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[455] of the case; and it indicates a strange dulness of comprehension with regard to our position and purpose. What! is it to forsake the slave when I cease to be the aider and abettor of his master? What! when the North is pressing down upon four millions of slaves like an avalanche, and we say to her, “Take off that pressure—stand aside—give the slave a chance to regain his feet and assert his freedom!” is that turning our backs upon him? Here, for example, is a man engaged in highway robbery, and another man is acting as an accessory, without whose aid the robber cannot succeed. In saying to the accomplice, “Hands off! Don't aid the villain!” shall I be told that this is enabling the highwayman to rob with impunity? What an absurdity! Are we not trying to save the pockets of all travellers from being picked, in seeking to break up all connection with highway robbery. . . .

What is the American Union? Has it form and substance, or is it something which belongs to the imagination—a mere piece of dough, which every man may mould and fashion as he thinks proper, without regard to its original design or positive provisions? Men talk of interpreting the Constitution as they understand it. Does it never occur to them that this is a game at which wo can play? If they may interpret it ad libitum, so may the slaveholders. Now, sir, I assume that we have such a thing as the American Union; that it has height and breadth and exact dimensions; that the nation understands what it is and has been from its origin, in regard to its slaveholding conditions. Now let us see who are for its perpetuity. I turn to the Southern slaveholders and ask, “Are you for a dissolution of the Union ” and they are for hanging me up by the neck for raising the question. True, they threaten, in case certain things shall be done, that they will separate from us; but, mark you! they are in favor of perpetuating “the Union as it is,” and as our fathers made it. I turn to all that remains of the Whig Party, and ask, “Are you in favor of preserving the Union?” and they exclaim, “Yes, to the end of time!” I turn to the Democratic Party, and ask, “Are you in favor of preserving the Union?” and they reply, “Accursed be he who is not!” I turn to the American Party, and ask, “Are you for this ‘glorious’ Union” “Yes, until the crack of doom.” Finally, I turn to the Republican Party, and say, “And you, also, go for the Union?” and they make the loudest noise, and throw up their caps the highest in its behalf.

Now, either these parties mean by “Union” the same thing,

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