and others equally laborious in the field, elsewhere, who have given such an impetus to the cause of emancipation. I can add no more.If Mr. Garrison was moved by his own reminiscences and by the cordiality of the hour, scarcely less so was George Thompson, whose turn came next. Reminiscence for him meant recounting the history of his acquaintance and friendship with Garrison, and the personal consequences to himself as already detailed in these pages.10 Passing from this theme, he took up the salutatory of the first number of the Liberator, which he read and developed in his most eloquent manner.
I am in earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not11 retreat a single inch—and I will be heard! (Sensation.)
These words should give us pause, for they are amongst the most remarkable, as they are amongst the most emphatic and prophetic, ever uttered. Through coming years and ages, they will be household words over the vast continent of America. They constitute the picture of the man before you. I have met with nothing in the language of any other Reformer that ever gave me so clear an insight into the soul of the man as these words into that of Mr. Garrison. Illuminated by his subsequent acts, I am satisfied that I know the man. Sir, I am content to leave to minute philosophers all investigations into the phenomena of external nature, if I may be permitted to attain to some acquaintance with what passes in the minds of those who compass some great moral achievement. I love to study the character of a great reformer. I would give much to be permitted to read his soul at the moment he conceives his great idea. I would fain trace the exercises of that soul amidst the early days of gloom, and disappointment, and peril. And I should like to read it when his prayers and prophecy are in part fulfilled, and he beholds, as our guest does now, the indubitable signs of ultimate success, and stands surrounded, as he is now, by a multitude who honor him, love him, believe in him, and are determined to stand by him. (Great cheers.) William Lloyd Garrison is our cherished guest to-night; but he is also on his trial. He shall be tried by his own words, and you shall deliver the verdict. On the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-one, this same William Lloyd Garrison did fling upon the breeze—ay, it was indeed  so flung, for Heaven was its only guide to the place where it should fall—this first number of the Liberator newspaper, whereon he did inscribe these words, amongst others: “I am in earnest.” I call upon you who are here assembled, who have been witnesses of his life and conversation from that day forth until now, to say whether, by his deeds, he has demonstrated the truth of that declaration? [ “ Yes, yes.” ] He did further say: “I will not Equivocate.” Your verdict! Have you, during the long course of twenty years, ever known the man to forsake the straight line of plain and manly teaching for one that was indirect, and tortuous, and unworthy? [ “ No! Never!” ] Have you ever known him to mix, to modify, to adulterate, or to accommodate the truth? [ “Never!” ] He did further say: “I will not excuse.” Have you ever known him, in any instance, under any circumstances, to excuse an act wilfully committed against the rights of his fellow-men? [ “Never!” ] “I will not retreat a single Inch.” Has he acted up to this pledge in fidelity? [ “He has.” ] “I will be heard.” These words were doubtless considered bold and presumptuous at the time they were uttered. But the result has proved the truth of the prediction. Mr. Garrison has been heard. At this moment, he is heard and felt from Maine to the mountains of California. Amidst the din created by the strife of contending parties—amidst all the clashing interests of this wide realm—one solitary voice is heard above the whole, demanding, in thunder tones, the freedom of the slave. (Loud applause.) He has been heard on both sides of the Atlantic. The isles of Great Britain know his voice and love it, despite the machinations of his mean and perfidious enemies. England regards him as the Clarkson of America—as the friend of universal humanity, and the ordained deliverer of the children of America now in bondage.The orator concluded by placing in the hands of his friend a gold watch, inscribed as ‘Presented by George Thompson, M. P., (on behalf of himself and others), to William Lloyd Garrison, the intrepid and uncompromising friend of the slave, in commemoration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Liberator.’ ‘We wish, besides,’ said Mr. Thompson,
that you should12 accept our offering as something more than an indication of our appreciation of you in your public, exalted, and responsible  position as the leader of the anti-slavery hosts of America. We wish our gift to express our unqualified and profound admiration of your character in all the private relations of life. Those who, like myself, have been privileged to enter the sanctuary of your home, and have had the opportunity of studying your character there, have often for a while forgotten the editor of the Liberator, while contemplating the husband, the father, and the friend. (Enthusiasm.) And now, may the God who first put it into your heart to consecrate your life to this holy cause—who has so often covered your head in the day of battle —who has so greatly prospered you while you have been pleading for his oppressed children—continue to guard, guide, and bless you! May he be your strength in the work that lies before you! the defender and keeper of those who are dear to you! and finally crown your efforts and your prayers by granting you the desire of your heart in the consummation of the great cause of Universal Emancipation!In much embarrassment, the totally surprised recipient of this gift rose in acknowledgment: ‘Mr. President,’ he said,
if this were a rotten egg [holding13 up the watch], or a brickbat, I should know how to receive it. (Laughter and cheers.) If these cheers were the yells of a frantic mob seeking my life, I should know precisely how to behave. But the presentation of this valuable gift is as unexpected by me as would be the falling of the stars from the heavens; and I feel indescribably small before you in accepting it. A gold watch! Why, I have been compensated in this cause a million times over. In the darkest hour, in the greatest peril, I have felt just at that moment that it was everything to be in such a cause. I know that the praises which have fallen from the lips of my beloved brother and faithful coadjutor have been spoken in all sincerity; otherwise they would be intolerable. I know that I am among those not accustomed to flatter, and who do not mean to flatter. I know how to appreciate such demonstrations as greet me here to-night. Had it not been for such as are here assembled, we should not have had an antislavery struggle. I am sorry, my friends, that I have not a gold watch to present to each one of you. (Laughter.) You all deserve one! . . . As to the Liberator, no one can say that it has not been conducted in an independent and fearless spirit. No man who  is opposed to its sentiments can say that he has been denied a hearing in its columns. If I have taught the American press anything, it is this—the duty of allowing both sides of every question to be impartially canvassed. To the unknown friends who have contributed to the presentation of this testimonial to me, I return my heartfelt thanks, and assure them that I intend to be an abolitionist till “time shall be no longer.” The period may have been when I was of some consequence to the anti-slavery movement; but it is not so now. The cause is safe in the hands of its friends. I owe so much to them all —so much to this dear friend [Mr. Phillips], and to you [Mr. Quincy], and to others whose names I need not call, that it is impossible for me fully to express it. (Cheers.) As to what I have done abroad in my three missions to England, let me make a clean bosom of the matter. Had it not been for George Thompson (cheers), those missions would have been measurably unproductive and unimportant. He has just spoken of what I did in England. But I declare that he was everything to me—right hand and left hand, soul and body. He made my pathway smooth and pleasant, and labored far more abundantly and efficiently than I did, and therefore deserves the credit. (Cheers.)Wendell Phillips's remarks, which followed, were mingled of the ‘mirth and profound emotion’ that14 characterized the occasion. Our single extract must be from the more serious portion:
John Foster used to say, that the best test of a book's value15 was the mood of mind in which one rose from it. To this trial I am always willing the most eager foe should subject the Liberator. I appeal to each one here, whether he ever leaves its columns without feeling his coldness rebuked, his selfishness shamed, his hand strengthened for every good purpose; without feeling lifted, for awhile, from his ordinary life, and made to hold communion with purer thoughts and loftier aims; and without being moved—the coldest of us—for a moment, at least, with an ardent wish that we, too, may be privileged to be co-workers with God in the noble purposes for our brother's welfare which have been unfolded and pressed on our attention? Let critics who have time settle, after leisurely analysis, the various faults which, as they think, have marred our friend's  course, and denounce, as suits them, the other topics which he has chosen to mingle with his main subject; enough for us, in the heat of our conflict, to feel that it has always “been good for us to have been” with him. How can we ever thank him for the clear atmosphere into which he has lifted us! If of the abolitionist it may be said, with such exceeding measure of truth, that he has broken the shackles of party, thrown down the walls of sect, trampled on the prejudices of his land and time, risen to something like the freedom of a Christian man, something of that perfect toleration which is the fruit only of the highest intellectual and moral culture—how much is all this owing to the influence of such a leader! My friends, if we never free a slave, we have at least freed ourselves in the effort to emancipate our brother man. (Applause.) From the blindness of American prejudice, the most cruel the sun looks on; from the narrowness of sect; from parties, quibbling over words; we have been redeemed into a full manhood—taught to consecrate life to something worth living for. Life! what a weariness it is, with its drudgery of education; its little cares of to-day, all to be lived over again to-morrow; its rising, eating, and lying down—only to continue the monotonous routine! Let us thank God that he has inspired any one to awaken us from being these dull and rotting weeds—revealed to us the joy of self-devotion—taught us how we intensify this life by laying it a willing offering on the altar of some great cause!We must pass over the speech of Henry Wilson, the16 then President of the Massachusetts Senate, the future Vice-President of the United States—a twelve-years' 17 reader of the Liberator, acknowledging his debt of gratitude to Mr. Garrison for his own love of liberty and regard for the rights of man over all the globe; pass, too, over Theodore Parker's eulogium, and the kindred strains18 of many others, both clergymen and laymen. Charles List,19 a Boston lawyer, Secretary of the Vigilance Committee, said:
The history of liberty, as it will be read a thousand years20 hence, has not been begun. Now I wish to ask for a contribution  to this history which will be the most valuable that can be made now, and probably during some centuries to come. The enjoyment which we have experienced this evening, has arisen in a great measure from the presence of our distinguished guest, whose deeds we have met to celebrate. Oh! that our children, a hundred years hence, could have his presence as we have had it to-night! . . . My request is, that William Lloyd Garrison will, as soon as he can spare time from what he may consider more pressing engagements, give the world an autobiography—(cheers)— give the world a record of his experience in regard to the history of liberty; give us a history of the actions, the thoughts, the triumphs, and the sufferings of the first individual, of any note, at least, who devoted his energies, his life, his all, to the exclusive task of promoting, to his utmost, personal and national liberty. (Enthusiasm.) Such a work would be a biography which, among those of this century, would be most read and valued for many centuries, and would in some measure enable our posterity to have with them that presence which I desired for them. We have one distinguished autobiography in this country. I believe it is not surpassed by any in the world. It is that of Benjamin Franklin. It is a simple story. It tells the experience of an excellent and a great man. But it is not connected with any great leading idea, and cannot serve as a foundation-stone for an historical monument. That for which I ask, if it will be given, will be the greatest contribution which literature has made to the cause of liberty. If I may say a word as to the form in which the work might be made public, I will suggest its appearance in periodical portions in the Liberator. This suggestion may seem superfluous, as the Liberator is a history of a portion of Mr. Garrison's life (hear, hear!), and this is a feature in that paper which most endears it to many of its readers.And so we take leave of the feasting, the toasts, the speech-making, the songs—among them Mr. Garrison's own, ‘Ye Who in Bondage Pine,’ and “I am an Abolitionist” Lib. 21.22, 23.—that made up the joyous celebration; of which, to borrow again the words of Charles List, “the solemn part . . . has been most delightful, and will be longest remembered.” Lib. 21.23.  North the real meaning of the Fugitive Slave Law as a precursor of disunion and civil war.42 The war—or, more properly, then as in 1861, the pro-slavery invasion—in fact began with the execution of the law, as was first made clear when, on February43 15, 1851, pending a postponement of Shadrach's case before Commissioner George T. Curtis, in Boston, the prisoner was lost to view in the crowd of his own color that filled the court-room. This simple incident, which would scarcely have furnished the press with a police item had a pickpocket been thus spirited away, created a prodigious uproar at Washington. ‘The head and front of the offending,’ in this instance— what is it? 44 asked Mr. Garrison a week later.
A sudden rush of a score or two of unarmed friends of equal liberty—an uninjurious deliverance of the oppressed out of the hands of the oppressor—the quiet transportation of a slave out of this slavery ruled land to the free soil of Upper Canada! Nobody injured, nobody wronged, but simply a chattel transformed into a man, and conducted to a spot whereon he can glorify God in his body and spirit, which are his!  And yet, how all the fiends of the pit are writhing and yelling! Not tormented before their time, but just at the right time. Truly, “devils with devils damned firm concord hold” ! The President of the United States is out with his Proclamation45 of Terror, conveying it to us in tones of thunder and on the wings of the lightning; even as though in the old Bay State chaos had come again, and a million of foreign myrmidons were invading our shores! A poor, hunted, entrapped fugitive slave is dexterously removed from the court-room, and the whole land is shaken! A hundred free, white citizens of the North may be thrown into prison, or tarred and feathered, or compelled to flee for their lives at the South, on suspicion of being morally averse to the slave system;46 but who cares? A thousand colored seamen of the North may be incarcerated in loathsome cells, and47 compelled to pay for their imprisonment, though guiltless of crime, and even sold into slavery on the auction-block at the South; but whose breast burns with indignation, or what voice calls for redress? Official State Commissioners, venerable for their years and esteemed for their worth, sent to the South to test the constitutionality of such atrocious acts, are driven away48 by lawless violence, and not allowed to remain on the soil; but where is the Presidential Proclamation calling on the people of the South to obey the laws and observe their Constitutional obligations? But a solitary slave in Boston is plucked as a brand from the burning, and forthwith a Cabinet council is held, and behold a menacing Proclamation, bearing the signature of 49 Millard Fillmore, President of the United States! Henry Clay —with one foot in the grave, and just ready to have both body and soul cast into hell—as if eager to make his damnation doubly sure, rises in the U. S. Senate and proposes an inquiry50 into the expediency of passing yet another law, by which every one who shall dare peep or mutter against the execution of the Fugitive Slave Bill shall have his life crushed out!51 Webster gave the keynote of the Government prosecutions when, in his letter to the Union Safety Committee of New York, he said the rescue of Shadrach was, “strictly speaking, a case of treason.” Lib. 20.37, 38. Judge Peleg Sprague laboriously enforced the same ridiculous view in his “atheistical charge” Lib. 20.61. to the Grand Jury, as later did Judge B. R.52 Curtis. But ere the juries empanelled to convict disagreed53 or acquitted, in the month of April the case of Thomas Sims plunged the community into fresh and more intense54 excitement, and this time the South was gratified of its heart's desire to humble Boston by carrying off its prey. The city Government—which had placed its police at the55 service of kidnappers—surrounded the court-house with chains, kept the militia in the Faneuil Hall barracks,56 and furnished an escort all the way to Savannah to the claimant's agent and victim returning by sea. That which Mr. Garrison had thought impossible under the57 shadow of Bunker Hill took place amid the rejoicing58 of the newspaper organs of the respectability of Boston, if also amid the tolling of bells in the country towns, and59 after such moral and legal resistance and annoyance as60 made the rendition seem to the South a Pyrrhic 61 vic  tory.62 Josiah Quincy, also a disappointed prophet, said to Richard H. Dana, Jr.:
When the [Fugitive Slave] law passed, I did think the moral63 sense of the community would not enforce it; I said that it64 never would be. But now I find that my fellow-citizens are not only submissive to, but that they are earnestly active for, its enforcement. The Boston of 1851 is not the Boston of 1775. Boston has now become a mere shop—a place for buying and selling goods; and I suppose, also, of buying and selling men.65Where, in such a time as this, should the American Anti-Slavery Society hold its anniversary? Thompson's triumphant tour through Central New York had given the surest indication. He had had great audiences at66 Rochester, the curiosity to see him being enhanced by the abuse of a portion of the press, and vain efforts to arouse the mob spirit. At Syracuse, five slaves appeared with him upon the platform. At Peterboroa, Gerrit Smith67 gave him the warmest welcome, which in an advertising placard he also extended to ‘William Lloyd Garrison, the most distinguished and meritorious of American abolitionists’—then anticipating his presence. Abby  Kelley Foster wrote on March 16, from Rochester,68 begging Mr. Garrison to join Thompson on his return from Canada, and lecture with him en route to the American anniversary meeting. Central New York was ripe for the harvest. She thought a State Anti-Slavery Society might be recreated. Her husband likewise wrote from Lockport to Mr. Garrison on March 31, telling of the69 great disappointment caused by the latter's failure to accompany Thompson. The desire to hear him was strong in places where he could have done more good than the greater orator. ‘Your mere presence in a meeting,’ continued Mr. Foster, ‘though you were as speechless as an Egyptian mummy, would often do more to remove prejudice against our cause, and secure the cooperation of the well-disposed, than hours of the best speaking from any other person.’ New York State offered a most important field of labor, and all circumstances pointed to Syracuse as the place for holding the next American anniversary. Driven out of New York city, it could not safely be held in Brooklyn. Moreover, said Mr. Foster: ‘I am willing to encounter mobs if necessary; but if we can accomplish the same object without it, as I think we can in this case, I prefer it rather.’ Syracuse was, in fine, selected by the Executive Committee when no hall was found to be obtainable in New70 York or Brooklyn; and Mr. Garrison, accompanied by his71 wife, rejoined Mr. Thompson under the hallowed roof of Samuel J. May. The meetings, which began on May 7, seemed like a revival of the old anti-slavery harmony and enthusiasm. Mr. Garrison, in order to introduce the72 newcomers to the citizens of Syracuse, asked Mr. May to read the Declaration of Sentiments adopted at Philadelphia in 1833—proof that the abolitionists were a law-abiding and not a mob-producing class. Gerrit Smith gave greeting —‘Joy, then, to you, William Lloyd Garrison; to you, George Thompson!’ Mr. May answered for the antislavery sentiment of the town, by reference to the early mass meetings in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Law, over  which the Mayor presided.73 Edmund Quincy dwelt on the74 impudence of the outcry against foreign interference, by a nation helped into existence by Lafayette and Kosciusko. Thompson, who spoke repeatedly, referred to the contemplated bringing over of Kossuth to the United States in a national vessel, and said he should ‘doubt the patriotism75 and love of liberty of every man who comes from revolutionary Europe to these shores to accept the hospitality of slaveholders. If he be a patriot, a lover of liberty, whether he fly from the banks of the Danube, the Seine, or the Tiber, let him go to New England, and find a home with the persecuted and maligned abolitionists of the country! Let him throw in his lot with them; let him range himself under the banner of “No Union with Tyrants!” ’ Francis Jackson and Samuel May, Jr.; James Mott and J. Miller McKim; Abraham Brooke of Ohio; Abby Kelley Foster, H. C. Wright, and Parker Pillsbury, were likewise heard or seen at this meeting. William Goodell was present; and William H. Burleigh, who had strayed into the Liberty Party fold, recanted of76 his bitter opposition to his old abolition co-workers. Frederick Douglass, on the other hand, avowed his radical77 change of mind in regard to the nature of the Constitution, which he now looked upon as an anti-slavery instrument. On Daniel Webster, as the ex-officio custodian of the law of treason, this meeting had a very irritating effect. Three weeks afterwards, chance brought him to Syracuse,78 as companion of the President on their journey to79 celebrate the completion of the Erie Railroad. ‘The Godlike’ no longer, but ‘an ordinary-looking, poor, decrepit80 old man, whose limbs could scarce support him; lank with age; whose sluggish legs were somewhat concealed by an overshadowing abdomen; with head downcast, and arms shrivelled and dangling almost helpless by his side, and incapable of being magnetized for the use of the  orator,’ he denounced disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Law as treason. ‘Depend upon it,’ he said, “the law will be executed in its spirit and to its letter. It will be executed in all the great cities—here in Syracuse—in the midst of the next Anti-Slavery Convention, if the occasion shall arise. Then we shall see what becomes of their lives and their sacred honor.” Lib. 21.93. Yes, it would indeed be seen, and not tardily. It had already appeared how Webster's fate was bound up with that of the class of men who “not infrequently said . . . that the Constitution is born of hell—that it is the work of the devil.” Lib. 21.93.81 The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's application for Faneuil Hall having been refused in January, on the ground of Thompson's intended82 participation in its proceedings, a like petition from the friends of Webster wishing to give him a reception there on April 17 had to be rejected—partly in consistency,83 and partly in consequence of the excitement caused by the Fugitive Slave Law's having just been ‘executed in its spirit and to the letter’ in the case of Sims. This affront, though immediately withdrawn in the most abject manner,84 rankled in Webster's breast as perhaps no other treatment in his life had ever done; nor could the exclusion of the85 New England Anti-Slavery Convention from the same hall, coincidently with his speech at Syracuse, bring him peace of mind. An effort by placards to incite an Irish86 mob against Thompson at this Convention failed to disturb the occasion even in the ordinary manner. He who, at the last session of Parliament, had exerted himself to the87 utmost to prevent the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland; in November, 1847, had resisted every measure of coercion proposed by the Government, and demanded the abolition of the Protestant Establishment —this co-worker with O'Connell while he lived, and loyal  adherent to the cause of Irish liberty after the Emancipator's death, was (but not for these services) allowed in peace to acknowledge Mr. Garrison's resolution of thanks88 for his ‘singularly well-timed visit,’ and of farewell, from New England abolitionists:
I say, Mr. President, that I rejoice that I have been89 permitted to mingle once again with the abolitionists of America; and I confess to the conviction that a band of purer, more earnest, more self-sacrificing reformers does not exist in the world, never has existed, and never will exist, than the abolitionists of this country; and that their triumph is decreed, I feel certain. I know that many a Balaam, tempted and bribed by the Moabites, has gone up to curse them; but I also know that there is One that sitteth in the heavens that hath said, “They are blessed and they shall be blessed.” I know the curse shall not prosper, but shall recoil upon themselves, and that the blessing which has been promised shall remain unto the end. (Great cheering.) Sir, my stay in this country has been lengthened beyond the period I had originally intended. Some may ask why I have remained so long? Let the mobocrats of Faneuil Hall answer!90 (Applause.) I have stayed to trouble Mr. Clay, who could not91 avoid insulting me on the floor of the Senate-house, assisted by the Dodges and Casses around him. You will find the reason of my stay here in the attempt of the Slave Power, and its minions and myrmidons throughout the country, to prevent me from speaking in America. I have remained here to test the right of free speech. (Cheers.) I have conquered—(renewed cheers)—but it has not been because of the faithfulness of officials to their oath or to the principles of freedom. I have conquered because the children of the Puritans have not forgotten their ancestry, and will not yield the right of free speech themselves, nor the right of listening to a man who is determined to speak for himself. I have been heard gladly in various sections of the North; nor have the men of property and standing even of that distinguished town in your Commonwealth [Springfield], who sought to gag my lips, been able to92 prevent my speaking to approving and applauding audiences among them. I say that I gather from my own experience sure indications of the coming triumph; and I cannot look around this assembly without drawing from it an augury of the success of the great principles for which we contend. . . .  I have been greatly refreshed by my visit to this country. I shall return with a vast accumulation of facts upon the subject of slavery, and illustrative of the universality of the Slave Power. These facts and illustrations I shall, whenever I have the opportunity, spread before my countrymen, with such commentaries as will enable them to understand the true position of the great question. . . . I will try to make the people of England understand the nature of the benefit which this discussion is conferring upon those who embrace sound views: how such persons are coming to the appreciation of great truths long corrupted or concealed by slavery; how they are beginning to walk in a clearer light, and to regard men and things from a higher point and through a juster medium; how, whilst promulgating purer doctrines, they are daily gaining knowledge and experience, and are exercising fortitude and faith and perseverance. . . . To those before me who are laboring in this cause, I would say,— You are not laboring for your country alone, but for the world. Make haste to free this land from the pollution of slavery, and your character from the stain it has cast upon it,—then shall your righteousness go before you, your influence, like another atmosphere, shall encircle the globe, and you shall be the heralds and the instruments of freedom to all the nations of the earth. (Loud cheers.)It was high time, for physical reasons, that Mr. Thompson should be taking his departure. His proposed rest during the Parliamentary recess had been turned into a gigantic labor, which returned him to his own country almost a used — up man. With an excursion to93 Philadelphia during the first week in June, he closed his American tour. There remained the farewell soiree arranged for him by vote of the New England Convention, and held in94 Boston on June 16 in the large hall over the Albany95 Railroad depot — a feast at which more than a thousand plates were spread. Edmund Quincy of right presided. Phillips and Parker were among the speakers. Garrison delivered96 the parting address. It was a glorious occasion, but we must pass over its details. Thompson sailed in the America on June 25, and, with97 hardly any respite, was obliged to face his constituents,  dissatisfied with his long absence beyond the reopening of Parliament. He pleaded the pressing engagements thrust upon him, his accepting to-day ‘invitations for to-morrow, reluctant, when the fields were white unto the harvest, to quit them without putting in the sickle, and gathering something more into the garner of human liberty’; his resolve to vindicate free speech in his own person. ‘I am convinced,’ he said, “that, measuring the .comparative value of my labors, not by the limits of this borough, nor by the limits of these islands, but by the limits of the globe itself and of the human race, I was doing, and did do, a work in America which I could not have accomplished to the same extent elsewhere.” Tower Hamlets.
Allow me to say, that had I remained for ease, leisure,98 emolument, recreation, I should have condemned myself before I had appeared to receive your censure. I was not botanizing on the Himalayas; I was not pursuing antiquarian researches on the banks of the Nile; I was not gazing upon the sublimities of the Alps or the Andes; I was not putting my legs under the tables of the bloated planters of the South, or truckling politicians of the North, of America. I was facing labors, perils, persecutions, and obloquy, in the cause of the most oppressed and degraded of the human race. . . . Of all institutions of personal slavery, looked at in connection with its safeguards and its origin,—of all the institutions of slavery on the face of the earth, there are none so unmitigatedly bad, so inexcusably atrocious, so colossal in their felonious aspect, so diametrically opposed to the professions and practices of the people that encourage and support them, as the institution of slavery in the United States of America. There is no republicanism in America while slavery exists. The cause of liberty throughout the world is maimed and bleeding while slavery exists there. We preach Democracy in vain in England while a Tory and Conservative can point us to the opposite side of the Atlantic, and say: “There are 19,000,000 of the human race, free, absolutely; every man heir-apparent to the throne; governing themselves—the government of all, by all, for all; but, instead of being a consistent republic, it is one wide-spread confederacy of free men for the enslavement of an entire nation of another complexion.” While that institution lasts, the experiment of men to govern themselves has not been proved to be  a successful one; for there is no virtue in loving freedom for ourselves.Of the Syracusans at least this selfish love of freedom could not be predicated. The freemen's spirit which had welcomed Thompson and the American Anti-Slavery Society, in confirmation of the local defiance of the Fugitive Slave Law, wrested, on October 1, 1851, the slave Jerry99 by force from the clutches of the police, and rebuked the dishonoring prophecy of the apostate Webster.100
Samuel J. May to Miss Charlotte G. Coffin.101The volume of ‘Selections’ referred to by Mr. Smith was a duodecimo of somewhat more than four hundred pages, consisting of extracts from the “Thoughts on113 Colonization,” the antecedent Park-Street Church address,114 and from addresses to the colored people; the Liberator115 salutatory; the Declaration of Sentiments of the116 American Anti-Slavery Society, and of the American Peace117 Convention; a Short catechism adapted to all parts of118 the United States;119 and many editorial articles on Peace, the Bible, the Constitution, etc., from the Liberator's twenty-one volumes, together with the best of Mr. Garrison's verse. The letter to Peleg Sprague was not omitted,120 and the Appendix contained a portion of Sprague's Faneuil121 Hall speech, the account of the Boston mob of October 21,122 1835, written by its victim, Thompson's letter addressed to him on the day following, and sundry proofs of the123 character of the Colonization Society. The title-page bore these lines from Coleridge's “Fears in Solitude” :
Samuel J. May to W. L. Garrison.
Samuel J. May to W. L. Garrison.
Gerrit Smith to W. L. Garrison.
O my brethren! I have told
Most bitter truth, but without bitterness.
Nor deem my zeal or factious or mistimed;
For never can true courage dwell with them
Who, playing tricks with Conscience, dare not look
At their own vices.