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The Life and Public Services of Henry Wilson
Chapter XIII.


IN January, 1859, the General Court re-elected Mr. Wilson to the United States Senate for six years from the 31 of March in that year; the higher branch giving him thirty-five out of forty votes, and the lower a hundred and ninety-nine out of two hundred and thirty-five votes. His record had been clear, his labors arduous; his legislative experience now was large; his courage had been tested. The times demanded men of steady nerve; and hence this strong majority was given to him. The expectation was not disappointed; for he is one of the very few whom life at Washington does not corrupt.

In looking over the files of "The Congressional Globe," we find him with tireless industry taking part in the discussions on the questions of the day, advocating retrenchment in postal, naval, and every other department of the government.

In respect to patronage lie truly said, "I think it should be the interest of all parties to get clear of patronage; for patronage is only weakness, if you have any principles to carry."

Of the projects for internal improvement at that time before Congress, one of the most important was the construction of a railroad across the continent. Mr. Davis had caused extensive explorations to be made, and three routes for the road were indicated. The Southerners advocated the line through Arizona, called the "Disunion route," because some senators had avowed that they should own it on the dissolution of the Union. The favored them; but, on the eleventh day of January, Mr. WiIson, in a speech displaying vast research and great ability, clearly pointed out the impracticability of that line, and advocated the adoption of the central route, which was finally agreed upon, through Nebraska and Nevada. Economy, freedom, and the business of the country, alike demanded that the road should run in this direction; and the gigantic scheme could not be carried into effect, he said, without the liberal aid of government. From the array of facts which he presented, one might have thought that "railroading" had been the principal study of his life, and travelling in the "Far West" his diversion. This speech turned the attention of the public more directly to the central line, and greatly encouraged the friends of progress in the East to enter upon the construction of the road. The Hon. A. A. Sargent of California, who, like Mr. Wilson, is a self-made, practical man, subsequently pressed with the same energy the construction of the Central Pacific road; and, after years of persevering effort, the driving of the golden spike connecting the Union Pacific with that road gave these two gentlemen inexpressible delight. We regret that we can give but a single extract from Mr. 'Wilson's admirable speech -

"I think," said he, "the course I have proposed is that suggested by sound policy; and I should like to recommit this bill, or in way put it in such a shape, that we shall, as a government, undertake the construction of a railroad starting between the mouths of the Big Sioux and Kansas Rivers, crossing the continent to San Francisco on a line north of the thirty-fifth or thirty-sixth parallel, and south of the forty-third parallel. Let that be a great national work: for the idea of the country is to go to San Francisco, where there is population; not to Puget Sound, where there is none; and not to San ,Diego, where there never can be any. Then let us give our Southern friends, those gentlemen who want a road on which they can go to the Pacific Ocean when they dissolve the Union, all the lands they want south of the thirty-fourth parallel, and let them make the most of them. I hope they may make a hundred million dollars out of them; for I should rejoice in their prosperity. Then let us give lands on the northern line, and carry out the ideas suggested by the senator from Minnesota and the senator from Wisconsin. What they want in that vast northern region is a people. They want settlers and a policy of this kind will carry settlers from Lake Superior a thousand miles to the Rocky Mountains; and, if the engineers who went over this route are to be believed, even in the Rocky Mountains is to be found good land. Beyond the Rocky Mountains, to Puget Sound, there will be found not only a great country, but across that line, in time, I do not doubt we are to have a great commercial route connecting the northern lakes with Puget Sound.

"These are my views. I am for a Pacific railroad; but I do not believe in the idea of attempting to construct a road to the Pacific Ocean merely by grants of land within any reasonable period, if we make a grant to the northern line, I do not expect a road to be built there for some time. I do not even expect it to be commenced at once. I know it cannot be done in earnest in the present financial condition of the world. Neither can expect any such thing over the southern line. But we want a central road; we want it begun now; we want it completed as speedily as possible; and, to do that, let us take the money of the government, and build it as cheaply as cash can build it, and keep the lands, reserving their proceeds as a sinking fund to meet the bonds, which may be made due thirty or forty years hence. We shall then have seventy or eighty million people; and their redemption will be but a light tax on such a nation. During that period, in my judgment, it will have added hundreds of millions to the wealth of the country; and the addition it will make the power and strength of the Union is beyond the calculation of the human intellect."

On the 18th of February he thus referred to the existence of a party, little thought of at the time, which was ready to dissolve the Union: -

"I am glad to hear the declarations made by the senator from South Carolina; and I have no doubt they are substantially correct. No doubt, a large portion of the people of the Southern States are opposed to the African slave-trade: but that there is a party, young, vigorous, and active, that wishes to open the slave-trade; a party that wishes to extend the country into the tropics; a party that believes not only in compulsory labor in the tropics, but everywhere else; a party that wishes to govern this country under that policy, and, failing to do that; to establish a Southern confederacy, and dissolve this Union, - there is evidence. There is such a party. Now, I want the Senate, I want Congress, to sustain the contract made by the president: and let it be understood in the North and in the South, by all parties, that this country has branded the slave-trade; that it can never be opened, that the power and influence of this nation shall be used to put it down; and that we will go to the full extent, not only of the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law, to sustain this policy."

In a personal interview with one of his friends, April 25, 1859, Mr. Wilson, speaking of the members of the Senate, said, "Mr. Collamer of Vermont knows the most of politics, but has no oratory; Fesseriden of Maine is the best debater, but has no facts; Seward is very able, and may run for president; Toombs is indomitable; Davis is high-spirited; Yulee and Gwin are mercenary; and John P. Hale is wide-awake, but not sufficiently industrious. The Senate of to-day is abler than the Senate of twenty years ago: few then entered into debate; but all at present take a part, and evince ability. My own course for the last sixteen years has been one and straight: my constant aim has been to do the very best thing I could against slavery. In every party I have used my influence for this purpose. I aim to move straight forward in the Senate; and my highest ambition is to have it said, when my career is over, 'He acted for the good of humanity and the rights of man.' I am no orator; but my memory is retentive, and facts and principles I try to state with accuracy and clearness." He was then in the best of health and spirits, and preparing speeches-one on Cuba, another on the District of Columbia for the coming session.

Although Mr. 'Wilson was so profoundly occupied in national affairs, he still took time to attend the gatherings and to mingle in the innocent diversions of the people. Of ceaseless activity, he seethed sometimes almost ubiquitous. Now we find him addressing the people at a picnic, now present at the examination of a school, and now telling stories at a temperance festival; never seeking pleasure, but imparting it to multitudes of his fellow-men as he went along.

We meet him in May at a temperance festival at the Adams House, where to this sentiment, "Our country, - with wisdom in her councils, and temperance among her people, she shall command the respect and admiration of the world," - he is thus reported to have responded : -

"The hand of intemperance had, from his childhood, been laid upon him, and very early in life he had resolved to be temperate himself at all times. Twenty-seven years ago he signed the pledge, which he had ever since kept. He alluded to the intemperance which prevailed among the statesmen of the country, and said many of those men were sinking under the baleful and withering curse. He wished that the words of the sentiment to which he had been called upon to respond had been reversed, and that it had read, 'wisdom among her people, and temperance in her councils.' He spoke 'in the highest terms of the Sons of Temperance in general, and the Crystal-fount Division in particular."

Now we see him in the same month at the printers' banquet held at the Revere house, where to the sentiment, "The National Legislature, - the right arm of the American people," - he made this appropriate response -

"The National Legislature deserved all that was said of it in that sentiment. If there was a class of men who voted long speeches a bore, it was printers. He would, therefore, be short. He spoke of his knowledge of printers as gathered from his connection with a newspaper nine or ten years ago. There was no class of men that toiled with more fidelity, or should receive more support from every citizen. He saw here men from all parts of the country, and especially the men from other States who often set up very unpleasant allusions to him (laughter): he welcomed them warmly, one and all, and closed with, -

"The National Printers' Union, - May its laudable efforts to promote the interests, elevate the position, and improve the characters, of the printers of' the United States, be crowned with abundant success!

A few days afterwards (June 1) he was present at a meeting in honor of Mr. Paul Morphy, the American chess-player, at the same hotel, where, on the announcement of the tenth regular toast, "Our national representatives, - their position gives them a special interest in national success," he most fittingly replied, "I suppose we all feel proud of the achievements of our American representatives in the Old World. We all unite to do honor to him who has achieved honor for the American nation abroad. As we have read of his brilliant achievements with pride and admiration, we have loved him because he has been throughout a modest and quiet American gentleman. Surrounded as Mr. Morphy has been by royalty, learning, and genius, in all his splendid triumphs he has borne himself with modesty, and he ought to be welcomed by every American. We have witnessed here to-night his modest demeanor and noble carriage with pleasure. In conclusion, he gave this sentiment: "The modest bearing of your guest, - worthy of the imitation of American scholars, artists, jurists, and statesmen, who uphold the intellectual character of America among the nations."

Among other labors in the summer of this year, Mr. Wilson delivered an eloquent oration on the celebration of the 4th of July by the civil authorities and people of the city of Lawrence, Mass. The preparations for the occasion were extensive, the expectations of the vast throng of people high; but they were more than realized in the patriotic fervor and the manly eloquence of the speaker. His introduction breathes the very spirit of the founders of our civil liberty. In it he says, -

"To-day, fellow-citizens, the golden light of the eighty-third anniversary of 'the day of deliverance' is above and around us; to-day 'the rays of ravishing light and glory,' which gladdened the soul of the impassioned 'Colossus of independence' amidst the storm and blood of civil war, flash upon the glowing faces of twenty-five millions of American freemen, whose hearts swell with patriotic pride on the return of this anniversary of the birthday of the republic. Over this broad land, from the shores which first welcomed the weary feet of the Pilgrims to the golden sands which have lured their descendants to the distant shores of the Pacific, throughout the vast breadth of our ever-expanding republic, age with its ripe and rich experiences, manhood in the maturity and vigor of its powers, and youth with its fresh hopes and glowing aspirations, are joyfully mingling in the scenes, associations, and memories of this 'anniversary festival' of the 'most memorable epoch in the history of America.' To-day the teeming millions of America, in her cities, villages, and hamlets, on her broad prairies, rich valleys, and laughing hillsides, and by her mountains, lakes, and rivers, welcome with exultant hearts this day, on which we give a truce to the strifes of sentiment and opinion, passion and interest, and remember only that we are all Americans, the citizens of the foremost republic of the world."

Having described the spirit which prompted the Declaration of Independence, he proceeds: -

"These sublime ideas of the Declaration of Independence express the whole creed of the equality of humanity, the basis of government, and the rights of the people. They speak to the universal heart of mankind. They declare to kings and princes, and nobles and statesmen, 'Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, to secure the inalienable rights of men to liberty;' they proclaim to toiling millions, 'Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it;' they utter in the hungry ears of lowly bondrnen, 'All men are created equal,' and 'endowed with the inalienable rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' These 'self-evident truths' may be hated and spurned by the monarch, in the arrogance of unrestricted power; they may be scoffed at and jeered at by the noble, hedged about with ancient privileges; they may be limited, qualified, or denied, by the ignoble politician, whose apostasy is revealed and rebuked by the brilliancy of their steady light; they may be sneered at as 'glittering generalities' by the nerveless conservative, who 'has ever opposed every useful reform, and wailed over every rotten institution as it fell:' but they live in the throbbing hearts of the toiling millions, and they nurse the wavering hopes of hapless bondsmen amidst the thick gloom of rayless oppression. When the Christian shall erase from the book of life the precious words, 'Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you,' 'Love thy neighbor as thyself,' then may the sincere lover of human freedom blur, blot, and erase from the language of humanity these immortal words embodied by our fathers in the Declaration of the 4th of July, 1776. These words, these ideas, which underlie the institutions of the republic, associate the name of America with the cause of universal freedom and progress all over the globe. We may be recreant to these ideas ; we may ignobly fail: but the incorporation of these sacred ideas with the charter of national independence will bear the name of the North-American republic down to coming ages, and win for it the grateful homage and lasting remembrance of mankind."

Announcing his theme as "Our country at that period and our country of to-day," he said, -

"How wonderful the contrast! The thirteen colonies of that day have expanded into thirty-three sovereign commonwealths, glittering constellations that revolve in their orbits round the great central sun of the North- American Union. The two and a half millions of British colonists that timidly clung to the shores of the seas have multiplied into twenty-five millions of freemen, who have crossed the ridges of the Alleghanies, spread over the broad basin of the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Missouri, and passed through the defiles of the Rocky Mountains to the golden shores of the Pacific. The weak confederacy of dependent colonies has developed into a central Union, - a National Government, - whose name is known to the nations, and whose power is acknowledged by all mankind. Upon the soil where stood two and a half millions of colonists to meet the shock of battle in defence of periled liberty stand two and a half millions of enrolled men, ready to leap at the summons of patriotism, to hurl into the seas any force that shall press the soil of the republic with hostile feet.

"The territory embraced in the thirteen colonies on the Atlantic slope of the Alleghanies on the 4th of July, 1776, contained less than three hundred thousand square miles; to-day the territory embraced within the boundaries of the Union exceeds three millions of square miles. The boundaries of the republic are to be still farther extended. Unroll the map of North America, trace out upon that map the boundaries of other powers, study their position, and comprehend their condition and character, and the conviction will flash upon the mind that expansion is the destiny of the United States. God grant that this inevitable expansion may be in harmony with justice, with a scrupulous regard for the rights of other nations and races, and with the equal rights of mankind!

"Great as has been the extension of the limits of the country, population has kept abreast of that extension. The sun of the 4th of July, 1776, went down on less than two and a half millions of freemen: to-day the sun casts his beams on twenty-five millions of freemen in America. The accumulation of wealth has more than kept pace with the extension of territory and the increase of population. The wealth of the thirteen colonies in 1776 did not exceed the wealth of the young Commonwealth of Ohio in 1859: the value of the real and personal property in the United States is now estimated at eleven thousand millions of dollars. Under the restrictive and repressive colonial policy of England, the annual productive industry of the colonies was small indeed: now it is estimated at three thousand millions of dollars, five hundred millions of which are exchanged between the States, and three hundred millions exported to foreign lands. This extension of territory, this increase of population, this accumulation of wealth, far transcends all the most comprehensive minds ever conceived, and baffles even the predictions of enthusiasts.

"At the dawn of the Revolution, agriculture was the chief occupation of the people; but the condition of the colonies limited the quality and value of production: now more than three hundred millions of acres are devoted to agriculture; these farms and plantations are valued at four thousand millions, tilled by four millions of men, and produce nearly eighteen hundred millions of products.

"The narrow colonial and commercial policy of England limited the variety, checked the production, and depressed the value, of manufactures and the mechanic arts in America. British manufacturers demanded the monopoly of the colonial markets; British navigation demanded the monopoly of the carrying-trade of the colonies. Manufactures and mechanic arts, commerce and navigation, Ianguished under the depressing effects of British legislation. The ships the mechanics of New England and New York launched upon the deep were not permitted to carry to their markets the rice, indigo, and tobacco of the South; and these ships were forced to seek the products of Continental Europe, of Asia, and the Orient, in the storehouses of England.

"In 1850 the capital invested in more than a hundred thousand establishments was five hundred and thirty millions, the number of persons employed more than a million, and the value of the production more than a thousand millions. In 1776 the cotton-plant bloomed ungathered, and its manufacture was hardly known: now more than seven hundred thousand acres, tilled by nearly nine hundred thousand persons, are devoted to its culture and the capital invested in its manufacture is more than eighty millions, the number of persons engaged in its manufacture a hundred thousand, and the value of the production seventy millions. At the opening of the war of independence, the imports and exports, burdened by the repressive commercial policy of England, did not exceed the trade with the British Provinces on the north at this time; and these imports and exports were chiefly monopolized by British navigation: now our imports and exports amount annually to six hundred millions of dollars; and the annual arrivals and clearances are forty thousand, with an inward and outward tonnage of eleven millions of tons. The tonnage of the United States is more than five millions of tons, equal to the tonnage of the British empire.

"When the Declaration was sent abroad over the land, the means of transportation, communication, and travel, were of the most limited description. Beyond the shores of the seas and the banks of the streams, mere bridle-paths, often following the trails of the sons of the forest, were the avenues of travel. Now the avenues of transportation have multiplied almost beyond comprehension. Five thousand miles of canals, thirty thousand miles of railway, forty-five thousand miles of telegraph, five million tons of shipping, fifteen hundred steamers, which annually transport forty millions of passengers, afford the amplest facilities for rapid communication.

"Then religious strifes, growing out of the conflicting claims of rival sects for supremacy in some of the colonies, and the poverty and scattered condition of the people in others, limited the means of moral instruction: now religion is wholly divorced from the corruptions of power; all forms of faith are protected by equal laws; and forty thousand churches - costing nearly a hundred millions of dollars, in which fifteen millions of people may be seated, and in which more than thirty thousand clergymen instruct the people in the duties of life - point their spires toward the skies. Religious and philanthropic associations annually scatter among the people millions of publications for the moral culture of the people. Humane institutions, almost unknown when the nation commenced its independent existence, have been founded, where the children of misfortune, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the insane, and the sons and daughters of toil, find shelter from the storms of life.

"When independence was proclaimed, less than forty newspapers spread the immortal words among the people; and these journals were small in size, and of limited circulation: on this eighty-third anniversary, nearly three thousand newspapers are printed in America, having a circulation of six millions, and annually scattering broadcast nearly six hundred millions of copies, - more copies than are printed by the two most powerful nations of the globe, France and England. At the dawn of the Revolution, periodical literature was hardly known: now two hundred periodicals, devoted to literature, science, and art, to religion, law, politics, in manufactures, commerce, agriculture, mechanics, and the moral, intellectual, and material interests of society, are published; and the circulation of these periodicals is immense, amounting to many millions annually. These three thousand periodicals and journals, which the prolific press of America scatters among the people, give to them the ideas, inventions, discoveries, arts, facts, and events, at rates so low as to bring them within the reach of the toiling masses.

"At the opening of the Revolutionary contest, books were rare and dear, - beyond the reach of the masses of the people; only a few small libraries had been created: now the public libraries, exclusive of those of schools and institutions of learning, contain more than six millions of volumes. The rarest and choicest works find a place in the private libraries which the increasing wealth, taste, and refinement of the people are creating. The American press, hardly a power at the opening of the contest for national existence, now annually publishes more than a thousand new works, and more than nine millions of volumes. The works of the profoundest and the ripest intellects in the Old World and the New, in ancient and modern times, are now, by the ceaseless activity of the American press, placed before the people at prices so low, that all can hold communion with the mighty minds of the living and with the dead. The great living authors of England and of France are read hardly less in America than in their native lands. Before the Revolution, there were a few scholars of research and learning, of genius and taste; but they had contributed little to literature, science, or art. America has achieved a position in the republic of letters which gives assurance of a brilliant future; and she has given to the world some of the noblest names that grace the literature, science, and art of the age.

"These statistics of wealth, of production, of material advancement, of churches, schools, libraries, and journals, give us some idea of the vast resources and abounding means now possessed by the people of America for moral and intellectual culture and physical well-being.

"This rapid advancement of the republic in all the elements of power, this lofty position achieved within the brief space of one human life, this consummated result, which places America among the foremost powers of the globe, make the hearts of our countrymen, wherever they may be, on the ocean or on the land, throb with patriotic joy and pride; and they give this day to memory, exultation, and hope."

Referring to the subject ever uppermost in his mind, he said, -

"But to the thoughtful patriot who loves his country, who would make that country an example to the nations; to the lover of human freedom, who would extend its sway over the globe; to the Christian philanthropist, whose heart ever throbs for the welfare of the children of men, - this hallowed anniversary, so glorious in its memories of the past, its realities of the present, and its hopes of the future, is not one of unmingled joy. Within the limits of the republic, four millions of mankind are bending to-day beneath the nameless woes of perpetual servitude; and, while the self-evident truths of the great charter of rights are upon our lips, the humiliating consciousness flashes upon our souls, that fleeing bondmen are shrinking away in the glens and forests from the echoes of the glad voices of general rejoicing, watching for the going-down of the sun, so that their weary eyes may gaze upon the north star, whose steady light they anxiously hope will guide their aching feet to that land beyond the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence, where the shackle falls and the voice of the master is not heard.

"This 'odious and abominable trade,' this 'inhuman and accursed traffic,' which Daniel Webster summoned the country to 'put beyond the circle of human sympathies and human regards,' now flourishes in defiant mockery of the laws of the country and the public opinion of the Christian and civilized world."

He closed his eloquent address with these hopeful words: -

"Though deeds of injustice, inhumanity, lawlessness, and oppression, darken our horizon, casting their saddening influences over the festivities of this anniversary, the lesson of this day is the lesson of hope, not of despair. Upon America, our country, and, with all her faults, the land of our affections and pride, are centred the best hopes of mankind. To what portion of the globe, to what land under the whole heavens, can the friend of human progress, of equal and universal liberty, this day turn with more of hope and confidence than to this magnificent continental empire, this broad land of wondrous fertility, where Providence has garnered illimitable resources to be developed for human prosperity, power, and happiness; this democratic republic, with achieved free institutions based upon the rights of human nature, with millions of people trained in self-government, and in full possession of the citadel of consummated power, - the ballot-box where the loving heart, the enlightened conscience, the unclouded reason, of man, can utter their voices for humane and equal laws, and for their wise and impartial administration? 'Our country,' said that illustrious supporter of the rights of mankind, John Quincy Adams, 'began her existence by the proclamation of the universal emancipation of man from the thraldom of man.' In support of that glorious proclamation, our fathers were summoned to walk the path of duty; and they obeyed the call, though it was swept by British cannon, darkened by the storm of battle, and sprinkled with the blood of falling comrades. We honor their sublime devotion; we applaud their heroic deeds. Their bright example of devotion to principle, and fidelity to duty, should incite us of this age in America to accept joyfully and bravely the responsibilities of our position, and, like them, be ever ready

'To take
Occasion by the hand, and make
The bounds of freedom wider yet.'"

To the raid of John Brown into Virginia in October (1859), causing wild excitement through the South, and terminating in the death of the invader, Mr. Wilson was from principle opposed. He had often made the declaration, that even Congress had no right to interfere with slavery in the slave States; and in this position he firmly stood. An attempt was made in the Senate, Dec. 6, to prove that he was in sympathy with those who would resort to force for the liberation of the slave, by showing that he was present at a meeting of the citizens of Natick on the 29th of November, in which was passed, without opposition on his part, the resolution, "That it is the right and duty of the slaves to resist their masters." To this imputation he replied -

"During the canvass in New York, I spent two weeks there, and addressed tens of thousands of people; and my speeches were reported in full two or three times. In those speeches I expressed my views in regard to this raid of John Brown at Harper's Ferry fully and explicitly. I returned to my home on the day preceding the election in my State; and I addressed a very large meeting of the citizens of my town for two hours on general political topics, and fully on this matter in regard to the Harper's Ferry affair. . . . In the town where I live we have more than a thousand voters. We have some ten or twenty men who are radical abolitionists. Some of them were present. They did not interrupt me nor the meeting. When the meeting had ended, they said to their neighbors and friends, and some of them came to me and said, that they disagreed with me entirely, and would have somebody there to put the other side of the question. A short time afterwards, Mr. Henry C. Wright, a Garrison abolitionist, who is a professed disunionist, a no-governnient man, a non-resistant, came to speak in my town. The population of the place went to hear him, and crowded the hall. Most of the active Democrats in the town were present. The postmaster was present, and sat close by me. The resolutions were offered by Mr. Wright; and he made a non-resistant speech in favor of resistance. (Laughter.) He went on to explain how the thing could be done. He said he would not shed a drop of human blood to free every slave in the, country.

"After he closed his speech, the question was put, and perhaps fifteen or twenty persons in that meeting of seven or eight hundred voted for the resolution. All the rest, feeling that Mr. Wright's friends had paid for the hall, and got up the meeting for him and for themselves, took no part for or against him. They did not interrupt the meeting; believing as they did, and as we do in our part of the country, in the absolute right of free discussion of all questions. When the meeting adjourned, the general expression was that the resolution was a very foolish one, and for which Mr. Wright and his friends were alone responsible. Nine-tenths of that meeting took no part in it. They did not wish to interrupt the meeting, or interfere with it in any way whatever, or be responsible for it. There were present gentlemen as sound on the slavery question as the senator from Mississippi could desire. The postmaster of that town is as sound on the slavery question as the senator from Mississippi, and often manifests his zeal in defence of the policy of the slave power; but he did not say a word, nor did those who act with him, because nobody wished to interfere with those who had invited the speaker there, and who agreed with him in his general opinions. Senators should remember that the right to hold meetings, and to utter opinions upon all matters of public concern, is an acknowledged right in my section of the country. They should remember, also, that the people in that section often attend meetings where subjects are discussed in a way they do not sanction; but they do not think it becomes gentlemen to interrupt such meetings, or interfere with those who differ from them. Often do I attend such meetings, and listen to what is said, without feeling myself in any way responsible for what is said or done: so do the people of my State. I wish the people of other sections of the country would thus cherish the sacred right of free discussion."

So, in reply to the remarks of Mr. Iverson, he said in the Senate, Dec. 8,

"The sentiment in my State approaches unanimity in condemnation of the raid of John Brown. If there be any man in Massachusetts, especially any Republican in Massachusetts, who upholds or justifies that act, he has my unqualified opposition and condemnation. But, sir, I wish to deal frankly with senators on the other side, and to say that the sentiment of my State approaches unanimity in sympathy for the fate of the leader of that invasion. It springs mainly and chiefly from what happened after that event, during his imprisonment, his trial, and his execution. His words, his letters, his bearing, every thing about him, extorted admiration from friends and foes."

Such had been Senator Wilson's steady, able, and consistent defence of the rights of the Northern people and of those in bondage, that oil twelfth day of June, 1860. both branches of the General Court of Massachusetts passed a resolution honorable alike to the sentiment of the representatives of the people and to him: -

"Resolved, That the thanks of this legislature, acting a the agents of the people, be and are hereby tendered to the Hon. HENRY WILSON for his able, fearless, and always prompt defence of the great principles of human freedom while acting as a senator and a citizen of the Old Bay State."

"Approved June 16, 1860:


On his amendment to the Naval Appropriation Bill for the purchase of three steam-vessels for the suppression of the African slave-trade, Mr. Wilson, true to his noble record, made on the 18th of June, 1860, a strong speech, in which he presents a mass of startling facts in respect to the re-opening of this iniquitous business. "The senator from Virginia (Mr. Mason) asks how it is," says he, "that the slave-trade has been revived in the cities of the North. He does not understand why this traffic in men should be re-renewed at this time by persons residing in this country. I think, sir, it is all very plain. We have had in this country during the past six years an immense pressure for the extension of slavery into the Territories, and for the supremacy of slavery in the councils of the government. To extend slavery, to secure its controlling influence over the government, ancient restrictions have been abrogated, and lawless violence and frauds have been resorted to by unscrupulous men ready to sacrifice every right that stood in the way of their schemes of expansion and dominion. The senator from Virginia himself proclaimed on this floor that the slaveholding States had the right to the natural expansion of slavery on this continent as an element of political power. Does the senator suppose that these efforts- to expand human slavery over this continent for the avowed purpose of strengthening the power of slave-masters over the National Government have no influence over men ever ready to do any work of inhumanity or crime to fill their coffers with gold?

"Sir, these efforts to extend human slavery in America, these attempts to increase the power of slavery in the councils of the nation, these discussion sin these halls and in the public journals, these deeds of fraud and violence, have had their demoralizing effects upon the country. When the senator from Virginia finds that men engaged in this inhuman traffic cannot be convicted, that juries fail, that judges pervert the laws, that public journals and public men demand the abrogation of treaty stipulations and the modification or repeal of all laws branding the slave-trade as piracy, why should he be surprised that in Northern commercial cities, in the great city of New York, there should be found men to invest capital to fit out ships, to send vessels to the coast of Africa, to engage in a traffic, which, if successful, fills their purses with coveted gold? Why Should not men be found in that great commercial city as ready to violate law, the rights of human nature, and feelings of' humanity, to win gold, as to aid in the work of slavery expansion and dominion in America for the poor boon of official patronage? Surely the experienced senator from Virginia cannot be surprised at the readiness of men to do mean and wicked deeds for slavers'. The senator has often seen how ready men are, even in these chambers, to do whatever slavery requires of them. The senator, the other day, reported in favor of returning to my colleague a petition presented by him of colored citizens of Massachusetts. In this the senator had the ready support of the senator from Indiana (Mr. Fitch). When the honorable senator from Virginia finds the senator from Indiana not only ready to engage in an act like that, - an act which violates the constitutional rights of men and the rights of a senator of a sovereign State, - but willing to make an insulting motion, accompanied by impertinent remarks toward the senator who, in the discharge of public duty, presented the petition, why should he not suppose that other men can be found willing to do any work in the interests of slavery? When the senator from Virginia sees the pliancy and alacrity of the senator from Indiana in this work of suppressing the petitions of the colored citizens of a sovereign Commonwealth, why should he not suppose that men may be found in other Northern States ready to engage in the slave-trade?

"It cannot be matter of surprise to senators that men in our great commercial cities, especially New York, should engage with renewed zeal in the slave-trade. Men ever ready to clutch at every opportunity to fill their purses with gold, no matter how it is to be won, could not fail to be influenced to embark in the unlawful and inhuman slave-trade by the change which has been going on in the public mind in regard to this traffic in men. We cannot disguise the fact, that a great change of sentiment has been going on in this country with regard to the slave trade."

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