The machinery which had effected emancipation in the British West India Islands, of use no longer in England, was transferred to America. Aided by British gold, encouraged by British sympathy, the agitation began here, in 1835; and so complete was it in all its appointments, so thorough the organization and discipline, so perfect the electric current, that, within six months, the whole Union was convulsed. Affiliated societies were established in every northern State, and in almost every county; lecturers were paid, and sent forth into every city and village; a powerful and well supported press, fed from the treasuries, and working up the cast-off rags of the British societies, poured forth a multitude of incendiary prints and publications, which were distributed by mail throughout the Union, but chiefly in the southern States, and among the slaves. Fierce excitement in the South followed. And so great became the public feeling and interest, that President Jackson, so early as the annual message of 1835, pressed earnestly upon Congress the duty of prohibiting the use of the mail for transmitting incendiary publications to the South. But, prior to the sitting of Congress, the Abolition societies, treading again in the footsteps of the emancipationists in England, had prepared, and now poured in a flood of petitions, praying Congress to take action upon the subject of slavery. The purpose was to obtain a foothold, a fulcrum, in the capital; for without this, the South could not be effectually embroiled, and little could be accomplished, even in the North. But no appliances were left untried. Agitators, their breath was agitation; quiescence would have been a sentence of obscurity and dissolution. And accordingly in May, 1835, the American Anti-Slavery Society was established in New York, its object being the immediate and unconditional abolition of negro slavery in the United States. It was a permanent organization, to be dissolved only upon the consummation of its purpose. The object of attack was the South, the seat of war the North. Public sentiment was to be stirred up here against slavery, because it was a moral evil, and a sin in the sight of the Most High, for the continuance of which, one day, the men of the North were accountable before heaven. Slaveholders were to be made odious in the eyes of Northern men and foreign nations, as cruel tyrants and task-masters, as kidnappers, murderers, and pirates, whose existence was a reproach to the North, and whom it were just to hunt down and exterminate, as so many beasts of prey, to whom even the laws of the chase extended no indulgence. To hold fellowship and union with slaveholders, was to partake of all their sins and enormities; it was to be "in league with death, and covenant with hell." The Constitution and Union were themselves sinful, and, as such, they ought forthwith to be abrogated and dissolved. And thus, sir, the earlier Abolitionists, who were zealots, began just where their successors of to-day, who are traitors, have ended.
A separate political organization was not, at the first, proposed, and each man was left to his ancient party allegiance. The revolution was to be a moral and religious revolution, and its principles, proagated by petitions, lectures, societies, and the press, in the North, were, through these instrumentalities, to penetrate Congress and legislatures of the South, and if not hearkened to there, then to effect a dismemberment of the Union by secession of the North, or secession forced upon the South.
The Record of Hon. C. L. Vallandigham on Abolition, the Union, and the Civil War
Speech Delivered at a Democratic Meeting Held in Dayton, Ohio, October 29, 1855
J. Walter & Co., Cincinnati, 1863, pages 21-22.