Letter from Cassius M. Clay
Cassius M. Clay
Cassius M. Clay, “Letter from Cassius M. Clay,” Proceedings of the American-Anti-Slavery Society at its second decade. New York, 1854. Twelfth Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society.
FROM CASSIUS M. CLAY.
CINCINNATI, (OHIO,) Nov. 21. 1853.
Your kind letter of the 10th ints., inviting me to attend the Twentieth Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, is received. I should be proud to be with the pioneers of the cause of Liberty, on such a day, did time allow; but it does not. There is something significant in your going South. You have “conquered a peace” in Boston. When you were driven from New York, a few years ago, you immediately came in close sympathy with a large class of stern men and women, who before stood aloof in their countenance of your movement. New York is now won; and Philadelphia must now determine whether gracefully, or no, she will submit to the unconquerable truth, and the progress of the age! You are right when you class me with those who contend for “the speedy and eternal overthrow of Slavery in our land, by all rightful instrumentalities.” I value it above all other questions. You fight outside of the Union; I within. So long as we agree in purpose, we will agree to disagree in the means. I love “the Union” as much as the “Silver Grays” or Southern canters; but I love it not for itself. I love it as the means to an end. I love it as the exponent and conservator of the principles of man’s equality and self-government. I love it as the legacy of fathers who avowed that government had only its authority from the consent of the governed. I love it as the guardian also of religious liberty, and the true Christianity—that religion is between man and his god, and that no man can rightfully, in this respect, exercise censorship over others. I love the Union as the banner-bearer of the aspirants of Freedom of all ands and nations—lovely in order to be loved. But when it fails in these “glorious” ends—and in these only “glorious”—then, say I, let it perish for ever!
And as I thus love it, I shall make eternal war upon all those canting scoundrels, whether in Church or State, who would pervert its true prestige to the retainment of Slavery, and its extension and perpetuity. I return the war of lynchers and “respectable” mobs! I return the war of those, however powerful, whose main business it is in these States to “crush out Abolitionism!” I return the war of those who would, by sermons, tracts, or literature, aid the reaction of anti-revolutionary avowals. I return the war of those, who, under the hallowed names of Democracy and Republicanism, stand by foreign depotisms, and who, amid blood and prisons, bear banners described with “law and order!” I return the war of the supreme Courts of the United States, who, under the pretence of devotion to law, pervert every principle of justice; of the President, of the slave Power, and of a servile congress! With a manly heart, which may be beaten down, but never conquered, I shall stand by you and all true men; and my voice shall ever be, “Don’t give up the ship.”
I am, truly, your friend, C. M. CLAY
PHILLIPS, E. QUINCY, S.H. GAY, Secretaries