Monday, March 17, 2014

"namely: That it is right to bear arms in self defence...."


   Friends Editors:--On last Saturday afternoon, I was favored with the opportunity of hearing the celebrated champion of Liberty, Dr. Lemoyne. His business was to prove the Constitution of the United States to be anti-Slavery. The Doctor is a strong man, and, of course, made as strong a defence as could be expected from any one, on that subject. He laid down three rules of exegesis, which he applied with great force to the subject under consideration.

   1. That the several parts of the instrument must be made to harmonize, so as not to form an antagonism, and so destroy itself.

   2. The words and phrases of the instrument must be interpreted according to their common acceptation;--according to the sense in which the terms used, were understood by those who adopted the instrument.

   3. Wherever a reasonable doubt occurs, liberty must have the benefit of it, or it must be made to lean to the side of justice.

   4. By the strict application of these rules, and by laying the Preamble to the Constitution above each separate article, to be read in connection with it, he made quite a strong case.

   I did not design to remark particularly on this part of the address, but to notice some other positions which were assumed. The speaker laid aside the mantle of Peace most emphatically, which is often attempted to be drawn over the system of Politics, to hide its true, warlike character. He plead boldly far the doctrine of force. The slaves should use so much force as would secure their freedom, whether that be little or much. He also said that he who would stand and look on, while his neighbor was being killed, and would not rush to his rescue, was a murderer! I thought this truly strong meat; but I perceived that it was a correct inference from the premises assumed by the speaker, and by all other politicians, per consequence--namely: That it is right to bear arms in self defence, &c.

   The speaker aimed his tremendous blows at those whom he was pleased to call "Do nothing Abolitionists," or "Non-resistants;" but as all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, so his mighty bolt en[t]irely missed those against whom it was designed to have been hurled, and seemed only to echo back, in the language of one of old, "Thou art the man"!!

   Let us for a moment glance at the position of those who believe with the Doctor. They say it is right to rush to the rescue of their neighbor from the hand of violence and that they are so bound to this duty, that if they do It not, they are murderers, and, of course, cannot have eternal life abiding in them. Be their position true or false, they also hold that our acts must accord with our faith, which is not disputed. Then here are nearly three millions of our brethren in the midst of us, who are being killed continually. Listen to the soul-rending shriek of that mother, as she is torn from her loved babe, and driven, all bleeding, into the slave coffle! Hear the piteous cries of that infant prattler, as it leaves forever its weeping mother! Look, when the heart-strings are broken--the fond brother and sister parted, never more to catch that sweet heart-cheering look that tells the affection of the soul! The brother gone to pine away and die in the cheerless gloom and despair of slavery, and the sister to experience all the realities of a southern American harem!!--Look, when those whom the spirit of God has joined together and made one, are put asunder! See and feel the throes of bleeding nature! Behold these millions of victims, whose cries and groans go up to Heaven, and whose humanity is crushed into the earth! See their imploring look for help--but there is none!! Where are the thousands of anti-slavery politicians who say--"Rush to the rescue, or you are a murderer," and will lose your soul? Not one comes--not one grasps his sword or musket and starts! They all stand and look on, while their brethren are being most horribly tortured and killed, and not one stirs! Why don't they go forth in the cause which they say is the cause of truth? What hinders them? Though the murderous slaveholders claim the sanction of law, yet that which is wrong is no law, but violence only. They should not wait for numbers: Truth does not depend upon numbers, but is "mighty nnd will prevail." If I am a murderer for not helping my neighbor against one assassin, I am equally so for not helping him against a hundred assassins. If ever there were a cause which called for such help, the cause of the slave calls for it in thunder tones; and I thought it did not sound well for such persons to speak so contemptuously about " Do-nothing abolitionists," when their avowed faith condemns them as murderers for their inactivity! The word of God is, "Feel for those in bonds, as being bound with them;" and the doctrine of the Do-some-thing Abolitionists is, " Self-defence is the first law of nature;" (that is, defending the clay tenement in which self dwells;) and what are they doing? Are they all cowards, or do they believe what they say?

   Yours, for Truth and consistency,

                         C.M. PRESTON.
  West Middletown, Pa., }
           June 3d, 1846.     }

[Anti-Slavery Bugle, Salem, Ohio, Friday, July 3, 1846. Vol. 1. No. 49. Pg. 2]

*Dr. F. Julius LeMoyne, (1798-1879), the son of a Parisian doctor who immigrated to the United States, was born in Washington and studied medicine at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. In 1834, LeMoyne joined the Washington Anti-Slavery Society and was the organization's president from 1835 to 1837, after which he was commissioned by the American Anti-Slavery Society to be its regional agent. LeMoyne, along with his children and wife Madelaine, were active in the Underground Railroad. The tightly knit free black communities in southwest Pennsylvania helped slaves escape and developed an operational network that white antislavery activists, such as LeMoyne, joined. LeMoyne's correspondence from the 1840s includes letters from individuals asking for aid and thanking him for his assistance in getting them and their friends and relatives out of the South. In his activism and philosophy, LeMoyne represents the mainstream of antislavery activity in the United States before 1850 and is typical of the middle-class Americans of the antebellum period who became caught up in the antislavery debate.

No comments: