slavery some of the most vigorous and truthful lines of his great poem.
, returning from his romantic achievements in Tunis
for the deliverance of white slaves, improved the occasion to read a lecture to his countrymen on the inconsistency and guilt of holding blacks in servitude.
In the Missouri
struggle of 1819-20, the people of the free states, with a few ignoble exceptions, took issue with the South
against the extension of slavery.
Some ten years later, the present antislavery agitation commenced.
It originated, beyond a question, in the democratic element.
With the words of Jefferson
on their lips, young, earnest, and enthusiastic men called the attention of the community to the moral wrong and political reproach of slavery.
In the name and spirit of democracy, the moral and political powers of the people were invoked to limit, discountenance, and put an end to a system so manifestly subversive of its foundation principles.
It was a revival of the language of Jefferson
and Page and Randolph
, an echo of the voice of him who penned the Declaration of Independence
and originated the ordinance of 1787.
Meanwhile the South
had wellnigh forgotten the actual significance of the teachings of its early political prophets, and their renewal in the shape of abolitionism was, as might have been expected, strange and unwelcome.
Pleasant enough it had been to hold up occasionally these democratic abstractions for the purpose of challenging the world's admiration and cheaply acquiring the character of lovers of liberty and equality.