To the Hon. Lemuel Shaw
,--By this mail I send you three pamphlets, for which I ask a candid perusal.
With deep sadness I saw your respected and influential name signed to an address in favor of repealing the Personal Liberty Bill
I trust you will not deem me disrespectful if I ask whether you have reflected well on all the bearings of this important subject.
Perhaps you may consider me, and those with whom I labor, as persons prone to look only on one side.
that it is so — is it not the neglected side?
is it not the right side?
And are not you yourself, in common with all human beings, liable to look upon things too much from one point of view?
I presume that your social environment is almost entirely conservative; and conservative of habits and stereotyped sayings, rather than of the original principles on which the government of this country was founded.
Have you carefully examined and duly considered the other side?
This mutual agreement between North and South to keep millions of fellow-beings in abject degradation and misery cannot possibly be right.
No sophistry can make it appear so
to hearts and minds not frozen or blinded by the influence of trade or politics.
If the common plea of the inferiority of the African race be true, that only adds meanness to our guilt; the magnanimous strong are ashamed not to protect the weak.
But then everybody knows that an immense proportion of American slaves are not black.
Thousands upon thousands of them are lighter than Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, Greeks, etc. They are the sons and daughters of our presidents, governors
, judges, senators
, and generals.
The much vaunted Anglo-Saxon
blood is coursing in their veins, through generations after generations.
If you set aside heart and conscience as appropriate guides for women only, and assume pure cold intellect for a standard of action, what answer will enlightened reason give, if you ask whether free institutions in one part of the country can possibly survive continual compromises with despotism in another part?
If the lowest person in the community is legally oppressed, is not the highest endangered thereby?
And does not the process inevitably demoralize the people by taking away from law that which renders it sacred, namely, equal and impartial justice?
I again ask you, respectfully and earnestly, to read my pamphlets with candid attention.
If the request seems to you obtrusive or presumptuous, my apology is that I believe you to be an upright and kind man, and therefore infer that your heart and conscience are not in fault, but only the blinding influences of your social environment.