August '60

"No charge is more persistently urged against the…party, than that of 'sectionalism'.  ...through the wearying and repetitious columns of a thousand newspapers.  What do they all mean by it? -If, indeed, they mean anything beyond exciting the terrors of the ignorant, by the use of a word, to which they attach no very definite meaning, but which serves as a sort of verbal bugaboo, whose very mistiness of outline may give to the uninitiated an intimation of something terrible."

"If, our accusers mean to affirm that the…Party aims to promote the interests of one section of the country, to the neglect, or at the expense, of the interests of another section…we interpose our emphatic denial, and call upon them for proof."

"If they simply mean that our organization is confined to sections where…men, created in the image of God, are not 'deemed, taken, and held as chattels personal,' or herded with sheep and swine as mere marketable commodities; than we submit the shame and the blame, if any there be, rest not on us, but on those who would sacrifice the greater interests to the less - who adhere to the local prejudices at the expense of National ideas."…

"What is it? - That idea which gave us a National existence, and separated us as widely, in our polity and our influence, from other governments, as we were separated from the kingdoms of the Old World by the ocean that rolled between us?  It is - Liberty.  Liberty, the universal right - not made contingent on birth, or condition - not the gift of kings or potentates, of charters or of constitutions, but inherent in, and proved by the fact of, humanity.  That all men are created equal - that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights - that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were held as self-evident truths by those who built, on these firm foundation stones, the structure of our Nationality. …From this truth, they derived, logically, that other truth- 'That all just governments are derived from the consent of the governed:' another form of expressing our great National Idea."

"Slavery, indeed, existed in the land, and some of our earlier statesmen were implicated in it; but this fact, though it may subject them to the charge of inconsistency, does not prove their insincerity.  They themselves admitted and deplored the inconsistency; but, so far from restricting or modifying their great principle to conform it to an anomalous practice, they acknowledged that such practice was anomalous, and avowed their belief that it must gradually die out, and finally become obsolete under the influence of their principle.  In this faith they jealously excluded from the Constitution all recognition of slaves as property, and, in fact, everything that could warrant the belief…"

"We do not state this simply as an inference from the acts referred to, but as the interpretation given to these acts by the actors themselves.  The debates of the Convention that framed the Constitution, reported by Mr. Madison, furnish conclusive evidence on this point, as do also the writings of Jefferson, Hamilton, Jay, and their contemporaries."

"The doctrine that the Constitution, by its own force, carries Slavery with it wherever it goes, is one of very recent discovery, and its annunciation could astonish no one more than the framers of that instrument.  They evidently never even deemed that audacity itself could make such a preposterous claim.  On the contrary, they regarded Slavery as a local interest, merely, exceptional in its character, and having no existence beyond the jurisdiction of the local law.  They made LIBERTY our great National Interest, as it was distinctively our great National Idea; while Slavery was regarded as sectional, anomalous, restricted in its influence, and temporary in its duration."

" of today stands, in relation to this question, precisely where Washington, and Jefferson, and Madison, and their contemporary statesmen, stood.  They regarded Slavery as a contradiction of the foundation principles of our Government.  So does the…party.  They considered it as a local, exceptional, and temporary interest merely.  So does the…party.  They zealously labored, and judiciously legislated to  exclude it forever from all the public domain.  To this end the…party labors and legislates.  They laid the foundations of the Government in Liberty, as the faith, the hope, and the interest of the Nation.  The…party seeks to build, on that foundation, a superstructure which the world shall recognize as the completed idea of its originators, and as the worthiest illustration of their principles."

"It is well, too, to remember, in this connection, that Slavery is not an outgrowth of American ideas.  It is an Old-World barbarism…  If it can be justified for a single hour, there is no despotism that ever crushed humanity that need go begging for defenders.  It is deplorable that it should exist anywhere-…by its indefinite extension over territory, the property of the Nation, and 'whose normal condition is that of freedom.'  To ask the people…to consent to any such prostitution is simply to ask them to repudiate the principles and the policy of the fathers and to nationalize an institution which is foreign to the American idea, antagonistic to all human progress,…and which, a usurpation everywhere, is doubly a usurpation when it overleaps the bounds of State jurisdiction, where it can claim the dubious sanction of pirate law, and seizes as its own the vast domains which, by the solemn act of the nation, were once set apart as the indefensible inheritance of Freedom."

"Because we accept, as just and wise, the policy of Washington and Jefferson, we must still maintain our National Idea…against the sectionalism of Slavery.  Because we are friends of the Union and of the Constitution we deprecate the extension of the only influence that ever imperilled the one, and we would hurl from power the men who, by false interpretations and dangerous assumptions, have perverted and well night destroyed the other.  We are national as the statesmen of our earlier day were national-because our principles and our policy in reference to slavery extension are identical with theirs.  They are sectional who would sacrifice the interest of millions of free laborers to subserve the supposed interests of a mere handful of men, claiming the right to compel labor while with-holding wages.  They are sectional, who assert for a barbarism that ignores every principle that underlies our civil polity, a pre-eminence over every institution that freedom has planted in the land, for the benefit of the many and for its own perpetuity.  In one word, the Slavery Propaganda - whether singing hosannas to Douglas, or shouting itself hoarse for Breckenridge, in its effort to nationalize an institution which contradicts the fundamental principles of our government, which is foreign in its origin, which is the creature of local law, unless, indeed, it be absolutely lawless, and which is hostile to every interest,…the Slavery Propaganda,…with its dupes, are the real sectionalists, as not a few of them are avowed dis-unionists; while the…Party is alike national, Union-loving, conservative, true to the Constitution, and, therefore, protesting against the interpolation into it of novel and despotic doctrines - true to the faith of the founders of our nation, and, therefore, maintaining that LIBERTY IS OUR NATIONAL IDEA, AND NO LESS OUR NATIONAL INTEREST."

"There was a time, not far back in our history, when a denial of the central truth of our Declaration of Independence would have been received with amazement and indignation, and regarded as evidence that the denier was hostile to free governments, and an advocate of despotism.  …The old dogma of 'the divine right of kings,' which our fathers had made a thing of scorn, substituting for it the divine rights of humanity, was revived again, with a difference - and now stands in the political text-book of our sham democracy, as the divine right of slavery.  The repudiation of the doctrines of the Revolution, a bold and shameless denial of the self-evident truth that "all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," became a necessity of their position.  With what face could they aid the usurpations of slavery, and consent to all its monstrous claims, while pretending to accept the faith of Washington and Jefferson? …They must either deny the faith, or oppose the nationalizing of slavery.  They chose the former, for in the latter direction they saw the honors and emoluments of political power.  So, some of them boldly denied 'the self-evident truths,' and others attempted to explain them away.  Mr. Rufus Choate called them 'glittering generalities.'  Mr. George Fitzhugh, with sesquipedalian eloquence, asseverates that 'the Declaration of Independence is exuberantly false and arborescently fallacious.'  Another…calls it 'a rhetorical flourish,' another, 'Mr. Jefferson's unfortunate legacy,' and still another, with refreshing directness of speech, 'a self-evident lie.'  The Hon. Caleb Cushing, the President of two National…Conventions in this year of grace, 1860 - ventures the opinion that 'all men are not born free and equal' - though it would be difficult for even a greater casuist than he, to frame an argument for his own right of liberty that did not equally establish the right of all.  Yet to-day, probably, a majority…deny the faith of our Revolutionary fathers, and in its stead accept the doctrines of despotism."

"Nothing can be more certain than that the general repudiation of this faith must be followed by a corresponding revival of despotic dogmas and practices -
the oppression of the weak by the strong - the subjugation of the many to the few - the practical denial that 'governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,' and the gradual restriction of the franchises of the people.  The tendency of the lying ethics which the Slavery Propaganda would substitute for the sublime truths of the Declaration, is to these results - if they are not ultimately reached, it will be because that tendency is seen in time, and sternly resisted by a liberty-loving people."



"Liberty, the universal right...proved by the fact of, humanity.  That all men are created equal..."

Pamphlet at

"...we deny the authority...of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any Territory of the United States."

Document at

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