Page images
PDF
EPUB

previous to a cruise of six months. This vessel has already been ordered to make the week's voyage direct from Boston to Norfolk; but the Secretary will give directions that she shall proceed to the Great Banks as far as can be judiciously done, under the circumstances, in order to afford relief to vessels in distress. He would extend the cruise to a longer term at once, but the contractors who have furnished her engines have certain rights which he is bound to respect.

The Secretary authorizes me to say also that he will send further relief, if possible.

I beg you to assure the memorialists that it will give me pleasure to promote the objects of the memorial to the full extent of my power.

Believe me, dear Sir, faithfully yours,

CHARLES SUMNER.

JOHN T. SMITH, Esq., Exchange News-Room.

THE EXAMPLE OF WASHINGTON AGAINST SLAVERY

NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN NOW.

LETTER TO A COMMITTEE OF THE BOSTON MERCANTILE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, FEBRUARY 19, 1856.

WASHINGTON, February 19, 1856.

EAR SIR, I have been honored by your invita

DEA

tion to be with the Mercantile Library Association on the 22d instant. You know well the happiness I find in any coöperation with the young men of that Association, and I need not assure you of the gratification with which I should participate in any services calculated to exalt the example of Washington.

Particularly at this moment should it be invoked, when the Republic, which he helped to found, seems to shake with the first throes of civil war, engendered by an interest which was condemned by him during life and formally abjured by him at his death. His great name should now be employed for the suppression of that Slave Power which is the fruitful mother of so much wretchedness. It will not be enough to quote his paternal words for Union: his example must be arrayed against the gigantic wrong which now disturbs. this Union to its centre, and, in the madness of its tyranny, destroys the very objects of Union.

The play of Othello without the part of Othello would be a barren spectacle; and the example of Washington, without his testimony against the malevolent force.

which disturbs the Republic, would be hardly less barren. Let the young men of Boston be encouraged to dwell on those sentiments and acts which, while they elevate his name, apply with prevailing power to the existing state of things among us. Let them bear in mind that he declared it to be "among his first wishes to see some plan adopted by which Slavery in this country may be abolished by law," -- that, to promote this purpose, he expressed a desire, in a recorded interview with a distinguished foreigner, for the formation. of an Antislavery Society, that on many occasions he condemned Slavery, that, in congratulations to Lafayette on his purchase of a plantation with a view of emancipating the slaves on it, he exclaimed, “Would to God a like spirit might diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country!"-and that, finally, by his last will and testament, written within six months of his death, he bore his practical testimony to those ideas and aspirations, by the emancipation of his slaves. With these things taken to heart, the example of Washington will exert its just conservative influence over the country, holding it back from the extension of that evil against which he set himself, and arousing the general sentiment to repulse the aggressions which now threaten civil war. Then, indeed, will the Father of his Country have a new birth and influ

ence.

Believe me, my dear Sir, very faithfully yours,

CHARLES G. CHASE, Esq., &c., &c., &c.

CHARLES SUMNER.

CONSTANT EXERTION AND UNION AMONG
GOOD MEN.

LETTER TO A MASSACHUSETTS COMMITTEE, FEBRUARY 25, 1856.

THE papers announce, that the following letter, when read, was received with six rousing cheers.

MY

SENATE CHAMBER, February 25, 1856.

Y DEAR SIR,—I cannot be present at the festival in commemoration of the election of Mr. Banks as Speaker. My duties will keep me here.

But with you I rejoice in this triumph of Freedom, which is the first achieved in the National Government, since the recognition, by the earliest Congress under Washington, of the Ordinance prohibiting Slavery in the Northwestern Territory. To advance this victory, and to obtain its just fruits, there must be no relaxation of efforts, but constant exertion, with union among good men, and a determination to yield no jot in the conflict.

To Massachusetts belongs an honorable place at the head of the battle. May no treason or hesitation of any of her sons deprive her of this post!

[blocks in formation]

THE ABROGATION OF TREATIES.

SPEECHES IN THE SENATE, MARCH 6 AND MAY 8, 1856.

THE effort to obtain for the Senate the power to abrogate treaties had peculiar interest at this time, from the known desire of certain Senators to terminate the stipulation between the United States and Great Britain, requiring a naval force on the coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave-trade. In 1854 Mr. Slidell brought forward a proposition to this effect in Executive Session, assuming that the stipulation could be terminated by a simple vote of the Senate. Mr. Sumner insisted that the prerogative belonged to the law-making power, and could be exercised only by Act of Congress. By his effort the proposition was defeated.

The power of the Senate over the abrogation of treaties was brought forward in Legislative Session, on the motion of Mr. Sumner, in connection with the Danish Sound dues, being the tax at Elsinore laid by Denmark upon the cargoes of vessels passing through the Sound into and out from the Baltic Sea. In 1841, Mr. Webster, as Secretary of State, traced the origin of this tax to the treaty of 1645 between Denmark and Holland, embracing a tariff of the principal articles then known in commerce; which treaty was the basis of our own concluded with Denmark in 1826, and limited to continue ten years from date, and further until the end of one year after notice by either party of an intention to terminate it; but he contented himself with recommending friendly negotiations, "with a view of securing to the commerce of the United States a full participation in any reduction of these duties, or the benefits resulting from any new arrangements respecting them which may be granted to the commerce of other states."1 In 1848, Mr. Buchanan, as Secretary of State, instructed our Minister at Copenhagen, that, "under the public law of nations, it cannot be pretended that Denmark has any right to levy duties on vessels passing through the Sound from the North Sea to the Baltic." President Pierce, in his annual message of 1854, proposed to terminate the treaty of 1826; the

1 Webster's Works, Vol. VI. pp. 406, 409.

« PreviousContinue »