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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Illinois, held in the city of Alton, Nov. 13th, 14th and 15th, 1856.
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Mr. William Johnson was the next speaker. He addressed the audience at considerable length, in his usual happy manner. We are very sorry that we cannot give a portion of Mr. Johnson’s very eloquent address.
Mr. H. Ford Douglass was then introduced to the meeting. His speech was not only eloquent but elegant; acknowledged by all to be a moat brilliant effort. His conclusion was:
“SIR,--The extreme ultraism of John C. Calhoun that had been crushed by the iron hand of Jackson, only to spring up again, ere his grave was green with the verdure of four summers, has been permitted to blossom and bring forth fruit under the administration of Franklin Pierce.
“Judge Kane decided that a slaveholder had the same right to carry his slave with him into a Free State that he had to take his carpet-bag. The doctrine that Slavery goes wherever the Constitution goes is now openly maintained by Toombs and others in the South, and dough-faces innumerable in the North. This is the only consistent course for the man who admits the constitutional right of the slaveholder to make merchandise of men. If it permit slavery to exist in Missouri--the right of one man to enslave another; it sanctions that infernal doctrine that had its birth amidst the darkest conceptions of atheism--that one man can own the blood, bones and muscles of his fellow-man; traffic in the blood-bought image of Christ; shut out from their immortal souls the light of God’s glorious sun, then indeed is it a national institution, having rights in common with any other institution in the country, that the Constitution recognizes, to go wherever it goes.
“But, sir, I do not assent to the doctrine. This is not a great slave empire--a barbarian people--third-rate civilization. To borrow the undying inspirations of another, like the Roman who looked back upon the glory of his ancestors, in great woe exclaiming,
“Great Scipio’s ghost complains that we are slow,
And Pompey’s shade walks unrevenged among us.”
“The great dead of this Republic--the founders of our government--have left their testimony on record, in opposition to the doctrine of slavery’s constitutional legality. Mr. Sherman would not have the word slave in the Constitution. Mr. Madison thought it wrong to admit that man could hold property in man. It was the glowing effulgency of this heavenly light, that touched the lips of Brougham, who in after years, upon the floor of the House of Lords, gave utterance to that strain of mighty eloquence that still rings through the world like the trumpet voice of God; that so long as man shall hate fraud, loathe rapine, and abhor blood, he will reject with indignation the wild and guilty phantasy that man can hold property in man.
“The doctrine now advanced by anti-Slavery men, that Freedom is national while Slavery is sectional, is in itself destructive and fatal to American liberty. There is an axiom, progressively grand, of deeper political wisdom and of a more enlarged democracy, that teaches that Freedom should prevail everywhere and Slavery nowhere. This, and this only, is true anti-Slavery. It is the saving hope of the Republic. Any other principle is political suicide. To advocate the sectional right of Slavery would be to break up the throne of God and spit in the face of the Deity.
“The Republican movement was one of the wildest delusions that ever entered into the conceptions of men professing anti-Slavery. And I now address this solemn invocation to my Heavenly Father, that he will, in much mercy, forgive this erring son for the greatest sin of his life, that of making three speeches in favor of the Republican party. Men who had gloried in the name of abolition all their lives were swallowed up in the Republican maelstrom, and after its terrible baptism how changed. That great man, Frederick Douglass, while stumping for Mr. Fremont and the success of the Republican movement, could find it in his soul to defend that party from the charge of abolition. Why has the term become disagreeable to men who are themselves the strongest argument in favor of the correctness of the principle? Is a man to be despised because he hates Slavery? What is Slavery? What is Freedom? Gaze in upon the unclouded glory of God’s moral universe, and up to the eternal stars ‘amid whose field of azure my raised spirit now walks in glory;’ and then descend--down, down, and still down to the dark
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