previous next
[384] Buchanan, and turning to Mason and Butler, asked them if they dissented from it. But though he paused for a reply, none came. He then said:—

Now, in this interpretation of the Constitution I may be wrong; others may differ from me. The senator from Virginia may be otherwise minded, and the senator from South Carolina also; and they will, each and all, act according to their respective understanding. For myself, I shall act according to mine. On this explicit statement of my constitutional obligations I stand, as upon a living rock; and to the inquiry, in whatever form addressed to my personal responsibility, whether I would aid, directly or indirectly, in reducing or surrendering a fellow-man to bondage, I reply again, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?”

And, sir, looking round upon this Senate, I night ask fearlessly, how many there are, even in this body—if indeed there, be a single senator— who would stoop to any such service? Until some one rises and openly confesses his willingness to become a slave-hunter, I will not believe there can be one [here Sumner paused, but nobody rose]; and yet honorable and chivalrous senators have rushed headlong to denounce me because I openly declared my repudiation of a service at which every manly bosom must revolt. “Sire, I have found in Bayonne good citizens and brave soldiers, but not one executioner,” was the noble utterance of the governor of that place to Charles IX. of France in response to the royal edict for the massacre of St. Bartholomew; and such a spirit, I trust, will yet animate the people of this country when pressed to the service of “dogs.”

He denied Butler's right ‘to ejaculate a lecture’ at Massachusetts or himself on constitutional obligations, coming as he did from a State which had expelled the venerable Samuel Hoar, ‘an unarmed old man, with hair as silver white almost as that of the senator before me,’ when visiting it on a constitutional errand; which had rifled the national mails of antislavery publications; which was ‘seamed all over with the scars of nullification,’ and ‘threatened nullification as often as babies cry.’ Hitherto, unwilling to wound, he had avoided reference to the obvious contrasts between free and slave States, specially shunning all allusion to South Carolina; but now he accepted the challenge, and in response to the claim of ‘the senator with his silver-white locks’ that ‘the independence of America was won by the arms and treasure of slaveholding communities,’ he showed by statistics and state papers how small in proportion was their contribution to that great result, as admitted by themselves and stated by unimpeachable authorities, on account of their weakness and fears growing out of their slave population. He declined to commit Massachusetts definitely as to what her

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (2)
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
France (France) (1)
Bayonne (France) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Benjamin F. Butler (2)
Charles Sumner (1)
John Y. Mason (1)
James Buchanan (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: