FREEDOM NATIONAL; SLAVERY SECTIONAL.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 1852.
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Sir, I shall speak frankly. If there be an exception to this feeling, it will be found chiefly with a peculiar class. It is a sorry fact that the "mercantile interest," in its unpardonable selfishness, twice in English history, frowned upon the endeavors to suppress the atrocity of Algerine Slavery; that it sought to baffle Wilberforce's great effort for the abolition of the African slave trade; and that, by a sordid compromise, at the formation of our Constitution, it exempted the same detested, Heaven-defying traffic from American judgment. And now representatives of this "interest," forgetful that commerce is the child of Freedom, join in hunting the Slave. But the great heart of the people recoils from this enactment. It palpitates for the fugitive, and rejoices in his escape. Sir, I am telling you facts. The literature of the age is all on his side. The songs, more potent than laws, are for him. The poets, with voices of melody, are for Freedom. Who could sing for Slavery? They who make the permanent opinion of the country, who mould our youth, whose words, dropped into the soul, are the germs of character, supplicate for the Slave. And now, sir, behold a new and heavenly ally. A woman, inspired by Christian genius, enters the lists, like another Joan of Arc, and with marvellous power sweeps the chords of the popular heart. Now melting to tears, and now inspiring to rage, her work everywhere touches the conscience, and makes the Slave-Hunter more hateful. In a brief period, nearly 100,000 copies of Uncle Tom's Cabin have been already circulated. But this extraordinary and sudden success—surpassing all other instances in the records of literature—cannot be regarded merely as the triumph of genius. Higher far than this, it is the testimony of the people, by an unprecedented act, against the Fugitive Slave Bill.
These things I dwell upon as the incentives and tokens of an existing public sentiment, which renders this Act practically inoperative, except as a tremendous engine of terror. Sir, the sentiment is just. Even in the lands of slavery, the slave-trader is loathed as an ignoble character, from whom the countenance is turned away; and can the Slave-Hunter be more regarded while pursuing his prey in a land of Freedom? . . .