sacrifices of the future to continue before the work is done? If all that has passed has only come to this, what is the future to be? God knows; I do not know. We never know what new openings God may have in store for putting an end to the long controversies of men, and letting the weary, saddened spirit of humanity out from its perplexity by some new door it did not know until it opened. Upon a single thread of flax, perhaps, at this moment, the destinies of this continent may hang. We cannot allow for future revelations and possibilities. We have got to take the present as it is, and work in it; and that present, even in Massachusetts, is dead against the life of freedom, the purposes of freedom, and the hope of freedom; and if you see it differently, it is because you do not know Massachusetts— do not see how far off we are from realizing that great, determined uprising of the people in behalf of freedom about which we dream. . . . My friends, even in the greatest self-devotion, there is something more to be learned, and we have got it to learn. Passmore Williamson is in his prison, and Massachusetts men are quiet, and go about their daily business; and if he were in prison in Boston, it would be very nearly the same thing.1 In Kansas, the liberty of white men is struck down, and held at the point of the bayonet, and here in Massachusetts we sympathize —in the abstract! But when a brave man comes here to raise money to arm with Sharp's rifles his company of a hundred Kansas farmers, does he find a “material aid” at all commensurate with his expectations?2 Alas, no! I have a sad letter which tells the contrary, but I will not read it, “lest the ”
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1 Passmore Williamson, a respected citizen of Philadelphia, and an active abolitionist, on July 18, 1855, notified three slaves of a Virginian, the U. S. Minister to Nicaragua, about to embark for his post, that they were free in consequence of having been voluntarily brought by their master into a free State. For this act he was arrested and brought before Judge Kane, who ordered of him an impossibility, viz., that he produce the late slaves. Williamson's truthful reply that they were not in his custody, and that he could not produce them, was treated as ‘contempt of court,’ and he was accordingly imprisoned for three months, until the pressure of public opinion led the Judge to find a way out of his monstrous position. For arbitrary judicial tyranny, the case stands alone in the history of the anti-slavery struggle. See, for details, Lib. 25: 119, 131, 167, 178, 179, 182, 191, 194, and the volume, “The case of Passmore Williamson,” Philadelphia, 1856. Judge Kane took the extraordinary ground that the ‘law of nations’ (!) guaranteed the right of transit for slave property like any other (Lib. 25: 167).
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