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Norton Strange Townshend Moral and Political Maxims, Undated

“Moral and Political Maxims by which Liberty Men Have Been Impelled to Their Present Course” undated. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 15, Folder 29.

Moral and political maxims by which Liberty men have been impelled to their present course

1st Liberty is above all price, in other words Liberty is of more value than any thing else entrusted to Man

-Compare Money, Life, Opinion of Revolutionary heros [sic]

-Influence, Questions of Liberty of more importance than those involving life even and infinitely more than those involving property merely.

Application. Are then questions of Liberty for us to consider. Memphis case. Richmond. Washington. S. Carolina. 3,000,000 of such cases.

These are matters of infinitely greater moment banks and tariffs. This tremendous anxiety on questions of that only affect our pockits [sic] and insensibility to questions involving the dearest of rights, the temporal and eternal happenings of millions is a selfish and barbarous trifling unparalleled even by Nero fiddling while Rome was burning

2. Only “righteousness exalteth a nation”

The exaltation including the honour and prosperity of the nation is the grand aim of all honest politicians. Three different plans proposed.

a. One party says we must have a National Bank although &c. Distribution of public funds on the basis of Federal Ratio which gives &c. A Tariff which raises 4/5 &c. & the elevation of a slaveholding duellist [sic] to the highest office in gift of the people.

b. Another party says we must have a Democratic equality and consequently the absence of every species of monopoly at the same time it boasts of being natural ally of the meanest aristocracy and vilest monopoly under the sun.

c. Another party thinks the practice of righteousness is necessary–this they believe requires the admission of all men of all colors & equal rights & equal security, the immediate emancipation of all slaves in the D.C. & Territories, & every where else so far as our power or influence can be brought to bear. Emancipation of Free Colored from their disabilities–the administration of government not for the increases

merely of 250,000 slaveholders but the whole country equally – alteration of Constitution in relation to representation &c &c which is most like righteousness: or which is righteousness in believe the latter therefore these are our reasons and our colours are nailed to the mast.

3rd It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. If this be true at all it is true to any extent. This is the spirit that Cowper breathes “I would not have &c” This is the Spirit of the Savior and is exhibited in all he ever said or did

a. The evils the Whigs threaten

b. The evils the Democrats threaten

But is it not better to suffer all that both parties fear than to be found rivetting [sic] the fetters on a single slave. And can you vote with either of these parties without helping to fasten them on thousands or perhaps millions.

No you cannot, you cannot.

By whose laws are men now slaves in the D.C.–the colored people oppressed in nearly all the states by the laws of the Whig & Democratic parties. Can Whig slaveholders or Whig negro haters make such laws without the aid of Whig abolitionists? No there are not enough to make any law. Could Dem slaveholders or negro haters make such laws without northern help? No–the Whig & Democratic abolitionists are responsible for all the oppression. The D.C., Territories & slave states. You cannot help either the Whig or Dem parties without helping this oppression because the slaveholders of both parties without whom nothing can be done will prevent any change. (Whig & Dems say to guard those evils to villains or leave those out of [illegible word]) You are responsible for the manner in which they use the power you continue to put in their hands. Though the consent to these wrongs on your part is silent & very reluctant, it is nonetheless a consent which involves you in the guilt. Responsible for all the wrong you do not oppose.

[Margin:] To do ourselves a great right let us continue to do these blacks a little wrong–thus they not only out Herod Herod but out Shylock Shylock.

To vote for a man is to endorse him throughout.

a. A man’s political character is made up of all his political acts. When you vote for a man to represent you, you in that act say that he does represent yourself, which [is] the highest endorsement of which you are capable & you endorse the several acts which make up that character except those that the candidate himself repudiates & condemns. You cannot make any exceptioni s it would be like the Miser’s Prayer. Good Lord condescend &c &c & you endorse so much of his future acts as are consistent with his whole previous character for those that are inconsistent they are not responsible.

b. A high official station carries with it a corresponding high moral influence. This you give & by so giving say to the officer & to the world such is the character I wish to see on the pinnacle of influence such a character is my representative–does any one doubt his being responsible for the moral character of his candidate. And in the future you are responsible for the influence of his conduct be it good or bad if it corresponds with his previous character which is the only means of course by which you can judge him.

(He is your reflection just read yourself

Let us apply these principles to presidential candidates. Henry Clay what makes up his political character–Bank and Tariff advocacy. Extension of slavery south of Mason’s and Dixon’s l[ine]. Opposition to abolition in the district with his abominable doctrines & finally the admission of Texas. His moral character is to be judged from: 1. a man stealer–a man who whips out a living from the unpaid toil of fifty slaves. 2. A duellist–J. Randolph–H. Marshall–[Cilly?] & Grand– & Senator King–But do say he is not now–where is your evidence

his disclaimer is a miserable apology. He in connection with the King affair declares he will ever be ready to repel an insult. 3. Is he not a notorious gambler?– Is he not a notorious Sabbath breaker 4. Did he not make his triumphal entry at N.O. amid ? & music & military parade? 4. Is he not notoriously licentious. What say his friends. Will Ladies be found singing songs–would not this induse[sic] his character &c &c.

Van Buren voluntary veto pledge–Gag

Birney–his noble conduct in emancipating his own & wife’s slaves–his character

Which can you most conscientiously endorse?

[Margin (side):] Has he ever said that dueling is under all our customs wrong; Has he ever expressed regret for past offenses of this kind

[Margin (top):] Mr. Walker has ever maintained “on title to it as clear & unquestionable” that territory could not be alienated by mere treaty consequently “Texas still ours” refers to a treaty with Spain in 1819 or 20. Has been questioned & not answered paper

5. Honesty is better than policy

Policy suggests that slavery is a moral evil & acting politically will destroy our moral influence & degrade &c &c. Of if you will act politically, act through the old parties, else you lose your votes.

By deserting the other parties, you lose your influence with them and you cannot elect men of your own. By remaining you may elect good abolitionists & thus secure your aims. Honesty says

Constituency is the way to gain influence & moral abolition is not degraded by controlling your political action any more than religion is by dealings. Don’t fear for losing your votes–votes cast for freedom are never lost, they are a seed that always brings fruit. Never fear that withdrawing from wrongdoers will give you less influence over them. Place no confidence in such abolishing as proslavery parties can afford you & such as is now in partisanship with slaveholders. But for proof of proposition compare he last 3 years with the proceeding. Ohio, Vermont, Mass, Gag., District of Columbia, Massachusetts resolutions referred to committee impression on the south.

[Margin:] That is a way that seemeth right unto &c &c

Worldly wisdom or policy is not of much use [illegible word]

1. Let us ask for a little at a time &c (not good)

6. Duty is ours, consequences are God’s

Men often seek to quiet conscience & excuse themselves from duty by conjuring up some awful bugbear & suppose it to stand right in the way. Propose a plain question of right and wrong and instead of deciding it logically and abiding by the issue they commence to look about to see if something cannot be started and then hear them cry a “Lion is in the way” so the Jews the Romans will come & take &c.

Is it our duty according to God’s word to break every yoke-to Deliver the poor & needy, rid them out of the hand of the oppressor. If God does require this, we are bound to use all the power he has given us & leave he result to him. He will take care of the consequences. Is it or is [it] not sinful to sustain proslavery parties. This crying of objections–fear of the Democrats of Texas & such stuff betrays great want of confidence in God. He can take care of the Democrats & Texas too & will if we do our duty. God brings on men by way of punishment the very thing they fear. Be just.

[Margin:] Simple faith is wanted. God has considered the matter no doubt.

“The log upon the [deck?]”

“My father holds the storm”

7. Actions speak louder than words—

Men say they are abolitionists. Calf story state. Men petition Heaven & state legislatures & elect men to trample underfoot those petitions & defeat the object for which they pray. Those prayers don’t get higher than their heads.

Voting enables the South to hear & makes them feel–Dems & Gag.

Voting convinces the South our petitions are not longer to be spurned. Whigs & Dems like the old man under the bed–Let us stop petitioning & first send right men to Congress.

Voting affects politicians more than any amount of mere talk. This can let them stay at home. They feel this blow because it strikes across their bread and butter which is like striking across the naked soul.

Our action is not only more effectual than mere talk but is more effectual than arms–Pierpont’s ballot box.

(For 9 see over two leaves)

8. Truth is mighty and will prevail

Truth crushed to earth shall rise again The eternal years of God are hers; But Error, wounded, writhes in pain, And dies among his worshippers.

Men are not fitted for any great reform whose souls are not anchored here. They must be satisfied if the principles of truth–that all truth is the word of God, no jot or tittle of whose word shall fail–the man whose soul is thus stayed is not only impelled forward by desire and hope but he has a clear vision of glorious triumph which fires his progress. Thus we feel for God created all men equal & free. He therefore designed them for equality & freedom. And if God has designed it who shall prevent it[?] Yes we know that man shall yet be free though earth and hell oppose. See the progress of this enterprise in England. See its commencement in this country with Garrison. See our 7000 in 1840, one in 400 voters, & in 1843 one in 40. How long at this rate. See District in Maine Nat. Intelligence.


First a little could

Now overshadows the

whole North & part of the South

Beyond Gloria P 82

Whig maxims

Of two evils choose the least

This is doubtless a wise maxim illustrated by toothache and tooth pulling

An evil is one thing, a wrong another.

It has no application to wrongs for we may not choose either–illustrated by [firing?] a house or barn

Between an evil and a wrong we are bound to submit to the evil & not to do the wrong illustrated by toothache and theft. Now see how this applies.

Both parties are in partnership with slavery. To vote with either party is to help slavery & therefore wrong. But it is said that one party is worse than the other but then the difference is only between two wrongs & we may not choose either.

No man here dare to say of two wrongs choose the least & join one to overcome the other, that is become a thief to commit a murder. Miserable philosophy this–this is a fundamental doctrine of the Jesuits. This requiring a man to be of good moral character will go on to church and state.

[Margin:] No other course but to support one of the proslavery parties & because this is inevitable it is not sinful. But there is another course–Church Comparison

Half a loaf better than no bread

This maxim is good enough taken literally but what is its spirit as applied by the Whigs. It is be content if you can get half your rights or as the fox said to the crane think yourself well off that you go away with your head on. But shall we thus submit–shall pauper tyrants ride over us roughshod & we tamely submit. Shall they be in their arrogance allowed to encroach on us a single right with impunity. We say No by God’s help they shall not & let slavery be the lot of the mean & dastardly wretch who is too cowardly & too fond of his gains to maintain his rights.

Perhaps the sense in which is it used is that some of their candidates are good men & ready to do much for us which would be better than nothing. Our answer is this[:] the contest is between equal & exact justice on the one hand & oppression with its allies on the other & there is no neutral ground. He therefore that is not with us is against us. Or is it meant that the Whig party is ready to do what would compare with half a loaf. Let us see what it is we want.

1. Perfect equality among the free.

2. Freedom for the enslaved.

3. The government administered for the benefit of the whole people & not for the good of a fraction.

What are the Whigs doing to secure these things–As a Party, Nothing I say again Nothing. The time has not come then for them to talk about half a loaf.

Other important interests

The spirit is this[:] our own prosperity is not perfectly secured as yet & slef must be before a friend

Not true. Considered relatively for nothing is important compared with the freedom of 1,000,000 human beings

But even these other interests cannot be secured while the government is controlled by the pauper tyrants of the South. See J.Q. Adams speech a Bedlam Mass Oct 24 1843.

“I wish you particularly to understand that this slavery and more particularly this slave representation is the root of all your political evils. Your revenue protection[,] foreign relations[,] public improvement are all bound up in this. Every question that is brought before Congress is considered in reference to its bearing on slavery.”

No Whig paper in this region published that speech…they love darkness

[Le?] Nat No 9

Where there is a will there will be a way

“He that will do his will shall know &c”

of Constitution see Methodist address

If men will first depart from doing evil & diligently & progressively seek for truth–they will find it. The determination to do a right & just act could be [illlegible word] dam up the springfed brook ? your dam tomorrow & add to it every day it must eventually burst [illegible words] the way of the truth


To Ladies

Ought Ladies to interest themselves in Politics? What is Politics? The scinece of government & the happiness of every individual in the nation male & female old & young is affected by the manner in which this sicence is applied. Females thus have as much at stake as the other sex & consequently a good right to feel interest.

They too have as much to do in forming the youthful mind to right maxims & feelings & therefore ought to act understandingly.

Which Party makes the strongest appeal to womans heart. Mrs. Garrison Maria Chapman. Parties are quarreling about banks and tariffs. We are laboring to secure to every man the right to himself, the right of every husband to his wife & of every wife to her husband the right of parents to their children & of children to their parents & the right of all to search those scriptures which are able to make them wise unto salvation in short-we labor to secure to everyone his or her right to life liberty & the pursuit of happiness.

Make your choice between these parties & if that is in our favor then give us that sympathy and aid which we need & woman only can give