The Era of Liberty
Chicago Daily Democrat, October 31, 1860
When one reflects upon the long and grievious oppression under which the people of the Free States of this confederacy have lived for nearly forty years, and remembers that the days of this oppression are numbered, and that the era of Liberty has already dawned, it becomes difficult to express the feelings of exultation and joy to which these thoughts give birth.
Who are these men who have lauded it so long and so despotically over the freemen of the North? They are men who dreamed of freedom in a slave's embrace, and waking, sold her offspring and their own to slavery. They are men who prated of freedom for the sake of establishing and perpetuating slavery; who boasted of liberty that they might exercise despotism; who vaunted their own prowess and chivalry that they might conceal their in[n]ate cowardice and meanness. Wedded to a system so barbarous that its reflex influence had made barbarians of them, they assumed for themselves the possession of all the graces and virtues of life, and dictated to the rest of the nation what should be considered the tests of refinement and gentility. Sneering at the honest free-laborers of the North, and stigmatizing as "mud-sills" and "white slaves" the men who earned their own livelihood by their own industry, they pilfered from the unpaid laborers on their plantations the products of their unwilling toil, and urged them by the whip, to new exertions, whenever their coffers ran low. Boasting of their chivalry and manliness, they answered arguments against the system which made them the reproach of the civilized world, by cowardly and murderous attacks, with bludgeon and pistol, upon an unarmed and defenceless Senator. Extolling themselves as masters of logic and as proficients in the theory as well as the practice of government, they reply with blackguard abuse and pot-house ribal[d]ry to those who exposed the rottenness of their social and political life upon the floor of Congress.—They attempted to suppress freedom of petition and of debate; they succeeded in abolishing the freedom of speech and of the press in fifteen of the States of the Union; they placed their tools in every Federal office in the country; they bent the whole force of the government, legislative, executive, and judicial, to their purposes, until at length no one who did not recognize and defend slavery as the National Institution of the country, and as defended by the constitution as a sacred and invaluable thing, could hold the meanest office in the land.
And now all this is to be changed. Liberty, and not Slavery, is henceforth to be the end of the government. It is to be administered for Freedom and not for Slavery. The fitness of an applicant for office will be estimated, not by his devotion to Slavery, but by his devotion to Freedom. The government will return to the policy of the fathers, and slavery will be placed in the process of ultimate extinction.
The Constitution of the United States is the bulwark and foundation of the Republican party. We stand by it, and accept it as the rule of our action. It is an Anti-Slavery Instrument. Its framers were careful to avoid the introduction of a single word that should intimate the recognition of the right of property in man.—Wherever the constitution of the Union exerts undivided sway, there Freedom reigns with complete and undivided dominion. But it also saves to the several States their own individual rights, and we have no desire to interfere with them. The slave States can keep their barbarous system of slavery to themselves, but they can no longer force it upon us. We will let them alone. We will surround them with a cordon of Free States, as with a wall of fire.—We will hem them in, on all sides, by free and happy communities, rejoicing in perfect liberty, and progressing toward national and social greatness. Deprived of the aid of the general government, and thrown in upon itself for support, slavery must gradually die outand the child is now born who will live to see the emancipation of the last slave upon the American Continent.