Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 6.djvu/174

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


their prejudices, and to humble their passions for the attainment of justice and of peace.

Our duty is to inquire whether injustice is offered to our fellow subjects, and if so, to atone for it; whether grievances press on them at which they have reason to be dissatisfied, and if so, to remove them; whether injurious distinctions exist, and if so, to obliterate them. If these things excite discontent, the more our shame to suffer injustice, and grievances, and injurious distinctions to remain, and the more imperious the call on every honorable mind to do them away.

Whatever difference of opinion exists on this subject, there is little of hostility, nothing of rancor. Prejudices, I must say, I believe there are; but when I call them so, I acknowledge them to be derived from an origin so noble, and to be associated with feelings so connected with the times when our civil and religious liberties were established, that they are entitled to a better name; and I am confident that they are accessible to reason and open to conviction, if met by the fair force of argument without rudeness and violence. Sir, it is impossible to mistake the feeling of the House and of the enlightened part of the country on this subject, or to doubt that it is a growing one.

And now, sir, I shall proceed, without further preface, to the main argument. The question presents itself in three distinct points of view: as a question of religion, as a question of consti-