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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 164 pages of information about The Abolitionists.

Far and away the most potential member and leader of the political Abolitionists was Salmon P. Chase.  Instead of denouncing the Constitution as “a league with death and hell,” he claimed that it was an Anti-Slavery document and should be so construed.  As for the Union, by his services in successfully managing the finances of the country in its great crisis, he did as much to sustain the Union as any other man of that time.  To accuse him of hostility and infidelity to the Union, is something that no one can do with impunity.  In fact, so clear and so clean, as well as so bold and striking, is the record of Chase and his associates, beginning in 1840 and continuing down until the last shackle was stricken from the last bondsman’s limbs, that even the shadow of the White House cannot obscure it.

Nor is Mr. Roosevelt happy in his illustration, when, in his concluding arraignment of the Abolitionists, he seeks to discredit them as an organization of impracticables by comparing them to the political Prohibitionists of to-day.  When the latter, if that time is ever to be, shall become strong enough to rout one or both of the existing main political parties, and, taking the control of the Government in their hands, shall not only legally consign the liquor traffic to its coffin, but nail it down with a constitutional amendment, then Mr. Roosevelt’s comparison will apply.

CHAPTER II

THE ABOLITIONISTS—­WHO AND WHAT THEY WERE

In selecting those who are to receive its remembrance and its honors, the world has always given its preference to such as have battled for freedom.  It may have been with the sword; it may have been with the pen; or it may have been with a tongue that was inflamed with holy rage against tyranny and wrong; but whatever the instrumentality employed; in whatever field the battle has been fought; and by whatsoever race, or class, or kind of men; the champions of human liberty have been hailed as the bravest of the brave and the most worthy to receive the acclaims of their fellows.

Now, if that estimate be not altogether inaccurate, what place in the scale of renown must be assigned to those pioneers in the successful movement against African slavery in this country who have commonly been known as “Abolitionists”—­a name first given in derision by their enemies?  It should, in the opinion of the writer hereof, be the very highest.  He is not afraid to challenge the whole record of human achievements by great and good men (always save and except that which is credited to the Saviour of mankind) for exhibitions of heroism superior to theirs.  Nay, when it is remembered that mainly through their efforts and sacrifices was accomplished a revolution by which four million human beings (but for the Abolitionists the number to-day in bondage would be eight millions) were lifted from the condition in which American slaves existed but a few years ago, to freedom and political equality with their former masters; and, at the same time when it is considered what qualities of heart and brain were needed for such a task, he does not believe that history, from its earliest chapters, furnishes examples of gods or men, except in very rare and isolated cases, who have shown themselves to be their equals.

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