The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

How little personal relation all this obloquy bore to him, let this stand as evidence:  that he not only continued his work, but daily gave it more caustic energy and wider scope.  As I have hinted, he did not, in political matters, give in his adherence to that class of abolitionists who, as he thought, threw away their best chances of success in refusing to work within constitutional provisions.  He was prouder that this single community should call him “abolitionist,” though it spat the word at him, than if the whole earth should hail him with the kingliest title; but he loved the name too well not to make it stand for some practical fact, some feasible and organized effort.  He believed that our National Constitution did, indeed, hold many compromises with Slavery, but was framed, in the majority of its provisions and certainly in the totality of its spirit, in the interests of freedom; and that it only needed enforcement by the choice of the ballot-box to bring the South either to an amicable or a hostile settlement of the question.  Which, he did not ask or care.  The duty of the present could not be mis-read; it was written in the vote.

With these views, he gave much time and work to organizing in this State, “The National Liberty Party,” in 1840, and to securing from Pennsylvania some of the seven thousand votes that were cast for John G. Birney in that year throughout the Union.  By the time another election came, the party had swelled its numbers to seventy thousand.  To contribute his share towards this success, tract after tract, address after address, were written and sent broadcast; meetings were convened, committees formed, resolutions framed, speeches made, petitions and remonstrances sent, public action fearlessly sifted and criticised; in short, because he held a steady faith in men’s humane promptings when ultimately reached, he ‘cried aloud’ to them by every access, and ‘spared not’ to call them from their timidity and time-serving to manly utterance through the ballot-box.

Of such appeals, his address of the “Liberty Party of Pennsylvania, to the people of the State,” issued in 1844, may stand as a sample.  It is a vivid portrayal of the slave power’s insidious encroachments, and of its monopolized guidance of the Government.  It gathers up the national statistics into groups, shows how new meaning is reflected from them thus related, that all unite to illustrate the single fact of the South’s steady increase of power, her tightening grasp about the throat of government, and her buffets of threat to the North when a weedling palm failed to palsy fast enough.  It warns northern voters of the undertow that is drawing them, and adjures them, by every consideration of political common sense, not to cast their ballots for either of the pro-slavery candidates presented.  The conclusion of this address is as follows: 


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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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