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[412]

It was Mr. Garrison's prerogative to emphasize this truth at all times. On July 4th, at the open-air celebration of the day at Framingham, Mass., by the abolitionists, Mr. Garrison ushered in the proceedings with Scripture1 readings; and then, having contrasted the Declaration of Independence with the actual state of the Republic and the grasping designs of its slavemasters, said—

He should now proceed to perform an action which would2 be the testimony of his own soul, to all present, of the estimation in which he held the pro-slavery laws and deeds of the nation. Producing a copy of the Fugitive Slave Law, he set fire to it, and it burnt to ashes. Using an old and well-known phrase, he said, “And let all the people say, Amen” ; and a unanimous cheer and shout of “Amen” burst from the vast audience. In like manner Mr. Garrison burned the decision of Edward G. Loring in the case of Anthony Burns, and the3 late charge of Judge Benjamin R. Curtis to the United States4 Grand Jury in reference to the “ treasonable” assault upon the Court House for the rescue of the fugitive—the multitude ratifying the fiery immolation with shouts of applause. Then, holding up the U. S. Constitution, he branded it as the source and parent of all the other atrocities,— “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,” —and consumed it to ashes on the spot, exclaiming, “ So perish all compromises with tyranny! And let all the people say, Amen!” A tremendous shout of “Amen!” went up to heaven in ratification of the deed, mingled with a few hisses and wrathful exclamations from some who were evidently in a rowdyish state of mind, but who were at once cowed by the popular feeling.

The press outcry at this Lutheran incendiarism was5 what might have been expected; but the oddest repudiation of it came from the Commonwealth, which saw in it a6 gross discourtesy to the Free Soil portion of the audience —both as wounding their feelings of reverence for the Constitution, and as calculated to increase the odium under which their party labored.

‘The Commonwealth kindly informs us,’ wrote Mr. Garrison,7

that it knows of no one who objects to my burning the Constitution, provided I get up a private bonfire on my own

1 Lib. 24.106.

2 Lib. 24.106.

3 Lib. 24.92.

4 Lib. 24.101.

5 Lib. 24.111, 117, 141.

6 Lib. 24.111.

7 Lib. 24.114.

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