Title: Letter in Response to The John Brown Meeting in Natick
Start date: 1859-12-10
End date: 1859-12-10
Content: The Natick Observer
December 10, 1859
To Rev. N. D. George
Dear Sir: I propose to address you a few words upon the subject matter of your speech at the John Brown meeting, held in this place on Friday evening of last week. In doing so I must be very brief in order to accommodate the space which will be allowed me in the Observer, and I cannot therefore waste many words in explaining or defending the propriety of my doing so.
You were one of the committee of arrangements. You met with that committee and acted with them. It was understood that to some extent you sympathized with the objects of the meeting, and I belief that you assented to the proposition of having the church bells tolled, and gave your consent to have the bell of the Methodist Church tolled with the rest. I believe that you were aware of that the purpose of the meeting was to advance the Anti-Slavery cause, and it was understood by your remarks in committee, that you were willing to speak at the meeting to that end; nay, that you were desirous of doing so. The opportunity was accorded to you, and you were placed at the head of the list, if I mistake not, that you might give a leading tone to the meeting, in the right directions. I presume that the action of the meeting, subsequently, satisfied you that you failed to meet the expectations of the people, and I propose to show that the argument advanced by you was unsound. I propose to do this because your influential position as a clergyman has given a degree of weight to your speech, which the logic of the speech did not sustain, and I hope to be able to convince even yourself that such is the case.
I understood you to claim that the Constitution of the United States was Pro-Slavery---that its Pro-Slavery provisions are binding upon us at the North and are the measure of our duty in relation to action upon the subject. In other words, we must do as the Constitution requires, interpreted by its present administrators.
Now sir, if your position is correct, John Brown was a criminal and was rightfully hung. He was a traitor and murderer, and Gov. Wise and the Court which tried him were right in putting him to death.
It will not do for me now to enter into any elaborate vindication of Brown as there is not room, but I regard his act as the practical and logical result of the Anti-Slavery argument. It was the “irrepressible conflict” brought to a head, and all Anti-Slavery men in the last resort must stand just there. All who are not prepared for that must sustain Wise. But I may remark that in regard to other matters, this bugbear of the Constitution does not befog people. You sir, would unquestionably send the Bible to the heathen, though Congress should prohibit it. If Congress should pass an act against praying, you would nevertheless be daily found in your closet. If the people should vote unanimously to have you bow down and worship the golden calf, and should amend the Constitution for that purpose, you would refuse to obey. To disobey such laws you would regard as an honor and sacred duty. John Brown reasoned on Slavery in the same manner, and why shouldn’t he? Does one sin differ in moral character from another, or only in degree? Can Congress change the moral character of Slavery any more than any other sin? Can Congress abrogate the command to “remember those in bonds as bound with them?”
I had supposed that all Anti-Slavery men of intelligence took the broad ground that Slavery is sin, and that no Constitution or enactment, or agreement, can bind us to its support. Indeed, such is the palpable force of this proposition that a large portion of the supporters of the Democratic party in New England do not hesitate to defend the action of that party by affirming the natural correlative, to wit: that Slaves are rightful property. Bust since the delivery of your speech I have found several who fancy that a way has a last been developed by Which God and Satan can both be served at the same time---that Slavery though wrong, can be rightfully sustained by means of the Constitution. It is an awful fallacy, and I beg you to consider it. I do not think you fully believe it, but have been misled by the sophistries of the Pro-Slavery press, so the advocacy of a false position.
But my sheet is full and I must desist. I make no attack on your motives, but assail the error of your position as I understand it.
J. B. M.
Notable people involved: Written by John B. Mass
Citations: The Natick Observer Dec. 10, 1859 p. 2