previous next

Section Seventh: return to the Senate.


Charles Sumner now put on again the armor in which he had fallen paralyzed at his post of duty, and once more advanced to the front of the battle. That [307] cause had been gaining ground faster, perhaps, because of his absence,—so eloquent was that always vacant chair—than if he had not been taken from the scene. Other champions just as true, if not so mighty, had sprung to the van of conflict. Now, the acknowledged leader was once more in the field, and his clarion voice rang out loud and clear along the whole line of battle.

Those who gazed on his noble form once more, could not but be reminded of the fate of brooks, the assassin, nor fail to mark the absence of Butler, the occasion of the crime. Time had spared neither of them. They had gone to their graves, leaving names to rot their infamous way to oblivion.


His speech on the Barbarism of Slavery—from which we shall soon quote largely,—roused the same infernal spirit which Mr. Sumner had so forcibly depicted, and a party of ruffians made several attempts four days afterwards, to enter his lodgings, with the purpose, as subsequently avowed, of taking his life. Senator Wilson, who had gone to the street door on the ringing of the bell, prevented their entrance by telling them Mr. Sumner had not yet returned, and instantly took effectual means for his protection. A party of brave Kansas men, without Mr. Sumner's knowledge, acted as a body-guard, keeping within covering distance of him wherever he went; for he still walked about unarmed, and with no special precaution against violence. It was his desire not to give publicity to the intentions of the assassins; but they became known, and from various parts of the country, men either started for Washington, or volunteered their services, at [308] whatever hazard, to protect the person of the Senator. Mr. Burlingame, Mr. John Sherman, or Mr. Wilson, slept in the room opening into his chamber. The Mayor of Washington, who had learned the purposes of the assassins, invited Mr. Sumner to make affidavits of the facts, or lodge a complaint. The latter he declined to do, on the ground that, from the past, neither he nor his friends could rely upon Washington magistrates. But the Mayor finally brought the ringleader, who was a Virginian, and a well-known office-holder under the administration, to Mr. Sumner's room to apologize.

The correspondents of the Chicago Press and Tribune, wrote, June 5th:

The speech of Charles Sumner yesterday, was probably the most masterly and exhaustive argument against human bondage, that has ever been made in this, or any other country, since man first commenced to oppress his fellow-man. He took the floor at ten minutes past twelve, and spoke until a little after four. The tone of the speech was not vindictive, and yet there was a terrible severity running through it, that literally awed the Southern Senators. As an effort, it will live in history long after the ephemeral contest of this age shall have passed away. Indeed, while listening to it, I could not but feel,—and the same feeling was I know experienced by others—that the eloquent and brave orator was speaking rather to future generations, and to the impartial audience of the civilized world, than to the men of to-day, with a view of effecting any result upon the elements by which he was immediately surrounded.

The correspondent of the New York Evening Post:

Mr. Sumner's speech was a tremendous attack upon Slavery, and yet was utterly devoid of personalities. He attacked the Institution, and not individuals; but his language was very severe. There was no let-up in the severity from beginning to end.

The correspondent of the Boston Traveller said:

So far as personal violence was to be apprehended, we think he was [309] as unconcerned as a man could be. Anxiety on that account might have been felt by his friends, but not by him. He seemed to be all-forgetful of himself, and to have his mind dwelling on the cause to which he was devoted, the race for which he was to plead, and on the responsibility under which he stood to his country, and to generations to come. There was something sublime in the orator, and the majesty with which he spoke.

His speech and his conduct were fully endorsed by the Legislature of Massachusetts. Carl Schurz, writing from Milwaukee, said:

Allow me to congratulate you on the success of your great speech. It did me good to hear again the true ring of the moral Anti-Slavery sentiment. If we want to demolish the Slave Power, we must educate the hearts of the people, no less than their heads.

Joshua R. Giddings, so long the champion of Freedom, in Congress, wrote:

My heart swells with gratitude to God that you are again permitted to stand in the Senate, and maintain the honor of the nation, and of mankind.

Gerrit Smith said:

God be praised for the proof it affords that you are yourself again—aye, more than yourself! I say more, for, though ‘The Crime against Kansaswas the speech of your life, this is the speech of your life. This eclipses that. The slaveholders will all read this speech, and will all be profited by its clear, certain, and convincing proofs. The candid among them will not dislike you for it; not a few of them will, at least in their hearts, thank and honor you for it. Would that they all might see that there is no wrong or malice whatever in your heart. 1 am scattering through my county this great speech of your life.

Wendell Phillips: ‘It is heart-stirring and cheering to hear your voice once more along the lines. Those were four nobly used hours. 'Twas a blast of the old, [310] well-known bugle, and fell on welcoming ears and thankful hearts.’

And so, by the hundred, came pouring in piles of letters from the most eminent statesmen and lovers of Freedom in every part of the land, revealing the fact, that a wider and a deeper sentiment of indignation had been awakened against the aggressions of the Slave Power, than had been provoked even by the atrocities of border ruffianism in the West.


But many of the leading journals of the Republican party affected to lament the delivery of the speech, apprehensive it would injure their prospects in the Presidential campaign that was not far off. But they had occasion ere long to talk in a different strain. It was fast becoming evident that the day of compromise and soft words had gone by forever—that what Mr. Seward had denominated the ‘Irrepressible Conflict,’ was at hand—that the gathering storm was soon to burst—that the loud threats of Secessionists meant something—that the feeling of the Slavery leaders in Congress was rapidly getting beyond all limits of control—that they were determined to place Slavery once more on a solid basis of political power, or break up the Union. They had everywhere grown desperate; their insatiate malice could no longer be appeased except with Sumner's blood; and all the while they were known, not only to have the sympathy of pro-Slavery men at the North, in both the old parties, but the reiterated assurances and guarantees of their leaders that they could rely upon the North in any attempt, no [311] matter how desperate, they might make, to crush out Abolitionism. In fact, many of the Democratic papers at the North seemed anxious to rival their brethren in the South—everywhere the strife was to out-Herod Herod—and this continued so until the explosion at last took place, when the Secessionists found of a truth, that they had aid, comfort, abettors, and fellowcon-spirators all through the North, especially in the chief cities, which, in the beginning of the Rebellion, swarmed with angry and unscrupulous men, ready to do the bidding of Slavery and Secession.

But a great change had been coming over the public mind in the Free States—a mighty revolution was going on—Slavery was becoming so hateful and odious, that at last the manhood of the North was roused, never to sleep again until some effectual check was given to the aggressions of Slavery and the insolence of its champions.


On the 4th of June, 1860, Senator Sumner, in rising to deliver his speech on The Barbarism of Slavery, said:—
Mr. President,—undertaking now, after a silence of more than four years, to address the Senate on this important subject, I should suppress the emotions natural to such an occasion, if I did not declare on the threshold my gratitude to that Supreme Being through whose benign care I am enabled, after much suffering and many changes, once again to resume my duties here, and to speak for the cause so near my heart. To the honored Commonwealth whose representative I am, and also to my immediate associates in this body, with whom I enjoy the fellowship which is found in thinking alike concerning the Republic, I owe thanks which I seize the moment to express for indulgence extended to me throughout the protracted seclusion enjoined by medical skill; and I trust that it will not be thought unbecoming in me to put on [312] record here, as an apology for leaving my seat so long vacant, without making way, by resignation, for a successor, that I acted under the illusion of an invalid, whose hopes for restoration to natural health continued against oft-recurring disappointment.

When last I entered into this debate, it became my duty to expose the Crime against Kansas, and to insist upon the immediate admission of that Territory as a State of this Union, with a Constitution forbidding Slavery. Time has passed, but the question remains. Resuming the discussion precisely where I left it, I am happy to avow that rule of moderation which, it is said, may venture to fix the boundaries of wisdom itself. I have no personal griefs to utter: only a vulgar egotism could intrude such into this Chamber. I have no personal wrongs to avenge: only a brutish nature could attempt to wield that vengeance which belongs to the Lord. The years that have intervened and the tombs that have opened since I spoke have their voices, too, which I cannot fail to hear. Besides, what am I, what is any man among the living or among the dead, compared with the question before us? It is this alone which I shall discuss, and I begin the argument with that easy victory which is found in charity.


The Crime against Kansas stands forth in painful light. Search history, and you cannot find its parallel. The slave-trade is bad; but even this enormity is petty, compared with that elaborate contrivance by which, in a Christian age and within the limits of a Republic, all forms of constitutional liberty were perverted, all the rights of human nature violated, and the whole country held trembling on the edge of civil war,—while all this large exuberance of wickedness, detestable in itself, becomes tenfold more detestable, when its origin is traced to the madness for Slavery. The fatal partition between Freedom and Slavery, known as the Missouri Compromise,—the subsequent overthrow of this partition, and the seizure of all by Slavery,—the violation of plighted faith,—the conspiracy to force Slavery at all hazards into Kansas,—the successive invasions by which all security there was destroyed, and the electoral franchise itself was trodden down,—the sacrilegious seizure of the very polls, and, through pretended forms of law, the imposition of a foreign legislature upon this Territory,—the acts of this legislature, fortifying the Usurpation, and, among other things, establishing test-oaths, calculated to disfranchise actual settlers friendly to Freedom, [313] and securing the privileges of the citizen to actual strangers friendly to Slavery,—the whole crowned by a statute, ‘the be-all and the end-all’ of the whole Usurpation, through which Slavery was not only recognized on this beautiful soil, but made to bristle with a Code of Death such as the world has rarely seen,—all these I fully exposed on a former occasion. And yet the most important part of the argument was at that time left untouched: I mean that found in the Character of Slavery. This natural sequel, with the permission of the Senate, I now propose to supply.

Motive is to Crime as soul to body; and it is only when we comprehend the motive that we can truly comprehend the Crime. Here the motive is found in Slavery and the rage for its extension. Therefore, by logical necessity, must Slavery be discussed,—not indirectly, timidly, and sparingly, but directly, openly, and thoroughly. It must be exhibited as it is, alike in its influence and its animating character, so that not only outside, but inside, may be seen.


This is no time for soft words or excuses. All such are out of place. They may turn away wrath; but what is the wrath of man? This is no time to abandon any advantage in the argument. Senators sometimes announce that they resist Slavery on political grounds only, and remind us that they say nothing of the moral question. This is wrong. Slavery must be resisted not only on political grounds, but on all other grounds, whether social, economical, or moral. Ours is no holiday contest; nor is it any strife of rival factions, of White and Red Roses, of theatric Neri and Bianchi; but it is a solemn battle between Right and Wrong, between Good and Evil. Such a battle cannot be fought with rosewater. There is austere work to be done, and Freedom cannot consent to fling away any of her weapons.

If I were disposed to shrink from this discussion, the boundless assumptions made by Senators on the other side would not allow me. The whole character of Slavery, as a pretended form of Civilization, is put directly in issue, with a pertinacity and a hardihood which banish all reserve on this side. In these assumptions Senators from South Carolina naturally take the lead. Following Mr. Calhoun, who pronounced Slavery ‘the most solid and durable foundation on which to rear free and stable political institutions,’ and Mr. McDuffie, who did not shrink [314] from calling it ‘the corner-stone of our republican edifice,’ the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Hammond] insists that its ‘frame of society is the best in the world;’ and his colleague [Mr. Chesnut] takes up the strain. One Senator from Mississippi [Mr. Jefferson Davis] adds, that Slavery ‘is but a form of civil government for those who by their nature are not fit to govern themselves;’ and his colleague [Mr. Brown] openly vaunts that it ‘is a great moral, social, and political blessing,— a blessing to the slave, and a blessing to the master.’ One Senator front Virginia [Mr. Hunter], in a studied vindication of what he is pleased to call ‘the social system of the South,’ exalts Slavery as ‘the normal condition of human society,’ ‘beneficial to the non-slave-owner as it is to the slave-owner,’ ‘best for the happiness of both races,’—and, in enthusiastic advocacy, declares, ‘that the very keystone of the mighty arch, which, by its concentrated strength, and by the mutual support of its parts, is able to sustain our social superstructure, consists in the black-marble block of African Slavery: knock that out, and the mighty fabric, with all that it upholds, topples and tumbles to its fall.’ These are his very words, uttered in debate here. And his colleague [Mr. Mason], who never hesitates where Slavery is in question, proclaims that it is ‘ennobling, to both races, the white and the black,’—a word which, so far as the slave is concerned, he changes, on a subsequent day, to ‘elevating,’ assuming still that it is ‘ennobling’ to the whites,—which is simply a new version of the old assumption, by Mr. McDuffie, of South Carolina, that ‘the institution of Domestic Slavery supersedes the necessity of an order of nobility.’


Thus, by various voices, is Slavery defiantly proclaimed a form of Civilization,—not seeing that its existence is plainly inconsistent with the first principles of anything that can be called Civilization, except by that figure of speech in classical literature where a thing takes its name from something which it has not, as the dreadful Fates were called merciful because they were without mercy. Pardon the allusion, if I add, that, listening to these sounding words for Slavery, I am reminded of the kindred extravagance related by that remarkable traveller in China, the late Abbe Huc, where a gloomy hole in which he was lodged, infested by mosquitoes and exhaling noisome vapors, with light and air entering by a single narrow aperture only, was styled by Chinese pride [315] ‘The Hotel of the Beatitudes.’ According to a Hindoo proverb, the snail sees nothing but its own shell, and thinks it the grandest palace in the universe. This is another illustration of the delusion which we are called to witness.

It is natural that Senators thus insensible to the true character of Slavery should evince an equal insensibility to the true character of the Constitution. This is shown in the claim now made, and pressed with unprecedented energy, degrading the work of our fathers, that by virtue of the Constitution the pretended property in man is placed beyond the reach of Congressional prohibition even within Congressional jurisdiction, so that the slave-master may at all times enter the broad outlying territories of the Union with the victims of his oppression, and there continue to hold them by lash and chain.

Such are two assumptions, the first of fact, and the second of Constitutional Law, now vaunted without apology or hesitation. I meet them both. To the first I oppose the essential Barbarism of Slavery, in all its influences, whether high or low,—as Satan is Satan still, whether towering in the sky or squatting in the toad. To the second I oppose the unanswerable, irresistible truth, that the Constitution of the United States nowhere recognizes property in man. These two assumptions naturally go together. They are ‘twins’ suckled by the same wolf. They are the ‘couple’ in the present slave-hunt. And the latter cannot be answered without exposing the former. It is only when Slavery is exhibited in its truly hateful character that we fully appreciate the absurdity of the assumption, which, in defiance of express letter in the Constitution, and without a single sentence, phrase, or word upholding human bondage, yet foists into this blameless text the barbarous idea that man can hold property in man.

On former occasions I have discussed Slavery only incidentally; as, in unfolding the principle that Slavery is Sectional and Freedom National; in exposing the unconstitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Bill; in vindicating the Prohibition of Slavery in the Missouri Territory; in exhibiting the imbecility, throughout the Revolution, of the Slave States, and especially of South Carolina; and, lastly, in unmasking the Crime against Kansas. On all these occasions, where I spoke at length, I said too little of the character of Slavery,—partly because other topics were presented, and partly from a prevailing disinclination to press the argument against those whom I knew to have all the sensitiveness of a sick man. But, God be praised, this time has passed, and the debate is now lifted from details to principles. Grander debate has not occurred [316] in our history,—rarely in any history; nor can it close or subside, except with the triumph of Freedom.

Viii: first assumption.

Of course I begin with the assumption of fact, which must be treated at length.

It was the often-quoted remark of John Wesley, who knew well how to use words, as also how to touch hearts, that Slavery is ‘the sum of all villainies.’ The phrase is pungent; but it were rash in any of us to criticise the testimony of that illustrious founder of Methodism, whose ample experience of Slavery in Georgia and the Carolinas seems to have been all condensed in this sententious judgment. Language is feeble to express all the enormity of an institution which is now exalted as in itself a form of civilization, ‘ennobling’ at least to the master, if not to the slave. Look at it as you will, and it is always the scab, the canker, the ‘barebones,’ and the shame of the country,—wrong, not merely in the abstract, as is often admitted by its apologists, but wrong in the concrete also, and possessing no single element of right. Look at it in the light of principle, and it is nothing less than a huge insurrection against the eternal law of God, involving in its pretensions the denial of all human rights, and also the denial of that Divine Law in which God himself is manifest, thus being practically the grossest lie and the grossest atheism. Founded in violence, sustained only by violence, such a wrong must by sure law of compensation blast master as well as slave,—blast the lands on which they live, blast the community of which they are part, blast the government which does not forbid the outrage; and the longer it exists and the more completely it prevails, must its vengeful influences penetrate the whole social system. Barbarous in origin, barbarous in law, barbarous in all its pretensions, barbarous in the instruments it employs, barbarous in consequences, barbarous in spirit, barbarous wherever it shows itself, Slavery must breed Barbarians, while it develops everywhere, alike in the individual and the society to which he belongs, the essential elements of Barbarism. In this character it is conspicuous before the world.

Undertaking now to expose the Barbarism of Slavery, the whole broad field is open before me. There is nothing in its character, its manifold wrong, its wretched results, and especially in its influence on [317] the class claiming to be ‘ennobled’ by it, that will not fall naturally under consideration.


I know well the difficulty of this discussion, involved in the humiliating truth with which I begin. Senators, on former occasions, revealing their sensitiveness, have even protested against comparison between what were called ‘two civilizations,’—meaning the two social systems produced respectively by Freedom and Slavery. The sensibility and the protest are not unnatural, though mistaken. ‘Two civilizations’ Sir, in this nineteenth century of Christian light there can be but one Civilization, and this is where Freedom prevails. Between Slavery and Civilization there is essential incompatibility. If you are for the one, you cannot be for the other; and just in proportion to the embrace of Slavery is the divorce from Civilization. As cold is but the absence of heat, and darkness but the absence of light, so is Slavery but the absence of justice and humanity, without which Civilization is impossible. That slave-masters should be disturbed, when this is exposed, might be expected. But the assumptions so boastfully made, while they may not prevent the sensibility, yet surely exclude all ground of protest, when these assumptions are exposed.

Nor is this the only difficulty. Slavery is a bloody Touch-Me-Not, and everywhere in sight now blooms the bloody flower. It is on the wayside as we approach the National Capitol; it is on the marble steps which we mount; it flaunts on this floor. I stand now in the house of its friends. About me, while I speak, are its most jealous guardians, who have shown in the past how much they are ready to do or not to do, where Slavery is in question. Menaces to deter me have not been spared. But I should ill deserve the high post of duty here, with which I am honored by a generous and enlightened people, if I could hesitate. Idolatry has been exposed in the presence of idolaters, and hypocrisy chastised in the presence of Scribes and Pharisees. Such examples may impart encouragement to a Senator undertaking in this presence to expose Slavery; nor can any language, directly responsive to Senatorial assumptions made for this Barbarism, be open to question. Slavery can be painted only in sternest colors; nor can I forget that Nature's sternest painter has been called the best.

the Barbarism of Slavery appears, first, in the character of Slavery, and, secondly, in the character of Slave-Masters. [318]

Under the first head we shall properly consider (1) the Law of Slavery with its Origin, and (2) the practical results of Slavery, as shown in comparison between the Free States and the Slave States.

Under the second head we shall naturally consider (i) Slave-Masters as shown in the Law of Slavery; (2) Slave-Masters in their relations with slaves, here glancing at their three brutal instruments; (3) Slave-Masters in their relations with each other, with society, and with Government; and (4) Slave-Masters in their unconsciousness.

The way will then be prepared for the consideration of the assumption of Constitutional Law.


In presenting the character of Slavery, there is little for me, except to make Slavery paint itself. When this is done, the picture will need no explanatory words.

(1.) I begin with the Law of Slavery and its Origin; and here this Barbarism sketches itself in its own chosen definition. It is simply this: Man, created in the image of God, is divested of the human character, and declared to be a ‘chattel,’—that is, a beast, a thing, or article of property. That this statement may not seem made without precise authority, I quote the statutes of three different States, beginning with South Carolina, whose voice for Slavery has always unerring distinctiveness. According to the definition supplied by this State, slaves

‘shall be deemed, held, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.’

And here is the definition supplied by the Civil Code of Louisiana:—

‘A slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, and his labor. He can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything, but what must belong to his master.’

In similar spirit the law of Maryland thus indirectly defines a slave as an article:—

‘In case the personal property of a ward shall consist of specific articles, such as slaves, working beasts, animals of any kind, . . . . the court, if it shall deem it advantageous for the ward, may at any time pass an order for the sale thereof.’

Not to occupy time unnecessarily, I present a summary of the pretended [319] law defining Slavery in all the Slave States, as made by a careful writer, Judge Stroud, in a work of juridical as well as philanthropic merit:—

‘The cardinal principle of Slavery—that the slave is not to be ranked among sentient beings, but among things, is an article of property, a chattel personal—obtains as undoubted law in all of these [Slave] States.’

Out of this definition, as from a solitary germ, which in its pettiness might be crushed by the hand, towers our Upas Tree and all its gigantic poison. Study it, and you will comprehend the whole monstrous growth.

Sir, look at its plain import, and see the relation which it establishes. The slave is held simply for the use of his master, to whose behests his life, liberty, and happiness are devoted, and by whom he may be bartered, leased, mortgaged, bequeathed, invoiced, shipped as cargo, stored as goods, sold on execution, knocked off at public auction, and even staked at the gaming-table on the hazard of a card or a die,—all according to law. Nor is there anything, within the limit of life, inflicted on a beast, which may not be inflicted on the slave. He may be marked like a hog, branded like a mule, yoked like an ox, hobbled like a horse, driven like an ass, sheared like a sheep, maimed like a cur, and constantly beaten like a brute,—all according to law. And should life itself be taken, what is the remedy? The Law of Slavery, imitating that rule of evidence which in barbarous days and barbarous countries prevented the Christian from testifying against the Mahometan, openly pronounces — the incompetency of the whole African race, whether bond or free, to testify against a white man in any case, and thus, after surrendering the slave to all possible outrage, crowns its tyranny by excluding the very testimony through which the bloody cruelty of the Slave-Master might be exposed.

Thus in its Law does Slavery paint itself; but it is only when we look at details, and detect its essential elements, five in number, all inspired by a single motive, that its character becomes completely manifest.


Foremost, of course, in these elements, is the impossible pretension, where Barbarism is lost in impiety, by which man claims property in man. Against such blasphemy the argument is brief. According to the Law of Nature, written by the same hand that placed the planets in their [320] orbits, and, like them, constituting part of the eternal system of the Universe, every human being has complete title to himself direct from the Almighty. Naked he is born; but this birthright is inseparable from the human form. A man may be poor in this world's goods; but he owns himself. No war or robbery, ancient or recent,—no capture—no middle passage,—no change of clime,—no purchase money,—no transmission from hand to hand, no matter how many times, and no matter at what price, can defeat this indefeasible, God-given franchise. And a divine mandate, strong as that which guards Life, guards Liberty also. Even at the very morning of Creation, when God said, ‘Let there be light,’—earlier than the malediction against murder,—he set the everlasting difference between man and chattel, giving to man ‘dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’

That right we hold
By his donation; but man over men
He made not lord: such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free.

Slavery tyrannically assumes power which Heaven denied,—while, under its barbarous necromancy, borrowed from the Source of Evil, a man is changed into a chattel, a person is withered into a thing, a soul is shrunk into merchandise. Say, Sir, in lofty madness, that you own the sun, the stars, the moon; but do not say that you own a man, endowed with soul to live immortal, when sun and moon and stars have passed away.


Secondly. Slavery paints itself again in its complete abrogation of marriage, recognized as a sacrament by the Church, and as a contract by the civil power, wherever civilization prevails. Under the Law of Slavery no such sacrament is respected, and no such contract can exist. The ties formed between slaves are all subject to the selfish interests or more selfish lust of the master, whose license knows no check. Natural affections which have come together are rudely torn asunder: nor is this all. Stripped of every defence, the chastity of a whole race is exposed to violence, while the result is recorded in tell-tale faces of children, glowing with a master's blood, but doomed for their mother's skin to Slavery through descending generations. The Senator from [321] Mississippi [Mr. Brown], galled by the comparison between Slavery and Polygamy, winces. I hail this sensibility as the sign of virtue. Let him reflect, and he will confess that there are many disgusting elements in Slavery, not present in Polygamy, while the single disgusting element of Polygamy is more than present in Slavery. By license of Polygamy, one man may have many wives, all bound to him by marriage-tie, and in other respects protected by law. By license of Slavery, a whole race is delivered over to prostitution and concubinage, without the protection of any law. Surely, Sir, is not Slavery barbarous?

Thirdly. Slavery paint itself again in its complete abrogation of the parental relation, provided by God in his benevolence for the nurture and education of the human family, and constituting an essential part of Civilization itself. And yet by the Law of Slavery—happily beginning to be modified in some places—this relation is set at nought, and in its place is substituted the arbitrary control of the master, at whose mere command little children, such as the Saviour called unto him, though clasped by a mother's arms, are swept under the hammer of the auctioneer. I do not dwell on this exhibition. Sir, is not Slavery barbarous?

Fourthly. Slavery paints itself again in closing the gates of knowledge, which are also the shining gates of Civilization. Under its plain, unequivocal law, the bondman, at the unrestrained will of his master, is shut out from all instruction; while in many places—incredible to relate—the law itself, by cumulative provisions, positively forbids that he shall be taught to read! Of course the slave cannot be allowed to read: for his soul would then expand in larger air, while he saw the glory of the North Star, and also the helping truth, that God, who made iron, never made a slave; for he would then become familiar with the Scriptures, with the Decalogue still speaking in the thunders of Sinai,— with that ancient text, ‘He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death’—with that other text, ‘Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal,’—with that great story of Redemption, when the Lord raised the slave-born Moses to deliver his chosen people from the house of bondage,—and with that sublimer story, where the Saviour died a cruel death, that all men, without distinction of race, might be saved, leaving to mankind a commandment which, even without his example, makes Slavery impossible. Thus, in order to fasten your manacles upon the slave, you fasten other manacles upon his soul. The ancients maintained Slavery by chains and death: you maintain it by that infinite [322] despotism and monopoly through which human nature itself is degraded. Sir, is not Slavery barbarous?

Fifthly. Slavery paints itself again in the appropriation of all the toil of its victims, excluding them from that property in their own earnings which the Law of Nature allows and Civilization secures. The painful injustice of this pretension is lost in its meanness. It is robbery and petty larceny under garb of law. And even the meanness is lost in the absurdity of its associate pretension, that the African, thus despoiled of all earnings, is saved from poverty, and that for his own good he must work for his master, and not for himself. Alas, by such fallacy is a whole race pauperized! And yet this transaction is not without illustrative example. A sombre poet, whose verse has found wide favor, pictures a creature who

with one hand put
A penny in the urn of poverty,
And with the other took a shilling out.

And a celebrated traveller through Russia, more than a generation ago, describes a kindred spirit, who, while devoutly crossing himself at church with his right hand, with the left deliberately picked the pocket of a fellow-sinner by his side. Not admiring these instances, I cannot cease to deplore a system which has much of both, while, under affectation of charity, it sordidly takes from the slave all the fruits of his bitter sweat, and thus takes from him the main spring to exertion. Tell me, Sir, is not Slavery barbarous?


Such is Slavery in its five special elements of Barbarism, as recognized by law: first, assuming that man can hold property in man; secondly, abrogating the relation of husband and wife; thirdly, abrogating the parental tie; fourthly, closing the gates of knowledge; and, fifthly, appropriating the unpaid labor of another. Take away these elements, sometimes called ‘abuses,’ and Slavery will cease to exist; for it is these very ‘abuses’ which constitute Slavery. Take away any one of them, and the abolition of Slavery begins. And when I present Slavery for judgment, I mean no slight evil, with regard to which there may be reasonable difference of opinion, but I mean this fivefold embodiment of ‘abuse,’ this ghastly quincunx of Barbarism, each particular of which, if considered separately, must be denounced at once with all the ardor [323] of an honest soul, while the whole fivefold combination must awake a fivefold denunciation. The historic pirates, once the plague of the Gulf whose waters they plundered, have been praised for the equity with which they adjusted the ratable shares of spoil, and also for generous benefactions to the poor, and even to churches, so that Sir Walter Scott could say,—

Do thou revere
The statutes of the Buccaneer.

In our Law of Slavery what is there to revere? what is there at which the soul does not rise in abhorrence?

But this fivefold combination becomes yet more hateful when its single motive is considered; and here Slavery paints itself finally. The Senator from Mississippi [Mr. Jefferson Davis] says that it is ‘but a form of civil government for those who by their nature are not fit to govern themselves.’ The Senator is mistaken. It is an outrage, where five different pretensions all concur in one single object, looking only to the profit of the master, and constituting its ever-present motive power, which is simply to compel the labor of fellow-men without wages. If I pronounce this object not only barbarous, but brutal, I follow the judgment of Luther's Bible, in the book ‘Jesus Sirach,’ known in our translation as Ecclesiasticus, where it is said: ‘He that giveth not his wages to the laborer, he is a bloodhound.’

Slavery is often exposed as degrading Humanity. On this fruitful theme nobody ever expressed himself with the force and beautiful eloquence of our own Channing. His generous soul glowed with indignation at the thought of man, supremest creature of earth, and first of God's works, despoiled of manhood and changed to a thing. But earlier than Channing was Jean Jacques Rousseau, who, with similar eloquence and the same glowing indignation, vindicated Humanity. How grandly he insists that nobody can consent to be a slave, or can be born a slave! Believing Liberty the most noble of human attributes, this wonderful writer will not stop to consider if descent to the condition of beasts be not to degrade human nature, if renunciation of the most precious of all God's gifts be not to offend the Author of our being; but he demands only by what right those who degrade themselves to this depth can subject their posterity to the same ignominy, renouncing for them goods which do not depend upon any ancestors, and without which life itself is to all worthy of it a burden; and he justly concludes, that, as to establish Slavery, it is necessary to violate Nature, so, to [324] perpetuate this claim, it is necessary to change Nature. His final judgment, being the practical conclusion of this outburst, holds up jurisconsults, gravely pronouncing that the child of a slave born a slave, as deciding, in other terms, that a man is not born a man,—thus exposing the peculiar absurdity of that pretension by which Slavery is transmitted from the mother to her offspring, as expressed in the Latin scrap on which the Senator from Virginia [Mr. Mason] relies: Partus sequitur ventrem.

If the offense of Slavery were less extended, if it were confined to some narrow region, if it had less of grandeur in its proportions, of its victims were counted by tens and hundreds instead of millions, the five-headed enormity would find little indulgence; all would rise against it, while Religion and Civilization would lavish choicest efforts in the general warfare. But what is wrong when done to one man cannot be right when done to many. If it is wrong thus to degrade a single soul, if it is wrong thus to degrade you, Mr. President, it cannot be right to degrade a whole race! And yet this is denied by the barbarous logic of Slavery, which, taking advantage of its own wrong, claims immunity because its usurpation has assumed a front of audacity that cannot be safely attacked. Unhappily there is Barbarism elsewhere in the world; but American Slavery, as defined by existing law, stands forth as the greatest organized Barbarism on which the sun now looks. It is without a single peer. Its author, after making it, broke the die.


If curiosity carries us to the origin of this law,—and here I approach a topic often considered in this Chamber,—we shall again confess its Barbarism. It is not derived from the Common Law, that fountain of Liberty; for this law, while unhappily recognizing a system of servitude known as villeinage, secured to the bondman privileges unknown to the American slave,—guarded his person against mayhem,—protected his wife against rape,—gave to his marriage equal validity with the marriage of his master,—and surrounded his offspring with generous presumptions of Freedom, unlike that rule of yours by which the servitude of the mother is necessarily stamped upon the child. It is not derived from the Roman Law, that fountain of Tyranny, for two reasons: first, because this law, in its better days, when its early rigors were spent. like [325] the Common Law itself, secured to the bondman privileges unknown to the American slave,—in certain cases of cruelty rescued him from his master, prevented separation of parents and children, also of brothers and sisters, and even protected him in the marriage relation; and, secondly, because the Thirteen Colonies were not derived from any of those countries which recognized the Roman Law, while this law, even before the discovery of this continent, had lost all living efficacy. It is not derived from the Mohammedan Law; for, under the mild injunctions of the Koran, a benignant servitude, unlike yours, has prevailed, —where the lash is not allowed to lacerate the back of a female,— where no knife or branding-iron is employed upon any human being, to mark him as the property of his fellow-man,—where the master is expressly enjoined to listen to the desires of his slave for emancipation,—and where the blood of the master, mingling with that of his bondwoman, takes from her the transferable character of chattel, and confers complete freedom upon their offspring. It is not derived from the Spanish Law; for this law contains hnmane elements unknown to your system, borrowed, perhaps, from Mohammedan Moors who so long occupied Spain; and, besides, our Thirteen Colonies had no umbilical connection with Spain. Nor is it derived from English statutes or American statutes; for we have the positive and repeated averment of the Senator from Virginia [Mr. Mason], and also of other Senators, that in not a single State of the Union can any such statutes establishing Slavery be found. From none of these does it come.

No, Sir, not from any land of Civilization is this Barbarism derived. It comes from Africa, ancient nurse of monsters,—from Guinea, Dahomey, and Congo. There is its origin and fountain. This benighted region, we are told by Chief-Justice Marshall in a memorable judgment, still asserts a right, discarded by Christendom, to enslave captives taken in war; and this African Barbarism is the beginning of American Slavery. The Supreme Court of Georgia, a Slave State, has not shrunk from this conclusion. ‘Licensed to hold slave property,’ says the Court, ‘the Georgia planter held the slave as a chattel, either directly from the slave trader or from those who held under him, and he from the slave-captor in Africa. The property of the planter in the slave became thus the property of the original captor.’ It is natural that a right thus derived in defiance of Christendom, and openly founded on the most vulgar Paganism, should be exercised without mitigating influence from Christianity,—that the master's authority over the person of his slave, over his conjugal relations, over his parental relations, over the employment [326] of his time, over all his acquisitions, should be recognized, while no generous presumption inclines to Freedom, and the womb of the bondwoman can deliver only a slave.


From its home in Africa, where it is sustained by immemorial usage, this Barbarism, thus derived and thus developed, traversed the ocean to American soil. It entered on board that fatal slave-ship,

Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark,

which in 1620 landed its cruel cargo at Jamestown, in Virginia; and it has boldly taken its place in every succeeding slave-ship, from that early day till now,—helping to pack the human freight, regardless of human agony,—surviving the torments of the middle passage,—surviving its countless victims plunged beneath the waves; and it has left the slave-ship only to travel inseparable from the slave in his various doom, sanctioning by its barbarous code every outrage, whether of mayhem or robbery, lash or lust, and fastening itself upon his offspring to the remotest generation. Thus are barbarous prerogatives of barbarous half-naked African chiefs perpetuated in American Slave-Masters, while the Senator from Virginia [Mr. Mason], perhaps unconscious of their origin, perhaps desirous to secure for them the appearance of a less barbarous pedigree, tricks them out with a phrase of the Roman Law, discarded by the Common Law, which simply renders into ancient Latin an existing rule of African Barbarism, recognized as an existing rule of American Slavery.

Such is the plain juridical origin of the American slave code, now vaunted as a badge of Civilization. Bnt all law, whatever its juridical origin, whether Christian or Mohammedan, Roman or African, may be traced to other and ampler influences in Nature, sometimes of Right and sometimes of Wrong. Surely the law which stamped the slave-trade as piracy punishable with death had a different inspiration from that other law which secured immunity for the slave-trade throughout an immense territory, and invested its supporters with political power. As there is a nobler law above, so there is a meaner law below, and each is felt in human affairs.

Thus far we have seen Slavery only in pretended law, and in the origin of that law. Here I might stop, without proceeding in the argument; [327] for on the letter of the law alone must Slavery be condemned. But the tree is known by its fruits, which I shall now exhibit: and this brings me the second stage of the argument.


(2.) In considering the practical result of Slavery, the materials are so obvious and diversified that my chief care will be to abridge and reject: and here I put the Slave States and Free States face to face, showing at each point the blasting influence of Slavery.

Before proceeding with these details, I would for one moment expose that degradation of free labor, which is one of the general results. Where there are slaves, whose office is work, it is held disreputable for a white man to soil his skin or harden his hands with honest toil. The Slave-Master of course declines work, and his pernicious example infects all others. With impious resolve, they would reverse the Almighty decree appointing labor as the duty of man, and declaring that in the sweat of his face shall he eat his bread. The Slave-Master says, ‘No! this is true of the slave, of the black man, but not of the white man: he shall not eat his bread in the sweat of his face.’ Thus is the brand of degradation stamped upon that daily toil which contributes so much to a true Civilization. It is a constant boast in the Slave States, that white men there will not perform work performed in the Free States. Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Waddy Thompson made this boast. Let it be borne in mind, then, that, where Slavery prevails, there is not only despair for the black man, but inequality and ignominy for the white laborer. By necessary consequence, the latter, whether emigrating from our Free States or fleeing from oppression and wretchedness in his European home, avoids a region disabled by such a social law. Hence a twofold injustice: practically he is excluded from the land, while the land itself becomes a prey to that paralysis which is caused by a violation of the laws of God. And now for the testimony.

The States where this Barbarism exists excel the Free States in all natural advantages. Their territory is more extensive, stretching over 851,448 square miles, while the Free States, including California, embrace only 612,597 square miles. Here is a difference of more than 238,000 square miles in favor of the Slave States, showing that Freedom starts in this great rivalry with a field more than a quarter less than that of Slavery. In happiness of climate, adapted to productions of special [328] value,—in exhaustless motive power distributed throughout its space,— in natural highways, by more than fifty navigable rivers, never closed by the rigors of winter,—and in a stretch of coast, along Ocean and Gulf, indented by hospitable harbors,—the whole presenting incomparable advantages for that true Civilization, where agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, both domestic and foreign, blend,—in all these respects the Slave States excel the Free States, whose climate is often churlish, whose motive power is less various, whose navigable rivers are fewer and often sealed by ice, and whose coast, while less in extent and with fewer harbors, is often perilous from storm and cold.


But Slavery plays the part of a Harpy, and defiles the choicest banquet. See what it does with this territory, thus spacious and fair.

An important indication of prosperity is in the growth of population. In this respect the two regions started equal. In 1790, at the first census under the Constitution, the population of the present Slave States was 1,961,372, of the present Free States 1,968,455, showing a difference of only 7,083 in favor of the Free States. This difference, at first merely nominal, has been constantly increasing since, showing itself more strongly in each decennial census, until, in 1850, the population of the Slave States swollen by the annexation of three foreign Territories, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, was only 9,612,969, while that of the Free States, without such large annexations, reached 13,434,922, showing a difference of 3,821,953 in favor of Freedom. But this difference becomes still more remarkable, if we confine our inquiries to the white population, which at this period was only 6,184,477 in the Slave States, while it was 13,238,670 in the Free States, showing a difference of 7,054,193 in favor of Freedom, and showing also that the white population of the Free States had not only doubled, but, while occupying a smaller territory, commenced to triple, that of the Slave States. The comparative sparseness of the two populations furnishes another illustration. In the Slave States the average number of inhabitants to a square mile was 11.29, while in the Free States, it was 21.93 or almost two to one in favor of Freedom.

These results are general; but if we take any particular Slave State, and compare it with a Free State, we shall find the same marked evidence for Freedom. Take Virginia, with a territory of 61,352 square [329] miles, and New York, with a territory of 47,000, or over 14,000 square miles less than her sister State. New York has one seaport, Virginia some three or four; New York has one noble river, Virginia has several; New York for 400 miles runs along the frozen line of Canada, Virginia basks in a climate of constant felicity. But Freedom is better than climate, river, or seaport. In 790 the population of Virginia was 748,308, and in 1850 it was 1,421,661. In 1790 the population of New York was 340,120, and in 1850 it was 3,097,394. That of Virginia had not doubled in sixty years, while that of New York had multiplied more than ninefold. A similar comparison may be made between Kentucky, with 37,680 squares miles, admitted into the Union as long ago as 1792, and Ohio, with 39,964 square miles, admitted into the Union in 1802. In 1850, the Slave State had a population of only 982,405, while Ohio had a population of 1,980,329, showing a difference of nearly a million in favor of Freedom.


As in population, so also in the value of property, real and personal, do the Free States excel the Slave States. According to the census of 1850, the value of property in the Free States was $4,102,162,098, while in the Slave States it was $2,936,090,737; or, if we deduct the asserted property in human flesh, only $1,655,945,137,—showing an enormous difference of billions in favor of Freedom. In the Free States the valuation per acre was $10.46, in the Slave States only $3.04. This disproportion was still greater in 1855, when, according to the Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, the valuation of the Free States was $5, 7700,197,679, or $14.71 per acre; and of the Slave States, $3,977,354,046, or, if we deduct the asserted property in human flesh, $2,505, 186,446, or $4.59 per acre. Thus in five years from 1850 the valuation of property in the Free States received an increase of more than the whole accumulated valuation of the Slave States in 1850.

Looking at details, we find the same disproportions. Arkansas and Michigan, nearly equal in territory, were organized as States by simultaneous Acts of Congress; and yet in 1855 the whole valuation of Arkansas, including its asserted property in human flesh, was only $64,240,726, while that of Michigan, without a single slave, was $116,593,580. The whole accumulated valuation of all the Slave States, deducting the asserted property in human flesh, in 1850, was only $1,655,945,-- [330] 137; but the valuation of New York alone, in 1855, reached the nearly equal sum of $1,401,285,279. The valuation of Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas, altogether, in 1850, deducting human flesh, was $559,224,920, or simply $1.96 per acre,—being less than that of Massachusetts alone, which was $573,342,286, or $114.85 per acre.


The Slave States boast of agriculture; but here again, notwithstanding superior natural advantages, they must yield to the Free States at every point,—in the number of farms and plantations, in the number of acres improved, in the cash value of farms, in the average value per acre, and in the value of farming implements and machinery. Here is a short table.

Free States.Slave States.
Number of farms873,608569,201
Acres of improved land57,720,49454,970, 327
Cash value of farms$2,147,218,478$1,117,649,649
Average value per acre$19.17$6.18
Value of farming implements$85,840,141$65,345,625

Such is the mighty contrast. But it does not stop here. Careful tables place the agricultural products of the Free States, for the year ending June, 1850, at $888,634,334, while those of the Slave States were $631,277,417; the product per acre in the Free States at $7.94, and the product per acre in the Slave States at $3.49; the average product of each agriculturist in the Free States at $342, and in the Slave States at $171. Thus the Free States, with a smaller population engaged in agriculture than the Slave States, and with smaller territory, show an annual sum total of agricultural products surpassing those of the Slave States by two hundred and twenty-seven millions of dollars, while twice as much is produced by each agriculturist, and more than twice as much is produced on an acre. The monopoly of cotton, rice, and cane-sugar, with a climate granting two and sometimes three crops in the year, is thus impotent in competition with Freedom.


In manufactures, mining, and the mechanic arts the failure of the Slave States is greater still. It appears at all points,—in the capital [331] employed, in the value of the raw material, in the annual wages, and in the annual product. A short table will show the contrast.

Free States.Slave States.
Value of raw material465,844,09286,190,639
Annual wages195,436,45333,247,560
Annual product842,586,058165,423,027

This might be illustrated by details with regard to different manufactures,—as shoes, cotton, woollens, pig iron, wrought iron, and iron castings,—all showing the contrast. It might also be illustrated by comparison between different States,—showing for instance, that the manufactures of Massachusetts during the last year, exceeded those of all the Slave States combined.

In commerce the failure of the Slave States is on a yet larger scale. Under this head the census does not supply proper statistics, and we are left to approximations from other sources; but these are enough for our purpose. It appears, that, of products which enter into commerce, the Free States had an amount valued at $1,377,199,968, the Slave States an amount valued only at $410,754,992; that, of persons engaged in trade, the Free States had 136,856, and the Slave States 52,662; and that, of tonnage employed, the Free State had 2,791,096 tons, and the Slaves States only 726,284. This was in 1850. But in 1855 the disproportion was still greater, the Free States having 4,320,768 tons, and the Slave States 855,510 tons, being a difference of five to one,—and the tonnage of Massachusetts alone being 979,210 tons, an amount larger than that of all the Slave States together. The tonnage built during this year by the Free States was 528,844 tons, by the Slave States 52,938 tons. Maine alone built 215,905 tons, or more than four times the whole built in the Slave States.

The foreign commerce of the Free States, in 1855, as indicated by exports and imports, was $404,365,503; of the Slave States, $132,062,196. The exports of the Free States were $167,520,693; of the Slave States, including the vaunted cotton crop, $107,475,668. The imports of the Free States were $236,844,810; of the Slave States, $24,586,528. The foreign commerce of New York alone was more than twice as large as that of all the Slave States; her imports were larger, and her exports were larger also. Add to this evidence of figures the testimony of a Virginian, Mr. Loudon, in a letter written just before the sitting of a Southern Commercial Convention. Thus he complains and testifies:— [332]

‘There are not half a dozen vessels engaged in our own trade that are owned in Virginia; and I have been unable to find a vessel at Liverpool loading for Virginia within three years, during the height of our busy season.’


Railroads and canals are the avenues of commerce; and here again the Free States excel. Of railroads in operation in 1854, there were 13,105 miles in the Free States, and 4,212 in the Slave States. Of canals there were 3,682 miles in the Free States, and 1,116 in the Slave States.

The Post-Office, which is the agent not only of commerce, but of civilization, joins in the uniform testimony. According to the tables for 1859, the postage collected in the Free States was $5,581,749, and the expense of carrying the mails $6,945,545, leaving a deficit of $1,363,796. In the Slave States the amount collected was only $1,936,167, and the expense of carrying the mails $5,947,076, leaving the enormous deficit of $4,010,909,—the difference between the two deficits being $2,647,113. The Slave States did not pay one-third of the expense in transporting their own mails; and not a single Slave State paid for transporting its own mails, not even the small State of Delaware. Massachusetts, besides paying for hers, had a surplus larger by one-half than the whole amount collected in South Carolina.

According to the census of 1850, the value of churches in the Free States was $66,177,586; in the Slave States $20,683,265.

The voluntary charity contributed in 1855, for certain leading purposes of Christian benevolence, was, in the Free States, $955, 51111; for the same purpose in the Slave States, $193,885. For the Bible cause the Free States contributed $321,365; the Slave States, $67,226. For the Missionary cause the former contributed $502, I 74; and the latter, $101,934. For the Tract Society the former contributed $131,972; and the latter, $24,725. The amount contributed for Missions by Massachusetts was greater than that contributed by all the Slave States, and more than eight times that contributed by South Carolina.

Nor have the Free States been backward in charity for the benefit of the Slave States. The records of Massachusetts show that as long ago as 1781, at the beginning of the Government, there was a contribution throughout the Commonwealth, under the particular direction of that eminent patriot, Samuel Adams, for the relief of inhabitants of South [333] Carolina and Georgia. In 1855 we were saddened by the prevalence of yellow fever in Portsmouth, Virginia; and now, from a report of the Relief Commitee of that place, we learn that the amount of charity contributed by the Slave States exclusive of Virginia, the afflicted State, was $12,182; and including Virginia, it was $33,398; while $42,547 was contributed by the Free States.


In all this array we see the fatal influence of Slavery. But its Barbarism is yet more conspicuous, when we consider its Educational Establishments, and the unhappy results naturally ensuing from their imperfect character.

Of colleges, in 1856, the Free States had 61, and the Slave States 59; but the comparative efficacy of the institutions assuming this name may be measured by certain facts. The number of graduates in the Free States was 47,752, in the Slave States 19,648; the number of ministers educated in Slave colleges was 747, in Free colleges 10,702; and the number of volumes in the libraries of Slave colleges 308,011, in the libraries of Free colleges 668,497. If materials were at hand for comparison between these colleges, in buildings, cabinets, and scientific apparatus, or in standard of scholarship, the difference would be still more apparent.

Of professional schools, teaching law, medicine, and theology, the Free States had 65, with 269 professors, 4,417 students, and 175,951 volumes in their libraries; while the Slave States had only 32 professional schools, with 122 professors, 1,816 students, and 30,796 volumes in their libraries. The whole number educated at these institutions in the Free States was 23,513, in the Slave States, 3,812. Of these, the largest number in the Slave States study medicine, next theology, and lastly law. According to the census, there are only 808 students in the Slave theological schools, and 747 studying for the ministry in Slave colleges; and this is the education of the Slave clergy. In the law schools of the Slave States the number of students is only 240, this being the sum-total of public students in the land of Slavery devoted to that profession which is the favorite stepping-stone to political life, where Slave-Masters claim such a disproportion of office and honor.

Of academies and private schools, in 1850, the Free States, notwithstanding multitudinous public schools, had 3,197, with 7,175 teachers, 154,893 pupils, and an annual income of $2,457,372; the [334] Slave States had 2,797 academies and private schools, with 4,913 teachers, 104,976 pupils, and an annual income of $2,079,724. In the absence of public schools, to a large extent, where Slavery exists, the dependence must be upon private schools; and yet even here the Slave States fall below the Free States, whether we consider the number of schools, the number of pupils, the number of teachers, or the amount paid for their support.


In public schools, open to all, poor and rich alike, the preeminence of the Free States is complete. Here the figures show a difference as wide as that between Freedom and Slavery. Their number in the Free States is 62,433, with 72,621 teachers, and with 2,769,901 pupils, supported at an annual expense of $6,780,337. Their number in the Slave States is 18,507, with 19,307 teachers, and with 581,861 pupils, supported at an annual expense of $2, 7119,534. This difference may be illustrated by details. Virginia, an old State, and more than a third larger than Ohio, has 67,353 pupils in her public schools, while the latter State has 484,153. Arkansas, equal in age and size with Michigan, has only 8,493 pupils at her public schools, while the latter State has 110,455. South Carolina, nearly four times as large as Massachusetts, has 17,838 pupils at public schools, while the latter State has 176,475. South Carolina spends for this purpose, annually, $200,600; Massachusetts, $1,006,795. Baltimore, with a population of 169,054, on the Northern verge of Slavery, has school buildings valued at $105,729; Boston, with a population of 136,881, has school buildings valued at $729,502. Baltimore has only 37 public schools, with 138 teachers, and 8,011 pupils, supported at an annual expense of $32,423; Boston has 203 public schools, with 353 teachers, and 20,369 pupils, supported at an annual expense of $237,100. Even these figures do not disclose the whole difference; for there exist in the Free States teachers' institutes, normal schools, lyceums, and public courses of lectures, unknown in the region of Slavery. These advantages are enjoyed by the children of colored persons; and here is a comparison which shows the degradation of the Slave States. It is their habit particularly to deride free colored persons. See, now, with what cause. The number of colored persons in the Free States is 196,016, of whom 22,043, or more than one-ninth, attend school, which is a larger proportion than is supplied [335] by the whites of the Slave States. In Massachusetts there are 9,064 colored persons, of whom 1,439, or nearly one-sixth, attend school, which is a much larger proportion than is supplied by the whites of South Carolina.

Among educational establishments are public libraries; and here, again, the Free States have their customary eminence, whether we consider libraries strictly called public, or libraries of the common school, Sunday-school, college, and church. The disclosures are startling. The number of libraries in the Free States is 14,893, and the sum-total of volumes is 3,883,617; the number of libraries in the Slave States is 713, and the sum-total of volumes is 654,194: showing an excess for Freedom of more than fourteen thousand libraries, and more than three millions of volumes. In the Free States the common-school libraries are 11,881, and contain 1,589,683 volumes; in the Slave States they are 186, and contain 57,721 volumes. In the Free States the Sunday-school libraries are 1,713, and contain 474,241 volumes; in the Slave States they are 275, and contain 68,080 volumes. In the Free States the college libraries are 132, and contain 660,573 volumes; in the Slave States they are 79, and contain 249,248 volumes. In the Free States the church libraries are 109, and contain 52,723 volumes; in the Slave States they are 21, and contain 5,627 volumes. In the Free States the libraries strictly called public, and not included under heads already enumerated, are 1,058, and contain 1,106,397 volumes; those of the Slave States are 152, and contain 273,518 volumes.

Turn these figures over, look at them in any light, and the conclusion is irresistible for Freedom. The college libraries alone of the Free States are greater than all the libraries of Slavery; so, also, are the libraries of Massachusetts alone greater than all the libraries of Slavery; and the common-school libraries alone of New York are more than twice as large as all the libraries of Slavery. Michigan has 107,943 volumes in her libraries; Arkansas has 420; and yet the Acts for the admission of these two States into the Union were passed on the same day.


Among educational establishments, one of the most efficient is the press; and here again all things testify for Freedom. The Free States excel in the number of newspapers and periodicals published, whether daily. semi-weekly, weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, or quarterly,—and [336] whatever their character, whether literary, neutral, political, religious, or scientific. The. whole aggregate circulation in the Free States is 334,146,281, in the Slave States 81,038,693; in Free Michigan 3,247,736, in Slave Arkansas 377,000; in Free Ohio 30,473,407, in Slave Kentucky 6,582,838; in Slave South Carolina 7,145,930, in Free Massachusetts 64,820,564,—a larger number than in the twelve Slave States, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, combined. This enormous disproportion in the aggregate is also preserved in the details. In the Slave States political newspapers find more favor than all others together; but even of these they publish only 47,243,209 copies, while the Free States publish 163,583,668. Numerous as are political newspapers in the Free States, they form considerably less than one-half the aggregate circulation of the Press, while in the Slave States they constitute nearly three-fifths. Of neutral newspapers the Slave States publish 8,812,620, the Free States 79,156,733. Of religious newspapers the Slave States publish 4,364,832, the Free States 29,280,652. Of literary journals the Slave States publish 20,245,360, the Free States 57,478,768. And of scientific journals the Slave States publish 372,672, the Free States 4,521,260. Of these last the number of copies published in Massachusetts alone is 2,033,260,— more than five times the number in the whole land of Slavery. Thus, in contributions to science, literature, religion, and even politics, as attested by the activity of the periodical press, do the Slave States miserably fail,—while darkness gathers over them, increasing with time. According to the census of 1810, the disproportion in this respect between the two regions was only as two to one; it is now more than four to one, and is still darkening.

The same disproportion appears with regard to persons connected with the Press. In the Free States the number of printers was 11,812, of whom 1,229 were in Massachusetts; in the Slaves States there were 2,625, of whom South Carolina had only 141. In the Free States the number of publishers was 331; in the Slave States, 24. Of these, Massachusetts had 51, or more than twice as many as all the Slave States; while South Carolina had but one. In the Free States the authors were 73; in the Slave States, 6,—Massachusetts having 17, and South Carolina none. These suggestive illustrations are all derived from the last official census. If we go to other sources, the contrast is still the same. Of the authors mentioned in Duyckinck's ‘Cyclopedia of American Literature,’ 434 are of the Free States, and only 90 [337] of the Slave States. Of the poets mentioned in Griswold's ‘Poets and Poetry of America,’ 122 are of the Free States, and only 16 of the Slave States. Of the poets whose place of birth appears in Read's ‘Female Poets of America,’ 71 are of the Free States, and only 11 of the Slave States. If we try authors by weight or quality, it is the same as when we try them by numbers. Out of the Free States come all whose works have a place in the permanent literature of the country, —Irving, Prescott, Sparks, Bancroft, Emerson, Motley, Hildreth, Hawthorne; also, Bryant, Longfellow, Dana, Halleck, Whittier, Lowell,— and I might add indefinitely to the list. But what name from the Slave States can find entrance there?

A similar disproportion appears in the number of Patents, during the last three years, 1857, 1858, and 1859, attesting the inventive industry of the contrasted regions. In the Free States there were 9,557; in the Slave States, 1,306: making a difference of 8,251 in favor of Freedom. The number in Free Massachusetts was 1,351; in Slave South Carolina, 39. The number in Free Connecticut, small in territory and population, was 628; in Slave Virginia, large in territory and population, 184.

From these things we might infer the ignorance prevalent in the Slave States; but this shows itself in specific results of a deplorable character, authenticated by the official census. In the Slave States there were 493,026 native white adults, persons over twenty years of age, unable to read and write; while in the Free States, with double the native white population, there were but 248,725 persons of this class in this unhappy predicament: in the Slave States the proportion being i in 5 of the adult native whites; in the Free States 1 in 22. The number in Free Massachusetts, in an adult native white population of 470,375, was 1,055, or 1 in 446; the number in Slave South Carolina, in a like population of only 120,136, was 15,580, or 1 in 8. The number in Free Connecticut was 1 in 256, in Slave Virginia 1 in 5; in Free New Hampshire 1 in 192, and in Slave North Carolina 1 in 3.


Before leaving this picture, where the dismal colors all come from official sources, there are two other aspects in which Slavery may be regarded.

1. The first is its influence on emigration. The official compendium of the census (page 115) tells us that inhabitants of Slave States who are natives of Free States are more numerous than inhabitants [338] of Free States who are natives of Slave States. This is an egregious error. Just the contrary is true. The census of 1850 found 606,139 in the Free States who were born in the Slave States, while only 206,624 born in the Free States were in the Slave States. And since the white population of the Free States is double that of the Slave States, it appears that the proportion of whites moving from Slavery is six times greater than that of whites moving into Slavery. This simple fact discloses something of the aversion to Slavery which is aroused even in the Slave States.

2. The second is furnished by the character of the region on the border-line between Freedom and Slavery. In general, the value of land in Slave States adjoining Freedom is advanced, while the value of corresponding lands in Free States is diminished. The effects of Freedom and Slavery are reciprocal. Slavery is a bad neighbor; Freedom is a good neighbor. In Virginia, lands naturally poor are, by nearness to Freedom, worth $12.98 an acre, while richer lands in other parts of the State are worth only $8.42. In Illinois, lands bordering on Slavery are worth only $4.54 an acre, while other lands in Illinois are worth $8.05. As in the value of lands, so in all other influences is Slavery felt for evil, and Freedom felt for good; and thus is it clearly shown to be for the interest of the Slave States to be surrounded by a circle of Free States.

At every point is the character of Slavery more and more manifest, rising and dilating into an overshadowing Barbarism, darkening the whole land. Through its influence, population, values of all kinds, manufactures, commerce, railroads, canals, charities, the post-office, colleges, professional schools, academies, public schools, newspapers, periodicals, books, authorship, inventions, are all stunted, and, under a Government which professes to be founded on the intelligence of the people, one in five of native white adults in the region of Slavery is officially reported as unable to read and write. Never was the saying of Montesquieu more triumphantly verified, that countries are not cultivated by reason of their fertility, but by reason of their liberty. To this truth the Slave States testify perpetually by every possible voice. Liberty is the powerful agent which drives the plough, the spindle, and the keel,—opens avenues of all kinds,—inspires charity,—awakens love of knowledge, and supplies the means of gratifying it. Liberty is the first of schoolmasters: nay, more; it is the Baconian philosophy of Civilization, through which the powers and activities of man are enlarged beyond measure or imagination.



Unerring and passionless figures thus far are our witnesses. But their testimony will be enhanced by a final glance at the geographical character of the Slave States; and here there is a singular and instructive parallel.

Jefferson described Virginia as ‘fast sinking’ to be ‘the Barbary of the Union,’—meaning, of course, the Barbary of his day, which had not yet turned against Slavery. And Franklin also wrote, that he did ‘not wish to see a new Barbary rising in America, and our long extended coast occupied by piratical States.’ In this each spoke with prophetic voice. Though on different sides of the Atlantic and on different continents, our Slave States and the original Barbary States occupy nearly the same parallels of latitude, occupy nearly the same extent of longitude, embrace nearly the same number of square miles, enjoy kindred advantages of climate, being equally removed from the cold of the North and the burning heat of the tropics, and also have similar boundaries of land and water, affording kindred advantages of ocean and sea, with this difference, that the boundaries of the two regions are precisely reversed, so that where is land in one is water in the other, while in both there is the same extent of ocean and the same extent of sea. Nor is this all. Algiers, for a long time the most obnoxious place in the Barbary States of Africa, once branded by an indignant chronicler as ‘the wall of the Barbarian world,’ is situated near the parallel of 36° 30′ north latitude, being the line of the Missouri Compromise, which once marked the wall of Slavery in our country west of the Mississippi, while Morocco, the chief present seat of Slavery in the African Barbary, is near the parallel of Charleston. There are no two spaces on the surface of the globe, equal in extent (and careful examination will verify what I am about to state), which present so many distinctive features of resemblance, whether we consider the common regions of latitude in which they lie, the common nature of their boundaries, their common productions, their common climate, or the common Barbarism which sought shelter in both. I do not stop to inquire why Slavery—banished at last from Europe, banished also from that part of this hemisphere which corresponds in latitude to Europe—should have intrenched itself, in both hemispheres, in similar regions of latitude, so that Virginia, Carolina, Mississippi, and Missouri are the American complement to Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis. But there is one important point [340] in the parallel which remains to be fulfilled. The barbarous Emperor of Morocco, in the words of a treaty, so long ago as the last century, declared his desire that ‘the odious name of Slavery might be effaced from the memory of men;’ while Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis, whose tenacity for the Barbarism was equalled only by that of South Carolina, have renounced it one after another, and delivered it over to the indignation of mankind. Following this example, the parallel will be complete, and our Barbary will become the complement in Freedom to the African Barbary, as it has already been its complement in Slavery, and is unquestionably its complement in geographical character.

Thus, sir, speaking for Freedom in Kansas, I have spoken for Freedom everywhere, and for Civilization; and as the less is contained in the greater, so are all arts, all sciences, all economies, all refinements, all charities, all delights of life, embodied in this cause. You may reject it, but it will be only for to-day. The sacred animosity of Freedom and Slavery can end only with the triumph of Freedom. The same question will be carried soon before that high tribunal, supreme over Senate and Court, where the judges are counted by millions, and the judgment rendered will be the solemn charge of an awakened people, instructing a new President, in the name of Freedom, to see that Civilization receives no detriment. ...


I omit altogether that part of the speech which treats of the character of Slave-masters, and the black array of violence and crime as evidence of low civilization throughout the South; and the treatment of Northern citizens, when in the power of Southern men, wherever they expressed any views not agreeing with the Institution.

When Mr. Sumner resumed his seat, Mr. Chestnut, of South Carolina, uttered these words:

Mr. President, after the extraordinary, though characteristic, speech just uttered in the Senate, it is proper that I assign the reason for the position we are now inclined to assume. After ranging over Europe, crawling through the back doors to whine at the feet of British aristocracy, craving pity, and reaping a rich harvest of contempt, the slanderer of States and men reappears in the Senate. We had hoped to [341] be relieved from the outpourings of such vulgar malice. We had hoped that one who had felt, though ignominiously he failed to meet, the consequences of a former insolence would have become wiser, if not better, by experience. In this I am disappointed, and I regret it. Mr. President, in the heroic ages of the world men were deified for the possession and the exercise of some virtues,—wisdom, truth, justice, magnanimity, courage. In Egypt, also, we know they deified beasts and reptiles; but even that bestial people worshipped their idols on account of some supposed virtue. It has been left for this day, for this country, for the Abolitionists of Massachusetts, to deify their incarnation of malice, mendacity, and cowardice. Sir, we do not intend to be guilty of aiding in the apotheosis of pusillanimity and meanness. We do not intend to contribute, by any conduct on our part, to increase the devotees at the shrine of this new idol. We know what is expected and what is desired. We are not inclined again to send forth the recipient of punishment howling through the world, yelping fresh cries of slander and malice. These are the reasons, which I feel it due to myself and others to give to the Senate and the country, why we have quietly listened to what has been said, and why we can take no other notice of the matter.’

He spoke with uncontrollable rage, and was listened to with eagerness and approval by the Slave-masters of the Senate, both from the North and the South. There was no call to order by the Chair, which was at the time occupied by Mr. Bigler, of Pennsylvania. The storm seemed ready to burst once more in violence. But this time brutality and murder were to seek more cowardly and skulking assassins. We have seen how they were foiled by the vigilance of Mr. Sumner's friends.


Shortly after the delivery of his last speech, Mr. Sumner presented a petition of citizens of Massachusetts of African descent, praying the Senate to suspend the labors of the Select Committee which had been appointed to investigate the late invasion and seizure of property at Harper's Ferry, and that all persons now in custody under the proceedings of such committee, be discharged. [342] This was referred to the Select Committee, June 5th. On the 15th of the month, Mr. Mason reported from that Committee, a resolution, ‘that the paper purporting to be a petition from citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of African descent, presented to the Senate by Charles Sumner, a Senator of Massachusetts, be returned by the Secretary to the Senator who presented it.’ Supposing that this resolution would be called up, Mr. Sumner prepared some notes of a speech he intended to deliver on the subject, in which the following paragraph occurred:
There is a saying of antiquity, which has the confirming voice of all intervening time, that “ Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.” And now, sir, while humbled for my country that such a proposition should be introduced into the Senate, I accept it as an omen of that madness which precedes the fall of its authors.

But the resolution never was called up, and no other resolution of such tyrannical hardihood and shameless insult, was ever renewed in that Senate house, for the great struggle was at hand, in which Abraham Lincoln was to be triumphantly elected President of the United States.


On his way from Washington, after the adjournment of Congress, at the invitation of the Young Men's Republican Union, New York City, the Senator delivered a powerful campaign speech on ‘the Republican party: its origin, necessity and Permanence,’ to a mass meeting at Cooper Institute, July 11, 1860.

It was evident that the movement had now become formidable enough to command respect from all parties. [343] Of the thousands who packed that hall—an auditory which seemed more like a gathering for a grand concert, or festival, than a political mass meeting—few have forgotten the imposing character of the assemblage, or the strange mingling of earnest determination and unrestrained enthusiasm, manifested on the occasion. The scene is thus described by the Evening Post:

Mr. Sumner was as happy in manner, as he was forcible in the matter of his speech. His commanding person, his distinct utterance, and his graceful elocution, combined with the eloquence of his words in keeping the immense auditory to their seats for two hours, without a movement, and almost without a breath, save when the applause broke forth. It is the first time Mr. Sumner has spoken in public since he was laid low in the Senate House, and New York by this grand demonstration has shown its eagerness to welcome him to the field of so many former triumphs.

Mr. Seward wrote to the speaker: ‘Your speech, in every part, is noble and great. Even you never spoke so well.’

We have no room for this Oration—for it is worthy of the name:—it is enough, however, to say that, without any sacrifice of the lofty tone and scholarly finish of his Senatorial speeches, it most strikingly popularized the chief arguments that had made the burden of his former efforts—that it was printed entire in the Tribune, Times, Herald and World, and that enormous editions were circulated by the Young Men's Republican Union, while the Republican press everywhere reproduced it, till it fell “like leaves in Vallambrosa,” upon every farm, rooftree, counting-house, and workshop, in the great Free North.

A Republican wigwam was to be dedicated in New York on the 6th of the following August, at which an [344] effort was made to get Mr. Sumner to speak; but they had to be content with a hearty reply, in which he said:

As citizens of a great Metropolis, you have duties of peculiar difficulty. It is in these centres that the Pro-Slavery sentiment of the North shows itself with a violence often kindred to that of the plantation, so as to almost justify the language of Jefferson, who called great cities ‘sores’ on the body politic. Even this expression does not seem too strong, when we recognize the infection of Slavery, breaking out sometimes in violence and mobs, and as constantly manifest in the press, public speeches, and in a corrupt public sentiment. It belongs to the Republican party, by gentle and healing influences, guided by a firm hand. to inaugurate the work of cure, that health may be substituted for disease.


On the 29th of the same month, the Republicans of Massachusetts assembled in Mass Convention at Worcester, to ratify the nomination of Mr. Lincoln for President, and John A. Andrew, for the first time, as Governor of Massachusetts. Mr. Sumner delivered the principal speech, on ‘The Presidential Candidates, and the Issues of the Canvass.’ He went into a clear and analytical exposition of the entire merits of the question,—the comparative claims for support of Lincoln and Hamlin, representing the now formidable Republican party; of Breckenridge and Lane, the candidates of the now clearly announced champions of the Democratic Pro-Slavery Party; of Douglas and Johnson, the candidates of the seceding body of Democrats, known as the Douglas, or Squatter Sovereignty Party; and of bell and Everett, candidates of the few old remaining Whigs, who, like venerable barnacles, were still clinging to a sinking ship. Nothing but imperative necessity exeludes [345] that speech from this volume. This memorable campaign, brought out from these four quarters more ability in debate, and excited a deeper interest among all classes, North and South, than any other within recent times; nor has any campaign perhaps ever marshalled, in public meetings and at the ballot-box, such excited and contending hosts.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (46)
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (40)
Kansas (Kansas, United States) (14)
Arkansas (Arkansas, United States) (12)
Michigan (Michigan, United States) (10)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (10)
United States (United States) (8)
Europe (8)
Tunisia (Tunisia) (4)
Tripoli (Libya) (4)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (4)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (4)
Louisiana (Louisiana, United States) (4)
Illinois (Illinois, United States) (4)
Connecticut (Connecticut, United States) (4)
China (China) (4)
Baltimore, Md. (Maryland, United States) (4)
Worcester (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
Sinai (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Russia (Russia) (2)
Portsmouth, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (2)
New Hampshire (New Hampshire, United States) (2)
Neri (Texas, United States) (2)
Missouri (United States) (2)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (2)
Milwaukee (Wisconsin, United States) (2)
Maine (Maine, United States) (2)
Liverpool (United Kingdom) (2)
Jamestown (Virginia) (Virginia, United States) (2)
Harper's Ferry (West Virginia, United States) (2)
Griswoldsville (Georgia, United States) (2)
Delaware (Delaware, United States) (2)
Carolina (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Canada (Canada) (2)
California (California, United States) (2)
Benin (Benin) (2)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (2)
Africa (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1850 AD (26)
1855 AD (14)
1859 AD (4)
1790 AD (4)
June 5th (4)
July 11th, 1860 AD (2)
June 4th, 1860 AD (2)
1858 AD (2)
1857 AD (2)
1856 AD (2)
1854 AD (2)
June, 1850 AD (2)
1810 AD (2)
1802 AD (2)
1792 AD (2)
1781 AD (2)
1620 AD (2)
August (2)
29th (2)
15th (2)
6th (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: