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A BRIEF HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE FREE SOIL
BY 0. C. GARDINER.
[LATE Associate EDITOR by THE DEMocratic REVIEw.]
PR E FA TO R. Y NOT E.
It is the aim of the following pages to show that two moral questions of great and vital importance are connected with this Presidential contest. With respect to these, a solemn duty is imposed upon every voter. To neglect or evade it would be a criminal abuse of a most sacred right. To shed light upon this duty four classes of facts are presented. The duty is rather suggested than argued, as an obligation, which, from the nature of these facts, inevitably follows. The old party issues are for the most part settled. A new one has arisen, appealing to new and higher motives than the old. It takes direct hold on the purity, if not the very existence, of our civil and religious freedom as a nation; it infinitely transcends them all. In the light then, first, of the late events in Europe, which have so deeply stirred our national sympathy; secondly, of the peculiar facts of our position as a model republic to all nations; thirdly, of the solemn and heartstirring facts connected with the legislation of the fathers and founders of this republic; and fourthly, of the bold and open fraud, the violent assumptions, connected with the late party contests of our country—in the converging and focal light of all these events, our imperative duty is suggested. In the latter class of facts will be found an account of the late division in the Democratic party of this State, the origin of the terms by which the two parties are designated, and an authentic history of the five conventions by which the great Free Soil party of the North has been brought into existence. Several important papers and speeches have been omitted, because of the extent of space they would occupy. Among these are the very able address of the Democratic members of the Legislature, and a clear and searching speech of B. F. Butler, Esq., of N. Y., exposing the Compromise Bill of Mr. Clayton—the speech of an able and faithful officer of the Government, who knew his duty and feared not to do it—of one who could receive with entire calmness the shock of executive vengeance in his removal from office, as a grateful reward for his eminent talents and influence in elevating that Executive to the high office he now enjoys.
State organizations have been formed in all of the free, and in some of the slave states; and over nearly all the Union, free soil associations and the most enthusiastic meetings have extended. Even a brief outline of these would swell the work to an undue size. For this reason, the frank and highly honorable letter of the Hon. John P. Hale, withdrawing his name as the candidate of the Liberty Party, and supporting Van Buren, and Adams, has been omitted.
The brief history of this question in the 29th Congress, also, is covered but in part by the speech of the Hon. David Wilmot, at Herkimer.—New York, though not the first, was in the van of this great movement. Her able Senator, John A. Dix, in a most powerful free soil speech in the Senate, in March, 1847, on the “Three Million Bill,” nearly two years ago, closed with these emphatic words:– “But I say for her, (New-York,) and in her name, and I believe I do not misunderstand her resolutions, that she can never consent to become a party to the extension of slavery to free territory on this continent.”
Many of the documents contained in these pages are among the ablest political papers which have come before the country since the formation of this government. They disclose the honesty, firmness and intelligence of those who have enlisted under the Free Soil banner, and that with the names of WAN BUREN and ADAMs inscribed on its ample folds, they are determined never to yield the contest till the victory is won.
NEw-York, Oct. 2, 1848.
Errata, p. 96. For CHARLEs F. ADAMs, read HENRY DoDGE.