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His Speech at the Cooper Institute

Slavery in the Federal Territories.

a step further. I defy any one to show that any living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the beginning of the present century (and I might almost say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century), declare that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal government to control as to slavery in the Federal territories. To those who now so declare, I give, not only 'our fathers who framed the government under which we live,' but with them all other living men within the century in which it was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with them.

Now, and here, let me guard a little against being misunderstood. I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so would be to discard all the lights of current experience—we reject all progress-all improvement. What I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand ; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.

“If any man, at this day, sincerely believes that a proper division of local from Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal government to control as to slavery in the Federal territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce bis position by all truthful evidence and fair argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to bistory and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that 'our fathers, who framed the government under which we live,' were of the same opinion thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man, at this day, sincerely believes 'our fatbers, who framed the government under which wo

llis Speech at the Cooper Institute.

All the Republicans Desire.

live,' used and applied principles, in other cases, wbich ought to have led them to understand that a proper division of local from Federal authority, or some part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal government to control as to slavery in the Federal territories, he is right to say so. But he should, at the same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his opinion, he understands their principles better than they did themselves; and especially should he not sbirk that responsibility by asserting that they understood the question just as well, and even better than we do now.'

“But enough. Let all who believe that our fathers, who framed the government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better than we do now,' speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask, all Republicans desire, in relation to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity. Let all tbe guaranties those fathers gave it, be, not grudgingly, but folly and fairly maintained. For this Republicans contend, and with tbis, so far as I know or believe, they will be content.

“And now, if they would listen—as I suppose they will not~I would address a few words to the Southern people.

“I would say to them: You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just people; and I consider that, in the general qualities of reason and justice, you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to Black Republicans.' In all your contentions with one ano her, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of Black Republicanism' as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of

His Speech at the Cooper Institute.

An Appeal to the South.

us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite_license, so to speak—among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all.

“Now can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves ?

“Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to bear us deny or justify.

You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue; and the burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party has no existence in your section-gets no votes in your section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the issue ? If it does, then, in case we should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we sball get votes in your section this very year. You will then begin to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section is a fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and remains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings us to wbere you ought to have started—to a discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section; ar i so meet it as if it were possible that something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge ? No? Then you really believe that the

His Speech at the Cooper Institute.

Washington's Warning.

Conservatism Defined.

principle which our fathers, who framed the government under wbich we live, thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and again upon their official oaths, is, in fact, so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a moment's consideration.

“Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he bad, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress enforcing the probibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory, wbich act embodied the policy of the government upon that subject, up to and at the very moment he penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it he wrote Lafayette that he considered that probibition a wise measure, expressing, in the same connection, bis hope that we should some time have a confederacy of free States.

“Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against us, or in our bands against you? Could Wasbington himself speak, would be cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain bis policy, or upon you, who repudiate it? We respect that warning of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the right application of it.

“But you say you are conservative-eminently conservative-while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism ? Is it not adherence to the old and tried against the new and untried? We stick tu, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by our fathers who framed the government under which we live; while you, with one accord, reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You

His Speech at the Cooper Institute.

An Appeal to the South.

John Brown.

bave considerable variety of new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave-trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to probibit slavery within their limits; some for maintaining slavery in the Territories through the Judiciary; some for the 'gur-reat pur-rinciple' that, if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,' fantastically called Popular Sovereignty ;' but never a man among you in favor of Federal prohibition of slavery in Federal Territories, according to the practice of our fathers who framed the government under which we live. Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge of destructivenesss against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations.

Again, you say we have made the slavery question more prominent than it formerly was. We deny it. We admit that it is more prominent, but we deny that we made it so. It was not we, but you, who discarded the old policy of the fathers. We resisted, and still resist, your innovation ; and thence comes the greater prominence of the question. Would you have that question reduced to its former proportions ? Go back to that old policy. Wbat has been will be again, under the same conditions. If you would have the peace of the old times, re-adopt the precepts and policy of the old times.

“ You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it. And wbat is your proof? Harper's Ferry! John Brown! John Brown was no Republican; and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in bis Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it, or you do not know it.

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