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Smith, Gerrit (1797-1874) To J. K. Ingalls, editor of the Landmark, New-York

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04717.14 Author/Creator: Smith, Gerrit (1797-1874) Place Written: Peterboro, New York Type: Printed letter Date: 15 August 1848 Pagination: 2 p. ; 32.7 x 20.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Smith writes, "I hardly need say, that I am deeply interested in the present movement against the extension of slavery; and that I infinitely prefer the election of the candidates, who are identified with it, to the election of the Whig and Democratic candidates. Gen. Taylor and Gen. Cass are proslavery candidates. Mr. Van Buren and Mr. Adams are antislavery candidates. The former are the shameless tools of the slave-power. The latter bravely resist it."

Background Information: Smith, a politician from New York, served as a U.S. Representative from 1853-1854. He was a noted philanthropist and social reformer active in anti-slavery campaigns and women's rights.

Full Transcript: I hardly need say, that I am deeply interested in the present movement against the extension of slavery; and that I infinitely prefer the election of the candidates, who are ...identified with it, to the election of the Whig and Democratic candidates. Gen. [Zachary] Taylor and Gen. [Lewis] Cass are proslavery candidates. Mr. Van Buren and Mr. Adams are antislavery candidates. The former are the shameless tools of the slave-power. The latter bravely resist it.
It is true, that, among all the persons, whom there was the least reason to believe the Buffalo Convention [of the Free Soil Party] would nominate for President, Mr. Van Buren was my preference. He was my preference, because I believed he would obtain a much larger vote than any of the others; and, that his nomination would go much farther than that of any of the others toward breaking up the great political parties, which, along with the ecclesiastical parties, are the chief shelters and props of slavery.
But it is not true, that I shall vote for Mr. Van Buren. I can vote for no man for President of the United States, who is not an abolitionist; for no man, who votes for slaveholders, or for those, who do; for no man, whose understanding and heart would not prompt him to use the office, to the utmost, for the abolition of slavery. And, let me here confess, that I am not of the number of those, who believe, that the Federal Government has no higher power over slavery than to abolish it in the District of Columbia, and to abolish the inter State traffic in human beings. On the contrary, I claim, that this Government has power, under the Constitution, to abolish every part of American slavery, whether without, or within, the States; and that it is superlatively guilty against God and man for refusing thus to use it. The still higher ground do I take, that no man is fit for President of the United States, who does not scout the idea of the possibility of property in man, and who does not insist, that slavery is as utterly incapable of legalization, as is murder itself. Why is it not? Is it not as bad as murder? Is not, indeed, murder itself one of the elements in that matchless compound of enormous crimes?...There should be no surprise, that, from the day this Nation came into being until the present day, no white man has, in any one of the Southern States, been put to death, under the laws, for the murder of a slave....
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People: Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874
Ingalls, Joshua King, 1816-?

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: Reform MovementSlaveryAfrican American HistoryDemocratic PartyWhigsElectionPoliticsGovernment and Civics

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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