The Boston Slave Riot: The Evening Star

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The Boston Riot - Washington, D. C., Evening Star
by Charles Sumner.
HistoryWiz Primary Source

May 30, 1856

The Boston riot, with its attendant outrage and bloodshed, has not only called forth the sentiments of the deepest indignation in this city, but it has also satisfactorily demonstrated to the world that, in all questions affecting the honor of the country, or the stability or sacredness of its laws, the American people are united as one man. The press of nearly every political shade have, with unexampled unanimity of purpose and sentiment, denounced the authors of the cowardly, bloody outrage in Boston in terms of unmitigated scorn, content, and loathing. The insane idiots who composed that frenzied mob should have been treated as mad men or mad dogs are usually treated -- caught and caged, if possible; but shot down if they persisted in their course of death and danger. But what punishment is meet for such men as Sumner, Giddings & Co.? If it had not been for the incendiary, traitorous appeals of these creeping, crawling, cowardly enemies of the Republic, the Abolition mob of Boston would have let off their excess of steam in the customary shrieks, stamps and scoldings. In the place of murdering Batchelder, they would have been content with stigmatising Washington as a slave breeder, or wreaking their vengeance on the president in an effigy demonstration.

It may be that before this excitement passes away, when men's minds are in too inflammable a state to permit the cool exercise of the reasoning faculties the crazed abolitionists of New England will discover that if madmen will resort to the argument of brute force, that "there are blows to receive as well as to take." If Southern gentleman are to be threatened and assaulted, while legally seeking to obtain possession of property, for the use of which they have a solemn constitutional guarantee -- if legal rights can only be sought for and established at the bayonet's point-- certain Northern men, now in our midst, will have to evince a little more circumspection than they have ever evinced in their walk, talk and acts. While the person of a Virginia citizen is only safe from rudeness and outrage behind the serried ranks of armed men, Chas. Sumner is permitted to walk among the "slave catchers" and "fire eaters" of the South in peace and security. While he invites his constituents to resist the federal laws, even to the shedding of blood, concocts his traitorous plots, and sends forth his incendiary appeals under the broad, protecting panoply of the laws he denounces, he retains his seat in the Senate, and yet daily violates the official oath which he took to support the Constitution of the United States. If we contrast the treatment which a Southern slaveholder receives at the hands of a Northern abolitionist, with the treatment which the latter receives at the hands of the former, we may proudly assert that, among the many virtues which adorn the Southern character, forbearance is not the least conspicuous.

The Boston Slave Riot


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