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Remarks Of Mr. Giddings, Of Ohio

Remarks Of Mr. Giddings, Of Ohio image
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Wednesday, Febkuaby 13, 1839. Upon his motion to strike out the enacting clause of the bilí to erect a bridge over the Eastcrn Branch of the River Potomac. Mr. Giddings said; Having moved to strike out the enacting ckuse of the bi!l,ii becomes my duty to assign to the House my reasons. 1 beg leave to assure the House thatthe motion arises from no feeling ofhostility to this District. No, sir, so far from feolings of that description, J would under ordinary circumstanceo, deal liberally from the funds of the nation to improve,beautify, andadorn this city, and render it worthy of this nation. 1 say, sir, under ordinary circumslr.nces I would go as far in this respect as hc who now goes furtherest. But I have made up my mind, after much refleclion and much thought upon the subject, that it is my duty, under the present state of things, to oppose all approprialions tbr the District of Coiutnbia, which are not requisito for conÜDuïng the operationa of Government with convenience to the nation. I would be understood, sir, as saying that under existing circumstnnces, I think we shou!d have in view, while making these appropriations, the possible,and perhapsl ought to say the probable, removal of the seat of Government to some free State. The conclusions to which I have arrived are, that its permanent continuence here is doubtful. It is this doubt as to the continuence of this city as the eeat of Government which has led me to think that the appropriatson of the $30,000 contemplated by this bill would not be a judicious expenditurc. If the Governmentof these United States ehall be removed to a dislant State the proprosed bridge cannot beconsidered of mucli naliunal impoitancc, and of course ttíe inoney would be, in a great degree lo?t. But, sir, I wili assign my reasons for supposing thatjtha seat ofGovernment will be removed. It is known sir that the slave trade, in its worst and mos! abhorrent form3, is carried on hero to an alanning extenf. Mr. Glassock, called Mr.Giddings to order. The Chairman [Mr. Rencher of North Carolina] decided that Mr. G. was assigning hiö reason why the bill ought nol to pass, aod was in order. Mr. Giddings resumed. When interrupted, Mr. Chairman, I was saying that the slave trade was carried on lo an alarming extent. We are tuld by somo gentlemen that the subject of its continuance caunot be discussed in tliis House : that a dissolulioa of the Union would follow as the inevitable consequence of any interference of this traflic on the part of congress. On the other hand, 1 havo come to the conclusión that Nortliern men, who have, from their infancy been bred upon the iove of liberty, where every principie of their maturer years has habituated them to think of the slave trade with disgust and abhorrence, to contémplate it asonly exisling among barbarous and uncivilized nations, to look upon it witli horror - Isiiy, 6ir, that it is my opinión that such mea can never consent to continue the seat of Government in the midst of a magnificciit slave market. I say it distincily to the commiltee, to the nation, and to the world, that Northern men wül not consent to a continuance of our National Councils where their ears are assailed, while coming to the Capítol, wilh the voice of the auctioneer, publioly proclaiming the eale of human, of intelligent beings. (Several gentlemen here called Mr. G. to order. The Chair however decided that he was in order.) Mr. Giddings resumed. I thank you Mr. Chaicman, for your cool aüd iropartial decisión of the "quesüon of order. I will remark that I was assigning my own reasons, and nut those of aoy other gentlemen. I eay, 6r, distiimtly, that I ñuve not commenccd these remárks with feelings of uukindness to any man or to any part of this nation. I have been iiiduced to embrace the present opportunity from a deep and soletan sense ofjustice which I think is due to the district that I represent, and loa large porlionofthe Northern States. Tliey sir. teeling an honest abl.orrence to the slave trade, have sent in their petitiuns against it. 1 have myself presented the petitions of many thousands of Northern Freemen on tliis BÜfcjéctj bul iheir petitions have been disrcgarded,and the voice of ihose Ameiican ciiizens in Suvorof liberty have been silenced. Their Representativos, sent hcre with aulhority to act for tliem, to speak Iheir views, lo expresa their wishes,has been bound Hand and toot by a sort of legislativo "straight jacket,1' so far as the subject of ihis slave trade isconcerncd, uut! hi&lips have leen hermeiiculiy scalcd, to prevent liun frmn a declaration of their views und deinaudjñg théir. rights. Sir, in an under tone upon ihis Hoor, Í have heard gentlemen, honorable gentlemen say ihai those cilizens who have thus pelitioned this House should be hanged it' found in íáouthern States. I pass by sucli romSrks, tliey were made under feelings of excilcmeni and were not tlie real sentiments of their authors. lïut, sir, while the voices of nor ihern freemen are silenced upon Uu's iïjor and their Represenlalives here are nol permitted to declare seninncnis of those who sent them, we are ealled upon lo make heavy appropriations of iheir uioney for thebenetitof this district. IM;ny thousands of our peoplc have endeavored to expresé to this lluuse iheir views of the slavc-trade as carried on here. We re. fuse to heat theai - we treat their petitions with contemptj hut in abswer say, "Your money shaü be taken for the itnprovemen of this city, although it be a slave uuuket we vvül not hear your pbjections to the slave-trade, but we wiil tas you to buile a slave-market." This, sir,is wrong; pal pably wrong.Uut, sir, 1 was saying that the approprialiun was fur the benefit of this üisiric principaliy. It is to bc made for llic ben efit of tlie pcople ofthis District, "and wiia is their language o those whose funds are now sought (o oe thus appropriated? The language of the people cf this district is ex prefscd in their memorials lutely presented in both Houses of Congréss. ín ihose memorials the (Vee and independent ciii zsns who petiiion us in regard to the slave-tradeof this District are terrned "a band of fanatici." The pelilicns are term ed "sedilious memorials.1' Their eÜbits to stop the inhuman and barharous bractice of solling men, wonen, and chtidren are ternied "foul and uima'.ura!," and Congréss is prayed not only to refiise a readiiig or reference of tliese peUliuus,but we are requested not to rèceivc such-pelitions_ This, sir, is the Jangunge of the People ofthis District towart's thoao who Í atn proud to represent ;svhusesentii:icfits on Ihe subject of tlie sluve trade I opctily ;nd unequivocally avow. I, sir, have been honored with the high trust of representing the Pcople thus stigmatized. - But, sir, Í would deern mysclf tinworthy of that trust f I permitïed this language to pass unnoticed. Honorable gentlemen have presented the tuernorials of the eople here in both Houses of Congréss, and have hdvocaled the principies, repealed and enlarged upon lho language used. - S r, undcr all this abuse. I ain askeel now to contriuute from the funds of the peoplethus abused, to the nnprovemenlo ot this cit)', and for the benefit of those who assailtheir motives and sligmatize theiracts. I object to the appropriation under these circumstiinces, I protest against it, and I repeat that while ihis sfate óf things rciimins I sliall be opposed to all appropriations in this District, nol necessa-ry for the convenience of the Government. I take my stand here. 1 now avow my firra detennination togive my vote for no further appropriations for this District nnül ihe voice, of these petitioners be heard and acled pon, and their jn-ayerfc granted or refused. I say no ppropriations except .such as are really necessary for the comfortable continuance of the Government. I wish (o be understoüd and not miörepresented. It is the slave-trade to yvhich I now aihide. Not to slavcry; that is anolher subject. On thai I miy, at sotViO other time, give my views: bu lot no man accuse me of now any Ehiqg in regard to his right in holding lis fellow man as his property, or óf iuerfering at ihis time iv, regard to it. - Whall have said, and what 1 nov inlend to say at present, will relate to nothing bevond the slave tradé. I intend lo disarm my opponants of all cavil n ieg;ird to he constitutional righi,or to the power of, Congrey? over the sulyect. I an aware of thefeeling which gentlemen have on this subject, and i assure theru of my intention (o say nothing ofTönsive to them, furlher than duty requires. 1 hope that, whoever shull becoino excited, I rnay speak and act from theconvicions of sober judgement.I onceallucJed to the statement of honorable gentlemen, that we cannot interferí with the slave trade in this District without a dissolutiou of tle Union. These ihreats, sir, Í beg Icave to say, Í disregard. I will not condescend to argue the question of a dissolution for such reasyns. 1 will leave that qnestion to be discusset! by those who deetu the (rade in this District of more (han a continuaoce of the Union. But shoulc.' a dissolution take place, the appropriaüon would surely be oflittle importance.I, air, have ulludecl to the iact that on he beauliful avenue ia front of the capitol, rñembers ül Congres--, during this session, have heard the h-usb voice ufan inïumanauctioneer publicly telling human íeings, while ihey we re on Üieir vay to , the Cupitol. They have also been 1 iclled to turn aside from llieir palh ( nil a cpffle oí slaves, males and femáis ; chaitied to each other by iheir Décks, lo ' pass on their way to this nuiiunal sluve market. ; (Mr. Ilowarcl of Maryland, called Mr. Giddings lo order, 'i'he Cüair decided ] Mr. G , to bc in order, and desired him lo roceed. Mr. Williams appealed, but a(iorwards vyithdrevv his appeal, and the Ühair uesirod Mr. G. lo pruceed.) Mr. Giddmgá resumcd. 1 t-ay, sir, ihese thingrf are abliorrent to nurthern uien, and m my opinión, wU not bc eadured by thetn. I, fuf one,will uever con sent lo 'hold our national couiicils whcre vvecannot look out ofour windows without the iiability ot'having Qic fcelings wouuúcd by tee ng our fellow beings, men, wouien and children, indiscriininulely chuincd by ihe neck, and driven by the Capitel. My leeüng-s and my principies forbid it. The early unpiessiütia of my chiidhood were opposed to it. Frorn my carlieót recollection I was taught lo regard it with horror. I tberi sup)osed it only exiáted ainong barbarous and savage nations. Mr. lloward again calicd Mr. G. lo order. The Chair called on Mr. II. lo reduce bis point of order to wrffíng". From Üic decid!ouMr. ÍÍ. appealc!, and the proceedings resuked in refustng SÍLt. G. pennission lo pioeeed with lus romarKs.