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‘ [202] and would not do a base thing to save it.’ He had his faults: his positive convictions sometimes took the shape of a proud and obstinate dogmatism; he who could so well appeal to the judgment and the reason of his readers too often only roused their passions by invective and vehement declamation. Moderate men were startled and pained by the fierce energy of his language; and he not unfrequently made implacable enemies of opponents whom he might have conciliated and won over by mild expostulation and patient explanation. It must be urged in extenuation, that, as the champion of unpopular truths, he was assailed unfairly on all sides, and indecently misrepresented and calumniated to a degree, as his friend Sedgwick justly remarks, unprecedented even in the annals of the American press; and that his errors in this respect were, in the main, errors of retaliation.

In the Plaindealer, in common with the leading moral and political subjects of the day, that of slavery was freely discussed in all its bearings. It is difficult, in a single extract, to convey an adequate idea of the character of the editorial columns of a paper, where terse and concentrated irony and sarcasm alternate with eloquent appeal and diffuse commentary and labored argument. We can only offer at random the following passages from a long review of a speech of John C. Calhoun, in which that extraordinary man, whose giant intellect has been shut out of its appropriate field of exercise by the very slavery of which he is the champion, undertook to maintain, in reply to a Virginia senator, that chattel slavery was not an evil, but ‘a great good.’

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Theodore Sedgwick (1)
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