could not be because of any wish to increase or prolong slavery that the Missouri
compromise fell upon the ear of Jefferson
‘like a fire bell in the night.’
‘They are taking advantage,’ he said, ‘of the virtuous feeling of the people to effect a division of parties by a geographical line.’
‘The movement,’ he said, ‘is under the false front of lessening the evils of slavery, but with the real view of producing a geographical division of parties.’
To William Pinckney
he wrote: ‘The leaders of federalism defeated in their schemes of obtaining power, by rallying partizans of the principle of monarchism—a principle of personal not of local division—have changed their tack, and thrown out another barrel to the whale.’
To Mr. Short
he wrote: ‘I envy not the present generation the glory of throwing away the fruits of their fathers' sacrifices of life and fortune, and of rendering desperate the experiment which was to decide ultimately whether man is capable of self-government.
This treason against human hope will signalize their epoch in future history.’
he wrote: ‘It is not a moral question, but one merely of power * * * to raise a geographical principle for the choice of a president.’
To Mr. Holmes
(then of Massachusetts
), he wrote these prophetic words: ‘A geographical line conciding with a marked principle, moral or political, will never be obliterated, and every new irratation will mark it deeper and deeper.’
‘Thank God,’ he wrote to John Adams
, ‘I shall not live to witness its issue.’
His race was run. Not for himself, but for his country, was his warning.
It may be that in his far famed ‘Declaration’ there is ‘glittering generality.’
It may be ‘all that gltters is not gold.’
But no false philosophy lurks in this brief chronicle.
It is the aged wisdom of one who from youth to hoary age was freedom's friend.
It is his last word and testament.
‘Every new irritation’ reveals new depths to it. It is that dying declaration, when the eye, in the presence of death, is purged of the films of self.
To him the Missouri
question was the cover under which absolutists stalked their prey.
Let the foe tear down the outer wall for any purpose, it will be abased for all. He saw a movement to make the name of freedom do yeoman service for them who were in arms against the reality.
Geography would henceforth be their tireless recruit and slavery the flail wherewith to beat down freedom.
His was the despair of one who embodied,