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An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Beecher

Are generally spoken of with exultation by Abolitionists


in all the above cases, I would by no means justify the wrong or the injudicious measures that may have been pursued, under this course of provocation. The greatness of temptation does by no means release men from obligation; but Christians are bound to remember that it is a certain consequence of throwing men into strong excitement, that they will act unwisely and wrong, and that the tempter as well as the tempted are held responsible, both by God and man. In all these cases, it cannot but appear that the good aimed at might have been accomplished in a quiet, peaceable, and christian way, and that this was not the way which was chosen.

The whole system of Abolition measures seems to leave entirely out of view, the obligation of Christians to save their fellow men from all needless temptations. If the thing to be done is only lawful and right, it does not appear to have been a matter of effort to do it in such a way as would not provoke and irritate; but often, if the chief aim had been to do the good in the most injurious and offensive way, no more certain and appropriate methods could have been devised.

So much has this been the character of Abolition movements, that many have supposed it to be a deliberate and systematized plan of the leaders to do nothing but what was strictly a _right_ guaranteed by law, and yet, in such a manner, as to provoke men to anger, so that unjust and illegal acts might ensue,

knowing, that as a consequence, the opposers of Abolition would be thrown into the wrong, and sympathy be aroused for Abolitionists as injured and persecuted men. It is a fact, that Abolitionists have taken the course most calculated to awaken illegal acts of violence, and that when they have ensued, they have seemed to rejoice in them, as calculated to advance and strengthen their cause. The violence of mobs, the denunciations and unreasonable requirements of the South, the denial of the right of petition, the restrictions attempted to be laid upon freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, are generally spoken of with exultation by Abolitionists, as what are among the chief means of promoting their cause. It is not so much by exciting feelings of pity and humanity, and Christian love, towards the oppressed, as it is by awakening indignation at the treatment of Abolitionists themselves, that their cause has prospered. How many men have declared or implied, that in joining the ranks of Abolition, they were influenced, not by their arguments, or by the wisdom of their course, but because the violence of opposers had identified that cause with the question of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and civil liberty.

But when I say that many have supposed that it was the deliberate intention of the Abolitionists to foment illegal acts and violence, I would by no means justify a supposition, which is contrary to the dictates of justice and charity. The leaders of the Abolition Society disclaim all such wishes or intentions; they only act apparently on the assumption that they are exercising just rights, which they are not bound to give up, because other men will act unreasonably and wickedly.

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