What this country now needs, in the opinion of the writer, is a revival of Abolitionism, and to that end, as one of the instrumentalities that would be serviceable, he holds that the old National Anti-Slavery Society should be restored. The most of the men and women that made that institution so useful and honorable, have passed from the scenes of their labors, but a few of them are left, and they and such as may feel like joining them, should meet and unfurl the old standard once more. There may be new associations looking to very much the same ends, but better the old guard under the old name. It would carry a prestige that no newer organization could command. It would create a measure of confidence that would be most strongly felt. The principles and policies it should urge are few and simple.
First: Let it declare that the colored man in this country must be permitted to enjoy all his rights under the Constitution as it is, both political and personal.
Second: Let it declare that all forms of servitude, including the denial of political self-government, under the flag, as well as under the Constitution, must cease.
And then let it go to work for the results thus indicated, in the spirit and with the confidence of the old-time leaders. The Society should be revived and re-established, not for a single campaign only, or for the rectification of such oppressions as are now in sight, but for all time. It ought to be made a permanent institution. It should be so arranged that the sons would step into the ranks as the fathers dropped out and that new recruits would be constantly enlisted. Thus reorganized the grand old institution would be an invaluable watchman on the walls of Freedom’s stronghold. The exhortation to which it should listen, is that of the poet Bryant when he says:
Mayst thou unloose thy corslet, nor lay by
Thy sword, nor yet, O Freedom, close thy lids
In slumber, for thine enemy never sleeps.”
George William Curtis, in one of his essays, says that “three speeches have made the places where they were delivered illustrious in our history—three, and there is no fourth.” He refers to the speech of Patrick Henry in Williamsburg, Virginia, of Lincoln in Gettysburg, and the first address of Wendell Phillips in Faneuil Hall.
If it was the purpose of Mr. Curtis to offer the three notable deliverances above mentioned as the best and foremost examples of American oratory, the author cannot agree with him. In his opinion we shall have but little difficulty in picking out the three entitled to that distinction, provided we go to the discussion of the slavery question to find them. That furnished the greatest occasion, being with its ramifications and developments, by far the greatest issue with which Americans have had to deal.