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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Southern Rule in the North

By Josiah Quincy (1772–1864)

[From an Address delivered at Quincy, Mass., 5 June, 1856.]

THE PASSAGE of the Louisiana Admission Bill was effected by the arts which slave-holders well know how to select and apply. Sops were given to the congressional watch-dogs of the Free States. To some promises were made, by way of opiates; and those whom they could neither pay nor drug were publicly treated with insolence and scorn. Threats, duels, and violence were at that day, as now, modes approved by them to deter men from awakening the Free States to a sense of their danger. From the moment that act was passed, they saw that the Free States were shorn of their strength; that they had obtained space to multiply Slave States at their will; and Mr. Jefferson had confidentially told them, that from that moment, the “Constitution of the United States was blank paper;” but more correctly there was “no longer any Constitution.”

The slave-holders from that day saw they had the Free States in their power; that they were masters, and the Free States slaves; and have acted accordingly. From the passage of the Louisiana Bill until this day, their policy has been directed to a single object, with almost uninterrupted success. That object was to exclude the Free States from any share of power, except in subserviency to their views; and they have undeniably, during all the subsequent period of our history (the administration of John Quincy Adams only excepted), placed in the chair of state either slave-holders or men from the Free States who, for sake of power, consented to be their tools,—“Northern men with Southern principles;” in other words, men who, for the sake of power or pay, were willing to do any work they would set them upon.

In the times of non-intercourse and embargo, I had frequent intercourse with John Randolph, and for many years a correspondence with him. During the extreme pressure of those measures upon the commerce of the Northern States, I said to him, “Mr. Randolph, these measures are absolutely insupportable. You Southern men will, at this rate, put an end to parties in the Northern States, and we shall come down upon the South in one united phalanx.” I shall never forget the half-triumph and half-sneer with which he replied, “You are mistaken, sir; you are mistaken, sir. The South are as sure of your democracy as they are of their own negroes.”

Let any man examine the history of the United States, from the reign of Thomas Jefferson to that of Franklin Pierce, and he will find that, when the slave-holders have any particularly odious and obnoxious work to do, they never fail to employ the leaders of the democracy of the Free States. This fact speaks volumes to the Free States. In all estimates of their future duties, it should never be forgotten, that every act by which their interests have been sacrificed, and the power of slave-holders increased, has been effected by the treachery of members of the Free States….

How is it that a body of slave-holders, which at no previous period have exceeded in numbers more than three hundred thousand, and which at this day do not equal three hundred and fifty thousand,—of which certainly not more than one thousand have any weight or voice in devising and conducting their policy,—have been able, for more than fifty years, to lead from eighteen to twenty millions of men whithersoever they will, and to establish over them a sovereignty which is yet to be proved not immovable and permanent?

This power of slave-holders has its origin,—as has been already intimated,—first, from a concentration of interests and fears in the body of slave-holders; second, from a total want of concentration of interests among the people of the Free States, combined with an entire want of all apprehensions of danger, owing to their unquestionable superiority in physical power. This, then, is the exact state of things in this Union. There are in it about three hundred thousand slave holders, whose interests and fears are identical. There are in it at least from twenty to twenty-four millions of men in the Free States, who have no special identity of interest, and absolutely no fear whatsoever. This state of things is one of the sources from which the power slave-holders wield emanates. Their slaves are at once their pride and their weakness, the objects of their dependence and their fear. In 1811, John Randolph, who, with all his eccentricities, was the truest to his class and the most honorable of all slave-holders, and who saw with contempt the blustering bravadoes of many of his brethren, thus exposed their weakness and their terrors on the floor of Congress: “While you are talking of taking Canada, some of us are shuddering for our own safety at home. I speak from facts, when I say that the night-bell never tolls for fire, in Richmond, that the mother does not hug her infant more closely to her bosom. I have been witness of some alarms in the capital of Virginia.”

How greatly the terror of their slave population has increased since the days of John Randolph, may be conceived from the following facts. Then the slave population but little exceeded one million; now it greatly exceeds three millions.