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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Colored Men's State Convention of New York, Troy, September 4, 1855.
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build his mansion on a hill-top, be it ever so fair and lovely, if its base be reeking with nuisance and corruption, without suffering the baneful influences of that deadly corruption. So you of the North, free men and nonslaveholding citizens, cannot sit idly by, and see 3,700,000 of your fellow beings wronged, robbed of their rights, whipped, outraged, and driven to toil by day and by night, without the shadow of right or justice, without the consolation and revivifying influences of intelligence and of the gospel, and not suffer from the baneful effects of this hideous wrong. You at the North cannot suffer this dark enormity to be perpetrated, without suffering the consequences. And one of the consequences will be that your limbs will be stricken down at your side, your thoughts fettered, yourselves deprived of the freedom of action. No man is really free south of Mason & Dixon's Line but the slaveholder. And soon no man north of Mason & Dixon's Line will be free but he who will succumb to the demands of the slaveholders.
I speak rather by sight than by hearing. The objects of the slaveholding party are becoming open to the sight. They are five in number. The first is, the suppression of all anti-slavery discussion. The second, the extension of Slavery over all the Territories of the United States. Every one of my hearers who is a political reader knows that I have facts to bear me out in asserting this to be the policy of the South. The third is, the nationalization of Slavery in every State of the Union, so as to do away with all Conventions, Associations and discussions of an anti-slavery character, and abolish everything tending to disturb the relations between the master and the slave. The fourth is, the expatriation of every free citizen of color in the United States. Ten millions of dollars is the amount of money which is to be devoted to bringing this result. The fifth and grand object is, the absorption by the United States of Mexico, Southern California, Cuba, the Sandwich Islands, all the islands of the Caribbean Sea, and Nicaragua, bringing them into the Confederacy of our Union, and placing their black population, fourteen millions in number, under the banner of the slave power. Let us look this in the face. What is necessary to secure all their aims and objects? Why, first, this anti-slavery agitation must be put down. And unfortunately, most unfortunately for the ends of right, liberty and justice, both the Whig Party and the Democratic Party have lent themselves to the Slave Power, to engage in putting it down. This was the determination of these parties on that point, as expressed in the Platforms put forth by them at Baltimore. They would resist agitation. They would read out Horace Greeley, that champion of the rights of free men, to accomplish this end. The Democratic Party proposes to go as far or a little farther than the Whig party on this point. It is strong and nervous in its declarations, and strong as thunder in its action. It says it will not only resist agitation, but it will assist in putting down agitation. That is the decision of the Democratic National Party. Now, what does putting down agitation mean? It means putting down the right of speech on a particular subject in this Republic. It means closing the mouth of all those who utter principles designed to operate to the injury of the slave power. Remember, this was a political, not an individual declaration. A political declaration differs from an individual declaration in this:--that it is supposed to be capable at some time of being crystalized, of being moulded into a law of the land. They mean to put down agitation. How will they put it down? How have they put it down already in the Southern States? By making every statement uttered in opposition to the slave power an incendiary sentiment. These parties, then acted in obedience to the law of the South when they said they intended to put down agitation. The question now is fellow-citizens, are you quite ready to give up to the South your right of speech? Are you quite ready to relinquish to any particular political subject? For if you give up the right in regard to slavery to-day, you may have to give it up for something else to-morrow. Experience has taught us that the Southern slaveholders are capable of any action, and you know not what they may next demand of you.
This right of speech was once regarded as a very precious institution in our country. It was looked upon as the sentinel on the outer bulwarks of Liberty. Daniel Webster so regarded it in a speech made by him in Congress in 1814, when he declared that it was a principle he should assert to the last--that he should relinquish it only when he relinquished his life--that living he should assert the right, or dying, he should transmit to posterity
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