Saturday, September 10, 2016

Salmon P. Chase to Senator Charles Sumner, September 22, 1847

Cincinnati, September 22, 1847.

My Dear Sir: I am not sure whether I have written to you since I received your admirable lecture on White Slavery in Barbary. I read it with very great pleasure and instruction, and in order that others might be profited and delighted also, I have sent my mite to the fund for putting it into the hands of all the professional men of New England.

Have you ever thought of the subject of Christian Slavery as connected with the Crusades? In your hands its capabilities would be well proved. That was an interesting scene at Damietta, when the Christian Slaves met their Crusader Deliverers.

I send you by this mail a very accurate, though somewhat too favorable, report of Mr. Corwin's late speech at Carthage. I also send you, enclosed, a clip from the Herald, quoting the Chronicle's account of Mr. Corwin's attack upon the Abolitionists. This part of Mr. Corwin's speech pleased the proslavery people, hereabouts, more than his censure of the war offended them. It pained me; for, though I was well aware that Mr. Corwin formerly sympathized little or not at all, with those who adopt an antislavery construction of the Constitution, and proposed to carry their construction out by a system of practical measures, I did hope that his late experience had taught him better, and that he was prepared to occupy high and independent anti-slavery ground. He is where he was, however, and there I must leave him, until he comes to a better mind.

And now what is the true policy of practical, do something antislavery men? Shall we stand apart Whigs, Democrats, and Liberty men, and neutralize each other? Or shall we unite? I am for Union. I care nothing for names. All that I ask for is a platform and an issue, not buried out of sight, but palpable and paramount. Can we not have such a platform—such an issue?

You mentioned in your letter of March last that the Constitutional views presented in the Vanzandt argument might be a basis of political action. They present what seems to me a fair and unexceptionable construction of the Constitution, — its true theory as I verily believe. Why cannot we all unite upon them, and so for the practical measures thence resulting, Wilmot Proviso, Slavery abolition in the District, and the like?

We shall hold our Liberty Convention in October. I wish sensible Anti-Slavery Whigs would be there. I shall try, with others, to have the nomination postponed until Spring or early summer. The presence of such Whigs and like-minded Democrats would aid this result materially: then, with the developments of the winter recommending it, we could form a powerful party of Independents in the Spring.

You have no doubt seen my name connected with the Liberty nominations this fall. Of course holding such views as I have expressed, I could not myself accept any nomination at this time; and should nominations be posponed until Spring I am strong in the faith that a more available man will then be found.

I am much obliged by your kind attentions to my partner when in Boston.

Always glad to hear from you, I shall be particularly pleased to have an early answer to this. Very truly your friend,

P. S. — Did you notice the review of the decision in the Vanzandt case in the last number of the West. Law Journal? It was written by a young lawyer here of great promise.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 122-4

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