The Visiter cited the purchase by Joseph of the people of Egypt, and Leviticus xxv, xxxix: “If thy brother be waxen poor and sell himself unto thee.” The Bible had not then been changed to suit the exigencies of slavery. In later editions, “sell himself” is converted into “be sold,” but as the passage then stood it was a sledge-hammer with which one might beat the whole pro-slavery Bible argument into atoms, and while the Visiter used it with all the force it could command, it took the ground that if the Bible did sanction slavery, the Bible must be wrong, since nothing could make slavery right.
FREE SOIL PARTY.
The Free Soil or Barnburner party was organized in ’48, and nominated Martin Van Buren for President. The Visiter dropped its Birney flag and raised the Van Buren standard. In supporting him the editor of the Visiter was charged with being false to the cause of the slave, and of playing into the hands of the Whigs. All the editor had ever said about that pro-slavery ex-President was cast into its teeth by Democratic, Liberty Party and Garrisonian papers, which, one and all, held that Van Buren was a cunning old fox, as pro-slavery as in those days when, as President of the U.S. Senate, he gave his casting vote for the bill which authorized every Southern post-master to open all the mail which came to his office, search for and destroy any matter that he might think dangerous to Southern institutions. In his present hostility to slavery, he was actuated by personal hatred of Louis Cass, the Democratic candidate, and sought to draw off enough. Democratic votes to defeat him.
The object of the Visiter in supporting Van Buren was to smash one of the great pro-slavery parties of the nation, or gain an anti-slavery balance of power to counteract the slavery vote for which both contended. A few thousand reliable votes would compel one party to take anti-slavery ground. The Van Buren movement was almost certain to defeat the Democrats, and force the Whigs to seek our alliance. True, the Free Soil platform did not suit Liberty Party men, who said it simply proposed to confine slavery to its present limits, and not destroy it where it already existed.
To all of which, and much more, the little Visiter replied, that with Van Buren’s motives it had nothing to do. His present attitude was one of hostility to the spread of slavery, and this being a long step in advance of other parties, was a position desirable to gain and hold. To decline aiding those who proposed to circumscribe slavery because they did not propose its destruction, was as if a soldier should refuse to storm an outpost on the ground that it was not the citadel.