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Bowing Down To Slavery--Daniel Webster

Bowing Down To Slavery--Daniel Webster image
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Under this head, a few weeks since, we made some remarksj shewing that no person can now becomc President of the United States or a member of the Cabinet, uniess he is in favor of the continuance of slavery, and opposed to all measures directly calculated to effect its removal. In proof of this position.we alledged the general coursé of the Ia6t administration, the inaugural speech of Gen. Harrison, the fact that President Ty!er is a devoted slaveholder, the discuseions that took place in the Senate in reference to the appointmont of Messrs Granger and Webster, and the subserviency to the Blave power manifestetl by both these gentlemen. An articlë has since appeared in the State Journal, in which the writer accuses us of having misrepresented the political cours-e of Mr. Webster, and done him much injustice. - The language of the article in question would preclude us from referring to it, were it not that we are desirous of presenting to the public more fully the evidence of the asserlion we made. In domg this,we have no occasion to use personal invective or insulting insinuations. A good cause does not need such auxiliaries: a bad one will find them but poor supports. .. A careful attention to the following points will enable any caodid individual to form a correct judgment of Mr. Webster's course in reference to elavery. 1. He has been known at the North for many years as a strong opponent ofslavery. In a speech on the Greek Revolution, many years since, he spokc with much ïndignatjon of the inhabitants of Scio being "sold into accursed slavery" - of forty thousnnd women and children, who were sold in the market of Smyrna, and %fsent off mto distant and hopeless servitude." In refërence to the slave trade he used the following language. 'lIf there be, wilhin the extent of oui knowledge and influence, any participation in this traffic in elaves, let us pledgc ourselves upon the rock of Plymouth, to extírpate and destroy it. It is not fit that the land of the pilgrimsr, ehould bear the shamc longer. Let that spot be purified, er let it be set apart from the Christian World; let it be put out of the circle of human sympathies and regards, and let civilized men henccforth have no cwnmunion with it.'' 2. He opposed the adiaission of Texas because it was aslaveholding country. In his speech at New York, May 15, I8ö7, he remarked concerning Texas, "In my opinión, the people of the United States will never consent to bring a new, vastly extensive and slaveholding country, large enough for half a dozen or a dozen States, into the Union.- In my opinión, they ought not to consent to 0 He maintained in the Senate that the petitions of the abolitionists ought to be received, referred, and reported upon, and placed on tho eame footing with other petitions. 4. In the Senate, in 1838, he maintained that Congress had exclusive jurisdiction o" the District of Columbia, without ardition, lirnilation, or understandirijj hatev er, either expressed or implicd m the con- tract by which it was conveyed to the National Government. He says, "I do not know any matter of facts, or any ground oí argument upon which this phghted Faith can be sustajned. I see nothing, by whichjress has tied up its hande, eitlior directly or ndirectly, so as to put its clcar constitutionïl power bcyond theexercise of itsown dis:retion. I have carefully examined the acts af cession by the States, the act of Congress, Lhe proceedings and history of the times, and [ find nothing to lead one to doubt that it was the intention of all parties to Jeave this, Hke other subjects bclonging to the legislation for the ceded terriiory, entirehj to lhe discrclion and wisdom of Congress."1 Tbat ie, fCongress thoughtbesl to abolish slavery and the slave tradein tho District, it had the undoubted right to do so. Let this be remembered. 5. We have reason to believe that he has said that Congress has power to pass laws to prevent lhe transfer ofslavesfrom one State or Territory to another. This statement has been made all over our country, and so far as we kuow, Mr. Webster iias kever denif.d it. A denial of it would havo set the matter at rest immediately. Hia friends, Measrs. Clay, and Preston, who defended his character, did not positiyely deny it. - They showed that if he had said so, it was more than twenty years ago, that he had made other declarations since of a contrary nature, Sec. Tho writer in the Journal, says that the charges of Mr. Cuthbert, (including thie one) were "unfounded and untrue." - This charge was brought against Mr. Webeter in the Senate of which he has been many years a meraber: when he says it is untrue, it may raake an alteration m our belief. This was Mr. Webster's former position: see where he stands at present. In 1840, at the Cnpitol, in the city o] Richmond, beneath an October sun, in the presence of ten thousand freemen of Virginia, he declared, (as quoted by his friends in the Sonate,) "that it was his well settled ant unchangeable opinión, that there is no power, direct or indirect, in Congress or the General Government, to interfere in any manner whatcver, in the slightest degree, wilh the subject of slavery, or the institutions of the South." In IC 38, Mr. Webster could see nothing in the cession of the District o Columbia, "implyingany Ümitation upon the authority of Congress." In 1840, he thinks Congress has no power "to interfere with the subject of slavery," cither there or in any other place. The slaveholdera claim that his declaration at Richmond covers the wholeground; and we think so too. It is precisely the reverse of hia opinions just quoted in reference to the power over the district, and the inter-State slave trade. We are willing to understand hitn to mean what he says; that his opinión in 1840 is ''his well settled and unchangeable opinión," ant consequently caneéis all the views he may previously have expressed, that come in conflict with it. But lo our apprehension, such a great and eudden change of opinión, in so sbort a time, with the prospect of great po- lhical advancement in consequence of it, accompanied at the same time by a continuec refusal to retracthis former sentiments, looks very muchlike yielding to the influences o: slavery. But this is not all. We have seen that Mr. Webster was formerly something of ar abolitionist: that is, he thought the slave trade abominable, talked about "hopeless servitude," and "accureed slavery," did no approve of the admission of Texas, becau9e it was a slaveholding country, and waa in favor of receiving abolition petitions. In 1840, at the meeting of slaveholders at Alex andria, D. C, he declared m the presence o thoueand-, that he would "do all in his pow er to prevent the success of those measures which would divide the Whigs of tho South from those of the North. On these questions (he exclaimed,) you are Whig9 and '. om a Whig." "We of the North and Soutl will join in felloioship and fnendly feeling in this matter." What were these measures hzch migh divide the Whgs of the South from those o ihe North? Tlie discussion of slavery in the free States, ihe movementa against slavery and the system of slave-lrading eanctioned by Congress t the National District and tho attempts to repeal the laws in thí sevnfp.1 Staten whíeh nnnressed the coloree man. To prevent the success oï'ihcse measures, Daniel Webster in 18403 solemnly declared he would do all in his power ! That these were the measures referred to, wos placed beyond a doubt by the testimony o two slaveholding witnesses whom he smmoned on to the stage to placo his true position beyond a doubt. Mr. Cnttenden, of Kentucky, testficd, that the Northern Whigs, with Mr. Webster at their head were as strongly and swcerely opposed to abolitionisls, as he and his Southern and Western friends are." Mr. Preston, "a Virginian by birth, a South Carolinian by ndoption, a slaveholder, bore his unequivocal testimony to the non est and devoted opinions of the Massachusetts Senator, and his friends on this question of vital interest to the South. If, then,this distinguished Statesman holds sentiments in reference to the power of Congress to iegislate on slavery, precisely the revers; of those he held two years sa'nce; if he was formerly opposed to slavery and the slarc trade, and is now as sincorely opposed to the measures of the abolitionists as slaveholders are, who threaten with destruction all the advocates of impartial h'berty who may come within their reacb; if he hos joined the South " in fellowship and friendly feeling" n their endeavors to perpetúate slavery and oppose the progress of liberiy - let him stand before the world in the character he has himselfassunied- an antagonist of the nghts of man- an advocate of slavery.