Page images

was to go down. All the hostility to education was the suggestion of slavery in order that free white men might not come to swell the population of the free states, and swarm into the new states beyond the Alleghany mountains.

But all this is ended. The agents, and the parties who were deceived, misled and perverted, who opposed the interests of freedom, have all within six years fallen and disappeared. The whig party once cherished by so many of us, and relied upon with faith and hope against evidence, proved unfaithful at last and perished, and I know not one sound thinking man, however much he was attached to it, that laments its loss. The American party that sought to deceive itself with the idea that it could secure forbearance for freedom in the new alliance formed with slaveholders in the south, suddenly, even more suddenly disappeared, and there is not one man living to vindicate its memory. And so the democratic party had a form and existence a year ago. Where is it now. It has changed its form as often as a guilty dream. It was single, united, unterrified and violent a year ago. Six months passed and it wore two forms in hostile attitude against each other. Six months later the two disappeared, and now it is nowhere. An opposition. is organized but it is an organization, not of the democratic party but of three parties. It presents not one candidate, but three candidates for president. It comes up to fight its first, last and desperate battle with the republican party which is engaged in the effort and determination to elect a president by a majority of votes; and this hybrid party comes up and puts into the hands of the electors, ballots for scattering the votes, not concentrating them; to defeat the election of a president of the United States because they cannot agree whom they would elect. Strange confusion of the times, this! (Have you ever studied the present creed of the opposition? I will endeavor to recite it for you:

"I believe in intervening in the territories of the United States for slavery; I also fully believe in non-intervening in the territories of the United States for slavery, and I further believe that it is not right either to intervene or to not intervene. Each of these three articles of faith is essential and of saving health to the nation. He that is faithful must believe them all, and he that is faithful must believe one and reject the other two. I believe in Stephen A. Douglas as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and

I pledge myself to vote for him to the exclusion of everybody else. I also believe in John C. Breckinridge, and I pledge myself to vote for him to the exclusion of Stephen A. Douglas and of everybody else; and I also equally and implicitly believe in John Bell as a candidate for president of the United States, and I pledge myself to vote for him to the exclusion of Douglas and Breckinridge. promise faithfully to vote for them all, and to vote, at the same time, against either one, except the one not designated as my choice." Now here is the trinity in unity and unity in trinity, of the political church, just now come to us by the light of a new revelation, and christened "Fusion." And this "Fusion" party, what is the motive to which it appeals? You may go with me into the streets to-night and follow the little giants, who go with their torchlights and their flaunting banners of "Popular Sovereignty;" or you may go with the smaller and more select and modest band who go for Breckinridge and slavery; or you may follow the music of the clanging bells, and, strange to say, they will all bring you into one common chamber. When you get there you will hear only this emotion of the human heart appealed to, fear,-fear that if you elect a president of the United States according to the constitution and the laws to-morrow, you will wake up the next day and find that you have no country for him to preside over. Is that not a strange motive for an American patriot to appeal to? And in that same hall, amid the jargon of three discordant members of the fusion party, you will hear one argument, and that argument is, that so sure as you are so perverse as to cast your vote singly, lawfully, honestly, as you ought to do, for one candidate for the presidency, instead of scattering it among three candidates, so that no president may be elected, this Union shall come down over your heads, involving you and us in a common ruin.

Fellow citizens, it is time, high time, that we know whether this is a constitutional government under which we live. It is high time that we know, since the Union is threatened, who are its friends and who are its enemies. The republican party who propose in the old appointed constitutional way to choose a president, are every man of them loyal to the Union. The disloyalists, wherever they may be, are those who are opposed to the republican party and attempt to prevent the election of a president. I know that our good and esteemed neighbors-Heaven knows I have cause to

respect and esteem and honor and love them as I do, for such neighbors as even my democratic neighbors, no other man ever had-I know that they do not avow, nor do they mean to support or think they are supporting disunionists. But I tell them that he who proposes to lay hold of the pillars of the Union and bring it down into ruin, is a disunionist; that every man who quotes him, and uses his threats and his menaces as an argument against our exercise of our duty, is an abettor, unconscious though he may be, of disunion; and that when to-morrow's sun shall have set and the next morning's sun shall have risen upon the American people, rejoicing in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, those men who to-day sympathize with, uphold, support and excuse the disunionists, will have to make a sudden choice and choose whether, in the language of the senator from Georgia, they will go for treason and so make it respectable, or whether they will go with us for freedom, for the constitution, and for eternal Union.



THE past was for the east-the future is for the west. Empire has culminated in the east, and is now passing to the west. The past was for slavery, which at one time was practically universal in the The future is for freedom, which, in the order of Providence, is to be universal in the west. The change from past eastern slavery to future western freedom is to be effected simply by bringing the mind of the nation to a just apprehension of what slavery is. Our fathers in the east understood it to be a question simply of trade. The Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the United States, announced on the other hand, that slavery is a question of human rights. While they left the regulation of that subject within the states to the states themselves, they did establish the principle that in the common territories of the United States and within the sphere of federal action, every man is a person, a man, a free man, who could neither hold another in slavery nor be held in bondage by any other man.

1 Extract from a speech at Cleveland, Oct. 4, 1860.





WASHINGTON, January 28, 1854. "The invitation to a meeting to be held in the city of New York, to protest against any repeal or violation of the Missouri compromise, with which you have honored me, has been received. My constant attendance here is required by the interest which the city of New York and the state of New York have in the great projects of a railroad to San Francisco, and the extension of our commerce to the islands and continents divided from us by the Pacific ocean, which are now being matured in committees to which I belong. Moreover the day designated for the meeting is one upon which the senate may be brought to a vote upon the bold and dangerous measure which has so justly excited the patriotic appreliensions of the citizens of the metropolis. I could not be safely absent from the capital under these circumstances, even if my attendance in New York would otherwise be proper.

"You have kindly asked me, in view of this inability, to give you such an expression of my sentiments as may help to arouse the north to the defense of its rights, and the south to maintenance of its plighted honor.' Permit me to say, in response to the appeal, that when the slavery laws of 1850 were under discussion in the senate, I regarded the ground then demanded to be conceded by the north as a vantage ground, which, when once yielded, would be retrieved with infinite difficulty afterward, if, indeed, it should not be absolutely irretrievable; and that, I, therefore, in my place as a representative here, said and did all that it was in my power to do and say, and all that I could now do and say, to help to rouse the north to the defense of its rights, and south to the maintenance of its honor.' When, afterward, eminent members of congress, who had been engaged in passing those laws, carried an appeal against those who had opposed them before the people in their primary assemblies, I declined to follow them then, and I have ever since refrained from all unnecessary discussions of the slave laws of 1850, and of matters pertaining to slavery, even here, as well as elsewhere, because I was unwilling to injure so just a cause by discussions which might seem to betray undue solicituże, if not a spirit of faction. We have only now arrived at a new stage in the trial of that appeal. For it is quite clear that if the slavery laws had not been passed in 1850, for the territories acquired from Mexico, there would have been no pretense for extending such slavery laws now, over the territories before acquired from Louisiana, and that if we had maintained our ground on the laws of freedom, which then protected New Mexico and Utah, we should not now have been attacked in our stronghold in Nebraska. It is equally evident, also, that Nebraska is not all that is to be saved or lost. If we are driven from this field, there will yet remain Oregon and Minnesota, and we who thought only so lately as 1849 of securing some portion at least of the shore of the gulf of Mexico and all of the Pacific coast to the institutions of freedom, will be, before 1859, brought to a doubtful struggle to prevent the extension of slavery to the shores of the great lakes, and thence westward to Puget's sound. I hope, gentlemen, that for one, I may be allowed to continue to the end that abstinence from popular agitation which I have heretofore practised, less from considerations of self-respect than from my confidence in the sagacity and virtue of the people I represent. Nevertheless, I beg you to be assured that, while declining to go into popular assemblies, as an agitator, I shall endeavor to do my duty here with as many true men as shall be found in a delegation, which, if all were firm and united in the maintenance of public right and justice, would be able to control the decision of this great question. But the measure of success and effect which shall crown our exertions must depend now, as heretofore, on the fidelity with which the people whom we represent shall adhere to the policy and principles which are the foundation of their own unrivaled prosperity and greatness.

[ocr errors]

I am, gentlemen, with great respect and esteem, your obedient servant, "WILLIAM H. SEWARD."

1 See ante page 27.

« PreviousContinue »