Skip Redundent Navigation
Territorial Kansas Online 1854-1861 Explore Topics Territorial A-Z Map Lesson Plans  
Back to main document information


Untitled Document Read before the “Franklin Literary Institute,” of Brownsville, Dec. 10th 1856.

The Progress of Tyrany.

Having been appointed Essayist for this evening, we hardly knew on what to write. So many subjects presented themselves to our mind, each interesting in itself, and involving great questions, that we were for some time unable to fix our attention upon one, and exclude the others. We thought of writing on the last crowning infamy of the present corrupt and condemned administration, the “Message,” charging, as it does, the majority of the people of eleven of the greatest States of the Confederacy, with “want of fidelity to the Constitution and the Union,” and asserting, with unwarrantable authority that the “Missouri Compromise,” which the Supreme Court of the U. S., the only body possessing the power, had declared Constitutional, “to be obsolete, and null for unconstitutionality. Again, we contemplated writing on the past Campaign and its consequences, or on the Missouri Compromise, and a variety of other subjects, but we at last concluded to pass them all by for the present, and chose for our subject, “The Progress of Tyrany.

In viewing this subject, we have been mournfully impressed with the changes which have taken place during the last century—changes which, from their very nature, cannot proceed much further without producing the most direful results; perhaps resulting in the downfall of this government, or what is worse, the prostration of its most cherished principles. The soundings show that we are fast approaching the fatal spot, and the darkness of a troubled night is coming

[Page 2]

upon us. In examining the sentiments which the people of this Country have entertained, at different periods, we find that our past history may be divided into three different ages. The first is “Opposition to Tyrany.” In this age, all the great men of the day united in condemning it on moral, political, and religious grounds. Jay, Franklin, Adams, Morris and Hamilton, of the North, were joined by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Henry, and Pickney, of the South in reprobating it as an evil—unhappily entailed upon them, and so entwined with the whole social structure, as to render it apparently most difficult of removal—yet in all its aspects an evil which they deplored in language as strong as any writer of the present day. As Mr. Jefferson said, “The whole commerce between master and Slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one hand, and degrading submissions on the other.” “And,” continued he, “with what execration should the Statesman be loaded, who, permitting one-half of the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transform those into despots, and these into enemies; destroying the morals of the one, and the love of country of the other.” Though Slavery was tolerated where it existed, for the sake of general government, yet they looked forward to the day when it should be abolished. Thus, they refused to have inscribed upon the Constitution, the word “slave,” though adapted as a temporary enclosure of Slavery, and constructed it as avowedly for the ultimate abode of Liberty. In the North they saw State after State, through off the shackles of this Institution, and stand forth in the everlasting beauties of freedom, and wishing to circumscribe it in the Territories, they

[Page 3]

united in enclosing them with an eternal barrier against Slavery. This is shown in the proceedings of the Congress of that period, and in the passage of the Ordinance of 1787. In March, 1784 Congress voted to accept accession of lands, subsequently known as the N. W. Territory, from the state of Va. At the same time Mr. Jefferson, in behalf of a committee, consisting of himself, Mr. Chase, of Md, and Mr. Howell, of R. I., reported a plan for this government of all territories ceded, or to be ceded by individual states to the U. S. This plan provided that “after the year 1800, neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude should exist in any of said States except for punishment of Crime.” Territories were here spoken off as states, because it was contemplated to creat them into States. This provision failed to receive majority of the 13 States, though 16 delegates voted for and 7 against. This plan gave rise to the celebrated ordinance of 1787, expressly “prohibiting Slavery or involuntary servitude, except for Crime forever through-out the whole Territory then belonging to the U. S. which received the vote of every State in the convention except one. Congress ratified this Ordinance, and it received the signature of Washington. Thus you see that the founders of the Republic, in all their acts, strove to circumscribe the limits of Slavery, and extend the area of Freedom, and they sank to their graves with the hope that the land they had made free would soon through off the shackles of Slavery, and not be polluted by the footsteps of a Slave. This was the age of justice, of truth, of right, where men had an earnest faith in the principles of the Dec. of Ind.

There followed the age of indifference. The love of Freedom, which burned in the breasts of the men of the Revolution, was sensibly abated. Slavery,

[Page 4]

growing more productive, man began to calculate its value. The priceless principles of Liberty, would not, except in the scale of unselfish minds, weigh against the wrong which was “plated with gold.” It was at this time that Henry Clay, moved by the noble impulses of his generous heart, sought, with eloquence more than human, to persuade the people of Ky. to emancipate their Slaves. But the cool, calculating spirit of the times forbade it, though thousands of hearts responded to the call. But while the South claimed non-interference with Slavery, and the North acquiessed, the Slave holders themselves had not come to defend Slavery either as a good or a righteous Institution, nor sought to extend it, nor dreamed of rendering it co-equal with Freedom; nor denied the power of Congress to prohibit its ingress upon the national Territories. This was the age of conservatism, or indifference, and had this state of affairs continued long, Slavery would rapidly have wasted itself away and died.

But it was followed by the present age of extension, where Slavery for the first time, began to exhibit an aggressive character, that has been rapidly growing more bold and reckless. It commenced by demanding the Missouri territory to be admitted as a Slave State. Then the slumbering North awoke, surprised, grieved, and indignant that the system of human bondage was demanding to break over bounds where it was merely allowed to exist by those who framed the Constitution. Our own states, with united voice, issued a legislative protest against the measure. But intimidated by the threats of dissolution the North, through a portion of its representatives, gave way, after stipulating with the south as a compension for the surrender of Mo. as a Slave State, that all other territory lying North of the line of

[Page 5]

36º 30’ should be forever free. Then Slavery seemed to be satisfied; the fears of the North subsided, and the tempest seemed to have ceased. But the tiger had tasted blood and was ravenous for more. The vast Southwest territory was there and Slavery thirsted for it. The North offered but a feeble resistence, and the vast slaveholding State of Texas was added to the Union.
The war with Mexico followed, and millions of the treasure of the North were expended to pay the expenses of this war. The discovery of gold in California, and the rush of Northern emigrants to that State, kept Cal. Free. But all our Mexican territory was left open to Slavery, and added to this came the re-enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law, armed with more stringent provisions than before. After this, there was again a lull of the tempest. But the aggressive spirit of Slavery was not yet Satisfied. The territories of Kansas and Nebraska were to be organized, and they were North of the Compromise line. But Slavery, undaunted, here took another step, unparalleled for audacity and boldness, and trampling under foot all justice and plighted faith, bought a traitor to his soil, and under the miserable guise of “Squatter Sovreignty,” repealed the Mo. Compact, and opened to itself, those fair and boundless territories, the possession of which will give Slavery undisputed control of the government.

But its crowning act of villainy is yet to be told. When they repealed the Mo. Compromise, they professed to leave the people free to regulate their own domestic institutions. The people of the North went into Kansas, supposing they could there find a home. But slavery was watchful. It saw that the North could spare twice as many emigrants as the South, and it resolved to stop them. They blocked up the grand highway to Kansas as [XXXXX]

[Page 6]

the ingress of freemen, and when the peaceable citizens of Kansas, relying on the promises of the Administration, that they should settle their own institutions, held an election, armed villains from Mo. came over, took possession of the ballot boxes, drove the judges from the polls, and deliberately shot down anyone who dared maintain his rights. Having thus carried the election their own way, they are backed by the whole power of the Federal government, and their acts either approved off, or let pass unnoticed. And when a Senator of the U. S., a polished orator and a scholar, one whose heart burned with indignation to see these wrongs perpetrated upon an unoffending people, dared to proclaim, in eloquence which the fire-eaters knew they could not answer, these facts from his seat in the U. S. Senate, and enter the protest of his State against such infamy, he is stricken down by the hand of an assassin, who had not even magnanimity enough to approach him before his face, and this coward, after having performed this gallant exploit; is supported by the whole power of the Black Democracy in Congress.

Its chief triumph, however, is in the late Election, Bringing forth a candidate pledged to its interests, who, at the very outset, transmogrifies himself into a platform to extend Slavery, no measures were too vile, no lies to base for it to resort too, to carry its ends. They ridiculed “bleeding Kansas,” declared that no outrages had ever been committed in that Territory, or if they had, they were committed by Free State men—affirrmed that the North was aggressive and the South always submissive—that the North had all the territory, and the South none—that if the North did not yield to their demands they would dissolve the Union—hired

[Page 7]

men to divide the North upon two candidates, while they were united on one—squandered the money of the government by millions—praised the Americans, whom, that a few months before they had denounced as “midnight assassins” “dark lantern conspirators,” “traitors,” and every other vile epithet they could invent, as Union lovers, conservatives, and honest men—denounced the Republicans as abolitionists, disunionists, traitors, infidels, and free-lovers, and by these vile means they ran their candidate in, by a minority of over 2,000,000 votes.

These are its outward gains thus far. But it has wrought another change, in having conquered the long cherished principle of the Nation, that Slavery is Sectional, Freedom national. The time honored policy of our fathers, of the founders of the Republic, are abandoned at the dictation of the South. The immortal principles they proclaimed, are turned into ridicule, and the foundation truth of Freedom and Self government, the Declaration of Independence, is termed by one Northern traitor, “a compendium of high-winding abstractions and glittering generalities,” and by a Southern disunionist, “a self-evident lie.” Liberty, once deemed a more precious treasure than life, is now scouted at, as the delusion of a fanatical brain, and spit upon and derided by tyranny. The party who profess to be the followers of Jefferson, whose hand traced the Dec. and the Ordinance of 1787, now follow the wild principles of the Carolina nullifier, who “regarded Slavery as the most safe basis for free institutions in the world.

And where will the march of tyranny end. Already it threatens to possess all our National territories; to annex Cuba, Central America, and Lower California; and a governor of one of

[Page 8]

the Southern States, has, within two weeks back, disgraced his high official position, and honor of the nation, by transmitting to the Legislature, a Message advocating the re-opening of the Slave Trade. And why cannot it do all this? It has only to march forward a few steps further in its present course, and all is done. It has only to try it, and if the North object, it has only to raise the cry of Disunion, that scare-crow which has been its only resort for years, and it can find addle-pated fools enough in the North to get down on their knees, and beg them not to do it, resign every principle; yield to every demand; pay all their expenses; give them all the offices; only remain in the Union. The blatant, babling, senseless fools, they have not yet learned that the South has sense enough to know the hand that gives them their food, pays their postage, preserves them from attack from abroad and servile insurrection at home, and keeps their “first families” from starvation, by giving them the plunder of public office.

And, yet, thanks to an enlightened community, a light is breaking through the somber clouds, and shedding a sunshine of hope upon a bleeding land. The indications are on every side that there is wisdom in the people to discern the danger, and virtue to oppose and arrest its progress. And when that day shall come, when liberty shall once more sit upon her throne, and virture shall once more guide our nation, fearful will be the reckoning. Thousands of patriotic men are coming to the rescue. There is wisdom and patriotism in the hearts of the American people, and this hour of trial will prove it as fire tries the gold, and the Austerlity [sic] of the success of the Slave power will be lost in its Waterloo of defeat while we sound again the bugles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The current URL is http://www.territorialkansasonline.org/~imlskto/cgi-bin/index.php?SCREEN=show_transcript&document_id=100250.
This file was last modified September 12 2013 04:09:26 PM.