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[382] come when forbearance could mean only a want of manly spirit. Alluding, as he began, to their coarse and unparliamentary speech, he declined to imitate them, or ‘to interfere with the enjoyment which they find in such exposure of themselves.’ Keeping strictly within the rules, he called attention to ‘the plantation manners’ of the senators from South Carolina and Virginia, applying to them Jefferson's description of the passions and habits natural to masters of slaves, and warned them that ‘no ardor of menace or tyrannical frown could shake his fixed resolve.’ Defending the term ‘slave-hunter,’ which he had applied to the Virginia claimant of Burns, he said: ‘Sir, I choose to call things by their right names. White I call white, and black I call black; and where a person degrades himself to the work of chasing a fellow-man who under the inspiration of freedom and the guidance of the North Star has sought a freeman's home, far away from coffle or chain, that person, whosoever he may be, I call “slave-hunter.” ’ He refuted the charge that Massachusetts was ever ‘a slaveholding’ State in any just sense, showing that slavery was at no time a distinctive feature of her progressive civilization, and that it disappeared at an early day under the humane sentiments of her people and the benign spirit of her laws.1 Of his two more respectable assailants he said:—

Such, sir, is my answer on this head to the senator from South Carolina. If the work which I undertook has been done thoroughly, he must not blame me. Justice demanded that it should be thorough. But while thus repelling insinuations against Massachusetts, and assumptions for slavery, I would not unnecessarily touch the sensibilities of that senator, or of the State which he represents. I cannot forget that amidst all diversities of opinion we are bound together by ties of a common country; that Massachusetts and South Carolina are sister States, and that the concord of sisters ought to prevail between them; but I am constrained to declare that throughout this debate I have sought in vain any token of that just spirit which within the sphere of its influence is calculated to promote the concord whether of State or of individuals

And now for the present I part with the venerable senator from South

1 Later he justified his position on this point, maintaining that the term ‘slaveholding States’ meant properly only ‘those in which slavery has been an established policy and professedly an essential element in their civilization.’ Seward, when called upon as to slavery in New York, contented himself with the admission that every twelfth man in New York was at the time of the Revolution a slave, without explaining that the general policy of the State was in favor of the extermination of slavery. His reticence was the occasion of criticism.

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William H. Seward (1)
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