slave? How dare you have a law interfering with my benevolence and philanthropy, so that when I see a poor creature who “cannot take care of himself,” I may not seize him and claim him as my property—for his good, of course? If you say, God has not authorized me to hold a slave here, then I say, he has not authorized it at the South. There are not two Gods—one for the North, and one for the South—but one God; and if he makes it immoral to hold slaves at the North, he makes it no less immoral to hold slaves at the South. Before you reject a single doctrine I have laid down, you have got to burn every Northern State Constitution. I do not transcend them a hair'sbreadth. The only difference between me and the people of the North is, that I am for a consistent and uncompromising adherence to the doctrine they have laid down, and they are not. . . . I do not wonder that the North is driven to the wall, by the South, in this controversy. Against such glaring contradictions, such a shuffling morality, the slaveholder has the argument. For if you concede his right to hold slaves on his own plantation, on the ground of benevolence and in consistency with morality and religion, then he logically answers that it cannot be wrong to hold slaves in the Empire State, and slavery ought to be a universal institution. The argument, I repeat, is with the slaveholder.At the same meeting, Mr. Higginson dwelt at length on1 the ‘new element coming to settle the question of slavery by-and-bye on the soil where it exists.’ Probably no one who heard him could read John Brown between the lines.2 Mr. Higginson spoke with knowledge when he asked— ‘Is it [slavery] destined, as it began in blood, so to end? Seriously and solemnly I say, it seems as if it were.’ At the New England Convention in Boston on May 26, Theodore Parker (equally with Mr. Higginson a3 confidant of John Brown, and fresh from meeting him with his secret committee of backers at the Revere House) reiterated his belief that the time had passed “when the great American question of the nineteenth century could have been settled without bloodshed.” May 24, 1858. Mr. Garrison, who4 had long since regarded a bloody solution as inevitable,5 nevertheless deprecated the deviation of abolitionists from the policy observed from the beginning:
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