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[123] of supreme importance. The managers of the convention, who were of the former class, had arranged that when the uncontested business had been completed a speech from Winthrop should give the key-note to the further proceedings. But the antislavery Whigs, or ‘Young Whigs,’ who were well distributed in different parts of the hall, called loudly for Sumner, who at once went to the platform. His speech urged the Whigs to treat former issues concerning material interests as of secondary consequence, and to direct their energies as a party against the extension of slavery and its longer continuance under the Constitution and laws of the Union. While adhering to the methods provided by the Constitution, he asserted the right to amend it so as to allow further aggressive action against the institution.1 He appealed to the fundamental principles of human right and duty, and invoked the party to sustain them by fearless and determined action. He concluded thus:—

To my mind it is clear that the time has arrived when the Whigs of Massachusetts, the party of freedom, owe it to their declared principles, to their character before the world, and to conscience, that they should place themselves firmly on this honest ground. They need not fear to stand alone. They need not fear separation from brethren with whom they have acted in concert. Better be separated even from then than from the right. Massachusetts can stand alone if need be. The Whigs of Massachusetts can stand alone. Their motto should not be, “Our party, howsoever bounded” but “Our party, bounded always by the right.” They must recognize the dominion of right, or there will be none who will recognize the dominion of the party. Let us, then, in Faneuil Hall, beneath the images of our fathers, vow perpetual allegiance to the right, and perpetual hostility to slavery. Ours is a noble cause,—nobler even than that of our fathers, inasmuch as it is more exalted to struggle for the freedom of others than for our own. The love of right, which is the animating impulse of our movement, is higher even than the love of freedom. But right, freedom, and humanity all concur in demanding the abolition of slavery.2

The speech contained an invocation to Mr. Webster, whose presence had been expected, appealing to him to add to his deserved titles of ‘Defender of the Constitution’ and ‘Defender of Peace’ that of ‘Defender of Humanity.’ This, as well as other passages, were heartily applauded by the delegates, particularly by the young men. But the tone and substance of the speech were repugnant to mere partisans, and especially to delegates

1 Sumner, in reply to a newspaper criticism of his speech. denied that he had called for an amendment of the Constitution authorizing Congress to abolish slavery in the States. New Bedford Mercury, Oct. 5, 1846.

2 Works, vol. i. pp. 315, 316.

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