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THE LIBERTY PARTY ALWAYS SECTIONAL.
thing of political principle, for the occasion, in favor of the professed moral principle of those whom they sought to conciliate; but who, it can hardly be imagined, were more really conscientious than themselves. For this third party had discarded the chimerical theories of the earlier abolitionists, who supposed that they could remove slavery from the lan. by the ingenious method of flooding the section in which it existed with denunciatory and vituperative pamphlets, intended to work favorably upon the sympathies of the slaveholders, by informing them how utterly devoid they were of all claim to human and Christian communion with their fellow creatures. On the contrary, the Liberty party had originated the unqualifiedly sectional idea. It bad conceived the plan of finally erecting a gigantic antislavery power in the North, which should compel the unwilling submission of the South to its purposes, and it proposed to carry out this plan by political agencies. Their antislavery sentiment was an offshoot, or the bequest of the old Puritan intolerant spirit, self-conscious of no blemish of its own, but uneasily seeking for some spot elsewhere, upon which it might fasten itself and scrub it up into cleanliness, or a sore. It could not
ear the thought of letting the wheat and the tares grow together unto the appointed day. That its proceedings were prompted by no emotions of humanity, is evinced by its utter indifference to the actual fate of the negro. If it ever cared at all for bim as a slave, the whole subsequent conduct of itself and its inheritors has shown that it cared nothing for him as a man. It was selfishness and not philanthropy which boiled over at the springs of its action. For how could philanthropy persistently and relentlessly urge on
History is said to repeat itself. Thus, in the year 1566, the Protestants of the Netherlands conceived that a shipment of thirty thousand Calvinistic tracts to Seville, for the conversion of the Spanish Catholics, would help them to withstand the formidable power of Philip II.
? Eventually, it proved that they had to a large extent abandoned religion and found a substitute in fanaticism; or, the latter unclean spirit, entering into the house, had devoured its original tenant.
measures, which it was evident could lead only to that most fearful of all human calamities, civil war? And this, too, with the frightful prospect staring the philanthropist in the face, that servile war must also, in all probability, add its unspeakable horrors to the revolting spectacle of cruelty and terror presented by an internecine strife ?
It could have been only party lust of power and the incidents of power, which thus made hair-brained men and unsexed women its tools, and brought philanthropy, sentimentality, disordered minds and hearts of wax, loose reasoning and incapacity to reason, infidelity, and all the countless forms of restless radicalism, likely to run rampant in demoralized popular institutions, into its insatiable service. For, surely, they can never be rationally thought of as the “friends of enlightened humanity," who, with whatever motive for seeking questionable good by means of certain evil, could contemplate unmoved, and could even excite the causes, which must inevitably inflict upon their native land calamities the most direful and irreparable in the harshest catalogue of deplorable human experiences.
The Whig Party and Democratic Party compete with each other for Liberty Party Votes
-"The Higher Law.”—The “Slave Power."- The Uniformly Superior Physical Power of the North.-Mr. Cass and Mr. Seward in the Senate.-President Taylor.Condition of Slavery.-National Greatness does not consist in the Extent of Population, or any mere Physical Causes.
IF politics were, indeed, strictly identical with the science of morals, then political parties would be bound to frame their organizations with distinct reference to the clearest theory of moral sentiments; and then, too, religion might bear a controlling part in it, and exercise that power which it has often employed, when a sect, in the name of religion, has swayed the councils of the State. But though by no means inconsistent with the theory or practice of the highest morality, this is not the object of politics, which is the science of government; and in the United States, that government was based upon certain definite principles established by its Constitution. With those principles the moral notions of the Liberty party were inconsistent; and they finally pretended to justify themselves upon the theory of "a bigher law," imagined for themselves; the dictates of which were repugnant not merely to the casual legislation, but to the fundamental law of the land. The consequences were seen in the seditious acts and outrages which finally marked the progress of these licentious doctrines.
At length, in Massachusetts and elsewhere at the North, it became a contest between the leading parties, as to which should go farthest in pursuit of the common object, and outdo the others in the warmth and strength of the expres
sions employed, on the one side and the other, in their legis. lative manifestoes. The natural result was, that each weakened its own position, and lost its own adherents to the third party, instead of strengthening itself. The positive element got the better of the negative. There were those of both the Democratic and the Whig organizations who constantly remonstrated against this suicidal and unprincipled policy, from the beginning; but their more sagacious counsels were unheeded by the temporizing politicians, who either would not, or could not see the consequences to which it must lead. In this struggle to win the popular vote, therefore, sprang up and grew those factious appeals to mere sentiment and passion, in disregard of more sober addresses to reason and conviction, which ought to govern the deliberate conduct of a free people, in high matters of state, profoundly affecting their immediate and future welfare.
It was in this way that politics became gradually so degenerate among the masses of even intelligent persons at the North. In fact, it was a descent from the highest civil state of man to the lowest; because, in a republic, whenever the popular mind becomes debased, or even indifferent, no check remains to the natural tendency to corruption in political affairs. For in these personal responsibility seems so much divided, that in regard to them men do not always act upon those nice considerations which they would apply to their private relations. Without meaning to institute any disparaging comparison, it may be remarked with justice, that the middle class of men at the South, whether owing to larger leisure, or to whatever cause, have in general more closely attended to, and more clearly understood, the principles of our government than the same class at the North. In the former quarter, most persons would ride many miles, if necessary, to vote at every election; while in the latter, nothing has been more common, than for men of fortune and education to avoid the trouble of stepping into the voting place, though almost at their very doors. Thus, too often, the field of active operation has been thrown wide open to
ORIGIN OF THE PHRASE
an inferior order of claimants for popular favor, and ordinary persons have gained the public places once occupied by the abler and higher-minded statesmen of another day.
In fact, there can be no question, that, while the North, until a comparatively recent date, was in part represented in Congress by members inferior to no statesmen in any country or any age, the Northern standard of qualification had become very sensibly lessened, at a period when the South was more careful to place in positions so responsible her citizens of the most eminent ability, the largest experience, and most thorough training in public business.
There seems to be no other rational mode of accounting for the origin of an expression, first officially employed, it is believed, in one of the resolves passed by the Legislature of Massachusetts, in April, 1847. It is therein alleged, that the highest motives which could possibly commend themselves to patriotic and conscientious citizens, both sanction and require “all constitutional efforts for the destruction of the unjust influence of the slave power, and for the abolition of slavery within the limits of the United States." Nothing can be more obvious, than that the proposition contained within the latter clause of this passage was false both to the spirit and the letter of the Constitution; which was itself founded upon the recognition of slavery, “within the limits of the United States," and upon two several provisions for its maintenance. This, therefore, was rank abolitionism, in plain revolt against the Constitution.
Indeed, this coupling of the abolition of slavery” with the alleged “slave power," clearly betrays the fact that the former, though conveniently shielded by a formal profession, was the real object in view. The point made in the first part of the extract against “the slave power," so called, deserves an impartial consideration, that it may appear what was the real character and condition of an alleged predominant and
The compromise in regard to taxation and representation, and the clause providing for the delivery of fugitive slaves.