those days spoke James Otis, full of the thought that “the people's safety is the law of God.” Here also spoke Joseph Warren, inspired by the sentiment that “death with all its tortures is preferable to slavery.” And here also thundered John Adams, fervid with the conviction that “consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust.” Not far from this venerable hall—between this temple of freedom and the very court house to which the senator [Mr. Jones] has referred—is the street where, in 1770, the first blood was spilt in conflict between British troops and American citizens, and among the victims was one of that African race which you so much despise. Almost within sight is Bunker Hill; further off, Lexington and Concord. Amidst these scenes a slave-hunter from Virginia appears, and the disgusting rites begin by which a fellow-man is sacrificed. Sir, can you wonder that our people are moved?Butler came into the chamber while the debate was going on. He had not prepared himself for it, but he could never keep silent when slavery was the topic. He rose when Sumner finished, and without replying to his argument, commented offensively upon his rhetoric,—‘vapid rhetoric,’ as he called it,—and commended ‘the calmness, gravity, and dignity’ of ‘the other honorable gentleman from Massachusetts.’1 Avowing his own opinion that primarily the duty to return fugitive slaves rested upon the States only, he turned, while speaking, to Rockwell, and inquired whether, in the event of the duty being left to them, Massachusetts would execute the Constitution, and after a trial by jury or in any other mode send theWho can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,It is true that the Slave Act was with difficulty executed, and that one of its servants perished in the madness. On these grounds the senator from Tennessee charges Boston with fanaticism. I express no opinion on the conduct of individuals; but I do say that the fanaticism which the senator condemns is not new in Boston. It is the same which opposed the execution of the Stamp Act, and finally secured its repeal; it is the same which opposed the Tea-tax; it is the fanaticism which finally triumphed on Bunker Hill. The senator says that Boston is filled with traitors. That charge is not new. Boston of old was the home of Hancock and Adams. Her traitors now are those who are truly animated by the spirit of the American Revolution. In condemning them, in condemning Massachusetts, in condemning these remonstrants, you simply give proper conclusion to the utterance on this floor that the Declaration of Independence is “a self-evident lie.”
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man.
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1 Later in the debate (June 28) Mallory of Florida made a similar contrast between the two senators from Massachusetts. This mode of meeting Sumner's arguments was not a new one. A similar contrast between him and Everett was drawn in the debate on the Nebraska bill, and between him and John Davis in 1852 in the debate on the motion to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act. In these personal comparisons the Southern senators recognized that they had a new kind of antagonist to deal with.
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