Rev. Dr. Bellow’s Letter to the Disunion Convention

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“Rev. Dr. Bellow’s Letter to the Disunion Convention,” New York Daily Times, 23 January 1857, p. 6.
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Rev. Dr. Bellow’s Letter to the Disunion Convention
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Meghan Allen
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The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

Rev. D. Bellow’s Letter to the Disunion Convention.

Rev. Dr. BELLOWS, of this City, wrote a long letter to the Disunion Convention at Worcester, in which he counseled the Abolitionists as follows:

The Free States are, by the spirit and letter of the Constitution, by vast superiority in population, by representative rights and legislative powers, the legitimate controllers both of the foreign and domestic policy of the country. Mistake, apathy, folly, fear in the use of this right and duty, have placed us in this balance, in which Slavery and Freedom, slave soil and free-soil, slaveholders and freemen, seem in a perfect equipoise of rights and powers, until the turning of the scale has unhappily come to be regarded as a matter of accident and uncertainty, or nice manoeuvre, or of bargain and compromise.

To meet this states of things within my own limited sphere of influence and responsibility, I maintained in the last campaign, and in my own pulpit in the sermon to which you refer, the duty of resisting the extension of Slavery at the risk of the Union; and to imbolden those who regarded this consequence as probable, I gave some reasons for thinking disunion, if forced upon us by the withdrawal of the South, a more supportable calamity to the North than those who were trying to frighten Free-soilers from their Republicanism had represented it. But I was very far from expressing a desire for disunion, or from advocating separation, which I have never thought practicable, probably, or expedient. It was as a threat from the South that I braved disunion; not as a proposition from the North that I espoused it.

What I desire now and always to maintain is this: That our conscientious opposition to the extension of Slavery is not to be abated or colored by fears for the Union; and that so far as it depends on the North, we are to stop its extension, let the consequences to the Union—to the North or the South—be what they will. This ground I believe to be the safe ground—the Christian, humane, patriotic, constitutional, unsectional, Union-saving ground. I take it as a lover of the North, and a lover of the South; as a believer in the future of the United States. I take it as a hater of Slavery, an undying foe to its extension, and laborer for its overthrow and exrinction in the speediest manner and time consistent with our whole duty as American citizens.

But the specific object of this communication, is the consideration, from a statesman’s view, of what is to be gained or lost by disunion—considered as a moral, social and economical remedy for the national disease—Slavery. Not overlooking the value of the protest against Slavery, which such a step, taken on moral ground, would afford, I must still think the proposition of separation between the Free and Slave States a direct flying in the face of Divine Providence.

Meanwhile, the rights and duties given to the North by the Constitution are a party of God’s mighty Providence in the development of our future. We can resist and control the extension of Slavery, and this is our great, our immediate, our plain and our sole duty. Doing that, we do all we know and all we can. Less than that is imbecility, disloyalty and eternal disgrace.

With these sentiments I cannot join your Convention, for I profess none of the articles of faith upon which your call is founded. But as a friend of free debate, and a respecter of conscientious convictions, however unpopular or unwise, I wish you unlimited liberty of discussion, and anticipate no harm from your conferences to the Republic.

With the highest personal respect,
Yours truly, HENRY W. BELLOWS.

Rev. Mr. HIGGINSON. of the Worcester Convention.

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