Teacher's Parlor

Mr. Church's Speech.

[p. 204-205]

Mr. Church's remarks in response to Mr. Bond's resolution to prohibit free blacks from coming into Illinois and to prohibit slave owners from bringing slaves into Illinois in order to set them free.

Mr. CHURCH would not make a speech, but desired to offer a few remarks. Gentlemen characterized what he deemed sound principles on the subject under discussion, as abstractions. His object was not to deal in abstractions, but to view matters in the light of common sense. It had been stated that nature had set up a barrier against blacks as a race, and that the privileges of common humanity should not be extended to them. If this be so, nature was wrong; which he was not willing to admit. This doctrine was behind the spirit of the age, and if we were to sustain it, we should be the objects of scorn to the world. Would emigrants from Pennsylvania and others imbued with sentiments of humanity, come to this State, if the proposition made here in relation to blacks were to become a part of our organic law? No, sir; and they would regard such a provision as violating, not only the plain dictates of humanity, but the principles contained in the great charter of our rights — the Declaration of Independence. He desired that on the subject of slavery, the Constitution should leave it where it was left by the Ordinance of '87 — that there shall be no slavery or involuntary servitude in the State. Our present constitution provides for slavery as it existed when adopted; and although susceptible of a different construction, slavery was continued for years, under the juggling of courts in their judicial decisions. Gentlemen here have gloried in this as a free State. He would indeed glory in such a State. And he was therefore opposed to engrafting in the constitution any doubtful provision, or one which required every officer of the government, from the Governor down, to be a picket guard, to oppress the colored race.

He wanted the constitution to be worthy of a free State — and to render it so, he would not have it, in the remotest degree, nor by any possible construction, sanction slavery, or oppress the colored race. He was opposed to laws on this subject, which were a blot upon our statute book, but would leave that matter with the legislature, with the confident hope that the dictates of humanity would control the action of that body, when it shall convene under the amended constitution, if we shall be so fortunate as to perfect a constitution which shall receive the sanction of the people.

©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project