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History 146 – Prof. Gioielli
1848 Free Soil Party Platform – Excerpts
1. Resolved, Therefore, that we, the people here assembled, remembering the example of our
fathers in the days of the first Declaration of Independence, putting our trust in God for the
triumph of our cause, and invociing his guidance in our endeavors to advance it, do now plant
ourselves upon the national platform of freedom, in opposition to the sectional platform of
2. Resolved, That slavery in the several states of this Union which recognize its existence
depends upon the state law.-, alone, which cannot be repealed or modified by the federal
government, and for which laws that government is not responsible. We therefore propose no
interference by Congress with slavery within the limits of any state.
3. Resolved, That the proviso of Jefferson, to prohibit the existence of slavery after 18OO in all
the territories of the United States, southern and northern; the votes of six states and sixteen
delegates in the Congresss of 1784 for the proviso, to three states and seven delegates against it;
the actual exclusion of slavery from the Northwestern Territory, by the Ordinance of 1787,
unanimously adopted by the states in Congress, and the entire history of that period,--clearly
show that it was the settled policy of the nation not to extend, nationalize, or encourage, but to
limit, localize, and discourage slavery; and to this policy, which should never have beef departed
from, the government ought to return.
4. Resolved, That our fathers ordained the Constitution of the United States in order, among other
great national objects, to establish justice, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of
liberty; but expressly denied to the federal government, which they created, a constitutional
power to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due legal process.
5. Resolved, That in the judgent of this convention Congress has no more power to make a slave
than to make a king; no more power to institute or establish slavery than to institute or establish a
monarchy. No such power can be found among those specifically conferred by the Constitution,
or derived by just implication from them.
6. Resolved, That it is the duty of the federal government to relieve itself from all responsibility
for the existence or continuance of slavery wherever the government possesses constitutional
power to legislate on that subject, and is thus responsible for its existence.
7. Resolved, That the true and, in the judgment of this convention, the only safe means of
preventing the extension of slavery into territory now free is to prohibit its extension in all such
territory by an act of Congress.
8. Resolved, That we accept the issue which the slave power has forced upon us; and to their
demand for more slave states and more slave territory, our calm but final answer is: No more
slave states and no more slave territory. Lei the soil of our extensive domain be kept free for the
hardy pioneers of our own land and the oppressed and banished of other lands seeking homes of
comfort and flelds of enterprise in the neiv world.
9. Resolved, That the bill lately reported by the committee of eight in the Senate of the United
Slates was no compromise, but an absolute surrender of the rights of the non-slavcholders of the
states; and while we rejoice to know that a measure which, while opening the door for the
introduction of slavery into the territories now free, would also have opened the door to litigation
and strife among the future inhabitants thereof, to the ruin of their peace and prosperity, was
defeated in the House of Representatives, its passage in hot haste by a majority, embracing
several Senators who voted in open violation of the known will of their constituents, should warn
the people to see to it that their representatives be not suffered to betray them. There must be no
more compromises with slavery; if made, they must be repealed.
"The 'Mudsill' Theory," by James Henry Hammond
Speech to the U.S. Senate, March 4, 1858
In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life.
That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor,
docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads
progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political
government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one
or the other, except on this mud-sill. Fortunately for the South, she found a race adapted to that
purpose to her hand. A race inferior to her own, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in
docility, in capacity to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes. We use them for our
purpose, and call them slaves. We found them slaves by the common "consent of mankind,"
which, according to Cicero, "lex naturae est." The highest proof of what is Nature's law. We are
old-fashioned at the South yet; slave is a word discarded now by "ears polite;" I will not
characterize that class at the North by that term; but you have it; it is there; it is everywhere; it is
The Senator from New York said yesterday that the whole world had abolished slavery. Aye, the
name, but not the thing; all the powers of the earth cannot abolish that. God only can do it when
he repeals the fiat, "the poor ye always have with you;" for the man who lives by daily labor, and
scarcely lives at that, and who has to put out his labor in the market, and take the best he can get
for it; in short, your whole hireling class of manual laborers and "operatives," as you call them,
are essentially slaves. The difference between us is, that our slaves are hired for life and well
compensated; there is no starvation, no begging, no want of employment among our people, and
not too much employment either. Yours are hired by the day, not cared for, and scantily
compensated, which may be proved in the most painful manner, at any hour in any street in any
of your large towns. Why, you meet more beggars in one day, in any single street of the city of
New York, than you would meet in a lifetime in the whole South. We do not think that whites
should be slaves either by law or necessity. Our slaves are black, of another and inferior race.
The status in which we have placed them is an elevation. They are elevated from the condition in
which God first created them, by being made our slaves. None of that race on the whole face of
the globe can be compared with the slaves of the South. They are happy, content, unaspiring, and
utterly incapable, from intellectual weakness, ever to give us any trouble by their aspirations.
Yours are white, of your own race; you are brothers of one blood. They are your equals in natural
endowment of intellect, and they feel galled by their degradation. Our slaves do not vote. We
give them no political power. Yours do vote, and, being the majority, they are the depositories of
all your political power. If they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than
"an army with banners," and could combine, where would you be? Your society would be
reconstructed, your government overthrown, your property divided, not as they have mistakenly
attempted to initiate such proceedings by meeting in parks, with arms in their hands, but by the
quiet process of the ballot-box. You have been making war upon us to our very hearthstones.
How would you like for us to send lecturers and agitators North, to teach these people this, to aid
in combining, and to lead them?
Frederick Douglass on the Meaning of the Fourth of July
Born a slave, Frederick Douglass escaped from bondage in 1838, at age 20, and within a few
years had established himself as one of America’s foremost abolitionists. He published his
autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, in 1848, and it became an
international bestseller. A gifted orator as well as a writer, Douglass was asked to give a speech
on the meaning of Independence Day to the Ladies of the Rochester Anti-Slavery Sewing Society
on July 5, 1852. The people in attendance expected the kind of talk people normally gave on
patriotic holidays, something rousing and celebratory about the greatness of America. Instead
they got what is arguably Douglass’s most famous speech, a searing perspective on what the
holiday meant to African Americans, most of whom were enslaved.
Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What
have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of
political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended
to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to
confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your
independence to us?
Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully
returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For
who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to
the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so
stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee,
when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that,
the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."
But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not
included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the
immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed
in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by
your fa thers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has
brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must
mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to
join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean,
citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct.
And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering
up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in
irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!
Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions!
whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the
jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding
children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave
to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with
the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a
reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I
shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there
identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare,
with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on
this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the
present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the
past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God
and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is
outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible
which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the
emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of
America! "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can
command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by
prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.
For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing
that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting
houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and
gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and
secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and
teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging
gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side,
living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children,
and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life
and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!
Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own
body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question
for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with
great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be
understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing
a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and
positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to
offer an insult to your understanding.-There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does
not know that slavery is wrong for him.
What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work
them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them
with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with
dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh,
to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus
marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better
employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.
What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it;
that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is
inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot.
The time for such argument is passed.
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and
could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting
reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not
the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The
feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the
propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its
crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than
all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To
him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness,
swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants,
brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and
hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to
Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes
which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices
more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of
the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found
the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with
me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.