« السابقةمتابعة »
free states had the itulimputable right to remain free from its contamination, unstained with its guilt, exempt entirely from its support, and disconnected with all its turpitude. He said that they had no claim on the people of the free states to extend that institution or to associate with new slaveholding states; that they had no right to ask the free people of the North to associate themselves with slaveholders in Mexico, who, owning one hundred slaves, would wield an influence on this floor equal to sixty freemen; therefore it was one of his cardinal principle;*, and one of those whom he represented, not to associate with any new slaveholding slates or slaveholding territory. These were their sentiments: Keep your slavery where it is, and. manage it according to your own judgment and discretion. With it we never had constitutionally, and never will have, any thing to do.
"Mr. Meade (the floor being yielded) desired to ask the gentleman what was his object in so frequently introducing the subject into this hall, if it were not to operate on Southern institutions.
"Mr. Giddings said he had invited gentlemen, if they had ever heard a word from him affirming the power of Congress to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States, to say so. Did the gentleman from Virginia pretend ever to have heard from his lips such a proposition J No; no gentleman had ever heard it; no gentleman could be found to rise and declare that he had.
"Mr. Meade (in his seat) called upon the gentleman to answer his question.
"Mr. Giddiugs replied, he would do it; but he did not like to have the gentleman consume his time by putting questions wholly irrelevant to the subjects he was discussing.
"The gentleman asked him what were his motives m discussing this subjectTo wash his hands, and. those of the people of the North, from the stain of supporting this institution in this district. Did the gentleman suppose that, because he would not interfere with the slavery of the South, ho was to bland here with bis lips hermetically scaled from expressing his sentiments upon the outrages and wrongs perpetrated in upholding this institution in this district? No; he would unseal them; he would give expression To his deep abhorrence. Would gentlemen say that he was not to speak upon slavery here because they had slaves at the South? Take care of your own slaves (said he); we will look to those under our protection.
"He was remarking that he stood here as a legislator under the Constitution. His duties were plain—so plain, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, could not mistake them. They were to let the slavery of the Southern States alone. It h id ever been the duty of the national Legislature to let it be; and when they established it in this district, they violated their duty to God and to their fellow-men; they had violated the duties which they owed to themselves, their constituents, and the human race. Now repeal those laws which involvod them in the turpitude of maintaining this institution, and then they would have done with it; and he, for one, would never mention it here or elsewhere as a member of this bodvThis result they intended to bring about; and he took occasion to say to gentlemen, You shall not bring us to share with you in the guilt and turpitude of this traflic in human flesh now carried on here under our protection. It was the voice of the people of the free stales that they would not remain thus contaminated with the guilt of that institution; and he said to gentlemen that they would have this; they would not vote for their presidents or any other officers who undertook to hold them partakers in that guilt and iniquity. The separation of this goremment from all interference with slavery was the motto which they had placed on their banner. It wa^ freedom; the rights of man, uncontaminated with this foul blot on the American escutcheon,
"It was no part of his intention to reply to the assaults made upon him a few days since, when this matter was under consideration. He had to do with more important matters thau defending himself. These personal reflections were unbecoming the solemn occasion on which they were now discussing the rights of humanity. He had taken occasion for the hundredth time to define his position; and when gentlemen imputed to him sentiments which they knew he did not entertain, he told them to beware lest their misrepresentations should be exposed. Gentlemen of the, South had introduced the discussion of this subject here. It was a question which, was discussed in all our legislative bodies throughout the United States; which was discussed in our political conventions, by our newspaper press, and by our literary periodicals; in our school districts and township meetings; in prayers and the sacred pulpit; by the fireside and the wayside; and he said to gentlemen, it was too late in the day to attempt to suppress the discussion of this question. It would be discussed. Yet he must say he bad not been desirous, nor in any way instrumental, in introducing this subject into discussion at this time. He deemed it inappropriate. The resolution of his friend from Massachusetts did not allude to the institution of slavery in any way, either directly or indirectly. This resolution proposed an investigation to ascertain a simple matter of fact. In its preamble it recited that reports had reached the cars of members of this body that a lawless mob had existed in this city for two nights previous to the introduction of the resolution, Betting at defiance the constituted authorities and the laws of the United States; and the proposition was to inquire whether such was the fnct. It also stated that certain members of this body had been menaced by this lawless mob, and it proposed an inquiry into this fact. As gentlemep had imputed to him (Mr. Giddings) that he was the individual menaced, it was proper for him to say that he had had no hand in introducing the resolution; the gentleman had done it on the motion of his own will, and not his (Mr. Giddings,s). Gentlemen had represented him as not only introducing this resolution, but as insistiug on the protection of this body. They had represented the gentleman from Massachusetts as asking the protection of this House. There was nothing in this resolution regarding protection. It only proposed to ascertain the feet whether members of Congress had been menaced by a lawless mob in the City of Washington. It was to let the people of the states throughout this Uuiou know whether their representatives, sent here for the discharge of their public duties, while confining .themselves to this district, had been menaced by lawless violence. Did any man suppose that he (Mr. Giddings) asked the protection of this body? If he ever had occasion under heaven to ask protection from any human being, it was from this body, not of it. If be had ever seen a lawless mob, it was on Tuesday last, at the jail and in this House. He had heard members here, while the galleries were filled, and while many composing the mob were said to be in them, declare themselves ready to justify the mob to the fullest extent. He had no disposition to look for protection to a body from which he had received as many indignities as he had from members of Congress. Was he, at this late day, to come here to ask for protection? No, it was no part of his object. No, said he, let the House protect its own honor—protect their own dignity, and he would take care of the protection of his person in his own way.
"He therefore said that this inquiry,was plain and simple in itself. Its object was to carry information to the people of this Union; to inform them of the feeling that existed in this slaveholding community; to expose the spirit of violence and anarchy which was exhibited here against those who dared to speuk the sentiments which they entertained in favor of liberty and the rights of humanity.
"He wanted his constituents, the people of his state and the free states, to understand what violence and lawless mobs arose from tlte slaveholding and slavedealing influence in this district. This was what he wished then) to understand. He cared not whether the House passed this resolution or not. It was well known to the members of this House, that lor forty-eight hours prior to the introduction of this resolution a lawless mob did control this city; that men, if report were true—and there was no reason to doubt it—in office, clerks in the employment of the L'uited States, attended and led on that mob; that men in official stations wnc there, stimulating that mob to violence; that the mob consisted the first night of hundreds, and the next night of thousands; and during this time here, where the arms, munitions, and the whole power of protection was cummitted to the executive officers of the government, not a movement was made to suppress it, so far as they were concerned. The object of this mob unquestionably was to prostrate one of the presses of this city. There was no doubt about that. And not only thls, but who were those who led it on? Not the respectable citizens of the City of Washington; so far as he knew their deportment, they were to be excepted from any charge of participating in tho disgrace. They were your slave-dealers from liakimorc, Alexandria, Richmond, and the surrounding country; it was the slave-dealers and slave-breeders; the men who raise mankind for market, whose living and support was by raising and selling their fellowmen. It was that class of characters who came into this city to threaten it.* srovernment and community, disturb its peace, and overthrow the press to which he had alluded. These men, associating together in this way, were the leaders and exciters of this mob.
"Now another thing known to every man here, and one which had been referred to this morning, was, that tin; mob, when it assembled on the first nieht, did avow the intention of prostrating that press and that office, and with this publicly-avowed purpose adjourned until the next night, for the purpose of bringing in more of these despicable characters from abroad to enable them to effect their object. This was all known by report, and was proposed to he impaired into.
"So fur as report charged that a member or members of this House had been menaced, was also to be mquired into. He cared nothing about it. He would state, as his name had been connected with it, that on Tuesday of last week, being a member of this body, and feeling some little interest in the way their laws over the district were to be earned into execution, he had visited one of the public institutions of our country, a prison in this city, erected by this government, and where, if his person was protected in this building, it was there, as much as it was in the Treasury Department, or any other of the departments at the seat of government. He had gone there under the consciousness of protection as much us if he had been in front of the speaker's desk, because it was a public building, erected by the funds of his own constituents as well as of the people of all the free states, together with those of the slave states. He had gone there for the pui-pose declared here on a former occasion. He had then said all he wished to on this point. There were your slave-dealers and slave-breeders gathered together in the entrance of the jail to mennee and threaten him. Did he x-k protection from this House? No; when he felt in danger, he would let them know it. But what he held in unutterable contempt was, that a member of this bodv, in visiting one of the public institutions erected by this government, should be threatened by a miserable mass of moral putridity, called slaveholders and slavebreeders. Had it come to this, that the members of this House could not go in and out of the public institutions in this district without meeting that class of men and being threatened by them?
'. He knew not who these men were, but, from reports which he had received from various quarters, he understood they were that class of men. Now, the resolution of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Palfrey) proposed an inquiry into those facts.
"Bat again: Who was it that stimulated that mob 1 It was members in this ball. While their galleries were ftlled with slave-dealers— men who drove whole families to the market, and bartered men, women, and children for gold—honorable members stood up here in this House, and declared that they justified the mob to the fullest extent. And did he (Mr. Giddings) ask for protection from such men? Such a declaration had been made, and repeated, and reiterated here. This was not the place to which he should go for protection. Yes, members of this House of Representatives stood in their places and proclaimed, not only to this couutry, but to the whole civilized world, that in their capacity of legislators they stood by and sustained those wretches in their lawless violence. And it was with humility and deep abasement that he acknowledged that these declarations came principally from members of the political party to which he himself belonged. He also felt compelled to acknowledge that, while this was going on here, the President of the United States, to whose party he (Mr. Giddings) did not belong, was said to have been making efforts to put down the mob. It was due to the President that he should state this fact. The people should know it. No man there would accuse him of being a friend to the President; but he honored him, nevertheless, for his efforts to suppress these riotous proceedings, and fur his exertions to stop those disgraceful outrages which were about to disgrace the whole Union. He took pleasure in vindicating the President for that act.
"When the pending resolution was brought forward, it was immediately seized upon by gentlemen from the South, and made the subject of an exciting discussion. It was gentlemen from the Southern States who did this, and it was those gcutlemen who insisted upon going back into an inquiry respecting all the facts and circumstances which had given rise to the mob. And what were the facts? Why, Ihat from seventy to eighty men, women, and children—persons who had as good a natural right to liberty as any gentleman here, who were entitled to the rights which th&ir Creator had given them—-feeling the galling chains of slavery chafing and festering in their flesh, themselves bowed down in bondage, and shut out from the social and intellectual enjoyments of life, sought the blessings of liberty; and it was said that they were assisted by three or fonr white men from the free states. But, iu the attempt to escape from the custody of those who held them in bondage, they were arrested, and placed in a prison erected with the money of this nation; and this was dune under the authority of the laws of this district, enacted by Congress, and sustained by members on this floor. In that prison they Were kept two or three days; and on Friday last, this very man, Slatter, of Baltimore, who had headed the mob at the prison on Tuesday, purchased some forty or fifty of those fathers, brothers, and sons, mothers, daughters, and sisters, and marched them to the depot, where their friends bad collected to take their final leave ere they proceeded to the South, to drag out a miserable existence in the rice-fields and cotton plantations of that region. There a scene was presented which he thought not even a slaveholder could have looked upon without some sympathy for those victims of slaveholding cupidity. Sighs, and groans, and tears, and unutterable anguish characterized a transaction which would have disgraced the slave-market of Constantinople. It was a scene which could not have failed to excite every sympathy of our nature for suffering humanity, And by whose authority were they thus sold, and doomed to hopeless suffering at the hands nf worse than Mohammedan masters? Here, if he could, be would make an appeal to this House; he would appeal even to the gentleman who had just addressed the House, and he would ask that gentleman if he could lay his hand on his heart, and in the presence of his God declare that he had dealt out to those people who were his fellow-men that justice which he hod expected at the hands of his fellow-man? Hod he shown them that mercy which he hoped to receive from his God? He would ask that gentleman if he could thus consciontiouslv lend his voice and his official influence to the dealers in human flesh? Would he leml his vote to encourage these huckstercrs in our common humanity? It was a humiliating reflection that our laws caused these men and women, and children and tender babes, to bo thus sold and sent to the ceaseless toil and cruel tortures of our slave-consuming states, there to wear out a life of wretchedness and misery.
"If the gentleman who had just addressed the House could approve and sanction such cruelty, and torture, and barbarous murder, he (Mr. Giddings) could not do it. He would not do it; it waa unbecoming a Christian nation; it was a disgrace to the age in which we live. What a spectacle did we present to the civilized world '. Yesterday the members of this House gathered together with the citizens of this district to rejoice, and shout, and sing in honor of France for freeing herself from the bonds of oppression, and driving her king from her shores, thereby relieving herself from oppression, and giving liberty to her slaves. "While we .were thus before the world expressing our sympathy with France, we were here in this district maintaining a slave-market more shocking to the feelings of humanity than any to be found within the jurisdiction of the grand sultan.
"It had been urged by gentlemen on this floor that he, and others who acted with him, had engaged in this House in discussions of the subject of slavery withiu the states. With one exception, that accusation was not true. Some four years ago, he admitted, he had been induced to go into that subject by the remaks of a distinguished Southern gentleman, a member of the executive cabinet (Mr. Calhoun), who, hi his official correspondence, had argued that slavery was a Christian and humane institution. On that, and ou'uo other occasion, had he permitted himself to be drawn into a discussion of the effects of slavery in the states. He thought he would not again be dragged into it; but he would discuss the subject of slavery in the District of Columbia and in the territories of these United States at all times, when Southern men forced it upon him.
"He would now direct his attention to the remarks of some gentlemen who had preceded him, and would briefly notice some of the doctrines which bad been advanced in the course of this discussion. The gentleman to whom he wished first to direct his attention not being in his seat, he would turn to the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Haskell), to an extract from whose speech he would call the attention of the House. That gentleman, in the course of his remarks on Wednesday last, was reported to have said,
"Now, a strange state of things was presented here. Members of this bod v. as he believed and felt ready to charge, had been engaged, by the course of conduct they pursued on this floor and out of this hall, in the deliberate attempt to scatter the seeds of insurrection and insubordination, if not rebellion, araonir the slaves in this district. Men on this floor, under the garb of philanthropy and love of human liberty, had been endeavoring to perpetrate felonies for which they ought to swing as high as Human. He spoke the plam truth. He was willing to have his words measured, and he held himself responsible for the language he used. An attempt had been made on this floor to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia in the form of law, if they could, and in violation of the Constitution; and, baffled and foiled in that, these mock philanthropists were now, as he believed before God, attempting to abolish slavery in this district by incitizjg the negroes to leave their masters.
"The speaker here interposed, and reminded the gentleman that the question before the House was upon the appeal.
"Mr. Haskell (continuing) charged that the conduct of these men, their languace on this floor and out of this House, had been such as to produce this state of things—a disposition to insurrection and rebellion among the slaves in this di$