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THE DOMINANT CLASS IN THE REPUBLIC.

DETROIT, OCTOBER 2, 1856.

THE PROCESS of empire-building in these United States of America is in some respects new and peculiar. We had not here a state which was compact and complete at its beginning, nor have we conquered other nations, or planted colonies, near or distant, to be held as dependencies by force alone. On the contrary, we had a broad foundation laid, upon which were raised at first only thirteen columns, a portion of an indefinite number which were to be erected during a long future, all of one material and equal strength, and all to be combined inseparably, according to one great original design.

New states, ultimately to become members of the Federal Union, pass through stages of unorganized colonization, and of dependence and pupilage under the federal government, or that of some foreign power, and receive their biases and even form their social institutions during those early stages. Nevertheless, so intimate is the union of all these states, that each exerts no measured influence upon every other, while the fortune of any one is inseparably involved in the common destiny of all.

You will infer at once from these statements, that the nature and character of the institutions, of even any one maturing territory in the United States, are subjects of the highest and possibly even vital importance. That, although caprice and oppression may be harmlessly practised by other nations upon their provinces and colonies, yet such wrongs, committed by our federal government against our growing territories, are equally injurious to those territories, and dangerous, if not disastrous, to the whole republic.

It is my purpose to show you, on this occasion, that the slaveholding class of the American people is systematically and successfully. perverting the administration of the government, especially in regard to the territories, so as to change the constitution and endanger the stability, welfare and liberty of the Union.

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First, insomuch as this proposition must seem to you bold, if not new, I shall show from general principles that it may possibly be true; and secondly, I shall establish its truth by undeniable demon

stration.

First: The proposition may be true. Property is an essential element of civil society. So is liberty, which, properly understood, is only the equal security of all citizens against oppression. How to adjust the balance between property and liberty in states, is the great problem of government. Property is always jealous of enlarged liberty, and especially so when it is based on relations subversive of natural justice, which is nothing more than equality among men. Property, therefore, has always a bias toward oppression, and it derives power to oppress from its own nature, the watchfulness of its possessors, and the ease with which they can combine. Liberty is exposed to the danger of such oppression by means of the inconsiderateness and the jealousies which habitually prevail among subjects or citizens. In every state all the property classes sympathize with each other, through the force of common instincts of fear, cupidity and ambition, and are easily marshaled under the lead of one which becomes dominant and represents the whole. Wherever the rights and duties of the property classes are defined and regulated, with sufficient constraints to prevent oppression, and liberty is at the same time so bounded as to secure property against social or individual aggression, there the people are free and the state is republican. Where this balance is not accurately adjusted, liberty is abridged, and a property class administers the government, in the form of an aristocracy, or a monarchy, or a despotism. The mere mention of the names of Switzerland, Venice, France (her various alternations being remembered), Great Britain and Russia, furnishes all needful illustrations of these positions. Human nature and the physical elements of society are everywhere the same. It is therefore possible that social and political errors and evils which have frequently existed elsewhere, may find entrance here.

Secondly: The allegation of the perversion of the government by the slave property class, which I have made, is true. First, let us see whether such a direction of the government as it describes was designed or expected by its founders. On the contrary, they laid the foundations of the states, not in property-much less in slave property-but in the natural rights or political equality of men.

They established few safeguards of property, knowing how apt it is to take care of itself, while they built strong bulwarks around liberty, knowing how easily liberty is every where overthrown. The Declaration of Independence, which no weak or wicked citizen then dared to pronounce a series of abstractions, recited as the fundamental truth of the great political society which it ushered into the presence of nations, that "all men are created equal"-" endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;" and that "governments are instituted among men to secure those rights," and derive their powers only "from the consent of the governed."

The convention which framed the constitution, submitted it to the American people by a letter bearing the signature of George Washington, in which its character was defined with a steady hand in a clear light. "Individuals," said the convention, "entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstances as on the object to be attained. In all our deliberations on this subject, the object which the convention has kept steadily in view was the consolidation of the Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each state in the convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected." An analysis of the constitution, especially including its amendment, justifies this declaration, that the points on which liberality of concession to property was exercised, were only those of inferior magnitude, and that neither prosperity, felicity, safety nor national existence, was intended to be put at hazard for the preservation of a mere remnant or shadow of liberty. The people, speaking in the constitution, declared their high objects in that great transaction in words simple, majestic and comprehensive, "to form a perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity." They boldly and directly laid the axe to the roots of privileges and of classes, they broke the very mainsprings of aristocracy, or at least they attempted to do so, by ordaining that "no title of nobility shall be granted by the United States, or by any state;" and that "congress shall make no law respecting an

establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Although the people well knew that nearly every fourth person in the new republic was actually a slave, and that perhaps one of every twenty persons was a slaveholder-and so they well understood the existence among themselves of caste and class-yet they pertinaciously refused to recognize either, and, on the contrary, treated of all the subjects of the government, under the common and promiscuous description of "persons," thus confounding classes and recognizing only men. While they aimed at an ultimate extinction of that caste, and the class built upon it, by authorizing congress to prohibit the importation of "persons" who were slaves, after 1808, and to tax it severely in the meantime, and while they necessarily left to the individual states the management of the domestic relations of all classes and castes existing therein, they especially declared what should be the rights and relations of all "persons," so far as they were to be affected by the action of the federal government which they were establishing. "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless, when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public security shall require it." "No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed." "No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census." "The United States shall guaranty to every state in the Union a republican form of government." "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." They ordained "trial by jury,” prohibited "excessive bail and excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments," and "reserved to the states and to the people all the powers of government not expressly delegated to the United States."

Among these broad and comprehensive reservations of liberty, only two inferior and guarded stipulations were made with the slaveholding class—namely, that "no person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due;" and that "representatives and taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which shall be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number

of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons."

It is manifest that congress cannot, without violating the rights of the people reserved by their constitution, grant any favor or privilege or advantage to the slaveholding class, or even ordain or permit slavery to exist within the exclusive sphere of the federal jurisdiction. The spirit of the Declaration of Independence and of...... the constitution of the United States, thus flagrantly hostile to classes, and especially to the slaveholding class, entered largely into the contemporaneous constitution and laws of most of the states. All of them established republican forms of government. Most of them asserted the political equality of men. All of them prohibited orders of nobility and ecclesiastical classes, estates in mortmain, and estates by primogeniture. Seven states immediately or speedily prohibited slavery, and all of the others earnestly debated the same great and benign reform. Finally, though unable thus early to abolish slavery in six of the states where it already existed, the people in the revolutionary congress effectually provided for excluding it forever in that part of the national domain which laid north west of the Ohio, and in the states which were thereafter to be established there.

I think, fellow citizens, that I have shown to your abundant satisfaction that such a direction of the administration to the establishment and aggrandizement of the slaveholding class, as I have charged, if it indeed exists, is a perversion of the constitution of the United States.

Seventy years of our national history have been fulfilled. Fix your attention for a moment now on the slaveholding class, as it now exists. Although it has been abolished by state legislation in seven of the first thirteen states, and although nine free states which exclude it have since been admitted into the Union, yet the slaveholding class nevertheless stands erect and firm in fifteen of the present thirty-one states, numbering three hundred and forty-seven thousand "persons," on the basis of three millions two hundred and four thousand other "persons" held to labor or service by the laws thereof, valued at twelve hundred millions of dollars, combined practically with all the real estates in those states. This class spreads itself on the one bank of the Mississippi to the Kansas river, and on the other to the Ohio, and along the Atlantic coast from the banks VOL. IV.

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