Surrender of Sims.1
: I do not feel disposed to talk about Colonization to-night, and I am glad to think that, after the remarks already submitted to us, it is unnecessary anything more should be said on that topic.
I mean, the colonization of black men to Africa
I have been colonized
myself from this hall for some time; and m getting here again, I prefer to go back to the old note, and try to get the “hang of this school-house.”
[Laughter.] You know Baron Munchausen
says, in one of his marvellous stories, that it was so cold one day in Russia
, when he began to play a tune on his trumpet, that half of it froze in the instrument before it could get out; and a few months afterwards, he was startled, in Italy
, to hear, of a sudden, the rest of the tune come pealing forth.
We were somewhat frozen up a while ago in this hall, with George Thompson
on the platform; now we want the rest of the tune.
[Laughter and cheers.]
of this morning says that we have no right to this hall, because it was refused to the greatest statesman in the land,--to Daniel Webster.
I believe this is a mistake.
and Aldermen went to him, metaphorically, on their knees, and entreated the great man to make use of the old walls.
It was the first time Faneuil
ever begged anybody to enter it; but Daniel
was pettish, and would not come.
Very proper in him, too; it is not the place in which to defend the Fugitive Slave Bill
He did right when he refused to come.
Who built these walls?
's ancestors were themselves fugitives from an edict almost
as cruel as the Fugitive Slave Law
; and only he whose soul and body refuse to crouch beneath inhuman legislation has a right to be heard here,--nobody else.
[Cheers.] A Huguenot built this hall, who was not permitted to live on the soil of his own beautiful France
, and it may naturally be supposed that he dedicated it to the most ultra, outside idea of liberty.
It is a place for the running slave to find a shelter,--not for a recreant statesman.
This hall has never been made ridiculous but once; never was made the laughing-stock of New England
That was about nine months ago, when the “Sims
brigade” were left soundly asleep here, in the gray of the morning, while the awkward squad of Marshal Tukey
stole down State Street with Thomas Sims
, not deigning to ask their permission or their aid, and leaving them to find out, the next morning, that the great deed had been done, without their so much as “hearing a noise.”
Soldiers asleep in Faneuil Hall, while mischief was doing so near as State Street? O what gallant soldiers they must have been!
[Loud laughter and cheers.]
Times have changed since we were here before.
The last time I stood on this platform, there sat beside me a heroine worthy to sit in the hall of the old Huguenot
,--one Elizabeth Blakeley
, a mulatto girl, of Wilmington, N. C.
, who, loving freedom more than slavery, concealed herself on board a Boston brig, in the little narrow passage between the side of the vessel and the partition that formed the cabin,--two feet eight inches of room.
he lay while her inhuman master, almost certain she was on board the vessel, had it smoked with sulphur and tobacco three times over.
Still she bore it. She came North
, half frozen, in the most inclement month of the year,--this month.
She reached Boston
just able to crawl.
Where did she come?
O those were better times then!
She came here.
Just able to stand, fresh from that baptism of suffering for liberty, she came her
, We told her story.
And with us that night — within ten feet of where I stand-sat Fredrika Bremer
, the representative of the literature of the Old World; and her humane sympathies were moved so much, that the rosebud she held in her hand she sent (honoring me by sending it by my hand) to the first representative of American slavery she had seen.
It was the tribute of Europe
's heart and intellect to a heroine of the black race, in Faneuil Hall.
Times have changed since.
Not to speak of the incense which Miss Bremer
has, half ignorantly, I hope, laid on the demon altar of our land, it would not be safe to put that Betsey Blakeley
on this platform to-night; it would not be safe for her to appear in a public meeting.
What has changed this public opinion?
I wish it was some single man. I wish it was some official of the city, that so we could make him the scapegoat of public indignation, let him carry it forth, and thus the fair fame of our city be freed.
This, Mr. President
, brings me to my subject.
The resolutions I wish to speak to are these.
I think they ought to be read in Faneuil Hall, at this, the first meeting the Abolitionists have held here since the foul deed of April 12th disgraced the city.
I feel that these peddling hucksters of State and Milk Streets owe me full atonement for the foul dishonor they have brought upon the city of my birth.
Resolved, That, as citizens of Boston and the Commonwealth, we record our deep disapprobation and indignant protest against
the surrender of Thomas Sims by the city, its sanction of the cowardly and lying policy of the police, its servile and volunteer zeal in behalf of the man-hunters, and its deliberate, wanton, and avowed violation of the laws of the Commonwealth, for the basest of all purposes,--slave-trading, selling a free man into bondage, that State Street and Milk Street might make money.
Next we come to that man [John P. Bigelow
] who stood at yonder door, looking on, while George Thompson
was mobbed from this platform; who, neither an honorable Mayor
nor a gentleman, broke at once his oath of office and his promise as a gentleman to give us this hall for certain eighty dollars to be paid him, and when he had stood by and seen us mobbed out of it, thought he mended his character by confessing his guilt, in not daring to send in a bill
Resolved, That the circumstances of the case will not allow us to believe that this infamous deed was the act of the City Government only; and then, as Boston-born men, some of us, comforting ourselves in the reflection that the fawning sycophant who disgraced the Mayor's chair was not born on the peninsula whose fair fame he blotted; but all the facts go to show, that in this, as in all his life, he was now the easy and shuffling tool of the moneyed classes, and therefore too insignificant to be remembered with any higher feeling than contempt.
Resolved, That we cherish a deep and stern indignation towards the judges of the Commonwealth, who, in personal cowardice, pitiful subserviency, utter lack of official dignity, and entire disregard of their official oaths, witnessed in silence the violation of laws they were bound to enforce, and disgraced the Bench once honored by the presence of a Sedgwick and a Sewall.
I do not forget that the Church
, all the while this melancholy scene was passing, stood by and upheld a merciless people in the execution of an inhuman law, accepted the barbarity, and baptized it “ Christian duty.”
0 no, I do not forget this!
But I remember that, in an enterprising, trading city like ours, the merchants are full as much, if not more, responsible for the state of public opinion, than the second-rate men who rather occupy than fill our pulpits, and who certainly seldom tempt the brains of their hearers to violate the command of the Jewish Scriptures
, “Thou shalt not do any work on the Sabbath day.”
Do you ask why the Abolitionists denounce the traders of Boston
It is because the merchants chose to send back Thomas Sims
,--pledged their individual aid to Marshal Tukey
, in case there should be any resistance; it is because the merchants did it to make money.
Thank God, they have not made any!
[Great cheering.] Like the negro who went to hear Whitefield
, and rolled in the dust in the enthusiasm of his religious excitement, until they told him it was not Whitefield
, when he picked himself up, crying out, “Then I dirty myself for nothing,” so they dirtied themselves for nothing!
[Tremendous cheering.] If only slave-hunting can save them, may bankruptcy sit on the ledger of every one of those fifteen hundred scoundrels who offered Marshal Tukey
their aid I [Tumultuous applause.]
There is one thing to be rejoiced at,--it is this: the fact that the police of this city did not dare even to arrest a fugitive slave, calling him such.
The dogs of Marshal Tukey
that arrested Thomas Sims
in Richmond Street had to disguise themselves to do it,--dressed in the costume and called themselves watchmen; and told a lie, -that the arrest was for theft,--in order to keep peace in the street, while they smuggled him into a carriage.
Claim, for the honor of Boston
, that, when her police became man-hunters, they put their badges in their pockets, and lied, lest their prey should be torn from their grasp, in the first burst of popular indignation.
It was the first
time in Boston
— I hope it will be the last — that the laws were obliged to be executed by lying and behind bayonets, in the night.
So much, though it be very little, may still be said for Boston
was arrested by lying and disguised policemen; he was judged by a Commissioner who sat behind bayonets; and was carried off in the gray of the morning, after the moon set, and before the sun rose, by a police body armed with swords.
She was disgraced, but it was by force; while, the reverse of the Roman
rule, cedant arma togae
, the robe gave way to the sword.
The law was executed; but it was behind bayonets.
Such laws do not last long.
[Loud cheers.] Courts that sit behind chains seldom sit more than once [Renewed cheering.]
[A Voice: “The Whigs defend it.” ]
O, I know that Mr. Choate
has been here,--I heard him, and before a Whig caucus, defend the policy of the Fugitive Slave Bill
He told us, while I sat in yonder gallery, of the “infamous ethics,” --the “infamous ethics
, that from the Declaration of Independence
and the Sermon on the Mount deduced the duty of immediate emancipation.”
The sentiment was received, I am thankful to say, with a solemn silence, though Rufus Choate
uttered it to an assembly of Webster Whigs.
I heard it said to-day, that the Abolitionists had done nothing, because a fugitive, within the last twelve months, had been taken out of Boston
They have done a great deal since, sixteen or seventeen years ago, Peleg Sprague
, standing on this platform, pointed to this portrait, [the portrait of Washington
,] and called him “that slaveholder.”
It is not now considered a merit in Washington
that he held slaves; men apologize for it now. I stood in this hall, sixteen years ago, when “Abolitionist” was linked with epithets of contempt, in the silver tones of Otis
, and all the charms that a divine eloquence and most felicitous
diction could throw around a bad cause were given it; the excited multitude seemed actually ready to leap up beneath the magic of his speech.
It would be something, if one must die, to die by such a hand,--a hand somewhat worthy and able to stifle antislavery, if it could be stifled.
The orator was worthy of the gigantic task he attempted; and thousands crowded before him, every one of their hearts melted by that eloquence, beneath which Massachusetts
had bowed, not unworthily, for more than thirty years. I came here again last fall,--the first time I had been here, in a Whig meeting, since listening to Otis
I found Rufus Choate
on the platform.
Compared with the calm grace and dignity of Otis
, the thought of which came rushing back, he struck me like a monkey in convulsions.
[Roars of laughter and cheers.] Alas!
I said, if the party which has owned Massachusetts
so long, which spoke to me, as a boy, through the lips of Quincy
, of Webster
, has sunk down to the miserable sophistry of this mountebank!--and I felt proud of the city of my birth, as I looked over the murmuring multitude beneath me, on whom his spasmodic chatter fell like a wet blanket.
[Great laughter and cheering.] He did not dare to touch a second time on the Fugitive Slave Bill
He tried it once, with his doctrine of “infamous ethics,” and the men were as silent as the pillars around them.
Ah, thought I, we
have been here a little too often; and if we have not impressed the seal of our sentiments very deeply on the people, they have at least learned that immediate emancipation, though possibly it be a dream, is not “infamous ethics” ; and that such doctrine, the Declaration of Independence
and the Sermon on the Mount, need more than the flashy rhetoric of a Webster retainer to tear them asunder.
The judges of the Commonwealth
,--the judges of the Commonwealth
,--I have something to say of them.
wish sometimes we lived in England
, and I will tell you why. Because John Bull
has some degree of self-respect left.
There is an innate, dogged obstinacy in him, that would never permit the successors of a Hale, a Buller, a Mansfield, or a Brougham, to stoop beneath any chain that a city constable could put round Westminster Hall.
I was once a member of the profession myself, but glad I am so no longer, since the head of it has bowed his burly person to Francis Tukey
[Cheers.] Did he not know that he was making history that hour, when the Chief Justice
of the Commonwealth
entered his own court, bowing down like a criminal beneath a chain four feet from the soil?
Did he not recollect he was the author of that decision which shall be remembered when every other case in Pickering
's Reports is lost, declaring the slave Med a free woman the moment she set foot on the soil of Massachusetts
, and that he owed more respect to himself and his own fame than to disgrace the ermine by passing beneath a chain?
There is something in emblems.
There is something, on great occasions, even in the attitude of a man. Chief Justice Shaw
betrayed the bench and the courts of the Commonwealth
, and the honor of a noble profession, when for any purpose, still more for the purpose of enabling George T. Curtis
to act his melancholy farce in peace, he crept under a chain into his own court-room.
And, besides, what a wanton and gratuitous insult it was!
What danger was there, with two hundred men inside the court-house, and three hundred men around it on the sidewalk?
Near five hundred sworn policemen in and around that building,--what need for any chain?
It was put there in wanton insult to the feelings of the citizens of Boston
,--nothing else; in wanton servility to the Slave Power
,--nothing else; in wanton flattery to Daniel Webster.
Yes, it was the gratuitousness of the insult that makes it all the more unbearable!
the “Ald chief,” as we loved to call him, made himself, in timid servility, party to the insult and the degradation.
How truly American!
Ah, our slave system by no means exists only on Southern plantations!
We are said to be unreasonable in this manner of criticising the institutions, laws, and men of our country.
It is thought that, as little men, we are bound to tune our voices and bow our heads to the great intellects, as they are called, of the land,--Mr. Webster
He tells us, that there are certain important interests concerned in this question, which we are bound to regard, and not abstract theories about the equality of men, and the freedom of humble individuals.
Well, all I say to that is, when dollars are to be discussed, let him discuss them with Franklin Haven
, in the directors' room of the Merchants' Bank.
Let him discuss them over the bursting ledgers of Milk Street,--that is the place for dollar talks.
But there is no room for dollars in Faneuil Hall.
The idea of liberty is the great fundamental principle of this spot,--that a man is worth more than a bank-vault.
I know Mr. Webster
has, on various occasions, intimated that this is not statesmanship in the United States
; that the cotton-mills of Lowell
, the schooners of Cape Cod
, the coasters of Marblehead
, the coal and iron mines of Pennsylvania
, and the business of Wall Street are the great interests which this government is framed to protect.
He intimated, all through the recent discussion, that property is the great element this government is to stand by and protect,--the test by which its success is to be appreciated.
Perhaps it is so; perhaps it is so; and if the making of money, if ten per cent a year, if the placing of one dollar on the top of another, be the highest effort of human skill; if the answer to the old Puritan
catechism, , “What is the chief end of man?”
is to be changed, as, according
to modern state craft it ought to be, why, be it so. Nicholas of Russia
made a catechism for the Poles, in which they are taught that Christ
is next below God, and the Emperor
of all the Russias is next below Christ
So, judging by the tenor of his recent speeches, Daniel
has got a new catechism, “What is the chief end of man?”
The old one of the Westminster divines, of Selden
and Hugh Peters
, of Cotton and the Mathers, used to answer, “To glorify God and enjoy him forever” ; that is Kane-treason, now. The “chief end of man” ?--why, it is to save the Union
A voice.-“Three cheers for the Union
.--Feeble cheers those--[Great applause]--and a very thankless office it is to defend the Union
on that day. Did you ever read the fable of the wolf and the house-dog?
The one was fat, the other gaunt and famine-struck.
The wolf said to the dog, “You are very fat.”
“Yes,” replied the dog, “I get along very well at home.”
“Well,” said the wolf, “could you take me home?”
So they trotted along together; but as they neared the house, the wolf caught sight of several ugly scars on the neck of the dog, and, stopping, cried, “Where did you get those scars on your neck?
they look very sore and bloody.”
“O,” said the dog, “they tie me up at night, and I have rather an inconvenient iron collar on my neck.
But that's a small matter; they feed me well.”
“On the whole,” said the wolf, “taking the food and the collar together, I prefer to remain in the woods.”
Now, if I am allowed to choose, I do not like the collar of Daniel Webster and Parson Dewey
, and there are certain ugly scars I see about their necks.
I should not like, Dr. Dewey
, to promise to return my mother to slavery; and, Mr. Webster
, I prefer to be lean and keep my “prejudices,” to getting fat by smothering them.
I do not like your idea of the Yankee
which seems to be too near that of the Scotchman, of whom Dr. Johnson
said, that, if he saw a dollar on the other side of hell, he would make a spring for it at the risk of falling in. [Laughter.] Under correction of these great statesmen and divines, I cannot think this the beau ideal
of human perfection.
I do not care whether the schooners of Harwich
, under slaveholding bunting, catch fish and keep them or not; I do not care whether the mills of Abbott Lawrence
make him worth two millions or one, whether the iron and coal mines of Pennsylvania
are profitable or not, if, in order to have them profitable, we must go down on our marrow-bones and thank Daniel Webster for saving his Union, call Mayor Bigelow
an honorable man and Mayor
, and acknowledge Francis Tukey
as Chief Justice
of the Commonwealth
I prefer hunger and the woods to the hopeless task of maintaining the sincerity of Daniel Webster, or bending under the chain of Francis Tukey
Sir, I have something to say of this old Commonwealth.
I went up one day into the Senate-chamber
, in which the Otises, the Quincys, and the Adamses, Parsons
and Strong, have sat and spoke in times gone by,--in which the noblest legislation in the world, on many great points of human concern, has made her the noblest State in the world,--the good old Commonwealth of Massachusetts
,--and I stood there to see this impudent City Marshal
tell the Senate of Massachusetts that he knew he was trampling on the laws of the Commonwealth
, and that he intended to do so, as Mayors told him to!
And there was not spirit enough in the Free Soil
party,--no, nor in the Democratic party,--there was not self-respect enough in the very Senators
who were sworn to maintain these laws, to defend them against this insolent boast of a city constable.
Now, fellow-citizens, you may. and probably do, think
me a fanatic; till you judge men and things on different principles, I do not care much what you think me; I have outgrown that interesting anxiety: but I tell you this, if I see the Commonwealth
upside down, I mean to keep my neck free enough from collars to say so; and I think it is upside down when a city constable dictates law in the Senate-chamber
, let me add one thing more.
For Francis Tukey
I have no epithet of contempt or of indignation.
He may, and does, for aught I know, perform his duties as City Marshal
efficiently and well.
I know he would, had he been present, have done his duty, and his deputy stood ready to do it that night in George Thompson
's presence, if we had really had a Mayor, and not a lackey in the Mayor
[Great laughter and cheering.] I find little fault, comparatively, with the City Marshal
, that he did the infamous duty which the merchants of Boston
set him. The fault that I rather choose to note is, that the owner of the brig Acorn
can walk up State Street, and be as honored a man as he was before; that John H. Pearson
walks our streets as erect as ever, and no merchant shrinks from his side.
But we will put the fact that he owned that brig, and the infamous uses he made of it, so blackly on record, that his children — yes, his children
--will gladly, twenty years hence, forego all the wealth he will leave them to blot out that single record.
[Enthusiastic applause.] The time shall come when it will be thought the unkindest thing in the world for any one to remind the son of that man that his father's name was John H. Pearson
, and that he owned the Acorn
[At this point a voice called out, “Three cheers for John H. Pearson
after what had been said from the platform, such a call was not likely to be very warmly responded to; but one or two voices were raised, and Mr. Phillips
Yes, it is fitting that the cheer should be a poor one, when, in the presence of that merchant [pointing to the portrait of John Hancock], of that merchant who led the noblest movement for civil liberty ever made on this side the ocean,--when in his presence you attempt to cheer this miserable carrier of slaves, who calls himself, and alas!
according to the present average of State Street, has a right to call himself, a Boston merchant.
I want to remark one other change, since we were shut out of Faneuil Hall.
It is this.
Within a few months, I stood in this hall, when Charles Francis Adams
was on the platform;--a noble representative, a worthy son, let me say in passing, of the two Adamses who hung here above him. While here he had occasion to mention the name of Daniel Webster, as I have once or twice to-night, and it was received with cheer on cheer, four, five, and six times repeated during the course of his speech.
In fact, he could hardly go on for the noisy opposition.
That was at a time when some men were crazy enough to think that Daniel
would yet be nominated for the Presidency; but those gaudy soap-bubbles have all burst. [ “Three cheers for Daniel Webster.” ] Yes, three cheers for Sir Pertinax McSycophant
, who all his life long has been bowing down to the Slave Power
to secure the Presidency; willing to sacrifice his manhood for the promise
of a mess of pottage, and destined to be outwitted at last.
[Cheers.] Three cheers for the man who, after “many great and swelling words” against Texas
, when finally the question of the Mexican
war was before the Senate, did not dare to vote, but dodged the question, afraid to be wholly Southerner or Northerner, and striving in vain to outdo Winthrop
in facing both ways.
[Cheers.] Three cheers for the man who went into Virginia
, and, under an “October sun” of the Old Dominion, pledged himself-the recreant New Englander!-to silence on the slave question; a pledge
infamous enough in itself, but whose infamy was doubled when he broke it only to speak against the slave on the 7th of March, 1850. Three cheers for him [They were given, but so faintly, that a shout of derision went up from the whole audience.] Three cheers for the statesman who said on the steps of the Revere House
that “this agitation must be put down,” and the agitationists have entered Faneuil Hall before him. [Great applause.] Three cheers for the man who could afford no better name to the Abolitionists than “rub-a-dub agitators,” till Kossuth
found no method but theirs to chain the millions to himself; and then this far-sighted statesman discovered that “there were people inclined to underrate the influence of public opinion.”
[Laughter.] Three cheers for the man who gave the State
a new motive to send Horace Mann
back to Washington
, lest we should be thought guilty abroad of shocking bad taste in the old imperial tongue of the Romans.
[Laughter.] Three cheers for the man--(O, I like to repeat the Book
I)--three cheers for “the Whig
, the Massachusetts Whig
, the Faneuil Hall Whig,” who came home to Massachusetts
,--his own Massachusetts
, the State
he thought he owned, body and soul,--who came home to Massachusetts
, and lobbied so efficiently as to secure the election of Charles Sumner
to the Senate of the United States.
[A voice: “Three cheers for Charles Sumner
“Three cheers for Webster
Faintly given, those last; but I do not much care, Mr. Chairman
, which way the balance of cheers goes in respect to the gentleman whose name has just been mentioned [Mr. Webster
]. It is said, you know, that when Washington
stood before the surrendering army of Cornwallis, some of the American
troops, as Cornwallis came forward to surrender his sword, began, in very had taste, to cheer.
The noble Virginian
turned to then
and said, “Let posterity cheer for us” ; and they were silent.
Now, if Daniel Webster has done anything on the subject of slavery which posterity will not have the kindness to forget, may he get cheers for it, fifty years hence, and in this hall; using my Yankee privilege, however, “I rather guess” some future D'Israeli
will be able to put that down in continuation cf his grandfather's chapter of “events that never took place.”
I much, I very much doubt, whether, fifty years hence, Massachusetts
will not choose men with back-bones to send to Washington
; not men who go there to yield up to the great temptations, social and political, of the capital, the interests and the honor of Massachusetts
and New England
I believe, no matter whether the Abolitionists have done much or little, that the average of political independence has risen within the last ten or fifteen years. I know that strange sounds have been heard from the House of Representatives and the Senate within the last ten or fifteen years: that the old tone so often breathed there of Northern submission has very much changed since John Quincy Adams
vindicated free speech on the floor of that House
I read just now a speech worthy, in some respects, of Faneuil Hall, from the lips of Robert Rantoul
, in rebuke of a recreant Abolitionist from the banks of the Connecticut
(George T. Davis
). I know not what may be the future course of Mr. Rantoul
on this question; I know not how erect he may stand hereafter; but I am willing to give him good credit in the future, so well paid has been this his first bill of exchange.
[Great cheering.] He has done, at least, his duty to the constituency he represented.
He looked North for his instructions.
The time has been when no Massachusetts
representative looked North; we saw only their backs.
They have always looked to the Southern Cross
; they never turned their eyes to the North Star.
They never looked back to
that sent them.
and Horace Mann
, no matter how far they may be from the level of what we call antislavery, show us at least this cheering sign.
While speaking, they have turned their faces toward Massachusetts
They reflect the public opinion of the State
They look to Faneuil Hall, not to “the October sun of the Old Dominion.”
Now, Mr. Chairman
, if we can come to this hall, year after year; if we can hold these meetings; if we can sustain any amount of ridicule for the sake of antislavery; if we can fill yonder State-House
with legislative action that shall vindicate the old fame of the State
; if we can fill every town-house and school-house in the State
with antislavery agitation,--then the eyes of every caucus and every political meeting, and of Congress, will all turn North, and, God willing, they shall see a North worth looking at. We will have better evidence than the somewhat apocryphal assurance of Mr. Webster
, at Marshfield
, in 1848, that the North Star is at last discovered.
There will not only be a shrine, but worshippers.
I have not the voice to detain this meeting any longer.
I am rejoiced to find myself again in Faneuil Hall.
I am glad it has so happened that the very first meeting of the Massachusetts Antislavery Society
since April 12th. 1851, has been within these walls, and that the first note of their rebuke of the city government, and of the Milk Street
interest whose servant it stooped to be, has been from the platform of Faneuil Hall.