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A Mechanic to Frederick Douglass, May 3, 1852



Mr. Editor: Dear Sir: --There has been no period since the formation of our Government, when the anti-slavery cause demanded a more prompt and efficient action, on the part of its friends, than it does at the present time. I do not recollect the time when the political horizon of our nation appeared so dark, and so portentious of slavery and despotism, as it now does. The two great political parties, who claim to be the embodiment of freedom, justice, and equal rights, have at last re-enacted, by their Representatives in Congress, that Bill of abominations the Fugitive Slave Law.

When the vote was recently taken on a resolution regarding the compromise as a finality, one hundred and three Members of the House (forty-two of whom, were from the Northern States) voted in favor of carrying out those measures, Fugitive Slave Law and all; and thereby saying to their constituents, and to the civilized world, that they are willing to set at naught the principles of Republicanism - outrage and trample under foot the rights and privileges of a large class of our free colored citizens of the


North by reducing them, (under the operations of the Fugitive act) to chattelhood, and forcing them away, from home and friends, to drag out a miserable existence in the cotton fields or in the rice swamps of the South. But few of our Members of Congress are willing to vindicate the right of the downtrodden and oppressed of our land.--How few of these ennobling sentiments, and high aspirations, which characterized our Revolutionary Fathers in their struggle for justice, freedom, and equal rights, are [seen] and manifested by our Congress at the present day. Indeed some of its [ ?] are but little better than a drama, in which is enacted the political character, sentiments, and pledges, of those whose highest ambition is, to gain the Presidential Chair. The political machinery of this nation is (to a great extent) governed by the advocates of American Slavery; hence, the party that would gain the ascendancy, must sacrifice at its shrine, and must consent to stand upon the platform of measures which those advocates [prevent]: which consists chiefly of the compromise measure-- the fugitive law being the crowning climax, and the principal standard by which the presidential candidates are to be judged. And the candidate who does not cherish any
higher law doctrines, and who can with the least compunctions of conscience engage in the chase of running down men, women and
children, for the purpose of returning them to a doom which is more terrible than the grave! would be the most likely to succeed, for he would get the entire vote of his party at the South, and would be supported to some extent by the partizans at the North.--


It is a shame and disgrace to this nation that its candidates for the highest office in the Federal Government, can succeed only in proportion to their subserviency to the Fugitive Slave Law, and to their willingness to act in accordance to the behests of that demoralizing institution. But as disgraceful as it may appear, it is none the less true; for if either of the parties were to nominate a man for the office of President who is opposed to the institution of Slavery, it could not succeed under the present state of things; for such an act, would be equivalent to a defeat. A party having for its standard bearer such a man as Hale, Seward, or Giddings, would not get one State, south of Mason and Dixon's line, and it would be doubtful about their getting the electoral votes of more than half of the Northern States; from the fact, that slavery is so interwoven with our national affairs that it is political death for any man who holds, or who aspires to hold, an office under the Federal Government, to stand out in opposition to American Slavery. I do not believe that a tenth part, of the voters in the United States are in favor of the institution of slavery. Neither do I believe, that nine


-tenths of our legal voters, would do anything knowingly to perpetuate that system of oppression and wrong. But yet so long as they remain in parties, whose political leaders not only look upon slavery with complacency but actually advocate it, by voting for and using their influence in carrying out such laws as that for capturing and returning to bondage the colored people of the North; I say, so long as they act with such parties, just so long they will be responsible (to some extent) for the existence and perpetuity of that foul stain and
blot upon the character of this professedly christian nation. So long as slaveholders and their coadjutors are elevated to the highest offices in the hands of the people to bestow; so long slavery will be made honorable, and will I fear continue to curse our fair land as long as time shall last. American Slavery is a hideous monster, without one redeeming trait of character--hence, it is useless for our State or Federal Governments to sanction it by legislation; for anything that is wrong in itself, can never be made right by legislative enactments. As well might the Congress of our nation attempt to stop the waters from rushing over the Falls of Niagara, as to gag the people to silence upon the subject of slavery. Anything that is so antagonistical to Republicanism, as that of slavery, will be agitated and discussed; and when the people of the North shall understand it in all its bearings, I think they will be willing to use their moral, political, and
religious influence against it.

A Mechanic.

Ellington, May 3, 1852.


Mechanic, A




A Mechanic to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick Douglass' Papers, 13 May 1852. Denounces northern subservience to Fugitive Slave Law.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


Frederick Douglass' Paper



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Frederick Douglass' Paper