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‘ [8] in democracy, as the only possible government for our hemisphere, and as the inevitable tendency of the whole world, so far as it is able to shake off the fetters of former and present tyrannies. He honored and believed in the people with his whole heart, and it is for this reason the people honored and believed in him. . . . . It has always seemed to me that he was the truest and most thoroughly loyal American I ever knew; and this, to my mind, is his highest eulogy, feeling as I do how immeasurably higher the political and intellectual level of America is than that of any other country in the world!’

No man valued his fellow-beings more than Wadsworth for the high qualities of mind and heart, and, I may add, the strong right-arms which God had given them, and no man less for their clothes, their trivial accomplishments, or the company they kept. No man more thoroughly despised that counterfeit chivalry which was neither truthful nor merciful, but repudiated its promises to pay, and, instead of defending the oppressed, hunted its trembling fugitives with bloodhounds.

He had opposed the extension of slavery into the Territories, and he befriended the negro as he did any other unhappy human being who needed his assistance. For this he was called by that name which then seemed to some persons the most opprobrious which party ingenuity could invent,— the name of ‘Abolitionist.’ Perhaps the application of this name to him may add another to those examples in history, where that which was devised as the instrument of shame became afterwards the badge of immortal honor. Wadsworth saw with his clear eye that a deadly struggle had now begun between systems of society entirely repugnant to each other,— between the civilized democracy of the nineteenth century and that ferocious spirit of bastard feudalism which, strangely enough, found a more congenial home on the banks of the Mississippi than it had ever enjoyed on the Neva or the Danube. No charms of social intercourse, no claims of private friendship, obscured the clearness of his vision on this point. He attributed at once to the Southern conspirators a spirit of determined

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James Wadsworth (2)
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