Friday, January 28, 2011

Daniel Webster on the evils of slavery in the West, 1819

“The laws of the United States have denounced heavy penalties against the traffic in slaves, because such traffic is deemed unjust and inhuman.  We appeal to the spirit of these laws; we appeal to this justice and humanity. We ask whether they ought not to operate, on the present occasion, with all their force?  We have a strong feeling of the injustice of any toleration of slavery.  Circumstances have entailed it on a portion of our community which cannot be immediately relieved from it without consequences more injurious than the suffering of the evil.  But to permit it in a new country, where yet no habits are formed which render it indispensable, what is it, but to encourage that rapacity, fraud, and violence against which we have so long pointed the denunciations of our penal code?  What is it, but to tarnish the proud fame of our country?  What is it, but to throw suspicion on its good faith, and to render questionable all its professions of regard for the rights of humanity and the liberties of mankind?” [quoted in Remini, DANIEL WEBSTER, 169]

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