its effect on slave-masters, begetting violent passions, and extinguishing the nobler and gentler instincts of humanity, particularly in their quick resort to violence, both against slaves and the friends of slaves,—an effect of the institution which had been often noted by philosophic writers and confessed by slaveholders themselves.
Further proof was given by the slave codes, which, whatever might be the eminence of individual virtue, were faithful witnesses of the average condition of society; by advertisements for runaway slaves, suggestive of cruelty and lust, and admitted even into reputable journals; by the three congenial agents of slavery,—‘the slave-overseer, the slavebreeder, and the slave-hunter;’ the treatment of the friends of slaves, even when, like Samuel Hoar
, they bore the commission of States; the duels and street-fights common where slavery exists; the frequent resort of slaveholding members of Congress to violence,—using pistols on the floor and challenging to the duel, with their defence of such methods in cool harangues.
He treated the sophistries of the advocates of slavery, which had been reaffirmed during the session with greater audacity than ever before, that slaves were property which the masters had the right under the Constitution
to carry to and hold in the Territories
, with no power in Congress or the people thereof to interfere; and that the slavery of the African race was justified, as Jefferson Davis
had maintained, by its inferiority and by the curse of Ham
. Again, as in previous speeches, he held up the Constitution
as pure from all recognition of property in man, and instinct with liberty, neither carrying slavery into the Territories
of its own force, nor authorizing any power, national or local, to establish it in them.
He rejected as unworthy of serious consideration ‘the popular sovereignty’ dogma of Douglas
, that it was the right of the people of a Territory ‘to vote slavery up or to vote it down,’—calling it ‘a delusive phrase,’ ‘a plausible nickname,’ ‘a device of politicians,’ and bidding him, as its boldest defender if not inventor, when encountering the ingratitude of those he had served, to
remember Milo's end,
Wedged in that timber which he strove to rend.
More than once on this occasion, as on others, Sumner
recognized the distinction between the enormity of the system and