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"Give me Libertyor give me fteath!"
MONTPEIilKRi VERMONT, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1841-
HE GREEN MOUNTAIN FREEMAN.
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For AGENTS see lust pamc.
I ;, ,i tn understand, as my feelings, that the ques-
of slavery, and, most parucui.my, mo
domination of the slave representation, winch over-
rHnnn ns n . s THE (treat ciui-suon on vmhui y..u.
pi. are concerned in the government ot mo unueu
ilea. J. Q. Adams, at Dedham, 18-13.
There is only on? proper and effectual mode by which
abolition of slavery can be accomplished, and mat is
egislative authority, and this, so lar as my sunrage
go, shall not be wanting.--Washington.
Then come the Liberty Tarty , embracing a iarK p..i......
the virtue, intelligence, and legal knowledge, me tnn-
nitv and Patriotism, of the North. 'laMng the groan..
t occupied by VVashin;'on lums.-ll, tint slavery w.i
1 - ,i III. Ll' 1 1 U.t our
creature of tho law, and siioriui n amnion-, "y
V appeal to the l.allot-hox. not the bayonet; line me
'at Irish reformer, having faith in the power of reason,
th, and virtue, thev expect to aclnove a oi
ion more gloiu.us than any et arising from force i-nd
.... ... r niHi.hfM-ed h nt seven
ins. I Ills pariy, n il-v v....... -
lousand voters; now, in 184a, llicy poll six.y-nvu u u-
...I l thn l.a ot-b.iX. liaVUH' dollllleil uh:iii3u.i-
ery vear from the time "f their organisation, rt-.sui.nu
nlinued rate of increase, 1 leave it to the reflecting to
termine bow long it will be lief .re they absorn tne wuoie
itical power of the North. Vassuis H. Liay.
Km c.u the liberties of a nation be thought secure,
hen we have removed their only nnn nans,
Ion in the minds of th; people that these liberties are me
,.,f C,.,l Indeed. I tremble for mv country, when 1
ilect llifl God is jnr; that His justice cannot sleep for-
er- that, considering numbi-m, nature, an i naiuiai
' . i...:.. r.i. ...i,u,.l .r f.irtnnn. an ex-
eans out v , a revoiunoo in . .1. v .
ange of situation is ain-iiiB possible events. iMna ne
1116" probable by supernatural iiiterl'cri-nc.c! 'The Al-
irhty has no atlribolB which can la -v mu
a' contest. Jeffcr son's jYutes on Virginia.
Ami I vainly thought that in so doing, I wus not
only doing iny duty, and my wholo duty.
But farther investigation convinced tne oi my
mistake. I saw tlitit slavery was a creature of law,
and us such, was dependant for its existence, on
tho wili of the people, as expressed through the
ballot box. And I saw no reason why that medi
um whi-h operated so powerfully in sustaining
slavery, might not bu made-tqually so in abolish
It . -ns nmmrent to me that if the freemen of
the nation were tn exercise the elective franchise
in opposition to slavery, it-would soon be at an
end. No power on earth could possibly sustain
it. I could not therefore avoiil tho conclusion,
that the criminality of the whole system, rested
with the men who sustain slavery at the ballot box.
Siaveliol.1eiv,"Tno'Ii;iv"c" often been denounced as
sinners almvo all men, with all their whips, fetters
and chains, were only, (as an executive depart
ment,) carry in;,' out I he will of the people, as ex
pressed through the ballot box. j
Viewing things in this light, Mr. 'President, J
could not well avoid being suspicious of that kind
of abolitionism which turned aside from the ballot
box, and I could but regard it as essentially defect
ivediverting the mind from the true point at is-
.. . I ......I .1 I ...UI..U U.. ...I
sue, it uecame a cnanuei iiiroun winun u-
vocates of the no-government, no-church, no sab
bath, and no-bible doctrine?, were enabled to prop
agate their principles to an extent hitherto un
known in the history of our country. Missing the
only true point at issue, it seemed to rush lawless
ly through the land, spending its force in making
war upon every institution, whether civil or reli
gious that fell in its way, thereby breaking asstin
der, regardless of consequences, all those ties by
which society was held together. To remedy this
slat-; of things, the friends of law and religion la
bored but in vain, until they organized themselves
into n liberty parly.
By lliis movement, having freed themselves from
11 connection with these disorganizers, leaving
ihem to stand upon their own merits, they have,
Itv making the ballot box a bond of union, or rnlly-
g point, so connected themselves as to become
H h M A N
Mil PUTNAM'S SPEECH,
1TTUR0HLEJSS COUNTY CONVEN
u rri,Mt the vwin of slavery which
mi i iu pMimri v. mi ii i y ii v nii'UHiii "i
..... r: ! itt fi kd nf r hi Const itu lion ol mo u.
Mr. Pur 1 1 it m rose and said
Mk. PitRSinr..NT : It is not without embarrass-
f ..I. 1 1 fin :!if'll
merit mat I anein u iu si-ius, .-
ubject as is presented in the resolution just ofier
Though aeeustoiiiiid to public speaking, yet
icing naturally slow of speech, and slow of tho't
; dHTieuli i'f urn tn dci instiee to a siiluect or to
- ..I. - j
.. i ti i ... . .......
nlnrot nil IIPIII I V lell CH UM II 1011 lO S l- il
.villi so little preparation as on the present occasion.
But my greatest difficulty is with the subject un-
ler consideration, h is a political subject, yes, a
great law question, and one w hich lies at the foun
dation of a whole political edifice.
I atri no lawyer I suppose this is well under
stood; and I am free to confess my ignorance.
Mv life has been divided between the pulpit and
and the plough, ami about political nlTairs, for the
most part, I thought hut little anil said less; be
lievin" firmlv in future rewards and punishments,
my great concern has been to 'workout my own
salvation,' and to induce others to do the same.
I had never seen the ballot box until September
1830, apprehending that its influence might prove
detrimental to piety, and I be hindered in my way
to Heaven, I shunned it, as I would have shunned
a place of vain recreation.
My views respecting the moral character of
slavery, were the same ten years ago that they are
now. By a careful investigation of the subject, I
became convinced of its exceeding sinfulness, and
that it was sin under all circumstances, nnd its ef
fects evil, and only evil, and that continually.
Aiive to the interests of the church with w hich I
was connected, I was greatly afflicted to find, that
60 far from taking any effective measures for the
extirpation of this sum of all villanies, she, by
enjoining it upon all her ministers and people, to
wholly refiain from nil abolition movements, was
directly preventing such interposition; and there
by, instead of being a refuge for tho oppressed, she
was making herself a refuge for the oppressor a
bulwark for slavery.
Believing, that the church, while she continued
to countenance such a system of abominations in
her midst, was bringing upon herself swift de
struction. I feit that there was a great work to
. be done: and that there was something for ine to
do. Accordingly, against the wishes of most of
iny brethren, and against the express injunction of
tho authorities of the church, 1 found it my Uuty,
(in unison with others of similar views) to com
mence a war on slavery. And this I did by preach
ing against it as I did other sins, believing, that in
bo doing, I was not preaching, as some supposed,
another eospel, but that part of the gospel which I,
in common with others, had previously neglected.
such provision was made, and as the declaration
on the nation's birth-day, has annually been con
firmed with great unanimity throughout the land,
it would seem, that the subject ought be put at
rest. But it is contended, that although ihe con
stitution does not expressly recognize slavery, yet
the fratners of that instrument, in order to induce
the slaveholding States to come into the Union,
entered into a compromise, by which it was stipu
lated that their domestic institutions should be pro
tectcd, and that certain clauses in the constitution
should be construed to that effect. Now, admit
ting all this to be true, yet the compromise is not
in the constitution, and has no connection with it.
It is only a private bargain, and its obligations
rest solely on the individuals wlio.mr.de it. As
the constitution reads, so it must sVitid. Ji,ven its
trainers were not authorized it compromise us
principles, by construing it diffimilly from the
natural purport of its language. It could be mado
to mean only what it said. It was an instrument
designed to be read and understood by pcoplo who
could know nothing about the compromise, and
nothing about the private views of the fratners;
n it only by the most humble individuals of the na
tion, but by the world, and generations yet unborn.
And it is very evident from the known charac
ters and views of the fratners of the constitution,
that they designed it to he permanent, while the
compromise was to be but a mere temporary con
cern, designed to give to the several States con
cerned, a convenient season to rid themselves of
what was universally admitted to bo a curse to the
nation, and a libel on our republican form of gov
ernment. It did not occur to them, that ere one generation had
passed away, the compromise would have become
the law of the land, the great rule of action for the
general government, arm tue coiisiiuiuoii a men:
secondary a flair, in perfect subserviency thereto.
They expected that ere this tune, the principles of
the Declaration of Independence would have been
carried out, and liberty would have been proclaim
ed throughout the land.toall the inhabitants there
of. That the constitution exists, separately from
the compromise, and does not of itself sustain
slavery, it would seem that even the slaveholders
admit, seeing that an oath to sustain the constitu
tion, is not corsidered by them of sufficient au
thority to bind the officers of the General Govern
ment to their interests, but a separate pledge to
ments as we cuulil Hardly Have a ctiange tor tne sustain whs compi um musi uc miumni.:i-u w
worse I thought it possible that we might have all such that are not slaveholders, prior to their
io fir the lictr'T. being presented to the people as candidates.
There remained, however, one question in my But an examination of such parts of the Consti-
i "ti . . ii i :. .
mind, one which tho resolution under consiuera- tution as are ncieiii coucerneu, wm sen no sunjeci
tiuti nintemplates, yet to be settled, the right dis- in its true light. 1 he preamble which sets forth
of I it-Ii seemed to settle the point.wheth- the purposes lor winch the Constitution was torm
is noicil lor unanimity as tuey nau previously
iceii lor tue w-.tit oi it.
From the commencement of this new movement,
. (I'll III . I L' II..
viewing tilings us l inn, I couiu out oe lavorauio
to it. 1 hough not much in tavor ot new experi-
Liberty party was right or wrong.
If, in accordance with the resolution, it could be
made to appear that slavery violates the constitu
tion tis well as the law of God, I see no ground of
objection to the Liberty party.
Finally, being ignorant of t lie Const i tut ion itself,
having formed my judgement from the opinions
acquiescing ,i,e but purposes of an entirely opposite cnar-
acter. But an examination of these clauses iu the
ed, mid which is the key to what follows, reads
thus. " IFe the people of the United Slates, iu
older to form a more perfect union, establish jus
tice, ciisiue domestic tranquility, provide for the
common defence, promote the general welfare and
secure tho blessings of liberty to' ourselves and our
posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution
of others, 1 was inclined to belive that slavery was for the United Stales of America."
guaranteed by it. But becoming more acquainted Now if the preamble speaks the truth, the whole
with the public mind, arid ascertaining that most truth, and nothing but the truth; if it here sets
pi ople were as ignorant of the constitution as my- forth the purposes, siud all the purposes for which
self, they h iving funned their opinions in the same .,he constitusion was framed, then the construction
way, 1 did not feel very sanguine in my faith. 1 which the com promise puis upon it must be a gross
found that most people were as ignorant of the and unwarrantable perversion of its meaning.
great charter of llietr liberties as the papists are of And if the compromise construction be admitted
the scriptures, and were disposed, for the most to be correct, then it must be admitted also that
part, to treat it in the same way. But fw had the fratners of the constitution were not very con-
ever read it, or knew what it contained, it being spicuous for consistency, seeing they not only
for the most part, committed in trust for safe wandered from their text, but also come out in Hat
keeping, to a few slaveholders, who, as a kind of rntrad iction to it. Slavery not only had other
political priesthood, were considered ine omy ti tie purposes in view besides these set tortn in tne pre
expounders, the common people
therein with till humility.
Believing that the constitution is of no private I constitution which have been s construed as to
interpretation that it was designed to be known eom-r;l,ict the preamble, may help us settle the
and read, and understood of all men, I have had
the presumption to carefully examine it for my- Article 1. Sec. 1. third elause. "Repiesenta
self. And with all deference for public opinion, ,; nl)1 (jn;Ct taxes shall he apportioned among
md tor the opinions of men iu high places, have ,)(! sevcral states that shall bo included within this
at last, formed an opinion of my own. union, according to their respective numiiers,
In 177G, on the nation's birth day, the repiesen- which shall be determined by adding to the whole
.. . . . . .. . . . i i i .
tatives ol these United Mates, lm the name ot the number of free persons, including muse oouim w . , . . . f .
people,' reiving on Divine Providence for protec- arvico for a term of years, sad excluding Indians aiau.s "" '; ,
, J ... , u ..., ' r ,l, ,.f,.U ,, nP,-Sr.n. lows that kidnapping might become a general
MUD, illlU UJIJii;tMlii tu inu uuiLiuw nv mn uiAtMl, uuuu un-"- f
world for the rectitude of their intentions, adopt- Art. 1. Sec. 9. The migration or importation
ed the following Declaration as tho creed of the of such persons as any of the states shall think
nation. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the con
that all men are created equal, that they are cn- gross, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such
dowed by their Creator with certain inalienable importation, not exceeding ten dollars each hun
rights; that among these are life, liberty and the dred."
pursuit of happiness." And to sustain this decla- Art. 4, Sec. 2, third clause. "No person held
tion, they mutually pledged to each other, their t0 se, vicc or labor in oim state, under the laws
lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. That thereof, escaping into another, shall, in conse-
this declaration, which was so solemnly made,and quenco" of any law or regulation therein, be dis-
in defence of which, so much blood and treasure cl,arged from such service or labor, but shall be
was spent, w as disannulled, and made of no effect, ,(!jvcl til Up( on claim of tho party to whom such
by the adoption of a constitution, m which was service or labor may be due."
It appears that from tho construction that has
been given to these three clauses in the Constitu
tion, that the slave power has derived all the con
tinuance and support that it has ever leceived from
the general government. From thence it secured
to itself a representation for three filths ot all the
slaves, liberty to carry on the slave trade tor twen
ty years, and the right to their property in human
flesh not only in the slaveholding states but in any
part of the Union where they could find it. And
yet thers is uo mention here of tho slave, slave
ry, or the slaveholder.
I know it is said that the frnmert of the Consti
tution meant slavery. But this amounts to noth-'
ing. If they meant so w hy did they not use words
expressive of their meaning. Vhy could they not
as easily have said slave as "persons held lo ser
vice or labor." And why could they not as easi
ly have said African slave trade as "the
migration or importation." Why could they not
as easily have said, three fifths of all slaves, as
"three fifths of all other persons." There seems
to have been no reason why they could not
unless it be this. Having but a little while pre
vious astonished mankind with their high profes
sions ol liberty, proclaiming loudly before all the
world that all men were created equal, they were
not exactly prepared to give the lie to all their pro
Cessions, bv acknowledging slavery in the great
charter of their liberties. So despite of the migh
ty efforts of slaveholders to the contrary, they
omitted it. And w hat they have thus merely omit
ted, it is not possible for any construction or com
promise to insert. The Constitution can only be
made to mean as it reads. And instead of read
ing slave or slaves, it in every instance reads per
son or persons. And slaves are not persons ac
cording to the laws of our land, it is not possible
that they should be. They are recognized only as
property. And as there is always u distinction in
law between property and persons, they cannot
therefore be property and persons too. Persons
are never known as property, and property is nev
er known as persons.
It is true that in some parts of the world, the
slave is acknowledged, in some sense, to be a per
son. Thus it is in Russia, because there the law
recognizes his right to his wife and his children.
And also in Brazil and in the dominions of Spain
and Portugal, because in these countries the law
recognizes his right to own property, nnd to dis
pose of it. But in Protestant Republican Ameri
ca, it is far otherwise. Here, his inalienable rights
are all taken away. He is in no sense a person.
Every iota of his personality is gone. " Slaves
are reported in law to be goods and chattels to all
intents and purposes whatsoever. 1 hey nave
nothing of their own. Their wives and children,
their hands and feet, their bodies and souls, are
not their own, hut their masters. Their identity
is entirely gone.
That the constitution provides fur a representa
tion of three fifths of such persons as are not free
cannot be denied. But as the representation is
based wholly on personality, and not on property,
it depends entirely on the character which the
laws e-ive to slaves whether there shall be u repre-
c..,. ,t..,. - nr,t IF whilst the law holds
il! I I I H l .1 III .UI I lu.tl ' -
them to service or labor, it nevertheless acknowl
edges their personality; if it identifies them as men,
so that the slave, in other respects, can.thiuk and
act for himseir; if he can enter into the marriage
relation, and claim that protection for his wife and
children w bich other men have, as in Russia; or
i I I U .1.1 ..........i'tr nitil ili.iiwwP
can sue or lie sueo, aoo nom noiciijr -
of it independently of his master, as iu Brazil, then
a representation for three fifths of them is clearly
ranted by the constitution, liut it, on tne eou-
trary, the law, whilst it holds them to service or
labor does also deprive them of personality, so that
thev are not identified as men; if they cannot think
or act for themselves cannot sue or be sued can
not hold property nor dispose of it cannot dis
charge the duties of husband and wife, or parents
and children; and, iu short, if tho marriage rela
tion is not recognized among them any more than
among the brutes, then it is clear that the constitu
tion provides for them no representation.
Whether the clause concerning the migration
or importation of persons authorized the several
States to carry on the slave trade until 1S09 or not
may not be of so much consequence at this time,
seeiii" the time is ran out, and Congress has by
I tin- slave trade to be piracy. But if
we are to understand it just as it reads, then it re
lates only to emigration. And what ever may
have been the design of it, I cannot see bow we
.i :.!. it
can construe it to mean ine siave num.-, inmoui
coming to a conclusion which none would be wil
ling to admit.
For if migration or importation meant the slave
tradol and Congress could not prohibit the migra
tion or importation of such persons as any of the
coiporated a system of slavery, tho vilest that ever
saw the sun, ought not to be believed without the
most positive and unequivocal evidence, and such
evidence as I have yet been unablo to find. It ap
pears to me, that the representatives of the peo
ple, could not perpetrate such an act without be
traying the trust that was reposed in them, or,
without violating what was then known to bo the
expressed creed of the nation.
And as tho Declaration of Independence was
prior to the adoption of the Constitution, and con
sidered in full force up lo that time, it would seem
that the constitution could not disannul, without
some express provision to that effect. But as nc
business, not only in Africa but all over the world
for Congress could not have power to prohibit it
in one place any more than another. Virginia
might kidnap the people of Africa, New York the
people of Spain, Massachusetts the people France,
Vermont the people of Canada and so on ami
what ever might be the consequences, Congress
could not prohibit it.
The rb'ht to claim a slave when escaping from
one state to another, and the obligation to deliver
up, is by the constitution based on this same prin
ciple of personality. The constitution reads, "no
person held to service or labor in one state uuuei
laws thereof escaping into another state, shall in
nscnuenco of any law or regulation therein be
discharged from such service or labor, but shall be
.lelivered up. on claim of the party to whom such
service or labor may bo due." It will readily no
oereeived that tho laws of the state trom wn.cn
the individual escapes, must determine the case,
both as it regards the character of the individual
n,l thn nlnim that is set up against him. If it shall
appear that according to those laws the individu
al is recognized as a person, and as such doe? ac
lually owe the claimant service or labor, then ac
cording to the constitution the claim must be al
lowed, and the individual mt be delivered up.
But if on the contrary it shall be mado to appear
that according to those laws the individual is not
recognized as a person, and as such is not held to
ervice or labor, does not and cannot owe the
claimant ; aim finally if the claim set up ogainst
him is founded on the fact that the individual is
known in law as propety and not as a person, then
as tho constitution recognizes no such claim, the
obligation to deliver up ceases. And on this point
I shall urge but one consideration more, and this,
it seems to me must settle the question beyond dis
pute. It is this, slaves by the laws of our land
are deprived of their liberties without due process
of law, which could not be the case if they were
known as persons, for the constitution expressly
says in the seventh article of the amendments,
that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or
property without due process of law."
From due considerations 1 have come to the
conclusion, that, as the personality of slaves has
ceased throughout, the land, that with it has ceas
ed all obligation, with useitlierasa nation oras in
dividual states if such obligation ever existed un
der the constitution to sustain the slave power.
If these views are correct, Mr. President, then
it follows that the constitution, so far from throw
ing any impediment in the way of emancipation
offers every facility for advancing it ; and that those
friends of tho slave have been wholly mistaken,
who have from conscientious scruples been led to
either wholly withdraw from the political contest,
or when under oaths to sustain the constitution to
exciud or object to a part of that instrument as
being no part of it, on account, us it is conceived
of its being at variance with the law of God.
The law of God is paramount to all law and
no human law can disannul it or lay any human
being- under any obligation to disobey it ; yet it is
far the safest way when an instrument like the
constitution proposes to be founded in righteous
ness, to so construe its different parts when they
can be mado to bear sut h i oi structiun us will make
them harmonize both with the laws of God and
each other. And instead of objecting to such parta
as may be construed wrong, to object only to such
Having said what I wished to say, on the reso
lution, I might be disposed to have let the subject
rest, were it not that in tho minds of some, the
constitution and the compromise are so identified
that they arc disposed to consider and treat them
as one and the same.
- Why, after having contended so strenously and
so effectually against the demands of the slave
power, to have slavery acknowledged in the con
stitution, the friends of fieedom should atlast
consent to enter into a compromise, may still he a
mystery in the minds of some. But it is all ex
plained in that one significant word expediency.
They having just gained their independence, after
having had some years of war, during which they
had lost many lives and spent most of their prop
erty, were now assembled as the representatives of
the people for the purpose of framing a govern
ment for the mutual protection of all. If they
were to separate without accomplishing their ob
ject, they apprehended that in fulfillment of the
predictions of their enemies, they should never
meet again, unless it was to butcher each other.
And as it was the opinion of most people that the
slaves were not prepared for freedom, and that the
emancipation of so many slaves at once, would be
fraught with the worst of consequences ; it was
deemed expedient to leave this subject for the sev
eral states to dispose of, expecting that as the lib
erty of speech and of the pi ess w ere fully tolerat
ed throughout the land a gradual emancipation
would soon be brought about, that would be at
once sale io the master nnd Beneficial to the slave.
In view of all these things, we can hardly bo
surprised that the friends of freedom at last came
to the conclusion, that it was expedient to yield
and enter into a compromise with the slave pow
er. The amount of which was, 'that slavery
might be suffered to remain in those states where
it then existed, until the friends of freedom with
the free use of such mighty agencies as the pulpit,
the mail and the ballot box, might effect its aboli
tion. Nor need we wonder that they should be e-
lated with the prospects nnd think it hardly possi
ble to fail of success.
But they were only deceived, as men may ever
expect to be, who substitute expediency for right ;
do evil that good may come, or of the two evils
choose the best. The slave power, paying no at
tention to the compromise any further then it serv
ed its own interests, kept straight forward in its
aggressions on the rights uf the people from that
day to the present. And as expediency had become
the rule of action, the friends of freedom in order
to keep pace, found it expedient to make continu
al overtures. Thus it soon became inexpedient-
to preach, or print, or publish, or uct against
slavery. So the pulpit and the press, the mail and
the ballot box were all delivered up and placed
under the supervision of Judge Lynch for safe
As it regards the duty of the General Govern
ment in reference to slavery, I have come to the
following conclusion ; 1st. That Congress has f.o
authority under the constitution to establish slave
ry anywhere, but, as the servants of the people, it
is bound to abolish it iu tho District -of Columbia
and in the territories.
2d. That the mail is the property of the na
tion, and that Congress is in duty bound to so
protect it, that its advantages shall be enjoyed e
qually hy all-