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Chapter 18: the turning of a long lane.

Garrison's forecast of the future, directly after the annexation of Texas, proved singularly correct. Never, as at that moment, had the slave-power seemed so secure in its ascendency, yet never, at any previous period, was it so near its downfall. Freedom had reached that darkest hour just before dawn; and this, events were speedily to make clear. If the South could have trammeled up the consequences of annexation, secure, indeed, for a season, would it have held its political supremacy in America? But omnipotent as was the slave-power in the Government, it was not equal to this labor. In the great game, in which Texas was the stakes, Fate had, unawares, slipped into the seat between the gamesters with hands full of loaded dice. At the first throw the South got Texas, at the second the war with Mexico fell out, and at the third new national territory lay piled upon the boards.

Calhoun, the arch-annexationist, struggled desperately to avert the war. He saw as no other Southern leader saw its tremendous significance in the conflict between the two halves of the Union for the political balance. The admission of Texas had made an adjustment of this balance in favor of the South. Calhoun's plan was to conciliate Mexico, to sweep with [336] our diplomatic broom the gathering war-clouds from the national firmament. War, he knew, would imperil the freshly fortified position of his section-war which meant at its close the acquisition of new national territory, with which the North would insist upon retrieving its reverse in the controversy over Texas. War, therefore, the great nullifier resolved against. He cried halt to his army, but the army heard not his voice, heeded not his orders, in the wild uproar and clamor which arose at the sight of helpless Mexico, and the temptation of adding fresh slave soil to the United States South, through her spoliation. Calhoun confessed that, with the breaking out of hostilities between the two republics an impenetrable curtain had shut from his eyes the future. The great plot for maintaining the political domination of the South had miscarried. New national territory had become inevitable with the firing of the first gun. Seeing this, Calhoun endeavored to postpone the evil day for the South by proposing a military policy of “masterly inactivity” whereby time might be gained for his side to prepare to meet the blow when it fell. But his “masterly inactivity” policy was swept aside by the momentum of the national passion which the war had aroused.

California and New Mexico became the strategic points of the slavery struggle at the close of the war. To open both to the immigration of slave-labor was thenceforth the grand design of the South. Over Oregon occurred a fierce preliminary trial of strength between the sections. The South was thrown in the contest, and the anti-slavery principle of the Ordinance of 1787 applied to the Territory. Calhoun, [337] who was apparently of the mind that as Oregon went so would go California and New Mexico, was violently agitated by this reverse. “The great strife between the North and the South is ended,” he passionately declared. Immediately the charge was made and widely circulated through the slave States that the stronger was oppressing the weaker section, wresting from it its just share in the common fruits of common victories. For had not California and New Mexico been won by the bravery and blood of the South as of the North, and how then was the North to deprive the South of its joint ownership of them without destroying the federal equality of the two halves of the Union? What was it but to subvert the Union existing among the States?

Disunion sentiment was thenceforth ladled out to the slave States in increasing quantities. The turning of the long lane in the domination of the slavepower was visibly near. With Garrison at one end and Calhoun at the other the work of dissolution advanced apace. The latter announced, in 1848, that the separation of the two sections was complete. Ten years before, Garrison had made proclamation that the Union, though not in form, was, nevertheless, in fact dissolved. And possibly they were right. The line of cleavage had at the date of Calhoun's announcement passed entirely through the grand strata of national life, industrial, moral, political, and religious. There remained indeed but a single bond of connection between the slave-holding and the nonslaveholding States, viz., fealty to party. But in 1848 not even this slender link was intact.

The anti-slavery uprising was a fast growing factor [338] in the politics of the free States. This was evinced by the aggressiveness of anti-slavery legislation, the repeal of slave sojournment laws, the enactment of personal liberty laws, the increasing preference manifested by Whig and by Democratic electors for antislavery Whig, and anti-slavery Democratic leaders. Seward and Chase, and Hale and Hamlin, Thaddeus Stevens and Joshua R. Giddings, were all in Congress in 1849. A revolution was working in the North; a revolution was working in the South. New and bolder spirits were rising to leadership in both sections. On the Southern stage were Jefferson Davis, Barnwell Rhett, David Atchison, Howell Cobb, Robert Toombs, and James M. Mason. The outlook was portentous, tempestuous.

The tide of excitement culuminated in the crisis of 1850. The extraordinary activity of the underground railroad system, and its failure to open the national Territories to slave immigration had transported the South to the verge of disunion. California, fought over by the two foes, was in the act of withdrawing herself from the field of contention to a position of independent Statehood. It was her rap for admission into the Union as a free State which precipitated upon the country the last of the compromises between freedom and slavery. It sounded the opening of the final act of Southern domination in the republic.

The compromise of 1850, a series of five acts, three of which it took to conciliate the South, while two were considered sufficient to satisfy the North, was, after prolonged and stormy debate, adopted to save Webster's glorious Union. These five acts were, in [339] the agonized accents of Clay, to heal “the five firegaping wounds” of the country. But the wounds were immedicable, as events were soon to prove. Besides, two at least of the remedies failed to operate as emollients. They irritated and inflamed the national ulcers and provoked fresh paroxysms of the disease. The admission of California as a free State was a sort of perpetual memento mori to the slavepower. It hung forever over the South the Damoclean blade of Northern political ascendency in the Union. The fugitive slave law on the other hand produced results undreamt of by its authors. Who would have ventured to predict the spontaneous, irresistible insurrection of the humane forces and passions of the North which broke out on the passage of the infamous bill? Who could have foretold the moral and political consequences of its execution, for instance, in Boston, which fifteen years before had mobbed anti-slavery women and dragged Garrison through its streets? The moral indignation aroused by the law in Massachusetts swept Webster and the Whigs from power, carried Sumner to the Senate and crowned Liberty on Beacon Hill. It worked a revolution in Massachusetts, it wrought changes of the greatest magnitude in the free States.

From this time the reign of discord became universal. The conflict between the sections increased in virulence. At the door of every man sat the fierce figure of strife. It fulmined from .the pulpit and frowned from the pews. The platforms of the free States resounded with the thunder of tongues. The press exploded with the hot passions of the hour.

Parties warred against each other. Factions arose [340] within parties and fought among themselves with no less bitterness. Wrath is infectious and the wrathful temper of the nation became epidemic. The Ishmaelitish impulse to strike something or someone, was irresistible. The bonds which had bound men to one another seemed everywhere loosening, and people in masses were slipping away from old to enter into new combinations of political activity. It was a period of tumultuous transition and confusion. The times were topsy-turvy and old Night and Chaos were the angels who sat by the bubbling abysses of the revolution.

In the midst of this universal and violent agitation of the public mind the old dread of disunion returned to torment the American bourgeoisie, who through their presses, especially those of the metropolis of the Union, turned fiercely upon the Abolitionists. While the compromise measures were the subject of excited debate before Congress, the anniversary meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society fell due. But the New York journals, the Herald in particular, had no mind to allow the meeting to take place without renewing the reign of terror of fifteen years before. Garrison was depicted as worse than Robespierre, with an insatiable appetite for the destruction of established institutions, both human and divine. The dissolution of the Union, the “overthrow of the churches, the Sabbath, and the Bible,” all were required to glut his malevolent passion. “Will the men of sense allow meetings to be held in this city which are calculated to make our country the arena of blood and murder,” roared the Herald, “ and render our city an object of horror to the whole South? . . . Public opinion [341] should be regulated. These Abolitionists should not be allowed to misrepresent New York.” In order to suppress the Abolitionists that paper did not blink at any means, however extreme or revolutionary, but declared boldly in favor of throttling free discussion. “When free discussion does not promote the public good,” argued the editor, “it has no more right to exist than a bad government that is dangerous and oppressive to the common weal. It should be overthrown.” The mob thus invoked came forward on the opening of the convention to overthrow free discussion.

The storm which the New York press was at so much labor to brew, Garrison did not doubt would break over the convention. He went to it in a truly apostolic spirit of self-sacrifice. “Not knowing the things that shall befall me there, saving that bonds and afflictions abide with me in every city,” he wrote his wife an hour before the commencement of the convention. His prevision of violence was quickly fulfilled. He had called Francis Jackson to the chair during the delivery of the opening speech which fell to the pioneer to make as the president of the society. His subject was the Religion of the Country, to which he was paying his respects in genuine Garrisonian fashion. Belief in Jesus in the United States had no vital influence on conduct or character. The chief religious denominations were in practice pro-slavery, they had uttered no protest against the national sin. There was the Roman Catholic Church whose “priests and members held slaves without incurring the rebuke of the Church.” At this point the orator was interrupted by one of those monstrous products of the [342] slums of the American metropolis, compounded of the bully, the blackleg, and the demagogue in about equal proportions. It was the notorious Captain Isaiah Rynders, perched with his band of blackguards in the organ loft of the tabernacle and ready to do the will of the metropolitan journals by overthrowing the right of free discussion. He was not disposed to permit Mr. Garrison's censure of the Roman Catholic Church to pass unchallenged, so he begged to ask “whether there are no other churches as well as the Catholic Church, whose clergy and lay members. hold slaves?” To which the anti-slavery leader replied with the utmost composure, not inclined to let even Captain Rynders interrupt the even and orderly progression of his discourse: “Will the friend wait for a moment, and I will answer him in reference to other churches?” “The friend” thereupon resumed his seat in the organ loft, and Garrison proceeded with his indictment of the churches. There was the Episcopal Church, whose clergy and laity dealt with impunity in human flesh, and the Presbyterians, whose ministers and members did likewise without apparently any compunctious visitings of conscience, ditto the Baptist, ditto the Methodist. In fact “all the sects are combined,” the orator sternly continued, “to prevent that jubilee which it is the will of God should come.”

But the bully in the organ loft, who was not content for long to play the part of Patience on a monument, interrupted the speaker with a second question which he looked upon, doubtless, as a hard nut to crack. “Are you aware,” inquired the blackleg “that the slaves in the South have their prayermeetings [343] in honor of Christ?” The nut was quickly crushed between the sharp teeth of the orator's scathing retort. Mr. Garrison-“Not a slave-holding or a slave-breeding Jesus. (Sensation.) The slaves believe in a Jesus that strikes off chains. In this country Jesus has become obsolete. A profession in him is no longer a test. Who objects to his course in Judaea? The old Pharisees are extinct, and may safely be denounced. Jesus is the most respectable person in the United States. (Great sensation and murmurs of disapprobation.) Jesus sits in the President's chair of the United States. (A thrill of horror here seemed to run through the assembly.) Zachary Taylor sits there, which is the same thing, for he believes in Jesus. He believes in war, and the Jesus that ‘gave the Mexicans hell.’ ” (Sensation, uproar, and confusion.)

This rather sulphurous allusion to the President of the glorious Union, albeit in language used by himself in a famous order during the Mexican War, acted as a red rag upon the human bull in the organ loft, who, now beside himself with passion, plunged madly down to the platform with his howling mob at his heels. “I will not allow you to assail the President of the United States. You shan't do it!” bellowed the blackguard, shaking his fist at Mr. Garrison. But Mr. Garrison, with that extraordinary serenity of manner which was all his own, parleyed with the ruffian, as if he was no ruffian and had no mob at his back. “You ought not to interrupt us,” he remonstrated with gentle dignity. “We go upon the principle of hearing everybody. If you wish to speak, I will keep order, and you shall be heard.” Rynders [344] was finally quieted by the offer of Francis Jackson to give him a hearing as soon as Mr. Garrison had brought his address to an end.

Rev. W. H. Furness, of Philadelphia, who was a member of the convention and also one of the speakers, has preserved for us the contrasts of the occasion. “The close of Mr. Garrison's address,” says he, “brought down Rynders again, who vociferated and harangued at one time on the platform, and then pushing down into the aisles, like a madman followed by his keepers. Through the whole, nothing could be more patient and serene than the bearing of Mr. Garrison. I have always revered Mr. Garrison for his devoted, uncompromising fidelity to his great cause. To-day I was touched to the heart by his calm and gentle manners. There was no agitation, no scorn, no heat, but the quietness of a man engaged in simple duties.”

The madman and his keepers were quite vanquished on the first day of the convention by the wit, repartee, and eloquence of Frederick Douglass, Dr. Furness, and Rev. Samuel R. Ward, whom Wendell Phillips described as so black that “when he shut his eyes you could not see him.” But it was otherwise on the second day when public opinion was “regulated,” and free discussion overthrown by Captain Rynders and his villainous gang, who were resolved, with the authors of the compromise, that the Union as it was should be preserved.

But, notwithstanding the high authority and achievements of this noble band of patriots and brothers, Garrison's detestation of the Union but increased, and his cry for its dissolution grew deeper [345] and louder. And no wonder. For never had the compact between freedom and slavery seemed more hateful than after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill. The state of panic which it created among the colored people in the free States will form, if ever written down, one of the most heartrending chapters in human history. Hundreds and thousands fled from their homes into the jaws of a Canadian winter to escape the jaws of the slave-hounds, whose fierce baying began presently to fill the land from Massachusetts to Ohio. It made no difference whether these miserable people had been always free or were fugitives from slavery, the terror spread among them all the same. The aged and the young turned their backs upon their homes and hurried precipitately into a strange country. Fathers with wives and children dependant upon them for their daily bread, were forced by the dread of being captured and returned to bondage to abandon their homes and loved ones, sometimes without so much as a touch of their hands or a tone. of their voices in token of farewell. Perhaps on his way to work in the morning some husband or son has caught a glimpse among the faces on the street of one face, the remembrance of which to the day of death, he can never lose, a face he had known in some far away Southern town or plantation, and with which are connected in the poor fellow's brain the most frightful sufferings and associations. Crazed at the sight, with no thought of home, of the labors which are awaiting him, oblivious of everything but the abject terror which has suddenly taken possession of him, he hastens away to hide and fly, fly and hide, until [346] he reaches a land where slave-hounds enter not, and panting fugitives find freedom. Wendell Phillips tells of an old woman of seventy who asked his advice about flying, though originally free, and fearful only of being caught up by mistake. The distress everywhere was awful, the excitement indescribable. From Boston alone in the brief space of three weeks after the rescue of Shadrach, nearly a hundred of these panic-stricken creatures had fled. The whole number escaping into Canada Charles Sumner placed as high as six thousand souls. But in addition to this large band of fugitives, others emigrated to the interior of New England away from the seaboard centers of trade and commerce where the men-hunters abounded.

The excitement and the perils of this period were not confined to the colored people. Their white friends shared both with them. We are indebted to Mr. Phillips for the following graphic account of these excitements and perils in Boston in March, 1851. He has been describing the situation in the city, in respect of the execution of the infamous law, to Elizabeth Pease, and goes on thus: “I need not enlarge on this; but the long evening sessionsdebates about secret escapes-plans to evade where we can't resist — the door watched that no spy may enterthe whispering consultations of the morning-some putting property out of their hands, planning to incur penalties, and planning also that, in case of conviction, the Government may get nothing from them — the doing, and answering no questionsintimates forbearing to ask the knowledge which it may be dangerous to have-all remind one of those [347] foreign scenes which have hitherto been known to us, transatlantic republicans, only in books.”

On the passage of the Black Bill, as the Abolitionists stigmatised the law, it was not believed that the moral sentiment of Boston would execute it, so horrified did the community seem. But it was soon apparent to the venerable Josiah Quincy that “The Boston of 1851 is not the Boston of 1775. Boston,” the sage goes on to remark, “has now become a mere shop — a place for buying and selling goods; and, I suppose, also of buying and selling men.” The great idol of her shopkeepers, Daniel Webster, having striven mightily for the enactment of the hateful bill while Senator of the United States, had gone into Millard Fillmore's Cabinet, to labor yet more mightily for its enforcement. The rescue of Shadrach, which Mr. Secretary of State characterized “as a case of treason,” set him to thundering for the Union as it was, and against the “fanatics,” who were stirring up the people of the free States to resist the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law. But he was no longer “the God-like” Webster, for he appeared to the editor of the Liberator as “an ordinary-looking, poor, decrepit old man, whose limbs could scarce support him; lank with age; whose sluggish legs were somewhat concealed by an overshadowing abdomen; with head downcast and arms shriveled, and dangling almost helpless by his side, and incapable of being magnetized for the use of the orator.” The voice and the front of “the Godlike” had preceded the “poor decrepit old man” to the grave. Garrison dealt no less roughly and irreverently with another of the authors of the wicked [348] law and another of the superannuated divinities of a shopkeeping North, Henry Clay. “Henry Clay, with one foot in the grave,” exclaimed the reformer, “and just ready to have both body and soul cast into hell, as if eager to make his damnation doubly sure, rises in the United States Senate and proposes an inquiry into the expediency of passing yet another law, by which every one who shall dare peep or mutter against the execution of the Fugitive Slave Bill shall have his life crushed out.”

In those trial times words from the mouth or the pen of Abolitionists had the force of deadly missiles. Incapacitated as Garrison was to resort to physical resistance to the Fugitive Slave Law by his nonresistant doctrine, it seemed that all the energy and belligerency of the man went into the most tremendous verbal expressions. They were like adamantine projectiles flung with the savage strength of a catapult against the walls of slavery. The big sinners, like Webster and Clay, he singled out for condign punishment, were objects of his utmost severities of speech. It was thus that he essayed to breach the iron dungeon in which the national iniquity had shut the national conscience. Saturated was the reformer's mind with the thought of the Bible, its solemn and awful imagery, its fiery and prophetic abhorrence and denunciations of national sins, all of which furnished him an unfailing magazine whence were drawn the bolts which he launched against the giant sin and the giant sinners of his time. And so Clay had not only “one foot in the grave,” but was “just ready to have both body and soul cast into hell.”

While physical resistance of the Slave Law was [349] wholly out of the question with Garrison, he, nevertheless, refused to condemn the men with whom it was otherwise. Here he was anything but a fanatic. All that he required was that each should be consistent with his principles. If those principles bade him resist the enforcement of the Black Bill, the apostle of non-resistance was sorry enough, but in this emergency, though he possessed the gentleness of the dove, he also practised the wisdom of the serpent. That truth moves with men upon lower as well as higher planes he well knew. It is always partial and many-colored, refracted as it is through the prisms of human passion and prejudice. If it appear unto some minds in the red bar of strife and blood, so be it. Each must follow the light which it is given him to discern, whether the blue of love or the red of war. Great coadjutors, like Wendell Phillips, Theodore Parker, and Dr. Henry I. Bowditch, were for forcible resistance to the execution of the law. So were the colored people. Preparations to this end went on vigorously in Boston under the direction of the Vigilance Committee. The Crafts escaped the clutches of the slave-hunters, so did Shadrach escape them, but Sims and Burns fell into them and were returned to bondage.

From this time on Wendell Phillips became in Boston and in the North more distinctly the leader of the Abolition sentiment. The period of pure moral agitation ended with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. That act opened a new era in the movement, an era in which non-resistance had no place, an era in which a resort to physical force in settlement of sectional differences, the whole trend of things were [350] making inevitable. Fighting, the Anglo-Saxon method, as Theodore Parker characterized it, of making a final settlement of just such controversies as was the slavery question, was in the air, had become without any general consciousness of it at the time appearing in the popular mind, a foregone conclusion, from the moment that the South wrested from the National Government the right to defy and override the moral sentiment of free State communities. With this advance of the anti-slavery agitation a stage nearer the end, when fighting would supersede all other methods, the fighters gravitated naturally to the front of the conflict, and the apostle of non-resistance fell somewhat into the background of the great movement started by him.

Garrison had begun, indeed, to recognize that there were other ways besides his way of abolishing slavery-had begun to see that these with his led to Rome, to the ultimate extinction of the evil, to which antislavery unionists and disunionists were alike devoted. His innate sagacity and strong sense of justice lifted the reformer to larger toleration of mind. At a dinner given in Boston in May, 1853, by the Free Democracy to John P. Hale, he was not only present to testify his appreciation of the courage aud services of Mr. Hale to the common cause, but while there was able to speak thus tolerantly-tolerantly for him certainly — of a Union dear to the company about the table yet hateful beyond measure to himself: “Sir, you will pardon me,” spoke the arch anti-slavery disunionist, “for the reference. I have heard something here about our Union, about the value of the Union, and the importance of preserving the Union. Gentiemen, [351] if you have been so fortunate as to find a Union worth preserving, I heartily congratulate you. Cling to it with all your souls!” For himself, he has not been so fortunate. With a price set on his head in one of the Southern States, and outlawed in all of them, he begs to be pardoned if found lacking in loyalty to the existing Union, which to him, alas,: “is but another name for the iron reign of the slave-power. We have no common country as yet. God grant we may have. We shall have it when the jubilee comesand not till then,” he declared, mindful of the convictions of others, yet bravely true to his own. The seeds of liberty, of hatred of the slave-power, planted by Garrison were springing up in a splendid crop through the North. Much of the political anti-slavery of the times were the fruit of his endeavor. Wendell Phillips has pointed out how the Liberty party was benefited by the meetings and speeches of Garrisonian Abolitionists. What was true of the Liberty party was equally true of Free Soil and Free Democracy. Although the little band remained small, it was potent in swelling, year after year, the anti-slavery membership of all the parties, Whig and Democratic, as well as of those already mentioned. “Uncle Tom's Cabin” might fairly be classed among the large indirect results produced by Garrison. “But” as Phillips justly remarked, “ ‘ Uncle Tom’ would never have been written had not Garrison developed the facts; and never would have succeeded had he not created readers and purchasers.” Garrisonism had become an influence, a power that made for liberty and against slavery in the United States. It had become such also in Great Britain. George Thompson, [352] writing the pioneer of the marvelous sale of “Uncle Tom” in England, and of the unprecedented demand for anti-slavery literature, traced their source to his friend: “Behold the fruit of your labors,” he exclaimed, “and rejoice.”

Mr. Garrison's pungent characterization of the “Union” at the dinner of the Free Democracy as “but another name for the iron reign of the slavepower,” found almost instant illustration of its truth in the startling demand of that power for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. In 1850 the South lost California, but it received at the time an advantage of far-reaching consequence, viz., the admission of the principle of federal non-intervention upon the subject of slavery in the national Territories into the bill organizing Territorial Governments for New Mexico and Utah. The train which was to blow down the slave wall of 1820 and open to slave immigration the northern half of the Louisiana Territory, was laid in the compromise measures of 1850.

Calhoun, strongly dissatisfied as he was with the Missouri settlement, recoiled from countenancing any agitation on the part of the South looking to its repeal on the ground that such action was calculated to disturb “the peace and harmony of the Union.” But four years after the death of the great nullifier, his disciples and followers dared to consummate a crime, the consequences of which he shrank from inviting. The political conditions four years had indeed modified in one important particular at least. In Calhoun's lifetime, there was no Northern leader bold enough to undertake to engineer an act of abrogation through Congress. If the North were willing, [353] possessed sufficient magnanimity, to surrender, in the interest of brotherly love between the sections, the benefits which inured to it under the Missouri Compromise, neither Calhoun nor the South would have declined the proffered sacrifice. The selection of Stephen A. Douglas in 1854 as the leader of the movement for repeal put a new face on the business, which was thereby made to appear to proceed from the free, not from the slave States. This was adroit, the fixing upon the losing section the initiative and the responsibility of the act of abrogation.

Besides this element, there was another not less specious which lent to the scheme an air of fairness, and that was the application to the Territories of the American principle of local self-government, in other words, the leaving to the people of the Territories the right to vote slavery up or vote it down, as they might elect. The game was a deep one, worthy of the machinations of its Northern and Southern authors. But, like other elaborate schemes of mice and men, it went to pieces under the fatal stroke of an unexpected circumstance. The act which abrogated the Missouri Compromise broke the muchenduring back of Northern patience at the same time. In the struggle for the repeal Southern Whigs and Southern Democrats forgot their traditionary party differences in battling for Southern interests, which was not more or less than the extension to the national Territories of the peculiar institution. The final recognition of this ugly fact on the part of the free States, raised a popular flood in them big enough to whelm the Whig party and to float a great [354] political organization, devoted to uncompromising opposition to the farther extension of slavery. The sectionalism of slavery was at last met by the sectionalism of freedom. From that moment the old Union, with its slave compromises, was doomed. In the conflict then impending its dissolution was merely a matter of time, unless indeed the North should prove strong enough to preserve it by the might of its arms, seeing that the North still clung passionately to the idea of national unity.

Not so, however, was it with Garrison. Sharper and sterner rose his voice against any union with slaveholders. On the Fourth of July following the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the reformer at Framingham, Mass., gave a fresh and startling sign of his hatred of the Union by burning publicly the Constitution of the United States. Before doing so however, he consigned to the flames a copy of the Fugitive-Slave Law, next the decision of Judge Loring remanding Anthony Burns to slavery, also the charge of Judge Benjamin R. Curtis to the Grand Jury touching the assault upon the court-house for the rescue of Burns. Then holding up the United States Constitution, he branded it as the source and parent of all the other atrocities — a covenant with death and an agreement with hell-and consumed it to ashes on the spot, exclaiming, “So perish all compromises with tyranny! And let all the people say, Amen!” This dramatic act and the “tremendous shout” which “went up to heaven in ratification of the deed” from the assembled multitude, what were they but the prophecy of a fiercer fire already burning in the land, soon to blaze about the pillars of the [355] Union, of a more tremendous shout soon to burst with the wrath of a divided people over that

perfidious bark
Built ia tha eclipse, and rigged with curses dark.

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