the right of each state to legislate exclusively on the subject of slavery within its limits, and conceded that Congress, under the present national compact, had no right to interfere; though still contending that it had the power, and should exercise it, ‘to suppress the domestic slave-trade between the several states,’ and ‘to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and in those portions of our territory which the Constitution has placed under its exclusive jurisdiction.’ After clearly and emphatically avowing the principles underlying the enterprise, and guarding with scrupulous care the rights of persons and states under the Constitution, in prosecuting it, the declaration closed with these eloquent words:—
We also maintain that there are, at the present time, the highest obligations resting upon the people of the free states to remove slavery by moral and political action, as prescribed in the Constitution of the United States. They are now living under a pledge of their tremendous physical force to fasten the galling fetters of tyranny upon the limbs of millions in the Southern states; they are liable to be called at any moment to suppress a general insurrection of the slaves; they authorize the slave-owner to vote on three fifths of his slaves as property, and thus enable him to perpetuate his oppression; they support a standing army at the South for its protection; and they seize the slave who has escaped into their territories, and send him back to be tortured by an enraged master or a brutal driver. This relation to slavery is criminal and full of danger. It must be broken up.