« AnteriorContinuar »
the globe, cashiered by her enemies, and wounded in the house of her friends. The characters alluded to may be included in the following descriptions: Avaricious men who are not to be trusted; bigotted men who cannot see : prejū; diced men, who will not see; cruel, ambitious, interested men, who would wade through seas of the blood of their fellow, men, to exalt themselves, and gratify their vanity and pride ; and this last class, let their professions, pretensions, or names be what they may, will be the cause of more calamities to our young republic, than all the other three. Aristocracy is disclaimed by the slave holders of America, and the European law of primogenitorship, which unjustly and ungenerously disinherits all the children of a nobleman, except his oldest son ; one is exalted, and the rest are debased. This infamous law, and many others equally oppressive, are exhibited to popular animadversion and contempt by them, and yet, forsooth, this is only in minority what American slavery is in maturity. It was by allotting to particular men and families extraordinary power and privileges, that former republics were bereaved .P their liberties, and precipitated into a terrible abyss of despotism, wretchedness and degradation. It is a well attested fact, that in any country where interested men are exalted, corruption naturally engenders around them. It is inhuman, it is diabolically wicked, for any government or nation to suffer thousands of human beings to be consigned to unutterable wretchedness, to support an individual villain, or a family of them, in their idleness, luxury and dissipation ; and yet this is the case in America.... the country, which, above all others, should discountenance oppression and despotism: to demonstrate which, a number of cogent reasons might be adduced ; but as our limits will not admit us to enlarge, we will let a few suffice. In the first place, domestic slavery has a natural tendency to be metamorphosed to national aristocracy , it being morally impossible to keep elections pure, where one part of society are exalted to demi-gods, and the other part degraded to beggars ; (I am here alluding to the poor white people in the southern states o for where one citizen, who by fraud or force, has gained the sovereignty over a thousand slaves, and sends his imperial commands over as many acres of land, fifty must necessarily be in low circumstances; the conse; quence of which is, one part of the citizens are furnished with the means of corruption, and the other part are put in a condition that they cannot avoid being corrupted. . Any person who has studied human nature, may easily see the validity of this remark. secondly, There are no characters on our Globe, more naturally unfit to be legislators for a republic, than slave holds** : because their ideas of distributive justice are corrupted in the very source. Their juvenile employment is to tram, le D d
on the rights of their fellow men, and look with contempt on their poor neighbors, for in fact they are taught and educated so to do. I would ask, with what ideas of justice can such persons enter a house of legislation, or take the reigns of government in their hands, who rob their African brethren of their lives and liberties, because forsooth they are black, and despise their virtuous fellow citizens, because they are poor. Can a government consisting of such characters long continue free? it is utterly impossible. Such governments may, in point of theory, exhibit the appearance of liberty and equality, while the persons who were actors in, and witnesses of, the revolution, live; but when they die even the appearance of Iiberty must die" with them, i.e. if mankind continue to be as degenerate as they are at present. Thirdly, The idea of a slave holder being a good legislator or governor, is as inconsistent as to suppose a wolf would be a good shepherd, and defend, not devour, the sheep; or a fox would protect, not destroy, the poultry. Fourthly, It is continuing the uncivilized principle well known in Europe, of governments becoming the property, by hereditary right, of individual despots or families of them. Though this sentiment is exploded by Americans, it is eertain that the base idea of man having a property in man, and verning him by personal right, is not confined to Europe. here it embraces all men, here only black men; but public opinion only controls the sentimental despot in the present generation, while the concomitant circumstances of the revolution are fresh in our minds, in the next generation that must naturally wear away; then despotism which is now confined to the poor blacks, the poor whites must participate. This will as naturally be the case, as that a little leaven will leaven the whole lump. - Fifthly, The encouragement of slavery in the southern states, is of infinite injury to the poor white people in the northern states, incomparably more so than in the West Indies. While thousands of Africans are monthly imported into South Carolina, hundreds abscond and seek an asylum in the northern states, where they are on an equality with the whites. The consequences resulting therefrom, which every person may easily conceive, though it would be perhaps imprudent for me to express, is, on a variety of accounts, exceedingly injurious indeed.
* While joshua lived, the Israelites served the Lord, but when he died, they soon degenerated.
f Theo, are perhaps 15,000 blacks in Philadelphia alone, and 150,000 scattered in the northern, exclusive of 900,000 in the southern states.
Sixthly, It is a stubborn fact, that slavery has a tendency to degenerate even the patriotic, as well as the despotic, “as strong temptations with the best prevail.” By the universal economy of human nature it is known, and by the instance of the French republic it is proved, that mankind have a natural tendency to degenerate. That supremacy in an individual, a family, or a state, is a forerunner of the annihilation of a republic, is as plain to me as a ray of light, and must be so to every one who will not wilfully shut his eyes. The reader . will at once perceive, that I studiously forego discussing this subject in a religious way, though most congenial to my sentiments, and agreeable to my taste. None can say that these arguments are the offspring of fanaticism or enthusiastic vision. They are a few disinterested political reasons, collected as it were to a focus, where thousands might be adduced, to demonstrate the deleterious tendencies of nourishing slavery in a republic. Here, however, I would beg leave to transcribe a cogent paragraph from my “Address to the inhabitants of Christendom,” page 172. “These are serious considerations, whatever oppressors or their abettors, persons judically infatuated may think ; there is a minute account of all their barbarities in the records of eternity. And woe to all tyrants, despots and oppressors, when the accounts are settled : or to use the language of scripture, when they are weighed in the balance, for they doubtless will be found wanting. The most populous and famous nations of antiquity have been called to a reckoning ; and the most haughty kingdoms have sunk to ruin, when the balance was struck. Were unenlightened nations punished, and punished with severity; and can the enlightened escape with impunity ? Such a supposition, the justice of the Almighty forbids, as blasphemy against the rectitude of heaven. Be assured, it is not the benediction of a prelate, the eloquent speech of a potentate, or the proclamation of a prime minister, that will repay the blood of India, requite the wretchedness of Africa, or appease the anger of heaven....serious so LEMN consi DERATI ons.”
This paragraph is applicable to American as well as European despots, for the Antideluvian law, whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, is now as much as ever in full force; but admitting, for argument’s sake, that our antecedent assertions are fallacious, the subsequent reasons will be sufficiently sonorous to consolidate our hypothesis, and prove the impolicy of slavery to a demonstration. It is unanimously allowed by friends and foes, that the federal union of the states is radically the paramount palladium of our republic: dissolve that compact, and we become a prey to intestine commotion, foreign influence and sanguinary invasion. By the constitution of the United States, it is provided that “representatives and direct taxes shall be appor.
tioned among the sever:l states, which may be included in the union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.” This principle evidently secures to the qualified voters of a state possessing slaves, the right of choosing a greater number of representatives, in proportion to the free citizens, than is enjoyed by the citizen of a state, who from honorable and virtuous motives, refuses to participate in the barbarous oppression and slavery of their fellow creatures; so that 20,000 proprietors of 50,000 slaves have a voice in the elections equivalent to that of 50,000 free persons who are destitute . this species of property. The admission of this deleterious principle into our national compact, was unquestionably the dictate of necessity. The members of the convention from the eastern states, consented to it as a choice of difficulties, preferring a partial sacrifice of their rights, with the chance of future remedy, to the hazard of losing the whole constitution. In the same spirit, the principle was supported in the state conventions, by the best talents. in the northern states. The number of slaves in the southern states, according to the last census, is 847,748, exclusive of several thousands recently imported from Africa. Now deducting from the prefixed number two-ffths, the remainder gives to their tyrants the right of electing 15 representatives, and this number exceeds by one, the whole number to which New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut together, are entitled. The number of representatives apportioned to all the northern states is 35, so that the negro votes alone, in choice of electors and members of congress, bear a proportion to the votes of all the free citizens of the northern states of 15 to 35. I ask” any man, friend or foe, is this just
* If the citizens of the northern states do not wish to leave their children a prey to anarchy, intrigue and intestine commotion, they should by all means endeavor to correct this glaring inequatity, which undoubtedly is pregnant with inevitable consequences both to the federal union and civil liberty; for they are as much better qualified to correct this defect at present, than their progeny ean possibly be hereafter, as one compared to one hundred; even now, a general view of the population #: union....the relative situation of certain states with each other, and the predominant policy of certain southern states will demonstrate, that the representative principle, as established by the constitution, has given to Virginia, which is the principal o: southern states, a preponderating influence in our national affairs. That this influence wiłs be improved to the total ruin, as it is now improved to the injury of the northern states, is as plain to me as a, b, c. That this wiłł or generous ; and the misfortune is, that this inequality is constanly accumulating in favor of the slave traders and owners. This assertion can be proved to a demonstration by comparing the last census, with that which preceded it : by this comparison it will appear that the population of the northern states has increased in a ratio of 22 per cent; while the number of slaves in the southern states progressed in a ratio of thirty-five per cent. In all these states without exception, the slaves have amazingly, increased; but in a much greater ratio in the new than in the old states. It must be remembered by the by, that it is not by propagation, but by importation they are increased. The barbarous treatment they have to endure from their brutal tyrants, (which I have circumstantially delineated in my “Preliminary Essay,”) precludes the possibility of their propagation; for even the tender mercies: of a slave holder are cruel indeed.....How extremely wretched then, must be the state of those unfortunate persons, who are for ever consigned to the fury of such characters, as sheep are delivered to the ruthless butcher. When I reflect on what E myself have seen them endure, the sympathetic commiseration and painful sensations I anticipate, language is not sufficiently sonorous to express. Wherefore, through the instrumentality of smugglers alone, in Georgia the number of slaves has more than doubled ; in. Kentucky they have increased from 12,340 to 40,243; in Tenessee from 3,417 to 13,884. During all this peried, the importation of slaves has been prohibited by the laws of all the states, and the prohibition though very often eluded, has no doubt operated as a partial check.....But now, new avenues from
be the case without a speedy remedy, is already ascertained from the history of the world in general, and the jews in particular. As this barbarous principle, which allows slave holders more power and privileges according as they precipitate more of the human family into inexpressible misery, was assented to, by the northern delegates with reluctance, and on account of local circumstances, it is certain, it should be no longer binding than while other states should adhere to the principles of liberty and equality on which the general government is erected, and which should countervail this unjust and ungenergis inequality. Then since we find that the operation of this principle has already become so injurious to the eastern states, that by its means, their influence is literally annihilated; that they are at this moment the mere colonies of Virginia, who, notwithstanding, is very naturally still farther preparing the means of perpetuating her ascendancy (or if you please, supremacy () by procuring amendments favorable to her own views. We may, therefore, reasonably expect at a future period, without cogent measures be taken, that the body politic will feel , as well as know, that supremacy in a state is destruction to a republic. D d 2