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The Life and Public Services of Henry Wilson
Chapter XII.


ON the 20th of March (1858) following, Mr. Wilson made a most eloquent speech in reply to Mr. Hammond of South Carolina, who had proclaimed that "Cotton was king," and most insolently characterized the Northern working-men as "mud-sills" and "essentially slaves." In Mr. Wilson's array of facts, his cogent arguments, his bold invective, he confounds this chivalric defender of the servile institution, and presents the noblest plea for the Northern laborer ever uttered in the halls of Congress. By all his sympathies, by the whole training of his life, he was prepared for the contest. In some respects this speech is a model of invective eloquence, and has endeared its author to the hearts of millions of the working-people. We regret that but a few extracts can be given here.

To his vaunting assertion that "Cotton was king," he says, "The senator, filled with magnificent visions of Southern power, crowns Cotton 'king;' and tells us, that, if they should stop supplying cotton for three years, 'England would topple headlong, and carry the whole civilized world with her, save the South'! What presumption! The South,-which owns lands and slaves, the price fluctuating with the production, use, and price of cotton, - having no other resource or means of support, would go harmless; while the great commercial centres of the world, with the vast accumulations of capital, the products of ages of accumulation, with varied pursuits and skilled industry, would 'topple' to their fall. Sir, I suppose the coffee-planters of Brazil, the tea-growers of the Celestial Empire, and the wheat-growers on the shores of the Black Sea and on the banks of the Don and the Volga, indulge in the same magnificent illusions. I would remind the senator that the commercial world is not governed by the cotton-planters of the South, the coffee-planters of Brazil, the tea-growers of China, nor the wheat-producers of Eastern Europe. I tell the senator that England, France, Germany, Western Europe, and the Northern States of the Union, are the commercial, manufacturing, business, and monetary centres of the world; that their merchants, manufacturers, and capitalists grasp the globe; that cotton and sugar and tea and coffee and wheat, and the spices of the isles of the Oriental seas, are grown for them. Sir, the cotton-planters of the South are their agents. I would remind the senator that the free States in 1850 produced eight hundred and fifty million dollars of manufactures, and that only fifty-two million dollars of that vast production - about one- seventeenth part of it -was made up of cotton. Our manufactures and mechanic arts now must exceed twelve hundred million dollars; and cotton does not make up more than seventy million dollars. Does the senator think the free States would 'topple' down if they should lose one-seventeenth part of their productive industry?

"The productive industry of Massachusetts, a State that manufactures more than one-third of all the cotton manufactured in the country, was, in 1855, three hundred and fifty million dollars: only twenty-six million dollars, one- thirteenth part of it, was cotton. Does the senator believe that a State which has a productive industry of three hundred and fifty million dollars - about two hundred and eighty dollars per head for each person -would perish if she should lose twenty-six million dollars of that vast production?

"It is no matter of surprise that gentlemen who live away off on cross-roads, where the cotton blooms, should come to believe that cotton rules the world; but a few months' association with the great world would cure that delusion. 'You are our factors,' exclaims the senator; 'you bring and carry for us. Suppose we were to discharge you; suppose we were to take our business out of your hands: we should consign you to anarchy and poverty.' Sir, suppose, when the senator returns from this chamber to his cotton-fields, his slaves should in their simplicity say to him, 'Massa, you only sells de cotton: we plants; we hoes; we picks de cotton. 'Spose we discharge you, massa!' The unsophisticated 'mud- sills' would be quite as reasonable as the senator. The senator seems to think that the cotton-planters hold us in the hollow of their hands: if they shake them, we tremble; if they close them, we perish."

To his boasting of the excellence of Southern social and political institutions Senator Wilson replies, -

"The senator from South Carolina, after crowning Cotton as king, with power to bring England and all the civilized world "toppling' down into the yawning gulfs of bankruptcy and ruin, complacently tells the Senate and the trembling subjects of his cotton-king that 'the greatest strength of the South arises from the harmony .of her political and social institutions;' that her forms of society are the best in the world; ' that 'she has an extent of political freedom, combined with entire security, seen nowhere on earth.' The South, he tells us, 'is satisfied, harmonious, and prosperous:' and he asks us if we 'have heard that the ghosts of Mendoza and Torquemada are stalking in the streets of our great cities; that the Inquisition is at hand; and that there are fearful rumors of consultations for vigilance committees.' Sir, this. self-complacency is sublime. No soil of the Celestial Empire can approach the senator in self-complacency. That 'society the best in the world' where more than three millions of beings created in the image of God are held as chattels, - sunk from the lofty level of humanity to the abject condition of unreasoning beasts of burden! That 'society the best in the world ' where are manacles, chains, and whips, auction-blocks, prisons, bloodhounds, scourgings, lynchings, and burnings; laws to torture the body, shrivel the mind, and debase the soul; where labor is dishonored, and laborers despised! 'Political freedom' in a land where woman is imprisoned for teaching little children to read God's Holy Word; where professors are deposed and banished for opposing the extension of slavery; where public men are exiled for quoting in a national convention the words of Jefferson; where voters are mobbed for appearing to vote for free territory; and where booksellers are driven from the country for selling that masterly work of genius, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'! A land of 'certain security,' where patrols, costing, as in Old Virginia, more than is expended to educate her poor children, stalk the country to catch the faintest murmur of discontent; where the bay of the bloodhound never ceases ; where, but little more than a year ago, rose the startling cry of insurrection ; and where men, some of them owned by a member of this body, were scourged and murdered for suspected insurrection! 'Political freedom' and 'certain security' in a land which demands that seventeen millions of freemen shall stand guard to seize and carry back fleeing bond- men!"

Contrasting the desolation of the South with the prosperity of the North, he says, -

"De Bow's 'Resources of the South,' from Fenno's Southern Medical Reports,' speaks of 'decaying old tenemens' in Georgia; 'red old hills, stripped of their native growth and virgin soil and washed into deep gullies, with here and there patches of Bermuda grass and stunted pine-shrubs struggling for subsistence on what was once the richest soil of America.' Millions of acres of the richest soil of the Western world have been converted into barrenness and desolation by the untutored, unpaid, and thriftless labor of slaves. This exhaustion of Southern soil tilled by bondmen; this deterioration, decay, and desolation, now visible in what was once the fairest portion of the continent,—stands confessed by the most eminent writers of the South. These descriptions of the decay and desolation of some of the fairest portions of the sunny South remind us of the desolating effects of slavery upon the rich fields of classic Italy in the days of Tiberius Gracchus, as described by the brilliant and philosophic pen of Bancroft in his masterly article on Roman slavery.

"Turning, Mr. President, from this contemplation of the desolations of slavery to the rugged soil and still more rugged clime of the free North, we shall see that the farms tilled by free, educated men are annually blooming with a fresher and richer verdure ; that they annually wave with larger harvests of the varied products which find markets in the cities and villages which commerce, manufactures, and the mechanic arts, create, beautify, and adorn. While the plantations of the South echo the sound of the lash by which unpaid toil is driven on in the blighting process of exhausting the richest soils, the farms of the free States are increasing in value, fertility, and beauty: they are nursing a race of noble and independent men, where

'The lowliest farm-house hearth is graced
With manly hearts, in piety sincere;
Faithful in love, in honor stern and chaste,
In friendship warm and true, in danger brave;
Beloved in life, and sainted in the grave.'"

In respect to the comparative educational and literary and scientific condition of the two sections of the Union, he remarks, -

"In the slave States, laws forbid the education of nearly four millions of her people: in the free States, laws encourage the education of the people, and public opinion upholds and enforces those laws. In 1850 there were sixty-two thousand schools, seventy-two thousand teachers, two million eight hundred thousand scholars, in the public schools of the free States: in the slave States there were eighteen thousand schools, nineteen thousand teachers, and five hundred and eighty thousand scholars. Massachusetts has nearly two hundred thousand scholars in her public schools, at a cost of a million three hundred thousand dollars. South Carolina has seventeen thousand scholars in her public schools: seventy-five thousand dollars is paid by the State; and the governor in 1853 said, that ' under the present mode of applying it, it was the profusion of the prodigal rather than the judicious generosity which confers real benefits.' New York has more scholars in her public schools than all the slave States together. Ohio has five hundred and two thousand scholars in her public schools, supported at an expense of two million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Kentucky has seventy-six thousand scholars, supported at an expense of a hundred and forty-six thousand dollars.

"The free States had, in 1850, more than fifteen thousand libraries, containing four million volumes: the slave States had seven hundred libraries, containing six hundred and fifty thousand volumes. Massachusetts, the land of 'hireling operatives,' has eighteen hundred libraries, which contain not less than seven hundred and fifty, thousand volumes,—more libraries and volumes than all the slave States combined. The little State of Rhode Island, a mere patch of thirteen hundred square miles on the surface of New England, has more volumes in her libraries than have the five great States of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. De Bow— good Southern authority - says, that, in every country, the press must be regarded as a great educational agency. The free States had, in 1850, eighteen hundred newspapers, with a circulation of three hundred and thirty-five million: the slave States had, at that time, seven hundred newspapers, with a circulation of eighty-one million. The free States have seven times as many religious papers, and twelve times as many scientific papers, as the South. Massachusetts has more religious papers than all the slave holding States of the Union. She has a circulation of two million for her scientific papers: the South has but three hundred and seventy-two thousand. The 'hireling operatives, mechanics, and laborers,' the very 'mud-sills' of society, read five times as many copies of scientific papers as the entire South, including that class which the senator tells us, leads 'progress, civilization, and refinement.' Nine-tenths of the book-publishers of the United States are in the free States 'The Charleston Standard'— good authority with the senator—tells us 'that their pictures are painted at the North, their books published at the North, their periodicals printed at the North; that should a man rise with the genius of Shakespeare or Dickens or Fielding, or all three combined, and. speak from the South, he would not receive enough to pay the cost of publication.' That class, that favored class, which leads, as the senator tells us, 'progress, civilization, and refinement,' forces the literary talent to the North, the home of hireling operatives, to find not only publishers, but readers also.

"Of the authors mentioned in Duyckinck's 'Encyclopaedia of American Literature,' eighty-seven were natives of slave States, and four hundred and three were natives of the free North, - the land of the 'hireling laborers.' Of the poets mentioned in Griswold's 'Poets and Poetry of America,' seventeen were natives of the land where they have that other class, which leads 'progress, civilizatirni, and refinement,' and a hundred and twenty-three were natives of the land of 'hireling operatives,'- the 'mud-sills' of society. Of the poets whose nativity is given by Mr. Reed in his 'Female Poets of America,' eleven are from the South, seventy-three from the North. Nine-tenths of all the books written in America fit to be read, nine-tenths of all the books published in America fit to be published, are written and published, not in the land of that privileged class of which the senator boasts, but in the free States, unblessed by that privileged class. Nearly all the authors whose names grace and adorn the rising literature of America, whose names are known in the literary and scientific world, find their homes in the free States of the North. Irving, Ticknor, Sparks, Bancroft, Prescott, Hildreth, and Motley, whose contributions to the historical literature of America are recognized by the literary world; Dana, Bryant, Halleck, Longfellow, Sprague, Whittier, Lowell, and Willis, the recognized poets of our country; Hawthorne, Emerson, Curtis, Melville, and Mitchell, whose names grace the light literature of our times; and Silliman, Agassiz, and Peirce, names associated with American science, - find their homes, not in the laud of the privileged class that the senator from South Carolina tells us leads 'progress, civilization, and refinement;' but they dwell in the land of 'small-fisted farmers, greasy mechanics, and filthy operatives,' - the 'mud-sills' of society. The sculptors and the painters and the artists -they, too, find their homes, not in the sunny South, but in the free land of the North. Iii literature, in science, in the arts, the superiority of the North is beyond all question. Men who have been, or who now are, 'hireling laborers,' in some forms, in the North, have contributed more to the arts, the science, the literature of America than the whole class of slaveholders now living in the South.

"I would not, Mr. President, underrate the influence of the slave States in the councils of the republic. Bound together by the cohesive attraction of a vast interest, from which the civilization of the age averts its face, the privileged class have won the control and direct the policy of the government. In the council and in the field, the representatives of this privileged class have assumed to direct and to guide; but in accumulating capital, in commerce, in manufactures, in the mechanic arts, in educational institutions, in literature, in science, in the arts, in the charities of religion and humanity, in all the means by which the nation is known among men, the free States maintain a position of unquestioned pre-eminence. In all these the South is a more dependency of the North. India and Australia are not more the dependencies of England than are the slaveholding States the dependencies of the free States. Sir, your fifteen slave States are but fifteen suburban wards of our great commercial city of New York. Beyond the political field this dependency is everywhere visible, even to the most blind devotees of 'King Cotton.' Mr. Perry, in all address before the South Carolina Institute in 1856, says of the State represented by the senator, 'The dependence of South Carolina upon the Northern States for all the necessaries, comforts, and luxuries which the mechanic arts afford, has drained her of her wealth, and made her positively poor.'"

Mr. Wilson thus thus nobly speaks of the condition of free labor at the North: -

"Mr. President, the senator from South Carolina tells us that 'all the powers of the world cannot abolish the thing' he calls slavery: ' God alone can do it when he repeals the fiat, "The poor ye have always with you." For the mail lives by daily labor, and your whole class of hireling manual laborers and operatives, are essentially slaves. Our slaves are black, happy, content, unaspiring: yours are white; and they feel galled by their degradation. Our slaves do not vote: yours do vote; and, being the majority, they are the depositaries of all your political power ; and if they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than "an army with banners," and could combine, your society would be reconstructed, your government overthrown, and your property divided.'

"'The poor ye have always with you.' This fiat of Almighty God, which Christian men of all ages and lands have accepted as the imperative injunction of the common Father of all to care for the children of misfortune and sorrow, the senator from South Carolina accepts as the foundation-stone, the eternal law, of slavery, which ' all the powers of the earth cannot abolish.' These precious words of our heavenly Father, 'The poor ye have always with you,' are perpetually sounding in the ears of mankind, ever reminding them of their dependence and their duties. These words appeal alike to the conscience and the heart of mankind. To men blessed in their basket and their store they say, 'Property has its duties as well as its rights.' To men clothed with authority to shape the policy or to administer the laws of the State they say, 'Lighten, by wise, humane, and equal laws, the burdens of the toiling and dependent children of men.' To men of every age and every clime they appeal by the divine promise, that 'he that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.' Sir, I thank God that I live in a Common. wealth which sees no warrant in these words of inspiration to oppress the sons and daughters of toil and poverty. Over the poor and lowly she casts the broad shield of equal, just, and humane legislation. The poorest man that treads her soil, no matter what blood may run in his vein is protected in his rights, and incited to labor by no other force than the assurance that the fruits of his toil belong to himself, to the wife of his bosom, and the children of his love.

The senator from South Carolina exclaims, 'The man who lives by daily labor, your whole class of manual laborers, are essentially slaves: they feel galled by their degradation.' What a sentiment is this to hear uttered in the councils of this democratic republic! The senator's political associates, who listen to these words which brand hundreds of thousands of the men they represent in the free States and hundreds of their neighbors and personal friends as 'slaves,' have found no words to repel or rebuke this language. This language of scorn and contempt is addressed to senators who were not nursed by a slave; whose lot it was to toil with their own hands; to eat bread earned, not by the sweat of another's brow, but by their own. Sir, I am the son of a hireling manual laborer,' who, with the frosts of seventy winters on his brow, 'lives by daily labor.' I, too, have lived by daily labor; I, too, have been a 'hireling manual laborer.' Poverty cast its dark and chilling shadow over the home of my childhood; and Want was there sometimes, an unbidden guest. At the age of ten to aid him who gave me being in keeping the gaunt spectre from the hearth of the mother who bore me, I left the home of my boyhood, and went to earn my my bread by 'daily labor.' Many a weary mile have I travelled

To beg a brother of the earth
To give me leave to toil.'

"Sir, I have toiled as a 'hireling manual laborer' in the field and in the workshop; and I tell the senator from South Carolina that I never 'felt galled by my degradation.' No, sir; never! Perhaps the senator who represents that 'other class, which leads progress, civilization, and refinement,' will ascribe this to obtuseness of intellect and blunted sensibilities of the heart. Sir, I was conscious of my manhood: I was the peer of my employer. I knew that the laws and institutions of my native and adopted States threw over him and me alike the panoply of equality: I knew, too, that the world was before me; that its wealth, its garnered treasures of knowledge, its honors, the coveted prizes of life, were within the grasp of a brave heart and a tireless hand and I accepted the responsibilities of my position, all unconscious that I was a 'slave.' I have employed others, - hundreds of 'hireling manual laborers.' Some of them then possessed, and now possess, more property than I ever owned; some of them were better educated than myself,—yes, sir, better educated, and better read too, than some senators on this floor; and many of them, in moral excellence and purity of character, I could not but feel, were my superiors.

"I have occupied, Mr. President, for more than thirty years, the relation of employer or employed; and, while I never felt 'galled by my degradation' in the one case, in the other I was never conscious that my 'hireling laborers' were my inferiors. That man is a 'snob' who boasts of being a 'hireling laborer,' or who is ashamed of being a 'hireling laborer;' that man is a 'snob' who feels any inferiority to any man because he is a 'hireling laborer,' or who assumes any superiority over others because he is an employer. honest labor is honorable; and the man who is ashamed that he is or was a 'hireling laborer ' has not manhood enough to 'feel galled by his degradation.'

"Having occupied, Mr. President, the relation of either employed or employer for the third of a century; having lived in a Commonwealth where the 'hireling class of manual laborers' are 'the depositaries of political power;' having associated with this class in all the relations of life, —I tell the senator from South Carolina, and the class he represents, that he libels, grossly libels them, when he declares that they are 'essentially slaves.' There can be found nowhere in America a class of men more proudly conscious or tenacious of their rights. Friends and foes have ever found them

'A stubborn race, fearing and flattering none.'

"But the senator from South Carolina tells us, that, if the hireling laborers knew the 'tremendous secret' of the ballot-box, our 'society would be reconstructed, our government overthrown, and our property divided.' Does not the senator know that an immense majority of the 'hireling class of manual laborers' of New England possess property? Does he not know that the man who has accumulated a few hundred dollars by his own toil, by the savings of years, who has a family growing up around him upon which his hopes are centred, is a conservative? Does not the senator know that he watches the appropriation-bills in the meetings of those little democracies, the towns, as narrowly as the representative from Tennessee in the other House (George W. Jones) watches the money-bills on the private calendar? I live, Mr. President, in a small town of five thousand inhabitants. Nearly half of the population are employed as operatives and mechanics for the manufacture of shoes for the Western and Southern markets. In 1840 we had thirteen hundred inhabitants, and the property valuation was about three hundred thousand dollars. Last May we had fourteen hundred names on our poll-list, two-thirds of them 'hireling mechanics,' and a property valuation of over two millions of dollars. Those 'hireling laborers,' on town-meeting days, make the appropriations for schools, for roads, and for all other purposes.. Do they not know 'the tremendous secret of the ballot-box'? Have they proposed to divide the property they themselves created? No, sir ; no! But I will tell the senator what they have done. Since 1850 they have built seven new schoolhouses, with all the modern improvements, at an expense of about forty thousand dollars; one house costing more than fourteen thousand. They have established a high school, where the most advanced scholars of the common schools are fitted for admission to the colleges, or for the professions, the business, and the duties of life. They have established a town- library, freely accessible to all the inhabitants, containing the choicest works of authors of the Old World and the New, of ancient and modern times. The poorest 'hireling manual laborer,' without cost, can take from that library to his home the works of the master-minds, and hold corn- mullion with

'The dead but sceptred sovereigns, who rule
Our spirits from their urns.'

"The senator tells us, Mr. President, that their slaves are 'well compensated.' South Carolina slaves 'well compensated'! Why, sir, the senator himself, in a speech made at home for home consumption, entered into an estimate to show that a field-hand could be supported for from 'eighteen to nineteen dollars per annum' on the rice and cotton plantations. He states the quantity of corn and bacon and salt necessary to support the 'well-compensated' slave. And this man, supported by eighteen dollars per annum, with the privilege of being flogged at discretion, and having his wife or children sold from him at the necessity or will of his master, the senator from South Carolina informs the Senate of the United States, is ' well compensated ' I Sir, there is not a poor-house in the free States where there would not be a rebellion in three days if the inmates were compelled to subsist on the quantity and quality of food the senator estimates as ample 'compensation' for the labor of a slave in South Carolina.

"Turning from his 'well-compensated' slaves, the senator tells us that our 'hireling laborers, our 'mud-sills,' are scantily 'compensated.' Mr. Clingman of North Carolina, in urging the establishment of cotton manufactories in the South, says the wages of labor at the North are one hundred per cent higher than wages in the same pursuits in the South. The wages of labor in iron mills in South Carolina were thirteen dollars per month in 1850: in Massachusetts they were thirty. Sir, these hands of mine have earned, month after month, two dollars per day in manual labor; and I have paid that sum to 'hireling manual laborers' month after month, and year after year. Financial and commercial revulsions sometimes come upon us, and press heavily upon all branches of the mechanic arts and manufactures; but labor is generally well employed and well paid. At any rate, the laboring-men of the free States have open to their industry all the avenues of agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and the multifarious mechanic arts, where skilled labor is demanded, and where they do not have to maintain, as the senator in his address before the institute of his own State tells us the white men of South Carolina have to maintain, 'a feeble and ruinous competition with time labor of slaves.'

Borrowing, Mr. President, an idea found in a speech made in the other House by Mr. Pickens of his own State more than twenty years ago, in which he threatened to preach insurrection to Northern laborers, the senator asks 'how we would like for them to send lecturers and agitators to teach our hireling laborers the 'tremendous secret of the power of the ballot-box,' and 'to aid in combining them and to lead them.' Sir, I tell the senator we would welcome him, his lecturers and agitators; we would bid them welcome to our hearth-stones and our altars. Ours are the institutions of freedom; and they flourish best in the storms and agitations of inquiry and free discussion. We are conscious that our social and political institutions have not attained perfection; and we invoke the examination and the criticism of the genius and learning of all Christendom. Should the senator and his agitators and lecturers come to Massachusetts on a mission to teach our 'hireling class of manual laborers,' our 'mud-sills,' our 'slaves,' the 'tremendous secret of the ballot-box,' and to help 'combine and lead them,' these stigmatized 'hirelings' would reply to the senator and his associates, 'We are freemen; we are the peers of the gifted and the wealthy; we know the "tremendous secret of the ballot-box;" and we mould and fashion these institutions that bless and adorn our proud and free Commonwealth. These public schools are ours, for the education of our children; these libraries, with their accumulated treasures, are ours; these multitudinous and varied pursuits of life, where intelligence and skill find their reward, are ours. Labor is here honored and respected, and great examples incite us to action. All around us, -in the professions; in the marts of commerce; on the exchange, where merchant-princes and capitalists do congregate; in these manufactories and workshops, where the products of every clime are fashioned into a thousand forms of utility and beauty; on these smiling farms, fertilized by the sweat of free labor; in every position of private and of public life, - are our associates, who were but yesterday "hireling laborers," "mud-sills," "slaves." In every department of human effort are noble men, who sprang from our ranks, - men whose good deeds will be felt, and will live in the grateful memories of men, when the stones reared by the hands of affection to their honored names shall crumble into dust. Our eyes glisten and our hearts throb over the bright, glowing, and radiant pages of our history, that record the deeds of patriotism of the Sons of New England, who sprang from our ranks, and wore the badges of toil. While the names of Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Nathanael Greene, and Paul Revere, live on in brightest pages of our history, the mechanics of Massachusetts and New England will never want illustrious examples to incite us to noble aspirations and noble deeds. Go home: say to your privileged class, which, you vauntingly say, "leads progress, civilization, and refinement," that it is the opinion of the "hireling laborers" of Massachusetts, if you have no sympathy for your African bondrnen, in whose veins flows so much of your own blood, you should at least sympathize with the millions of your own race, whose labor you have dishonored and degraded by slavery. You should teach your millions of poor and ignorant white men, so long oppressed by your policy, the "tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than 'an army with banners.'" You should combine, and lead them to the adoption of a policy which shall secure their own emancipation from a degrading thraldom.'"

He concludes his argument with these strong and earnest words of counsel:-

"Duty to the government now prostituted and polluted, to the country now dishonored in the face of the civilized world, summons the liberty-loving and patriotic men of the republic, of every name and creed, to 'forget, forgive, and unite,' and rally to the overthrow of this venal, cringing, and inglorious administration, and to the utter annihilation of the oligarchic Democracy. To the men of the North, ay, and the men of the South, who loathe fraud, paltry trickery, venality, and servility, who believe that 'righteousness exalteth a nation,' this summons alike appeals. But to no men does this summons appeal with such irresistible and imperative force as to the 'whole hireling class of manual laborers and operatives,' now disdainfully stigmatized as the 'slaves,' the 'very mud-sills,' of that society upon which that privileged class assumes to rest which now claims to control this government, and 'to lead progress, civilization, and refinement' in America. It appeals to them to repel the libellous aspersions cast upon the toiling millions of America, by taking, through the ballot-box, the reins of power from the grasp of the slaveholding aristocracy of the South and their servile allies of the North; rebuking the arrogance of the one by banishment from usurped power, and the servility of the other by putting upon their breasts the 'Scarlet Letter' of dishonor. It appeals to them to place in every department of the Federal Government statesmen who cherish a profound reverence and an inextinguishable love for humanity; who are animated by lofty motives, aims, and purposes; guided by wise, comprehensive, and patriotic counsels; and who will put the republic in harmony with the sacred and inalienable rights of mankind."

During this session Mr. Wilson received a challenge from Mr. Gwin of California for some words spoken hastily in debate. He replied to it, as he had done to that of Mr. Brooks, by saying, that, while he held to the right of self-defence, he did not, as was well known, accept the code of the duellist. He was willing to refer the difference between Mr. Gwin and himself to any three members of the Senate, and abide by their decision. Messrs. Seward, Crittenden, and Davis were selected, who on the 12th of June drew up the following agreement: -

WASHINGTON, June 12, 1858.

GENTLEMEN, - We have made ourselves acquainted with the circumstances and facts involved in the case submitted to us.

The remarks of Mr. Gwin, imputing unworthy motives— namely, those of demagogism - to Mr. Wilson, although general, certainly were objectionable and unparliamentary; and yet they by no means justified or warranted Mr. Wilson in using the very opprobrious epithet with which he retaliated. Mr. Gwin's rejoinder in contumelious terms is to be regarded as a passionate expression, naturally provoked by the offensive language of Mr. Wilson. We think, therefore, that Mr. Wilson ought to regard himself in fact as having committed the first real personal offence; and therefore he should make such reparation as is now in his power. We are possessed of the fact,- which, indeed, is apparent on the face of the reported debate,—that Mr. Wilson, in using the epithet employed, did not impute any want of personal integrity or honor to Mr. Gwin, but merely reflected upon his course in legislation in regard to California, which Mr. Wilson deemed extravagant and wasteful; although the expression is obviously liable to an offensive and dishonoring construction. With this disclaimer adopted by Mr. Wilson, we hold that Mr. Gwin is bound to withdraw the reproachful language in which he replied to Mr. Wilson. The disavowal required of Mr. Wilson, and the withdrawal demanded from Mr. Gwin, shall be deemed to have been made by them, respectively, when they shall have expressed in writing their assent to this report.


To Messrs. WILSON and GWIN.

I assent to the above.

I assent to the above.

The parties were satisfied with the mutual explanation and concession; and thus the matter ended. Duelling belongs to the medieval ages; and so this Northern senator again decided.

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