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On Slavery
Speech of Thaddeus Stevens
at a Convention of "Friends of the Integrity of the Union" May 2, 1837, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.



Rev. Mr. HAYNES then moved the following:
Resolved, That, in the opinion of this Convention, it is inconsistent for any person who believes in the doctrine of immediate Abolition, to hold a seat in this Convention.

    He did not mean, he said, to point out any individuals by this resolution, which was based on the original call of the Convention. He could not believe that any man would be so lost to all sense of honor, as to come there under a mask, while he knew himself to hold to the mad schemes of the Abolitionists, which were threatening the Union with dissolution; yet he thought it well some such resolution should be passed, lest any thing might occur to prove it was necessary.

  [A short discussion as to whether Thaddeus Stevens actually had the floor]

   Mr. STEVENS then said: Sir, I wish to know what is the precise object of the mover in presenting this resolution. There was a time, I know, sir, when the opinions were crimes before certain tribunals, even though they had never been expressed. I know that there were tribunals which held men responsible for their unuttered thoughts! --  And I am anxious to know, sir, whether that state of things is gone by, or whether the gentlemen intends by this resolution, that, here in Pennsylvania, it shall still exist.

   In this convention, called for the highest and most sacred purpose which can grow out of our political relations, to preserve the Integrity of these United States, it is hardly to be presumed, before hand, that any gentleman can be found so hardy as to venture to assert, that a man whose skin is black, has any right to be free. In proposing this religious test, as a condition of membership in this Convention, The Rev. Gentleman cannot possibly suppose, prior to all fact, that any one duly elected to this Convention, can be so reckless as to adopt the views of those daring men, who prate about the abolition of  Slavery.  His object must rather be to establish some precedent which shall have a bearing favorable to some ulterior design.

   However much this Convention may deprecate the "mad designs" of the abolitionists, I trust it will not take the ground implied in that resolution, that all modifications of thought about the abolition of slavery, are inconsistent with the "Integrity of the Union." I do trust that the Convention is not become a school to send forth to the world, new doctrines, adverse to the freedom of human kind. If so, I assure gentlemen, we shall want some foreign aid to preserve the Integrity of the Union of this Convention.

   I think the mover, on reflection, will think it better to withdraw his resolution, and wait till objectionable doctrines are advanced here, before they are condemned. Certainly, he will do this if he is in favor of the "Integrity of our Union here."

Rev. T.W. HAYNES spoke substantially as follows.

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