Imágenes de páginas

founded in kidnapping, and conducted in cruelty; and it was defended solely upon the ground that it was impracticable to get rid of it. It was in the midst of this unhealthy state of the public mind that the Federal laws, declaring the African slave trade to be piracy, were enacted. . . . . . . . . . . . .

“For one, I am unwilling to see continued on the statute book the semiabolition laws—but desire to see the subject of slavery taken from the grasp of the General Government-and that Government only be allowed to act upon it to protect it.

"Whether the African slave-trade shall be carried on should not depend on that Government, but upon the will of each slave-holding state. To that tribunal alone should the question be submitted : and by the decision of that tribunal alone should the Southern people abide.” “Yours, respectfully,


Notice the distinct avowal that the “Federal laws prohibiting the African slave trade are unconstitutional," " at war with the fundamental policy of the South ;" “ that the subject of slavery and the slave trade should be taken from the grasp of the General Government—the Government be allowed only to protect it,” and that “the slave trade should depend solely on the will of each slave-holding state.”

The Hon. Jefferson Davis, the most polished, able, and influential man at the South, in his late address at Jackson, Miss., uttered the following: “If considerations of public safety or interest warranted the termination of the [slave) trade, they could not justify the Government in branding as infamous the source from which the chief part of our laboring population was derived. It is this feature of the law which makes it offensive to us, and stimulates us to strive for its repeal.” He is sensitive under the existence of our treaty with Great Britain, by which we are obligated to keep a squadron on the African coast for the suppression of the slave trade. Relative to this he says: “My friend, Senator Clay of Alabama, (his services entitle him to the friendship of the South,) as Chairman of the Committee of Commerce, instituted, at the last session of Congress, an inquiry into the facts connected with the maintenance of our squadron on the coast of Africa, and I hope his energy and ability may lead to the amendment of a treaty which has been productive only of evil.” Who does not see that when that squadron is with

drawn all Federal laws against the African slave trade are abrogated or dead! Mr. Davis argrees with Mr. Yancey that he “would much prefer to leave the subject of the importation of African slaves to the states respectively," which of course would be the fullest reopening of the slave trade. He thinks that there will be no need of importing slaves from Africa into Mississippi ; but for such a sentiment, “Let no one, however," he says, “suppose that this indicates any coincidence of opinion with those who prate of the inhumanity and sinfulness of the trade.” ......... “This conclusion in relation to Mississippi, is based upon my view of her present condition, not upon any general theory. For instance, it is not supposed to be applicable to Texas, to New Mexico, or to any future acquisitions to be made south of the Rio Grande. All of these countries, which can only be developed by slave labor in some of its forms, and which, with a sufficient supply of African slaves, would be made tributary to the great mission of the United States to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to establish peace and free trade with all mankind.” Mr. Davis's conceptions of the augmentation of the slave trade are rather large, when he calmly figures for a supply of slaves from that source enough to fill up all the states that are yet to be carved out from Texas and New Mexico, and the future acquisitions to be made south of the Rio Grande.Truly, the American squadron on the coast of Africa will have to be withdrawn! Mr. Davis is very gentlemanly belligerent against that feature of the national law prohibiting the slave trade which declares it to be piracy. But he very well knows that the slave trade is a system of robbery practised on the bodies and souls of an unoffending people, which results directly in the death of many of their number, and therefore should be regarded as piracy. On an American slaver recently captured, one hundred and forty died and were thrown overboard during the voyage from the coast of Africa to Cuba. He also well knows that after long years of experiment and discussion in Congress and out, it was finally the almost unanimons conclusion of Congress and the country, that the slave trade was so strongly intrenched in

human selfishness that it could never be destroyed without the penalty of piracy. And to-day millions mourn, and millions rejoice, that even this penalty is not enough for its object.

But while Messrs. De Bow, Yancey and Davis do not openly advocate prosecuting the slave trade in defiance of law, we very well know what some of their satellites will do. The law adjudged unconstitutional, very many in the south will by no means wait for another Dred Scott decision to be pronounced. Accordingly we have such examples as this. Mr. L. W. Spratt of Charleston, in an address at a recent reception given him in Savannah, spoke as follows:

“But it is said we may not stoop to a measure forbidden by the law. It is not for us, so vested with the trusts of a great destiny, to scruple at the necessary means to its attainment. Situated as we are, we cannot abrogate the law; and must we then forego our destiny for want of the legal means to its achievement."

The audience that heard this, we are told, was “enthusiastic," “ large and appreciative.” The whole address was pronounced “replete with an elevated tone of truth and logic.” Who can doubt that such heroes are already enjoying the profits of the slave trade, and live in expectation of still further advantage!

Let no one suppose that this opposition to the existing laws against the slave trade is confined to a few individuals. The Savannah (Ga.) News publishes the proceedings of a meeting of " a large and respectable portion of the citizens of Ware and the adjoining counties, assembled in the court house in Waresboro', on the evening of the 21st of September, to hear Colonel William B. Gaulden deliver an address on the reopening of the African slave trade.” At the conclusion of his speech he offered the following preamble and resolution, which were adopted by the meeting :

* In consequence of the high price of labor the agricultural interests of the South are in a languishing condition.

" Therefore, resolved, That in order to obtain the requisite supply, all laws, State and Federal, forbidding the slave trade, ought to be repealed.”

The Sea Coast Democrat, Miss., learns from “good authoriVOL. XVIII.

ty," " that a cargo of African slaves is expected in the ship Island Harbor the latter part of the present month. They will, if they arrive safe, be landed without any attempt at secrecy; the consignees trusting to the sentiment predominant in Mississippi as to the necessity of increasing the number of laborers for a triumphant acquittal, in the event of a governinent prosecution.”

The Southern Citizen, a leading paper in the interests of the slaveholders at the South, and representing the sentiments of a large portion of the people there, indulges in the following. We copy it both as an indication of Southern sentiment on this subject, and by way of helping the New York Tract Society to a polished mirror into which they would do well to look. The Citizen says:

"The Tract Society in New York, as we have already recorded, being whole. somely mindful of the profits of Southern trade, lately refused to embody in the scheme of its publications a system of tracts against slavery, or even against the African slave trade. Not that the members approve of the institution or of the trade-not that they feel anything less than righteous abhorrence for Southern life and conversation and man's property in man, and traffic in human flesh,' etc. etc. ; but only that they consider it politic (they, a Christian society, insti. tuted for the promotion of religion and virtue) to let that particular class of sins go unscathed-to rail furiously against all sorts of sins except only that sin; for in fact that sin pays. Now we wish Southern readers to fully appreciate the value of this forbearance. Even those journals in the North which approved the action (or non-action) of the Tract Society, took care to let us know that it was not because any member of that Society North approved of slavery or the slave trade.”

Ex-Governor Adams, of South Carolina, in a letter read on the occasion of a dinner given to Senator Chesnut, lays down the three following propositions as “undeniable truths:

"First, that the acts of Congress against the slave trade are a brand upon us, and ought to be repealed. Second, that if slavery is right, the traffic in slaves ought not to be confined by degrees of latitude and longitude. And third, that if it is right to hold in servitude the slaves we now have, it is right to procure as many more as our necessities require.”

We have deemed it best to give thus much evidence con. cerning the slave trade party at the South, in order to show

that it is by no means insignificant, and that it has already assumed a formidable bearing, being most fully determined to make this a political question and to try their strength in the legislative, judicial and even executive departments of the government. When this party shall need a demonstration of strength at the North it will have it. They have hitherto never failed to find as many friends as they have needed in the Northern states. Witness the Fugitive Slave Law, the Nebraska Act and the Kansas history. This party at the South is on the increase, and the increase is well accounted for. On Southern ground they have by far the best of the argument. Indeed, with the general Southern principles there is no possibility of standing against them. For, admit the right of one man to hold another as a slave, and you cannot successfully deny the right of traffic in slaves. The right of property implies the right of sale and purchase.

And further, if the right of traffic in this species of property exists among the citizens of a state, and among the various slave states, then who can tell how it is that it is justly esteemed piracy when the trade is simply changed so as to be between citizens of America and citizens or hunters in Africa?

Mr. McRae, a Mississippian, says, “ I am in favor of reopening the trade in slaves with Africa. I see no difference, morally, socially, or politically, in buying a slave in Africa, the original source of our supply, and buying one in the home-market of our slave-holding states.” This man is logical and consistent.

As to any right to slaves born in America essentially different from that to those born in Africa it does not exist. The first right to slaves is founded in robbery, and all other rights are necessarily traceable to the same. If a horse is stolen its progeny cannot lawfully be owned by the thief, or by any one who purchases or inherits the thief's right, though he be a thousand persons removed from the original robber. The system of slavery-the holding of a fellow man as property-is a system of robbery. Masters who are really slaveholders, in this sense, in heart, are every hour guilty of robbing parents of their children, and parents and children of

« AnteriorContinuar »