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THE UNSHACKLED FREEMAN.
Desert your Party when your Party deserts its Principles.
IN a Republic in which the strife for office was very great, Slaveholders took advantage of the party spirit of the People, to augment their power and make themselves supreme. For whenever they wished a law enacted unfavorable to liberty, they proposed it first to one party, and demanded its enactment. And if the leaders of the party to which it was offered refused to accept it, and to attempt to enact it, they either went over to the opposite party, or threatened to do so. They knew the secret by which republics are ruled. Thus in the lapse of time they had used all the great parties of the nation to advance themselves to the absolute control of the Republic, and had fastened upon the People many a law which they loathed, robbing them of their territory, and of legislative power, and what was worst of all, using them as hounds to catch their fugitive slaves.
Now one of the People had served long and faithfully in a party which claimed for itself all the democracy of the nation, and year after year, he had seen his party becoming more and more the
tool of the Slave Power, and steadily abandoning every principle which guarantied the liberties of the People. Being truly a Democrat, loving liberty, and thinking no democracy deserving of the name which did not aim to equalize the property and privileges of all the members of society, he became disgusted with his party and its leaders, and publicly deserted it, resolving to co-operate with no party thereafter which should not be truly democratic, and throw off the yoke of the Slave Power.
But when this freeman's resolution was taken, and had been noised abroad, immediately there arose against him a storm of indignation from those who had been his companions in the support of a spurious democracy, and they attempted to frighten him back into fellowship with themselves by calling him a traitor. The name of traitor, however, was no terror to him, and once when a number of self-styled democrats had applied it to him, he answered:
I would better be a traitor to you, than a traitor to Truth and Justice. A party is but a combination of men, for certain ends, and all human combinations must in time dissolve. The only question is whether it shall fulfil its functions, and die a a natural death, or abandon them and be prematurely dissolved. When a party abandons the Right, the pursuit of the Wrong should put an end to it. And he who follows the party which follows the Wrong, if he do it knowingly, is already a traitor to Truth and Justice. Say ye, which were better for me and my country, to continue a traitor
to the Right and follow you, or be a traitor to you and follow the Right? Your own hearts give the answer; only you have not the courage to be free; but the fear of bearing the name which you give me, makes you the real traitors to something purer and better than party fealty. You uphold Slavery, by your votes, and I see already the chain which you would fasten upon others, bound fast to your own ancles. And such is the penalty of all who are traitors to Liberty.
But if you would know plainly the reason why I no longer act with you, it is this: Parties ever degenerate into servile tools for their leaders, who ride into office on the quarrels of the People among themselves. And these leaders will abandon any principle of justice, if their price is paid, or, through fear of losing place. Thus the Slave Power governs all our parties by threatening desertion to each separately. May not parties be governed for Freedom by the same process? Will not actual desertion from parties whenever they abandon the Right keep them on the side of the Right. Certainly. Therefore I always desert my party when my party deserts Justice. I voluntarily become a traitor to party, that I may be loyal to my country and Freedom. And thus only can republics be kept free, when the People shall hold their parties of less account than Liberty. He only can be a freeman who for Liberty's sake dares to be a traitor to his party.
THE CHOSEN MONUMENTS.
The Monuments to our Presidents, should commemorate the deeds for which they are most distinguished.
Two gentlemen who had once been Presidents of the American Union, meeting together, began to converse on the kind of monuments which they should desire to have erected to their memory after their decease. And one said: I do not know that I have used my
I shall have any erected to me. best endeavors to become famous among the People, but even while I still live I am almost forgotten. I must trust the preservation of my fame to the Slaveholders, and I hope that after my demise, they will deposit my body in the Congressional burial ground, and erect over it a monument in the form of an altar, all of white marble, and put upon it the image of a Fugitive Slave, such as we see in our southern papers, representing a man in the act of running away, bareheaded, with one foot lifted, and a satchel over his back. And under it I wish this inscription to be put:
HERE LIES THE BODY OF SEMICOCTUS,
Once President of the United States,
A man of eminent abilities, of a most acute sense of justice, and the purest and most unselfish humanity, who labored in the discharge of his official duties to extend the power and glory of his country, and establish her free institutions. His public beneficence shone most conspicuously, in his signature of a law for the recapture of Fugitive Slaves. When all the bonds that united the several states of the confederacy had been loosed by the restlessness of the People under the domination of the Slave Power, he bound them together again by that new and strong cord. Though forgotten by the People, he will live in the eternal remembrance of the American Nobility.
In Purgatorio submersus, firmiter hæreat.
Obiit, A. D. MDCCCL
It seems to me with such a monument over my bones I should lie tolerably quiet, till the sounding of the last trump at least. The last line means: Safely landed in heaven, may he remain there.
That would be a very fair monument, said the other, but not equal to the one I anticipate for myself. I desire and hope to have mine also of white marble, and that it shall be built in the form of a pyramid. And on its summit I wish the statue of an infant boy to be placed. But this I wish should be wrought of black marble, the head covered with little crisped tufts, to show growing hair, with tiny manacles joining the hands to each other, and likewise the feet. Then I wish the little figure kneeling, to look up toward heaven, as if there were a