previous next
[326]

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 Proclamation1 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;2 but who cares? A thousand colored seamen of the North may be incarcerated in loathsome cells, and3 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 away4 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 5 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 inquiry6 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!7

1 Feb. 18, 1851; Lib. 21.30.

2 See, this very year, the cases of Elijah W. Harris, school-teacher at Clinton, S. C. (tarred and feathered—Lib. 21: 26); Dr. Larkin B. Coles, physician and physiological lecturer, at Columbia, S. C. (imprisoned—Lib. 21: 31); Rev. Edward Mathews, Baptist preacher, at Richmond, Ky. (ducked in a pond—Lib. 21: 41, 46); Rev. Jesse McBride, Wesleyan preacher, near Greensboroa, N. C. (expelled the StateLib. 21: 98).

3 Ante, p. 92.

4 Ante, p. 130.

5 Lib. 21.30.

6 Feb. 18, 1851; Lib. 21.30, 34.

7 Clay was especially horrified because the rescue of Shadrach had been effected by ‘a band who are not of our people,’ so that the question arose ‘whether the government of white men is to be yielded to a government by blacks’ (Lib. 21: 34). The Federal authorities in Boston took a different view and arrested some white abettors-Elizur Wright for one (Lib. 21: 30, 35). Senator Jefferson Davis, treating the rescue as the resistance of Massachusetts herself, a sovereign State, gave notice that he would not vote to enforce her obedience with army and navy (Lib. 21: 34). On Feb. 21, Mr. Clay pitied rather than blamed the deluded blacks, and invoked punishment on those who made tools of them. ‘There has been introduced,’ he said, ‘a man named Thompson, who was said to be a member of Parliament, to disturb and agitate the people, and that police which could find time and the means to attend and protect this foreign emissary in his disunion addresses, could not give their aid to execute a law of the United States. He little supposed that any member of Congress would be tolerated a moment in England who would go to Birmingham and Manchester, and there denounce the law of primogeniture, the aristocracy, and the crown itself. Such a man would be justly denounced by every loyal British subject, and he would be put out of the country; and here this Thompson is received with open arms, encouraged, by men professing to be Americans, in preaching sedition and disunion’ (Lib. 21: 34). Senator Cass of Michigan, following Clay, and not being averse to seconding, his mob incentive, ‘referred to the conduct of this miscreant Thompson, and said that if a member of Congress should do in England what Thompson had done in this country, he would be sent to Botany Bay’ (Lib. 21: 34. Cf. 21: 101).

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 People (automatically extracted)
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.
February 18th, 1851 AD (2)
February 21st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: