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Jefferson the author of freedom.

If there was one man who more than any other was the author of freedom in this Western Hemisphere, that man was Thomas Jefferson. He was not seeking to augment or prolong slavery when he wrote to Mr. Holmes, of Massachusetts, who agreed with him: ‘Of one thing I am certain, that as the passage of slaves from one State to another would not make a slave of a single human being who would not be so without it, so their diffusion over a greater surface would make them individually happier and proportionately facilitate the accomplishment of their emancipation by dividing the burthen on a greater number of coadjutors.’

This was the great iniquity which caused the whole western reserve of Ohio in a single day to turn from the Whig to Republican.1 [282]

It was not the South which arrayed itself against the only sovereignty known to this country—the sovereignty of law. The constitutional position of the South received the sanction of the only umpire known to the Constitution. The final sanction, known as the Dred Scott decision, was the inevitable sequel to prior adjudications, and could have been no other than it was; and those prior adjudications, like the votes of the two Houses in 1838, had been too reasonable to awaken agitation or serious comment. The adjudication was that the Territories secured to the States by the common blood and treasure (and, it might have been added, more largely secured by the blood and treasure of the South, if the donations to the general government be considered)—that these Territories were secured equally to all the States, and not unequally to any, and that it was to deprive the citizen of his property without due process of law — to take his slave from him merely because the latter was found in the common territory of the United States. The adjudication was that the Federal Union rested on the basis of Federal equality.

At least the school of construction, which proclaimed the judgment of this tribunal to be the ultimate reason, when it was planted on the side of the Bank of the United States, should have been estopped to denounce their own canonized authority.

1 On January 12, 1838, the principle of the Kansas-Nebraska act had been made a test question by the final resolution of the series, which on that day passed the Senate by a vote of nearly four to one. On the following day resolutions covering the same ground as to the Territories passed the House by large majorities. The question involved in the Kansas-Nebraska act had been established, as far as the nearly unanimous agreement of both Houses could establish it, sixteen years earlier without creating any excitement whatever. It had received the imprimatur of the States and of the people.

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