THE ANTI-SLAVERY DEBATE IN THE NEW SCHOOL GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
Reports of Speeches.—No. 1.
WE gave notice last week of our intention to publish in The Independent a further report of the Debate on Slavery in the recent New School General Assembly at Cleveland. As the result of the Assembly's action on this subject was the secession of its Southern commissioners, who, after the adoption of an anti-slavery paper, retired with a protest that the Assembly had made "such an assertion of the sin of slavery as degrades the whole Southern Church," and amounted to "indirect excision," all the stops leading to this important action have therefore become of public interest; so that the discussion, in view of its results, has assumed a character and importance which it might not have had if the separation had not been accomplished. We design to put on record—during three or four successive weeks, so as not to burden any one number of the paper to the extent of more than two or three columns—all the speeches, on either side of the question, which were prominent in the discussion, or which in any wise helped forward the vote.
The subject of slavery was brought before the house by a Report from the "Committee of Bills and Overtures;" and the debate began on a motion to adopt the Report. The first speech was made by Dr. Ross, of Alabama. The floor had been first assigned to Rev. Frederick G. Clark, of New York city, who obtained it in order that it might be yielded to Dr. Ross, who had previously expressed a wish to make some remarks preliminary to the discussion. His intended "remarks," however, were expanded into a speech of more than an hour's length. It was an effort entirely characteristic of its author, and will amply repay perusal even as a "curiosity of literature." His introductory allusion to the recent death of his only daughter, touched the Assembly, as it will every reader:
"Uncle Tom's Cabin."
[During the reading of the above, Dr. Ross took occasion to look up from the paper and speak a word about "Uncle Tom's Cabin," as follows:]
Uncle Tom's Cabin! A book which I have wept, and laughed, and got mad, all at the same time. (Laughter.) I wept because I never read more touching, splendid, sublime, glorious exhibitions of affection and love. And I have here to thank Mrs. Stowe that she has given these beautiful pictures of love—yes, love between the master and the slave; love between the woman and the slave, her servant. She has given all these touches as the pulsations of the Southern heart. I don't thank her that she has given all the meanness and atrocity in that book as the emanation of the South. For "Miss Feely," who didn't know how to govern the slave because she had no feeling for him, was from New England; and "Legree," who whipped "Uncle Tom" to death, was from the North. (Laughter.) That splendid book does no harm in the South. We read it there more than you read it here. We can appreciate all her facts; but the evil of the book—in England, in France, everywhere—is that it takes isolated facts, and makes them the great and common fact of Southern life. There is the evil of the book.