Secession Era Editorials Project

Is the Kick Waited for?

Portland, Maine, Advertiser [Republican]

(6 June 1856)

What does the gentleman want -- said the servile Douglas, in reference to Senator Sumner -- "does he want somebody to kick him?" Can it be possible that the spirit of this most insulting interrogatory can ever be applied to the people of the North? Have they taken hint upon hint of the contemptuous designs of the slave power so meekly and forgivingly, that the last resorts of violence may be counted upon?

It is true, the present aspect of things at the North would seem to be all we could wish. The "murderous, brutal and cowardly" assault on Mr. Sumner for using his simple constitutional rights has touched a deeper chord in Northern feeling than was ever reached before. And the manner in which the deed has been defended in Congress and its perpetrator so shamefully applauded by the Southern press, has strengthened and prolonged the indignant response of our people. We do begin to feel the force of the long catalogue of aggressions upon our rights, and to bethink ourselves of the remedy. The most conservative among us question themselves as to the excess of their past forebearances, and feel that it has been no accession to their virtue. Men who stood the compromises of 1850 -- who staggered under, but submitted to, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise -- now give full play to their God-given emotions and look to the vindication of their natural and constitutional rights. It is all just, creditable, absolutely necessary -- but what is to be the end of it?

The presidential campaign is now on the point of being arranged, and the hosts are soon to be mustered in definite lines. Party organizations are to bring their appliances to bear in the shape of partizan motives and personal inducements.-- The feelings will lose their freshness, great principles will become obscured, and old associations, expediency and ambition will grow apace. The way of duty will become hidden, and the way of party routine open as day. What, then, is to be the fate of these great questions? Time will determine, will show whether the grand interests of freedom, which almost alone actuated our fathers, have lost their vitality in the hearts of their descendents. One thing is certain: these aggressions will continue and increase all the while, and if our people do not turn from every seduction upon the right hand and the left to meet them promptly and thoroughly, they will breed into an aggravated form which will endanger the existence of the republic. Let every man think of this now, and determine what he will do for his part. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and if it has been neglected, let it, by all means, be instantly and bountifully made up.

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