« ForrigeFortsett »
(Much laughter.) I have come over the waves of the mighty deep, to look upon your land and to visit you. Has not one God made us all? Who shall dare to split the human family asunder ? who shall presume to cut the link which binds all its members to mutual amity? I am no foreigner to your hopes or your sears, and I stand where there is no discriminating hue but the color of the soul. I am not a foreigner, I am a man: and nothing which affects human nature is foreign to me, (I speak the language of a slave.)
• But what have you known about our country? How have you been prepared to unravel the perplexities of our policy and of our party interests? How did you get an intimate acquaintance with our customs, our manners, our habits of thought and of action, and all the peculiarities of our national condition and character, the moment you set your foot upon our shores ?' And is it necessary I should know all ihis before I can be able or fit to enunciate the truths of the Bible ? to declare the mind and will of God as he has revealed it in his word? But you
do not care about us or our welfare.' Then why did I leave my own country to visit yours? It was not certainly to better my eircumstances : for they have not been bettered. I never did, and I never will, better them by advocating this cause. I may enlarge my heart by it: I may make an infinite number of friends among the wretched by it: but I never can or will fill my purse by it. • But you are a foreigner--and have no right to speak here.' I dismiss this--I am weary of it. I have an interest in America, and in all that pertains to her. And let my right hand forget its cunning, and let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I am ever capable of maligning her, or sowing the seeds of animosity among her inhabitants. He might truly say, though in the words of another,
I love thee, witness heaven above,
There is within thy gates a pest-
Yet while he said this, he would also add, if possible, with still stronger emphasis, Let my right hand forget her cunning, and let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I desert the cause of American abjects-or cease to plead, so long as the clanking of chains shall be heard in the very porch of the temple, and beneath the walls of your capitol. If
any shall still say, I have no right to speak, I will agree to quit the assembly, on condition that that objecter will furnish to me a plea which shall avail in the day of judgment, when my Maker shall ask me why I did not do, in America, that which all the feelings of my heart, and all the dictates of my judgment, and all the principles too, of God's own gospel, so powerfully prompted me to do? If the great Judge shall say to me. When human misery claimed you, why did you not plead the cause of suffering humanity ?' will any one give me an excuse that will avail as a reply to such a question? Is there any such excuse ? [Here he paused.] Shall it be because the misery for which I should have pleaded
across the water ? If this is the principle, then cease your splendid embassies of mercy to China and Hindoostan : abandon the glorious missionary cause : and let us read in your papers and periodicals no more of those eloquent and high toned predictions about the speedy conversion of the world.
* But you are a monarchist, you were born the subject of a king, and we are republicans. Yes, and because I loved the latter best, I left the dominions of a monarch, and came to the shores of a free Republic. I gave up the tinsel and the trappings of a king, for the plain coat and the simple manners of your President. But granting me to be a monarchist, will that do as an excuse before the King of kings, the Lord of lords?
'But, we quarrelled once. You taxed us, and we would not be taxed : -and
now we will have nothing more to do with you.' Indeed ; and may our artizans construct your machinery, and our Irishmen seed your furnaces, and dig your canals; may our advocates come to your bar, and our ministers to your pulpits, and shall all, all be made welcome but the advocate of the Slave ? Should I be welcome to you all, if I had but renounced the cause of humanity ?
• But the newspapers abuse you—they are all against you ; and therefore you had better go back to where you came from. Yes: if I fear the newspapers. But supposing I care nothing about the newspapers, and am heartily willing that every shaft that can fly from all the presses of the land shall be launched against me, is it a good reason then ?
Leave me, I pray you, to take care of the newspapers, and the newspapers to take care of me: I am entirely easy on that score.
But now as to the question before us. The gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. Birey,] has gone very fully into its civil and political bearings: that aspect of it I shall not touch : I have nothing to do with it. I shall treat it on religious ground exclusively; on principles which cannot be impugned, and by arguments which cannot be refuted. I ask the abolition of slavery from anong you, not because it dooms its victims to hard labor, nor because it compels them to a crouching servility, and deprives them of the exercise of civil rights: though all ihese are true. No: I ask for the illumination of the minds of immortal beings of our species; I seek to deliver woman from the lash, and from all that pollutes and that degrades her; I plead for the ordinances of religion ; for the diffusion of knowledge ; for the sanctification of marriage ; for the participation of the gospel. And If you ask my authority, I answer there it is (pointing to the Bible) and let him that refutes me, refute me from that volume.
The resolution I offer has respect to the moral and spiritual condition of your colored population, and I do say that while one sixth of your entire population are left to perish without the word of God, or the ministry of the gospel, that your splendid missionary operations abroad, justly expose you before the whole world, to the charge of
inconsistency. Your boast is, that your missionaries have gone into all the world ; that you are consulting with the other christian nations for the illumination of the whole earth; and you have your missionary stations in all climes visited by the sun, from the frosts of Lapland to the sunny isles of Greece, and the scorching plains of Hindoostad; amidst the Christless literature of Persia, and the revolting vices of Constantinople. God grant that they may multiply a thousand fold—and continue to spread, till not a spot shall be left on the surface of our ruined world, where the ensign of the cross shall not have been set up. But will you, at the same time, refuse this gospel to one sixth of your own home-born population ? And will you not hear me, when I ask that that word of life, which you are sending to the nations of New Holland and all the islands of the farthest sea, may be given to your slaves ? When I plead for two millions and a half of human beings in the midst of your own land, left nearly, if not wholly, destitute of the blessings of God's truth? What spiritual wants have the heathen which the poor slaves have not ? And what obligation binds you to the one, which does not equally bind you to the other ?. You own your responsibility to the heathen of other parts of the world, why not the heathen of this continent? And if to the heathen of one portion of the continent, why not to the no less heathen in another portion of it ?
The resolution has reference to ihe diffusion of the Bible : and here I am invulnerable. You have offered to give, within twenty years, a copy of the Scriptures to every family of the world; you are now translating the sacred volume into all the languages of the earth, and scattering its healing leaves wherever men are found; and may I not say a word for the more than two millions at your door? Men whom you will not allow so much as to look into that book? Whom you forbid to be taught to read it, under pain of death? · Why shall not these have the lamp of life? Are these no portion of the families of the south, whom you are pledged to supply? Is it any wonder there should be darkness in your land, that there should be spir. itual leanness in your churches, that there should be Popery among you, when you thus debar men of the Bible ? Is it not a fact, that while you have said you will give a
Bible to every family in the world, not one.of the families of slaveholders in the Southern States is to be found included in the benefaction ? Of all the four hundred and sixty thousand families of your slaves, show me one that is included in your purpose or your plan.. There is not one. If it would be wicked to blot out the sun from the heavens; if it would be wicked to deprive the earth of its circumambient air, or to dry up its streams of water, is it less wicked to withhold the word of God from men ? to shut them out from the means of saving knowledge ? te annihilate the cross ? to take away the corner stone of human hope ? to legislate away from your fellow-beings the will of God as recorded in his own word.
In view of the retributions of the judgment, I plead for these men, disinherited of their birthright. And once for all, I say, that every enterprise to enlighten, convert, and bless the world, must be branded with the charge of base hypocrisy, while millions at home are formally and by law deprived of the gospel of life, of the very letter of the Bible. And what has been the result? Christianity has been dethroned; she is gone: there is no weeping mercy to bless the land of the slave; it is banished forever, as far as human laws can effect it. Brethren, I know not how you feel, nor can I tell you how I feel, when I behold you urging, by every powerful argument, the conversion of the world, while such a state of things is at your door ; when I see you
all tenderness for men you never saw; and yet seeming destitute of all pity for those you see every day.
Suppose, now, that in China the efforts of your missionaries should make one of the dark heathen a convert to the peaceful doctrine of the cross. What would be the duty of such a convert? Learning that there was a country where millions of his fellow sinners were yet destitute of the treasure that had enriched him for eternity, would he not leave the loved parents of his childhood, and the place of his father's sepulchres, and tracing his way across the waters, would he not come to bestow the boon upon men in America ? Would he not come here to enlighten our darkness? And would he not be acting reasonably? according to the principles and commands of the very Bible
you gave him ? And now I ask, what is the christianity of the South ?