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Slavery: What it was, what it has done, what it intends to do Speech of Hon. Cydnor B. Tompkins, of Ohio   By: (1810-1862)

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Delivered in the House of Representatives, April 24, 1860.

Mr. TOMPKINS said:

Mr. CHAIRMAN: The charge is frequently made, that nothing but slavery occupies the attention of the National Legislature. That this charge is true to a great extent, that this subject is constantly kept before the country, and that there is constant excitement about it, is not the fault of the Republican party. In the first hour of the present session of Congress, it was thrust upon the House by a member of the slavery party; for two months a discussion was continued upon that subject, and almost exclusively by that party a discussion unparalleled in point of violence and virulence in the history of Parliamentary debate. Charges the most aggravated were unscrupulously and shamelessly made against the best and purest men of the country, and honorable members on this floor. Calumny and vituperation held high carnival in the legislative halls of this great nation. The columns of the Daily Globe teemed with fierce and fiery denunciations of all who would not bow to the behests of pro slavery power. Depraved, corrupt, and polluted presses exerted themselves to the utmost in the work of slander and detraction; hireling scribblers for worse than hireling presses glutted themselves and made their meals on good men's names . These spacious galleries were filled with disloyal men, ready to applaud to the echo every threat uttered against the Government, and every disloyal sentiment heard from this floor.

If the Republicans here shall feel it to be their duty to discuss this subject now; to lay bare its weakness and its wickedness; to expose the madness and the folly of those who sustain, support, and cherish it; if the great interests of the country have to be neglected for a time; if ordinary legislation must be put aside, no complaint can be made against the Republican party. That party, its principles, its men, and its measures, have been misrepresented, and most unjustly assailed. It is our privilege, it is our duty, to repel those assaults, that the world may know that when the advanced guard of freedom is attacked, "our feet shall be always in the arena, and our shields shall hang always in the lists."

I intend to review this question for the time allowed me. I hope to do so with fairness and candor, and not with the passion and excitement that have characterized many speeches made this session by pro slavery members. I shall endeavor to show that the fathers of this Republic, both of the North and South, were more thoroughly anti slavery than any political party now in the country; and that, for more than forty years after its organization, a large majority of our prominent men were strongly opposed to the extension of that " patriarchal institution."

The debates in the Federal Convention show that the Constitution was framed, adopted, and ratified, by anti slavery men; that they regarded it as an evil, yet were ashamed to acknowledge its existence in words thus virtually refusing to recognise property in many Resolutions, addresses, and speeches, now to be found, establish this very important fact, as I will show by quotations from them.

At a general meeting in Prince George county, Virginia, it was

" Resolved , That the African slave trade is injurious to this colony, obstructs the population of it by free men, and prevents manufacturers from Europe from settling among us."

At a meeting in Culpeper county, Virginia, it was

" Resolved , That the importation of slaves obstructs the population with free white men and useful manufacturers."

At a meeting in Nansemond county, Virginia, it was

" Resolved , That the African slave trade is injurious to this colony, obstructs the population by free men, and prevents manufacturers from settling amongst us... Continue reading book >>

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