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The office of the pulpit is to teach men their duty. Wherever men's thoughts influence their laws, it is the duty of the pulpit to preach politics. If it were possible to conceive of a community whose opinions had no influence on their government, there the pulpit would have no occasion to talk of government. I never heard or knew of such a community. Though sheltered by Roman despotism, Herod and the chief priests abstained from this and that because they “feared the people.” The Sultan dared to murder his Janizaries only when the streets came to hate them as much as he did. The Czar, at the head of a government whose constitution knows no check but poison and the dagger, yet feels the pressure of public opinion. Certainly, where pews are full of voters, no question but the sermon should be full of politics.

“ The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice.” “The covenant with death” is annulled; “the agreement with hell” is broken to pieces. The chain which has held the slave system since 1787 is parted. Thirty years ago, Southern leaders, sixteen years ago, Northern Abolitionists, announced their purpose to seek the dissolution of the American Union. Who dreamed that success would come so soon? South Carolina, bankrupt, alone, with a [344] hundred thousand more slaves than whites. four blacks to three whites, within her borders, flings her gauntlet at the feet of twenty-five millions of people in defence of an idea, to maintain what she thinks her right. I would New England could count one State as fearless among her six! Call it not the madness of an engineer who stands in front of his cannon at the moment of discharge; call it rather the forlorn hope of the mariner, seizing plank or spar in the fury of the storm. The mistake of South Carolina is, she fancies there is more chance of saving slavery outside of the Union than inside. Three States have followed her example. Probably the rest of the Slave States, or many of them, will find themselves unable to resist the infection, and then the whole merciless conspiracy of 1787 is ended, and timid men will dare to hate slavery without trembling for bread or life.

Let us look at the country,--the North, the South, and the government. The South divided into three sections:--1st. Those who hold slaves exactly as they do bank-stock or land,--and of course love the Union, which enables them to treat man as property,--timid wealth shrinking from change, but so timid as to stand dumb. 2d. Those who have ruled the nation sixty years, monopolizing Presidents' chairs and Embassies; defeated now, these plan, in earnest sincerity, for another nation with Presidencies and Embassies all to themselves. 3d. A class made up from these two, who cling to the Union in their hearts, but threaten loudly, well knowing the loudest threats get the best bargain.

The object of the South is a separate confederacy, hoping they can stand long enough for the North to ask for annexation on their terms.

Then comes the government, so called,--in reality a conspiracy against justice and honest men; some of its members pilferers and some traitors, the rest pilferers and [345] traitors too. Like all outgoing administrations, they have no wish to lessen the troubles of their successors by curing the nation's hurt,--rather aggravate it. They have done all the mischief in their power, and long now only to hear the clock strike twelve on the fourth day of March.

Then look at the North, divided into three sections:--1st. The defeated minority, glad of anything that troubles their conquerors. 2d. The class of Republicans led by Seward, offering to surrender anything to save the Union. [Applause.] Their gospel is the Constitution [applause], and the slave clause is their Sermon on the Mount. [Laughter and applause.] They think that, at the judgment-day, the blacker the sins they have committed to save the Union, the clearer will be their title to heaven 3d. The rest of the Republicans, led by the Tribune-all honor to the Tribune, faithful and true!--who consider their honor pledged to fulfil in office the promises made in the canvass. Their motto is: “The Chicago platform, every inch of it; not a hair's-breadth of the Territories shall be surrendered to slavery.” [Applause.] But they, too, claim the cannon's mouth to protect forts, defend the flag, and save the Union. At the head of this section, we have every reason to believe, stands Mr. Abraham Lincoln.

All these are the actors on the stage. But the foundation on which all stand divides only into two parts: those who like slavery, and mean it shall last; those who hate it, and mean it shall die. In the boiling gulf goes on the perpetual conflict of acid and alkali; all these classes are but bubbles on the surface. The upper millstone is right, and the lower wrong. Between them, governments and parchments, parties and compromises, are being slowly ground to powder.

Broadly stated, the South plans a Southern Confederacy to uphold slavery,--the North clings to the Union to [346] uphold trade and secure growth. Without the Union, Mr. Seward tells us we can neither be safe, rich, strong, nor happy. We used to think justice was before thrift, and nobleness better than happiness. I place no great reliance on that prudent patriotism which is the child of interest. The Tribune, unusually frank, pre-eminently honorable and lofty as has been its tone of late, still says, “Be it the business of the people everywhere to forget the negro, and remember only the country.” [Applause.]

After drifting, a dreary night of thirty years, before the hurricane, our ship of state is going to pieces on the lee shore of slavery. Every one confesses that the poison of our body politic is slavery. European critics, in view of it, have pronounced the existence of the Union hitherto a “fortunate accident.” Orators floated into fame on one inspired phrase, “irrepressible conflict.” Jefferson died foreseeing that this was the rock on which we should split. Even Mr. Webster, speaking with bated breath, in the cold chill of 1850, still dared to be a statesman, and offered to meet the South on this question, suggesting a broad plan for the cure of our dread disease. But now, with the Union dropping asunder, with every brain and tongue active, we have yet to hear the first statesman-word, the first proposal to consider the fountain and origin of all our ills. We look in vain through Mr. Seward's speech for one hint or suggestion as to any method of dealing with our terrible hurt. Indeed, one of his terrors of disunion is, that it will give room for “an European, an uncompromising hostility to slavery.” Such an hostility — the irrepressible conflict of right and wrong — William H. Seward, in 1861, pronounces “fearful!” To describe the great conflict of the age, the first of American statesmen, in the year of Garibaldi and Italy, can find no epithet but “fearful.” [347]

The servile silence of the 7th of March, 1850, is outdone, and to New York Massachusetts yields the post of infamy which her great Senator has hitherto filled. Yes, of all the doctors bending over the patient, not one dares to name his disease, except the Tribune, which advises him to forget it! Throughout half of the great cities of the North, every one who touches on it is mobbed into silence! This is, indeed, the saddest feature of our times.

Let us, then, who, unlike Mr. Seward, are not afraid to tell, even now, all and just what we wish,--let us look at the real nature of the crisis in which we stand. The Tribune says we should “forget the negro.” It seems to me that all our past, all our present, and all our future command us at this moment to think of nothing but the negro. [Slight laughter derisively.]

Let me tell you why. Mr. Seward says, “The first object of every human society is safety” ; I think the first duty of society is justice. Alexander Hamilton said, “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society.” If any other basis of safety or gain were honest, it would be impossible. “A prosperous iniquity,” says Jeremy Taylor, “is the most unprofitable condition in the world.” The nation which, in moments when great moral questions disturb its peace, consults first for its own safety, is atheist and coward, and there are three chances out of four that it will end by being knave. We were not sent into the world to plant cities, to make Unions or save them. Seeing that all men are born equal, our first civil duty is to see that our laws treat them so. The convulsion of this hour is the effort of the nation to do this, its duty, while politicians and parties strive to balk it of its purpose. The nation agonizes this hour to recognize man as man, forgetting color, condition, sex, and creed.

Our Revolution earned us only independence. Whatever our fathers meant, the chief lesson of that hour was [348] that America belongs to Americans. That generation learned it thoroughly; the second inherited it as a prejudice; we, the third, have our bones and blood made of it. When thought passes through purpose into character, it becomes the unchangeable basis of national life. That Revolutionary lesson need never be learned again, and will never die out. Let a British fleet, with admirals of the blue and red, cover our Atlantic coast, and in ten days Massachusetts and Carolina will stand shoulder to shoulder; the only rivalry, who shall die nearest the foe. [Loud applause, with cries of “Good.” ]

That principle is all our Revolution directly taught us. Massachusetts was hide-bound in the aristocracy of classes for years after. The bar and the orthodox pulpit were our House of Lords. A Baptist clergyman was little better than a negro. The five points of Massachusetts decency were, to trace your lineage to the Mayflower, graduate at Harvard College, be a good lawyer or a member of an orthodox church,--either would answer [laughter],--pay your debts, and frighten your child to sleep by saying “Thomas Jefferson.” Our theological aristocracy went down before the stalwart blows of Baptist, Unitarian, and Freethinker,--before Channing and Abner Kneeland. Virginia slaveholders, making theoretical democracy their passion, conquered the Federal Government, and emancipated the working-classes of New England. Bitter was the cup to honest Federalism and the Essex Junto. Today, Massachusetts only holds to the lips of Carolina a beaker of the same beverage I know no man who has analyzed this passage in our history so well as Richard Hildreth. The last thirty years have been the flowering out of this lesson. The Democratic principle, crumbling classes into men, has been working down from pulpits and judges' seats, through shop-boards and shoe-benches, to Irish hodmen, and reached the negro at last. The long [349] toil of a century cries out, Eureka!-“I have found it!” -the diamond of an immortal soul and an equal manhood under a black skin as truly as under a white one. For this, Leggett labored and Lovejoy died. For this, the bravest soul of the century went up to God from a Virginia scaffold. [Hisses and applause.] For this, young men gave up their May of youth, and old men the honors and ease of age. It went through the land writing history afresh, setting up and pulling down parties, riving sects, mowing down colossal reputations, making us veil our faces in shame at the baseness of our youth's idols, sending bankrupt statesmen to dishonored graves.

We stand to-day just as Hancock and Adams and Jefferson stood when stamp-act and tea-tax, Patrick Henry's eloquence and the massacre of March 5th, Otis's blood and Bunker Hill, had borne them to July, 1776. Suppose at that moment John Adams had cried out, “Now let the people everywhere forget Independence, and remember only ‘ God save the King’ !” [Laughter.] The toil of a whole generation--thirty years--has been spent in examining this question of the rights and place of the negro; the whole earnest thought of the nation given to it; old parties have been wrecked against it, new ones grown out of it; it stifles all other questions; the great interests of the nation necessarily suffer, men refusing to think of anything else but this; it struggles up through all compromises, asserting its right to be heard; no green withes of eloquence or cunning, trade, pulpit, Congress, or college, succeed in binding this Samson; the business of the seaboard begs it may be settled, no matter how; the whole South is determined to have it met, proclaiming that she does not secede because of personal liberty laws or a Republican President, but because of the state of Northern feeling of which these are signs. It is not Northern laws or officers they fear, but Northern conscience. Why, then, [350] should not the North accept the issue, and try to settle the question forever? You may run the Missouri line to the Pacific, but Garrison still lives; and while he does, South Carolina hates and fears Massachusetts. [Applause.] No Congressional resolves can still our brains or stifle our hearts; till you do, the slaveholder feels that New England is his natural foe. There can therefore be no real peace till we settle the slave question. If thirty years of debate have not fitted us to meet it, when shall we be able?

But the most honest Republicans say a State has no right to secede; we will show first that we have a government, and then, not before, settle disputed questions. Suppose a State has no right to secede, of what consequence is that? A Union is made up of willing States, not of conquered provinces. There are some rights, quite perfect, yet wholly incapable of being enforced. A husband or wife who can only keep the other partner within the bond by locking the doors and standing armed before them, had better submit to peaceable separation. [Applause.] A firm where one partner refuses to act has a full right to his services, but how compel them? South Carolina may be punished for her fault in going out of the Union, but that does not keep her in it. Why not recognize soberly the nature and necessity of our position? Why not, like statesmen, remember that homogeneous nations like France tend to centralization; confederacies like ours tend inevitably to dismemberment? France is the slow, still deposit of ages on central granite; only the globe's convulsion can rive it! We are the rich mud of the Mississippi; every flood shifts it from one side to the other of the channel. Nations like Austria, victim states, held under the lock and key of despotism,--or like ourselves, a herd of States, hunting for their food together,--must expect that any quarrel may lead to disunion. Beside, [351] Inter arma, silent leges,--armies care nothing for constables. This is not a case at law, but revolution.

Let us not, however, too anxiously grieve over the Union of 1787. Real Unions are not made, they grow. This was made, like an artificial waterfall or a Connecticut nutmeg. It was not an oak which to-day a tempest shatters. It was a wall hastily built, in hard times, of round boulders; the cement has crumbled, and the smooth stones, obeying the law of gravity, tumble here and there. Why should we seek to stop them, merely to show that we have a right and can? That were only a waste of means and temper. Let us build, like the Pyramids, a fabric which every natural law guarantees; or, better still, plant a Union whose life survives the ages, and quietly gives birth to its successor.

Mr. Seward's last speech, which he confesses does not express his real convictions, denies every principle but one that he proclaimed in his campaign addresses; that onewhich, at Lansing, he expressly said “he was ashamed to confess” --that one is this: Everything is to be sacrificed to save the Union. I am not aware that, on any public occasion, varied and wide as have been his discussions and topics, he has ever named the truth or the virtue which he would not sacrifice to save the Union. For thirty years, there has been stormy and searching discussion of profound moral questions; one, whom his friends call our only statesman, has spoken often on all; yet he has never named the sin which he does not think would be a virtue, if it contributed to save the Union.

Remembering this element of his statesmanship, let us listen to the key-note of his late speech: “The first object of every human society is safety or security, for which, if need be, they will and they must sacrifice every other.”

I will not stop to say that, even with his explanation, [352] his principle is equivocal, and, if unlimited, false; that, unqualified, it justifies every crime, and would have prevented every glory of history; that by it, James II. and Bonaparte were saints; under one sense, the Pilgrims were madmen, and under another, the Puritans did right to hang Quakers. But grant it. Suppose the Union means wealth, culture, happiness, and safety, man has no right to buy either by crime.

Many years ago, on the floor of Congress, Kentucky and Tennessee both confessed that “the dissolution of the Union was the dissolution of slavery.” Last month, Senator Johnson of Tennessee said: “If I were an Abolitionist, and wanted to accomplish the abolition of slavery in the Southern States, the first step I would take would be to break the bonds of this Union. I believe the continuance of slavery depends on the preservation of this Union, and a compliance with all the guaranties of the Constitution.” In September last (at La Crosse), Mr. Seward himself said, “What are they [the Southern States] in for but to have slavery saved for them by the Federal Union? Why would they go out, for they could not maintain and defend themselves against their own slaves?” In this last speech, he tells us it is the Union which restricts the opposition to slavery within narrow limits, and prevents it from being, like that of Europe, a “direct and uncompromising” demand for abolition.

Now, if the Union created for us a fresh Golconda every month, if it made every citizen wise as Solomon, blameless as St. John, and safe as an angel in the courts of Heaven, to cling to it would still be a damnable crime, hateful to God, while its cement was the blood of the negro,--while it, and it alone, made the crime of slaveholding possible in fifteen States.

Mr. Seward is a power in the state. It is worth while to understand his course. It cannot be caprice. His [353] position decides that of millions. The instinct which leads him to take it shows his guess (and he rarely errs) what the majority intend. I reconcile thus the utter difference and opposition of his campaign speeches, and his last one. I think he went West, sore at the loss of the nomination, but with too much good sense, perhaps magnanimity, to act over again Webster's sullen part when Taylor stole his rights.

Still, Mr. Seward, though philosophic, though keen to analyze and unfold the theory of our politics, is not cunning in plans. He is only the hand and tongue; his brain lives in private life on the Hudson River side. Acting under that guidance, he thought Mr. Lincoln not likely to go beyond, even if he were able to keep, the whole Chicago platform. Accordingly, he said: “I will give free rein to my natural feelings and real convictions, till these Abolitionists of the Republican ranks shall cry, ‘ O what a mistake! We ought to have nominated Seward; another time we will not be balked.’ ” Hence the hot eloquence and fearless tone of those prairie speeches. He returns to Washington, finds Mr. Lincoln sturdily insisting that his honor is pledged to keep in office every promise made in the platform. Then Mr. Seward shifts his course, saying: “Since my abolitionism cannot take the wind from my rival's sails, I'll get credit as a Conservative. Accepting the premiership, I will forestall public opinion, and do all possible to bind the coming administration to a policy which I originate.” He offers to postpone the whole Chicago platform, in order to save the Union,--though last October, at Chicago, he told us postponement never settles anything, whether it is a lawsuit or a national question; better be beat and try again than postpone.

This speech of Mr. Seward I regard as a declaration of war against the avowed policy of the incoming President. If Lincoln were an Andrew Jackson, as his friends aver, [354] he would dismiss Mr. Seward from his Cabinet. The incoming administration, if honest and firm, has two enemies to fight,--Mr. Seward and the South.

His power is large. Already he has swept our Adams into the vortex, making him offer to sacrifice the whole Republican platform, though, as events have turned, he has sacrificed only his own personal honor. Fifteen years ago, John Quincy Adams prophesied that the Union would not last twenty years. He little thought that disunion, when it came, would swallow his son's honor in its gulf.2

At such hours, New England Senators and Representatives have, from the very idea of their ultraism, little or no direct weight in Congress. But while New England is the brain of the Union, and therefore foreshadows what will be public opinion in the plastic West five years hence, it is of momentous consequence that the people here should make their real feelings known; that the pulpit and press should sound the bugle-note of utter defiance to slavery itself,--Union or no Union, Constitution or no Constitution, freedom for every man between the oceans, and from the hot Gulf to the frozen pole! You may as well dam up Niagara with bulrushes as bind our antislavery purpose with Congressional compromise. The South knows it. While she holds out her hand for Seward's offer, she keeps her eye fixed on us, to see what we think. Let her see that we laugh it to scorn. Sacrifice anything to keep the slaveholding States in the Union? God forbid! we will rather build a bridge of gold, and pay their toll over it,--accompany them out with glad noise of trumpets, and “speed the parting guest.” Let them not “stand on the order of their going, but go at once” ! Let them take the forts, empty our arsenals and [355] sub-treasuries, and we will lend them, beside, jewels of gold and jewels of silver, and Egypt be glad when they are departed. [Laughter and applause.]

But let the world distinctly understand why they go,--to save slavery; and why we rejoice in their departure,--because we know their declaration of independence is the jubilee of the slave. The eyes of the world are fixed on us as the great example of self-government. When this Union goes to pieces, it is a shock to the hopes of the struggling millions of Europe. All lies bear bitter fruit. To-day is the inevitable fruit of our fathers' faithless compromise in 1787. For the sake of the future, in freedom's name, let thinking Europe understand clearly why we sever. They saw Mr. Seward paint, at Chicago, our utter demoralization, Church and State, government and people, all classes, educated and uneducated,--all brought by the Slave Power, he said, to think slavery a blessing, and do anything to save it. So utter did he consider this demoralization, that he despaired of native Americans, and trusted to the hunted patriots and the refuse of Europe, which the emigrant-trains bore by his house, for the salvation of the valley of the Mississippi. To-day, they see that very man kneeling to that Slave Power, and begging her to take all, but only consent to grant him such a Union, -Union with such a power! How, then, shall Kossuth answer, when Austria laughs him to scorn? Shall Europe see the slaveholder kick the reluctant and kneeling North out of such a Union? How, then, shall Garibaldi dare look in the face of Napoleon? If, therefore, it were only to honor self-government, to prove that it educates men, not pedlers and cowards, let us proclaim our faith that honest labor can stand alone; its own right hand amply able to earn its bread and defend its rights [applause]; and, if it were not so, our readiness at any cost to welcome disunion when it comes bringing freedom [356] to four million of hapless slaves! [Applause.] What a sad comment on free institutions, that they have produced a South of tyrants, and a North of cowards; a South, ready to face any peril to save slavery, and a North unwilling to risk a dollar to serve freedom?

Why do I set so little value on the Union? Because I consider it a failure; certainly, so far as slavery is concerned, it is a failure. If you doubt me, look at the picture of its effects which Mr. Seward painted at Chicago.

Look at our history. Under it, 700,000 slaves have increased to 4,000,000. We have paid $800,000,000 directly to the support of slavery. This secession will cost the Union and business $200,000,000 more. The loss which this disturbing force has brought to our trade and industry, within sixty years, it would be safe to call $500,000,000. Is the Union a pecuniary success? Under it, Slavery has been strong enough to rule the nation for sixty years, and now breaks it to pieces because she can rule no longer. Under it, public morals have been so lowered, that while, at its outset, nine men out of ten were proud to be called Abolitionists, now nine out of ten would deem it not only an insult, but a pecuniary injury, to be charged with being so. Ever since it existed, its friends have confessed that, to save the Union, it was necessary and proper to crush free speech. Witness John Adams's sedition laws. Witness mobs of well-dressed merchants in every Northern city now. Witness one half of the Republican party lamenting free speech, this hour, throughout the North.

Mr. Seward confessed, at Chicago, that neither free speech nor free suffrage existed in one half of the States.

No Northern man can trade, live, or talk there. For twenty years, men have been mobbed, robbed, lynched, hung, and burned there, solely for loving liberty; and while the Federal Government never lifted a finger to [357] prevent or punish it, the very States whose citizens have been outraged have been too indifferent even to remonstrate. Massachusetts, who once remonstrated, saw her own agent mobbed out of Charleston with her full consent.

Before the Union existed, Washington and Jefferson uttered the boldest antislavery opinions; to-day they would be lynched in their own homes; and their sentiments have been mobbed this very year in every great city of the North. The Fugitive Slave Bill could never have been passed nor executed in the days of Jay. Now no man who hopes for office dares to insist that it is unconstitutional. Slavery has turned our churches of Christ to churches of commerce.

John Quincy Adams, the child of our earlier civilization, said the Union was worthless, weighed against that liberty it was meant to secure. Mr. Seward, the child of the Union, says there are few men, and there ought to be few, who would not prefer saving the Union to securing freedom; and standing to-day at the head of nineteen millions of freemen, he confesses he does not deem it prudent to express his “most cherished convictions” on this subject,3 while every honest man fears, and three fourths of Mr. Seward's followers hope, that the North, in this conflict of right and wrong, will, spite of Horace Greeley's warning, “Love liberty less than profit, dethrone conscience, and set up commerce in its stead.” You know it. A Union [358] whose despotism is so cruel and searching that one half our lawyers and one half our merchants stifle conscience for bread,--in the name of Martin Luther and John Milton, of Algernon Sidney and Henry Vane, of John Jay and Samuel Adams, I declare such a Union a failure.

It is for the chance of saving such a Union that Mr. Seward and Mr. Adams break in Washington all the promises of the canvass, and countenance measures which stifle the conscience and confuse the moral sense of the North. Say not that my criticism is harsh. I know their pretence. It is, we must conciliate, compromise, postpone, practise finesse, make promises or break them, do anything, to gain time and concentrate the North against slavery. Our fathers tried that policy in 1787. That they miserably failed is proved by a Capitol filled with knaves and traitors, yet able to awe and ruin honest men. It was tried in 1821, and failed. It was tried in 1850, and failed. Who is audacious enough to ask another trial? The Republicans say: “Conciliate, use soft language, organize — behind the door — bands of volunteers; and when we have saved Washington, we may dare speak out.” That is good policy for midnight conspirators. But if we are a government, if we are a nation, we should say: “Tell the truth! If coercion is our policy, tell the truth. Call for volunteers in every State, and vindicate the honor of the nation in the light of the sun!” [Applause.] [359]

The cunning which equivocates to-day, in order to secure a peaceful inauguration on the 4th of March, will yield up all its principles before the 1st of July. Beside, when opiate speeches have dulled the Northern conscience, and kneeling speeches have let down its courage, who can be sure that even Seward's voice, if he retain the wish, can conjure up again such a North as stands face to face with Southern arrogance to-day?

The Union, then, is a failure. What harm can come from disunion, and what good?

The seceding States will form a Southern Confederacy. We may judge of its future from the history of Mexico. The Gulf States intend to reopen the slave-trade. If Kentucky and Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina secede, the opening of that trade will ruin them, and they will gravitate to us, free. Louisiana cannot secede, except on paper; the omnipotent West needs her territory, as the mouth of its river. She must stay with us as a State or a conquered province, and may have her choice. [Laughter.] Beside, she stands on sugar, and free-trade bankrupts her. Consider the rest of the Slave States as one power, how can it harm us? Let us see the ground of Mr. Seward's fears. Will it increase our expenses or lessen our receipts? No; every one of those States costs the Union more than it contributes to it. Can it harm us by attacks? States without commerce or manufactures, and with an army of four millions of natural enemies encamped among them, have given bonds to keep the peace. Will they leave us so small and weak by going that we cannot stand alone? Let us see. There is no reason to suppose that the Free States, except California, will not cling together. Idem velle, idem nolle,--to like and dislike the same things, says the Latin proverb, is friendship. When a great number of persons agree in a great number of things, that insures a union; that is not [360] the case with the North and South, therefore we separate, that is the case with the whole North, therefore we shall remain united. How strong shall we be? Our territory will be twice as large as Austria, three times as large as France, four times as large as Spain, six times as large as Italy, seven times as large as Great Britain. Those nations have proved, for a considerable period, that they had sufficient land to stand on. Our population will be about nineteen millions,--more than the Union had in 1840. I do not think we were much afraid of anybody in 1840. Our blood is largely Yankee, a race that saved Carolina from her own Tories, in the Revolution. [Laughter.] Without that hinderance, we could fight now, certainly, as well as we did then; and then, with three million men only, we measured swords with the ablest nation of Europe, and conquered. I think, therefore, we have no reason to be very nervously anxious now. Indeed, Mr. Seward's picture of the desolation and military weakness of the divided States, if intended for the North, is the emptiest lie in his speech. I said lie; I meant it. I will tell you why. Because one William H. Seward said, last fall, at Lansing: “We are maintaining a standing army at the heavy cost of one thousand dollars per man, and a standing navy,--for what? to protect Michigan or Massachusetts, New York or Ohio? No; there is not a nation on the face of the earth which would dare to attack these Free States, or any of them, if they were even disunited. We are doing it in order that slaves may not escape from Slave States into the Free, and to secure those States from domestic insurrection; and because, if we provoke a foreign foe, slavery cries out that it is in danger.” Surely the speaker of those words has no right to deny that our expenses and danger will be less, and our power to meet both greater, when the Slave States are gone.

Indeed, everybody knows this. And this trembling [361] dread of losing the Union, which so frightens the people that, in view of it, Mr. Seward, as a practical man, dares not now tell, as he says, what he really thinks and wishes, is the child of his and Webster's insincere idolatry of the Union. To serve party and personal ambition, they made a god of the Union; and to-day their invention returns to plague the inventors. They made the people slaves to a falsehood; and that same deluded people have turned their fetters into gags for Mr. Seward's lips. Thank God for the retribution!

But the Union created commerce; disunion will kill it.

The Union the mother of commerce? I doubt it. I question whether the genius and energy of the Yankee race are not the parent of commerce and the fountain of wealth, much more than the Union. That race, in Holland, first created a country, and then, standing on piles, called modern commerce into being. That race, in England, with territory just wide enough to keep its eastern and western harbors apart, monopolized, for centuries, the trade of the world, and annexed continents only as coffers wherein to garner its wealth. Who shall say that the same blood, with only New England for its anchorage, could not drag the wealth of the West into its harbors? Who shall say that the fertile lands of Virginia and the Mississippi enrich us because they will to do so, and not because they are compelled? As long as New England is made of granite, and the nerves of her sons of steel, she will be, as she always has been, the brain of North America, united or disunited; and harnessing the elements, steam and lightning, to her car of conquest, she will double the worth of every prairie acre by her skill, cover ocean with her canvas, and gather the wealth of the Western hemisphere into her harbors.

Despite, then, of Seward's foreboding, our confederacy will be strong, safe, and rich. Honest it will be, and [362] therefore happy. Its nobleness will be, that, laughing at prophets, and scorning chances, it has taken the prop from the slave system, and in one night the whole fabric will tumble to pieces. Disunion is abolition! That is all the value disunion has for me. I care little for forms of government or extent of territory; whether ten States or thirty make up the Union. No foreign state dare touch us, united or disunited. It matters not to me whether Massachusetts is worth one thousand millions, as now, or two thousand millions, as she might be, if she had no Carolina to feed, protect, and carry the mails for. The music of disunion to me is, that at its touch the slave breaks into voice, shouting his jubilee.

What supports slavery? Northern bayonets, calming the masters' fears. Mr. Seward's words, which I have just quoted, tell you what he thinks the sole use of our army and navy. Disunion leaves God's natural laws to work their good results. God gives every animal means of self-protection. Under God's law, insurrection is the tyrant's check. Let us stand out of the path, and allow the Divine law to have free course.

Next, Northern opinion is the opiate of Southern conscience. Disunion changes that. Public opinion forms governments, and again governments react to mould opinion. Here is a government just as much permeated by slavery as China or Japan is with idolatry.

The Republican party take possession of this government. How are they to undermine the Slave Power? That power is composed, 1st, of the inevitable influence of wealth, $2,000,000,000,--the worth of the slaves in the Union,--so much capital drawing to it the sympathy of all other capital; 2d, of the artificial aristocracy created by the three-fifths slave basis of the Constitution; 3d, by the potent and baleful prejudice of color.

The aristocracy of the Constitution! Where have you [363] seen an aristocracy with half its power? You may take a small town here in New England, with a busy, active population of 2,500, and three or four such men as Governor Aikin, of South Carolina, riding leisurely to the polls, and throwing in their visiting-cards for ballots, will blot out the entire influence of that New England town in the Federal Government. That is your Republicanism Then, when you add to that the element of prejudice, which is concentrated in the epithet that spells negro with two “gg's,” you make the three-strand cable of the Slave Power,--the prejudice of race, the omnipotence of money, and the almost irresistible power of aristocracy. That is the Slave Power.

How is Mr. Lincoln to undermine it while in the Union? Certainly, by turning every atom of patronage and pecuniary profit in the keeping of the Federal Government to the support of freedom. You know the contrary policy has been always acted upon ever since Washington, and been openly avowed ever since Fillmore. No man was to receive any office who was not sound on the slavery question. You remember the debate in the Senate, when that was distinctly avowed to be the policy of Mr. Fillmore. You remember Mr. Clay letting it drop out accidentally, in debate, that the slaveholders had always closely watched the Cabinet, and kept a majority there, in order to preserve the ascendency of slavery. This is the policy which, in the course of fifty years, has built up the Slave Power. Now, how is the Republican party ever to beat that power down? By reversing that policy, in favor of freedom. Cassius Clay said to me, five years ago: “If you will allow me to have the patronage of this government five years, and exercise it remorselessly, down to New Orleans; never permit any one but an avowed Abolitionist to hold office under the Federal Government, I will revolutionize the Slave States themselves [364] in two administrations.” That is a scheme of efficient politics. But the Republican party has never yet professed any such policy.

Mr. Greeley, on the contrary, avowed, in the Tribune, that he had often voted for a slaveholder willingly, and he never expected the time would come when he should lay down the principle of refusing to vote for a slaveholder to office; and that sentiment has not only been reiterated by others of the Republican party, but has never been disavowed by any one. But suppose you could develop politics up to this idea, that the whole patronage of the government should be turned in favor of abolition; it would take two or three generations to overthrow what the Slave Power has done in sixty years, with the strength of aristocracy and the strength of prejudice on its side. With only the patronage of the government in its control, the Republican party must work slowly to regenerate the government against those two elements in opposition, when, with them in its favor, the Slave Power has been some sixty years in bringing about such a result as we see around us. To reverse this, and work only with the patronage of the government, it would take you long to effect the cure. In my soul, I believe that a dissolution of the Union, sure to result speedily in the abolition of slavery, would be a lesser evil than the slow, faltering, diseased, gradual dying-out of slavery, constantly poisoning us with the festering remains of this corrupt political, social, and literary state. I believe a sudden, conclusive, definite disunion, resulting in the abolition of slavery, in the disruption of the Northern mind from all connection with it, all vassalage to it, immediately, would be a better, healthier, and more wholesome cure, than to let the Republican party exert this gradual influence through the power of the government for thirty or sixty years.

We are seeking the best way to get rid of a great [365] national evil. Mr. Seward's way is to take the Union as a “fixed fact,” and then educate politics up to a certain level. In that way we have to live, like Sinbad, with Gushing and Hillard and Hallett and O'Connor and Douglas, and men like them, on our shoulders, for the next thirty or forty years; with the Deweys and President Lords, and all that class of men,--and all this timid servility of the press, all this lack of virtue and manhood, all this corruption of the pulpit, all this fossil hunkerism, all this selling of the soul for a mess of pottage, is to linger, working in the body politic for thirty or forty years, and we are gradually to eliminate the disease! What an awful future What a miserable chronic disease! What a wreck of a noble nation the American Republic is to be for fifty years!

And why? Only to save a piece of parchment that Elbridge Gerry had instinct enough to think did not deserve saving, as long ago as 1789! Mr. Seward would leave New York united to New Orleans, with the hope (sure to be balked) of getting freer and freer from year to year. I want to place her, at once, in the same relation towards New Orleans that she bears to Liverpool. You can do it, the moment you break the political tie. What will that do? I will tell you. The New York pulpit is to-day one end of a magnetic telegraph, of which the New Orleans cotton-market is the other. The New York stock-market is one end of the magnetic telegraph, and the Charleston Mercury is the other. New York statesmanship! Why, even in the lips of Seward, it is sealed, or half sealed, by considerations which take their rise in the canebrakes and cotton-fields of fifteen States. Break up this Union, and the ideas of South Carolina will have no more influence on Seward than those of Palmerston. The wishes of New Orleans would have no more influence on Chief Justice Bigelow than the wishes of London. The threat [366] of Davis, Toombs, and Keitt will have no more influence on the Tribune than the thunders of the London Times or the hopes of the Chartists. Our Bancrofts will no longer write history with one eye fixed on Democratic success, nor our Websters invent “laws of God” to please Mr. Senator Douglas. We shall have as close connection, as much commerce; we shall still have a common language, a common faith, and common race, the same common social life; we shall intermarry just the same; we shall have steamers running just as often and just as rapidly as now. But what cares Dr. Dewey for the opinion of Liverpool? Nothing What cares he for the opinion of Washington? Everything! Break the link, and New York springs up like the fountain relieved from a mountain load, and assumes her place among decent cities. I mean no special praise of the English courts, pulpit, or press by these comparisons; my only wish is to show that, however close the commercial relations might continue to be between North and South, and in spite of that common faith and common tongue and common history, which would continue to hold these thirty States together, still, as in the case of this country and England, wedded still by those ties, the mere sundering of a political union would leave each half free, as the disunion of 1776 did, from a large share of the corrupt influence of the other.

That is what I mean by disunion. I mean to take Massachusetts, and leave her exactly as she is, commercially. She shall manufacture for the South just as Lancashire does. I know what an influence the South has on the manufacturers and clergy of England ;--that is inevitable, in the nature of things. We have only human nature to work with, and we cannot raise it up to the level of angels. We shall never get beyond the sphere of human selfishness, but we can lift this human nature up to a higher level, if we can but remove the weight of that political [367] relation which now rests upon it. What I would do with Massachusetts is this: I would make her, in relation to South Carolina, just what England is. I would that I could float her off, and anchor her in mid-ocean!

Severed from us, South Carolina must have a government. You see now a reign of terror,--threats to raise means. That can only last a day. Some system must give support to a government. It is an expensive luxury. You must lay taxes to support it. Where will you levy your taxes? They must rest on productions. Productions are the result of skilled labor. You must educate your laborer, if you would have the means for carrying on a government. Despotisms are cheap; free governments are a dear luxury,--the machinery is complicated and expensive. If the South wants a theoretical republic, she must pay for it,--she must have a basis for taxation. How will she pay for it? Why, Massachusetts, with a million workmen,--men, women, and children,--the little feet that can just toddle bringing chips from the wood-pile,--Massachusetts only pays her own board aid lodging, and lays by about four per cent a year. And South Carolina, with one half idlers, and the other half slaves, .a slave doing only half the work of a freeman,--only one quarter of the population actually at work,--how much do you suppose she lays up? Lays up a loss! By all the laws of political economy, she lays up bankruptcy; of course she does! Put her out, and let her see how sheltered she has been from the laws of trade by the Union! The free labor of the North pays her plantation patrol, we pay for her government, we pay for her postage, and for everything else. Launch her out, and let her see if she can make the year's ends meet! And when she tries, she must educate her labor in order to get the basis for taxation. Educate slaves Make a locomotive with its furnaces of open wire-work, fill them with anthracite coal, [368] and when you have raised it to white heat, mount and drive it through a powder-magazine, and you are safe, compared with a slaveholding community educating its slaves. But South Carolina must do it, in order to get the basis for taxation to support an independent government. The moment she does it, she removes the safeguard of slavery. What is the contest in Virginia now? Between the men who want to make their slaves mechanics, for the increased wages it will secure, and the men who oppose, for fear of the influence it will have on the general security of slave property and white throats. Just that dispute will go on, wherever the Union is dissolved. Slavery comes to an end by the laws of trade. Hang up your Sharpe's rifle, my valorous friend! The slave does not ask the help of your musket. He only says, like old Diogenes to Alexander, “Stand out of my light!” Just take your awkward proportions, you Yankee Democrat and Republican, out of the light and heat of God's laws of political economy, and they will melt the slave's chains away!

Indeed, I much doubt whether the South can maintain her cotton culture at all, as a separate, slaveholding government. Cotton is only an annual in the United States. In St. Domingo and the tropics it is a tree lasting from five to twenty years. Within the Union it is, then, strictly speaking, a forced product; or at least it touches the highest northern belt of possible culture, only possible there under very favorable circumstances. We all know how hard and keen is the competition of this generation; men clutching bread only by restless hands and brains. Expose now our cotton to the full competition of India, Africa, and the tropics; burden it by taxes with the full cost of a slaveholding government, necessarily an expensive one,--a tax it has never yet felt, having shirked it on to the North; quicken other cotton-fields into [369] greater activity by the unwillingness of France and England to trust their supply to States convulsed by political quarrels;--and then see if, in such circumstances, the price of cotton in the markets of the world will not rule so low, that to raise it by slovenly slave-culture will not be utter loss,--so utter as to drive it wholly from our States, at least while they remain Slave States.

Indeed, the Gulf States are essentially in a feudal condition, an aristocracy resting on slaves,--no middle class. To sustain government on the costly model of our age necessitates a middle class of trading, manufacturing energy. The merchant of the nineteenth century spurns to be a subordinate. The introduction of such a class will create in the Gulf States that very irrepressible conflict which they leave us to avoid,--which, alive now in the Border States, makes these unwilling to secede,--which once created will soon undermine the aristocracy of the Gulf States and bring them back to us free.

Take your distorted Union, your nightmare monster, out of the light and range of these laws of trade and competition; then, without any sacrifice on your part, slavery will go to pieces! God made it a law of his universe, that villany should always be loss; and if you will only not attempt, with your puny efforts, to stand betwixt the inevitable laws of God's kingdom, as you are doing to-day, and have done for sixty years, by the vigor that the industry of sixteen States has been able to infuse into the sluggish veins of the South, slavery will drop to pieces by the very influence of the competition of the nineteenth century. That is what we mean by Disunion!

That is my coercion! Northern pulpits cannonading the Southern conscience; Northern competition emptying its pockets; educated slaves awaking its fears; civilization and Christianity beckoning the South into their sisterhood. Soon every breeze that sweeps over Carolina will bring to [370] our ears the music of repentance, and even she will carve on her Palmetto, “We hold this truth to be self-evident, -that all men are created equal.”

All hail, then, Disunion! “Beautiful on the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.” The sods of Bunker Hill shall be greener, now that their great purpose is accomplished. Sleep in peace, martyr of Harper's Ferry!--your life was not given in vain. Rejoice: spirits of Fayette and Kosciusko!--the only stain upon your swords is passing away. Soon, throughout all America. there shall be neither power nor wish to hold a slave

1 lecture delivered in the music Hall, January 20, 1861,--a large part of the Hall and the avenue to it occupied by the mob.

2 Since this was said, Mr. Adams has had his reward,--winning high office by treachery to his party, as his father did before, and as his grand-father tried to do and failed

3 Mr. Seward said, at St. Paul, last September: “I do not believe there has been one day, since 1787, until now, when slavery had any power in this government, except what it derived from buying up men of weak virtue, no principle, and great cupidity, and terrifying men of weak nerve, in the Free States...... Fellow-citizens, either in one way or the other, whether you agree with me in attributing it to the interposition of Divine Providence or not, this battle has been fought, this victory has been won. Slavery to-day is, for the first time, not only powerless, but without influence in the American republic ...... For the first time in the history of the republic, the slave Power has not even the power to terrify or alarm the freeman so as to make him submit, and scheme, and coincide, and compromise. It rails now with a feeble voice, as it thundered in our ears for twenty or thirty years past. With a feeble and muttering voice, they cry out that they will tear the Union to pieces. Who's afraid? They complain that, if we will not surrender our principles, and our system, and our right — being a majorityto rule, and if we will not accept their system and such rules as they will give us, they will go out of the Union. Who's afraid? Nobody's afraid nobody can be bought.” (Yet now Mr. Seward himself trembles!)

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