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as I came out of the prison, one of whom, he informed me, was a Mr. Slatter, a slave-dealer from Baltimore, whom he states to have been active in instituting others to acts of violence.”
The affair created a great deal of excitement, and came up in congress. Certain slave-holding members, in a state of frantic passion, went so far as to desire the hanging of Mr. Giddings and his friends, and so expressed themselves in their speeches. They also threatened to expel any members who should, upon examination, be found to have anything to do with inciting the slaves to escape. Mr. Giddings' speech upon the subject was unusually eloquent and bold. We will copy a few paragraphs from it:
“ Well, sir, what are the facts at which almost the whole slave-holding fraternity of this body has been thrown into such a ferment? Why, sir, it is said that some seventy-six men, women, and children, living in this district, possessing the same natural right to the enjoyment of life and liberty as gentlemen in this hall; feeling the galling chains of slavery chafing and festering into their flesh; themselves shut out from the social and intellectual enjoyments for which they were designed by their Creator ; bound down in abject servitude, surrounded by moral darkness, robbed of their labor, and shut out even from the hope of immortality under the laws which we have enacted, and which we still refuse to modify or repeal; inspired with an ardent desire to enjoy the rights with which God has endowed our race, went on board a schooner lying at one of the wharves of this city, and set sail for “a land of liberty. When they reached the mouth of the river, adverse winds compelled them to cast anchor. Thus detained, we may imagine the anxiety that must have filled their minds. How that slave-mother pressed her tender babe more closely to her breast, as she sent up to the God of the oppressed her silent supplication for deliverance from the men-stealers who were on their track; for those bloodhounds in human shape were in hot pursuit, clothed with the authority of the laws enacted by congress, and now kept in force by this body, and they seized upon those wretched fugitives, and brought them back to this city, and thrust them into yonder prison, erected by the treasure of this nation. There they remained until Friday, the 21st instant, when nearly fifty of them, having been purchased by the infamous
Hope H. Slatter,' who headed the mob at the jail on Tuesday, were taken in daylight from the prison to the railroad depot and from thence to Baltimore, destined for sale in the far south, there to drag out a miserable existence upon the cotton and sugar plantations of that slave-consuming region.
“ The scene at the depot is represented as one which would have disgraced the city of Algiers or Tunis. Wives bidding adieu to their husbands; mothers, in an agony of despair, unable to bid farewell to their daughters; little boys and girls weeping amid the general distress, scarcely knowing the cause of their grief. Sighs, and groans, and tears, and unutterable agony
characterized a scene at which the heart sickens, and from which humanity shrinks with horror. Over such a scene that fiend in human shape, Slatter, presided, assisted by some three or four associates in depravity, each armed with pistols, bowie-knife and club. Yes, sir, by virtue of our laws he held these mothers and children, their sisters and brothers, subject to his power, and tore them from all the ties which bind man kind to life, and carried them south, and doomed them to cruel and lingering deaths.
Sir, do you believe that these members of our body who stubbornly refuse to repeal those laws are less guilty in the sight of a just and holy God than Slatter himself? We, sir, enable him to pursue his accursed vocation, and can we be innocent of those crimes? How long will members of this house continue thus to outrage humanity? How long will the people themselves remain partakers in this enormous wickedness, by sending to this hall men who can here speak of their association with these heaven-daring crimes in the language of ribald jesting? If other members sanction and approve such torture, far more than ordinary murder, I will not. It is unbecoming a christian people; it is unsuited to the age in which we live. Why, sir, what a spectacle do we present to the civilized world! Yesterday we assembled with the citizens of the district, in front of this capitol, to rejoice and sing in honor of the people of France, many of whom offered up their lives to attain the liberty which we ourselves enjoy.
“ While we were thus collected together, and singing the soul-stirring Marseilles hymn, and shouting praises to our trethren, who, on the other side of the Atlantic, have achieved this freedom, and driven their monarch from his throne and country, a different scene was witnessed on the avenue before us, where some fifty slaves, destined for the southern market, were marched to the railroad depot. The clanking of their chains, their sighs and groans, mingling with our songs and shouts of praise in favor of liberty, ascended to heaven, and en
tered the ear of the God of the oppressed. Yes, sir, while we were thus professing our admiration of freedom, we who now sit in this hall, were at that moment sustaining a slave-market in this city, far more shocking to the feelings of humanity than can be found in any other part of the civilized world.”
Mr. Giddings has been always at his post in Washington-has always been faithful to his constituents. He has at all times been ready to meet the south upon any subject involving the question of slavery; he has opposed all compromises with the "institution," and though hated, yet is respected by the slaveholding members of congress.
The sternness which characterizes Mr. Giddings's character, his persevering devotion to principle, has, as a matter of course, made him many enemies, north as well as south. Politicians generally hate men of principle; political leaders, or at least corrupt political leaders, do not like to meet with men who cannot be threatened, or bribed, or cheated. Mr. Giddings has too much spirit to bear a threat, too much principle to entertain a bribe, and too much common sense to be led astray by designing politicians.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
Not merely as a poet, a politician, or an editor, is Mr. Bryant distinguished. He is widely known as a philanthropist. His sympathies are always with the unfortunate; and though from his retiring disposition he has had little to do with philanthropic organizations, yet he deserves the esteem of all lovers of humanity for his constant, unwavering devotion to the welfare of his race. Though editing a political journal, he has long advocated the cause of the slave with masterly ability, and an impressive sincerity. Long ago, when the abolitionists were subjected to the outrages of mobs, Mr. Bryant came out boldly in his journal in condemnation of the mob-spirit, though at that time it was popular to justify illegal attacks upon the anti-slavery reformers. Since then he has himself become nearly anti-slavery in his feelings and principles, and in his journal has not hesitated to rebuke his party friends, though high in office, for their zeal in extending the institution of slavery.
Mr. Bryant was born at Cummington, Massachusetts, on the 3d of November, 1794. His father was a physician of good education and respectable talents.