The Great Crisis!
We have inserted, in the preceding columns, an extraordinary
article in relation to Nullification and the Rev. Mr. Jocelyn’s Address,
from the Boston Transcript of Saturday evening. It appeared in that paper under
the editorial head; but we are assured that it was written by one of Mr.
Danforth’s sub-agents, named Cyril Pearl*—perhaps a
well-meaning, but certainly a most insignificant and weak creature, well
qualified to peregrinate through country villages for the purpose of
misrepresenting the sentiments of abolitionists, nibbling at our Thoughts on
African Colonization, mis-stating the principles and operations of the
Colonization Society, and gulling the ignorant and thoughtless into a support of
a most negarious scheme, conceived, brought forth, nutured and defended by
southern slave owners. Be this as it may, the Editor of the Transcript has made
the article his own, and upon him we place the heavy responsibility of its
appearance. He shall not escape from the field, unconfronted, by the pretence,
we have no disposition, nor do we intend to engage in any controversy with
the lecturer, or his friends and abettors, in their crusade against the
slaveholders of the South. Having vainly attempted to strike us to the
earth, it shall go hard with us but we will return the blow, with compound
interest. The quarrel is one of his own seeking—hitherto he has been
courteous and friendly—but the mask is now thrown off.
We beg our readers to peruse the article from the Transcript,
with as much deliberation and coolness as the kindling fires of their souls will
permit—exhibiting, as it does, all the mind, and all the moral courage,
and all the veracity, and all the forecast, and all the philanthropy of that
little piping person who we designated above. The Editor of the Transcript never
wrote, though he adopted it. Its servility to southern task-masters is meaner
than that of the slave’s; its spirit is despicable, its tender mercy
cruel, its heresy deplorable. None but one of John Randolph’s
white slaves, or, what is equivalent, one of Mr.
Danforth’s petty runners, could have conceived or endited such an article.
The little reporter does injustice to Mr. Jocelyn, in representing him as saying ‘that the Colonization Society was violently opposed by southern slaveholders, because it would, as they believed, ‘remove their operatives,’ or in other words, ‘lead to the emancipation of the slaves.’ Mr. Jocelyn spoke only of a portion of the Nullifiers of South Carolina who cherished this absurd notion: the great body of slaveholders at the south support the Society, because they believe and know that it will enable them to throw off the surplus of their slaves, expel the free blacks whom they fear and hate, and throw into their hands the balance of irresistible power over their miserable victims.
Again, the little Transcript ‘colaborator’ puts down the reward offered for our apprehension by the Legislature of Georgia, at $4000. Five Thousand, if you please—be accurate occasionally, if possible.
‘To us,’ says this same puny wiseacre, ‘it is very questionable whether the political compact does not positively forbid his interference, either directly or by ambiguous approaches’ with the subject of slavery. We spurn this slavish doctrine with the utmost contempt and indignation. It is an unblushing falsehood—a libel upon that freedom which has been dearly purchased with blood. Is it come to this? Is the liberty of speech—the liberty of the press—to be wrested from the people of New England by the same grasp which holds in bondage a vast multitude of helpless beings? No! no! our citizens may be induced to sacrifice their money, and property, and present pursuits of life, upon the altar of slavery—they may quietly see one manufactory after another razed to the earth, to propitiate their southern despisers and vilifiers—but let an open and direct effort be made to suppress the liberty of speech and of the press, and if the spirit of Seventy-Six do not burst forth in its primitive power and majesty, then indeed we have all ‘basely degenerated from our parent stock.’ For ourselves, we avow our determination never to let the question of slavery rest: the people of the land—the whole people, for they are all alike implicated in this great crime—shall be made to see and feel their guilt, until the tears of their repentance shall wash away all the stains and pollutions of slavery.
There are those who would seal up our lips on the subject of slavery,
because its discussion is calculated to irritate the south: they would have us
delay the work of reform to a more convenient season. But we cannot comply with
their wishes for the following reasons: To keep silence would be disobeying the
Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them—and we are sure that if we and our children were in the condition
of the slaves, and the slaves in ours, we should deem them hard-hearted if they suffered
any notions of [???]nal policy to deter them from exposing the injustice of our
oppressors, and pleading for our emancipation. Again, we cannot be silent, because
we dare not disobey God: He has said—
Open thy mouth for the dumb, in the cause of all such as are appointed for destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
The slaves cannot speak for themselves—we speak in their stead, and on their behalf, and who, that Again, we cannot desist, because our advisers never pretend to designate a period when it will be more safe to plead for the oppressed than at the present time; and until they do so, we feel ourselves obligated to go on. Again, we dare not delay, because they are unable to prolong our lives, and only the present time is ours—to-morrow we may be in eternity. We must therefore plead now, or death may shortly arrest our career. Again, we decline giving up our cause for a time, because it is morally certain that every thing is lost, and nothing gained, by compromising with sinners—that if it be dangerous to touch the slave system now, it will be far more dangerous to meddle with it when it shall have reached (as it will very shortly) double its present magnitude—and that if it is difficult to obtain the liberation of two millions of slaves now, it will be altogether impracticable to emancipate four, eight or sixteen millions in after years. Finally, we are unwilling to fold our arms, and suppress our voices, for the reason given by our adviersers, namely, that all allusions to slavery are offensive to the planters, because we do not believe that if we should be asked in rendering up our final account, why did we not cry aloud and spare not, Jehovah would be satisfied with a reply like this—
judgeth righteously, but will admit that they are
appointed for destruction?
We were afraid of the planters of the south—we knew that if we said aught against their cruel conduct, we should irritate them—and we concluded to wait, especially by the advice of our friends, until some future time, when they would perhaps allow us to show them their guilt—it is true, we never could tell why they would be more willing to look at their conduct, if aggravated by a long coninuance in sin and crime, than when it was less repulsive and wicked—but every body assured us such would be the fact, and it was a comfortable doctrine to us, and so we said no more: but while we were waiting and dozing for the proper time to come around, death cut us down, and this is the reason why we opened not our mouth for the suffering and the dumb—and we left the pastors and members of churches, of all denominations, sighing and waiting to see the day when it would be safe to maintain the cause of the afflicted and the right of the poor—when the thief would be more willing to be recognized as a thief, and the fraudulent as dishonest, and the oppressor as an unjust man. Could we make such a plea at the bar of God? Would not his blazing eye strike terror into our guilty souls, and his retributive thunders sink them to perdition? If this plea will not avail aught in the day of judgment, it is good for nothing here. Now, then, let those beware who would make us believe it a valid one, or who are thus trying to deceive themselves. God is not mocked—and he may cut them down with the plea on their lips, and summon them before him. It is highly probable that many who read these lines will never live to see another year—perhaps we may all be in our graves ere another week: if, then, we ever intend to plead for the bleeding, dying slaves, we must plead now, and pray now, and labor now, and humble ourselves before God now, for our past indifference and slothfulness.
There is much declamation about the sacredness of the compact which was formed between the free and slave states, on the adoption of the Constitution. A sacred compact, forsooth! We pronounce it the most bloody and heaven-daring arrangement ever made by men for the continuance and protection of a system of the most atrocious villany ever exhibited on earth. Yes—we recognize the compact, but with feelings of shame and indignation, and it will be held in everlasting infamy by the friends of justice and humanity throughout the world. It was a compact formed at the sacrifice of the bodies and souls of millions of our race, for the sake of achieving a political object—an unblushing and monstrous coalition to do evil that good might come. Such a compact was, in the nature of things and according to the law of God, null and void from the beginning. No body of men ever had the right to guarantee the holding of human beings in bondage. Who or what were the framers of our government, that they should dare confirm and authorise such high-handed villany—such flagrant robbery of the inalienable rights of man—such a glaring violation of all the precepts and injunctions of the gospel—such a savage war upon a sixth part of our whole population?—They were men, like ourselves—as fallible, as sinful, as weak, as ourselves. By the infamous bargain which they made between themselves, they virtually dethroned the Most High God, and trampled beneath their feet their own solemn and heaven-attested Declaration, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights—among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They had no lawful power to bind themselves, or their posterity, for one hour—for one moment—by such an unholy alliance. It was not valid then—it is not valid now. Still they persisted in maintaining it—and still do their successors, the people of Massachussetts, of New-England, and of the twelve free States, persist in maintaining it. A sacred compact! A sacred compact! What, then, is wicked and ignominious?
This, then, is the relation in which we of New-England stand to the
holders of slaves at the south, and this is virtually our language toward
Go on, most worthy associates, from day to day, from month to
month, from year to year, from generation to generation, plundering two millions
of human beings of their liberty and the fruits of their toil—driving them
into the fields like cattle—starving and lacerating their
bodies—selling the husband from his wife, the wife from her husband, and
children from their parents—spilling their blood—withholding the
bible from their hands and all knowledge from their minds—and kidnapping
annually sixty thousand infants, the offspring of pollution and shame! Go on, in
these practices—we do not wish nor mean to interfere, for the rescue of
your victims, even by expostulation or warning—we like your company too
well to offend you by denouncing your conduct—
although we know that by
every principle of law which does not utterly disgrace us by assimilating us to
pirates, that they have as good and true a right to the equal protection of the
law as we have; and although we ourselves stand prepared to die, rather than
submit even to a fragment of the intolerable load of oppression to which we are
subjecting them—yet, never mind—let that be—they have grown
old in suffering and we iniquity—and we have nothing to do now but to
speak peace, peace, to one another in our sins. We are too
wicked ever to love them as God commands us to do—we are so resolute in
our wickedness as not even to desire to do so—and we are so proud in our
iniquity that we will hate and revile whoever disturbs us in it. We want, like
the devils of old, to be let alone in our sin. We are unalterably determined,
and neither God nor man shall move us from this resolution, that our colored
fellow subjects never shall be free or happy in their native land. Go on,
from bad to worse—add link to link to the chains upon the bodies of your
victims—add constantly to the intolerable burdens under which they
groan—and if, goaded to desperation by your cruelties; they should rise to
assert their rights and redress their wrongs, fear nothing—we are pledged,
by a sacred compact, to shoot them like dogs and rescue you from their
vengeance! Go on—we never will forsake you, for
their is honor among
thieves—our swords are ready to leap from their scabbards, and our
muskets to pour forth deadly vollies, as soon as you are in danger. We pledge
you our physical strength, by the sacredness of the national compact—a
compact by which we have enabled you already to plunder, persecute, and destroy
two millions of slaves, who now lie beneath the sod; and by which we now give
you the same piratical license to prey upon a much larger number of victims and
all their posterity. Go on—and by this sacred instrument, the Constitution
of the United States, dripping as it is with human blood, we solemnly
pledge you our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor, that we will stand by
you to the last.
People of New-England, and of the free States! is it true that slavery is no concern of yours? Have you no right even to protest against it, or to seek its removal? Are you not the main pillars of its support? How long do you mean to be answerable to God and the world, for spilling the blood of the poor innocents? Be not afraid to look the monster Slavery boldly in the face. He is your implacable foe—the vampyre who is sucking your life-blood—the ravager of a large portion of your country, and the enemy of God and man. Never hope to be a uited, or happy, or prosperous people while he exists. He has an appetite like the grave—a spirit as malignant as that of the bottomless pit—and an influence as dreadful a the corruption of death. Awake to your danger! the struggle is a mighty one—it cannot be avoided—it shoul not be, if it could.
It is said that if you agitate this question, you will divide the Union. Believe it not; but should disunion follow, the fault will not be yours. You must perform your duty, faithfully, fearlessly and promptly, and leave the consequences to God: that duty clearly is, to cease from giving countenance and protection to southern kidnappers. Let them separate, if they can muster courage enough—and the liberation of their slaves is certain. Be assured that slavery will very speedily destroy this Union, if it be left alone; but even if the Union can be preserved by treading upon the necks, spilling the blood, and destroying the souls of millions of your race, we say it is not worth a price like this, and that it is in the highest degree criminal for you to continue the present compact. Let the pillars thereof fall—let the superstructure crumble into dust—if it must be upheld by robbery and oppression.
* At an abortive lecture which he gave on Wednesday evening before the Lyceum at Roxbury, this Pearl had the egregious presumption and vanity to read this identical article from the Transcript, as a specimen of public sentiment!—He probably wrote the article in the Traveller—which, with those copied by us from the Evening Gazette and Atlas, may possibly claim our notice in another number.