— George William Curtis
Context: And as I understand the Republican party, while it steadily holds that slavery is in itself a wrong, it does not forget human conditions and the actual state of things, and, therefore, that the questions of planting slavery in fresh territory and of removing it where it is in wrought in a system of society are very different, as different as the prevention and the cure of disease. The question of the moment, then, is simply whether the most unrelenting and permanent despotism can be justified by the Constitution of the United States. That is, whether the makers of the government meant that the democratic-republican principle should gradually, but surely, disappear from that government. There are, therefore, but two parties, one holding that a system of free society, the other that one of slave society, is the real intention of the government. These parties are sectionally divided in situation, but they both aim to have their idea become the national policy. The party of slavery, indeed, is divided in its own camp, but only upon a minor question. The point of difference between Mr. Douglas and Mr. Buchanan is not whether all men under this government have rights, but simply in what way those who deprive them of those rights shall be most securely protected. Mr. Douglas argues that the slave party is the only national party; 'because', he says, 'so long as we live under a common Constitution, any political creed which cannot be proclaimed wherever that Constitution is the supreme law of the land must be ruinous and fatal'. He makes short work of it For it is a matter of fact that the creed of equal human and consequent political rights cannot be proclaimed everywhere in the country; and therefore whoever, in the present juncture of our affairs, can proclaim his entire political creed as frankly in Charleston as in Boston, can do it only because he has stricken from the list our distinctive national principle, without which we are not Americans at all — the natural equal rights of men. If Washington or Jefferson or Madison should utter upon his native soil today the opinions he entertained and expressed upon this question, he would be denounced as a fanatical abolitionist. To declare the right of all men to liberty is sectional, because slavery is afraid of liberty and strikes the mouth that speaks the word. To preach slavery is not sectional — no: because freedom respects itself and believes in itself enough to give an enemy fair play. Thus Boston asked Senator Toombs to come and say what he could for slavery. I think Boston did a good thing, but I think Senator Toombs is not a wise man, for he went. He went all the way from Georgia to show Massachusetts how slavery looks, and to let it learn what it has to say. When will Georgia ask Wendell Phillips or Charles Sumner to come down and show her how liberty looks and speaks?