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[239] Sumner replied, in an article filling a column and a half of that journal,1 wherein he urged with vigor and earnestness the several aspects in which Slavery was a national question. Its effectiveness appears from the fact that the editor prefaced it with a reply nearly as long as the article itself. Taking up the argument for the limited right and duty of the citizens of a Free State in relation to American Slavery, grounded upon the limited right and duty of a British subject towards it, Sumner asserted the moral duty of denouncing national sins, even where there is no political power to remove them; and, further, the constitutional responsibility, in several grave particulars, of the whole nation for the institution of Slavery. He said:—

These remarks assume two things,—first, that the opponents of Slavery in the Free States direct their exertions politically against this institution in States to which they are foreigners; and, second, that Slavery is not an evil within the jurisdiction of the Free States, or of the United States, of which the Free States are a part.

The first of these assumptions is a mistake. The opponents of Slavery in the Free States recognize the right of all States to establish, within their own borders, such institutions as they please; and they do not seek, either through their own Legislatures or through Congress, to touch slavery in the States where it exists. But while they abstain from all political action on these States, they do not feel called upon to suppress their sympathy for the suffering slave, nor their detestation of the system which makes him a victim. To do this would be untrue to the precepts of our religion, and to the best instincts of our nature.

Our neighbor is the suffering man,
Though at the farthest pole.

It is not considered any violation of propriety to speak disrespectfully of Repudiation; and the editor of the “ Advertiser” very recently alluded to the disgrace which attaches to the American name on this account. Great as is the disgrace arising from repudiation, that from Slavery is greater, inasmuch as its injustice is more glaring. Both are sins against right, against conscience; but who will weigh the scrip of State stock in the scales against the liberty of a human being? Nevertheless, the most ardent supporter of the doctrine of non-intervention on the subject of Slavery would not hesitate to denounce the conduct of Mississippi for repudiation; nor would he feel that he was intermeddling where he was justly a stranger.

The second of these assumptions is more important, and if possible more erroneous than the other. It will appear from the following points that Slavery is, on several grounds, distinctly within the jurisdiction of the United States, of which the Free States are a part. It is a national evil, for which to a large extent the nation and all its parts are responsible, and which to a large extent the nation may remove.

1 Jan. 10, 1843.

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