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The Life and Public Services of Henry Wilson
Chapter XIV.


ABRAHAM LINCOLN was nominated for the presidency by the Republicans in convention at Chicago in the month of May, 1860; and John C. Breckinridge in April following, at Charleston, S.C., by the proslavery Democrats. The other candidates were John Bell and Stephen A. Douglas. The main question between the two leading parties was freedom, or slavery, in the immense Territories of the Union; or, in other words, shall free, or servile, labor have the ascendency in this country? Long and carefully, both in and out of Congress, had Mr. Wilson studied this question under every form and bearing; long had he contemplated the tremendous interests involved in the issue of the question; and he therefore threw himself into the contest with unfaltering energy, addressing vast and enthusiastic audiences in many States with. eloquent and effective words of warning, counsel, and encouragement. In an address at Myrick's Junction, Mass., on the 18th of September, in reference to the paramount question of the parties, he said, -

"Issues growing out of the existence of human slavery in America are now the paramount issues before the nation. Shall slavery continue to expand? shall it continue to guide the counsels of the republic? or shall its expansion be arrested, its power broken, and it forced to retire under the cover of the local laws under which it exists? These issues loom up before the nation, dwarfing all other issues, and subordinating all other questions. Public men and political organizations are forced to accept the transcendent issues growing out of the existence of slavery in America.

"The American Democracy, which for twenty-five years has borne the banners of slavery, won its victories, and shared in its crimes against humanity, though broken into fragments, struggles on, faithful still to the interests of slavery. Breckinridge and Lane accept the creed of slavery expansion, slavery protection, and slavery domination; Douglas 'don't care whether slavery is voted up or voted down;' and Johnson, commended by the Massachusetts Democracy at Springfield for his 'honest and fearless promulgation of Democratic truth,' proclaims that it  is best that capital should own labor.' The American Democracy, demoralized by slavery, has ceased to speak of the rights of man: it now speaks only of the rights of property in man. The Republican party, brought into existence by the aggressions of slavery upon freedom, cherishing the faith of the founders of the republic, and believing with their chosen leader, Abraham Lincoln, that 'he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave,' pledges itself, all it is, all it hopes to be, to arrest the extension of slavery, banish it from the Territories, dethrone its power in the National Government, and force it back under the cover of State sovereignty."

After giving the proslavery record of Mr. Bell, he closed by these strong words:-

"Men of old Puritan and Revolutionary Massachusetts, upon whose pathway the star of duty casts its radiant and steady light, - you who believe with Benjamin Franklin, that 'slavery is an atrocious debasement of human nature;' with John Adams, that 'consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust;' with John Quincy Adams, that 'slavery taints the very sources of moral principle;' with Daniel. Webster, that 'slavery is a continual and permanent violation of human rights,' 'opposed to the whole spirit of the gospel and to the teachings of Jesus Christ,'-reject, I pray you, reject with loathing, the false and guilty doctrine, that, in this crisis of the republic, 'it is the part of patriotism and duty to recognize no political principle;' turn from a candidate whose record is blurred, blotted, and stained with words and deeds for human slavery; spurn with scorn all affiliation with men who in the South are vying with the slave-code Democracy in fealty to the slave propagandists, - who in the North are scoffing and jeering at the sacred cause of liberty, organizing Democratic-aid societies, peddling and dickering with Democratic factions, to defeat men whose only offence is their unswerving fidelity to the cause of human nature now in peril in America, and 'consecrating,' in the words of Whittier,

'their baseness to the cause
Of Constitution, Union, and the Laws.'

"Rally, men of Massachusetts, to the standard of a party that proclaims its principles and its policy, -a party that would engrave in letters of living light upon the arches of the skies, so that time nations might read it, its undying hostility to the domination and extension of slavery in America. Rally to the support of a candidate for the chief magistracy of the republic who penned these noble words:

"This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.'

On the question, "How ought working-men to vote? Mr. Wilson said, contrasting free with servile labor, in a speech of signal force delivered at East Boston on the 24th of October, -

"Self-interest, self-respect, the love he bears his wife, and the hopes centred in those who inherit his blood and bear his name, all urge, press, command, the poor man, the mechanic, the laboring-man, to rush to the ballot-box on the 6th of November, and vote to take the government of his country from the unhallowed grasp of men, who, by word and deed, have proved themselves the mortal enemies of free labor and free-laboring men, and to place that government in the hands of statesmen who will maintain time rights, interests, and dignity of free labor.

"Glancing over this assemblage of the freemen of East Boston, I see before me the manly forms of toiling men, who, through weary days and sleepless nights of personal toil, have won for themselves positions of independence, or who now, by the scanty wages of manual labor, support themselves and the dear and loved ones of their household. And I say to you, men of Massachusetts, slavery is the unappeasable enemy of the free laboring-men of America, of the North and of the South. Ay, I repeat, slavery is the unappeasable enemy of the free laboring-men of America, of the North and of the South. The party that upholds slavery in America, that would extend its boundaries, increase its influence and its power, is the mortal enemy of the free white laboring-men of the United States. I declare to you, men of Massachusetts, arid, if I could be. heard, I would proclaim it in the ear of every laboring-man in America, the slavery of the black man has degraded labor and the white laboring-man of the South, and dishonored the white laboring-man of the North. Some writer (I think it was Carlyle) has said that the Indian away on the shores of Lake Winnipeg cannot strike his dusky mate but the world feels the blow. Put the brand of degradation upon the brow of one workingman, and the toiling millions of the globe share in that degradation. Slavery makes labor dishonorable, puts the brand of degradation upon the brow of manual labor, free as well as slave, blights the homes of the free laboring white men of the South, and casts its baleful shadows over the homes, the fields, and the workshops of the laboring-men of the North.

"In 1620 - two hundred and forty years ago - freedom and slavery came to the shores of America. Freedom took the rugged soil and still more rugged clime of the North: slavery took the genial clime and sunny lands of the South. Freedom, starting from Plymouth, has advanced with steady step westward, crossed the Rocky Mountains to the shores of the Pacific seas, founding commonwealths which recognize the eternal laws of mans being: slavery, starting from Jamestown, has advanced westward and southward into the depths of the continent, founding States of privilege and caste. The results of these two antagonistic systems are plain to the comprehension of all men.

"Here, in these free commonwealths, are twenty millions of freemen, with free speech, free press, free schools, free churches, and free institutions. Here all questions that concern humanity are examined and discussed by the unfettered press and the free thoughts and words of men. Here 'labor,' in the words of Daniel Webster, 'looks up and is proud in the midst of its toil.' here the laboring-man, who daily goes forth with a brave heart to toil for his loved ones, wins not only bread by the sweat of his face, but the applauding voice of men who honor labor, who believe the laborer is worthy of his hire. Here the toil of the working-man is lightened by ennobling motives, by aspirations which expand the mind and elevate the soul. The toil which wearies his arm is to make glad the home of wife and children; to smooth adown the declivity of life the steps of parents to whom he owes his being; to lift the burdens of life from brother, sister, or friend; or to win for him competence, independence, positions of power, the lofty and glittering prizes of ambition. Here the laboring-men in all the fields of manly toil are working out a condition of society for the toiling masses more elevated than can be found in any other portion of the globe. Here agriculture, commerce, manufactures, the mechanic arts, churches, schools, libraries, the institutions of refining civilization, flourish in vigor and strength. Such are the magnificent results of freedom in the North.

The results of slavery in the South glare upon us from every rood of the land stained by its existence. The fruits of slavery are bitter to the taste, and sickening to the soul of man. There are auction-blocks, where man made in the image of God is sold like the beasts that perish there are chains and fetters for human limbs, whips to scourge and torture the body, and laws to debasr and brutalize the mind and soul of man. There labor is dishonored, laborers degraded, despised. 'To work,' said William Ellery Channing, 'in sight of the whip, under menace of blows, is to be exposed to perpetual insult and degrading influences. Every motion of the limbs which such a menace urges is a wound to the soul.' To work beside the bondmen urged on to toil by the menace of blows degrades the poor white laborer to the abject condition of the slave. To continually eat the bread of enforced and unrequited toil, to look upon labor extorted by the menace of the lash, upon the laborer thus degraded, excites in the bosom of the slave-master that scorn for manual labor, and that contempt for laboring-men, now so manifest in the slave States of republican America.

The deterioration, exhaustion, and desolation of the soil of the South, under the culture of unskilled, untutored, unrewarded slave-labor, stands confessed by even the champions of that cleaving curse. Thousands of square miles, millions of' acres of the best soil of the Western world, have been blighted, blasted, desolated, by the polluting footsteps of the bondman. The champions of slavery, men who would eternize it, extend its boundaries and its dominion over the National Government, have borne testimony to the desolating effects of the Southern system of agriculture, which means the Southern slave-labor system, upon the most prolific soil of the continent.

"Breckinridge," he said, "bears aloft the banner of slavery expansion, slavery protection, and slavery domination; and around that black flag rallies the Democratic masses of the South, and the men of the North who believe with Mr. Buchanan that 'the master has the right to take his slaves into the Territories as property, and have it protected there under the Federal Constitution;' that 'neither Congress nor the Territorial legislature, nor any human power, has any authority to annul or impair that vested right.' Benjamin F. Hallett tells the assembled Breckinridge Democracy of Massachusetts that there can never be a successful Democratic party in the free States: so he goes with the slave-code Democracy of the South. There can never be a successful Democratic party in the North! What an admission is this! There can never be a successful Democratic party in the land of free speech, free press, free schools, free labor, and free educated workingmen trained in self-government! Successful Democracy buds and blooms only in the land of bondage, where the right to think, to discuss, to act, is not recognized; where labor is dishonored, and laboring-men despised! Surely the working-men of the North can not, will not, sustain by their suffrages that false, foul, profane Democracy which draws its life, its soul, from slavery.

"Douglas 'don't care whether slavery is voted down or voted up.' To him it is a matter of supreme indifference whether a million and a half of the square miles of America shall be gladdened by the footsteps and beautified by the hands of freemen, who acknowledge no man master; or whether they shall be seared, blasted, desolated, by

'The old and chartered lie,
The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes.
Insult humanity.'

"The laboring-men of the North, ay, and of the South too, should never forget nor forgive that heartless declaration. The peerless Washington cared whether slavery was voted down or voted up in the Territories; for he 'trusted we should have a confederacy of free States,' and he deemed the ordinance of 1787 'a wise measure.' The working-man who votes the Douglas and Johnson ticket votes for a president who 'don't care whether slavery is voted down or voted up,' and for a vice-president who 'believes capital should own labor.' Can a working-man, who eats his bread in the sweat of his face, give such a vote? Such a vote would be a betrayal of the cause of the toiling masses of America, an. act of self-humiliation which should bring the blush of conscious shame to the cheek.

"The Republican party, brought into being by the necessities of the country and the needs of the age, rejects the wicked dogma, that slaves, the creatures of local law, are recognized by the Constitution as property, that the Constitution of republican America carries slavery wherever it goes, and that the national flag protects slavery wherever it waves. The Republican party 'cares whether slavery is voted down or voted up' in the Territories, rejects with horror the idea that 'capital should own labor,' disowns the craven declaration that 'it is the part of patriotism and of duty to recognize no principle,' And bravely and hopefully accepts the duties now imposed upon the people of the United States by the providence of Almighty God. The Republican party proclaims its living faith in the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence, now scoffed at and jeered at by the leaders of the slave Democracy as rhetorical flourishes,' 'glittering generalities,' 'self-evident lies,' 'farragoes of nonsense,' pronounced by Breckenridge 'abstractions,' which, if carried into practice, would 'lead our country rapidly to destruction,' and declared by Douglas to mean only that 'British subjects on this continent were equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain.'

The Republican party believes with its chosen leader, Abraham Lincoln, that 'these expressions' of apostate Democratic politicians, 'differing in form, are identical in object and effect, - the supplanting of the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste, and legitimacy;' that 'they would delight a convocation of crowned heads plotting against the people;' that 'they are the vanguard, the sappers and miners, of returning despotism.' The Republican party believes too, with its noble candidate, that the 'abstract truth' of the Declaration is 'applicable to all men and all times;' that 'to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression. Accepting as its living faith the creed of the equality of mankind, the Republican party recognizes the poor, the humble, the Sons of toil, whose hands are hardened by honest labor, whose limbs are chilled by the blasts of winter, whose cheeks are scorched by the suns of summer, as the equals, before the law, of the most favored of the sons of men.

Believing with the republican fathers of the North and of the South, with Washington and Franklin, Adams and Jefferson, Henry and Jay, Morris and Mason, Madison and Hamilton, King and Munroe, Pinckney and Martin, and their illustrious associates, that slavory is 'a sin of crimson dye,' 'an atrocious debasement of human nature,' 'a dreadful calamity,' which 'lessens the sense of the equal rights of mankind, and habituates us to tyranny and oppression;' believing with Henry Clay, that 'slavery is a wrong, a grievous wrong no contingency can make right,' - the Republican party is opposed to slavery everywhere. Recognizing the rights of the States, it does not claim power to abolish slavery in the States by Congressional legislation but it claims the power to exclude slavery from the Territories ; and, by the blessing of God, it will use every legal power and make every honorable effort to expel slavery from every rood of the territory of the republic.

Working-men of Massachusetts, you who eat your bread in the sweat of the face, would you make the self- evident truths of the charter of independence again the active faith of America; would you weaken the influences of slavery and the power of the slave-masters over the National Government; would you expel slavery and its degrading influences from the Territories; would you bring Kansas as a free commonwealth into the Union; would you suppress the reviving African slave-trade, now dishonoring the nation; would you erase from the statutes of New Mexico the inhuman slave-code, and the more infamous code authorizing employers to degrade white laboring-men with blows, while it denies all means of protection by closing the courts against their appeals for redress; would you set apart the public domain for homesteads for the landless would you construct a railroad across the central regions of the continent to the Pacific; would you adjust the revenue-laws so as to incidentally favor American labor; would you win back our lost influence with the nations south of us on this continent, and thus increase and develop our manufacturing and commercial interests; would you reform existing abuses, strengthen the ties of interest and affection which bind these sister States together, and put the republic in the van of advancing nations, - then commit, fully and unreservedly commit, yourselves to the cause of republicanism, to the support of the Republican party and its tried and trusted candidates. Born in the ranks of the toiling masses, reared in the bosom of the people, trained in the hard school of manual labor, Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin are true to the rights, the interests, and the dignity of the working-men of the republic worthy to lead their advancing hosts to victory for the vindication of rights as old as creation, and as wide as humanity."

Mr. Schuyler Colfax and many others wrote to the author, thanking him for this speech ; and the general tenor of the letters may be seen from this: -

BIDDEFORD, ME., Nov. 19, 1869.

DEAR SIR, -YOU have made but very few political speeches during your life that I have not read. No one
appreciates more than I do the herculean labors that you and your noble colleague and associates have made in enlightening the national mind and heart upon the aggressions of time slave-power. What a glorious triumph you have achieved I What a revolution has been effected, and how peacefully! I have many times expressed to my family and friends time thought so eloquently enforced by our mutual friend, Henry Ward Beecher, in his recent sermon on the times (which I think is the greatest speech he has ever made), - that hereafter the 6th of November, 1860, will be ranked by the historian as an era of equal importance with the 22d of December, 1620, and the 4th of July, 1776.

I subscribe myself, with high respect and regard,

Your obedient servant,


On the triumph of the Republicans in Mr. Lincoln's election in November, the South, led on by Messrs. Mason, Hammond, Davis, Floyd, and other kindred spirits, who foresaw that freedom, so persistently resisted, was now coming into the ascendant, inconsiderately passed, State after State, the ordinance of seccession, and gradually withdrew its representatives from Congress.

Mr. Wilson clearly saw the magnitude of the proceeding and the tremendous stake at issue: he knew the strength of the North in numbers, wealth, and principle he knew the weakness of the South; and hence he had no fear for the ultimate result: but from the unity of sentiment, from the animus of the South, lie openly avowed to his associates that the struggle would be desperate and terrible.

With calm and manly earnestness lie performed his senatorial duties, ever protesting that his party had no design to interfere at all with the domestic institutions of the States, and that, if they fell, it would be in consequence of their impetuous action, and upon their own responsibility.

He had already fearlessly expressed his mind in a speech in the Senate on the 25th of January preceding, in which he refers to the following remark of Mr. Chingrnan of North Carolina "As from this Capitol so much has gone forth to inflame the public mind, if our countrymen are to be involved in a bloody struggle, I trust in God that the first-fruits of the collision may be reaped here." He said, -

This language, Mr. President, admits of but one interpretation. Gentlemen from the South who are in favor of a dissolution of the Union do not intend, in so doing, to secede from this Capitol, nor surrender it to those who may remain within the Union. Having declared, that, if lives are to be sacrificed, it will be poetically just that they should be sacrificed here on this floor; and that, as so much has gone forth from this Capitol to inflame the public mind, it is but propel' that the first-fruits of the struggle should be reaped here, the senator gives us, therefore, distinctly to understand that there may be a physical collision, 'a bloody struggle;' that the scene of this conflict is to be the legislative halls of this Capitol. To simply say, in reply to this threat, that Northern senators cannot thus be intimidated, is too tame and commonplace to meet the exigency. Therefore I take it upon myself to inform the senator from North Carolina that the people of the free States have sent their representatives here, not to fight, but to legislate; not to mingle in personal combats, but to deliberate for the good of the whole country; not to shed the blood of their fellow-members, but to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and uphold the Union and this they will endeavor to do here, in the legislative halls of the Capitol, at all events and at every hazard. In the performance of their duties they will not invade the rights of others, nor permit any infringement of their own. They will invite no collision; they will commence no attack: but they will discharge all their obligations to their constituents, and maintain the government and institutions of their country in the face of all conceivable consequences. Whoever thinks otherwise has not studied either the history of the people of the free States, or the character of the men dwelling in that section of the Union, or the philosophy of the exigency which the senator from North Carolina seems to invoke. The freemen of the North have not been accustomed to vaunt their courage in words: they have preferred to illustrate it by deeds. They are not fighting-men by profession, nor accustomed to street broils, nor contests on the 'field of honor' falsely so called, not are they habitual wearers of deadly weapons. Therefore it is, that when driven into bloody collisions, and especially on sudden emergencies, it is as true in that as it is sound in philosophy, that they are more desperate and determined, and more reckless of consequences to themselves and to their antagonists, than are those who are more accustomed to contemplate such collisions. The tightest band, when once broken, recoils with the wildest power. So much for the people of the free States. As to their representatives in this Capitol, I will say, that if, while in the discharge of their duties here, they are assaulted with deadly intent, I give the senator from North Carolina due notice here to-day, that those assaults will be repelled and retaliated by sons who will not dishonor fathers that fought at Bunker Hill and conquered at Saratoga, that trampled the soil of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane to a bloody mire, and vindicated sailors' rights and national honor on the high seas in the second war of independence. Reluctant to enter into such a contest, yet, once in, they will be quite as reluctant to leave it. Though they may not be the first to go into the struggle, they will be the last to abandon its dishonor. Though they will not provoke nor commence the conflict, they will do their best to conquer when the strife begins. So much their constituents will demand of them when the 'bloody struggle' the senator contemplates is forced upon them; and they will not be disappointed when the exigency comes. I say no more: I wait the issue, and bide my time."

Mr. Wilson for a long period had been serving on the Military Committee of the Senate, of which Mr. Jefferson Davis was chairman; and had thus become familiar with his schemes for strengthening the military condition of the South: lie had not, however, anticipated that secession from the Union was so close at hand. Though opposed to each other in principle, the personal relations between himself and Mr. Davis were at that time pleasant; and once at least, when Mr. Wilson closed a strong speech in the Senate, the Mississippi senator came across the floor, and thanked him cordially for the manly expression of his views. It was while on Military Committee that Mr. Wilson, in opposition to the chairman, carried the "Signal-service Bill" through Congress, and thus conferred a lasting benefit upon the country. It is not probable that Mr. Davis himself, until the election in November, imagined the secession of the slave States very near. South Carolina had always led the van in opposition to the North and now, in the culmination of the long argument, it was for her to cast the fatal die. Mr. Wilson, with his Northern friends, deplored her folly; but he foresaw that her first shot would break the chain of the slave, and that, in spite of the tongues of soothsayers, the Union and the Constitution still would stand.

He knew, perhaps as well as any man, the comparative strength of the contending parties. He saw in Mr. Lincoln's overwhelming vote in the electoral college the sentiment of the nation. He well understood that the struggle was, and had been, whether free, or servile, labor should rule the country; and that his party, which had arisen from a small band branded by the name of Abolitionists in 1840 to place by such a vast majority a president in the chair, in 1860, had grown too slowly, fought too steadily on the line of sacred principle, to be intimidated by an ordinance, or even by the cannon of seceders from the Union. He pointed out the impending danger, yet hoped, that, by the policy of the incoming president, some reconciliation might be made without recourse to arms.

But the vantage-ground now reached must be main- tamed. An indignant people had at the polls declared that slavery must not be extended. By that declaration ho must stand. He would not interfere with the " peculiar institution " in the States; he would exhibit courtesy, forbearance, and fraternity to the South: but the vast Territories of the Union must not be surrendered to the domination of the slaveholding power. In this position, he, with his associates, stood intrenched: so that when Mr. Crittenden's compromise, which made concessions to the South, came up in the Senate, he opposed it in a manly speech delivered on the 21st of February, 1861. With the clearest apprehension of the situation, with the history of the whole struggle fresh in memory, with the ominous prospect of disunion rising up before him, and with a spirit fired by the love of human freedom, he meets the question in a strain of fervid eloquence, vindicates the friends of liberty, and unfolds the iniquity of the offered compromise.

After an eloquent introduction, he thus describes the distracted state of the nation : -

"One year ago these chambers rang with passionate and vehement menaces of disunion. Statesmen to whom were committed the destinies of United America, with the oath of fidelity to the Constitution fresh upon their lips, insolently, scornfully, defiantly threatened to shiver the noblest edifice, the fairest fabric, of free government ever erected by the toil or blessed by the hopes and prayers of humanity, if the people, the people of the free North, dared through the ballot-box assume the control of the affairs of the republic. These disloyal avowals were flashed over the wires scattered broadcast over the land. Timid conservatives shrank appalled before these angry mutterings of meditated treason, and, with 'bated breath and whispering humbleness,' counselled submission. But these treasonable menaces unnerved not the souls of the ever loyal freemen of the North : they fired the hearts and rekindled the patriotism of the unselfish masses, - of the farmers who till their own fee-simple acres, unpolluted by the foot of the bondman; of the mechanics whose hands are skilled by art; of the laborers who recognize no master but Almighty God. Impelled by the fervid and unextinguishable impulse of freedom, by the purest and most unselfish patriotism, the unseduced, unpurchased, unawed freemen of the North calmly thronged to the ballot-box, and struck from faithless, corrupt, and disloyal hands the reins of power.

"The treasonable words of last year have now hardened into deeds. Madness and folly rule the hour. Treason holds it carnival here in the national Capitol. Men high in the national councils plot conspiracies against the government they are sworn to defend, and clasp the hands of the assassins of the Union. Men. to whom have been intrusted official duties and responsibilities talk of the dismemberment of the republic, not in the sad accents of patriotism, but with the gleeful chuckle of an irrepressible joy. States vauntingly proclaim their withdrawal from the Union made by the fathers, recall their representatives in these chambers, capture the fortresses of the nation, insult, dishonor, and fire upon the flag of the republic, seize the public property, and even erase from their festive days the hallowed anniversary of national independence, with all its glorious associations and thrilling memories. Never, no, never, since the morn of creation, has the historic pen recorded a conspiracy against the rights of man democratic institutions so utterly causeless, so wicked in its purpose, so regardless of the judgment of the civilized world and the approval of Almighty God."

He makes this reference to Mr. Benton's views:-

"But, sir, this wicked plot for the dismemberment of the Confederacy, which has now assumed such fearful proportions, was known to some of our elder statesmen. Thomas H. Benton ever raised his warning voice against the conspirators. I can never forget the terrible energy of his denunciations of the policy and acts of the nullifiers and secessionists. During the great Lecornpton struggle in the winter of 1858, his house was the place of resort of several members of Congress, who sought his counsels, and delighted to listen to his opinions. In the last conversation I had with him, but a few days before he was prostrated by mortal disease, he declared that 'the disunionists had prostituted the Democratic party;' that 'they had complete control of the administration;' that 'these conspirators would have broken up the Union if Col. Fremont had been elected;' that 'the reason he opposed Fremont's election was that he knew these men intended to destroy the government, and he did not wish it to go to pieces in the hands of a member of his family.'

Repelling the reiterated charge that "Massachusetts hates the South," he said, -

"In the halls of Congress, in the public journals, before the people, everywhere, the Christian people of the North are accused of hatred towards their countrymen of the South; and these oft-repeated accusations have penetrated the ears and fired the hearts of the men of the South to madness. The people of Massachusetts, of New England, of the North, hate not their countrymen of the South. I know Massachusetts; I know something of the sentiments and feelings of her people. During the past fifteen years I have traversed every portion of the State, from the sands of the capes to the hills of Berkshire; spoken in nearly every town; sat at the tables and slept beneath the roofs of. her people. Around those tables and beneath those roofs I have heard prayers to Almighty God for blessings on slave and on master. From thousands of Christian homes in Massachusetts, New England, the North, tens of thousands of men and women daily implore God's blessing upon the whole country, upon the poor slave and his proud master. Around the firesides of the liberty-loving, God-fearing families of Massachusetts, I have often heard the men, stigmatized as 'malignant, unrelenting enemies of the people of the South,' on their bonded knees, with open Bible, implore the protection and blessing of Almighty God upon both master and slave, upon the people of the whole country. Gentlemen of the South visiting Massachusetts on pleasure or business are ever treated by all her people with considerate kindness and fraternal regard. The public men of the South are ever welcomed to Massachusetts, treated with courtesy by all, and sometimes with 'complimentary flunkeyismn' by the few. I assert positively, without hesitation or qualification, that the people of Massachusetts, ay, of New England, manifest more kindness and courtesy towards their felow-countrymen of the South sojourning among them than they do towards their fellow-countrymen of the central States and of the West. Yancey, Henry, Hilliard, and other distinguished sons of the South, were, during the late canvass, listened to in New England with attention and the utmost courtesy; and that, too, when quiet citizens of Massachusetts were, in portions of the South, subjected to the greatest indignities...

"Not one, no, not one, in a thousand of the men who voted for Abraham Lincoln, cherishes in his heart a feeling of hatred towards the South, or the wish to put the brand of inequality or degradation upon the brow of his countrymen of that section of the Union. They would as generously contribute of their treasure, they would as freely pour out their blood, for the defence of the South, as they would for the protection of their own Northern homes. Believers in that Christianity which unites all men as brethren, which makes man unutterably clear to his fellowman, which impels its disciples to raise the fallen, and to labor for the elevation of the poor and the lowly of the children of men, oppose the wrong, yet hate not the wrongdoer."

He thus defends his constituents from the imputation of fanaticism: -

"The distinguishing opinion of Massachusetts concerning slavery in America is often flippantly branded in these halls as wild, passionate, unreasoning fanaticism. Senators of the South, tell me, I pray you tell me, if it be fanaticism for Massachusetts to see in this age what your peerless Washington saw in his age, - 'the direful effects of slavery.' Is it fanaticism for Massachusetts to believe as your Henry believed, that 'slavery is as repugnant to humanity as it is inconsistent with the Bible and destructive to liberty'? Is it fanaticism for her to believe as your Madison believed, that 'slavery is a dreadful calamity'? Is it fanaticism for her to believe with your Monroe, that 'slavery has preyed upon the vitals of the Union, and has been prejudicial to all the States in which it has existed'? Is it fanaticism for her to believe with your Martin, that 'slavery lessens the sense of the equal rights ol mankind, and habituates us to tyranny and oppression'? Is it fanaticism for her to believe with your Pinckney, that it will one day destroy the reverence for liberty which the vital principle of a republic'? Is it fanaticism for her to believe with. your Henry Clay, that 'slavery is a wrong, a grievous wrong; no contingency can make it right'? Surely senators who are wont to accuse Massachusetts of being drunk with fanaticism should not forget that the noblest men the South has given to the service of the republic in peace and in war were her teachers.

"Massachusetts in her heart of hearts loves liberty, loathes slavery. I glory in her sentiments; for the heart of our common humanity is throbbing in sympathy with her opinions. But she is not unmindful of her constitutional duties, to her obligations to the Union, and to her sister States. Up to the verge of constitutional power she will go in maintenance of her cherished convictions; but she has not shrunk, and she does not mean to shrink, from the performance of her obligations as a member of this confederation of constellated States. She has never sought, she does not seek, to encroach by her own acts, or by the action of the Federal Government, upon the constitutional rights of her sister States. Jealous of her own rights, she will respect the rights of others. Claiming the power to control her own domestic policy, she freely accords that power to her sister States. Conceding the rights of others, she demands her own. Loyal to the Union, she demands loyalty in others. here and now, I demand of her accusers that they file their bill of specifications, and produce the proofs of their allegations, or forever hold their peace."

Thus grandly he speaks of the spirit of the State he represents: -

"In other days, when Adams, Webster, Davis, Everett, Cushing, Choate, Winthrop, Mann, Rantoul, and their associates, graced these chambers, Massachusetts was then, as she is now, the object of animadversion and assault. I have sometimes thought, Mr. President, that these continual assaults upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were prompted, not by her faults, but by her virtues rather; not by the sense of justice, but by the spirit of envy and jealousy and uncharitableness. Unawed, however, by censure or menace, she continues to move right on, upward and onward, to the accomplishment of her high destinies. She is but a speck, a mere patch, on the surface of America, hardly more than one four-hundredth part of the territory of the republic, with a rugged soil, and still more rugged clime. But on that little spot of the globe is a Commonwealth where common consent is recognized as the only just basis of fundamental law, and personal freedom is secured in its completest individuality. In that Commonwealth are a million and a quarter of freemen, with skilled hand and cultivated brain; with nine hundred millions of taxable wealth, and an annual productive industry of three hundred and fifty millions; with mechanic arts and manufactures on every streamlet, and commerce on the waves of all the seas; with institutions of moral and mental culture open to all, and art, science, and literature illustrated by glorious names; with benevolent institutions for the sons and daughters of misfortune and poverty, and charities for humanity the wide world over. The heart, the soul, the reason of Massachusetts send up perpetual aspirations for the unity, indivisibility, and eternity of the North-American republic: but if it shall be rent, torn, dissevered, she will not lose faith in God and humanity; she will not go down with the falling fortunes of her country without making a struggle to preserve and perpetuate free institutions. So long as the ocean shall roll at her feet, so long as God shall send her health-giving breezes and sunshine and rain, she will endeavor to illustrate, in the future as in the past, the daily beauty of freedom secured and protected by law."

On the money question he truly says, -

"But the senator from Texas tells us that money is the sinew of war; that we of the North have no money; that they gather gold in hundreds of millions from the stalk of the cotton-plant. They send the negro, he says, to the field: he gathers cotton from the stalk, brings it to the gin-house, puts it through the necessary process, and rolls out a bale of five ten-dollar gold-pieces. But the senator did not tell us that it might have cost six ten-dollar gold-pieces to get this bale of five ten-dollar gold-pieces. The senator seems to belong to that class of political economists that never count the cost of maintaining 'King Cotton.' I would remind the senator that we of the North take this bale of cotton the negro picks, pay the five ten-dollar gold-pieces, stamp upon it our skill, art, civilization, send it back, and they of the South promise to give five bales of the next crop for it; but I regret to say, sir, we are often forced to take fewer than are promised. I would remind the boastful senator that the people of the cotton confederacy are in debt to the amount of millions; that they are not paying fifty cents on the dollar of their indebtedness; that the proceeds of the last cotton-crop will not extinguish that indebtedness. I would remind the senator, who tells us we of the North have no money, that they pick it by millions from the stalk of the cotton-plant, that the working-men of Massachusetts, whom gentlemen of the South predicted would be in a state of starvation and insurrection ere this, have on deposit, in the savings-banks alone, forty-five millions of dollars, - millions more than are deposited in all the banks of the seven seceding States by merchants, bankers, planters, and all classes of their people."

Of the compromise he remarks,-

"The senator proposes to amend the Constitution so as to provide that 'in all the territory now held or hereafter acquired, situate north of latitude thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, slavery or involuntary servitude is prohibited; and, in all territory now held or hereafter acquired south of that line of latitude, slavery shall be recognized as existing, and shall be protected by the territorial legislature during its territorial existence.' This, sir, is called a compromise of the slavery question in the Territories of the United States. A Compromise! - a compromise of the slavery question in the Territories! It is, sir, a cheat, a delusion, a snare. It is an unqualified concession, a complete surrender of all practical issues concerning slavery in the Territories, to the demands of slave propagandism."

He closes this masterly effort in these comprehensive words: -

"But the senator from Kentucky asks us of the North, by irrepealable constitutional amendments, to recognize and protect slavery in the Territories now existing or here-after acquired south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes; to deny power to the Federal Government to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, in the forts, arsenals, navy- yards, and places under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; to deny to the National Government all power to hinder the transit of slaves through one State to another, to take from persons of the African race the elective franchise; and to purchase territory in South America or Africa, and to send them, at the expense of the treasury of the United States, such free negroes as the States may desire removed from their limits. And what does the senator propose to concede to us of the North? The prohibition of slavery in Territories north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, where no one asks for its inhibition; where it has been made impossible by the victory of freedom in Kansas and the equalization of the fees of the slave commissioners. And this - this plan of concession - is called a compromise, - the Crittenden Compromise, - to be supported by the representatives of millions of Northern freemen, on pain of having their fidelity to the Union questioned by the senator from Illinois, and his confederates in and out of this chamber.

"Such, Mr. President, are the propositions of the senator from Kentucky, when we of the North are asked to put into the Constitution of the United States beyond the power of the American people ever to change or repeal. The unclouded reason, the enlightened conscience, the love of country and of our race, - all, forbid that Northern freemen should commit these crimes against mankind, our country, and the cause of popular freedom and republican institutions. We can not, no, sir, we dare not, do so. We fear-should we consummate these wrongs to our country, to our race-the perpetual reproaches of insulted reason and violated conscience, the irreversille judgment of earth and of heaven. We fear that our names will be enrolled, not with the benefactors of mankind, but with those who have betrayed the cause of time people. We fear-should we assent to this eternization of slavery in the Constitution our fathers framed to secure the blessings of libertyŚ that we shall sink, 'after life's fitful fever,' into dishonored graves, amid the curses of a betrayed people; and that our names will be consigned to what Grattan, the great Irish orator, called 'oppression's natural scourge, - the moral indignation of history.'"

This speech drew forth expressions of admiration from all sections of the country, which appeared in the public journals, or in resolutions, or in private letters. Mr. Whittier the poet wrote as follows -

AMESBURY, 23d 2d mo., 1861.

MY DEAR WILSON, - I have this moment finished reading thy admirable and timely speech. It is as I wished it, - manly, frank, and dignified. Especially I was gratified by the portion of it directed to Crittenden's plan. The tribute to the colored citizens is a very noble and eloquent one, and ought to shame every Massachusetts man whose name is on the Crittenden petitions.

Very truly thy friend,


The gifted Mrs. L. M. Child wrote thus -

MEDFORD, March 10, 1861.

DEAR AND HONORED REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FREE OLD COMMONWEALTH, - I have just finished reading aloud to my husband your speech on Mr. Crittenden's proposed amendment to the Constitution; and I cannot refrain from writing to thank you for it with my whole heart. Eloquent, able, true, brave words, such as the times need. I had seen extracts from your speech which made my heart throb with a generous joy. I was almost afraid to read the entire speech, lest some word, meant for conciliation, but which would be compromise, should abate somewhat my exultation in the honest and true expression of Massachusetts fieling; but, as I proceeded, the reading was only interrupted by exclamations of" Well done, Wilson! ". "That is manly! " "That's a good hit! " &c. You have made many able speeches; and I have often felt grateful to you for true, manly utterance. In your speech, "Are working-men slaves?" I greatly admired the dignified frankness with which you announced yourself a working-man; for no feeling in my soul is stronger than respect for labor. The physical courage and moral bravery you manifested on the subject of duelling commanded my unqualified respect. You stood firmly in your position, took back no word you had uttered, but simply said, ' Duelling is a barbarism; my conscience and reason are opposed to it; the conscience and reason of my constituents are opposed to it; and no force of example shall degrade me to its level." That is what I have always wanted Northerners to say. If all Northern men would manifest the same moral courage, slaveholders would be compelled to respect freedom of speech, or resort to assassination. They could no longer murder their opponents, or threaten it, under the painted mask of "laws of honor."

But, much as I have admired several of your former speeches, you have never so completely gained my heart as in this last one. I have so often closed the reading of Republican speeches with the remark, "Ah! they think only of the interests of white men: they ignore the monstrous and perpetual wrongs that we are helping the South to inflict upon the colored race."

Yours with great respect and gratitude,


Hon. H. WILSON, U. S. Senator.

From Gerrit Smith the following letter was received: -

Hon. HENRY WILSON. PRINCETON, Feb. 26, 1861.

My dear Sir, - I have just finished reading your manly, bold, strong, and eloquent speech of the 21st instant. Heaven bless you for it! Let there be no compromise with men whilst they are in the attitude of rebels. When they shall have returned to their allegiance, then deal with them not only justly, but generously. If the people of the slave States-not merely the politicians -shall tell us that they wish to leave us, then let them go, if they will go peaceably and decently. But we can never consent to their going in a way that will disgrace us, demoralize and destroy our government. Nor can we consent to a small secession on any terms. We cannot let the Gulf States go unless most of the other slave States go with them. We cannot consent, for the gratification of a few States, to lose the mouth of the Mississippi, and to leave ourselves comparatively defenceless on the south.

Give my love to dear Sumner, and tell him that I hope to read a grand speech from him before the session closes. With great regard, your friend,


Mr. Amasa Walker wrote as follows: -

NORTH BROOKFIELD, March 11, 1861.

DEAR SIR, - I have received your speech on the Crittenden Compromise, and read it with great satisfaction.

You have met the true issue fully and ably, and will receive the approbation of all your constituents, and, I doubt not, of the Republican party generally.

Your friend and servant,


Hon. HENRY WILSON, U. S. Senator, Washington, D.C.

But perhaps, of all the testimonials of gratitude which the senator received for his great speech, none was more acceptable than the following from an association of that race whose wrongs lie had been so long struggling to remove:-

At a regular meeting of the Union Progressive Association, - a literary society composed of young colored men, - held at their rooms Feb. 27, the following vote of thanks was unanimously adopted: -

Whereas, The adoption by Congress of that monstrous proposition known as the Crittenden Compromise would extend, perpetuate, and give the sanction of law to that infernal system which keeps four millions of our brethren in bondage, and would deprive us young colored men of Massachusetts of prospective rights, the enjoyment of which we have looked forward to with the most ardent anticipations; and

Whereas, In this hour of our peril, when there are so few men occupying places of trust who have the moral courage to plead our cause and defend our rights when they are assailed, we should be recreants to our race and to ourselves did we not recognize the value and importance of words spoken in our behalf by our friends at this time therefore

Resolved, That the grateful thanks of this association are tendered to the honorable senator from Massachusetts, Henry Wilson, for his able analysis and lucid exposition of the enormities of the "Crittenden Surrender," and also for his manly recognition and eloquent enumeration of the services of our patriot fathers in the war for American independence. We shall ever hold his name in grateful remembrance for the noble and gererous words uttered on that occasion, worthy as they are of a son of old Massachusetts.

WILLIAM C. NELL, President.
R. Z. GREENER, Secretary.

To the Honorable Senator from Massachusetts, HENRY WILSON.
BOSTON, Feb. 27, 1861.

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