« PreviousContinue »
The haters of tyranny and oppression in the North said, “Slavery is wrong; it ought to be restricted or abolished;" and they petitioned Congress for the privilege to debate the question. The upholders of stripes and chains in the South said, “You shall not agitate the question; you shall not petition Congress to grant the right to discuss the question. We know our Constitution provides for its own alteration and amendment; but you shall not bring before the people's representatives the subject in any form. We will hang all of you who shall come south of Mason and Dixon to argue the point, and we will bludgeon and shoot your representatives who shall dare to say that our mild form of holding persons to service' is oppressive or unjust.”
Southern law-makers and teachers of divinity say, “It is a God-protected institution; our negroes are taught to worship God; they marry and are given in marriage, and their offspring are baptized in the Church. It is no sin," they assert, “ to hold a weaker race in subjection,—to turn their sweat and blood into luxury and wealth for ourselves and our children; and, when they dispute our right to enforce this doctrine, or are unwilling to labor, it is not oppressive or tyrannical to scourge and starve them until they become obedient. It is not wicked to part man and wife in their case.
The words, whom God hath joined to gether let no man put asunder,' refer only to white people, not to negroes. 'Tis not God that joins them in marriage; their masters or mistresses only sanction the ceremonies, because, if they were really joined in accordance with God's ordinance, they could not be sold apart from each other and from their little ones.” This refers more particularly to the custom on plantations. Marriage in the white church, South, means one thing, marriage in the black church, South, means another. The "man-seller" of the
says that the negro is ordained of God for endless servitude; he was not intended for that milder form to which the Israelitish slave was consigned, and which guaranteed to the bondman, after seven years' bondage, the right to depart from his master, taking with him his wife and children, together with a portion of the worldly goods he had helped to acquire. All this was secured to him in accordance with the provisions of a merciful law, and with the blessing of the hand that bestowed it, with the assurance that there was no more servitude for him, por for his wife, nor for their children.
Rebeldom says, “I will buy and sell the nigger,' chain and scourge him, as it pleases me and as my State laws permit; moreover, I will have my righteous right perpetuated by national legislation, so that my blessed institution' shall come and go hither and thither as it pleaseth it, nor shall any 'mudsill' in ‘Yankeedom' gainsay that right.”
Such is the platform on which stand the insurgents of the South, and such is the attitude they maintain in the face of, and in defiance of, the whole civilized world.
“Let justice be done, though the heavens fall,” saith the proverb. Then why should we not act justly, even though the slaveholder should fall? But I am talking abolition talk,” when I only meant to speak of rebels, and shall be accused of belonging to the “ Wendell Phillips wing" of progress and reform.
To return to my refusal to eulogize traitors. Much has been written of the heroism and religious enthusiasm of Stonewall Jackson's character. I have no doubt that he was a conscientious man in many respects, and a Christian in a certain sense of the word; but, as he was a rebel in arms against his country, I can only afford him the acknow
ledgment that is expressed in the following sentiment: “When men are dead, they cease to be our enemies ;” and as Stonewall Jackson has been called to answer for his actions on earth before a higher tribunal than man's, we can afford to deal gently with his memory, and to tread lightly over his grave. The sod of his native country, saturated with the blood of her noble and loyal sons, will lie none the less heavily on the breast of one who devoted his energies and talents to strike down his countrymen who were battling in defence of human freedom, the sacred obligations of rightful allegiance, and the laws of God and
The beautifuland graphic picture of“ Barbara Frietchie's” heroism is from the pen of John G. Whittier, the Quaker
poet, a writer whose bold and withering rebuke of injustice and error has always been as outspoken and marked as his gentle laudations of truth and honor have ever been graceful and generous. The poem is a touching tribute to the memory of one who, true to a sacred instinct of our nature, love of country,—which, properly expressed, is love of kindred and love of God,—rebuked the base and bitter spirit of the so-called Christian hero, while he was performing an act which savored of neither the spirit of a knight of chivalry nor of a soldier of God,-the only redeeming point being that he expressed his contrition for the act when a nobler nature reminded him of its base
As Christians we are called on to forgive our enemies; but we are not required to embalm their memories in praise or tears.
BY JOHN G. WHITTIER.
Up from the meadows rich with corn,
The cluster'd spires of Frederick stand,
Round about them orchards sweep,
Fair as a garden of the Lord,
On that pleasant morn of the early Fall, When Lee march'd over the mountain wall,
Over the mountains winding down,
Forty flags with their silver stars,
Flapp'd in the morning wind: the sun
Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
In her attic-window the staff she set,
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Under his slouch'd hat left and right
“Halt!”—the dust-brown ranks stood fast; “Fire!”—out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shiver'd the window-pane and sash,
Quick, as it fell from the broken staff,
She lean'd far out on the window-sill,
“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country's flag,” she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
The nobler nature within him stirr'd
“Who touches a hair of yon gray head Dies like a dog! March on !” he said.
All day long through Frederick street
All day long that free flag toss'd
Ever its torn folds rose and fell