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474 DOUGLASS' MONTHLY June, 1861 [[line]] [[3 columns]] [[column 1]] magicians, the awful and sublime crisis in our national affairs, swallows up all other subjects. I must either speak of that which engages all minds and fills all hearts at this moment, or speak as one who beateth the air. The solemn departure of the troops from this city only a few days ago, composed of the sons, brothers, husbands and fathers of some, perhaps, of those who hear me, is fitted to bring this subject before us more impressively than anything else. That departure was a thrilling spectacle. I witnessed it with feelings that I cannot describe. And as I saw the tears, and heard the mournful sobs of mothers, as they parted from their sons;--wives, as they parted from their husbands;--sisters, as they parted from their brothers, my very soul said in the depths of its bitterness, let slavery, the guilty cause of all this sorrow and sighing, be accursed and destroyed forever--and so I say to-day. For all the woes of this terrible civil war, we have to thank the foul slave system.--Treason, rebellion, and every abomination, spring out of its pestilential atmosphere, like weeds from a dunghill, and but for the existence of slavery, this county would to-day be enjoying all the blessings of peace and security, and the hearts of your wives and daughters would not be tossed with the bitter anguish which now rends them. I wish the cause of your national troubles, which has thus snatched your own flesh and blood from you to be exposed to all the dangers, horrors and hardships of civil war, to be constantly borne in mind. It is not the sturdy farmer of the West, who tills his broad acres with his own hard but honest hands, who eats his bread in the sweat of his own honest brow, that has plotted and conspired for the overthrow of this Government. It is not the skillful mechanic of New England, who by his daily toil supports his wife and children by his skill and industry, that has risen against the peace and safety of the Republic, It is not the hardy laborer of the North, nor of the South, who has treacherously conceived this hell-black conspiracy to destroy the Government and the liberties of the American people. No! Oh, no! We owe our present calamity to the existence among us of a privileged class, who are permitted to live by stealing. We owe it to the existence of a set of respectable robbers and murders, who work their fellow men like beasts of burden, and keep back their wages by fraud. It was once a favorite maxim of Daniel O'Connell, 'that England's extremity was Ireland's opportunity.' Another proverb, somewhat trite, is, that when 'rogues fall out, honest men get their rights.' To both sayings there have been many exceptions, and there will be many more. The Irish people could never be brought to adopt or to act upon O'Connell's maxim, and there have been many quarrels among dishonest men, which have only ended in further compacts and combinations of dishonesty.--One thing, however, I think we may all venture to assert, the present war between slaveholding traitors and the legitimate American Government, affords much rational ground for the hope of the abolition of slavery. A favorite maxim among the slaveholders a few years ago, was that revolutions never go backward. They quote this saying with enthusiastic exultation. No doubt while doing so, the stately halls of Washington flit before them, and they see in the not distant future, Jeff. Davis and his brother traitors, the masters of the great American Government, and enjoying all the luxury, grandeur and magnificence of the national capital. This weapon is two-edged. It cuts both ways. It is as good for one section, as for the other. If revolutions never go backward, they are of course as likely to go forward in one section as the other--in the North, as in the South. The slaveholders have resolved to battle for slavery, and the people of the Free States will yet come forth to battle for freedom. The end is clearly foreshadowed. [[/column 1]] [[column 2]] 'Freedom's battle once begun, Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son, Tho' baffled oft, is ever won.' At present, as all know, the North only strikes for Government, as against anarchy.--She strikes only for loyalty, as against treason and rebellion. The slaveholders strike for absolute independence, and total separation.--The North strikes for the absolute supremacy of the Constitution, the Union, and the laws. Her loyal sons have buckled on their armor, with the full determination that not one of the thirty-four stars shall fall from the blue ground of our national flag. But this is, after all, but the surface of this war. It will, and must, if continued, take on a broader margin. The law of its life is growth. The rallying cry of the North now is, 'Down with treason, down with secession, down with rebellion.' And until this trio of social monsters are completely crushed out, the war is not to cease. Herein is my hope for the slave. The war cannot cease; the battle must go on. The Government must die in the first century of its existence, or it must now strike a blow which shall set it in safety for centuries to come. For let this rebellion be subdued, let the chief conspirators and traitors be hanged, or made to flee the country, let the Government, in this instance, fully assert its power, and the lesson will last for ages. It was said that the first gun fired at Bunker Hill was heard round the world. The first gun which was fired upon Sumter, will be heard ringing through the dome of a thousand years, as a warning to rebels and traitors. It is not more true that this irrepressible conflict must go on, until one of the parties to it is ground to powder, than it is, that the elements that enter into it will widen and deepen the longer it lasts. What would have been gladly accepted by the Government at Washington, one little month ago, would be rejected with scorn to-day; and what might possibly be accepted to-day, will a few weeks hence be looked upon as a mockery and insult. Already, there is a visible change in the bearing of the Government at Washington.--Two weeks ago, they asked Baltimore to graciously grant permission to American soldiers to pass through her streets to defend and protect the American capital. Now they take possession, not only of Baltimore, and subject her to a rigorous blockade, but take possession of any and every part of the State, they have any use for. Two weeks ago, the President was concerned for the safety of his soldiers. It will not be long before he will be concerned for the safety of the now persecuted loyal men and women in the State of Maryland. The President will, by and bye, see that the United States Congress gives him the right, and makes it his duty to take care that none are deprived of life or liberty, without due process of law; and that the citizens of each State shall enjoy all the rights and immunities of citizens of the several States. The first proclamation of Mr. Lincoln was received with derision at the South. It is said that the cabinet of Jeff. Davis read it amid roars of laughter. They were intoxicated with their victory at Charleston. 'Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.' Nero fiddled while Rome was on fire, and men have danced over the jaws of an earthquake. But those who have been merry in the morning have wept and howled in the evening. The conflict can never be reduced to narrower limits than now, by either party. It can be extended, and probably will be extended, but it cannot be limited. Neither party can limit the issues involved in it. They would not if they could, and they could not if they would. The only thing that could have prevented or postponed this mighty conflict was compromise. But now this has entirely vanished from the field of possibilities, and the work must go on. The leaders of secession first asked the right of States to secede--to go out in peace; next it seized and appropriated arsenals; next it sent traitorous emissaries to corrupt the loyal States, and to [[/column 2]] [[column 3]] organize treason within their borders; next it fired on the American flag; next it rained balls and bombshells upon Sumter; next it collected an army to capture all the national defences within one section of the Confederacy; and next it marched its army for the destruction of the National Capital. It will go on. It cannot stop. It has at last got on the much coveted seven mile boots. It is in the nature of the thing to go on. One success begets another. Once on the outer circle of the whirlpool, you are sure of being drawn in due time to the centre. The slaveholding rebels can stop their war upon the Government only when their men and money have gone. They must be starved out, broken down, overpowered, and totally exhausted, before they can consent, after their high sounding threat, to sue for peace. I am quite free to say, aside from any direct influence this war is to have towards liberating my enslaved fellow countrymen, I should regret the sudden and peaceful termination of this conflict. The mission of the revolution would be a failure were it to stop now. It would, in that case, only have lived long enough to do harm, and not long enough to do any good. One most important element on this war, on the part of the North, is to teach the South a lesson which it has been slow to learn. The people of the North have long borne a bad reputation at the South. They have borne the reputation of being mean spirited and cowardly. All the bravery and manliness has been monopolized by the South. This is one of the many evils arising out of the connection with slavery. In all our wars the North has furnished the officers, and have, therefore, received the largest measure of the glory. Now, I take it that no people are safe from attack who bear such a reputation as we have borne in the Southern States. No people can be long respected who bear any such reputation. A reputation for cowardice is a constant invitation to abuse and insult. He is always whipped oftenest who is whipped easiest. The coward may be pitied and protected by the magnanimous and brave, but there will always be mean men, and even cowards themselves, who will abuse and insult those whom they can abuse and insult with impunity. We of the North may have learning, industry and wealth without end, with every other advantage; but so long as we are considered as destitute of manly courage, as too indifferent to defend ourselves, or freedom and our country, we shall be the victims of insult and outrage, whenever we venture among the rapacious aad ferocious slave-drivers of the South. Now, instead of looking upon the present war as an unmitigated evil, you and I, and all of us, ought to welcome it as a glorious opportunity for imparting wholesome lessons to the Southern soul-drivers. The first of these lessons is to demonstrate before all, and especially before the people of the South, that they have been entirely and most dangerously deceived. We have got to show them that they have mistaken our forbearance for cowardice, and our love of peace, only for a selfish love of ease, and unwillingness to suffer for an idea, or a principle. The only condition upon which we can reasonably hope to live with them in peace and goodfellowship hereafter, is that we entirely undeceive them at this very important point. They have need of the lesson as well as ourselves. We need it that we may have our rights respected and secure. They need it to make them respectful of the rights of Northern men. The case is a plain one. The slaveholding rebels tell us to our teeth, that they do not love us. They acknowledge a feeling of infernal animosity towards all men who hate slavery.--All our past efforts to make them love us have proved abortive, and all such are likely to prove so in the future. Now, the next best thing, if we cannot make them love us, is to make them fear us. The opportunity for doing this is providential, [[/column 3]]
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