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Appeal: To Abolitionists And The Friends Of The Constitution...

Appeal: To Abolitionists And The Friends Of The Constitution... image
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Fellow Citizens: - You have rejoiced with us at the vote of the present House of Representatives, in Congress, by which the infamous 21st Rule, commonly called "Johnson's Gag," was discarded from the rules and orders of the House. That vote, confirmed as it was by the repeated refusal to adopt any code of rules, even for the extra session, with that one included, was highly honorable to the firmness magnanimity, and regard for constitutional and natural rights of those who acted in it. The progress made in five years shows what we have gained. The first gag resolution, infringing the right of petition, Pinckney's was passed, May 28, 1836- yeas 117, nays 68;. majority 46. The second gag, Hawes,' January 18, 1837, was carried by 115 to 47; majority 58. The third, Patton's, December 21, 1837 - 122 to 74- majority 47. The fourth, Atherton's, January 12, 1838- 126, to 78; majority 48. The fifth, "Johnson's Gag," incorporated into the standing rules of the House, Jan. 28, 1840, 114 to 108- majority 6. On the 7th of June, 1841, the vote by which this rule was "discarded," was 112 to 104; majority 8. There were 26 members from the Free States who voted in favor of Johnson's Gag," in 1840, and only 22 in 1841, voted against its repeal. The several votes against the gag were 68, 47, 74, 78, 108, and 112. We appeal to these dates and figures as evidences of progress - as monuments of past struggles for the right of petition, and incitements to one more effort - if successful, the last. Immediately after the vote had been passed, adopting the rules with the exception of the 21st, notice was given of a motion to reconsider that vote. Before the motion was made, however, and while the amended rules were in full force, a special rule was adopted, applicable only to the extra session, on report of a committee of which Mr. Calhoun, of Mass., was chairman. By this special rule, it was established that, on the presentation of petitions and other papers, on subjects not included in the President's Message, (except a bankrupt law) "objection to the reception shall be considered as made, and the question of reception shall be laid on the table." In other words, the petition remained in the hands of the member who presented it, leaving the question as doubtful whether Congress will receive the petitions of the people or not. We will not assume the prerogative of deciding exactly how far it may be within the constitutional power of Congress to go, in order to prevent the introduction of foreign topics of debate in an extra session, called for special purposes. But it were idle to deny that the peculiar and round-about mode of coming at it, in the special rule, was adopted at the instance of the slaveholders - was modelled according to their views - and was designed to shut out debate on the question whether Congress is constitutionally bound to receive abolition petitions. It is to be borne in mind that the question whether petitions shall be received, or the objection against receiving petitions, is made only in the case of one class of petitions, and hence it is clear that the special rule, although general in its form, was adopted in its peculiar form, solely in view of this class of petitions, and could have a desirable operation on no others. The Legislature of Massachusetts, in their protest against "Johnson's Gag," March 21, 1840, resolved that the practice of the Senate of raising the question of reception on petitions, and then laying that question on the table, "in a virtual denial of the right of petition.' - Under these circumstances, the fact that those members of Congress who had just discarded "the gag" itself, should have thought it necessary, in order to the dispatch of the public business, to go so far in humoring the unreasonable pretensions of the slaveholders, may well excite our apprehensions, and call forth an effort to stand by and strengthen our representatives in meeting the next struggle. The attempt to reconsider the rule was successful, and for twelve days the House remained in a state of disorganization; a majority, on the one hand, refusing to re adopt the rules without the gag, and, on the other, refusing to re-adopt the gag. At length a compromise was agreed upon, and a!l the old rules were temporarily adopted, excepting so far as they were "superseded" by resolutions of the present House. O. ie operation of this "compromise" vote was. to make it manifest tint the gag was superseded; or, in olher words, there was no longer any use in excluding ttbólition petilions, because all petitions were excluded. There was no longer an ocüous distinclion made in dcnying receiüon ot one class of petilioners, for all the people were shul out. lf tUis is cdnstitutional, it is certainly carrying lawful power to its utmost verge. Another effect was, to throw away t&e advantage which had been gained by the vute discurding the gag for the whole Congress, and thus to postpone it as an open queslion, to come up again at the begin- uingof the regular session,when the subject of adopting rules and orders must be acied on. It is with a view to prepare for that occasion, that the present address is put forth. The slaveholders are not unaware of the importance of the question which is then to come up. They are already preparing to meet it, and they have a planformed, by which they hope toregain their lost ground with added advantage. Tbe Richmond Whig, 21stJune, expresses the views of one poi tion of the present dominent party : "When the subject comea up again, stronger action than is contemplated by the 21st rule will be proposed. The irue friends of the South will not be satibfied with adopting that rule, by which the controversy wül only be deferred for two years, when the South will be much wcaker than ?he is at present. They wil! ihen REQUIRE that the question be settled, one way or the other. They will cali upon the North to show thcir hands - to claim all they want - and to have a ful! and final settletnent of accounts. The 21st rule is, at most, a mere temporary experiment; and without giving any permanent protection to our rights, eerves to inflame the public mind at the North, and keep alive the agitation. We want something more substantial, and more conclusive - and that WE WILL HAVE, at the regular session. We will know of the North! what they desire. If they ask nothiñgj more than we can grant, there will be an nd to the contest - if they ask more we an refuse il - and if they persist, we can esort to thal extremity, which, if il be in-! vitable, the sooner it comes tho better." j These intend to concede the receptionof, ur petitions, only for the purpose of morej iTectually defeating the olject of our pe-: tions by having them referred to a com-i milten of Northern politicians, whose rejorl they anticípate will foiever pu'. an nd to the hopes of abolilion. There is another clnss, however, who ill take their stand against the right of, etiliorijon the ancient of tyranls, necesty. A correspondent of the paper above amed, says: "When the right to petition is once cons eded, and in that concession is involvedi ie admissiou that slavery isa 'grievnnce,V ues any man believe that the abolitionist nd fanatical philanthropist will be content without a report? Now he clamors about' a gag,' because you refuse to receive his ' )etition; then he will complain, and wiih: much more reason, of the gag which de- ies him the right of a report upon a contitutional petition; and the next step will )e a standing committee on abolition." And Mr. Wise, in debate, referred to ie career of Wilberforce, to show the ; ertainty of a peraevering and active mi-, ority to gain ground against a merely pasive majority, however large: "Á minority, however small, are i ally exerting themselves, and keeping up gitation, year after year, before the ie mind. In such a state of thingi, THE; MINORITY ARE SURE TO GAIN; 'HEIR POINT; as certainly as that thej olid marble will wear away by the contant running of the stream." OiV THE FIRST MONDAY OF DECEMBER, ien, the question must incvitably come 3 whether the right of petition is to con- inue to exist, and whelher the right, as far s the subjeel of slavery is concerned, is o be of any valuc. If slavery should chieve a victory now, it will be a great ictory, that will cost us j'ears of toil and orrow to retrieve. And should the tri- mph fall once more to Liberty, we have eason to hope itwould be final. Slavery, truck down now by a decisive blow, would never rally again as it has done, but vould only fight the desperate battles of retreatingand conlinually weakened inader of the soil of liberty. Who would not make an effort, with the possibility of o glorious rcsults? To meet thistion, then, in Congress, wo must lay our : plans with reference as well to the cliaracterand feelings of 'he individual members of Congress, as to the wishes and influence of the pcople of the several Districis. The members of Congress muy be regarded as in three ciasses: 1. A large number, we trust, are íntelligently and honestly in favor of the right ui' petition, and some of them in favor of every wise and discreet use of their oonstii tulional powers to hasten the abolilion of s'.avery ïtself. These members require to be suppoited and encouraged by such a demonstraron 'on ihe part of the wise and good of tUeir conslituents, as will overbear any influence of party polilics or the arts of slaveholders, and bring them to an inv movabledciermmation, Ihat they will now stand by the Right of Petition at all hazards, and will refuse all support or contitenance to slavery or the slaveholding interest, beyond what the constitution plainly requires. . There are those who hnve paid but litlle atténtion lo the subject, who are undècided, v. ithuut clear views or fixed determinaiions, aud who will therefore net, for the most part, as they may be acled upon at the time. To secure the votes of these in favor of the righl of petition, '.he friendo of liberty must bring forward all the argumenta and all ihe iiifluunce m their power, in open and conderiséd arniy, so as to render il impossibie for ihem to clojc their cyes againtl llie trui h, and impossibie to tramp'.e down the infl-ience ín favor of truth and justicc. 3. It ís to be fearcd ihat ihertf are nol waniing men among us, who are predráposed lo slavery;. who either through ignorance, debasement of mind, or political éorhip'tion and yehal.ijy, are prepare.! io go as lar as they c!are in concessioits to the arrogant demanda of the slaveholders. - Such characters are to be raét oVjly with eueh a demonstation as wül aysure them that it is no longcr politically palé or exiedient to sacrifico liberly to shivcrv, and that if they go any íuriher in extehding the control oí' slavery in our government, it is al the peni of their political annihilation. Such a demonsiralion can be mde, by proper eíTort?, and such, we believe, thc present crisis oudly calis for, on the pari of the friends of liberty. Shall it bedone? FORMS OF PETITION. 1. To the Honorable Senate and House of Represedativcs of the United States, iu Congress axsembled: The subscribers, legal voters of in the County of aud State of respectfully ask loave to reroonstrale ngamst the adoption, ly either House of Congress, of any rule, order, resolulion, law or usage, limiling or impairing the constilutional right of the people to petition Congress for a renioval of grievances; or ir: any way dispaniging or stigmatizing petitions on the subject of Slavery, or placing them in any respect on a different footing from olher lawful petitions. 2. To thc Honorable Senate, &lc. The subscribers, leg;il voters of in the county of and State of respeclfully petition Con gress to repeal alt laws rcgulatingor sanctioning the holding or transpojling of per sons, as slaves, in vessels of liie United States, sailing eoaslwisc from one State to anotber; and to pass laws protecling liie rightsófall persons claimed or held as slaves, who may be constitulicnally entitled to their freedom bygoing by sea,vith the consent of their masters, beyond the jurisdiction of her State in whicli they are legally deemed to be slaves. 3. To the Honorable Senate, &c. The undersigned, legal voters of in the County of and State of respectfully pr.iy Congress torepsal so much of the Act of February 27. 1S01, entitled "An act concern ing the District of Columbia," as may be supposedto authorize the existence ofslavery in said District; and to pass laws suppressing the practice ofbuying, selling, breeding, holding and trealing persons as 8'aves, in the District; or, othervvise, to remove the seat of Government to some place where such practicesdo not prevail. 4. To the Honorable Senate, ác. The subscribers, iegal voters of in the County of and Siate of respectfully ask Cungress to aboüsh Slavery in the Territory of Florida, in such a manner ai not to viólate the btipulations of the treaty of cession. 5. To the Honorable Senate, &c. The subscribers, legal volees of in the county of " andStaie of respeclfuüy pray that the proper steps may bc made for the repeal of all lasva, and the altcration of all constiiutional provisions, by which the people of the Free Stutes, the Federal Government, or the nalion, are in any way implicaled, or bound tocountenance, protecl or in any manner aid in supporting or continuing the institution of slavery, or in keeping humau beings in a state of slavery. NECESSARY l'RECAUTIONS. 1. F.ach one of the blank petitions prefixed cao be cut out and walered or pasted at iheheadofa half sheet of paper, and then it is realy for signing,' - only filling the blanks with the name of the town or village, county ntl State. 2.Let every peiilioner sign his own name. Namesshould not be copied on theton it aflbrds a color for the mplítátioii that Ihey iré forged. 3. Sign onlyone side of the sheet. As it is filled, paste on other sheets. RÖTlirig the paper on a stick is botter than folding. 4. Whn the petitions are completed, which ought to be, BY ALL MEANS, before the first of December; fold cach pctitiori by itself, in a proper sfiape lor filmg and endorse the proper nolice on the bucli, in a plain hand, thus: "Hemon8trance of 147 Legal Voters, in Clarendon, lluüand county, Verniont; Against theadoption of any rule, volo-or usage, infringing the rightofpetilion. or sotnc other brief slatenent of the contenls of the petition, wiih the number and residence of the peliiioners. This enáursement ihe meniber of Congress wants lo have before hini to read,whèn he preseiits the petition, and the clerk enters the sntne, or its substance, iu the jounial of liie House. 5. SeTnd the petitions to your ownrepresentutive, properly cnclosod and directed, with a separate letter accompanying, inf.rmiug hini of the potition sent, and respéctfuily requesting him to present them at Éïie earliest opportunity, and to inform you of tlie resnlt. Address ánblher lettei to tho "Hon. S. AI. 'iales, House of Repreêenialive's, Washington Cily," giving the same iuiuiinution. lic wiü put these nu(ices in the hands öfa pérson who wil! uiake out a register of all the pmilions i-ent and an account of those presénted by dift'erent niembers. For tiie Ekecutive Cöhnmiitee nf the An'iirir'ftn iníí Fiireiirn A. Ö. Suciciv.


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