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´╗┐Title: The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 4 of 4
Author: American Anti-Slavery Society
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 4 of 4" ***

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By The American Anti-Slavery Society 1839

    No. 12. Chattel Principle The Abhorrence of Jesus Christ
            and the Apostles; Or No Refuge for American Slavery
            in the New Testament.

            On the Condition of the Free People of Color in the
            United States.

    No. 13. Can Abolitionists Vote or Take Office Under the United
            States Constitution?

            Address to the Friends of Constitutional Liberty, on the
            Violation by the United States House of Representatives
            of the Right of Petition at the Executive Committee of
            the American Anti-Slavery Society.

No. 12.








This No. contains 4-1/2 sheet--Postage under 100 miles, 7 cts. over
100, 10 cts.

Please Read and circulate.



Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? In 1776 THOMAS
JEFFERSON, supported by a noble band of patriots and surrounded by
the American people, opened his lips in the authoritative declaration:
"We hold these truths to be SELF-EVIDENT, that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights; that among these are life, LIBERTY, and the
pursuit of happiness." And from the inmost heart of the multitudes
around, and in a strong and clear voice, broke forth the unanimous
and decisive answer: Amen--such truths we do indeed hold to be
self-evident. And animated and sustained by a declaration, so
inspiring and sublime, they rushed to arms, and as the result of
agonizing efforts and dreadful sufferings, achieved under God the
independence of their country. The great truth, whence they derived
light and strength to assert and defend their rights, they made the
foundation of their republic. And in the midst of this republic,
must we prove, that He, who was the Truth, did not contradict
"the truths" which He Himself; as their Creator, had made
self-evident to mankind?

Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? What, according to
those laws which make it what it is, is American slavery? In the
Statute-book of South Carolina thus it is written:[1] "Slaves shall
be deemed, held, taken, reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels
personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their
executors, administrators and assigns, to all intents, construction
and purposes whatever." The very root of American slavery consists
in the assumption, that law has reduced men to chattels. But this
assumption is, and must be, a gross falsehood. Men and cattle are
separated from each other by the Creator, immutably, eternally, and
by an impassable gulf. To confound or identify men and cattle must
be to lie most wantonly, impudently, and maliciously. And must we
prove, that Jesus Christ is not in favor of palpable, monstrous

[Footnote 1: Stroud's Slave Laws, p. 23.]

Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? How can a system,
built upon a stout and impudent denial of self-evident truth--a
system of treating men like cattle--operate? Thomas Jefferson shall
answer. Hear him. "The whole commerce between master and slave is a
perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions; the most
unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on
the other. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the
lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller
slaves, gives loose to his worst passions, and thus nursed, educated,
and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with
odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy, who can retain his
manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances."[2] Such is the
practical operation of a system, which puts men and cattle into the
same family and treats them alike. And must we prove, that Jesus
Christ is not in favor of a school where the worst vices in their
most hateful forms are systematically and efficiently taught and
practiced? Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? What, in
1818, did the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church affirm
respecting its nature and operation? "Slavery creates a paradox in
the moral system--it exhibits rational, accountable, and immortal
beings, in such circumstances as scarcely to leave them the power of
moral action. It exhibits them as dependent on the will of others,
whether they shall receive religious instruction; whether they shall
know and worship the true God; whether they shall enjoy the
ordinances of the gospel; whether they shall perform the duties and
cherish the endearments of husbands and wives, parents and children,
neighbors and friends; whether they shall preserve their chastity
and purity, or regard the dictates of justice and humanity. Such are
some of the consequences of slavery; consequences not imaginary, but
which connect themselves with its very existence. The evils to which
the slave is _always_ exposed, _often take place_ in their very
worst degree and form; and where all of them do not take place,
still the slave is deprived of his natural rights, degraded as a
human being, and exposed to the danger of passing into the hands of
a master who may inflict upon him all the hardship and injuries
which inhumanity and avarice may suggest."[3] Must we prove, that
Jesus Christ is not in favor of such things?

[Footnote 2: Notes on Virginia, Boston Ed. 1832, pp. 169, 170.]

[Footnote 3: Minutes of the General assembly for 1818, p. 29.]

Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? It is already widely
felt and openly acknowledged at the South, that they cannot support
slavery without sustaining the opposition of universal Christendom.
And Thomas Jefferson declared, "I tremble for my country when I
reflect that God is just; that his justice can not sleep forever;
that considering numbers, nature, and natural means only, a
revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is
among possible events; that it may become practicable by
supernatural influences! The Almighty has no attribute which can
take sides with us in such a contest."[4] And must we prove, that
Jesus Christ is not in favor of what universal Christendom is
impelled to abhor, denounce, and oppose; is not in favor of what
every attribute of Almighty God is armed against?

[Footnote 4: Notes on Virginia, Boston Ed. 1832, pp. 170, 171.]

               "YE HAVE DESPISED THE POOR."

It is no man of straw, with whom, in making out such proof, we are
called to contend. Would to God we had no other antagonist! Would to
God that our labor of love could be regarded as a work of
supererogation! But we may well be ashamed and grieved to find it
necessary to "stop the mouths" of grave and learned ecclesiastics,
who from the heights of Zion have undertaken to defend the
institution of slavery. We speak not now of those, who amidst the
monuments of oppression are engaged in the sacred vocation; who, as
ministers of the Gospel, can "prophesy smooth things" to such as
pollute the altar of Jehovah with human sacrifices; nay, who
themselves bind the victim and kindle the sacrifice. That they
should put their Savior to the torture, to wring from his lips
something in favor of slavery, is not to be wondered at. They
consent to the murder of the children; can they respect the rights
of the Father? But what shall we say of distinguished theologians of
the north--professors of sacred literature at our oldest divinity
schools--who stand up to defend, both by argument and authority,
southern slavery! And from the Bible! Who, Balaam-like, try a
thousand expedients to force from the mouth of Jehovah a sentence
which they know the heart of Jehovah abhors! Surely we have here
something more mischievous and formidable than a man of straw. More
than two years ago, and just before the meeting of the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian church, appeared an article in the
Biblical Repertory,[5] understood to be from the pen of the
Professor of Sacred Literature at Princeton, in which an effort is
made to show, that slavery, whatever may be said of any abuses of
it, is not a violation of the precepts of the Gospel. This article,
we are informed, was industriously and extensively distributed among
the members of the General Assembly--a body of men, who by a
frightful majority seemed already too much disposed to wink at the
horrors of slavery. The effect of the Princeton Apology on the
southern mind, we have high authority for saying, has been most
decisive and injurious. It has contributed greatly to turn the
public eye off from the sin--from the inherent and necessary evils
of slavery to incidental evils, which the abuse of it might be
expected to occasion. And how few can be brought to admit, that
whatever abuses may prevail nobody knows where or how, any such
thing is chargeable upon them! Thus our Princeton prophet has done
what he could to lay the southern conscience asleep upon ingenious
perversions of the sacred volume!

[Footnote 5: For April, 1836. The General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church met in the following May, at Pittsburgh, where,
in pamphlet form, this article was distributed. The following
appeared upon the title page:

         _For gratuitous distribution_.

About a year after this, an effort in the same direction was jointly
made by Dr. Fisk and Professor Stuart. In a letter to a Methodist
clergyman, Mr. Merrit, published in Zion's Herald, Dr. Fisk gives
utterance to such things as the following:--

"But that you and the public may see and feel, that you have the
ablest and those who are among the honestest men of this age,
arrayed against you, be pleased to notice the following letter from
Prof. Stuart. I wrote to him, knowing as I did his integrity of
purpose, his unflinching regard for truth, as well as his deserved
reputation as a scholar and biblical critic, proposing the following

1. Does the New Testament directly or indirectly teach, that slavery
existed in the primitive church?

2. In 1 Tim. vi. 2, And they that have believing masters, &c., what
is the relation expressed or implied between "they" (servants) and
"believing masters?" And what are your reasons for the construction
of the passage?

3. What was the character of ancient and eastern slavery?--
Especially what (legal) power did this relation give the master over
the slave?


  ANDOVER, 10th Apr., 1837

  REV. AND DEAR SIR,--Yours is before me. A sickness of three
  month's standing (typhus fever) in which I have just escaped death,
  and which still confines me to my house, renders it impossible for me
  to answer your letter at large.

  1. The precepts of the New Testament respecting the demeanor of
  slaves and of their masters, beyond all question, recognize the
  existence of slavery. The masters are in part "believing masters," so
  that a precept to them, how they are to behave as masters,
  recognizes that the relation may still exist, _salva fide et salva
  ecclesia_, ("without violating the Christian faith or the church.")
  Otherwise, Paul had nothing to do but to cut the band asunder at once.
  He could not lawfully and properly temporize with a _malum in se_,
  ("that which is in itself sin.")

  If any one doubts, let him take the case of Paul's sending Onesimus
  back to Philemon, with an apology for his running away, and sending
  him back to be his servant for life. The relation did exist, may
  exist. The _abuse_ of it is the essential and fundamental wrong.
  Not that the theory of slavery is in itself right. No; "Love thy
  neighbor as thyself," "Do unto others that which ye would that others
  should do unto you," decide against this. But the relation once
  constituted and continued, is not such a _malum in se_ as calls
  for immediate and violent disruption at all hazards. So Paul did not

  2. 1 Tim. vi. 2, expresses the sentiment, that slaves, who are
  Christians and have Christian masters, are not, on that account, and
  because _as Christians they are brethren_, to forego the reverence
  due to them as masters. That is, the relation of master and slave is
  not, as a matter of course, abrogated between all Christians. Nay,
  servants should in such a case, _a fortiori_, do their duty
  cheerfully. This sentiment lies on the very face of the case. What
  the master's duty in such a case may be in respect to _liberation_,
  is another question, and one which the apostle does not here treat of.

  3. Every one knows, who is acquainted with Greek or Latin antiquities,
  that slavery among heathen nations has ever been more unqualified
  and at looser ends than among Christian nations. Slaves were
  _property_ in Greece and Rome. That decides all questions about
  their _relation_. Their treatment depended, as it does now, on the
  temper of their masters. The power of the master over the slave was,
  for a long time, that of _life and death_. Horrible cruelties at
  length mitigated it. In the apostle's day, it was at least as great
  as among us.

  After all the spouting and vehemence on this subject, which have been
  exhibited, the _good old Book_ remains the same. Paul's conduct
  and advice are still safe guides. Paul knew well that Christianity
  would ultimately destroy slavery, as it certainly will. He knew,
  too, that it would destroy monarchy and aristocracy from the earth:
  for it is fundamentally a doctrine of _true liberty and equality_.
  Yet Paul did not expect slavery or anarchy to be ousted in a day; and
  gave precepts to Christians respecting their demeanor _ad interim_.

  With sincere and paternal regard,

  Your friend and brother,


  --This, sir, is doctrine that will stand, because it is _Bible
  doctrine_. The abolitionists, then, are on a wrong course. They have
  traveled out of the record; and if they would succeed, they must
  take a different position, and approach the subject in a different

  Respectfully yours,


          "SO THEY WRAP [SNARL] IT UP."

What are we taught here? That in the ecclesiastical organizations
which grew up under the hands of the apostles, slavery was admitted
as a relation that did not violate the Christian faith; that the
relation may now in like manner exist; that "the abuse of it is the
essential and fundamental wrong;" and of course, that American
Christians may hold their own brethren in slavery without incurring
guilt or inflicting injury. Thus, according to Prof. Stuart, Jesus
Christ has not a word to say against "the peculiar institutions" of
the South. If our brethren there do not "abuse" the privilege of
enacting unpaid labor, they may multiply their slaves to their
hearts' content, without exposing themselves to the frown of the
Savior or laying their Christian character open to the least
suspicion. Could any trafficker in human flesh ask for greater
latitude! And to such doctrines, Dr. Fisk eagerly and earnestly
subscribes. He goes further. He urges it on the attention of his
brethren, as containing important truth, which they ought to embrace.
According to him, it is "_Bible doctrine_," showing, that "the
abolitionists are on a wrong course," and must, "if they would
succeed, take a different position."

We now refer to such distinguished names, to show, that in attempting
to prove that Jesus Christ is not in favor of American slavery, we
contend with something else than a man of straw. The ungrateful task,
which a particular examination of Professor Stuart's letter lays
upon us, we hope fairly to dispose of in due season. Enough has now
been said to make it clear and certain, that American slavery has its
apologists and advocates in the northern pulpit; advocates and
apologists, who fall behind few if any of their brethren in the
reputation they have acquired, the stations they occupy, and the
general influence they are supposed to exert.

Is it so? Did slavery exist in Judea, and among the Jews, in its
worst form, during the Savior's incarnation? If the Jews held slaves,
they must have done in open and flagrant violation of the letter and
the spirit of the Mosaic Dispensation. Whoever has any doubts of
this may well resolve his doubts in the light of the Argument
entitled "The Bible against Slavery." If, after a careful and
thorough examination of that article, he can believe that
slaveholding prevailed during the ministry of Jesus Christ among the
Jews and in accordance with the authority of Moses, he would do the
reading public an important service to record the grounds of his
belief--especially in a fair and full refutation of that Argument.
Till that is done, we hold ourselves excused from attempting to
prove what we now repeat, that if the Jews during our Savior's
incarnation held slaves, they must have done so in open and flagrant
violation of the letter and spirit of the Mosaic Dispensation. Could
Christ and the Apostles every where among their countrymen come in
contact with slaveholding, being as it was a gross violation of that
law which their office and their profession required them to honor
and enforce, without exposing and condemning it?

In its worst forms, we are told, slavery prevailed over the whole
world, not excepting Judea. As, according to such ecclesiastics as
Stuart, Hodge and Fisk, slavery in itself is not bad at all, the term
"_worst_" could be applied only to "_abuses_" of this innocent
relation. Slavery accordingly existed among the Jews, disfigured and
disgraced by the "worst abuses" to which it is liable. These abuses
in the ancient world, Professor Stuart describes as "horrible
cruelties." And in our own country, such abuses have grown so rank,
as to lead a distinguished eye-witness--no less a philosopher and
statesman than Thomas Jefferson--to say, that they had armed against
us every attribute of the Almighty. With these things the Savior
every where came in contact, among the people to whose improvement
and salvation he devoted his living powers, and yet not a word, not
a syllable, in exposure and condemnation of such "horrible cruelties"
escaped his lips! He saw--among the "covenant people" of Jehovah he
saw, the babe plucked from the bosom of its mother; the wife torn
from the embrace of her husband; the daughter driven to the market
by the scourge of her own father;--he saw the word of God sealed up
from those who, of all men, were especially entitled to its
enlightening, quickening influence;--nay, he saw men beaten for
kneeling before the throne of heavenly mercy;--such things he saw
without a word of admonition or reproof! No sympathy with them who
suffered wrong--no indignation at them who inflicted wrong, moved
his heart!

From the alleged silence of the Savior, when in contact with slavery
among the Jews, our divines infer, that it is quite consistent with
Christianity. And they affirm, that he saw it in its worst forms;
that is, he witnessed what Professor Stuart ventures to call
"horrible cruelties." But what right have these interpreters of the
sacred volume to regard any form of slavery which the Savior found,
as "worst," or even bad? According to their inference--which they
would thrust gag-wise into the mouths of abolitionists--his silence
should seal up their lips. They ought to hold their tongues. They
have no right to call any form of slavery bad--an abuse; much less,
horribly cruel! Their inference is broad enough to protect the most
brutal driver amidst his deadliest inflictions!


And did the Head of the new dispensation, then, fall so far behind
the prophets of the old in a hearty and effective regard for
suffering humanity? The forms of oppression which they witnessed,
excited their compassion and aroused their indignation. In terms the
most pointed and powerful, they exposed, denounced, threatened. They
could not endure the creatures, "who used their neighbors' service
without wages, and gave him not for his work;"[6] who imposed
"heavy burdens"[7] upon their fellows, and loaded them with
"the bands of wickedness;" who, "hiding themselves from their own
flesh," disowned their own mothers' children. Professions of piety
joined with the oppression of the poor, they held up to universal
scorn and execration, as the dregs of hypocrisy. They warned the
creature of such professions, that he could escape the wrath of
Jehovah only by heart-felt repentance. And yet, according to the
ecclesiastics with whom we have to do, the Lord of these prophets
passed by in silence just such enormities as he commanded them to
expose and denounce! Every where, he came in contact with slavery in
its worst forms--"horrible cruelties" forced themselves upon his
notice; but not a word of rebuke or warning did he utter. He saw
"a boy given for a harlot, and a girl sold for wine, that they might
drink,"[8] without the slightest feeling of displeasure, or any mark
of disapprobation! To such disgusting and horrible conclusions, do
the arguings which, from the haunts of sacred literature, are
inflicted on our churches, lead us! According to them, Jesus Christ,
instead of shining as the light of the world, extinguished the
torches which his own prophets had kindled, and plunged mankind into
the palpable darkness of a starless midnight! O savior, in pity to
thy suffering people, let thy temple be no longer used as a
"den of thieves!"

[Footnote 6: Jeremiah, xxii. 13.]

[Footnote 7: Isaiah, lviii. 6, 7.]

[Footnote 8: Joel, iii. 3.]


In passing by the worst forms of slavery, with which he every where
came in contact among the Jews, the Savior must have been
inconsistent with himself. He was commissioned to preach glad
tidings to the poor; to heal the broken-hearted; to preach
deliverance to the captives; to set at liberty them that are bruised;
to preach the year of Jubilee. In accordance with this commission,
he bound himself, from the earliest date of his incarnation, to the
poor, by the strongest ties; himself "had not where to lay his head;"
he exposed himself to misrepresentation and abuse for his
affectionate intercourse with the outcasts of society; he stood up
as the advocate of the widow, denouncing and dooming the heartless
ecclesiastics, who had made her bereavement a source of gain; and in
describing the scenes of the final judgment, he selected the very
personification of poverty, disease and oppression, as the test by
which our regard for him should be determined. To the poor and
wretched; to the degraded and despised, his arms were ever open.
They had his tenderest sympathies. They had his warmest love. His
heart's blood he poured out upon the ground for the human family,
reduced to the deepest degradation, and exposed to the heaviest
inflictions, as the slaves of the grand usurper. And yet, according
to our ecclesiastics, that class of sufferers who had been reduced
immeasurably below every other shape and form of degradation and
distress; who had been most rudely thrust out of the family of Adam,
and forced to herd with swine; who, without the slightest offence,
had been made the footstool of the worst criminals; whose "tears
were their meat night and day," while, under nameless insults and
killing injuries they were continually crying, O Lord, O Lord:--this
class of sufferers, and this alone, our biblical expositors,
occupying the high places of sacred literature, would make us
believe the compassionate Savior coldly overlooked. Not an emotion
of pity; not a look of sympathy; not a word of consolation, did his
gracious heart prompt him to bestow upon them! He denounces
damnation upon the devourer of the widow's house. But the monster,
whose trade it is to make widows and devour them and their babes, he
can calmly endure! O Savior, when wilt thou stop the mouths of such


It seems that though, according to our Princeton professor,
"the subject" of slavery "is hardly alluded to by Christ in any
of his personal instructions,"[9] he had a way of "treating it."
What was that?  Why, "he taught the true nature, DIGNITY, EQUALITY,
and destiny of men," and "inculcated the principles of justice and
love."[10] And according to Professor Stuart, the maxims which our
Savior furnished, "decide against" "the theory of slavery." All, then,
that these ecclesiastical apologists for slavery can make of the
Savior's alleged silence is, that he did not, in his personal
instructions, "_apply his own principles to this particular form of
wickedness_." For wicked that must be, which the maxims of the
Savior decide against, and which our Princeton professor assures
us the principles of the gospel, duly acted on, would speedily
extinguish.[11] How remarkable it is, that a teacher should
"hardly allude to a subject in any of his personal instructions,"
and yet inculcate principles which have a direct and vital bearing
upon it!--should so conduct, as to justify the inference, that
"slaveholding is not a crime,"[12] and at the same time lend its
authority for its "speedy extinction!"

[Footnote 9: Pittsburg pamphlet, (already alluded to,) p.9.]

[Footnote 10: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote 11: The same, p. 34.]

[Footnote 12: The same, p. 13.]

Higher authority than sustains _self-evident truths_ there cannot
be. As forms of reason, they are rays from the face of Jehovah.
Not only are their presence and power self-manifested, but they
also shed a strong and clear light around them. In their light,
other truths are visible. Luminaries themselves, it is their
office to enlighten. To their authority, in every department of
thought, the same mind bows promptly, gratefully, fully. And by their
authority, he explains, proves, and disposes of whatever engages his
attention and engrosses his powers as a reasonable and reasoning
creature.  For what, when thus employed and when most successful, is
the utmost he can accomplish?  Why, to make the conclusions which he
would establish and commend, _clear in the light of reason_;--in
other words, to evince that _they are reasonable_. He expects that
those with whom he has to do will acknowledge the authority of
principle--will see whatever is exhibited in the light of reason. If
they require him to go further, and, in order to convince them, to
do something more than show that the doctrines he maintains, and the
methods he proposes, are accordant with reason--are illustrated and
supported with "self-evident truths"--they are plainly "beside
themselves." They have lost the use of reason. They are not to be
argued with. They belong to the mad-house.


Are we to honor the Bible, which Professor Stuart quaintly calls
"the good old book," by turning away from "self-evident truths" to
receive its instructions? Can these truths be contradicted or denied
there? Do we search for something there to obscure their clearness,
or break their force, or reduce their authority? Do we long to find
something there, in the form of premises or conclusions, of arguing
or of inference, in broad statement or blind hints, creed-wise or
fact-wise, which may set us free from the light and power of first
principles? And what if we were to discover what we were thus in
search of?--something directly or indirectly, expressly or impliedly
prejudicial to the principles, which reason, placing us under the
authority of, makes self-evident? In what estimation, in that case,
should we be constrained to hold the Bible? Could we longer honor
it as the book of God? _The book of God opposed to the authority of_
REASON! Why, before what tribunal do we dispose of the claims of the
sacred volume to divine authority? The tribunal of reason. _This
every one acknowledges the moment he begins to reason on the subject_.
And what must reason do with a book, which reduces the authority of
its own principles--breaks the force of self-evident truths? Is he
not, by way of eminence, the apostle of infidelity, who, as a
minister of the gospel or a professor of sacred literature, exerts
himself, with whatever arts of ingenuity or show of piety, to exalt
the Bible at the expense of reason? Let such arts succeed and such
piety prevail, and Jesus Christ is "crucified afresh and put to an
open shame."

What saith the Princeton professor? Why, in spite of "general
principles," and "clear as we may think the arguments against
DESPOTISM, there have been thousands of ENLIGHTENED _and good men_,
who _honestly_ believe it to be of all forms of government the best
and most acceptable to God."[13] Now these "good men" must have been
thus warmly in favor of despotism, in consequence of, or in
opposition to, their being "enlightened." In other words, the light,
which in such abundance they enjoyed, conducted them to the position
in favor of despotism, where the Princeton professor so heartily
shook hands with them, or they must have forced their way there in
despite of its hallowed influence. Either in accordance with, or in
resistance to the light, they became what he found them--the
advocates of despotism. If in resistance to the light--and he says
they were "enlightened men"--what, so far as the subject with which
alone he and we are now concerned, becomes of their "honesty" and
"goodness?" Good and honest resisters of the light, which was freely
poured around them! Of such, what says Professor Stuart's "good old
Book?" Their authority, where "general principles" command the least
respect, must be small indeed. But if in accordance with the light,
they have become the advocates of despotism, then is despotism
"the best form of government and most acceptable to God." It is
sustained by the authority of reason, by the word of Jehovah, by the
will of Heaven! If this be the doctrine which prevails at certain
theological seminaries, it must be easy to account for the spirit
which they breathe, and the general influence which they exert. Why
did not the Princeton professor place this "general principle" as a
shield, heaven-wrought and reason approved, over that cherished form
of despotism which prevails among the churches of the South, and
leave the "peculiar institutions" he is so forward to defend, under
its protection?

[Footnote 13: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 12.]

What is the "general principle" to which, whatever may become of
despotism, with its "honest" admirers and "enlightened" supporters,
human governments should be universally and carefully adjusted?
Clearly this--_that as capable of, man is entitled to, self
government_. And this is a specific form of a still more
general principle, which may well be pronounced self-evident--_that
every thing should be treated according to its nature_. The mind
that can doubt this, must be incapable of rational conviction.
Man, then,--it is the dictate of reason, it is the voice of
Jehovah--must be treated as _a man_. What is he? What are his
distinctive attributes? The Creator impressed his own image on him.
In this were found the grand peculiarities of his character. Here
shone his glory. Here REASON manifests its laws. Here the WILL puts
forth its volitions. Here is the crown of IMMORTALITY. Why such
endowments? Thus furnished--the image of Jehovah--is he not capable
of self-government? And is he not to be so treated? _Within the
sphere where the laws of reason place him_, may he not act according
to his choice--carry out his own volitions?--may he not enjoy life,
exult in freedom, and pursue as he will the path of blessedness? If
not, why was he so created and endowed? Why the mysterious, awful
attribute of will? To be a source, profound as the depths of hell,
of exquisite misery, of keen anguish, of insufferable torment! Was man,
formed "according to the image of Jehovah," to be crossed, thwarted,
counteracted; to be forced in upon himself; to be the sport of
endless contradictions; to be driven back and forth forever between
mutually repellant forces; and all, all "at the discretion of
another!"[14] How can man be treated according to his nature, as
endowed with reason or will, if excluded from the powers and
privileges of self-government?--if "despotism" be let loose upon
him, to "deprive him of personal liberty, oblige him to serve at the
discretion of another" and with the power of "transferring" such
"authority" over him and such claim upon him, to "another master?"
If "thousands of enlightened and good men" can so easily be found,
who are forward to support "despotism" as "of all governments the
best and most acceptable to God," we need not wonder at the
testimony of universal history, that "the whole creation groaneth
and travaileth in pain together until now." Groans and travail pangs
must continue to be the order of the day throughout "the whole
creation," till the rod of despotism be broken, and man be treated
as man--as capable of, and entitled to, self-government.

[Footnote 14: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 12.]

But what is the despotism whose horrid features our smooth professor
tries to hide beneath an array of cunningly selected words and
nicely-adjusted sentences? It is the despotism of American
slavery--which crushes the very life of humanity out of its victims,
and transforms them to cattle! At its touch, they sink from men to
things! "Slaves," saith Professor Stuart, "were _property_ in Greece
and Rome. That decides all questions about their _relation_." Yes,
truly. And slaves in republican America are _property_; and as that
easily, clearly, and definitely settles "all questions about their
_relation_," why should the Princeton professor have put himself
to the trouble of weaving a definition equally ingenious and
inadequate--at once subtle and deceitful. Ah, why? Was he willing thus
to conceal the wrongs of his mother's children even from himself? If
among the figments of his brain, he could fashion slaves, and make
them something else than property, he knew full well that a very
different pattern was in use among the southern patriarchs. Why did
he not, in plain words and sober earnest, and good faith, describe
the thing as it was, instead of employing honied words and courtly
phrases, to set forth with all becoming vagueness and ambiguity,
what might possibly be supposed to exist in the regions of fancy.


But are we, in maintaining the principle of self-government, to
overlook the unripe, or neglected, or broken powers of any of our
fellow-men with whom we may be connected?--or the strong passions,
vicious propensities, or criminal pursuits of others? Certainly not.
But in providing for their welfare, we are to exert influences and
impose restraints suited to their character. In wielding those
prerogatives which the social of our nature authorizes us to employ
for their benefit, we are to regard them as they are in truth, not
things, not cattle, not articles of merchandize, but men, our
fellow-men--reflecting, from however battered and broken a surface,
reflecting with us the image of a common Father. And the great
principle of self-government is to be the basis, to which the whole
structure of discipline under which they may be placed, should be
adapted. From the nursery and village school on to the work-house
and state-prison, this principle is ever and in all things to be
before the eyes, present in the thoughts, warm on the heart.
Otherwise, God is insulted, while his image is despised and abused.
Yes, indeed; we remember, that in carrying out the principle of
self-government, multiplied embarrassments and obstructions grow out
of wickedness on the one hand and passion on the other. Such
difficulties and obstacles we are far enough from overlooking. But
where are they to be found? Are imbecility and wickedness, bad
hearts and bad heads, confined to the bottom of society? Alas, the
weakest of the weak, and the desperately wicked, often occupy the
high places of the earth, reducing every thing within their reach to
subserviency to the foulest purposes. Nay, the very power they have
usurped, has often been the chief instrument of turning their heads,
inflaming their passions, corrupting their hearts. All the world
knows, that the possession of arbitrary power has a strong tendency
to make men shamelessly wicked and insufferably mischievous. And
this, whether the vassals over whom they domineer, be few or many.
If you cannot trust man with himself, will you put his fellows
under his control?--and flee from the inconveniences incident to
self-government, to the horrors of despotism?


Is the slaveholder, the most absolute and shameless of all despots,
to be entrusted with the discipline of the injured men who he
himself has reduced to cattle?--with the discipline with which they
are to be prepared to wield the powers and enjoy the privileges of
freemen? Alas, of such discipline as _he_ can furnish, in the
relation of owner to property, they have had enough. From this
sprang the very ignorance and vice, which in the view of many, lie
in the way of their immediate enfranchisement. He it is, who has
darkened their eyes and crippled their powers. And are they to look
to him for illumination and renewed vigor!--and expect "grapes from
thorns and figs from thistles!" Heaven forbid! When, according to
arrangements which had usurped the sacred name of law, he consented
to receive and use them as property, he forfeited all claims to the
esteem and confidence, not only of the helpless sufferers themselves,
but also of every philanthropist. In becoming a slaveholder, he
became the enemy of mankind. The very act was a declaration of war
upon human nature. What less can be made of the process of turning
men to cattle? It is rank absurdity--it is the height of madness, to
propose to employ _him_ to train, for the places of freemen, those
whom he has wantonly robbed of every right--whom he has stolen from
themselves. Sooner place Burke, who used to murder for the sake of
selling bodies to the dissector, at the head of a hospital. Why,
what have our slaveholders been about these two hundred years? Have
they not been constantly and earnestly engaged in the work of
education?--training up their human cattle? And how? Thomas
Jefferson shall answer. "The whole commerce between master and slave,
is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions; the most
unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on
the other." Is this the way to fit the unprepared for the duties and
privileges of American citizens? Will the evils of the dreadful
process be diminished by adding to its length? What, in 1818, was
the unanimous testimony of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church? Why, after describing a variety of influences growing out of
slavery, most fatal to mental and moral improvement, the General
Assembly assure us, that such "consequences are not imaginary, but
connect themselves WITH THE VERY EXISTENCE[15] of slavery. The evils to
which the slave is _always_ exposed, _often_ take place in fact, and
IN THEIR VERY WORST DEGREE AND FORM; and where all of them do not
take place," "still the slave is deprived of his natural right,
degraded as a human being, and exposed to the danger of passing into
the hands of a master who may inflict upon him all the hardships and
injuries which inhumanity and avarice may suggest." Is this the
condition in which our ecclesiastics would keep the slave, at least
a little longer, to fit him to be restored to himself?

[Footnote 15: The words here marked as emphatic, were so distinguished
by ourselves.]

                    "AND THEY STOPPED THEIR EARS."

The methods of discipline under which, as slaveholders; the Southrons
now place their human cattle, they with one consent and in great
wrath, forbid us to examine. The statesman and the priest unite in
the assurance, that these methods are none of our business. Nay, they
give us distinctly to understand, that if we come among them to take
observations, and make inquiries, and discuss questions, they will
dispose of us as outlaws. Nothing will avail to protect us from
speedy and deadly violence! What inference does all this warrant?
Surely, not that the methods which they employ are happy and worthy
of universal application. If so, why do they not take the praise,
and give us the benefit of their wisdom, enterprise, and success? Who,
that has nothing to hide, practices concealment? "He that doeth
truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be manifest, that they
are wrought in God." Is this the way of slaveholders? Darkness they
court--they will have darkness. Doubtless "because their deeds are
evil." Can we confide in methods for the benefit of our enslaved
brethren, which it is death for us to examine? What good ever came,
what good can we expect, from deeds of darkness?

Did the influence of the masters contribute any thing in the West
Indies to prepare the apprentices for enfranchisement? Nay, verily.
All the world knows better. They did what in them lay, to turn back
the tide of blessings, which, through emancipation, was pouring in
upon the famishing around them. Are not the best minds and hearts in
England now thoroughly convinced, that slavery, under no modification,
can be a school for freedom?

We say such things to the many who allege, that slaves cannot at
once be entrusted with the powers and privileges of self-government.
However this may be, they cannot be better qualified under the
_influence of slavery_. _That must be broken up_ from which their
ignorance, and viciousness, and wretchedness proceeded. That which
can only do what it has always done, pollute and degrade, must not
be employed to purify and elevate. _The lower their character and
condition, the louder, clearer, sterner, the just demand for
immediate emancipation_. The plague-smitten sufferer can derive no
benefit from breathing a little longer an infected atmosphere.

In thus referring to elemental principles--in thus availing ourselves
of the light of self-evident truths--we bow to the authority and tread
in the foot-prints of the great Teacher. He chid those around him for
refusing to make the same use of their reason in promoting their
spiritual, as they made in promoting their temporal welfare. He gives
them distinctly to understand, that they need not go out of themselves
to form a just estimation of their position, duties, and prospects,
as standing in the presence of the Messiah. "Why, EVEN OF YOURSELVES,"
he demands of them, "judge ye not what is _right_?"[16] How could
they, unless they had a clear light, and an infallible standard within
them, whereby, amidst the relations they sustained and the interests
they had to provide for, they might discriminate between truth and
falsehood, right and wrong, what they ought to attempt and what they
ought to eschew? From this pointed, significant appeal of the Savior,
it is clear and certain, that in human consciousness may be found
self-evident truths, self-manifested principles; that every man,
studying his own consciousness, is bound to recognize their presence
and authority, and in sober earnest and good faith to apply them to
the highest practical concerns of "life and godliness." It is in
obedience to the Bible, that we apply self-evident truths, and walk
in the light of general principles. When our fathers proclaimed
these truths, and at the hazard of their property, reputation, and
life, stood up in their defence, they did homage to the sacred
Scriptures--they honored the Bible. In that volume, not a syllable
can be found to justify that form of infidelity, which in the abused
name of piety, reproaches us for practising the lessons which nature
teacheth. These lessons, the Bible requires us[17] reverently to listen
to, earnestly to appropriate, and most diligently and faithfully to
act upon in every direction, and on all occasions.

[Footnote 16: Luke, xii. 57.]

[Footnote 17: Cor. xi. 14.]

Why, our Savior goes so far in doing honor to reason, as to encourage
men universally to dispose of the characteristic peculiarities and
distinctive features of the Gospel in the light of its principles.
"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether
it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."[18] Natural religion--the
principles which nature reveals, and the lessons which nature teaches--he
thus makes a test of the truth and authority of revealed religion. So
far was he, as a teacher, from shrinking from the clearest and most
piercing rays of reason--from calling off the attention of those around
him from the import, bearings, and practical application of general
principles. And those who would have us escape from the pressure of
self-evident truths, by betaking ourselves to the doctrines and precepts
of Christianity, whatever airs of piety they may put on, do foul dishonor
to the Savior of mankind.

[Footnote 18: John, vii. 17.]

And what shall we say of the Golden Rule, which, according to the
Savior, comprehends all the precepts of the Bible? "Whatsoever ye
would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is
the law and the prophets."

According to this maxim, in human consciousness, universally, may be

  1. The standard whereby, in all the relations and circumstances of
  life, we may determine what Heaven demands and expects of us.

  2. The just application of this standard, is practicable for, and
  obligatory upon, every child of Adam.

  3. The qualification requisite to a just application of this rule to
  all the cases in which we can be concerned, is simply this--_to
  regard all the members of the human family as our brethren, our

In other words, the Savior here teaches us, that in the principles
and laws of reason, we have an infallible guide in all the relations
and circumstances of life; that nothing can hinder our following
this guide, but the bias of _selfishness_; and that the moment, in
deciding any moral question, we place _ourselves in the room of our
brother_, before the bar of reason, we shall see what decision ought
to be pronounced. Does this, in the Savior, look like fleeing
self-evident truths!--like decrying the authority of general
principles!--like exalting himself at the expense of reason!--like
opening a refuge in the Gospel for those whose practice is at
variance with the dictates of humanity!

What then is the just application of the Golden Rule--that
fundamental maxim of the Gospel, giving character to, and shedding
light upon, all its precepts and arrangements--to the subject of
slavery?--_that we must "do to" slaves as we would be done by_, AS
SLAVES, _the_ RELATION _itself being justified and continued_? Surely
not. A little reflection will enable us to see, that the Golden Rule
reaches farther in its demands, and strikes deeper in its influences
and operations. The _natural equality_ of mankind lies at the very
basis of this great precept. It obviously requires _every man to
acknowledge another self in every other man_. With my powers and
resources, and in my appropriate circumstances, I am to recognize in
any child of Adam who may address me, another self in his
appropriate circumstances and with his powers and resources. This is
the natural equality of mankind; and this the Golden Rule requires
us to admit, defend, and maintain.


They strangely misunderstand and grossly misrepresent this doctrine,
who charge upon it the absurdities and mischiefs which _any
"levelling system"_ cannot but produce. In all its bearings,
tendencies, and effects, it is directly contrary and powerfully
hostile to any such system. EQUALITY OF RIGHTS, the doctrine asserts;
and this necessarily opens the way for _variety of condition_. In
other words, every child of Adam has, from the Creator, the
inalienable right of wielding, within reasonable limits, his own
powers, and employing his own resources, according to his own
choice;--the right, while he respects his social relations, to promote
as he will his own welfare. But mark--HIS OWN powers and resources,
and NOT ANOTHER'S, are thus inalienably put under his control. The
Creator makes every man free, in whatever he may do, to exert HIMSELF,
and not another. Here no man may lawfully cripple or embarrass
another. The feeble may not hinder the strong, nor may the strong
crush the feeble. Every man may make the most of himself, in his own
proper sphere. Now, as in the constitutional endowments; and natural
opportunities, and lawful acquisitions of mankind, infinite variety
prevails, so in exerting each HIMSELF, in his own sphere, according
to his own choice, the variety of human condition can be little less
than infinite. Thus equality of rights opens the way for variety of

But with all this variety of make, means, and condition, considered
individually, the children of Adam are bound together by strong ties
which can never be dissolved. They are mutually united by the social
of their nature. Hence mutual dependence and mutual claims. While
each is inalienably entitled to assert and enjoy his own personality
as a man, each sustains to all and all to each, various relations.
While each owns and honors the individual, all are to own and honor
the social of their nature. Now, the Golden Rule distinctly
recognizes, lays its requisitions upon, and extends its obligations
to, the whole nature of man, in his individual capacities and social
relations. What higher honor could it do to man, as _an individual_,
than to constitute him the judge, by whose decision, when fairly
rendered, all the claims of his fellows should be authoritatively
and definitely disposed of? "Whatsoever YE WOULD" have done to you,
so do ye to others. Every member of the family of Adam, placing
himself in the position here pointed out, is competent and
authorized to pass judgment on all the cases in social life in which
he may be concerned. Could higher responsibilities or greater
confidence be reposed in men individually? And then, how are their
_claims upon each other_ herein magnified! What inherent worth and
solid dignity are ascribed to the social of their nature! In every
man with whom I may have to do, I am to recognize the presence of
_another self_, whose case I am to make _my own_. And thus I am to
dispose of whatever claims he may urge upon me.

Thus, in accordance with the Golden Rule, mankind are naturally
brought, in the voluntary use of their powers and resources, to
promote each other's welfare. As his contribution to this great
object, it is the inalienable birthright of every child of Adam,
to consecrate whatever he may possess. With exalted powers and large
resources, he has a natural claim to a correspondent field of effort.
If his "abilities" are small, his task must be easy and his burden
light. Thus the Golden Rule requires mankind mutually to serve each
other. In this service, each is to exert _himself_--employ _his own_
powers, lay out his own resources, improve his own opportunities. A
division of labor is the natural result. One is remarkable for his
intellectual endowments and acquisitions; another, for his wealth;
and a third, for power and skill in using his muscles. Such
attributes, endlessly varied and diversified, proceed from the basis
of a _common character_, by virtue of which all men and each--one as
truly as another--are entitled, as a birthright, to "life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness." Each and all, one as well as another,
may choose his own modes of contributing his share to the general
welfare, in which his own is involved and identified. Under one
great law of mutual dependence and mutual responsibility, all are
placed--the strong as well as the weak, the rich as much as the poor,
the learned no less than the unlearned. All bring their wares, the
products of their enterprise, skill and industry, to the same market,
where mutual exchanges are freely effected. The fruits of muscular
exertion procure the fruits of mental effort. John serves Thomas
with his hands, and Thomas serves John with his money. Peter wields
the axe for James, and James wields the pen for Peter. Moses, Joshua,
and Caleb, employ their wisdom, courage, and experience, in the
service of the community, and the community serve Moses, Joshua, and
Caleb, in furnishing them with food and raiment, and making them
partakers of the general prosperity. And all this by mutual
understanding and voluntary arrangement. And all this according to
the Golden Rule.

What then becomes of _slavery_--a system of arrangements in which
one man treats his fellow, not as another self, but as a thing--a
chattel--an article of merchandize, which is not to be consulted in
any disposition which may be made of it;--a system which is built on
the annihilation of the attributes of our common nature--in which
man doth to others what he would sooner die than have done to himself?
The Golden Rule and slavery are mutually subversive of each other. If
one stands, the other must fall. The one strikes at the very root of
the other. The Golden Rule aims at the abolition of THE RELATION
ITSELF, in which slavery consists. It lays its demands upon every
thing within the scope of _human action_. To "whatever MEN DO." it
extends its authority. And the relation itself, in which slavery
consists, is the work of human hands. It is what men have done to
each other--contrary to nature and most injurious to the general
welfare. This RELATION, therefore, the Golden Rule condemns.
Wherever its authority prevails, this relation must be annihilated.
Mutual service and slavery--like light and darkness, life and
death--are directly opposed to, and subversive of, each other. The
one the Golden Rule cannot endure; the other it requires, honors,
and blesses.


Like unto the Golden Rule is the second great commandment--"_Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself_." "A certain lawyer," who seems
to have been fond of applying the doctrine of limitation of human
obligations, once demanded of the Savior, within what limits the
meaning of the word "neighbor" ought to be confined. "And who is my
neighbor?" The parable of the good Samaritan set that matter in the
clearest light, and made it manifest and certain, that every man
whom we could reach with our sympathy and assistance, was our
neighbor, entitled to the same regard which we cherished for
ourselves. Consistently with such obligations, can _slavery,
as a_ RELATION, be maintained? Is it then a _labor of love_--such
love as we cherish for ourselves--to strip a child of Adam of all the
prerogatives and privileges which are his inalienable birthright? To
obscure his reason, crush his will, and trample on his
immortality?--To strike home to the inmost of his being, and break the
heart of his heart?--To thrust him out of the human family, and
dispose of him as a chattel--as a thing in the hands of an owner, a
beast under the lash of a driver? All this, apart from every thing
incidental and extraordinary, belongs to the RELATION, in which
slavery, as such, consists. All this--well fed or ill fed,
underwrought or overwrought, clothed or naked, caressed or kicked,
whether idle songs break from his thoughtless tongue or "tears be his
meat night and day," fondly cherished or cruelly murdered;--_all this_
SLAVE, _is set apart from the rest of the human family_. Is it an
exercise of love, to place our "neighbor" under the crushing
weight, the killing power, of such a relation?--to apply the
murderous steel to the very vitals of his humanity?


The slaveholder may eagerly and loudly deny, that any such thing is
chargeable upon him. He may confidently and earnestly allege, that
he is not responsible for the state of society in which he is placed.
Slavery was established before he began to breathe. It was his
inheritance. His slaves are his property by birth or testament. But
why will he thus deceive himself? Why will he permit the cunning and
rapacious spiders, which in the very sanctuary of ethics and
religion are laboriously weaving webs from their own bowels, to
catch him with their wretched sophistries?--and devour him, body,
soul, and substance? Let him know, as he must one day with shame and
terror own, that whoever holds slaves is himself responsible for
_the relation_, into which, whether reluctantly or willingly, he
thus enters. _The relation cannot be forced upon him_. What though
Elizabeth countenanced John Hawkins in stealing the natives of
Africa?--what though James, and Charles, and George, opened a market
for them in the English colonies?--what though modern Dracos have
"framed mischief by law," in legalizing man-stealing and
slaveholding?--what though your ancestors, in preparing to go
"to their own place," constituted you the owner of the "neighbors"
whom they had used as cattle?--what of all this, and as much more like
this, as can be drawn from the history of that dreadful process by
which men are "deemed, held, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be
_chattels personal_?" Can all this force you to put the cap upon the
climax--to clinch the nail by doing that, without which nothing in
the work of slave-making would be attempted? _The slaveholder is the
soul of the whole system_. Without him, the chattel principle is a
lifeless abstraction. Without him, charters, and markets, and laws,
and testaments, are empty names. And does _he_ think to escape
responsibility? Why, kidnappers, and soul-drivers, and law-makers,
are nothing but his _agents_. He is the guilty _principal_. Let him
look to it.

[Footnote 19: You join with them in their bloody work. They murder,
and you bury the victims.]

But what can he do? Do? Keep his hands off his "neighbor's" throat.
Let him refuse to finish and ratify the process by which the chattel
principle is carried into effect. Let him refuse, in the face of
derision, and reproach, and opposition. Though poverty should fasten
its bony hand upon him, and persecution shoot forth its forked tongue;
whatever may betide him--scorn, flight, flames--let him promptly and
steadfastly refuse. Better the spite and hate of men than the wrath
of Heaven! "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it
from thee; for it is profitable for thee, that one of thy members
should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

Professor Stewart admits, that the Golden Rule and the second great
commandment "decide against the theory of slavery, as being in
itself right." What, then, is their relation to the particular
precepts, institutions, and usages, which are authorized and
enjoined in the New Testament? Of all these, they are the summary
expression--the comprehensive description. No precept in the Bible,
enforcing our mutual obligations, can be more or less than _the
application of these injunctions to specific relations or particular
occasions and conditions_. Neither in the Old Testament nor the New,
do prophets teach or laws enjoin, any thing which the Golden Rule
and the second great command do not contain.  Whatever they forbid,
no other precept can require; and whatever they require, no other
precept can forbid. What, then, does he attempt, who turns over the
sacred pages to find something in the way of permission or command,
which may set him free from the obligations of the Golden Rule? What
must his objects, methods, spirit be, to force him to enter upon
such inquiries?--to compel him to search the Bible for such a purpose?
Can he have good intentions, or be well employed? Is his frame of
mind adapted to the study of the Bible?--to make its meaning plain
and welcome? What must he think of God, to search his word in quest
of gross inconsistencies, and grave contradictions! Inconsistent
legislation in Jehovah! Contradictory commands! Permissions at war
with prohibitions! General requirements at variance with particular

What must be the moral character of any institution which the Golden
Rule decides against?--which the second great command condemns?
_It cannot but be wicked_, whether newly established or long
maintained. However it may be shaped, turned, colored--under every
modification and at all times--_wickedness must be its proper
character. It must be_, IN ITSELF, _apart from its circumstances_,
IN ITS ESSENCE, _apart from its incidents_, SINFUL.


In disposing of those precepts and exhortations which have a
specific bearing upon the subject of slavery, it is greatly important,
nay, absolutely essential, that we look forth upon the objects
around us from the right post of observation. Our stand we must take
at some central point, amidst the general maxims and fundamental
precepts, the known circumstances and characteristic arrangements,
of primitive Christianity. Otherwise, wrong views and false
conclusions will be the result of our studies. We cannot, therefore,
be too earnest in trying to catch the general features and prevalent
spirit of the New Testament institutions and arrangements. For to
what conclusions must we come, if we unwittingly pursue our
inquiries under the bias of the prejudice, that the general maxims
of social life which now prevail in this country, were current, on
the authority of the Savior, among the primitive Christians! That,
for instance, wealth, station, talents, are the standard by which our
claims upon, and our regard for, others, should be modified?--That
those who are pinched by poverty, worn by disease, tasked in
menial labors, or marked by features offensive to the taste of the
artificial and capricious, are to be excluded from those refreshing
and elevating influences which intelligence and refinement may be
expected to exert; that thus they are to constitute a class by
themselves, and to be made to know and keep their place at the very
bottom of society? Or, what if we should think and speak of the
primitive Christians, as if they had the same pecuniary resources as
Heaven has lavished upon the American churches?--as if they were as
remarkable for affluence, elegance, and splendor? Or, as if they had
as high a position and as extensive an influence in politics and
literature?--having directly or indirectly, the control over the
high places of learning and of power?

If we should pursue our studies and arrange our arguments--if we
should explain words and interpret language--under such a bias, what
must inevitably be the results? What would be the worth of our
conclusions? What confidence could be reposed in any instruction we
might undertake to furnish? And is not this the way in which the
advocates and apologists of slavery dispose of the bearing which
primitive Christianity has upon it? They first ascribe, unwittingly,
perhaps, to the primitive churches; the character, relations, and
condition of American Christianity, and amidst the deep darkness and
strange confusion thus produced, set about interpreting the language
and explaining the usages of the New Testament!

                "SO THAT YE ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE."

Among the lessons of instruction which our Savior imparted, having a
general bearing on the subject of slavery, that in which he sets up
the _true standard of greatness_, deserves particular attention. In
repressing the ambition of his disciples, he held up before them the
methods by which alone healthful aspirations for eminence could be
gratified, and thus set the elements of true greatness in the
clearest light. "Ye know, that they which are accounted to rule over
the Gentiles, exercise lordship over them; and their great ones
exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you; but
whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister; _and
whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all_." In
other words, through the selfishness and pride of mankind, the maxim
widely prevails in the world, that it is the privilege, prerogative,
and mark of greatness, TO EXACT SERVICE; that our superiority to
others, while it authorizes us to relax the exertion of our own
powers, gives us a fair title to the use of theirs; that "might,"
while it exempts us from serving, "gives the right" to be served.
The instructions of the Savior open the way to greatness for us in
the opposite direction. Superiority to others, in whatever it may
consist, gives us a claim to a wider field of exertion, and demands
of us a larger amount of service. We can be great only as we _are
useful_. And "might gives right" to bless our fellow men, by
improving every opportunity and employing every faculty,
affectionately, earnestly, and unweariedly, in their service. Thus
the greater the man, the more active, faithful, and useful the

The Savior has himself taught us how this doctrine must be applied.
He bids us improve every opportunity and employ every power, even
through the most menial services, in blessing the human family. And
to make this lesson shine upon our understandings and move our hearts,
he embodied in it a most instructive and attractive example. On a
memorable occasion, and just before his crucifixion, he discharged
for his disciples the most menial of all offices--taking, _in
washing their feet_, the place of the lowest servant. He took great
pains to make them understand, that only by imitating this example
could they honor their relations to him as their Master; that thus
only would they find themselves blessed. By what possibility could
slavery exist under the influence of such a lesson, set home by such
an example? _Was it while washing the disciples' feet, that our
Savior authorized one man to make a chattel of another_?

To refuse to provide for ourselves by useful labor, the apostle Paul
teaches us to regard as a grave offence. After reminding the
Thessalonian Christians, that in addition to all his official
exertions he had with his own muscles earned his own bread, he calls
their attention to an arrangement which was supported by apostolical
authority, "that if any would not work, neither should he eat." In
the most earnest and solemn manner, and as a minister of the Lord
Jesus Christ, he commanded and exhorted those who neglected useful
labor, "_with quietness to work and eat their own bread_." What must
be the bearing of all this upon slavery? Could slavery be maintained
where every man eat the bread which himself had earned?--where
idleness was esteemed so great a crime, as to be reckoned worthy of
starvation as a punishment? How could unrequited labor be exacted,
or used, or needed? Must not every one in such a community
contribute his share to the general welfare?--and mutual service and
mutual support be the natural result?

The same apostle, in writing to another church, describes the true
source whence the means of liberality ought to be derived. "Let him
that stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his
hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that
needeth." Let this lesson, as from the lips of Jehovah, be proclaimed
throughout the length and breadth of South Carolina. Let it be
universally welcomed and reduced to practice. Let thieves give up
what they had stolen to the lawful proprietors, cease stealing, and
begin at once to "labor, working with their hands," for necessary
and charitable purposes. Could slavery, in such a case, continue to
exist? Surely not! Instead of exacting unpaid services from others,
every man would be busy, exerting himself not only to provide for
his own wants, but also to accumulate funds, "that he might have to
give to" the needy. Slavery must disappear, root and branch, at once
and forever.

In describing the source whence his ministers should expect their
support, the Savior furnished a general principle, which has an
obvious and powerful bearing on the subject of slavery. He would
have them remember, while exerting themselves for the benefit of
their fellow men, that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." He has
thus united wages with work. Whoever renders the one is entitled to
the other. And this manifestly according to a mutual understanding
and a voluntary arrangement. For the doctrine that I may force you
to work for me for whatever consideration I may please to fix upon,
fairly opens the way for the doctrine, that you, in turn, may force
me to render you whatever wages you may choose to exact for any
services you may see fit to render. Thus slavery, even as
involuntary servitude, is cut up by the root. Even the Princeton
professor seems to regard it as a violation of the principle which
unites work with wages.

The apostle James applies this principle to the claims of manual
laborers--of those who hold the plough and thrust in the sickle. He
calls the rich lordlings who exacted sweat and withheld wages, to
"weeping and howling," assuring them that the complaints of
the injured laborer had entered into the ear of the Lord of Hosts,
and that, as a result of their oppression, their riches were
corrupted, and their garments moth-eaten; their gold and silver were
cankered; that the rust of them should be a witness against them,
and should eat their flesh as it were fire; that, in one word, they
had heaped treasures together for the last days, when "miseries were
coming upon them," the prospect of which might well drench them in
tears and fill them with terror. If these admonitions and warnings
were heeded there, would not "the South" break forth into "weeping
and wailing, and gnashing of teeth?" What else are its rich men about,
but withholding by a system of fraud, his wages from the laborer,
who is wearing himself out under the impulse of fear, in cultivating
their fields and producing their luxuries! Encouragement and support
do they derive from James, in maintaining the "peculiar institution"
which they call patriarchal, and boast of as the "corner-stone" of
the republic?

In the New Testament, we have, moreover, the general injunction,
"_Honor all men_." Under this broad precept, every form of humanity
may justly claim protection and respect. The invasion of any human
right must do dishonor to humanity, and be a transgression of this
command. How then, in the light of such obligations, must slavery be
regarded? Are those men honored, who are rudely excluded from a
place in the human family, and shut up to the deep degradation and
nameless horrors of chattelship? _Can they be held as slaves, and at
the same time be honored as men_?

How far, in obeying this command, we are to go, we may infer from
the admonitions and instructions which James applies to the
arrangements and usages of religious assemblies. Into these he can
not allow "respect of persons" to enter. "My brethren," he exclaims,
"have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory,
with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a
man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel; and there come in also
a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth
the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place;
and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool;
are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil
thoughts?" _If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are
convinced of the law as transgressors_. On this general principle,
then, religious assemblies ought to be regulated--that every man is
to be estimated, not according to his _circumstances_--not according
to anything incidental to his _condition_; but according to his _moral
worth_--according to the essential features and vital elements of his
_character_. Gold rings and gay clothing, as they qualify no man for,
can entitle no man to, a "good place" in the church. Nor can the
"vile raiment of the poor man," fairly exclude him from any sphere,
however exalted, which his heart and head may fit him to fill. To
deny this, in theory or practice, is to degrade a man below a thing;
for what are gold rings, or gay clothing, or vile raiment, but things,
"which perish with the using?" And this must be "to commit sin, and
be convinced of the law as transgressor."

In slavery, we have "respect of persons," strongly marked, and
reduced to system. Here men are despised not merely for "the vile
raiment," which may cover their scarred bodies. This is bad enough.
But the deepest contempt of humanity here grows out of birth or
complexion. Vile raiment may be, often is, the result of indolence,
or improvidence, or extravagance. It may be, often is, an index of
character. But how can I be responsible for the incidents of my
birth?--how for my complexion? To despise or honor me for these, is to
be guilty of "respect of persons" in its grossest form, and with its
worst effects. It is to reward or punish me for what I had nothing
to do with; for which, therefore, I cannot, without the greatest
injustice, be held responsible. It is to poison the very fountains
of justice, by confounding all moral distinctions. What, then, so
far as the authority of the New Testament is concerned, becomes of
slavery, which cannot be maintained under any form nor for a single
moment, without "respect of persons" the most aggravated and
unendurable? And what would become of that most pitiful, silly, and
wicked arrangement in so many of our churches, in which worshippers
of a dark complexion are to be sent up to the negro pew?[20]

[Footnote 20: In Carlyle's Review of the Memoirs of Mirabeau, we
have the following anecdote illustrative of the character of a
"grandmother" of the Count. "Fancy the dame Mirabeau sailing stately
towards the church font; another dame striking in to take precedence
of her; the dame Mirabeau despatching this latter with a box on the
ear, and these words, '_Here, as in the army_, THE BAGGAGE _goes
last_!'" Let those who justify the negro-pew arrangement, throw
a stone at this proud woman--if they dare.]

Nor are we permitted to confine this principle to religious
assemblies. It is to pervade social life everywhere. Even where
plenty, intelligence and refinement, diffuse their brightest rays,
the poor are to be welcomed with especial favor. "Then said he to
him that bade him, when thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not
thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich
neighbors, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made
thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor and the maimed,
the lame and the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot
recompense thee, but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection
of the just."

In the high places of social life then--in the parlor, the
drawing-room, the saloon--special reference should be had, in every
arrangement, to the comfort and improvement of those who are least
able to provide for the cheapest rites of hospitality. For these,
ample accommodations must be made, whatever may become of our
kinsmen and rich neighbors. And for this good reason, that while
such occasions signify little to the latter, to the former they are
pregnant with good--raising their drooping spirits, cheering their
desponding hearts, inspiring them with life, and hope, and joy. The
rich and the poor thus meeting joyfully together, cannot but
mutually contribute to each other's benefit; the rich will be led to
moderation, sobriety, and circumspection, and the poor to industry,
providence, and contentment. The recompense must be great and sure.

A most beautiful and instructive commentary on the text in which
these things are taught, the Savior furnished in his own conduct. He
freely mingled with those who were reduced to the very bottom of
society. At the tables of the outcasts of society he did not
hesitate to be a cheerful guest, surrounded by publicans and sinners.
And when flouted and reproached by smooth and lofty ecclesiastics,
as an ultraist and leveler, he explained and justified himself by
observing, that he had only done what his office demanded. It was
his to seek the lost, to heal the sick, to pity the wretched;--in a
word, to bestow just such benefits as the various necessities of
mankind made appropriate and welcome. In his great heart, there was
room enough for those who had been excluded from the sympathy of
little souls. In its spirit and design, the gospel overlooked
none--least of all, the outcasts of a selfish world.

Can slavery, however modified, be consistent with such a gospel?--a
gospel which requires us, even amidst the highest forms of social
life, to exert ourselves to raise the depressed by giving our
warmest sympathies to those who have the smallest share in the favor
of the world?

Those who are in "bonds" are set before us as deserving an especial
remembrance. Their claims upon us are described as a modification of
the Golden Rule--as one of the many forms to which its obligations
are reducible. To them we are to extend the same affectionate regard
as we would covet for ourselves, if the chains upon their limbs were
fastened upon ours. To the benefits of this precept, the enslaved
have a natural claim of the greatest strength. The wrongs they
suffer spring from a persecution which can hardly be surpassed in
malignancy. Their birth and complexion are the occasion of the
insults and injuries which they can neither endure nor escape. It is
for _the work of God_, and not their own deserts, that they are
loaded with chains. _This is persecution_.

Can I regard the slave as another self--can I put myself in his
place--and be indifferent to his wrongs? Especially, can I, thus
affected, take sides with the oppressor? Could I, in such a state of
mind as the gospel requires me to cherish, reduce him to slavery or
keep him in bonds? Is not the precept under hand naturally
subversive of every system and every form of slavery?

The general descriptions of the church, which are found here and
there in the New Testament, are highly instructive in their bearing
on the subject of slavery. In one connection, the following words
meet the eye: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond
nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in
Christ Jesus."[21] Here we have--

  1. A clear and strong description of the doctrine of _human
  equality_. "Ye are all ONE;"--so much alike, so truly placed on
  common ground, all wielding each his own powers with such freedom,
  _that one is the same as another_.

  2. This doctrine, self-evident in the light of reason, is affirmed on
  divine authority. "IN CHRIST JESUS, _ye are all one_." The natural
  equality of the human family is a part of the gospel. For--

  3. All the human family are included in this description. Whether
  men or women, whether bond or free, whether Jews or Gentiles, all
  are alike entitled to the benefit of this doctrine. Whether
  Christianity prevails, the _artificial_ distinctions which grow out
  of birth, condition, sex, are done away. _Natural_ distinctions are
  not destroyed. _They_ are recognized, hallowed, confirmed. The
  gospel does not abolish the sexes, forbid a division of labor, or
  extinguish patriotism. It takes woman from beneath the feet, and
  places her by the side of man; delivers the manual laborer from
  "the yoke," and gives him wages for his work; and brings the Jew and
  the Gentile to embrace each other with fraternal love and confidence.
  Thus it raises all to a common level, gives to each the free use of
  his own powers and resources, binds all together in one dear and
  loving brotherhood. Such, according to the description of the apostle,
  was the influence, and such the effect of primitive Christianity.
  "Behold the picture!" Is it like American slavery, which, in all its
  tendencies and effects, is destructive of all oneness among brethren?

[Footnote 21: Gal. iii. 28.]

"Where the spirit of the Lord is," exclaims the same apostle, with
his eye upon the condition and relations of the church, "_where the
spirit of the Lord is_, THERE IS LIBERTY." Where, then, may we
reverently recognize the presence, and bow before the manifested
power, of this spirit? _There_, where the laborer may not choose how
he shall be employed!--in what way his wants shall be supplied!--with
whom he shall associate!--who shall have the fruit of his exertions!
_There_, where he is not free to enjoy his wife and children!
_There_, where his body and his soul, his very "destiny,"[22]
are placed altogether beyond his control! _There_, where every
power is crippled, every energy blasted, every hope crushed! _There_,
where in all the relations and concerns of life, he is legally
treated as if he had nothing to do with the laws of reason, the
light of immortality, or the exercise of will! Is the spirit of the
Lord _there_, where liberty is decried and denounced, mocked at and
spit upon, betrayed and crucified! In the midst of a church which
justified slavery, which derived its support from slavery, which
carried on its enterprises by means of slavery, would the apostle
have found the fruits of the Spirit of the Lord! Let that Spirit
exert his influences, and assert his authority, and wield his power,
and slavery must vanish at once and for ever.

[Footnote 22: "The legislature (of South Carolina) from time to time,
has passed many restricted and penal acts, with a view to bring
under direct control and subjection the DESTINY of the black
population." See the Remonstrance of James S. Pope and 352 others
against home missionary efforts for the benefit of the enslaved--a
most instructive paper.]

In more than one connection, the apostle James describes Christianity
as "_the law of liberty_." It is, in other words, the law under
which liberty cannot but live and flourish--the law in which liberty
is clearly defined, strongly asserted, and well protected. As the law
of liberty, how can it be consistent with the law of slavery? The
presence and the power of this law are felt wherever the light of
reason shines. They are felt in the uneasiness and conscious
degradation of the slave, and in the shame and remorse which the
master betrays in his reluctant and desperate efforts to defend
himself. This law it is which has armed human nature against the
oppressor. Wherever it is obeyed, "every yoke is broken."

In these references to the New Testament we have a _general
description_ of the primitive church, and the _principles_ on which
it was founded and fashioned. These principles bear the same
relation to Christian _history_ as to Christian _character_, since
the former is occupied with the development of the latter. What then
is Christian character but Christian principle _realized_, acted out,
bodied forth, and animated? Christian principle is the soul, of
which Christian character is the expression--the manifestation. It
comprehends in itself, as a living seed, such Christian character,
under every form, modification, and complexion. The former is,
therefore, the test and interpreter of the latter. In the light of
Christian principle, and in that light only we can judge of and
explain Christian character. Christian history is occupied with the
forms, modifications, and various aspects of Christian character.
The facts which are there recorded serve to show, how Christian
principle has fared in this world--how it has appeared, what it has
done, how it has been treated. In these facts we have the various
institutions, usages, designs, doings, and sufferings of the church
of Christ. And all these have of necessity, the closest relation to
Christian principle. They are the production of its power. Through
them, it is revealed and manifested. In its light, they are to be
studied, explained, and understood. Without it they must be as
unintelligible and insignificant as the letters of a book scattered
on the wind.

In the principles of Christianity, then, we have a comprehensive and
faithful account of its objects, institutions, and usages--of how it
must behave, and act, and suffer, in a world of sin and misery. For
between the principles which God reveals, on the one hand, and the
precepts he enjoins, the institutions he establishes, and the usages
he approves, on the other, there must be consistency and harmony.
Otherwise we impute to God what we must abhor in man--practice at war
with principle. Does the Savior, then, lay down the _principle_ that
our standing in the church must depend upon the habits formed within
us, of readily and heartily subserving the welfare of others; and
permit us _in practice_ to invade the rights and trample on the
happiness of our fellows, by reducing them to slavery. Does he,
_in principle_ and by example, require us to go all lengths in
rendering mutual service, or comprehending offices that most menial,
as well as the most honorable; and permit us _in practice_ to EXACT
service of our brethren, as if they were nothing better than
"articles of merchandize!" Does he require us _in principle_
"to work with quietness and eat our own bread;" and permit us
_in practice_ to wrest from our brethren the fruits of their
unrequited toil? Does he _in principle_ require us, abstaining from
every form of theft, to employ our powers in useful labor, not only
to provide for ourselves but also to relieve the indigence of others;
and permit us _in practice_, abstaining from every form of labor, to
enrich and aggrandize ourselves with the fruits of man-stealing?
Does he require us _in principle_ to regard "the laborer as worthy
of his hire"; and permit us _in practice_ to defraud him of his wages?
Does he require us _in principle_ to honor ALL men; and permit us
_in practice_ to treat multitudes like cattle? Does he _in
principle_ prohibit "respect of persons;" and permit us _in practice_
to place the feet of the rich upon the necks of the poor? Does he
_in principle_ require us to sympathize with the bondman as
another self; and permit us _in practice_ to leave him unpitied and
unhelped in the hands of the oppressor? _In principle_, "where the
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" _in practice_, is _slavery_
the fruit of the Spirit? _In principle_, Christianity is the law of
liberty; _in practice_, it is the law of slavery? Bring practice in
these various respects into harmony with principle, and what becomes
of slavery? And if, where the divine government is concerned,
practice is the expression of principle, and principle the standard
and interpreter of practice, such harmony cannot but be maintained
and must be asserted. In studying, therefore, fragments of history
and sketches of biography--in disposing of references to institutions,
usages, and facts in the New Testament, this necessary harmony
between principle and practice in the government _of God_, should be
continually present to the thoughts of the interpreter. Principles
assert what practice must be. Whatever principle condemns, God
condemns. It belongs to those weeds of the dung-hill which, planted
by "an enemy," his hand will assuredly "root up." It is most certain
then, that if slavery prevailed in the first ages of Christianity,
it could nowhere have prevailed under its influence and with its

       *       *       *       *       *

The condition in which in its efforts to bless mankind, the
primitive church was placed, must have greatly assisted the early
Christians in understanding and applying the principles of the gospel.
Their _Master_ was born in great obscurity, lived in the deepest
poverty, and died the most ignominious death. The place of his
residence, his familiarity with the outcasts of society, his
welcoming assistance and support from female hands, his casting his
beloved mother, when he hung upon the cross, upon the charity of a
disciple--such things evince the depth of his poverty, and show to
what derision and contempt he must have been exposed. Could such an
one, "despised and rejected of men--a man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief," play the oppressor, or smile on those who made
merchandize of the poor!

And what was the history of the _apostles_, but an illustration of
the doctrine, that "it is enough for the disciple, that he be as his
Master?" Were they lordly ecclesiastics, abounding with wealth,
shining with splendor, bloated with luxury! Were they ambitious of
distinction, fleecing, and trampling, and devouring "the flocks,"
that they themselves might "have the pre-eminence!" Were they
slaveholding bishops! Or did they derive their support from the
wages of iniquity and the price of blood! Can such inferences be
drawn from the account of their condition, which the most gifted and
enterprising of their number has put upon record? "Even unto this
present hour, we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and _are
buffetted_, and have _no certain dwelling place, and labor working
with our own hands_. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we
suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as _the filth of
the world_, and are THE OFFSCOURING OF ALL THINGS unto this day."[23]
Are these the men who practised or countenanced slavery? _With
such a temper, they_ WOULD NOT; _in such circumstances, they_ COULD
NOT. Exposed to "tribulation, distress, and persecution;" subject to
famine and nakedness, to peril and the sword; "killed all the day
long; accounted as sheep for the slaughter,"[24] they would have made
but a sorry figure at the _great-house_ or slave-market.

[Footnote 23: 1 Cor. iv. 11-13.]

[Footnote 24: Rom. viii. 35, 36.]

Nor was the condition of the brethren, generally, better than that of
the apostles. The position of the apostles doubtless entitled them to
the strongest opposition, the heaviest reproaches, the fiercest
persecution. But derision and contempt must have been the lot of
Christians generally. Surely we cannot think so ill of primitive
Christianity as to suppose that believers, generally, refused to
share in the trials and sufferings of their leaders; as to suppose
that while the leaders submitted to manual labor, to buffeting, to be
reckoned the filth of the world, to be accounted as sheep for the
slaughter, his brethren lived in affluence, ease, and honor!
despising manual labor and living upon the sweat of unrequited toil!
But on this point we are not left to mere inference and conjecture.
The apostle Paul in the plainest language explains the ordination of
Heaven. "But _God hath_ CHOSEN the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise; and God hath CHOSEN the weak things of the world
to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world,
and things which are despised hath God CHOSEN, yea, and THINGS WHICH
ARE NOT, to bring to nought things that are."[25] Here we may well

  1. That it was not by _accident_, that the primitive churches were
  made up of such elements, but the result of the DIVINE CHOICE--an
  arrangement of His wise and gracious Providence. The inference is
  natural, that this ordination was co-extensive with the triumphs of
  Christianity. It was nothing new or strange, that Jehovah had
  concealed his glory "from the wise and prudent, and had revealed it
  unto babes," or that "the common people heard him gladly," while
  "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble,
  had been called."

  2. The description of character, which the apostle records, could be
  adapted only to what are reckoned the _very dregs of humanity_. The
  foolish and the weak, the base and the contemptible, in the
  estimation of worldly pride and wisdom--these were they whose broken
  hearts were reached, and moulded, and refreshed by the gospel; these
  were they whom the apostle took to his bosom as his own brethren.

[Footnote 25: 1 Cor. i. 27, 28.]

That _slaves_ abounded at Corinth, may easily be admitted. _They_
have a place in the enumeration of elements of which, according to
the apostle, the church there was composed. The most remarkable
class found there, consisted of "THINGS WHICH ARE NOT"--mere nobodies,
not admitted to the privileges of men, but degraded to a level with
"goods and chattels;" of whom _no account_ was made in such
arrangements of society as subserved the improvement, and dignity,
and happiness of MANKIND. How accurately the description applies to
those who are crushed under the chattel principle!

The reference which the apostle makes to the "deep poverty of the
churches of Macedonia,"[26] and this to stir up the sluggish
liberality of his Corinthian brethren, naturally leaves the
impression, that the latter were by no means inferior to the former
in the gifts of Providence. But, pressed with want and pinched by
poverty as were the believers in "Macedonia and Achaia, it pleased
them to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which were
at Jerusalem."[27] Thus it appears, that Christians everywhere were
familiar with contempt and indigence, so much so, that the apostle
would dissuade such as had no families from assuming the
responsibilities of the conjugal relation![28]

[Footnote 26: 2 Cor. viii. 2.]

[Footnote 27: Rom. xviii. 18-25.]

[Footnote 28: Cor. vii. 26, 27.]

Now, how did these good people treat each other? Did the few among
them, who were esteemed wise, mighty, or noble, exert their
influence and employ their power in oppressing the weak, in disposing
of the "things that are not," as marketable commodities!--kneeling
with them in prayer in the evening, and putting them up at auction
the next morning! Did the church sell any of the members to swell
the "certain contribution for the poor saints at Jerusalem!" Far
other wise--as far as possible! In those Christian communities where
the influence of the apostles was most powerful, and where the
arrangements drew forth their highest commendations, believers
treated each other as _brethren_, in the strongest sense of that
sweet word. So warm was their mutual love, so strong the public
spirit, so open-handed and abundant the general liberality, that
they are set forth as "_having all things common_."[29] Slaves and
their holders here? Neither the one nor the other could, in that
relation to each other, have breathed such an atmosphere. The appeal
of the kneeling bondman, "Am I not a man and a brother," must here
have met with a prompt and powerful response.

[Footnote 29: Acts, iv. 32.]

The _tests_ by which our Savior tries the character of his professed
disciples, shed a strong light upon the genius of the gospel. In one
connection,[30] an inquirer demands of the Savior, "What good thing
shall I do that I may have eternal life?" After being reminded of the
obligations which his social nature imposed upon him, he ventured,
while claiming to be free from guilt in his relations to mankind, to
demand, "what lack I yet?" The radical deficiency under which his
character labored, the Savior was not long or obscure in pointing out.
"If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the
poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me."
On this passage it is natural to suggest--

  1. That we have here a _test of universal application_. The
  rectitude and benevolence of our Savior's character forbid us to
  suppose, that he would subject this inquirer, especially as he was
  highly amiable, to a trial, where eternal life was at stake,
  _peculiarly_ severe. Indeed, the test seems to have been only a fair
  exposition of the second great command, and of course it must be
  applicable to all who are placed under the obligations of that
  precept. Those who cannot stand this test, as their character is
  radically imperfect and unsound, must, with the inquirer to whom
  our Lord applied it, be pronounced unfit for the kingdom of heaven.

  2. The least that our Savior can in that passage be understood to
  demand is, that we disinterestedly and heartily devote ourselves to
  the welfare of mankind, "the poor" especially. We are to put
  ourselves on a level with _them_, as we must do "in selling that we
  have" for their benefit--in other words, in employing our powers and
  resources to elevate their character, condition, and prospects. This
  our Savior did; and if we refuse to enter into sympathy and
  co-operation with him, how can we be his _followers_? Apply this
  test to the slaveholder. Instead of "selling that he hath" for the
  benefit of the poor, he BUYS THE POOR, and exacts their sweat with
  stripes, to enable him to "clothe himself in purple and fine linen,
  and fare sumptuously every day;" or, HE SELLS THE POOR to support
  the gospel and convert the heathen!

[Footnote 30: Luke, xviii. 18-25.]

What, in describing the scenes of the final judgment, does our Savior
teach us? _By what standard_ must our character be estimated, and the
retributions of eternity be awarded? A standard, which both the
righteous and the wicked will be surprised to see erected. From the
"offscouring of all things," the meanest specimen of humanity will
be selected--a "stranger" in the hands of the oppressor, naked,
hungry, sickly; and this stranger, placed in the midst of the
assembled universe, by the side of the sovereign Judge, will be
openly acknowledged as his representative. "Glory, honor, and
immortality," will be the reward of those who had recognized and
cheered their Lord through his outraged poor. And tribulation,
anguish, and despair, will seize on "every soul of man" who had
neglected or despised them. But whom, within the limits of our
country, are we to regard especially as the representatives of our
final Judge? Every feature of the Savior's picture finds its
appropriate original in our enslaved countrymen.

  1. They are the LEAST of his brethren.

  2. They are subject to thirst and hunger, unable to command a cup
     of water or a crumb of bread.

  3. They are exposed to wasting sickness, without the ability to
     procure a nurse or employ a physician.

  4. They are emphatically "in prison," restrained by chains, goaded
     with whips, tasked, and under keepers. Not a wretch groans in any
     cell of the prisons of our country, who is exposed to a confinement
     so vigorous and heartbreaking as the law allows theirs to be
     continually and permanently.

  5. And then they are emphatically, and peculiarly, and exclusively,
     STRANGERS--_strangers_ in the land which gave them birth. Whom
     else do we constrain to remain aliens in the midst of our free
     institutions? The Welch, the Swiss, the Irish? The Jews even?
     Alas, it is the _negro_ only, who may not strike his roots into
     our soil. Every where we have conspired to treat him as a
     stranger--every where he is forced to feel himself a stranger. In
     the stage and steamboat, in the parlor and at our tables, in the
     scenes of business and in the scenes of amusement--even in the
     church of God and at the communion table, he is regarded as a
     stranger. The intelligent and religious are generally disgusted
     and horror-struck at the thought of his becoming identified with
     the citizens of our republic--so much so, that thousands of them
     have entered into a conspiracy to send him off "out of sight," to
     find a home on a foreign shore!--and justify themselves by openly
     alleging, that a "single drop" of his blood, in the veins of any
     human creature, must make him hateful to his fellow
     citizens!--That nothing but banishment from "our coasts," can
     redeem him from the scorn and contempt to which his "stranger"
     blood has reduced him among his own mother's children!

Who, then, in this land "of milk and honey," is "hungry and athirst,"
but the man from whom the law takes away the last crumb of bread and
the smallest drop of water?

Who "naked," but the man whom the law strips of the last rag of

Who "sick," but the man whom the law deprives of the power of
procuring medicine or sending for a physician?

Who "in prison," but the man who, all his life, is under the control
of merciless masters and cruel keepers!

Who a "stranger," but the man who is scornfully denied the cheapest
courtesies of life--who is treated as an alien in his native country?

There is one point in this awful description which deserves
particular attention. Those who are doomed to the left hand of the
Judge, are not charged with inflicting _positive_ injuries on their
helpless, needy, and oppressed brother. Theirs was what is often
called _negative_ character. What they _had done_ is not described
in the indictment. Their _neglect_ of duty, what they _had_ NOT
_done_, was the ground of their "everlasting punishment." The
representative of their Judge, they had seen a hungered and they
gave him no meat, thirsty and they gave him no drink, a stranger and
they took him not in, naked and they clothed him not, sick and in
prison and they visited him not. In as much as they did NOT yield to
the claims of suffering humanity--did NOT exert themselves to bless
the meanest of the human family, they were driven away in their
wickedness. But what if the indictment had run thus: I was a
hungered and ye snatched away the crust which might have saved me
from starvation; I was thirsty and ye dashed to the ground the
"cup of cold water," which might have moistened my parched lips; I
was a stranger and ye drove me from the hovel which might have
sheltered me from the piercing wind; I was sick and ye scourged me
to my task; in prison and you sold me for my jail-fees--to what
depths of hell must not those who were convicted under such charges
be consigned! And what is the history of American slavery but one
long indictment, describing under ever-varying forms and hues just
such injuries!

Nor should it be forgotten, that those who incurred the displeasure
of their Judge, took far other views than he, of their own past
history. The charges which he brought against them, they heard with
great surprise. They were sure that they had never thus turned away
from his necessities. Indeed, when had they seen him thus subject to
poverty, insult, and oppression? Never. And as to that poor
friendless creature, whom they left unpitied and unhelped in the
hands of the oppressor, and whom their Judge now presented as his
own representative, they never once supposed, that _he_ had any
claims on their compassion and assistance. Had they known, that he
was destined to so prominent a place at the final judgment, they
would have treated him as a human being, in despite of any social,
pecuniary, or political considerations. But neither their _negative
virtue_ nor their _voluntary ignorance_ could shield them from the
penal fire which their selfishness had kindled.

Now amidst the general maxims, the leading principles, the "great
commandments" of the gospel; amidst its comprehensive descriptions
and authorized tests of Christian character, we should take our
position in disposing of any particular allusions to such forms and
usages of the primitive churches as are supported by divine authority.
The latter must be interpreted and understood in the light of the
former. But how do the apologists and defenders of slavery proceed?
Placing themselves amidst the arrangements and usages which grew out
of the _corruptions_ of Christianity, they make these the standard
by which the gospel is to be explained and understood! Some Recorder
or Justice. without the light of inquiry or the aid of a jury,
consigns the negro whom the kidnapper has dragged into his presence
to the horrors of slavery. As the poor wretch shrieks and faints,
Humanity shudders and demands why such atrocities are endured. Some
"priest" or "Levite," "passing by on the other side," quite
self-possessed and all complacent, reads in reply from his broad
phylactery, _Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon_! Yes, echoes the
negro-hating mob, made up of "gentlemen of property and standing"
together with equally gentle-men reeking from the gutter; _Yes--Paul
sent back Onesimus to Philemon_! And Humanity, brow-beaten, stunned
with noise and tumult, is pushed aside by the crowd! A fair specimen
this of the manner in which modern usages are made to interpret the
sacred Scriptures?

Of the particular passages in the New Testament on which the
apologists for slavery especially rely, the epistle to Philemon
first demands our attention.

  1. This letter was written by the apostle Paul while a "prisoner of
  Jesus Christ" at Rome.

  2. Philemon was a benevolent and trustworthy member of the church at
  Colosse, at whose house the disciples of Christ held their assemblies,
  and who owed his conversion, under God, directly or indirectly to
  the ministry of Paul.

  3. Onesimus was the servant of Philemon; under a relation which it
  is difficult with accuracy and certainty to define. His condition,
  though servile, could not have been like that of an American slave;
  as, in that case, however he might have "wronged" Philemon, he could
  not also have "owed him ought."[31] The American slave is, according
  to law, as much the property of his master as any other chattel; and
  can no more "owe" his master than can a sheep or a horse. The basis
  of all pecuniary obligations lies in some "value received." How can
  "an article of merchandise" stand on this basis and sustain
  commercial relations to its owner? There is no _person_ to offer or
  promise. _Personality is swallowed up in American slavery_!

  4. How Onesimus found his way to Rome it is not easy to determine.
  He and Philemon appear to have parted from each other on ill terms.
  The general character of Onesimus, certainly, in his relation to
  Philemon, had been far from attractive, and he seems to have left
  him without repairing the wrongs he had done him or paying the debts
  which he owed him. At Rome, by the blessing of God upon the
  exertions of the apostle, he was brought to reflection and repentance.

  5. In reviewing his history in the light of Christian truth, he
  became painfully aware of the injuries he had inflicted on Philemon.
  He longed for an opportunity for frank confession and full
  restitution. Having, however, parted with Philemon on ill terms, he
  knew not how to appear in his presence. Under such embarrassments,
  he naturally sought sympathy and advice of Paul. _His_ influence
  upon Philemon, Onesimus knew must be powerful, especially as an

  6. A letter in behalf of Onesimus was therefore written by the
  apostle to Philemon. After such salutations, benedictions, and
  thanksgiving as the good character and useful life of Philemon
  naturally drew from the heart of Paul, he proceeds to the object of
  the letter. He admits that Onesimus had behaved ill in the service
  of Philemon; not in running away, for how they had parted with each
  other is not explained; but in being unprofitable and in refusing to
  pay the debts[32] which he had contracted. But his character had
  undergone a radical change. Thenceforward fidelity and usefulness
  would be his aim and mark his course. And as to any pecuniary
  obligations which he had violated, the apostle authorized Philemon
  to put them on his account.[33] Thus a way was fairly opened to the
  heart of Philemon. And now what does the apostles ask?

  7. He asks that Philemon would receive Onesimus, How? "Not as a
  _servant_, but above a _servant_."[34] How much above? Philemon was
  to receive him as "a son" of the apostle--"as a brother
  beloved"--nay, if he counted Paul a partner, an equal, he was to
  receive Onesimus as he would receive _the apostle himself_.[35] _So
  much_ above a servant was he to receive him!

  8. But was not this request to be so interpreted and complied with
  as to put Onesimus in the hands of Philemon as "an article of
  merchandise," CARNALLY, while it raised him to the dignity of a
  "brother beloved," SPIRITUALLY? In other words, might not Philemon
  consistently with the request of Paul have reduced Onesimus to a
  chattel, as A MAN, while he admitted him fraternally to his bosom,
  as a CHRISTIAN? Such gibberish in an apostolic epistle! Never. As if,
  however to guard against such folly, the natural product of mist and
  moonshine, the apostle would have Onesimus raised above a servant to
  the dignity of a brother beloved, "BOTH IN THE FLESH AND IN THE
  LORD;"[36] as a man and Christian, in all the relations,
  circumstances, and responsibilities of life.

[Footnote 31: Philemon, 18.]

[Footnote 32: Verse 11, 18.]

[Footnote 33: Verse 18.]

[Footnote 34: Verse 16.]

[Footnote 35: Verse 10, 16, 17.]

[Footnote 36: Verse 16.]

It is easy now with definiteness and certainty to determine in what
sense the apostle in such connections uses the word "_brother_". It
describes a relation inconsistent with and opposite to the _servile_.
It is "NOT" the relation of a "SERVANT." It elevates its subject
"above" the servile condition. It raises him to full equality with
the master, to the same equality, on which Paul and Philemon stood
side by side as brothers; and this, not in some vague, undefined,
spiritual sense, affecting the soul and leaving the body in bonds,
but in every way, "both in the FLESH and in the Lord." This matter
deserves particular and earnest attention. It sheds a strong light
on other lessons of apostolic instruction.

  9. It is greatly to our purpose, moreover, to observe that the
  apostle clearly defines the _moral character_ of his request. It was
  fit, proper, right, suited to the nature and relation of things--a
  thing which _ought_ to be done.[37] On this account, he might have
  urged it upon Philemon in the form of an _injunction_, on apostolic
  authority and with great boldness.[38] _The very nature_ of the
  request made it obligatory on Philemon. He was sacredly bound, out
  of regard to the fitness of things, to admit Onesimus to full
  equality with himself--to treat him as a brother both in the Lord
  and as having flesh--as a fellow man. Thus were the inalienable
  rights and birthright privileges of Onesimus, as a member of the
  human family, defined and protected by apostolic authority.

  10. The apostle preferred a request instead of imposing a command,
  on the ground of CHARITY.[39] He would give Philemon an opportunity
  of discharging his obligations under the impulse of love. To this
  impulse, he was confident Philemon would promptly and fully yield.
  How could he do otherwise? The thing itself was right. The request
  respecting it came from a benefactor, to whom, under God, he was
  under the highest obligations.[40] That benefactor, now an old man,
  and in the hands of persecutors, manifested a deep and tender
  interest in the matter and had the strongest persuasion that
  Philemon was more ready to grant than himself to entreat. The result,
  as he was soon to visit Collosse, and had commissioned Philemon to
  prepare a lodging for him, must come under the eye of the apostle.
  The request was so manifestly reasonable and obligatory, that the
  apostle, after all, described a compliance with it, by the strong
  word "_obedience_."[41]

[Footnote 37: Verse 8. To [Greek: anaekon]. See Robinson's New
Testament Lexicon; "_it is fit, proper, becoming, it ought_." In
what sense King James' translators used the word "convenient" any
one may see who will read Rom. i. 28 and Eph. v. 3, 4.]

[Footnote 38: Verse 8.]

[Footnote 39: Verse 9--[Greek: dia taen agapaen]]

[Footnote 40: Verse 19.]

[Footnote 41: Verse 21.]

Now, how must all this have been understood by the church at Colosse?
--a church, doubtless, made up of such materials as the church at
Corinth, that is, of members chiefly from the humblest walks of life.
Many of them had probably felt the degradation and tasted the
bitterness of the servile condition. Would they have been likely to
interpret the apostle's letter under the bias of feelings friendly to
slavery!--And put the slaveholder's construction on its contents!
Would their past experience or present sufferings--for doubtless
some of them were still "under the yoke"--have suggested to their
thoughts such glosses as some of our theological professors venture
to put upon the words of the apostle! Far otherwise. The Spirit of
the Lord was there, and the epistle was read in the light of
"_liberty_." It contained the principles of holy freedom, faithfully
and affectionately applied. This must have made it precious in the
eyes of such men "of low degree" as were most of the believers, and
welcome to a place in the sacred canon. There let it remain as a
luminous and powerful defence of the cause of emancipation!

But what saith Professor Stuart? "If any one doubts, let him take
the case of Paul's sending Onesimus back to Philemon, with an apology
for his running away, and sending him back to be his servant for

[Footnote 42: See his letter to Dr. Fisk, supra pp. 7, 8]

"Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon." By what process? Did the
apostle, a prisoner at Rome, seize upon the fugitive, and drag him
before some heartless and perfidious "Judge," for authority to send
him back to Colosse? Did he hurry his victim away from the presence
of the fat and supple magistrate, to be driven under chains and the
lash to the field of unrequited toil, whence he had escaped? Had the
apostle been like some teachers in the American churches, he might,
as a professor of sacred literature in one of our seminaries, or a
preacher of the gospel to the rich in some of our cities, have consented
thus to subserve the "peculiar" interests of a dear slaveholding brother.
But the venerable champion of truth and freedom was himself under
bonds in the imperial city, waiting for the crown of martyrdom. He
wrote a letter to the church a Colosse, which was accustomed to meet
at the house of Philemon, and another letter to that magnanimous
disciple, and sent them by the hand of Onesimus. So much for _the way_
in which Onesimus was sent back to his master.

A slave escapes from a patriarch in Georgia, and seeks a refuge in
the parish of the Connecticut doctor of Divinity, who once gave
public notice that he saw no reason for caring for the servitude of
his fellow men.[43] Under his influence, Caesar becomes a Christian
convert. Burning with love for the son whom he hath begotten in the
gospel, our doctor resolves to send him back to his master.
Accordingly, he writes a letter, gives it to Caesar, and bids him
return, staff in hand, to the "corner-stone of our republican
institutions." Now, what would my Caesar do, who had ever felt a
link of slavery's chain? As he left his _spiritual father_, should
we be surprised to hear him say to himself, What, return of my own
accord to the man who, with the hand of a robber, plucked me from my
mother's bosom!--for whom I have been so often drenched in the sweat
of unrequited toil!--whose violence so often cut my flesh and
scarred my limbs!--who shut out every ray of light from my mind!--who
laid claim to those honors to which my Creator and Redeemer only
are entitled! And for what am I to return? To be cursed, and
smitten, and sold! To be tempted, and torn, and destroyed! I cannot
thus throw myself away--thus rush upon my own destruction.

[Footnote 43: "Why should I care?"]

Who ever heard of the voluntary return of a fugitive from American
oppression? Do you think that the doctor and his friends could
persuade one to carry a letter to the patriarch from whom he had
escaped? And must we believe this of Onesimus?

"Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon." On what occasion?--"If,"
writes the apostle, "he hath wronged thee, or oweth the aught, put
that on my account." Alive to the claims of duty, Onesimus would
"restore" whatever he "had taken away." He would honestly pay his
debts. This resolution the apostle warmly approved. He was ready, at
whatever expense, to help his young disciple in carrying it into
full effect. Of this he assured Philemon, in language the most
explicit and emphatic. Here we find one reason for the conduct of
Paul in sending Onesimus to Philemon.

If a fugitive slave of the Rev. Dr. Smylie, of Mississippi, should
return to him with a letter from a doctor of divinity in New York,
containing such an assurance, how would the reverend slaveholder
dispose of it? What, he exclaims, have we here? "If Cato has not
been upright in his pecuniary intercourse with you--if he owes you
any thing--put that on my account." What ignorance of southern
institutions! What mockery, to talk of pecuniary intercourse between
a slave and his master! _The slave himself, with all he is and has,
is an article of merchandise_. What can _he_ owe his master? A
rustic may lay a wager with his mule, and give the creature the peck
of oats which he has permitted it to win. But who, in sober earnest,
would call this a pecuniary transaction?

"TO BE HIS SERVANT FOR LIFE!" From what part of the epistle could
the expositor have evolved a thought so soothing to tyrants--so
revolting to every man who loves his own nature? From this?
"For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldst
receive him for ever." Receive him how? _As a servant_, exclaims our
commentator. But what wrote the apostle? "NOT _now as a servant, but
above a servant_, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much
more unto thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord." Who authorized
the professor to bereave the word "_not_" of its negative influence?
According to Paul, Philemon was to receive Onesimus "_not_ as a
servant;"--according to Stuart, he was to receive him "_as a
servant_!" If the professor will apply the same rules of exposition
to the writings of the abolitionists, all difference between him and
them must in his view presently vanish away. The harmonizing process
would be equally simple and effectual. He has only to understand
them as affirming what they deny, and as denying what they affirm.

Suppose that Professor Stuart had a son residing, at the South. His
slave, having stolen money of his master, effected his escape. He
fled to Andover, to find a refuge among the "sons of the prophets."
There he finds his way to Professor Stuart's house, and offers to
render any service which the professor, dangerously ill "of a typhus
fever," might require. He is soon found to be a most active, skilful,
faithful nurse. He spares no pains, night and day, to make himself
useful to the venerable sufferer. He anticipates every want. In the
most delicate and tender manner, he tries to sooth every pain. He
fastens himself strongly on the heart of the reverend object of his
care. Touched with the heavenly spirit, the meek demeanor, the
submissive frame, which the sick bed exhibits, Archy becomes a
Christian. A new bond now ties him and his convalescent teacher
together. As soon as he is able to write, the professor sends Archy
with the following letter to the South, to Isaac Stuart, Esq.:--

"MY DEAR SON,--With a hand enfeebled by a distressing and dangerous
illness, from which I am slowly recovering, I address you on a
subject which lies very near my heart. I have a request to urge,
which our mutual relation to each other, and your strong obligations
to me, will, I cannot doubt, make you eager fully to grant. I say a
request, though the thing I ask is, in its very nature and on the
principles of the gospel, obligatory upon you. I might, therefore,
boldly demand, what I earnestly entreat. But I know how generous,
magnanimous, and Christ-like you are, and how readily you will 'do
even more than I say'--I, your own father, an old man, almost
exhausted with multiplied exertions for the benefit of my family and
my country and now just rising, emaciated and broken, from the brink
of the grave. I write in behalf of Archy, whom I regard with the
affection of a father, and whom, indeed, 'I have forgotten in my
sickness.' Gladly would I have retained him, to be _an Isaac_ to me;
for how often did not his soothing voice, and skilful hand, and
unwearied attention to my wants remind me of you! But I chose to
give you an opportunity of manifesting, voluntarily, the goodness of
your heart; as, if I had retained him with me, you might seem to
have been forced to grant what you will gratefully bestow. His
temporary absence from you may have opened the way for his permanent
continuance with you. Not now as a slave. Heaven forbid! But
superior to a slave. Superior, did I say? Take him to your bosom, as
a beloved brother; for I own him as a son, and regard him as such,
in all the relations of life, both as a man and a Christian.
'Receive him as myself.' And that nothing may hinder you from
complying with my request at once, I hereby promise, without
adverting to your many and great obligations to me, to pay you every
cent which he took from your drawer. Any preparation which my
comfort with you may require, you will make without much delay, when
you learn, that I intend, as soon as I shall be able 'to perform the
journey,' to make you a visit."

And what if Dr. Baxter, in giving an account of this letter should
publicly declare that Professor Stuart, of Andover regarded
slaveholding as lawful; for that "he had sent Archy back to his son
Isaac, with an apology for his running away" to be held in perpetual
slavery? With what propriety might not the professor exclaim: False,
every syllable false. I sent him back, NOT TO BE HELD AS A SLAVE,
_but recognized as a dear brother, in all respects, under every
relation, civil and ecclesiastical_. I bade my son receive _Archy as
myself_. If this was not equivalent to a requisition to set him
fully and most honorably free, and that, too, on the ground of
natural obligation and Christian principle, then I know not how to
frame such a requisition.

I am well aware that my supposition is by no means strong enough
fully to illustrate the case to which it is applied. Professor Stuart
lacks apostolical authority. Isaac Stuart is not a leading member of
a church consisting, as the early churches chiefly consisted, of
what the world regard as the dregs of society--"the offscouring of
all things." Nor was slavery at Colosse, it seems, supported by such
barbarous usages, such horrid laws as disgrace the South.

But it is time to turn to another passage which, in its bearing on
the subject in hand, is, in our view, as well as in the view of
Dr. Fisk. and Prof. Stuart, in the highest degree authoritative and
instructive. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their
own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his
doctrines be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters,
let them not despise them because they are brethren; but rather do
them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of
the benefit." [44]

[Footnote 44: 1 Tim. vi. 1. 2. The following exposition of this
passage is from the pen of ELIZUR WRIGHT, JR.:--

  "This word [Greek: antilambanesthai] in our humble opinion, has been
  so unfairly used by the commentators, that we feel constrained to
  take its part. Our excellent translators, in rendering the clause
  'partakers of the benefit,' evidently lost sight of the component
  preposition, which expresses the _opposition of reciprocity_, rather
  than the _connection of participation_. They have given it exactly
  the sense of [Greek: metalambanein], (2 Tim. ii. 6.) Had the apostle
  intended such a sense, he would have used the latter verb, or one of
  the more common words, [Greek: metochoi, koinonomtes, &c.] (See Heb.
  iii. 1, and 1 Tim. v. 22, where the latter word is used in the clause,
  'neither be partaker of other men's sins.' Had the verb in our text
  been used, it might have been rendered, 'neither be the _part-taker_
  of other men's sins.') The primary sense of [Greek: antilambans] is
  _to take in return_--_to take instead of, &c._ Hence, in the middle
  with the genitive, it signifies _assist_, or _do one's part towards_
  the person or thing expressed by that genitive. In this sense only
  is the word used in the New Testament,--(See Luke i. 54, and Acts, xx.
  35.) If this be true, the word [Greek: emsgesai] cannot signify the
  benefit conferred by the gospel, as our common version would make it,
  but the _well doing_ of the servants, who should continue to serve
  their believing masters, while they were no longer under the _yoke_
  of compulsion. This word is used elsewhere in the New Testament but
  once (Acts. iv. 3.) in relation to the '_good deed_' done to the
  impotent man. The plain import of the clause, unmystified by the
  commentators, is, that believing masters would not fail to do
  their part towards, or encourage by suitable returns, the free
  service of those who had once been under the yoke."]

  1. The apostle addresses himself here to two classes of servants,
  with instructions to each respectively appropriate. Both the one
  class and the other, in Professor Stuart's eye, were slaves. This
  he assumes, and thus begs the very question in dispute. The term
  servant is generic, as used by the sacred writers. It comprehends
  all the various offices which men discharge for the benefit of each
  other, however honorable, or however menial; from that of an
  apostle[45] opening the path to heaven, to that of washing "one
  another's feet."[46] A general term it is, comprehending every
  office which belongs to human relations and Christian character.[47]

  [Footnote 45: Cor. iv. 5.]

  [Footnote 46: John, xiii, 14.]

  [Footnote 47: Mat, xx, 26-28.]

  A leading signification gives us the manual laborer, to whom, in
  the division of labor, muscular exertion was allotted. As in his
  exertions the bodily powers are especially employed--such powers as
  belong to man in common with mere animals--his sphere has generally
  been considered low and humble. And as intellectual power is
  superior to bodily, the manual laborer has always been exposed in
  very numerous ways and in various degrees to oppression. Cunning,
  intrigue, the oily tongue, have, through extended and powerful
  conspiracies, brought the resources of society under the control of
  the few, who stood aloof from his homely toil. Hence his dependence
  upon them. Hence the multiplied injuries which have fallen so
  heavily upon him. Hence the reduction of his wages from one degree
  to another, till at length, in the case of millions, fraud and
  violence strip him of his all, blot his name from the record of
  _mankind_, and, putting a yoke upon his neck, drive him away
  to toil among the cattle. _Here you find the slave_. To reduce
  the servant to his condition, requires abuses altogether
  monstrous--injuries reaching the very vitals of man--stabs upon the
  very heart of humanity. Now, what right has Professor Stuart to make
  the word "_servants_," comprehending, even as manual laborers, so
  many and such various meanings, signify "_slaves_," especially where
  different classes are concerned? Such a right he could never have
  derived from humanity, or philosophy, or hermeneutics. It is his by
  sympathy with the oppressor?

  Yes, different classes. This is implied in the term "as many,"[48]
  which sets apart the class now to be addressed. From these he
  proceeds to others, who are introduced by a particle,[49] whose
  natural meaning indicates the presence of another and a different

  [Footnote 48: [Greek: Ochli] See Passow's Schneider.]

  [Footnote 49: [Greek: Dd.] See Passow.]

  2. The first class are described as "_under the yoke_"--a yoke from
  which they were, according to the apostle, to make their escape if
  possible.[50] If not, they must in every way regard the master with
  respect--bowing to his authority, working his will, subserving his
  interests so far as might be consistent with Christian
  character.[51] And this, to prevent blasphemy--to prevent the pagan
  master from heaping profane reproaches upon the name of God and the
  doctrines of the gospel. They should beware of rousing his passions,
  which, as his helpless victims, they might be unable to allay or

  [Footnote 50: See 1 Cor. vii, 21--[Greek: All' ei kai dunasai
   eleuphoros genesthai].]

  [Footnote 51: See 1 Cor. vii, 23--[Greek: Mae ginesthe doulos

  But all the servants whom the apostle addressed were not "_under the
  yoke_"[52]--an instrument appropriate to cattle and to slaves. These
  he distinguishes from another class, who instead of a "yoke"--the
  badge of a slave--had "_believing masters_." _To have a "believing
  master," then, was equivalent to freedom from "the yoke_." These
  servants were exhorted not _to despise_ their masters. What need of
  such an exhortation, if their masters had been slaveholders, holding
  them as property, wielding them as mere instruments, disposing of
  them as "articles of merchandise." But this was not consistent with
  believing. Faith, "breaking every yoke," united master and servants
  in the bonds of brotherhood. Brethren they were, joined in a
  relation which, excluding the yoke,[53] placed them side by side on
  the ground of equality, where, each in his appropriate sphere, they
  might exert themselves freely and usefully, to the mutual benefit of
  each other. Here, servants might need to be cautioned against getting
  above their appropriate business, putting on airs, despising their
  masters, and thus declining or neglecting their service. [54]
  Instead of this, they should be, as emancipated slaves often
  have been, [55] models of enterprise, fidelity, activity, and
  usefulness--especially as their masters were "worthy of their
  confidence and love," their helpers in this well-doing.

[Footnote 52: See Lev. xxvi. 13; Isa lviii. 6, 9.]

[Footnote 53: Supra p. 44.]

[Footnote 54: See Mat. vi. 24.]

[Footnote 55: Those, for instance, set free by that "believing master"
James G. Birney.]

Such, then, is the relation between those who, in the view of
Professor Stuart, were Christian masters and Christian slaves
[56]--the relation of "brethren," which, excluding "the yoke," and of
course conferring freedom, placed them side by side on the common
ground of mutual service, both retaining, for convenience sake, the
one while giving and the other while receiving employment, the
correlative name, _as is usual in such cases_, under which they had
been known. Such was the instruction which Timothy was required, as
a Christian minister, to give. Was it friendly to slaveholding?

[Footnote 56: Letter to Dr. Fisk, supra, p. 7.]

And on what ground, according to the Princeton professor, did these
masters and these servants stand in their relation to each other? On
that _of a "perfect religious equality."_[57] In all the relations,
duties, and privileges--in all the objects, interests, and prospects,
which belong to the province of Christianity, servants were as free
as their master. The powers of the one, were allowed as wide a range
and as free an exercise, with as warm encouragements, as active aids,
and as high results, as the other. Here, the relation of a servant
to his master imposed no restrictions, involved no embarrassments,
occasioned no injury. All this, clearly and certainly, is implied in
"_perfect religious equality_," which the Princeton professor
accords to servants in relation to their master. Might the _master_,
then, in order more fully to attain the great ends for which he was
created and redeemed, freely exert himself to increase his
acquaintance with his own powers, and relations, and resources--with
his prospects, opportunities, and advantages? So might his _servants_.
Was _he_ at liberty to "study to approve himself to God," to submit
to his will and bow to his authority, as the sole standard of
affection and exertion? So were _they_. Was _he_ at liberty to
sanctify the Sabbath, and frequent the "solemn assembly?" So were
_they_. Was _he_ at liberty so to honor the filial, conjugal, and
paternal relations, as to find in them that spring of activity and
that source of enjoyment, which they are capable of yielding? So
were _they_. In every department of interest and exertion, they
might use their capacities, and wield their powers, and improve
their opportunities, and employ their resources, as freely as he, in
glorifying God, in blessing mankind, and in laying up imperishable
treasures for themselves! Give perfect religious equality to the
American slave, and the most eager abolitionist must be satisfied.
Such equality would, like the breath of the Almighty, dissolve the
last link of the chain of servitude. Dare those who, for the benefit
of slavery, have given so wide and active a circulation to the
Pittsburg pamphlet, make the experiment?

[Footnote 57: Pittsburg Pamphlet, p. 9.]

In the epistle to the Colossians, the following passage deserves
earnest attention:--"Servants, obey in all things your masters
according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but
in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it
heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing, that of the
Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve
the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong
which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.--Masters,
give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that
ye have a Master in heaven."[58]

[Footnote 58: Col. iii. 22 to iv. 1.]

Here it is natural to remark--

  1. That in maintaining the relation, which mutually united them,
  both masters and servants were to act in conformity with the
  principles of the divine government. Whatever _they_ did, servants
  were to do in hearty obedience to the Lord, by whose authority they
  were to be controlled and by whose hand they were to be rewarded. To
  the same Lord, and according to the same law, was the _master_ to
  hold himself responsible. _Both the one and the other were of course
  equally at liberty and alike required to study and apply the standard,
  by which they were to be governed and judged_.

  2. The basis of the government under which they thus were placed,
  was _righteousness_--strict, stern, impartial. Nothing here of bias
  or antipathy. Birth, wealth, station,--the dust of the balance not
  so light! Both master and servants were hastening to a tribunal,
  where nothing of "respect of persons" could be feared or hoped for.
  There the wrong-doer, whoever he might be, and whether from the top
  or bottom of society, must be dealt with according to his deservings.

  3. Under this government, servants were to be universally and
  heartily obedient; and both in the presence and absence of the master,
  faithfully to discharge their obligations. The master on his part,
  in his relations to the servants, was to make JUSTICE AND EQUALITY
  the _standard of his conduct_. Under the authority of such
  instructions, slavery falls discountenanced, condemned, abhorred. It
  is flagrantly at war with the government of God, consists in
  "respect of persons" the most shameless and outrageous, treads
  justice and equality under foot, and in its natural tendency and
  practical effects is nothing else than a system of wrong-doing. What
  have _they_ to do with the just and the equal who in their "respect
  of persons" proceed to such a pitch as to treat one brother as a
  thing because he is a servant, and place him, without the least
  regard to his welfare here, or his prospects hereafter, absolutely
  at the disposal of another brother, under the name of master, in
  the relation of owner to property? Justice and equality on the one
  hand, and the chattel principle on the other, are naturally
  subversive of each other--proof clear and decisive that the
  correlates, masters and servants, cannot here be rendered slaves
  and owners, without the grossest absurdity and the greatest

  "Servants, be obedient to them that are _your_ masters according
  to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart,
  as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the
  servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good
  will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that
  whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the
  Lord, whether _he be_ bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same
  things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master
  also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with

  [Footnote 59: Ephesians, vi. 5-9.]

Without repeating here what has already been offered in exposition
of kindred passages, it may be sufficient to say:--

  1. That the relation of the servants here addressed, to their master,
  was adapted to make him the object of their heart-felt attachment.
  Otherwise they could not have been required to render him an
  affectionate service.

  2. This relation demanded a perfect reciprocity of benefits. It had
  its soul in _good-will_, mutually cherished and properly expressed.
  Hence "THE SAME THINGS," the same in principle, the same in
  substance, the same in their mutual bearing upon the welfare of
  the master and the servants, was to be rendered back and forth
  by the one and the other. It was clearly the relation of mutual
  service. Do we here find the chattel principle?

  3. Of course, the servants might not be slack, time-serving,
  unfaithful. Of course, the master must "FORBEAR THREATENING."
  Slavery without threatening! Impossible. Wherever maintained, it is
  of necessity a _system of threatening_, injecting into the bosom of
  the slave such terrors, as never cease for a moment to haunt and
  torment him. Take from the chattel principle the support, which it
  derives from "threatening," and you annihilate it at once and

  4. This relation was to be maintained in accordance with the
  principles of the divine government, where "RESPECT OF PERSONS"
  could not be admitted. It was, therefore, totally inconsistent with,
  and submissive of, the chattel principle, which in American slavery
  is developed in a system of "respect of persons," equally gross and
  hurtful. No Abolitionist, however eager and determined in his
  opposition to slavery, could ask for more than these precepts, once
  obeyed, would be sure to confer.

"The relation of slavery," according to Professor Stuart, is
recognized in "the precepts of the New Testament," as one which "may
still exist without violating the Christian faith or the church."[60]
Slavery and the chattel principle! So our professor thinks;
otherwise his reference has nothing to do with the subject--with the
slavery which the abolitionist, whom he derides, stands opposed to.
How gross and hurtful is the mistake into which he allows himself to
fall. The relation recognized in the precepts of the New Testament
had its basis and support in "justice and equality;" the very
opposite of the chattel principle; a relation which may exist as
long as justice and equality remain, and thus escape the destruction
to which, in the view of Professor Stuart, slavery is doomed. The
description of Paul obliterates every feature of American slavery,
raising the servant to equality with his master, and placing his
rights under the protection of justice; yet the eye of Professor
Stuart can see nothing in his master and servant but a slave and his
owner. With this relation he is so thoroughly possessed, that, like
an evil angel, it haunts him even when he enters the temple of

[Footnote 60: Letter to Dr. Fisk, supra p. 7.]

"It is remarkable," saith the Princeton professor, "that there is
not even an exhortation" in the writings of the apostles "to masters
to liberate their slaves, much less is it urged as an imperative and
immediate duty."[61] It would be remarkable, indeed, if they were
chargeable with a defect so great and glaring. And so they have
nothing to say upon the subject? _That_ not even the Princeton
professor has the assurance to affirm. He admits that KINDNESS, MERCY,
AND JUSTICE, were enjoined with a _distinct reference to the
government of God_.[62] "Without respect of persons," they were to be
God-like in doing justice. They were to act the part of kind and
merciful "brethren." And whither would this lead them? Could they
stop short of restoring to every man his natural, inalienable
rights?--of doing what they could to redress the wrongs, sooth the
sorrows, improve the character, and raise the condition of the
degraded and oppressed? Especially, if oppressed and degraded by any
agency of theirs. Could it be kind, merciful, or just to keep the
chains of slavery on their helpless, unoffending brother? Would this
be to honor the Golden Rule, or obey the second great command of
"their Master in Heaven?" Could the apostles have subserved the cause
of freedom more directly, intelligibly, and effectually, than _to
enjoin the principles, and sentiments, and habits, in which
freedom consists--constituting its living root and fruitful germ_!

[Footnote 61: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote 62: The same, p. 10.]

The Princeton professor himself, in the very paper which the South
has so warmly welcomed and so loudly applauded as a scriptural
defence of "the peculiar institution," maintains, that the "GENERAL
greater part of Christendom_"[63]--"THAT CHRISTIANITY HAS ABOLISHED
SCOPE--_that it_ ENJOINS _a fair compensation for labor; insists on
the mental and intellectual improvement of_ ALL _classes of men;
condemns_ ALL _infractions of marital or parental rights; requires, in
short, not only that_ FREE SCOPE _should be allowed to human
improvement, but that_ ALL SUITABLE MEANS _should be employed for the
attainment of that end_."[64] It is indeed "remarkable," that while
neither Christ nor his apostles ever gave "an exhortation to masters
to liberate their slaves," they enjoined such "general principles as
have destroyed domestic slavery throughout the greater part of
Christendom;" that while Christianity forbears "to urge"
emancipation "as an imperative and immediate duty," it throws a
barrier, heaven high, around every domestic circle; protects all the
rights of the husband and the father; gives every laborer a fair
compensation; and makes the moral and intellectual improvement of
all classes, with free scope and all suitable means, the object
of its tender solicitude and high authority. This is not only
"remarkable," but inexplicable. Yes and no--hot and cold, in one and
the same breath! And yet these things stand prominent in what is
reckoned an acute, ingenious, effective defence of slavery!

[Footnote 63: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 18, 19.]

[Footnote 64: The same, p. 31.]

In his letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul furnishes
another lesson of instruction, expressive of his views and feelings
on the subject of slavery. "Let every man abide in the same calling
wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for
it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is
called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise
also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are
bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." [65]

[Footnote 65: 1 Cor. vii. 20-23.]

In explaining and applying this passage, it is proper to suggest:

  1. That it _could_ not have been the object of the apostle to bind
  the Corinthian converts to the stations and employments in which the
  gospel found them. For he exhorts some of them to escape, if possible,
  from their present condition. In the servile state, "under the yoke,"
  they ought not to remain unless impelled by stern necessity.
  "If thou canst be free, use it rather." If they ought to prefer
  freedom to bondage and to exert themselves to escape from the latter
  for the sake of the former, could their master consistently with the
  claims and spirit of the gospel have hindered or discouraged them in
  so doing? Their "brother" could _he_ be, who kept "the yoke" upon
  their neck, which the apostle would have them shake off if possible?
  And had such masters been members of the Corinthian church, what
  inferences must they have drawn from this exhortation to their
  servants? That the apostle regarded slavery as a Christian
  institution?--or could look complacently on any efforts to introduce
  or maintain it in the church? Could they have expected less from him
  than a stern rebuke, if they refused to exert themselves in the
  cause of freedom?

  2. But while they were to use their freedom, if they could obtain it,
  they should not, even on such a subject, give themselves up to
  ceaseless anxiety. "The Lord was no respecter of persons." They need
  not fear, that the "low estate," to which they had been wickedly
  reduced, would prevent them from enjoying the gifts of his hand or
  the light of his countenance. _He_ would respect their rights, sooth
  their sorrows, and pour upon their hearts, and cherish there, the
  spirit of liberty. "For he that is called in the Lord, being a
  servant, is the Lord's freeman." In _him_, therefore, should they
  cheerfully confide.

  3. The apostle, however, forbids them so to acquiesce in the servile
  relation, as to act inconsistently with their Christian obligations.
  To their Savior they belonged. By his blood they had been purchased.
  It should be their great object, therefore, to render _Him_ a hearty
  and effective service. They should permit no man, whoever he might be,
  to thrust in himself between them and their Redeemer. "_Ye are
  bought with a price_; BE NOT YE THE SERVANTS OF MEN."

With his eye upon the passage just quoted and explained, the
Princeton professor asserts that "Paul represents this relation"--the
relation of slavery--"as of comparatively little account."[66]
And this he applies--otherwise it is nothing to his purpose--to
_American_ slavery. Does he then regard it as a small matter, a
mere trifle, to be thrown under the slave-laws of this republic,
grimly and fiercely excluding their victim from almost every means
of improvement, and field of usefulness, and source of comfort; and
making him, body and substance, with his wife and babes, "the
servant of men?" Could such a relation be acquiesced in consistently
with the instructions of the apostle?

[Footnote 66: Pittsburg pamphlet, p.10.]

To the Princeton professor we commend a practical trial of the
bearing of the passage in hand upon American slavery. His regard for
the unity and prosperity of the ecclesiastical organizations, which
in various forms and under different names, unite the southern with
the northern churches, will make the experiment grateful to his
feelings. Let him, then, as soon as his convenience will permit,
proceed to Georgia. No religious teacher [67] from any free State, can
be likely to receive so general and so warm a welcome there. To
allay the heat, which the doctrines and movements of the
abolitionists have occasioned in the southern mind, let him with as
much despatch as possible, collect, as he goes from place to place,
masters and their slaves. Now let all men, whom it may concern, see
and own that slavery is a Christian institution! With his Bible in his
hand and his eye upon the passage in question, he addresses himself
to the task of instructing the slaves around him. Let not your hearts,
my brethren, be overcharged with sorrow, or eaten up with anxiety. Your
servile condition cannot deprive you of the fatherly regards of Him
"who is no respecter of persons." Freedom you ought, indeed, to
prefer. If you can escape from "the yoke," throw it off. In the mean
time rejoice that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;"
that the gospel places slaves "on a perfect religious equality" with
their master; so that every Christian is "the Lord's freeman." And,
for your encouragement, remember that "Christianity has abolished
both political and domestic servitude wherever it has had free scope.
It enjoins a fair compensation for labor; it insists on the moral and
intellectual improvement of all classes of men; it condemns all
infractions of marital or parental rights; in short it requires not
only that free scope be allowed to human improvement, but that all
suitable means should be employed for the attainment of that end."
[68] Let your lives, then, be honorable to your relations to your
Savior. He bought you with his own blood; and is entitled to your
warmest love and most effective service. "Be not ye the servants of
men." Let no human arrangements prevent you, as citizens of the
kingdom of heaven, from making the most of your powers and
opportunities. Would such an effort, generally and heartily made,
allay excitement at the South, and quench the flames of discord,
every day rising higher and waxing hotter, in almost every part of
the republic, and cement "the Union?"

[Footnote 67: Rev. Mr. Savage, of Utica, New York, had, not very
long ago, a free conversation with a gentleman of high standing in
the literary and religious world from a slaveholding State, where
the "peculiar institution" is cherished with great warmth and
maintained with iron rigor. By him, Mr. Savage was assured, that the
Princeton professor had, through the Pittsburg pamphlet, contributed
most powerfully and effectually to bring the "whole South" under the
persuasion, _that slaveholding is in itself right_--a system _to
which the Bible gives countenance and support_.

In an extract from an article in the Southern Christian Sentinel, a
new Presbyterian paper established in Charleston, South Carolina,
and inserted in the Christian Journal for March 21, 1839, we find
the following paragraphs from the pen of Rev. C.W. Howard, and,
according to Mr. Chester, ably and freely endorsed by the editor.
"There is scarcely any diversity of sentiment at the North upon this
subject. The great mass of the people, believing slavery to be sinful,
are clearly of the opinion that, as a system, it should be abolished
throughout this land and throughout the world. They differ as to the
time and mode of abolition. The abolitionists consistently argue,
that whatever is sinful should be instantly abandoned. The others,
_by a strange sort of reasoning for Christian men_, contend that
though slavery is sinful, _yet it may be allowed to exist until it
shall he expedient to abolish it_; or, if, in many cases, this
reasoning might be translated into plain English, the sense would be,
both in Church and State, _slavery, though sinful, may be allowed to
exist until our interest will suffer us to say that it must be
abolished_. This is not slander; it is simply a plain way of stating
a plain truth. It does seem the evident duty of every man to become
an abolitionist, who believes slavery to be sinful, for the Bible
allows no tampering with sin.

"To these remarks, there are some noble exceptions, to be found in
both parties in the church. _The South owes a debt of gratitude to
the Biblical Repertory, for the fearless argument in behalf of the
position, that slavery is not forbidden by the Bible_. The writer of
that article is said, without contradiction, to be _Professor Hodge,
_my brethren, for in a land of anti-slavery men, he is the_ ONLY
ONE _who has dared to vindicate your character from the serious
charge of living in the habitual transgression of God's holy law_."]

[Footnote 68: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 31.]

"It is," affirms the Princeton professor, "on all hands acknowledged,
that, at the time of the advent of Jesus Christ, slavery in its
worst forms prevailed over the whole world. _The Savior found it
around him_ IN JUDEA."[69] To say that he found it _in Judea_, is to
speak ambiguously. Many things were to be found "_in_ Judea," which
neither belonged to, nor were characteristic of _the Jews_. It is
not denied that _the Gentiles_, who resided among them, might have
had slaves; _but of the Jews this is denied_. How could the
professor take that as granted, the proof of which entered vitally
into the argument and was essential to the soundness of the
conclusions to which he would conduct us? How could he take
advantage of an ambiguous expression to conduct his confiding
readers on to a position which, if his own eyes were open, he must
have known they could not hold in the light of open day!

[Footnote 69: The same, p. 9]

We do not charge the Savior with any want of wisdom, goodness, or
courage,[70] for refusing to "break down the wall of partition between
Jews and Gentiles" "before the time appointed." While this barrier
stood, he could not, consistently with the plan of redemption,
impart instruction freely to the Gentiles. To some extent, and on
extraordinary occasions, he might have done so. But his business
then was with "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [71] The
propriety of this arrangement is not the matter of dispute between
the Princeton professor and ourselves.

[Footnote 70: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 10.]

[Footnote 71: Matt. xv. 24.]

In disposing of the question whether the Jews held slaves during our
Savior's incarnation among them, the following points deserve earnest

  1. Slaveholding is inconsistent with the Mosaic economy. For the
  proof of this, we would refer our readers, among other arguments more
  or less appropriate and powerful, to the tract already alluded
  to.[72] In all the external relations and visible arrangements of
  life, the Jews, during our Savior's ministry among them, seem to
  have been scrupulously observant of the institutions and usages of
  the "Old Dispensation." They stood far aloof from whatever was
  characteristic of Samaritans and Gentiles. From idolatry and
  slaveholding--those twin-vices which had always so greatly prevailed
  among the heathen--they seem at length, as the result of a most
  painful discipline, to have been effectually divorced.

  [Footnote 72: "The Bible against Slavery."]

  2. While, therefore, John the Baptist; with marked fidelity and
  great power, acted among the Jews the part of a _reprover_, he found
  no occasion to repeat and apply the language of his
  predecessors,[73] in exposing and rebuking idolatry and
  slaveholding. Could he, the greatest of the prophets, have been
  less effectually aroused by the presence of "the yoke," than was
  Isaiah?--or less intrepid and decisive in exposing and denouncing
  the sin of oppression under its most hateful and injurious forms?

  [Footnote 73: Psalm lxxxii; Isa. lviii. 1-12 Jer. xxii. 13-16.]

  3. The Savior was not backward in applying his own principles plainly
  and pointedly to such forms of oppression as appeared among the Jews.
  These principles, whenever they have been freely acted on, the
  Princeton professor admits, have abolished domestic bondage. Had
  this prevailed within the sphere of our Savior's ministry, he could
  not, consistently with his general character, have failed to expose
  and condemn it. The oppression of the people by lordly ecclesiastics,
  of parents by their selfish children, of widows by their ghostly
  counsellors, drew from his lips scorching rebukes and terrible
  denunciations.[74] How, then, must he have felt and spoke in the
  presence of such tyranny, if _such tyranny had been within his
  official sphere_, as should _have made widows_, by driving their
  husbands to some flesh-market, and their children not orphans,
  _but cattle_?

  [Footnote 74: Matt. xxiii; Mark, vii. 1-13.]

  4. Domestic slavery was manifestly inconsistent with the _industry_,
  which, _in the form of manual labor_, so generally prevailed among
  the Jews. In one connection, in the Acts of the Apostles, we are
  informed, that, coming from Athens to Corinth, Paul "found a certain
  Jew, named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his
  wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to
  depart from Rome;) and came unto them. And because he was of the
  same craft, he abode with them and wrought: (for by their occupation
  they were tent-makers.")[75] This passage has opened the way for
  different commentators to refer us to the public sentiment and
  general practice of the Jews respecting useful industry and manual
  labor. According to _Lightfoot_, "it was their custom to bring up
  their children to some trade, yea, though they gave them learning or
  estates." According to Rabbi Judah, "He that teaches not his son a
  trade, is as if he taught him to be a thief."[76] It was, _Kuinoel_
  affirms, customary even for Jewish teachers to unite labor
  (opificium) with the study of the law. This he confirms by the
  highest Rabbinical authority.[77] _Heinrichs_ quotes a Rabbi as
  teaching, that no man should by any means neglect to train his son
  to honest industry.[78] Accordingly, the apostle Paul, though
  brought up at the "feet of Gamaliel," the distinguished disciple of
  a most illustrious teacher, practised the art of tent-making. His
  own hands ministered to his necessities; and his example is so
  doing, he commends to his Gentile brethren for their imitation.[79]
  That Zebedee, the father of John the Evangelist, had wealth, various
  hints in the New Testament render probable.[80] Yet how do we find
  him and his sons, while prosecuting their appropriate business? In
  the midst of the hired servants, "in the ship mending their

  [Footnote 75: Acts, xviii. 1-3.]

  [Footnote 76: Henry on Acts, xviii. 1-3.]

  [Footnote 77: Kuinoel on Acts.]

  [Footnote 78: Heinrichs on Acts.]

  [Footnote 79: Acts, xx. 34, 35; 1 Thess. iv. 11.]

  [Footnote 80: See Kuinoel's Prolegom. to the Gospel of John.]

  [Footnote 81: Mark, i. 19, 20.]

  Slavery among a people who, from the highest to the lowest, were
  used to manual labor! What occasion for slavery there? And how could
  it be maintained? No place can be found for slavery among a people
  generally inured to useful industry. With such, especially if
  men of learning, wealth, and station, "labor, working with their
  hands," such labor must be honorable. On this subject, let Jewish
  maxims and Jewish habits be adopted at the South, and the "peculiar
  institution" would vanish like a ghost at daybreak.

  5. Another hint, here deserving particular attention, is furnished
  in the allusions of the New Testament to the lowest casts and most
  servile employments among the Jews. With profligates, _publicans_
  were joined as depraved and contemptible. The outcasts of society
  were described, not as fit to herd with slaves, but as deserving a
  place among Samaritans and publicans. They were "_hired servants_,"
  whom Zebedee employed. In the parable of the prodigal son we have a
  wealthy Jewish family. Here servants seem to have abounded. The
  prodigal, bitterly bewailing his wretchedness and folly, described
  their condition as greatly superior to his own. How happy the change
  which should place him by their side? His remorse, and shame, and
  penitence made him willing to embrace the lot of the lowest of them
  all. But these--what was their condition? They were HIRED SERVANTS.
  "Make me as one of thy hired servants." Such he refers to as the
  lowest menials known in Jewish life.

Lay such hints as have now been suggested together; let it be
remembered, that slavery was inconsistent with the Mosaic economy;
that John the Baptist in preparing the way for the Messiah makes no
reference "to the yoke" which, had it been before him, he would, like
Isaiah, have condemned; that the Savior, while he took the part of
the poor and sympathized with the oppressed, was evidently spared the
pain of witnessing within the sphere of his ministry, the presence,
of the chattel principle, that it was the habit of the Jews, whoever
they might be, high or low, rich or poor, learned or rude, "to labor,
working with their hands;" and that where reference was had to the
most menial employments, in families, they were described as carried
on by hired servants; and the question of slavery "in Judea," so far
as the seed of Abraham were concerned, is very easily disposed of.
With every phase and form of society among them slavery was

The position which, in the article so often referred to in this paper,
the Princeton professor takes, is sufficiently remarkable. Northern
abolitionists he saw in an earnest struggle with southern
slaveholders. The present welfare and future happiness of myriads of
the human family were at stake in this contest. In the heat of the
battle, he throws himself between the belligerent powers. He gives
the abolitionists to understand, that they are quite mistaken in the
character of the objections they have set themselves so openly and
sternly against. Slaveholding is not, as they suppose, contrary to
the law of God. It was witnessed by the Savior "in its worst
forms"[82] without extorting from his laps a syllable of rebuke. "The
sacred writers did not condemn it." [83] And why should they? By a
definition[84] sufficiently ambiguous and slippery, he undertakes to
set forth a form of slavery which he looks upon as consistent with the
law of Righteousness. From this definition he infers that the
abolitionists are greatly to blame for maintaining that American
slavery is inherently and essentially sinful, and for insisting that
it ought at once to be abolished. For this labor of love the
slaveholding South is warmly grateful and applauds its reverend ally,
as if a very Daniel had come as their advocate to judgment.[85]

[Footnote 82: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote 83: The same, p. 13.]

[Footnote 84: The same, p. 12.]

[Footnote 85: Supra, p. 58.]

A few questions, briefly put, may not here be inappropriate.

  1. Was the form of slavery which our professor pronounces innocent
  _the form_ witnessed by our Savior "in Judea?" That, _he_ will by
  no means admit. The slavery there was, he affirms, of the "worst"
  kind. _How then does he account for the alleged silence of the
  Savior?--a silence covering the essence and the form--the
  institution and its "worst" abuses_?

  2. Is the slaveholding, which, according to the Princeton professor,
  Christianity justifies, the same as that which the abolitionists so
  earnestly wish to see abolished? Let us see.

  _Christianity in supporting Slavery,      _The American system for
   according to Professor Hodge_,           supporting Slavery_,

  "Enjoins a fair compensation for          Makes compensation
  labor"                                    impossible by reducing the
                                            laborer to a chattel.

  "It insists on the moral and              It sternly forbids its
  intellectual improvement of all           victim to learn to read
  classes of men"                           even the name of his
                                            Creator and Redeemer.

  "It condemns all infractions of           It outlaws the conjugal
  marital or parental rights."              and parental relations.

  "It requires that free scope              It forbids any effort, on
  should be allowed to human                the part of myriads of the
  improvement."                             human family, to improve
                                            their character,
                                            condition, and prospects.

  "It requires that all suitable            It inflicts heavy
  means should be employed to improve       penalties for teaching
  mankind"                                  letters to the poorest of
                                            the poor.

  "Wherever it has had free scope,          Wherever it has free
  it has abolished domestic bondage."       scope, it perpetuates
                                            domestic bondage.

  _Now it is slavery according to the American system_ that the
  abolitionists are set against. _Of the existence of any_ such form
  of slavery as is consistent with Professor Hodge's account of the
  requisitions of Christianity, they know nothing. It has never met
  their notice, and of course, has never roused their feelings or
  called forth their exertions. What, then, have _they_ to do with the
  censures and reproaches which the Princeton professor deals around?
  Let those who have leisure and good nature protect the man of
  _straw_ he is so hot against. The abolitionists have other business.
  It is not the figment of some sickly brain; but that system of
  oppression which in theory is corrupting, and in practice destroying
  both Church and State;--it is this that they feel pledged to do
  battle upon, till by the just judgment of Almighty God it is thrown,
  dead and damned, into the bottomless abyss.

  3. _How can the South feel itself protected by any shield which may
  be thrown over_ SUCH SLAVERY, _as may be consistent with what the
  Princeton professor describes as the requisitions of Christianity_?
  Is _this_ THE _slavery_ which their laws describe, and their hands
  maintain? "Fair compensation for labor"--"marital and parental
  rights"--"free scope" and "all suitable means" for the "improvement,
  moral and intellectual, of all classes of men;"--are these,
  according to the statutes of the South, among the objects of
  slaveholding legislation? Every body knows that any such
  requisitions and American slavery are flatly opposed to and directly
  subversive of each other. What service, then, has the Princeton
  professor, with all his ingenuity and all his zeal, rendered the
  "peculiar institution?" Their gratitude must be of a stamp and
  complexion quite peculiar, if they can thank him for throwing their
  "domestic system" under the weight of such Christian requisitions as
  must at once crush its snaky head "and grind it to powder."

And what, moreover, is the bearing of the Christian requisitions,
which Professor Hodge quotes, upon the definition of slavery which
he has elaborated? "All the ideas which necessarily enter into the
definition of slavery are, deprivation of personal liberty,
obligation of service at the discretion of another, and the
transferable character of the authority and claim of service of the

[Footnote 86: Pittsburg pamphlet p. 12.]

_According to Professor Hodge's      _According to Professor Hodge's
account of the                       definition of Slavery_,
requisitions of Christianity_,

The spring of effort in the          The laborer must serve at the
laborer is a fair compensation.      discretion of another.

Free scope must be given for         He is deprived of personal
his moral and intellectual           liberty--the necessary condition,
improvement.                         and living soul of improvement,
                                     without which he has no control
                                     of either intellect or morals.

His rights as a husband and          The authority and claims of the
a father are to be protected.        master may throw an ocean between
                                     him and his family, and separate
                                     them from each other's presence
                                     at any moment and forever.

Christianity, then, requires such slavery as Professor Hodge so
cunningly defines, to be abolished. It was well provided for the
peace of the respective parties, that he placed _his definition_ so
far from _the requisitions of Christianity_. Had he brought them
into each other's presence, their natural and invincible antipathy
to each other would have broken out into open and exterminating
warfare. But why should we delay longer upon an argument which is
based on gross and monstrous sophistry? It can mislead only such as
_wish_ to be misled. The lovers of sunlight are in little danger
of rushing into the professor's dungeon. Those who, having something
to conceal, covet darkness, can find it there, to their heart's
content. The hour cannot be far away, when upright and reflective
minds at the South will be astonished at the blindness which could
welcome such protection as the Princeton argument offers to the

But _Professor Stuart_ must not be forgotten. In his celebrated
letter to Dr. Fisk, he affirms that "_Paul did not expect slavery to
be ousted in a day_."[87] _Did not_ EXPECT! What then! Are the
_requisitions_ of Christianity adapted to any EXPECTATIONS which
in any quarter and on any ground might have risen to human
consciousness? And are we to interpret the _precepts_ of the gospel
by the expectations of Paul? The Savior commanded all men every
where to repent, and this, though "Paul did not expect" that human
wickedness, in its ten thousand forms would in any community
"be ousted in a day." Expectations are one thing; requisitions quite

[Footnote 87: Supra, p. 7.]

In the mean time, while expectation waited, Paul, the professor adds,
"gave precepts to Christians respecting their demeanor." _That_ he
did. Of what character were these precepts? Must they not have been
in harmony with the Golden Rule? But this, according to Professor
Stuart, "decides against the righteousness of slavery" even as a
"theory." Accordingly, Christians were required, _without respect of
persons_, to do each other justice--to maintain equality as common
ground for all to stand upon--to cherish and express in all their
intercourse that tender love and disinterested charity which one
_brother_ naturally feels for another. These were the "ad interim
precepts."[88] which cannot fail, if obeyed, to cut up slavery,
"root and branch," at once and forever.

[Footnote 88: Letter to Dr. Fisk, p. 7.]

Professor Stuart comforts us with the assurance that "_Christianity
will ultimately certainly destroy slavery_." Of this _we_ have not
the feeblest doubt. But how could _he_ admit a persuasion and utter
a prediction so much at war with the doctrine he maintains, that
"_slavery may exist without_ VIOLATING THE CHRISTIAN FAITH OR THE
CHURCH?"[89] What, Christianity bent on the destruction of an ancient
and cherished institution which hurts neither her character nor
condition?[90] Why not correct its abuses and purify its spirit; and
shedding upon it her own beauty, preserve it, as a living trophy of
her reformatory power? Whence the discovery that, in her onward
progress, she would trample down and destroy what was no way hurtful
to her? This is to be _aggressive_ with a witness. Far be it from
the Judge of all the earth to whelm the innocent and guilty in the
same destruction! In aid of Professor Stuart, in the rude and
scarcely covert attack which he makes upon himself, we maintain that
Christianity will certainly destroy slavery on account of its
inherent wickedness--its malignant temper--its deadly effects--its
constitutional, insolent, and unmitigable opposition to the
authority of God and the welfare of man.

[Footnote 89: Letter to Dr. Fisk, p. 7.]

[Footnote 90: Professor Stuart applies here the words, _salva fide et
salva ecclesia_.]

"Christianity will _ultimately_ destroy slavery." "ULTIMATELY!" What
meaneth that portentous word? To what limit of remotest time,
concealed in the darkness of futurity, may it look? Tell us, O
watchman, on the hill of Andover. Almost nineteen centuries have
rolled over this world of wrong and outrage--and yet we tremble in
the presence of a form of slavery whose breath is poison, whose fang
is death! If any one of the incidents of slavery should fall, but
for a single day, upon the head of the prophet, who dipped his pen
in such cold blood, to write that word "ultimately," how, under the
sufferings of the first tedious hour, would he break out in the
lamentable cry, "How _long_, O Lord, HOW LONG!" In the agony of
beholding a wife or daughter upon the table of the auctioneer, while
every bid fell upon his heart like the groan of despair, small
comfort would he find in the dull assurance of some heartless prophet,
quite at "ease in Zion," that "ULTIMATELY _Christianity would
destroy slavery_." As the hammer falls, and the beloved of his soul,
all helpless and most wretched, is borne away to the haunts of
_legalized_ debauchery, his hearts turns to stone, while the cry
dies upon his lips, "_How_ LONG, _O Lord_, HOW LONG!"

"_Ultimately_!" In _what circumstances_ does Professor Stuart
assure himself that Christianity will destroy slavery? Are we, as
American citizens, under the sceptre of a Nero? When, as integral parts
of this republic--as living members of this community, did we forfeit
the prerogatives of _freemen_? Have we not the right to speak and
act as wielding the powers which the privileges of self-government
has put in our possession? And without asking leave of priest or
statesman of the North or the South, may we not make the most of the
freedom which we enjoy under the guaranty of the ordinances of Heaven
and the Constitution of our country! Can we expect to see Christianity
on higher vantage-ground than in this country she stands upon? In
the midst of a republic based on the principle of the equality of
mankind, where every Christian, as vitally connected with the state,
freely wields the highest political rights and enjoys the richest
political privileges; where the unanimous demand of one-half of the
members of the churches would be promptly met in the abolition of
slavery, what "_ultimately_" must Christianity here wait for before
she crushes the chattel principle beneath her heel? Her triumph over
slavery is retarded by nothing but the corruption and defection so
widely spread through the "sacramental host" beneath her banners!
Let her voice be heard and her energies exerted, and the _ultimately_
of the "dark spirit of slavery" would at once give place to the
_immediately_ of the Avenger of the Poor.

No. 12.



       *       *       *       *       *










TO Friends of Freedom and Emancipation in the U. States.

At the Tenth Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, held
in the city of New-York, May 7th, 1844,--after grave deliberation,
and a long and earnest discussion,--it was decided, by a vote of
nearly three to one of the members present, that fidelity to the
cause of human freedom, hatred of oppression, sympathy for those who
are held in chains and slavery in this republic, and allegiance to
God, require that the existing national compact should be instantly
dissolved; that secession from the government is a religious and
political duty; that the motto inscribed on the banner of Freedom
should be, NO UNION WITH SLAVEHOLDERS; that it is impracticable for
tyrants and the enemies of tyranny to coalesce and legislate together
for the preservation of human rights, or the promotion of the
interests of Liberty; and that revolutionary ground should be
occupied by all those who abhor the thought of doing evil that good
may come, and who do not mean to compromise the principles of
Justice and Humanity.

A decision involving such momentous consequences, so well calculated
to startle the public mind, so hostile to the established order of
things, demands of us, as the official representatives of the
American Society, a statement of the reasons which led to it. This
is due not only to the Society, but also to the country and the world.

It is declared by the American people to be a self-evident truth,
"that all men are created equal; that they are endowed BY THEIR
CREATOR with certain inalienable rights; that among these are
life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness." It is further
maintained by them, that "all governments derive their just powers
from the consent of the governed;" that "whenever any form of
government becomes destructive of human rights, it is the right of
the people to alter or to abolish it, and institute a new government,
laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers
in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their
safety and happiness." These doctrines the patriots of 1776 sealed
with their blood. They would not brook even the menace of oppression.
They held that there should be no delay in resisting, at whatever
cost or peril, the first encroachments of power on their liberties.
Appealing to the great Ruler of the universe for the rectitude of
their course, they pledged to each other "their lives, their
fortunes and their sacred honor," to conquer or perish in their
struggle to be free.

For the example which they set to all people subjected to a despotic
sway, and the sacrifices which they made, their descendants cherish
their memories with gratitude, reverence their virtues, honor their
deeds, and glory in their triumphs.

It is not necessary, therefore, for us to prove that a state of
slavery is incompatible with the dictates of reason and humanity; or
that it is lawful to throw off a government which is at war with the
sacred rights of mankind.

We regard this as indeed a solemn crisis, which requires of every
man sobriety of thought, prophetic forecast, independent judgment,
invincible determination, and a sound heart. A revolutionary step is
one that should not be taken hastily, nor followed under the
influence of impulsive imitation. To know what spirit they are
of--whether they have counted the cost of the warfare--what are the
principles they advocate--and how they are to achieve their object--is
the first duty of revolutionists.

But, while circumspection and prudence are excellent qualities in
every great emergency, they become the allies of tyranny whenever
they restrain prompt, bold and decisive action against it.

We charge upon the present national compact, that it was formed at
the expense of human liberty, by a profligate surrender of principle,
and to this hour is cemented with human blood.

We charge upon the American Constitution, that it contains provisions,
and enjoins duties, which make it unlawful for freemen to take the
oath of allegiance to it, because they are expressly designed to
favor a slaveholding oligarchy, and, consequently, to make one
portion of the people a prey to another.

We charge upon the existing national government, that it is an
insupportable despotism, wielded by a power which is superior to all
legal and constitutional restraints--equally indisposed and unable to
protect the lives or liberties of the people--the prop and safeguard
of American slavery.

These charges we proceed briefly to establish:

I. It is admitted by all men of intelligence,--or if it be denied in
any quarter, the records of our national history settle the question
beyond doubt,--that the American Union was effected by a guilty
compromise between the free and slaveholding States; in other words,
by immolating the colored population on the altar of slavery, by
depriving the North of equal rights and privileges, and by
incorporating the slave system into the government. In the expressive
and pertinent language of scripture, it was "a covenant with death,
and an agreement with hell"--null and void before God, from the first
hour of its inception--the framers of which were recreant to duty,
and the supporters of which are equally guilty.

It was pleaded at the time of the adoption, it is pleaded now, that,
without such a compromise there could have been no union; that,
without union, the colonies would have become an easy prey to the
mother country; and, hence, that it was an act of necessity,
deplorable indeed when viewed alone, but absolutely indispensable to
the safety of the republic.

To this we reply: The plea is as profligate as the act was tyrannical.
It is the jesuitical doctrine, that the end sanctifies the means. It
is a confession of sin, but the denial of any guilt in its
perpetration. It is at war with the government of God, and
subversive of the foundations of morality. It is to make lies our
refuge, and under falsehood to hide ourselves, so that we may escape
the overflowing scourge. "Therefore, thus saith the Lord God,
Judgment will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet;
and the bail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters
shall overflow the hiding place." Moreover, "because ye trust in
oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon; therefore this
iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in
a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. And he
shall break it as the breaking of the potter's vessel that is broken
in pieces; he shall not spare."

This plea is sufficiently broad to cover all the oppression and
villany that the sun has witnessed in his circuit, since God said,
"Let there by light." It assumes that to be practicable, which is
impossible, namely, that there can be freedom with slavery, union
with injustice, and safety with blood guiltiness. A union of virtue
with pollution is the triumph of licentiousness. A partnership
between right and wrong, is wholly wrong. A compromise of the
principles of Justice, is the deification of crime.

Better that the American Union had never been formed, than that it
should have been obtained at such a frightful cost! If they were
guilty who fashioned it, but who could not foresee all its frightful
consequences, how much more guilty are they, who, in full view of
all that has resulted from it, clamor for its perpetuity! If it was
sinful at the commencement, to adopt it on the ground of escaping a
greater evil, is it not equally sinful to swear to support it for the
same reason, or until, in process of time, it be purged from its

The fact is, the compromise alluded to, instead of effecting a union,
rendered it impracticable; unless by the term union we are to
understand the absolute reign of the slaveholding power over the
whole country, to the prostration of Northern rights. In the just
use of words, the American Union is and always has been a sham--an
imposture. It is an instrument of oppression unsurpassed in the
criminal history of the world. How then can it be innocently
sustained? It is not certain, it is not even probable, that if it had
not been adopted, the mother country would have reconquered the
colonies. The spirit that would have chosen danger in preference to
crime,--to perish with justice rather than live with dishonor,--to
dare and suffer whatever might betide, rather than sacrifice the
rights of one human being,--could never have been subjugated by any
mortal power. Surely it is paying a poor tribute to the valor and
devotion of our revolutionary fathers in the cause of liberty, to say
that, if they had sternly refused to sacrifice their principles, they
would have fallen an easy prey to the despotic power of England.

II. The American Constitution is the exponent of the national compact.
We affirm that it is an instrument which no man can innocently bind
himself to support, because its anti-republican and anti-Christian
requirements are explicit and peremptory; at least, so explicit that,
in regard to all the clauses pertaining to slavery, they have been
uniformly understood and enforced in the same way, by all the courts
and by all the people; and so peremptory, that no individual
interpretation or authority can set them aside with impunity. It is
not a ball of clay, to be moulded into any shape that party
contrivance or caprice may choose it to assume. It is not a form of
words, to be interpreted in any manner, or to any extent, or for the
accomplishment of any purpose, that individuals in office under it
may determine. _It means precisely what those who framed and adopted
it meant_--NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS, _as a matter of bargain and
compromise_. Even if it can be construed to mean something else,
without violence to its language, such construction is not to be
tolerated _against the wishes of either party_. No just or honest
use of it can be made, in opposition to the plain intention of its
framers, _except to declare the contract at an end, and to refuse to
serve under it_.

To the argument, that the words "slaves" and "slavery" are not to be
found in the Constitution, and therefore that it was never intended
to give any protection or countenance to the slave system, it is
sufficient to reply, that though no such words are contained in that
instrument, other words were used, intelligently and specifically,
TO MEET THE NECESSITIES OF SLAVERY; and that these were adopted _in
good faith, to be observed until a constitutional change could be
effected_. On this point, as to the design of certain provisions, no
intelligent man can honestly entertain a doubt. If it be objected,
that though these provisions were meant to cover slavery, yet, as
they can fairly be interpreted to mean something exactly the reverse,
it is allowable to give to them such an interpretation, _especially
as the cause of freedom will thereby be promoted_--we reply, that
this is to advocate fraud and violence toward one of the contracting
parties, _whose co-operation was secured only by an express
agreement and understanding between them both, in regard to the
clauses alluded to_; and that such a construction, if enforced by
pains and penalties, would unquestionably lead to a civil war, in
which the aggrieved party would justly claim to have been betrayed,
and robbed of their constitutional rights.

Again, if it be said, that those clauses, being immoral, are null and
void--we reply, it is true they are not to be observed; but it is
also true that they are portions of an instrument, the support of
which, AS A WHOLE, is required by oath or affirmation; and, therefore,
_because they are immoral_, and BECAUSE OF THIS OBLIGATION
TO ENFORCE IMMORALITY, no one can innocently swear to support the

Again, if it be objected, that the Constitution was formed by the
people of the United States, in order to establish justice, to
promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to
themselves and their posterity: and therefore, it is to be so
construed as to harmonize with these objects; we reply, again, that
its language is _not to be interpreted in a sense which neither of
the contracting parties understood_, and which would frustrate every
design of their alliance--to wit, _union at the expense of the
colored population of the country_. Moreover, nothing is more
certain than that the preamble alluded to never included, in the
minds of those who framed it, _those who were then pining in
bondage_--for, in that case, a general emancipation of the slaves
would have instantly been proclaimed throughout the United States. The
words, "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity," assuredly meant only the white population. "To promote the
general welfare," referred to their own welfare exclusively. "To
establish justice," was understood to be for their sole benefit as
slaveholders, and the guilty abettors of slavery. This is
demonstrated by other parts of the same instrument, and by their own
practice under it.

We would not detract aught from what is justly their due; but it is
as reprehensible to give them credit for _what they did not possess_,
as it is to rob them of what is theirs. It is absurd, it is false,
it is an insult to the common sense of mankind, to pretend that the
Constitution was intended to embrace the entire population of the
country under its sheltering wings; or that the parties to it were
actuated by a sense of justice and the spirit of impartial liberty;
or that it needs no alteration, but only a new interpretation, to
make it harmonize with the object aimed at by its adoption. As truly
might it be argued, that because it is asserted in the Declaration
of Independence, that all men are created equal, and endowed with an
inalienable right to liberty, therefore none of its signers were
slaveholders, and since its adoption, slavery has been banished from
the American soil! The truth is, our fathers were intent on securing
liberty _to themselves_, without being very scrupulous as to the
means they used to accomplish their purpose. They were not actuated
by the spirit of universal philanthropy; and though _in words_ they
recognized occasionally the brotherhood of the human race, _in
practice_ they continually denied it. They did not blush to enslave
a portion of their fellow-men, and to buy and sell them as cattle in
the market, while they were fighting against the oppression of the
mother country, and boasting of their regard for the rights of man.
Why, then, concede to them virtues which they did not posses.
_Why cling to the falsehood, that they were not respecters of
persons in the formation of the government_?

Alas! that they had no more fear of God, no more regard for man, in
their hearts! "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah [the
North and South] is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood,
and the city full of perverseness; for they say, the Lord hath
forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not."

We proceed to a critical examination of the American Constitution,
in its relations to slavery.

In ARTICLE 1, Section 9, it is declared--"the migration or
importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall
think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress, prior
to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty
may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for
each person."

In this Section, it will be perceived, the phraseology is so guarded
as not to imply, _ex necessitate_, any criminal intent or inhuman
arrangement; and yet no one has ever had the hardihood or folly to
deny, that it was clearly understood by the contracting parties, to
mean that there should be no interference with the African slave
trade, on the part of the general government, until the year 1808.
For twenty years after the adoption of the Constitution, the
citizens of the United States were to be encouraged and protected in
the prosecution of that infernal traffic--in sacking and burning the
hamlets of Africa--in slaughtering multitudes of the inoffensive
natives on the soil, kidnapping and enslaving a still greater
proportion, crowding them to suffocation in the holds of the slave
ships, populating the Atlantic with their dead bodies, and
subjecting the wretched survivors to all the horrors of unmitigated
bondage! This awful covenant was strictly fulfilled; and though,
since its termination, Congress has declared the foreign slave
traffic to be piracy, yet all Christendom knows that the American
flag, instead of being the terror of the African slavers, has given
them the most ample protection.

The manner in which the 9th Section was agreed to, by the national
convention that formed the constitution, is thus frankly avowed by
the Hon. Luther Martin,[91] who was a prominent member of that body:

  "The Eastern States, notwithstanding their aversion of slavery, (!)
  _were very willing to indulge the Southern States_ at least with
  a temporary liberty to prosecute the slave trade, provided the
  Southern States would, in the return, _gratify_ them by laying no
  restriction on navigation acts; and, after a very little time, the
  committee, by a great majority, agreed on a report, _by which the
  general government was to be prohibited from preventing the
  importation of slaves_ for a limited time; and the restrictive
  clause relative to navigation acts was to be omitted."

Behold the iniquity of this agreement! How sordid were the motives
which led to it! what a profligate disregard of justice and humanity,
on the part of those who had solemnly declared the inalienable right
of all men to be free and equal, to be a self-evident truth!

It is due to the national convention to say, that this section was
not adopted "without considerable opposition." Alluding to it,
Mr. Martin observes--

[Footnote 91: Speech before the Legislature of Maryland in 1787.]

"It was said we had just assumed a place among the independent
nations in consequence of our opposition to the attempts of Great
Britain to _enslave us_; that this opposition was grounded upon the
preservation of those rights to which God and nature has entitled us,
not in _particular_, but in _common with all the rest of mankind_;
that we had appealed to the Supreme Being for his assistance, as the
God of freedom, who could not but approve our efforts to preserve
the rights which he had thus imparted to his creatures; that now,
when we had scarcely risen from our knees, from supplicating his
mercy and protection in forming our government over a free people, a
government formed pretendedly on the principles of liberty, and for
its preservation,--in that government to have a provision, not only
of putting out of its power to restrain and prevent the slave trade,
even encouraging that most infamous traffic, by giving the States
the power and influence in the Union in proportion as they cruelly
and wantonly sported with the rights of their fellow-creatures,
ought to be considered as a solemn mockery of, and insult to, that
God whose protection we had thus implored, and could not fail to
hold us up in detestation, and render us contemptible to every true
friend of liberty in the world. It was said that national crimes can
only be, and frequently are, punished in this world by _national
punishments_, and that the continuance of the slave trade, and thus
giving it a national character, sanction, and encouragement, ought
to be considered as justly exposing us to the displeasure and
vengeance of him who is equally the Lord of all, and who views
with equal eye the poor _African slave_ and his _American master_![92]

[Footnote 92: How terribly and justly has this guilty nation been
scourged, since these words were spoken, on account of slavery and
the slave trade! Secret Proceedings, p. 64.]

"It was urged that, by this system, we were giving the general
government full and absolute power to regulate commerce, under which
general power it would have a right to restrain, or totally prohibit,
the slave trade: it must, therefore, appear to the world absurd and
disgraceful to the last degree that we should except from the
exercise of that power the only branch of commerce which is
unjustifiable in its nature, and contrary to the rights of mankind.
That, on the contrary, we ought to prohibit expressly, in our
Constitution, the further importation of slaves, and to authorize
the general government, from time to time, to make such regulations
as should be thought most advantageous for the gradual abolition of
slavery, and the emancipation of the slaves already in the States.
That slavery is inconsistent with the genius of republicanism, and
has a tendency to destroy those principles on which it is supported,
as it lessens the sense of the equal rights of mankind, and
habituates to tyranny and oppression. It was further urged that, by
this system of government, every State is to be protected both from
foreign invasion and from domestic insurrections; and, from this
consideration, it was of the utmost importance it should have the
power to restrain the importation of slaves, since in proportion as
the number of slaves increased in any State, in the same proportion
is the State weakened and exposed to foreign invasion and domestic
insurrection: and by so much less will it be able to protect itself
against either, and therefore by so much, want aid from, and be a
burden to, the Union.

"It was further said, that, in this system, as we were giving the
general government power, under the idea of national character, or
national interest, to regulate even our weights and measures, and
have prohibited all possibility of emitting paper money, and passing
insolvent laws, &c., it must appear still more extraordinary that we
prohibited the government from interfering with the slave trade,
than which nothing could more effect our national honor and interest.

"These reasons influenced me, both in the committee and in the
convention, most decidedly to oppose and vote against the clause, as
it now makes part of the system."[93]

[Footnote 93: Secret Proceedings, p. 64.]

Happy had it been for this nation, had these solemn considerations
been heeded by the framers of the Constitution! But for the sake of
securing some local advantages, they choose to do evil that good may
come, and to make the end sanctify the means. They were willing to
enslave others, that they might secure their own freedom. They did
this deed deliberately, with their eyes open, with all the facts and
consequences arising therefrom before them, in violation of all
their heaven-attested declarations, and in atheistical distrust of
the overruling power of God. "The Eastern States were very willing
to _indulge_ the Southern States" in the unrestricted prosecution of
their piratical traffic, provided in return they could be _gratified_
by no restriction being laid on navigation acts!!--Had there been no
other provision of the Constitution justly liable to objection, this
one alone rendered the support of that instrument incompatible with
the duties which men owe to their Creator, and to each other. It was
the poisonous infusion in the cup, which, though constituting but a
very slight portion of its contents, perilled the life of every one
who partook of it.

If it be asked to what purpose are these animadversions, since the
clause alluded to has long since expired by its own limitation--we
answer, that, if at any time the foreign slave trade could be
_constitutionally_ prosecuted, it may yet be renewed, under the
Constitution, at the pleasure of Congress, whose prohibitory statute
is liable to be reversed at any moment, in the frenzy of Southern
opposition to emancipation. It is ignorantly supposed that the
bargain was, that the traffic _should cease_ in 1808; but the only
thing secured by it was, the _right_ of Congress (not any obligation)
to prohibit it at that period. If, therefore, Congress had not
chosen to exercise that right, _the traffic might have been
prolonged indefinitely, under the Constitution_. The right to
destroy any particular branch of commerce, implies the right to
re-establish it. True, there is no probability that the African slave
trade will ever again be legalized by the national government; but
no credit is due the framers of the Constitution on this ground; for,
while they threw around it all the sanction and protection of the
national character and power for twenty years, _they set no bounds to
its continuance by any positive constitutional prohibition_.

Again, the adoption of such a clause, and the faithful execution of
it, prove what was meant by the words of the preamble--"to form a
more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity,
provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and
secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity"--namely, that the parties to the Constitution regarded
only their own rights and interests, and never intended that its
language should be so interpreted as to interfere with slavery, or to
make it unlawful for one portion of the people to enslave another,
_without an express alteration in that instrument, in the manner
therein set forth_. While, therefore, the Constitution remains as it
was originally adopted, they who swear to support it are bound to
comply with all its provisions, as a matter of allegiance. For it
avails nothing to say, that some of those provisions are at war with
the law of God and the rights of man, and therefore are not
obligatory.  Whatever may be their character, they are
_constitutionally_ obligatory; and whoever feels that he cannot
execute them, or swear to execute them, without committing sin, has no
other choice left than to withdraw from the government, or to violate
his conscience by taking on his lips an impious promise. The object of
the Constitution is not to define _what is the law of God_, but WHAT IS
THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE--which will is not to be frustrated by an
ingenious moral interpretation, by those whom they have elected to
serve them.

ARTICLE 1, Sect. 2, provides--"Representatives and direct taxes
shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included
within this 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_."

Here, as in the clause we have already examined, veiled beneath a
form of words as deceitful as it is unmeaning in a truly democratic
government, is a provision for the safety, perpetuity and
augmentation of the slaveholding power--a provision scarcely less
atrocious than that which related to the African slave trade, and
almost as afflictive in its operation--a provision still in force,
with no possibility of its alteration, so long as a majority of the
slave States choose to maintain their slave system--a provision which,
at the present time, enables the South to have twenty-five additional
representatives in Congress on the score of _property_, while the
North is not allowed to have one--a provision which concedes to the
oppressed three-fifths of the political power which is granted to
all others, aid then puts this power into the hands of their
oppressors, to be wielded by them for the more perfect security of
their tyrannous authority, and the complete subjugation of the
non-slaveholding States.

Referring to this atrocious bargain, ALEXANDER HAMILTON remarked in
the New York Convention--

"The first thing objected to, is that clause which allows a
representation for three-fifths of the negroes. Much has been said
of the impropriety of representing men who have no will of their own:
whether this is _reasoning_ or _declamation_, (!!) I will not
presume to say. It is the _unfortunate_ situation of the Southern
States to have a great part of their population, as well as _property_,
in blacks. The regulation complained of was one result of _the
spirit of accommodation_ which governed the Convention; and
without this _indulgence_, NO UNION COULD POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN FORMED.
But, sir, considering some _peculiar advantages_ which we derive
from them it is entirely JUST that they should be _gratified_--The
Southern States possess certain staples,--tobacco, rice, indigo,
&c.--which must be _capital_ objects in treaties of commerce with
foreign nations; and the advantage which they necessarily procure in
these treaties will be felt throughout the United States."

If such was the patriotism, such the love of liberty, such the
morality of ALEXANDER HAMILTON, what can be said of the character of
those who were far less conspicuous than himself in securing
American independence, and in framing the American Constitution?

Listen, now, to the opinions of JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, respecting the
constitutional clause now under consideration:--

"'In outward show, it is a representation of persons in bondage; in
fact, it is a representation of their masters,--the oppressor
representing the oppressed.'--'Is it in the compass of human
imagination to devise a more perfect exemplification of the art of
committing the lamb to the tender custody of the wolf?'--'The
representative is thus constituted, not the friend, agent and
trustee of the person whom he represents, but the most inveterate of
his foes.'--'It was _one_ of the curses from that Pandora's box,
adjusted at the time, as usual, by a _compromise_, the whole
advantage of which inured to the benefit of the South, and to
aggravate the burdens of the North.'--'If there be a parallel to it
in human history, it can only be that of the Roman Emperors, who,
from the days when Julius Caesar substituted a military despotism in
the place of a republic, among the offices which they always
concentrated upon themselves, was that of tribune of the people. A
Roman Emperor tribune of the people, is an exact parallel to that
feature in the Constitution of the United States which makes the
master the representative of his slave.'--'The Constitution of the
United States expressly prescribes that no title of nobility shall
be granted by the United States. The spirit of this interdict is not
a rooted antipathy to the grant of mere powerless empty _titles_,
but to titles of _nobility_; to the institution of privileged orders
of men. But what order of men under the most absolute of monarchies,
or the most aristocratic of republics, was ever invested with such
an odious and unjust privilege as that of the separate and exclusive
representation of less than half a million owners of slaves, in the
Hall of this House, in the Chair of the Senate, and in the
Presidential mansion?'--'This investment of power in the owners of
one species of property concentrated in the highest authorities of
the nation, and disseminated through thirteen of the twenty-six
States of the Union, constitutes a privileged order of men in the
community, more adverse to the rights of all, and more pernicious to
the interests of the whole, than any order of nobility ever known.
To call government thus constituted a democracy, is to insult the
understanding of mankind. To call it an aristocracy, is to do
injustice to that form of government. Aristocracy is the government
of _the best_. Its standard qualification for accession to power
_is merit_, ascertained by popular election recurring at short
intervals of time. If even that government is prone to degenerate
into tyranny, what must be the character of that form of polity in
which the standard qualification for access to power is wealth in
the possession of slaves? It is doubly tainted with the infection of
riches and of slavery. _There is no name in the language of national
jurisprudence that can define it_--no model in the records of
ancient history, or in the political theories of Aristotle, with
which it can be likened. It was introduced into the Constitution of
the United States by an equivocation--a representation of property
under the name of persons. Little did the members of the Convention
from the free States foresee what a sacrifice to Moloch was hidden
under the mask of this concession.'--'The House of Representatives
of the United States consists of 223 members--all, by the _letter_ of
the Constitution, representatives only of _persons_, as 135 of them
really are; but the other 88, equally representing the _persons_ of
their constituents, by whom they are elected, also represent, under
the name of _other persons_, upwards of two and a half millions of
_slaves_, held as the _property_ of less than half a million of
the white constituents, and valued at twelve hundred millions of
dollars. Each of these 88 members represents in fact the whole of
that mass of associated wealth, and the persons and exclusive
interests of its owners; all thus knit together, like the members of
a moneyed corporation, with a capital not of thirty-five or forty or
fifty, but of twelve hundred millions of dollars, exhibiting the
most extraordinary exemplification of the anti-republican tendencies
of associated wealth that the world ever saw,'--'Here is one class
of men, consisting of not more than one fortieth part of the whole
people, not more than one-thirtieth part of the free population,
exclusively devoted to their personal interests identified with
their own as slaveholders of the same associated wealth, and
wielding by their votes, upon every question of government or of
public policy, two-fifths of the whole power of the House.  In the
Senate of the Union, the proportion of the slaveholding power is yet
greater.  By the influence of slavery, in the States where the
institution is tolerated, over their elections, no other than a
slaveholder can rise to the distinction of obtaining a seat in the
Senate; and thus, of the 52 members of the federal Senate, 26 are
owners of slaves, and as effectively representatives of that
interest as the 88 members elected by them to the House.'--'By this
process it is that all political power in the States is absorbed and
engrossed by the owners of _slaves_, and the overruling policy of
the States is shaped to strengthen and consolidate their domination.
The legislative, executive, and judicial authorities are all in
their hands--the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of the
black code of slavery--every law of the legislature becomes a link
in the chain of the slave; every executive act a rivet to his
hapless fate; every judicial decision a perversion of the human
intellect to the justification of _wrong_.--Its reciprocal
operation upon the government of the nation is, to establish an
artificial majority in the slave representation over that of the
free people, in the American Congress, and thereby to make the
in the fact that, at this day, the President of the United States,
the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, and five out of nine of the Judges of the Supreme
Judicial Courts of the United States, are not only citizens of
slaveholding States, but individual slaveholders themselves. So are,
and constantly have been, with scarcely an exception, all the
members of both Houses of Congress from the slaveholding States; and
so are, in immensely disproportionate numbers, the commanding
officers of the army and navy; the officers of the customs; the
registers and receivers of the land offices, and the post-masters
throughout the slaveholding States.--The Biennial Register indicates
the birth-place of all the officers employed in the government of
the Union.  If it were required to designate the owners of this
species of property among them, it would be little more than a
catalogue of slaveholders.'"

It is confessed by Mr. Adams, alluding to the national convention
that framed the Constitution, that "the delegation from the free
States, in their extreme anxiety to conciliate the ascendency of the
Southern slaveholder, did listen to a _compromise between right and
wrong_--_between freedom and slavery_; of the ultimate fruits of which
they had no conception, but which already even now is urging the
Union to its inevitable ruin and dissolution, by a civil, servile,
foreign, and Indian war, all combined in one; a war, the essential
issue of which will be between freedom and slavery, and in which the
unhallowed standard of slavery will be the desecrated banner of the
North American Union--that banner, first unfurled to the breeze,
inscribed with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of

Hence, to swear to support the Constitution of the United States, _as
it is_, is to make "a compromise between right and wrong," and to
wage war against human liberty. It is to recognize and honor as
republican legislators, _incorrigible men-stealers_, MERCILESS
TYRANTS, BLOOD THIRSTY ASSASSINS, who legislate with deadly weapons
about their persons, such as pistols, daggers, and bowie-knives,
with which they threaten to murder any Northern senator or
representative who shall dare to stain their _honor_, or interfere
with their _rights_! They constitute a banditti more fierce and cruel
than any whose atrocities are recorded on the pages of history or
romance. To mix with them on terms of social or religious fellowship,
is to indicate a low state of virtue; but to think of administering
a free government by their co-operation, is nothing short of insanity.

Article IV., Section 2, declares,--"No person held to service or
labor in one State, _under the laws thereof_, escaping into another,
shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be
discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on
claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

Here is a third clause, which, like the other two, makes no mention
of slavery or slaves, in express terms; and yet, like them, was
intelligently framed and mutually understood by the parties to the
ratification, and intended both to protect the slave system and to
restore runaway slaves. It alone makes slavery a national institution,
a national crime, and all the people who are not enslaved, the
body-guard over those whose liberties have been cloven down. This
agreement, too, has been fulfilled to the letter by the North.

Under the Mosaic dispensation it was imperatively commanded,--"Thou
shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped
from his master unto thee: he shall dwell with thee, even among you,
in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it
liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him." The warning which the
prophet Isaiah gave to oppressing Moab was of a similar kind:
"Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the
midst of the noon-day; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that
wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert
to them from the face of the spoiler." The prophet Obadiah brings
the following charge against treacherous Edom, which is precisely
applicable to this guilty nation:--"For thy violence against thy
brother Jacob, shame shall come over thee, and thou shalt be cut off
for ever. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the
day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and
foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem,
_even thou wast as one of them_. But thou shouldst not have looked
on the day of thy brother, in the day that he became a stranger;
neither shouldst thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah, in
the day of their destruction; neither shouldst thou have spoken
proudly in the day of distress; neither shouldst thou have _stood in
the cross-way, to cut off those of his that did escape_; neither
shouldst thou have _delivered up those of his that did remain_, in
the day of distress."

How exactly descriptive of this boasted republic is the impeachment
of Edom by the same prophet! "The pride of thy heart hath deceived
thee, thou whose habitation is high; that sayeth in thy heart, Who
shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the
eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I
bring thee down, saith the Lord." The emblem of American pride and
power is the _eagle_, and on her banner she has mingled _stars_ with
its _stripes_. Her vanity, her treachery, her oppression, her
self-exaltation, and her defiance of the Almighty, far surpass the
madness and wickedness of Edom. What shall be her punishment? Truly,
it may be affirmed of the American people, (who live not under the
Levitical but Christian code, and whose guilt, therefore, is the
more awful, and their condemnation the greater,) in the language of
another prophet--"They all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every
man his brother with a net. That they may do evil with both hands
earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and
the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: _so they wrap it
up_." Likewise of the colored inhabitants of this land it may be said,
--"This is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared
in holes, and they are hid in prison-houses; they are for a prey,
and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore."

By this stipulation, the Northern States are made the hunting ground
of slave-catchers, who may pursue their victims with blood-hounds,
and capture them with impunity wherever they can lay their robber
hands upon them. At least twelve or fifteen thousand runaway slaves
are now in Canada, exiled from their native land, because they could
not find, throughout its vast extent, a single road on which they
could dwell in safety, _in consequence of this provision of the
Constitution_? How is it possible, then, for the advocates of
liberty to support a government which gives over to destruction
one-sixth part of the whole population?

It is denied by some at the present day, that the clause which has
been cited, was intended to apply to runaway slaves. This indicates
either ignorance, or folly, or something worse. JAMES MADISON as one
of the framers of the Constitution, is of some authority on this
point. Alluding to that instrument, in the Virginia convention, he

  "Another clause _secures us that property which we now possess_. At
  present, if any slave elopes to those States where slaves are free,
  _he becomes emancipated by their laws_; for the laws of the States
  are _uncharitable_(!) to one another in this respect; but in this
  constitution, 'No person held to service or labor in one State,
  under the laws thereof, shall, in consequence of any law or
  regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but
  shall be delivered upon claim of the party to whom such service or
  OWNERS OF SLAVES TO RECLAIM THEM. _This is a better security than
  any that now exists_. No power is given to the general government to
  interfere with respect to the property in slaves now held by the

In the same convention, alluding to the same clause, GOV. RANDOLPH

  "Every one knows that slaves are held to service or labor. And, when
  authority is given to owners of slaves to _vindicate their
  property_, can it be supposed they can be deprived of it? If a
  citizen of this State, in consequence of this clause, can take his
  runaway slave in Maryland, can it be seriously thought that, after
  taking him and bringing him home, he could be made free?"

It is objected, that slaves are held as property, and therefore, as
the clause refers to persons, it cannot mean slaves. But this is
criticism against fact. Slaves are recognized not merely as property,
but also as persons--as having a mixed character--as combining the
human with the brutal. This is paradoxical, we admit; but slavery is
a paradox--the American Constitution is a paradox--the American
Union is a paradox--the American Government is a paradox; and if any
one of these is to be repudiated on that ground, they all are. That
it is the duty of the friends of freedom to deny the binding
authority of them all, and to secede from them all, we distinctly
affirm. After the independence of this country had been achieved,
the voice of God exhorted the people, saying, "Execute true judgment,
and show mercy and compassion every man to his brother: and oppress
not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and
let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. But
they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped
their ears, that they should not hear; yea, they made their hearts
as an adamant stone." "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the
Lord. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"

Whatever doubt may have rested on any honest mind, respecting the
meaning of the clause in relation to persons held to service or labor,
must have been removed by the unanimous decision of the Supreme
Court of the United States, in the case of Prigg versus The State of
Pennsylvania. By that decision, any Southern slave-catcher is
empowered to seize and convey to the South, without hindrance or
molestation on the part of the State, and without any legal process
duly obtained and served, any person or persons, irrespective of
caste or complexion, whom he may choose to claim as runaway slaves;
and if, when thus surprised and attacked, or on their arrival South,
they cannot prove by legal witnesses, that they are freemen, their
doom is sealed! Hence the free colored population of the North are
specially liable to become the victims of this terrible power, and
all the other inhabitants are at the mercy of prowling kidnappers,
because there are multitudes of white as well as black slaves on
Southern plantations, and slavery is no longer fastidious with
regard to the color of its prey.

As soon as that appalling decision of the Supreme Court was
enunciated, in the name of the Constitution, the people of the North
should have risen _en masse_, if for no other cause, and declared the
Union at an end; and they would have done so, if they had not lost
their manhood, and their reverence for justice and liberty.

In the 4th Sect. of Art. IV., the United States guarantee to protect
every State in the Union "_against domestic violence_." By the 8th
Section of Article 1., congress is empowered "to provide for calling
forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, _suppress
insurrections_, and repel invasions." These provisions, however
strictly they may apply to cases of disturbance among the white
population, were adopted with special reference to the slave
population, for the purpose of keeping them in their chains by the
combined military force of the country; and were these repealed, and
the South left to manage her slaves as best she could, a servile
insurrection would ere long be the consequence, as general as it
would unquestionably be successful. Says Mr. Madison, respecting
these clauses:--

  "On application of the legislature or executive, as the case may be,
  the militia of the other States are to be called to suppress
  domestic insurrections. Does this bar the States from calling forth
  their own militia? No; but it gives them a _supplementary_ security
  to suppress insurrections and domestic violence."

The answer to Patrick Henry's objection, as urged against the
constitution in the Virginia convention, that there was no power left
to the States to quell an insurrection of slaves, as it was wholly
vested in congress, George Nicholas asked:--

  "Have they it now? If they have, does the constitution take it away?
  If it does, it must be in one of those clauses which have been
  mentioned by the worthy member. The first part gives the general
  government power to call them out when necessary. Does this take it
  away from the States? No! but _it gives an additional security_;
  for, beside the power in the State government to use their own
  militia, it will be _the duty of the general government_ to aid
  them WITH THE STRENGTH OF THE UNION, when called for."

This solemn guaranty of security to the slave system, caps the
climax of national barbarity, and stains with human blood the
garments of all the people. In consequence of it, that system has
multiplied its victims from five hundred thousand to nearly three
millions--a vast amount of territory has been purchased, in order to
give it extension and perpetuity--several new slave States have been
admitted into the Union--the slave trade has been made one of the
great branches of American commerce--the slave population, though
over-worked, starved, lacerated, branded, maimed, and subjected to
every form of deprivation and every species of torture, have been
over awed and crushed,--or, whenever they have attempted to gain
their liberty by revolt, they have been shot down and quelled by the
strong arm of the national government; as, for example, in the case
of Nat Turner's insurrection in Virginia, when the naval and military
forces of the government were called into active service. Cuban
bloodhounds have been purchased with the money of the people, and
imported and used to hunt slave fugitives among the everglades of
Florida. A merciless warfare has been waged for the extermination or
expulsion of the Florida Indians, because they gave succor to those
poor hunted fugitives--a warfare which has cost the nation several
thousand lives, and forty millions of dollars. But the catalogue
of enormities is too long to be recapitulated in the present address.

We have thus demonstrated that the compact between the North and the
South embraces every variety of wrong and outrage,--is at war with
God and man, cannot be innocently supported, and deserves to be
immediately annulled. In behalf of the Society which we represent,
we call upon all our fellow-citizens, who believe it is right to
obey God rather than man, to declare themselves peaceful
revolutionists, and to unite with us under the stainless banner of
Liberty, having for its motto--"EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL--NO UNION WITH

It is pleaded that the Constitution provides for its own amendment;
and we ought to use the elective franchise to effect this object.
True, there is such a proviso; but, until the amendment be made,
that instrument is binding as it stands. Is it not to violate every
moral instinct, and to sacrifice principle to expediency, to argue
that we may swear to steal, oppress and murder by wholesale, because
it may be necessary to do so only for the time being, and because
there is some remote probability that the instrument which requires
that we should be robbers, oppressors and murderers, may at some
future day be amended in these particulars? Let us not palter with
our consciences in this manner--let us not deny that the compact was
conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity--let us not be so
dishonest, even to promote a good object, as to interpret the
Constitution in a manner utterly at variance with the intentions and
arrangements of the contracting parties; but, confessing the guilt
of the nation, acknowledging the dreadful specifications in the bond,
washing our hands in the waters of repentance from all further
participation in this criminal alliance, and resolving that we will
sustain none other than a free and righteous government, let us
glory in the name of revolutionists, unfurl the banner of disunion,
and consecrate our talents and means to the overthrow of all that is
tyrannical in the land,--to the establishment of all that is free,
just, true and holy,--to the triumph of universal love and peace.

If, in utter disregard of the historical facts which have been cited,
it is still asserted, that the Constitution needs no amendment to
make it a free instrument, adapted to all the exigencies of a free
people, and was never intended to give any strength or countenance
to the slave system--the indignant spirit of insulted Liberty
replies:--"What though the assertion be true? Of what avail is a mere
piece of parchment? In itself, though it be written all over with
words of truth and freedom--though its provisions be as impartial and
just as words can express, or the imagination paint--though it be as
pure as the gospel, and breathe only the spirit of Heaven--it is
powerless; it has no executive vitality; it is a lifeless corpse, even
though beautiful in death. I am famishing for lack of bread! How is my
appetite relieved by holding up to my gaze a painted loaf? I am
manacled, wounded, bleeding dying! What consolation is it to know,
that they who are seeking to destroy my life, profess in words to be
my friends?" If the liberties of the people have been betrayed--if
judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off, and
truth has fallen in the streets, and equality cannot enter--if the
princes of the land are roaring lions, the judges evening wolves,
the people light and treacherous persons, the priests covered with
pollution--if we are living under a frightful despotism, which scoffs
at all constitutional restraints, and wields the resources of the
nation to promote its own bloody purposes--tell us not that the
forms of freedom are still left to us! Would such tameness and
submission have freighted the May-Flower for Plymouth Rock? Would it
have resisted the Stamp Act, the Tea Tax, or any of those entering
wedges of tyranny with which the British government sought to rive
the liberties of America? The wheel of the Revolution would have
rusted on its axle, if a spirit so weak had been the only power to
give it motion. Did our fathers say, when their rights and liberties
were infringed--"_Why, what is done cannot be undone_. That is the
first thought." No, it was the last thing they thought of: or, rather,
it never entered their minds at all. They sprang to the conclusion at
once--"_What is done_ SHALL _be undone_. That is our FIRST and ONLY

  "Is water running in our veins? Do we remember still
  Old Plymouth Rock, and Lexington, and famous Bunker Hill?
  The debt we owe our fathers' graves? and to the yet unborn,
  Whose heritage ourselves must make a thing of pride or scorn?"

  "Gray Plymouth Rock hath yet a tongue, and Concord is not dumb;
  And voices from our fathers' graves and from the future come:
  They call on us to stand our ground--they charge us still to be
  Not only free from chains ourselves, but foremost to make free!"

It is of little consequence who is on the throne, if there be behind
it a power mightier than the throne. It matters not what is the
theory of the government, if the practice of the government be unjust
and tyrannical. We rise in rebellion against a despotism
incomparably more dreadful than that which induced the colonists to
take up arms against the mother country; not on account of a
three-penny tax on tea, but because fetters of living iron are
fastened on the limbs of millions of our countrymen, and our most
sacred rights are trampled in the dust. As citizens of the State,
we appeal to the State in vain for protection and redress. As
citizens of the United States, we are treated as outlaws in one
half of the country, and the national government consents to our
destruction. We are denied the right of locomotion, freedom of speech,
the right of petition, the liberty of the press, the right peaceably
to assemble together to protest against oppression and plead for
liberty--at least in thirteen States of the Union. If we venture, as
avowed and unflinching abolitionists, to travel South of Mason and
Dixon's line, we do so at the peril of our lives. If we would escape
torture and death, on visiting any of the slave States, we must
stifle our conscientious convictions, bear no testimony against
cruelty and tyranny, suppress the struggling emotions of humanity,
divest ourselves of all letters and papers of an anti-slavery
character, and do homage to the slaveholding power--or run the risk
of a cruel martyrdom! These are appalling and undeniable facts.

Three millions of the American people are crushed under the American
Union! They are held as slaves--trafficked as merchandise--registered
as goods and chattels! The government gives them no protection--the
government is their enemy--the government keeps them in chains!
There they lie bleeding--we are prostrate by their side--in
their sorrows and sufferings we participate--their stripes are
inflicted on our bodies, their shackles are fastened on our limbs,
their cause is ours!  The Union which grinds them to the dust
rests upon us, and with them we will struggle to overthrow it!
The Constitution, which subjects them to hopeless bondage, is one
that we cannot swear to support!  Our motto is, "NO UNION WITH
SLAVEHOLDERS," either religious or political. They are the fiercest
enemies of mankind, and the bitterest foes of God!  We separate from
them not in anger, not in malice, not for a selfish purpose, not to
do them an injury, not to cease warning, exhorting, reproving them
for their crimes, not to leave the perishing bondman to his fate--O
no! But to clear our skirts of innocent blood--to give the oppressor
no countenance--to signify our abhorrence of injustice and
cruelty--to testify against an ungodly compact--to cease striking
hands with thieves and consenting with adulterers--to make no
compromise with tyranny--to walk worthily of our high profession--to
increase our moral power over the nation--to obey God and vindicate
the gospel of his Son--hasten the downfall of slavery in America,
and throughout the world!

We are not acting under a blind impulse.  We have carefully counted
the cost of this warfare, and are prepared to meet its consequences.
It will subject us to reproach, persecution, infamy--it will prove a
fiery ordeal to all who shall pass through it--it may cost us our
lives.  We shall be ridiculed as fools, accused as visionaries,
branded as disorganizers, reviled as madmen, threatened and perhaps
punished as traitors.  But we shall bide our time.  Whether safety
or peril, whether victory or defeat, whether life or death be ours,
believing that our feet are planted on an eternal foundation, that
our position is sublime and glorious, that our faith in God is
rational and steadfast, that we have exceeding great and precious
promises on which to rely, THAT WE ARE IN THE RIGHT, we shall not
falter nor be dismayed, "though the earth be removed, and though the
mountains be carried into the midst of the sea,"--though our ranks
be thinned to the number of "three hundred men." Freemen! are you
ready for the conflict? Come what may, will you sever the chain that
binds you to a slaveholding government, and declare your independence?
Up, then, with the banner of revolution! Not to shed blood--not to
injure the person or estate of any oppressor--not by force and arms
to resist any law--not to countenance a servile insurrection--not to
wield any carnal weapons! No--ours must be a bloodless strife,
excepting _our_ blood be shed--for we aim, as did Christ our leader,
not to destroy men's lives, but to save them--to overcome evil with
good--to conquer through suffering for righteousness' sake--to set
the captive free by the potency of truth!

Secede, then, from the government. Submit to its exactions, but pay
it no allegiance, and give it no voluntary aid. Fill no offices
under it. Send no senators or representatives to the national or
State legislature; for what you cannot conscientiously perform
yourself, you cannot ask another to perform as your agent. Circulate
a declaration of DISUNION FROM SLAVEHOLDERS, throughout the country.
Hold mass meetings--assemble in conventions--nail your banners to
the mast!

Do you ask what can be done, if you abandon the ballot-box? What did
the crucified Nazarene do without the elective franchise? What did
the apostles do? What did the glorious army of martyrs and
confessors do? What did Luther and his intrepid associates do? What
can women and children do? What has Father Mathew done for teetotalism?
What has Daniel O'Connell done for Irish repeal? "Stand, having your
loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of
righteousness," and arrayed in the whole armor of God!

The form of government that shall succeed the present government of
the United States, let time determine. It would be a waste of time
to argue that question, until the people are regenerated and turned
from their iniquity. Ours is no anarchical movement, but one of
order and obedience. In ceasing from oppression, we establish liberty.
What is now fragmentary, shall in due time be crystallized, and
shine like a gem set in the heavens, for a light to all coming ages.

Finally--we believe that the effect of this movement will be,--First,
to create discussion and agitation throughout the North; and these
will lead to a general perception of its grandeur and importance.

Secondly, to convulse the slumbering South like an earthquake, and
convince her that her only alternative is, to abolish slavery, or be
abandoned by that power on which she now relies for safety.

Thirdly, to attack the slave power in its most vulnerable point, and
to carry the battle to the gate.

Fourthly, to exalt the moral sense, increase the moral power, and
invigorate the moral constitution of all who heartily espouse it.

We reverently believe that, in withdrawing from the American Union,
we have the God of justice with us. We know that we have our
enslaved countrymen with us. We are confident that all free hearts
will be with us. We are certain that tyrants and their abettors will
be against us.

In behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery

WM. LLOYD GARRISON, _President_.

  WENDELL PHILLIPS,     } _Secretaries_.

  _Boston, May_ 20, 1844.

       *       *       *       *       *


BOSTON, 4TH July, 1844

_To His Excellency George N. Briggs_:

SIR--Many years since, I received from the Executive of the
Commonwealth a commission as Justice of the Peace. I have held the
office that it conferred upon me till the present time, and have
found it a convenience to myself, and others. It might continue to
be so, could I consent longer to hold it. But paramount
considerations forbid, and I herewith transmit to you my commission,
respectfully asking you to accept my resignation.

While I deem it a duty to myself to take this step, I feel called on
to state the reasons that influence me.

In entering upon the duties of the office in question, I complied
with the requirements of the law, by taking an oath "_to support the
Constitution of the United States_." I regret that I ever took that
oath. Had I then as maturely considered its full import, and the
obligations under which it is understood, and meant to lay those who
take it, as I have done since, I certainly never would have taken it,
seeing, as I now do, that the Constitution of the United States
contains provisions calculated and intended to foster, cherish,
uphold and perpetuate _slavery_. It pledges the country to guard and
protect the slave system so long as the slaveholding States choose
to retain it. It regards the slave code as lawful in the States
which enact it. Still more, "it has done that, which, until its
adoption, was never before done for African slavery. It took it out
of its former category of municipal law and local life, adopted it
as a national institution, spread around it the broad and sufficient
shield of national law, and thus gave to slavery a national existence."
Consequently, the oath to support the Constitution of the United
States is a solemn promise to do that which is morally wrong; that
which is a violation of the natural rights of man, and a sin in the
sight of God.

I am not, in this matter, constituting myself a judge of others. I
do not say that no honest man can take such an oath, and abide by it.
I only say, that _I_ would not now deliberately take it; and that,
having inconsiderately taken it, I can no longer suffer it to lie
upon my soul. I take back the oath, and ask you, sir, to take back
the commission, which was the occasion of my taking it.

I am aware that my course in this matter is liable to be regarded as
singular, if not censurable; and I must, therefore, be allowed to
make a more specific statement of those _provisions of the
Constitution_ which support the enormous wrong, the heinous sin of

The very first Article of the Constitution takes slavery at once
under its legislative protection, as a basis of representation in
the popular branch of the National Legislature. It regards slaves
under the description "of all other _persons_"--as of only
three-fifths of the value of free persons; thus to appearance
undervaluing them in comparison with freemen. But its dark and
involved phraseology seems intended to blind us to the consideration,
that those underrated slaves are merely a _basis_, not the _source_
of representation; that by the laws of all the States where they live,
they are regarded not as _persons_; but as _things_; that they are
not the _constituency_ of the representative, but his property; and
that the necessary effect of this provision of the Constitution is,
to take legislative power out of the hands of _men_, as such, and
give it to the mere possessors of goods and chattels. Fixing upon
thirty thousand persons, as the smallest number that shall send one
member into the House of Representatives, it protects slavery by
distributing legislative power in a free and in a slave State thus:
To a congressional district in South Carolina, containing fifty
thousand slaves, claimed as the property of five hundred whites, who
hold, on an average, one hundred apiece, it gives one Representative
in Congress; to a district in Massachusetts containing a population
of thirty thousand five hundred, one Representative is assigned. But
inasmuch as a slave is never permitted to vote, the fifty thousand
persons in a district in Carolina form no part of "the constituency;"
that is found only in the five hundred free persons. Five hundred
freemen of Carolina could send one Representative to Congress, while
it would take thirty thousand five hundred freemen of Massachusetts,
to do the same thing: that is, one slaveholder in Carolina is
clothed by the Constitution with the same political power and
influence in the Representatives Hall at Washington, as sixty
Massachusetts men like you and me, who "eat their bread in the sweat
of their own brows."

According to the census of 1830, and the ratio of representation
based upon that, slave property added twenty-five members to the
House of Representatives. And as it has been estimated, (as an
approximation to the truth,) that the two and a half million slaves
in the United States are held as property by about two hundred and
fifty thousand persons--giving an average of ten slaves to each
slaveholder, those twenty-five Representatives, each chosen, at most,
by only ten thousand voters, and probably by less than three-fourths
of that number, were the representatives, not only of the two
hundred and fifty thousand persons who chose them; but of _property_
which, five years ago, when slaves were lower in market, than at
present, were estimated, by the man who is now the most prominent
candidate for the Presidency, at twelve hundred millions of dollars--a
sum, which, by the natural increase of five years, and the enhanced
value resulting from a more prosperous state of the planting
interest, cannot now be less than fifteen hundred millions of dollars.
All this vast amount of property, as it is "peculiar," is also
identical in its character. In Congress, as we have seen, it is
animated by one spirit, moves in one mass, and is wielded with one
aim; and when we consider that tyranny is always timid, and despotism
distrustful, we see that this vast money power would be false to
itself, did it not direct all its eyes and hands, and put forth all
its ingenuity and energy, to one end--self-protection and
self-perpetuation. And this it has ever done. In all the vibrations
of the political scale, whether in relation to a Bank or Sub-Treasury,
Free Trade or a Tariff, this immense power has moved, and will
continue to move, in one mass, for its own protection.

While the weight of the slave influence is thus felt in the House of
Representatives, "in the Senate of the Union," says John Quincy Adams,
"the proportion of slaveholding power is still greater. By the
influence of slavery in the States where the institution is tolerated,
over their elections, no other than a slaveholder can rise to the
distinction of obtaining a seat in the Senate; and thus, of the
fifty-two members of the federal Senate, twenty-six are owners of
slaves, and are as effectually representatives of that interest, as
the eighty-eight members elected by them to the House."

The dominant power which the Constitution gives to the slave interest,
as thus seen and exercised in the _Legislative Halls_ of our nation,
is equally obvious and obtrusive in every other department of the
National government.

In the _Electoral colleges_, the same cause produces the same
effect--the same power is wielded for the same purpose, as in the
Halls of Congress. Even the preliminary nominating conventions, before
they dare name a candidate for the highest office in the gift of the
people, must ask of the Genius of slavery, to what votary she will
show herself propitious. This very year, we see both the great
political parties doing homage to the slave power, by nominating
each a slaveholder for the chair of the State. The candidate of one
party declares. "I should have opposed, and would continue to oppose,
any scheme whatever of emancipation, either gradual or immediate;"
and adds, "It is not true, and I rejoice that it is not true, that
either of the two great parties of this country has any design or
aim at abolition. I should deeply lament it, if it were true."[94]

[Footnote 94: Henry Clay's speech in the United States Senate in 1839,
and confirmed at Raleigh, N.C. 1844.]

The other party nominates a man who says, "I have no hesitation in
declaring that I am in favor of the immediate re-annexation of Texas
to the territory and government of the United States."

Thus both the political parties, and the candidates of both, vie
with each other, in offering allegiance to the slave power, as a
condition precedent to any hope of success in the struggle for the
executive chair; a seat that, for more than three-fourths of the
existence of our constitutional government, has been occupied by a

The same stern despotism overshadows even the sanctuaries of
_justice_. Of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court of the United
States, five are slaveholders, and of course, must be faithless to
their own interest, as well as recreant to the power that gives them
place, or must, so far as _they_ are concerned, give both to law and
constitution such a construction as shall justify the language of
John Quincy Adams, when he says--"The legislative, executive, and
judicial authorities, are all in their hands--for the preservation,
propagation, and perpetuation of the black code of slavery. Every
law of the legislature becomes a link in the chain of the slave;
every executive act a rivet to his hapless fate; every judicial
decision a perversion of the human intellect to the justification of

Thus by merely adverting but briefly to the theory and the practical
effect of this clause of the Constitution, that I have sworn to
support, it is seen that it throws the political power of the nation
into the hands of the slaveholders; a body of men, which, however it
may be regarded by the Constitution as "persons," is in fact and
practical effect, a vast moneyed corporation, bound together by an
indissoluble unity of interest, by a common sense of a common danger;
counselling at all times for its common protection; wielding the
whole power, and controlling the destiny of the nation.

If we look into the legislative halls, slavery is seen in the chair
of the presiding officer of each, and controlling the action of both.
Slavery occupies, by prescriptive right, the Presidential chair. The
paramount voice that comes from the temple of national justice,
issues from the lips of slavery. The army is in the hands of slavery,
and at her bidding, must encamp in the everglades of Florida, or
march from the Missouri to the borders of Mexico, to look after her
interests in Texas.

The navy, even that part that is cruising off the coast of Africa, to
suppress the foreign slave trade, is in the hands of slavery.

Freemen of the North, who have even dared to lift up their voice
against slavery, cannot travel through the slave States, but at the
peril of their lives.

The representatives of freemen are forbidden, on the floor of
Congress, to remonstrate against the encroachments of slavery, or to
pray that she would let her poor victims go.

I renounce my allegiance to a Constitution that enthrones such a
power, wielded for the purpose of depriving me of my rights, of
robbing my countrymen of their liberties, and of securing its own
protection, support and perpetuation.

Passing by that clause of the Constitution, which restricted Congress
for twenty years, from passing any law against the African slave
trade, and which gave authority to raise a revenue on the stolen
sons of Africa, I come to that part of the fourth article, which
guarantees protection against "_domestic violence_," and which
pledges to the South the military force of the country, to protect
the masters against their insurgent slaves: binds us, and our
children, to shoot down our fellow-countrymen, who may rise, in
emulation of our revolutionary fathers, to vindicate their inalienable
"right to life, _liberty_ and the pursuit of happiness,"--this
clause of the Constitution, I say distinctly, I never will

That part of the Constitution which provides for the surrender of
fugitive slaves, I never have supported and never will. I will join
in no slave-hunt. My door shall stand open, as it has long stood, for
the panting and trembling victim of the slave-hunter. When I shut it
against him, may God shut the door of his mercy against me! Under
this clause of the Constitution, and designed to carry it into effect,
slavery has demanded that laws should be passed, and of such a
character, as have left the free citizen of the North without
protection for his own liberty. The question, whether a man seized
in a free State as a slave, _is_ a slave or not, the law of Congress
does not allow a jury to determine: but refers it to the decision of
a Judge of a United States' Court, or even of the humblest State
magistrate, it may be, upon the testimony or affidavit of the party
most deeply interested to support the claim. By virtue of this law,
freemen have been seized and dragged into perpetual slavery--and
should I be seized by a slave-hunter in any part of the country
where I am not personally known, neither the Constitution nor laws
of the United States would shield me from the same destiny.

These, sir, are the specific parts of the Constitution of the United
States, which in my opinion are essentially vicious, hostile at once
to the liberty and to the morals of the nation. And these are the
principal reasons of my refusal any longer to acknowledge my
allegiance to it, and of my determination to revoke my oath to
support it. I cannot, in order to keep the law of man, break the law
of God, or solemnly call him to witness my promise that I will break

It is true that the Constitution provides for its own amendment, and
that by this process, all the guarantees of Slavery may be expunged.
But it will be time enough to swear to support it when this is done.
It cannot be right to do so, until these amendments are made.

It is also true that the framers of the Constitution did studiously
keep the words "Slave" and "Slavery" from its face. But to do our
constitutional fathers justice, while they forebore--from very
shame--to give the word "Slavery" a place in the Constitution, they
did not forbear--again to do them justice--to give place in it to
the _thing_. They were careful to wrap up the idea, and the substance
of Slavery, in the clause for the surrender of the fugitive, though
they sacrificed justice in doing so.

There is abundant evidence that this clause touching "persons held
to service or labor," not only operates practically, under the
judicial construction, for the protection of the slave interest; but
that it was intended so to operate by the framers of the
Constitution. The highest judicial authorities--Chief Justice Shaw,
of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in the Latimer case, and
Mr. Justice Story, in the Supreme Court of the United States, in the
case of _Prigg_ vs. _The State of Pennsylvania_,--tell us, I know
not on what evidence, that without this "compromise," this security
for Southern slaveholders, "the Union could not have been formed."
And there is still higher evidence, not only that the framers of the
Constitution meant by this clause to protect slavery, but that they
did this, knowing that slavery was wrong. Mr. Madison[95] informs us
that the clause in question, as it came out of the hands of Dr.
Johnson, the chairman of the "committee on style," read thus: "No
person legally held to service, or labor, in one State, escaping into
another, shall," &c., and that the word "legally" was struck out, and
the words "under the laws thereof" inserted after the word "State," in
compliance with the wish of some, who thought the term _legal_
equivocal, and favoring the idea that slavery was legal "_in a moral
view_." A conclusive proof that, although future generations might
apply that clause to other kinds of "service or labor," when slavery
should have died out, or been killed off by the young spirit of
liberty, which was _then_ awake and at work in the land; still,
slavery was what they were wrapping up in "equivocal" words; and
wrapping it up for its protection and safe keeping: a conclusive proof
that the framers of the Constitution were more careful to protect
themselves in the judgment of coming generations, from the charge
of ignorance, than of sin; a conclusive proof that they knew that
slavery was _not_ "legal in a moral view," that it was a violation
of the moral law of God; and yet knowing and confessing its
immorality, they dared to make this stipulation for its support and

[Footnote 95: Madison Papers, p. 1589]

This language may sound harsh to the ears of those who think it a
part of their duty, as citizens, to maintain that whatever the
patriots of the Revolution did, was right; and who hold that we are
bound to _do_ all the iniquity that they covenanted for us that we
_should_ do. But the claims of truth and right are paramount to
all other claims.

With all our veneration for our constitutional fathers, we must
admit,--for they have left on record their own confession of it,--that
in this part of their work they intended to hold the shield of
their protection over a wrong, knowing that it was a wrong. They
made a "compromise" which they had no right to make--a compromise of
moral principle for the sake of what they probably regarded as
"political expediency." I am sure they did not know--no man could
know, or can now measure, the extent, or the consequences of the
wrong, that they were doing. In the strong language of John Quincy
Adams,[96] in relation to the article fixing the basis of
representation, "Little did the members of the Convention, from the
free States, imagine or foresee what a sacrifice to Moloch was hidden
under the mask of this concession."

[Footnote 96: See his Report on the Massachusetts Resolutions.]

I verily believe that, giving all due consideration to the benefits
conferred upon this nation by the Constitution, its national unity,
its swelling masses of wealth, its power, and the external
prosperity of its multiplying millions; yet the _moral_ injury that
has been done, by the countenance shown to slavery by holding over
that tremendous sin the shield of the Constitution, and thus
breaking down in the eyes of the nation the barrier between right
and wrong; by so tenderly cherishing slavery as, in less than the
life of man, to multiply her children from half a million to nearly
three millions; by exacting oaths from those who occupy prominent
stations in society, that they will violate at once the rights of
man and the law of God; by substituting itself as a rule of right,
in place of the moral laws of the universe;--thus in effect,
dethroning the Almighty in the hearts of this people and setting up
another sovereign in his stead--more than outweighs it all. A
melancholy and monitory lesson this, to all timeserving and
temporising statesmen! A striking illustration of the _impolicy_ of
sacrificing _right_ to any considerations of expediency! Yet, what
better than the evil effects that we have seen, could the authors of
the Constitution have reasonably expected, from the sacrifice of
right, in the concessions they made to slavery? Was it reasonable in
them to expect that after they had introduced a vicious element into
the very Constitution of the body politic which they were calling
into life, it would not exert its vicious energies? Was it reasonable
in them to expect that, after slavery had been corrupting the public
morals for a whole generation, their children would have too much
virtue to _use_ for the defence of slavery, a power which they
themselves had not too much virtue to _give_? It is dangerous for
the sovereign power of a State to license immorality; to hold the
shield of its protection over any thing that is not "legal in a moral
view." Bring into your house a benumbed viper, and lay it down upon
your warm hearth, and soon it will not ask you into which room it
may crawl. Let Slavery once lean upon the supporting arm, and bask
in the fostering smile of the State, and you will soon see, as we
now see, both her minions and her victims multiply apace till the
politics, the morals, the liberties, even the religion of the nation,
are brought completely under her control.

To me, it appears that the virus of slavery, introduced into the
Constitution of our body politic, by a few slight punctures, has now
so pervaded and poisoned the whole system of our National Government,
that literally there is no health in it. The only remedy that I can
see for the disease, is to be found in the _dissolution of the

The Constitution of the United States, both in theory and practice,
is so utterly broken down by the influence and effects of slavery,
so imbecile for the highest good of the nation, and so powerful for
evil, that I can give no voluntary assistance in holding it up any

Henceforth it is dead to me, and I to it. I withdraw all profession
of allegiance to it, and all my voluntary efforts to sustain it. The
burdens that it lays upon me, while it is held up by others, I shall
endeavor to bear patiently, yet acting with reference to a higher law,
and distinctly declaring, that while I retain my own liberty, I will
be a party to no compact, which helps to rob any other man of his.

Very respectfully, your friend,


       *       *       *       *       *


"We have slavery, already, amongst us. The Constitution found it
among us; it recognized it and gave it SOLEMN GUARANTIES. To the
full extent of these guaranties we are all bound, in honor, in
justice, and by the Constitution. All the stipulations, contained in
the Constitution, _in favor of the slaveholding States_ which are
already in the Union, ought to be fulfilled, and so far as depends
on me, shall be fulfilled, in the fullness of their spirit, and to
the exactness of their letter."!!!

       *       *       *       *       *



The benefits of the Constitution of the United States, were the
restoration of credit and reputation, to the country--the revival of
commerce, navigation, and ship-building--the acquisition of the
means of discharging the debts of the Revolution, and the protection
and encouragement of the infant and drooping manufactures of the
country. All this, however, as is now well ascertained, was
insufficient to propitiate the rulers of the Southern States to
the adoption of the Constitution. What they specially wanted was
_protection_.--Protection from the powerful and savage tribes of
Indians within their borders, and who were harassing them with the most
terrible of wars--and protection from their own negroes--protection
from their insurrections--protection from their escape--protection
even to the trade by which they were brought into the
country--protection, shall I not blush to say, protection to the very
bondage by which they were held. Yes! it cannot be denied--the
slaveholding lords of the South prescribed, as a condition of their
assent to the Constitution, three special provisions to secure the
perpetuity of their dominion over their slaves. The first was the
immunity for twenty years of preserving the African slave-trade; the
second was the stipulation to surrender fugitive slaves--an
engagement positively prohibited by the laws of God, delivered from
Sinai; and thirdly, the exaction fatal to the principles of popular
representation, of a representation for slaves--for articles of
merchandise, under the name of persons.

The reluctance with which the freemen of the North submitted to the
dictation of these conditions, is attested by the awkward and
ambiguous language in which they are expressed. The word slave is
most cautiously and fastidiously excluded from the whole instrument.
A stranger, who should come from a foreign land, and read the
Constitution of the United States, would not believe that slavery or
a slave existed within the borders of our country. There is not a
word in the Constitution _apparently_ bearing upon the condition of
slavery, nor is there a provision but would be susceptible of
practical execution, if there were not a slave in the land.

The delegates from South Carolina and Georgia distinctly avowed that,
without this guarantee of protection to their property in slaves,
they would not yield their assent to the Constitution; and the
freemen of the North, reduced to the alternative of departing from
the vital principle of their liberty, or of forfeiting the Union
itself, averted their faces, and with trembling hand subscribed the

Twenty years passed away--the slave markets of the South were
saturated with the blood of African bondage, and from midnight of the
31st of December, 1807, not a slave from Africa was suffered ever
more to be introduced upon our soil. But the internal traffic was
still lawful, and the _breeding_ States soon reconciled themselves to
a prohibition which gave them the monopoly of the interdicted trade,
and they joined the full chorus of reprobation, to punish with death
the slave-trader from Africa, while they cherished and shielded and
enjoyed the precious profits of the American slave-trade exclusively
to themselves.

Perhaps this unhappy result of their concession had not altogether
escaped the foresight of the freemen of the North; but their intense
anxiety for the preservation of the whole Union, and the habit
already formed of yielding to the somewhat peremptory and overbearing
tone which the relation of master and slave welds into the nature of
the lord, prevailed with them to overlook this consideration, the
internal slave-trade having scarcely existed while that with Africa
had been allowed. But of one consequence which has followed from the
slave representation, pervading the whole organic structure of the
Constitution, they certainly were not prescient; for if they had been,
never--no, never would they have consented to it.

The representation, ostensibly of slaves, under the name of persons,
was in its operation an exclusive grant of power to one class of
proprietors, owners of one species of property, to the detriment of
all the rest of the community. This species of property was odious
in its nature, held in direct violation of the natural and
inalienable rights of man, and of the vital principles of
Christianity; it was all accumulated in one geographical section of
the country, and was all held by wealthy men, comparatively small in
numbers, not amounting to a tenth part of the free white population
of the States in which it was concentrated.

In some of the ancient, and in some modern republics, extraordinary
political power and privileges have been invested in the owners of
horses; but then these privileges and these powers have been granted
for the equivalent of extraordinary duties and services to the
community, required of the favoured class. The Roman knights
constituted the cavalry of their armies, and the bushels of rings
gathered by Hannibal from their dead bodies, after the battle of
Cannae, amply prove that the special powers conferred upon them were
no gratuitous grants. But in the Constitution of the United States,
the political power invested in the owners of slaves is entirely
gratuitous. No extraordinary service is required of them; they are,
on the contrary, themselves grievous burdens upon the community,
always threatened with the danger of insurrections, to be smothered
in the blood of both parties, master and slave, and always
depressing the condition of the poor free laborer, by competition
with the labor of the slave. The property in horses was the gift of
God to man, at the creation of the world; the property in slaves is
property acquired and held by crimes, differing in no moral aspect
from the pillage of a freebooter, and to which no lapse of time can
give a prescriptive right. You are told that this is no concern of
yours, and that the question of freedom and slavery is exclusively
reserved to the consideration of the separate States. But if it be so,
as to the mere question of right between master and slave, it is of
tremendous concern to you that this little cluster of slave-owners
should possess, besides their own share in the representative hall
of the nation, the exclusive privilege of appointing two-fifths of
the whole number of the representatives of the people. This is now
your condition, under that delusive ambiguity of language and of
principle, which begins by declaring the representation in the
popular branch of the legislature a representation of persons, and
then provides that one class of persons shall have neither part not
lot in the choice of their representatives; but their elective
franchise shall be transferred to their masters, and the oppressors
shall represent the oppressed. The same perversion of the
representative principle pollutes the composition of the colleges of
electors of President and Vice President of the United States, and
every department of the government of the Union is thus tainted at
its source by the gangrene of slavery.

Fellow-citizens,--with a body of men thus composed, for legislators
and executors of the laws, what will, what must be, what has been
your legislation?  The numbers of freemen constituting your nation
are much greater than those of the slaveholding States, bond and free.
You have at least three-fifths of the whole population of the Union.
Your influence on the legislation and the administration of the
government ought to be in the proportion of three to two.--But how
stands the fact? Besides the legitimate portion of influence
exercised by the slaveholding States by the measure of their numbers,
here is an intrusive influence in every department, by a
representation nominally of persons, but really of property,
ostensibly of slaves, but effectively of their masters,
overbalancing your superiority of numbers, adding two-fifths of
supplementary power to the two-fifths fairly secured to them by the
GOVERNMENT AT HOME AND ABROAD, and warping it to the sordid private
interest and oppressive policy of 300,000 owners of slaves.

From the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United
States, the institution of domestic slavery has been becoming more
and more the abhorrence of the civilized world. But in proportion as
it has been growing odious to all the rest of mankind, it has been
sinking deeper and deeper into the affections of the holders of
slaves themselves. The cultivation of cotton and of sugar, unknown
in the Union at the establishment of the Constitution, has added
largely to the pecuniary value of the slave. And the suppression of
the African slave-trade as piracy upon pain of death, by securing
the benefit of a monopoly to the virtuous slaveholders of the
ancient dominion, has turned her heroic tyrannicides into a
community of slave-breeders for sale, and converted the land of
George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas
Jefferson, into a great barracoon--a cattle-show of human beings, an
emporium, of which the staple articles of merchandise are the flesh
and blood, the bones and sinews of immortal man.

Of the increasing abomination of slavery in the unbought hearts of
men at the time when the Constitution of the United States was formed,
what clearer proof could be desired, than that the very same year in
which that charter of the land was issued, the Congress of the
Confederation, with not a tithe of the powers given by the people to
the Congress of the new compact, actually abolished slavery for ever
throughout the whole Northwestern territory, without a remonstrance
or a murmur. But in the articles of confederation, there was no
guaranty for the property of the slaveholder--no double representation
of him in the Federal councils--no power of taxation--no stipulation
for the recovery of fugitive slaves. But when the powers of
_government_ came to be delegated to the Union, the South--that
is, South Carolina and Georgia--refused their subscription to
the parchment, till it should be saturated with the infection
of slavery, which no fumigation could purify, no quarantine could
extinguish. The freemen of the North gave way, and the deadly
venom of slavery was infused into the Constitution of freedom. Its
first consequence has been to invert the first principle of Democracy,
that the will of the majority of numbers shall rule the land. By
means of the double representation, the minority command the whole,
THE COUNTRY. To acquire this superiority of a large majority of
freemen, a persevering system of engrossing nearly all the seats
of power and place, is constantly for a long series of years
pursued, and you have seen, in a period of fifty-six years, the
Chief-magistracy of the Union held, during forty-four of them, by
the owners of slaves. The Executive departments, the Army and Navy,
the Supreme Judicial Court and diplomatic missions abroad, all
present the same spectacle:--an immense majority of power in the
hands of a very small minority of the people--millions made for a
fraction of a few thousands.

*       *       *       *       *

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, and of the slaveholding States, at home and
abroad; and at the very time when a new census has exhibited a large
increase upon the superior numbers of the free States, it has
presented the portentous evidence of increased influence and
ascendancy of the slaveholding power.

Of the prevalence of that power, you have had continual and
conclusive evidence in the suppression for the space of ten years of
the right of petition, guarantied, if there could be a guarantee
against slavery, by the first article amendatory of the Constitution.

No. 13.


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It appears from the census of 1830, that there were then 319,467
free colored persons in the United States. At the present time the
number cannot be less than 360,000. Fifteen States of the Federal
Union have each a smaller population than this aggregate. Hence if
the whole mass of human beings inhabiting Connecticut, or New Jersey,
or any other of these fifteen States, were subjected to the ignorance,
and degradation, and persecution and terror we are about to describe,
as the lot of this much injured people, the amount of suffering would
still be numerically less than that inflicted by a professedly
Christian and republican community upon the free negroes. Candor,
however, compels us to admit that, deplorable as is their condition,
it is still not so wretched as Colonizationists and slaveholders,
for obvious reasons, are fond of representing it. It is not true
that free negroes are "more vicious and miserable than slaves _can_
be,"[97] nor that "it would be as humane to throw slaves from the
decks of the middle passage, as to set them free in this country,"[98]
nor that "a sudden and universal emancipation without
colonization, would be a greater CURSE to the slaves themselves,
than the bondage in which they are held."

[Footnote 97: Rev. Mr. Bacon, of New Haven, 7 Rep. Am. Col. Soc.
p. 99.]

[Footnote 98: African Repository, Vol. IV. p. 226.]

It is a little singular, that in utter despite of these rash
assertions slaveholders and colonizationists unite in assuring us,
that the slaves are rendered _discontented_ by _witnessing_ the
freedom of their colored brethren; and hence we are urged to assist
in banishing to Africa these sable and dangerous mementoes of liberty.

We all know that the wife and children of the free negro are not
ordinarily sold in the market--that he himself does not toil under
the lash, and that in certain parts of our country he is permitted
to acquire some intelligence, and to enjoy some comforts, utterly
and universally denied to the slave. Still it is most unquestionable,
that these people grievously suffer from a cruel and wicked
prejudice--cruel in its consequences; wicked in its voluntary
adoption, and its malignant character.

Colonizationists have taken great pains to inculcate the opinion that
prejudice against color is implanted in our nature by the Author of
our being; and whence they infer the futility of every effort to
elevate the colored man in this country, and consequently the duty
and benevolence of sending him to Africa, beyond the reach of our
cruelty.[99] The theory is as false in fact as it is derogatory to
the character of that God whom we are told is LOVE.  With what
astonishment and disgust should we behold an earthly parent exciting
feuds and animosities among his own children; yet we are assured,
and that too by professing Christians, that our heavenly Father has
implanted a principle of hatred, repulsion and alienation between
certain portions of his family on earth, and then commanded them, as
if in mockery, to "love one another."

[Footnote 99: "Prejudices, which neither refinement, nor argument,
nor education, NOR RELIGION ITSELF can subdue, mark the people of
color, whether bond or free, as the subjects of a degradation
_inevitable and incurable_."--_Address of the Connecticut Col.
Society_. "The managers consider it clear that causes exist, and are
now operating, to prevent their improvement and elevation to any
considerable extent as a class in this country, which are fixed, not
only beyond the control of the friends of humanity, but of _any
human power_: CHRISTIANITY cannot do for them here, what it will do
for them in Africa. This is not the _fault_ of the colored man,
_nor of the white man_, but an ORDINATION OF PROVIDENCE, _and no
more to be changed than the laws of nature_."--15 Rep. Am. Col. Soc.
p. 47.

"The people of color must, in this country, remain for ages,
probably for ever, a separate and distinct caste, weighed down by
causes powerful, universal, invincible, which neither legislation
nor CHRISTIANITY can remove."--African Repository Vol. VIII. p. 196.

"Do they (the abolitionists) not perceive that in thus confounding
all the distinctions which GOD himself has made, they arraign the
wisdom and goodness of Providence itself? It has been His divine
pleasure, to make the black man black, and the white man white, and
to distinguish them by other _repulsive_ constitutional
differences."--Speech in Senate of the United States, February 7,

In vain do we seek in nature, for the origin of this prejudice. Young
children never betray it, and on the continent of Europe it is
unknown. We are not speaking of matters of taste, or of opinions of
personal beauty, but of a prejudice against complexion, leading to
insult, degradation and oppression. In no country in Europe is any
man excluded from refined society, or deprived of literary, religious,
or political privileges on account of the tincture of his skin. If
this prejudice is the fiat of the Almighty, most wonderful is it,
that of all the kindreds of the earth, none have been found
submissive to the heavenly impulse, excepting the white inhabitants
of North America; and of these, it is no less strange than true,
that this divine principle of repulsion is most energetic in such
persons as, in other respects, are the least observant of their
Maker's will.  This prejudice is sometimes erroneously regarded as
the _cause_ of slavery; and some zealous advocates of emancipation
have flattered themselves that, could the prejudice be destroyed,
negro slavery would fall with it.  Such persons have very inadequate
ideas of the malignity of slavery.  They forget that the slaves in
Greece and Rome were of the same hue as their masters; and that at
the South, the value of a slave, especially of a female, rises, as
the complexion recedes from the African standard.

Were we to inquire into the geography of this prejudice, we should
find that the localities in which it attains its rankest luxuriance,
are not the rice swamps of Georgia, nor the sugar fields of Louisiana,
but the hills and valleys of New England, and the prairies of Ohio!
It is a fact of acknowledged notoriety, that however severe may be
the laws against colored people at the South, the prejudice against
their _persons_ is far weaker than among ourselves.

It is not necessary for our present purpose, to enter into a
particular investigation of the condition of the free negroes in the
slave States. We all know that they suffer every form of oppression
which the laws can inflict upon persons not actually slaves. That
unjust and cruel enactments should proceed from a people who keep
two millions of their fellow men in abject bondage, and who believe
such enactments essential to the maintenance of their despotism,
certainly affords no cause for surprise.

We turn to the free States, where slavery has not directly steeled
our hearts against human suffering, and where no supposed danger of
insurrection affords a pretext for keeping the free blacks in
ignorance and degradation; and we ask, what is the character of the
prejudice against color _here_?  Let the Rev. Mr. Bacon, of
Connecticut, answer the question.  This gentleman, in a vindication
of the Colonization Society, assures us, "The _Soodra_ is not
farther separated from the _Brahim_ in regard to all his privileges,
civil, intellectual, and moral, than the negro from the white man by
the prejudices which result from the difference made between them by
THE GOD OF NATURE."--(_Rep. Am. Col. Soc._ p. 87.)

We may here notice the very opposite effect produced on Abolitionists
and Colonizationists, by the consideration that this difference
_is_ made by the GOD OF NATURE; leading the one to discard the
prejudice, and the other to banish its victims.

With these preliminary remarks we will now proceed to take a view of
the condition of the free people of color in the non-slaveholding
States; and will consider in order, the various disabilities and
oppressions to which they are subjected, either by law or the
customs of society.


Were this exclusion founded on the want of property, or any other
qualification deemed essential to the judicious exercise of the
franchise, it would afford no just cause of complaint; but it is
founded solely on the color of the skin, and is therefore irrational
and unjust. That taxation and representation should be inseparable,
was one of the axioms of the fathers of our revolution; and one of
the reasons they assigned for their revolt from the crown of Britain.
But _now_, it is deemed a mark of fanaticism to complain of the
disfranchisement of a whole race, while they remain subject to the
burden of taxation. It is worthy of remark, that of the thirteen
original States, only _two_ were so recreant to the principles of
the Revolution, as to make a _white skin_ a qualification for
suffrage. But the prejudice has grown with our growth, and
strengthened with our strength; and it is believed that in _every_
State constitution subsequently formed or revised,[excepting
Vermont and Maine, and the Revised constitution of Massachusetts,]
the crime of a dark complexion has been punished, by debarring its
possessor from all approach to the ballot-box.[100] The necessary
effect of this proscription in aggravating the oppression and
degradation of the colored inhabitants must be obvious to all who
call to mind the solicitude manifested by demagogues, and
office-seekers, and law makers, to propitiate the good will of all
who have votes to bestow.

[Footnote 100: From this remark the revised constitution of New York
is _nominally_ an exception; colored citizens, possessing a _freehold_
worth two hundred and fifty dollars, being allowed to vote; while
suffrage is extended to _white_ citizens without any property


It is in vain that the Constitution of the United States expressly
guarantees to "the citizens of each State, all the privileges and
immunities of citizens in the several States:"--It is in vain that
the Supreme Court of the United States has solemnly decided that this
clause confers on every citizen of one State the right to "pass
through, or reside in any other State for the purposes of trade,
agriculture, professional pursuits, or _otherwise_." It is in vain
that "the members of the several State legislatures" are required to
"be bound by oath or affirmation to support" the constitution
conferring this very guarantee. Constitutions, and judicial decisions,
and religious obligations are alike outraged by our State enactments
against people of color. There is scarcely a slave State in which a
citizen of New York, with a dark skin, may visit a dying child
without subjecting himself to legal penalties. But in the slave
States we look for cruelty; we expect the rights of humanity and the
laws of the land to be sacrificed on the altar of slavery. In the
free States we had reason to hope for a greater deference to decency
and morality. Yet even in these States we behold the effects of a
miasma wafted from the South. The Connecticut Black Act, prohibiting,
under heavy penalties, the instruction of any colored person from
another State, is well known. It is one of the encouraging signs of
the times, that public opinion has recently compelled the repeal of
this detestable law. But among all the free States, OHIO stands
pre-eminent for the wickedness of her statutes against this class of
our population. These statutes are not merely infamous outrages on
every principle of justice and humanity, but are gross and palpable
violations of the State constitution, and manifest an absence of
moral sentiment in the Ohio legislature as deplorable as it is
alarming. We speak the language, not of passion, but of sober
conviction; and for the truth of this language we appeal, first, to
the Statutes themselves, and then to the consciences of our readers.
We shall have occasion to notice these laws under the several
divisions of our subject to which they belong; at present we ask
attention to the one intended to prevent the colored citizens of
other States from removing into Ohio. By the constitution of New York,
the colored inhabitants are expressly recognized as "citizens." Let
us suppose then a New York freeholder and voter of this class,
confiding in the guarantee given by the Federal constitution removes
into Ohio. No matter how much property he takes with him; no matter
what attestations he produces to the purity of his character, he is
required by the Act of 1807, to find, within twenty days, two
freehold sureties in the sum of five hundred dollars for his _good
behavior_; and likewise for his _maintenance_, should he at any
future period from any cause whatever be unable to maintain himself,
and in default of procuring such sureties he is to be removed by the
overseers of the poor. The legislature well knew that it would
generally be utterly impossible for a stranger, and especially a
_black_ stranger, to find such sureties. It was the _design_ of
the Act, by imposing impracticable conditions, to prevent colored
emigrants from remaining within the State; and in order more
certainly to effect this object, it imposes a pecuniary penalty on
every inhabitant who shall venture to "harbor," that is, receive
under his roof, or who shall even "employ" an emigrant who has not
given the required sureties; and it moreover renders such inhabitant
so harboring or employing him, legally liable for his future

We are frequently told that the efforts of the abolitionists have in
fact aggravated the condition of the colored people, bond and free.
The _date_ of this law, as well as the date of most of the laws
composing the several slave codes, show what credit is to be given
to the assertion. If a barbarous enactment is _recent_, its odium is
thrown upon the friends of the blacks--if _ancient_, we are assured
it is _obsolete_. The Ohio law was enacted only four years after the
State was admitted into the Union. In 1800 there were only three
hundred and thirty-seven free blacks in the territory, and in 1830
the number in the State was nine thousand five hundred. Of course a
very large proportion of the present colored population of the State
must have entered it in ignorance of this iniquitous law, or in
defiance of it. That the law has not been universally enforced,
proves only that the people of Ohio are less profligate than their
legislators--that it has remained in the statute book for thirty-two
years, proves the depraved state of public opinion and the horrible
persecution to which the colored people are legally exposed. But let
it not be supposed that this vile law is in fact obsolete, and its
very existence forgotten.

In 1829, a very general effort was made to enforce this law, and
about _one thousand free blacks_ were in consequence of it driven
out of the State; and sought a refuge in the more free and Christian
country of Canada. Previous to their departure, they sent a
deputation to the Governor of the Upper Province, to know if they
would be admitted, and received from Sir James Colebrook this
reply,--"Tell the _republicans_ on your side of the line, that we
royalists do not know men by their color. Should you come to us, you
will be entitled to all the privileges of the rest of his majesty's
subjects." This was the origin of the Wilberforce colony in Upper

We have now before us an Ohio paper, containing a proclamation by
John S. Wiles, overseer of the poor in the town of Fairfield, dated
12th March, 1838. In this instrument notice is given to all
"black or mulatto persons" residing in Fairfield, to comply with the
requisitions of the Act of 1807 within twenty days, or the law would
be enforced against them. The proclamation also addresses the white
inhabitants of Fairfield in the following terms,--"Whites, look out!
If any person or persons _employing_ any black or mulatto person,
contrary to the 3d section of the above law, you may look out for
the breakers." The extreme vulgarity and malignity of this notice
indicates the spirit which gave birth to this detestable law, and
continues it in being.

Now what says the constitution of Ohio? "ALL are born free and
independent, and have certain natural, inherent, inalienable rights;
among which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty,
_acquiring, possessing, and protecting property_, and pursuing and
attaining happiness and safety." Yet men who had called their Maker
to witness, that they would obey this very constitution, require
impracticable conditions, and then impose a pecuniary penalty and
grievous liabilities on every man who shall give to an innocent
fellow countryman a night's lodging, or even a meal of victuals in
exchange for his honest labor!


We explicitly disclaim all intention to imply that the several
disabilities and cruelties we are specifying are of universal
application. The laws of some States in relation to people of color
are more wicked than others; and the spirit of persecution is not in
every place equally active and malignant. In none of the free States
have these people so many grievances to complain of as in Ohio, and
for the honor of our country we rejoice to add, that in no other
State in the Union, has their right to petition for a redress of
their grievances been denied.

On the 14th January, 1839, a petition for relief from certain legal
disabilities, from colored inhabitants of Ohio, was presented to the
_popular_ branch of the legislature, and its rejection was moved
by George H. Flood.[101] This rejection was not a denial of the prayer,
but an _expulsion of the petition itself_, as an intruder into the
house. "The question presented for our decision," said one of the
members, "is simply this--Shall human beings, who are bound by every
enactment upon our statute book, be _permitted_ to _request_ the
legislature to modify or soften the laws under which they live?" To
the Grand Sultan, crowded with petitions as he traverses the streets
of Constantinople, such a question would seem most strange; but
American democrats can exert a tyranny over _men who have no votes_,
utterly unknown to Turkish despotism. Mr. Flood's motion was lost by
a majority of only _four_ votes; but this triumph of humanity and
republicanism was as transient as it was meagre. The _next_ day, the
House, by a large majority, resolved: "That the blacks and mulattoes
who may be residents within this State, have no constitutional right
to present their petitions to the General Assembly for any purpose
whatsoever, and that any reception of such petitions on the part of
the General Assembly is a mere act of privilege or policy, and not
imposed by any expressed or implied power of the Constitution."

[Footnote 101: It is sometimes interesting to preserve the names of
individuals who have perpetrated bold and unusual enormities.]

The phraseology of this resolution is as clumsy as its assertions are
base and sophistical. The meaning intended to be expressed is simply,
that the Constitution of Ohio, neither in terms nor by implication,
confers on such residents as are negroes or mulattoes, any right
to offer a petition to the legislature for any object whatever; nor
imposes on that body any obligation to notice such a petition; and
whatever attention it may please to bestow upon it, ought to be
regarded as an act not of duty, but merely of favor or expediency.
Hence it is obvious, that the _principle_ on which the resolution is
founded is, that the reciprocal right and duty of offering and
hearing petitions _rest solely on constitutional enactment_, and not
on moral obligation. The reception of negro petitions is declared
to be a mere act of _privilege or policy_. Now it is difficult to
imagine a principle more utterly subversive of all the duties of
rulers, the rights of citizens, and the charities of private life.
The victim of oppression or fraud has no _right_ to appeal to the
constituted authorities for redress; nor are those authorities under
any obligation to consider the appeal--the needy and unfortunate
have no right to implore the assistance of their more fortunate
neighbors: and all are at liberty to turn a deaf ear to the cry of
distress. The eternal and immutable principles of justice and
humanity, proclaimed by Jehovah, and impressed by him on the
conscience of man, have no binding force on the legislature of Ohio,
unless expressly adopted and enforced by the State Constitution!

But as the legislature has thought proper thus to set at defiance the
moral sense of mankind, and to take refuge behind the enactments of
the Constitution, let us try the strength of their entrenchments. The
words of the Constitution, which it is pretended sanction the
resolution we are considering are the following, viz.--"The _people_
have a right to assemble together in a peaceable manner to consult
for their common good, to _instruct their representatives_, and to
apply to the legislature for a redress of grievances." It is obvious
that this clause confers no rights, but is merely declaratory of
existing rights. Still, as the right of the people to apply for a
redress of grievances is coupled with the right of _instructing
their representatives_, and as negroes are not electors and
consequently are without representatives, it is inferred that they
are not part of _the people_. That Ohio legislators are not
Christians would be a more rational conclusion. One of the members
avowed his opinion that "none but voters had a right to petition." If
then, according to the principle of the resolution, the Constitution
of Ohio denies the right of petition to all but electors, let us
consider the practical results of such a denial. In the first place,
every female in the State is placed under the same disability with
"blacks and mulattoes." No wife has a right to ask for a divorce--no
daughter may plead for a father's life. Next, no man under
twenty-one years--no citizen of any age, who from want of sufficient
residence, or other qualification, is not entitled to vote--no
individual among the tens of thousands of aliens in the
State--however oppressed and wronged by official tyranny or
corruption, has a right to seek redress from the representatives of
the people, and should he presume to do so, may be told, that, like
"blacks and mulattoes," he "has no constitutional right to present
his petition to the General Assembly for any purpose whatever."
Again--the State of Ohio is deeply indebted to the citizens of other
States, and also to the subjects of Great Britain for money borrowed
to construct her canals. Should any of these creditors lose their
certificates of debt, and ask for their renewal; or should their
interest be withheld, or paid in depreciated currency, and were they
to ask for justice at the hands of the legislature, they might be
told, that any attention paid to their request must be regarded as a
"mere act of privilege or policy, and not imposed by any expressed
or implied power of the Constitution," for, not being voters, they
stood on the same ground as "blacks and mulattoes." Such is the
folly and wickedness in which prejudice against color has involved
the legislators of a republican and professedly Christian State in
the nineteenth century.


The Federal Government is probably the only one in the world that
forbids a portion of its subjects to participate in the national
defence, not from any doubts of their courage, loyalty, or physical
strength, but merely on account of the tincture of their skin! To
such an absurd extent is this prejudice against color carried, that
some of our militia companies have occasionally refused to march to
the sound of a drum when beaten by a black man. To declare a certain
class of the community unworthy to bear arms in defence of their
native country, is necessarily to consign that class to general


No colored man can be a judge, juror, or constable. Were the talents
and acquirements of a Mansfield or a Marshall veiled in a sable skin,
they would be excluded from the bench of the humblest court in the
American republic. In the slave States generally, no black man can
enter a court of justice as a witness against a white one. Of course
a white man may, with perfect impunity, defraud or abuse a negro to
any extent, provided he is careful to avoid the presence of any of
his own caste, at the execution of his contract, or the indulgence of
his malice. We are not aware that an outrage so flagrant is
sanctioned by the laws of any _free_ State, with one exception. That
exception the reader will readily believe can be none other than OHIO.
A statute of this State enacts, "that no black or mulatto _person_ or
_persons_ shall hereafter be permitted to be sworn, or give evidence
in any court of Record or elsewhere, in this State, in any cause
depending, or matter of controversy, when either party to the same
is a WHITE person; or in any prosecution of the State against any
WHITE person."

We have seen that on the subject of petition the legislature regards
itself as independent of all obligation except such as is imposed by
the Constitution. How mindful they are of the requirements even of
that instrument, when obedience to them would check the indulgence of
their malignity to the blacks, appears from the 7th Section of the
8th Article, viz.--"All courts shall be open, and every _person_, for
any injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall
have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered
without denial or delay."

Ohio legislators may deny that negroes and mulattoes are citizens, or
people; but they are estopped by the very words of the statute just
quoted, from denying that they are "_persons_." Now, by the
Constitution every _person_, black as well as white, is to have
justice administered to him without denial or delay. But by the law,
while any unknown _white_ vagrant may be a witness in any case
whatever, no black suitor is permitted to offer a witness of his own
color, however well established may be his character for
intelligence and veracity, to prove his rights or his wrongs; and
hence in a multitude of cases, justice is denied in despite of the
Constitution; and why denied? Solely from a foolish and wicked
prejudice against color.


No people have ever professed so deep a conviction of the importance
of popular education as ourselves, and no people have ever resorted
to such cruel expedients to perpetuate abject ignorance. More than
one third of the whole population of the slave States are prohibited
from learning even to read, and in some of them free men, if with
dark complexions, are subject to stripes for teaching their own
children. If we turn to the free States, we find that in all of them,
without exception, the prejudices and customs of society oppose
almost insuperable obstacles to the acquisition of a liberal
education by colored youth. Our academies and colleges are barred
against them. We know there are instances of young men with dark
skins having been received, under peculiar circumstances, into
northern colleges; but we neither know nor believe, that there have
been a dozen such instances within the last thirty years.

Colored children are very generally excluded from our common schools,
in consequence of the prejudices of teachers and parents. In some of
our cities there are schools _exclusively_ for their use, but in the
country the colored population is usually too sparse to justify such
schools; and white and black children are rarely seen studying under
the same roof; although such cases do sometimes occur, and then they
are confined to elementary schools. Some colored young men, who
could bear the expense, have obtained in European seminaries the
education denied them in their native land.

It may not be useless to cite an instance of the malignity with
which the education of the blacks is opposed. The efforts made in
Connecticut to prevent the establishment of schools of a higher order
than usual for colored pupils, are too well known to need a recital
here; and her BLACK ACT, prohibiting the instruction of colored
children from other States, although now expunged from her statute
book through the influence of abolitionists, will long be remembered
to the opprobrium of her citizens. We ask attention to the following
illustration of public opinion in another New England State.

In 1834 an academy was built by subscription in CANAAN, New Hampshire,
and a charter granted by the legislature; and at a meeting of the
proprietors it was determined to receive all applicants having
"suitable moral and intellectual recommendations, without other
distinctions;" in other words, without reference to _complexion_.
When this determination was made known, a TOWN MEETING was forthwith
convened, and the following resolutions adopted, viz.

"RESOLVED, That we view with _abhorrence_ the attempt of the
Abolitionists to establish in this town a school for the instruction
of the sable sons and daughters of Africa, in common with our sons
and daughters.

"RESOLVED, That we will not associate with, nor in any way
countenance, any man or woman who shall hereafter persist in
attempting to establish a school in this town for the _exclusive_
education of blacks, _or_ for their education in conjunction with
the whites."

The frankness of this last resolve is commendable. The inhabitants
of Canaan, assembled in legal town meeting, determined, it seems,
that the blacks among them should in future have no education
whatever--they should not be instructed in company with the whites,
neither should they have schools exclusively for themselves.

The proprietors of the academy supposing, in the simplicity of their
hearts, that in a free country they might use their property in any
manner not forbidden by law, proceeded to open their school, and in
the ensuing spring had twenty-eight white, and fourteen colored
scholars. The crisis had now arrived when the cause of prejudice
demanded the sacrifice of constitutional liberty and of private
property. Another town meeting was convoked, at which, without a
shadow of authority, and in utter contempt of law and decency, it
was ordered, that the academy should be forcibly removed, and a
committee was appointed to execute the abominable mandate. Due
preparations were made for the occasion, and on the 10th of August,
three hundred men, with about 200 oxen, assembled at the place, and
taking the edifice from off its foundation, dragged it to a distance,
and left it a ruin. No one of the actors in this high-handed outrage
was ever brought before a court of justice to answer for this
criminal and riotous destruction of the property of others.

The transaction we have narrated, expresses in emphatic terms the
deep and settled hostility felt in the free States to the education
of the blacks. The prejudices of the community render that hostility
generally effective without the aid of legal enactments. Indeed,
some remaining regard to decency and the opinion of the world, has
restrained the Legislatures of the free States, with _one exception_,
from consigning these unhappy people to ignorance by "decreeing
unrighteous decrees," and "framing mischief by a law." Our readers,
no doubt, feel that the exception must of course be OHIO.

We have seen with what deference Ohio legislators profess to regard
their _constitutional_ obligations; and we are now to contemplate
another instance of their shameless violation of them. The
Constitution which these men have sworn to obey declares, "NO LAW
SHALL BE PASSED to prevent the poor of the several townships and
counties in this State from an _equal_ participation in the schools,
academies, colleges, and universities in this State, which are
endowed in whole, or _in part_, from the revenue arising from
_donations_ made by the United States, for the support of _colleges
and schools_--and the door of said schools, academies, and
universities shall be open for the reception of scholars, students,
and teachers of every _grade_, without ANY DISTINCTION OR PREFERENCE

Can language be more explicit or unequivocal? But have any donations
been made by the United States for the support of colleges and
schools in Ohio? Yes--by an act of Congress, the sixteenth section of
land in _each_ originally surveyed township in the State, was set
apart as a donation for the express purpose of endowing and
supporting common schools. And now, how have the scrupulous
legislators of Ohio, who refuse to acknowledge any other than
constitutional obligations to give ear to the cry of distress--how
have they obeyed this injunction of the Constitution respecting the
freedom of their schools? They enacted a law in 1831, declaring that,
"when any appropriation shall be made by the directors of any school
district, from the treasury thereof, for the payment of a teacher,
the school in such district shall be open"--to whom? "_to scholars,
students, and teachers of every grade, without distinction or
preference whatever_," as commanded by the Constitution? Oh no!
"Shall be open to all the WHITE children residing therein!!" Such is
the impotency of written constitutions, where a sense of moral
obligation is wanting to enforce them.

We have now taken a review of the Ohio laws against free people of
color. Some of them are of old, and others of recent date. The
opinion entertained of all these laws, new and old, by the _present_
legislators of Ohio, may be learned by a resolution adopted in
January last, (1839) by both houses of the legislature. "RESOLVED,
That in the opinion of this general assembly it is unwise, impolitic,
and inexpedient to repeal _any_ law now in force imposing
disabilities upon black or mulatto persons, thus placing them upon
an equality with the whites, so far as this legislature can do, and
indirectly inviting the black population of other States to emigrate
to this, to the manifest injury of the public interest." The best
comment on the _spirit_ which dictated this resolve is an enactment
by the _same_ legislature, abrogating the supreme law which requires
us to "Do unto others as we would they should do unto us," and
prohibiting every citizen of Ohio from _harboring or concealing_ a
fugitive slave, under the penalty of fine or imprisonment. General
obedience to this vile statute is alone wanting to fill to the brim
the cup of Ohio's iniquity and degradation. She hath done what she
could to oppress and crush the free negroes within her borders. She
is now seeking to rechain the slave who has escaped from his fetters.


It is unnecessary to dwell here on the laws of the slave States
prohibiting the free people of color from learning to read the Bible,
and in many instances, from assembling at discretion to worship their
Creator. These laws, we are assured, are indispensable to the
perpetuity of that "peculiar institution," which many masters in
Israel are now teaching, enjoys the sanction of HIM who "will have
all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth," and
who has left to his disciples the injunction, "search the Scriptures."
We turn to the free States, in which no institution requires, that
the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should be prevented from
shining on any portion of the population, and inquire how far
prejudice here supplies the place of southern statutes.

The impediments to education already mentioned, necessarily render
the acquisition of religious knowledge difficult, and in many
instances impracticable. In the northern cities, the blacks have
frequently churches of their own, but in the country they are too few,
and too poor to build churches and maintain ministers. Of course they
must remain destitute of public worship and religious instruction,
unless they can enjoy these blessings in company with the whites.
Now there is hardly a church in the United States, not exclusively
appropriated to the blacks, in which one of their number owns a pew,
or has a voice in the choice of a minister. There are usually, indeed,
a few seats in a remote part of the church, set apart for their use,
and in which no white person is ever seen. It is surely not
surprising, under all the circumstances of the case, that these
seats are rarely crowded.

Colored ministers are occasionally ordained in the different
denominations, but they are kept at a distance by their white
brethren in the ministry, and are very rarely permitted to enter
their pulpits; and still more rarely, to sit at their tables,
although acknowledged to be ambassadors of Christ. The distinction
of _caste_ is not forgotten, even in the celebration of the Lord's
Supper, and seldom are colored disciples permitted to eat and drink
of the memorials of the Redeemer's passion till after every white
communicant has been served.


In this country ignorance and poverty are almost inseparable
companions; and it is surely not strange that those should be poor
whom we compel to be ignorant. The liberal professions are virtually
sealed against the blacks, if we except the church, and even in that
admission is rendered difficult by the obstacles placed in their way
in acquiring the requisite literary qualifications;[102] and when once
admitted, their administrations are confined to their own color.
Many of our most wealthy and influential citizens have commenced
life as ignorant and as pennyless as any negro who loiters in our
streets. Had their complexion been dark, notwithstanding their
talents, industry, enterprize and probity, they would have continued
ignorant and pennyless, because the paths to learning and to wealth,
would then have been closed against them. There is a conspiracy,
embracing all the departments of society, to keep the black man
ignorant and poor. As a general rule, admitting few if any exceptions,
the schools of literature and of science reject him--the counting
house refuses to receive him as a bookkeeper, much more as a
partner--no store admits him as a clerk--no shop as an apprentice.
Here and there a black man may be found keeping a few trifles on a
shelf for sale; and a few acquire, as if by stealth, the knowledge
of some handicraft; but almost universally these people, both in
town and country, are prevented by the customs of society from
maintaining themselves and their families by any other than menial

[Footnote 102: Of the truth of this remark, the trustees of the
Episcopal Theological Seminary at New-York, lately (June, 1839)
afforded a striking illustration. A young man, regularly
acknowledged by the Bishop as a candidate for orders, and in
consequence of such acknowledgment entitled, by an _express statute_
of the seminary, to admission to its privileges, presented himself
as a pupil. But God had given him a dark complexion, and _therefore_
the trustees, regardless of the statute, barred the doors against him,
by a formal and deliberate vote. As a compromise between conscience
and prejudice, the professors offered to give him _private_
instruction--to do in secret what they were ashamed to do openly--to
confer as a favor, what he was entitled to demand as a right. The
offer was rejected.

It is worthy of remark, that of the trustees who took an _active_
part against the _colored_ candidate, one is the PRESIDENT _of the
New York Colonization Society_; another a MANAGER, and a third, one
of its public champions; and that the Bishop of the diocese, who
wished to exclude his candidate from the theological school of which
he is both a trustee and a professor, lately headed a recommendation
in the newspapers for the purchase of a packet ship for Liberia, as
likely to "render far more efficient than heretofore, the enterprize
of colonization."]

In 1836, a black man of irreproachable character, and who by his
industry and frugality had accumulated several thousand dollars, made
application in the City of New York for a carman's license, and was
refused solely and avowedly on account of his complexion! We have
already seen the effort of the Ohio legislature, to consign the
negroes to starvation, by deterring others from employing them.
Ignorance, idleness, and vice, are at once the punishments we
inflict upon these unfortunate people for their complexion; and the
crimes with which we are constantly reproaching them.


An able-bodied colored man sells in the southern market for from
eight hundred to a thousand dollars; of course he is worth stealing.
Colonizationists and slaveholders, and many northern divines,
solemnly affirm, that the situation of a slave is far preferable to
that of a free negro; hence it would seem an act of humanity to
convert the latter into the former. Kidnapping being both a
lucrative and a benevolent business, it is not strange it should be
extensively practised. In many of the States this business is
regulated by law, and there are various ways in which the
transmutation is legally effected. Thus, in South Carolina, if a
free negro "entertains" a runaway slave, it may be his own wife or
child, he himself is turned into a slave. In 1827, a _free woman
and her three children_ underwent this benevolent process, for
_entertaining_ two fugitive children of six and nine years old. In
Virginia all emancipated slaves remaining twelve months in the State,
are kindly restored to their former condition. In Maryland a free
negro who marries a white woman, thereby acquires all the privileges
of a slave--and generally, throughout the slave region, including
the District of Columbia, every negro not known to be free, is
mercifully considered as a slave, and if his master cannot be
ascertained, he is thrown into a dungeon, and there kept, till by a
public sale a master can be provided for him. But often the law
grants to colored men, _known to be free_, all the advantages of
slavery. Thus, in Georgia, every _free_ colored man coming into the
State, and unable to pay a fine of one hundred dollars, becomes a
slave for life; in Florida, insolvent debtors, if _black_, are SOLD
for the benefit of their creditors; and in the District of Columbia
a free colored man, thrown into jail on suspicion of being a slave
and proving his freedom, is required by law to be sold as a slave,
if too poor to pay his jail fees. Let it not be supposed that these
laws are all obsolete and inoperative. They catch many a northern
negro, who, in pursuit of his own business, or on being decoyed
by others ventures to enter the slave region; and who, of course,
helps to augment the wealth of our southern brethren. On the 6th
of March, 1839, a report by a Committee was made to the House of
Representatives of the Massachusetts Legislature, in which are given
the _names_ of seventeen free colored men who had been enslaved at
the south. It also states an instance in which twenty-five colored
citizens, belonging to Massachusetts, were confined at one time in a
southern jail, and another instance in which 75 free colored persons
from different free States were confined, all preparatory to their
sale as slaves according to law.

The facts disclosed in this report induced the Massachusetts
Legislature to pass a resolution protesting against the kidnapping
laws of the slave States, "as invading the sacred rights of citizens
of this commonwealth, as contrary to the Constitution of the United
States, and in utter derogation of that great principle of the
common law which presumes every person to be innocent until proved
to be guilty;" and ordered the protest to be forwarded to the
Governors of the several States.

But it is not at the south alone that freemen may be converted into
slaves "according to law." The Act of Congress respecting the
recovery of fugitive slaves, affords most extraordinary facilities
for this process, through official corruption and individual perjury.
By this Act, the claimant is permitted to _select_ a justice of the
peace, before whom he may bring or send his alleged slave, and even
to prove his property by _affidavit_. Indeed, in almost every State
in the Union, a slaveholder may recover at law a human being as his
beast of burden with far less ceremony than he could his pig from
the possession of his neighbor. In only three States is a man,
claimed as a slave, entitled to a trial by jury. At the last session
of the New York Legislature a bill allowing a jury trial in such
cases was passed by the lower House, but rejected by a _democratic_
vote in the Senate, democracy in that State, being avowedly only
_skin_ deep, all its principles of liberty, equality, and human rights
depending on complexion.

Considering the wonderful ease and expedition with which fugitives
may be recovered by law, it would be very strange if mistakes did not
sometimes occur. _How_ often they occur cannot, of course, be known,
and it is only when a claim is _defeated_, that we are made sensible
of the exceedingly precarious tenure by which a poor friendless
negro at the north holds his personal liberty. A few years since, a
girl of the name of Mary Gilmore was arrested in Philadelphia, as a
fugitive slave from Maryland. Testimony was not wanting in support
of the claim; yet it was most conclusively proved that she was the
daughter of poor _Irish_ parents--having not a drop of negro blood
in her veins--that the father had absconded, and that the mother had
died a drunkard in the Philadelphia hospital, and that the infant
had been kindly received and _brought up in a colored family_. Hence
the attempt to make a slave of her. In the spring of 1839, a colored
man was arrested in Philadelphia, on a charge of having absconded
from his owner _twenty-three_ years before. This man had a wife and
family depending upon him, and a home where he enjoyed their society;
and yet, unless he could find witnesses who could prove his freedom
for more than this number of years, he was to be torn from his wife,
his children, his home, and doomed for the remainder of his days to
toil under the lash. _Four_ witnesses for the claimant swore to his
identity, although they had not seen him before for twenty-three years!
By a most extraordinary coincidence, a New England Captain, with
whom this negro had sailed _twenty-nine_ years before, in a sloop
from Nantucket, happened at this very time to be confined for debt
in the same prison with the alleged slave, and the Captain's
testimony, together with that of some other witnesses, who had
known the man previous to his pretended elopement, so fully
established his freedom, that the Court discharged him.

Another mode of legal kidnapping still remains to be described. By
the Federal Constitution, fugitives from _justice_ are to be
delivered up, and under this constitutional provision, a free negro
may be converted into a slave without troubling even a Justice of
the Peace to hear the evidence of the captor's claim. A fugitive
slave is, of course, a felon--he not only steals himself, but also
the rags on his back which belong to his master. It is understood he
has taken refuge in New York, and his master naturally wishes to
recover him with as little noise, trouble, and delay as possible.
The way is simple and easy. Let the Grand Jury indict A.B. for
stealing wearing apparel, and let the indictment, with an affidavit
of the criminal's flight, be forwarded by the Governor of the State,
to his Excellency of New York, with a requisition for the delivery
of A.B., to the agent appointed to receive him. A warrant is, of
course, issued to "any Constable of the State of New York," to
arrest A.B. For what purpose?--to bring him before a magistrate
where his identity may be established?--no, but to deliver him up to
the foreign agent. Hence, the Constable may pick up the first likely
negro he finds in the street, and ship him to the south; and should
it be found, on his arrival on the plantation, that the wrong man
has come, it will also probably be found that the mistake is of no
consequence to the planter. A few years since, the Governor of New
York signed a warrant for the apprehension of 17 Virginia negroes,
as fugitives from justice.[103] Under this warrant, a man who had
lived in the neighborhood for three years, and had a wife and
children, and who claimed to be free, was seized, on a Sunday evening,
in the public highway, in West Chester County, N.Y., and without
being permitted to take leave of his family, was instantly
hand-cuffed, thrown into a carriage, and hurried to New York, and
the next morning was on his voyage to Virginia.

[Footnote 103: There is no evidence that he knew they were negroes;
or that he acted otherwise than in perfect good faith. The alleged
crime was stealing a boat. The _real_ crime, it is said, was
stealing themselves and escaping in a boat. The most horrible abuses
of these warrants can only be prevented by requiring proof of
identity before delivery.]

Free colored men are converted into slaves not only by law, but also
contrary to law. It is, of course, difficult to estimate the extent
to which illegal kidnapping is carried, since a large number of
cases must escape detection. In a work published by Judge Stroud, of
Philadelphia, in 1827, he states, that it had been _ascertained_
that more than _thirty_ free colored persons, mostly children, had
been kidnapped in that city within the last two years.[104]

[Footnote 104: Stroud's Sketch of the Slave Laws, p. 94.]


The feeling of the community towards these people, and the contempt
with which they are treated, are indicated by the following notice,
lately published by the proprietors of a menagerie, in New York.
"The proprietors wish it to be understood, that people of color are
not permitted to enter, _except when in attendance upon children and
families_." For two shillings, any white scavenger would be freely
admitted, and so would negroes, provided they came in a capacity
that marked their dependence--their presence is offensive, _only_
when they come as independent spectators, gratifying a laudable

Even death, the great leveller, is not permitted to obliterate, among
Christians, the distinction of caste, or to rescue the lifeless form
of the colored man from the insults of his white brethren. In the
porch of a Presbyterian Church, in Philadelphia, in 1837, was
suspended a card, containing the form of a deed, to be given to
purchasers of lots in a certain burial ground, and to enhance the
value of the property, and to entice buyers, the following clause was
inserted, "No person of _color_, nor any one who has been the
subject of _execution_, shall be interred in said lot."

Our colored fellow-citizens, like others, are occasionally called to
pass from one place to another; and in doing so are compelled to
submit to innumerable hardships and indignities. They are frequently
denied seats in our stage coaches; and although admitted upon the
_decks_ of our steam boats, are almost universally excluded from
the cabins. Even women have been forced, in cold weather, to pass
the night upon deck, and in one instance the wife of a colored
clergyman lost her life in consequence of such an exposure.

The contempt poured upon these people by our laws, our churches, our
seminaries, our professions, naturally invokes upon their heads the
fierce wrath of vulgar malignity. In order to exhibit the actual
condition of this portion of our population, we will here insert
some _samples_ of the outrages to which they are subjected, taken
from the ordinary public journals.

In an account of the New York riots of 1834, the _Commercial
Advertiser_ says--"About twenty poor African (native American)
families, have had their all destroyed, and have neither bed,
clothing, nor food remaining. Their houses are completely eviscerated,
their furniture a wreck, and the ruined and disconsolate tenants of
the devoted houses are reduced to the necessity of applying to the
corporation for bread."

The example set in New York was zealously followed in Philadelphia.
"Some arrangement, it appears, existed between the mob and the white
inhabitants, as the dwelling houses of the latter, contiguous to the
residences of the blacks, were illuminated and left undisturbed,
while the huts of the negroes were singled out with unerring
certainty. The furniture found in these houses was generally broken
up and destroyed--beds ripped open and their contents scattered in
the streets.... The number of houses assailed was not less than
twenty. In one house there was a _corpse, which was thrown from the
coffin, and in another a dead infant was taken out of the bed, and
cast on the floor, the mother being at the same time barbarously
treated_."--_Philadelphia Gazette_.

"No case is reported of an attack having been _invited_ or _provoked_
by the residents of the dwellings assailed or destroyed. The extent
of the depredations committed on the _three_ evenings of riot and
outrage can only be judged of by the number of houses damaged or
destroyed. So far as ascertained, this amounts to FORTY-FIVE. One of
the houses assaulted was occupied by an unfortunate cripple--who,
unable to fly from the fury of the mob, was so beaten by some of the
ruffians, that he has since died in consequence of the bruises and
wounds inflicted ... For the last two days the Jersey steam boats
have been loaded with numbers of the colored population, who,
fearful their lives were not safe in this, determined to seek refuge
in another State. On the Jersey side, tents were erected, and the
negroes have taken up a temporary residence, until a prospect shall
be offered for their perpetual location in some place of security
and liberty."--_National Gazette_.

The facts we have now exhibited, abundantly prove the extreme
cruelty and sinfulness of that prejudice against color which we are
impiously told is an ORDINATION OF PROVIDENCE. Colonizationists,
assuming the prejudice to be natural and invincible, propose to
remove its victims beyond its influence. Abolitionists, on the
contrary, remembering with the Psalmist, that "It is HE that hath
made us, and not we ourselves," believe that the benevolent Father
of us all requires us to treat with justice and kindness every
portion of the human family, notwithstanding any particular
organization he has been pleased to impress upon them. Instead,
therefore, of gratifying and fostering this prejudice, by
continually banishing from our country those against whom it is
directed, Abolitionists are anxious to destroy the prejudice itself;
feeling, to use the language of another, that--"It is time to
recognize in the humblest portions of society, partakers of our
nature with all its high prerogatives and awful destinies--time to
remember that our distinctions are _exterior_ and evanescent, our
resemblance real and permanent--that all is transient but what is
moral and spiritual--that the only graces we can carry with us into
another world, are graces of divine implantation, and that amid the
rude incrustations of poverty and ignorance there lurks an
imperishable jewel--a SOUL, susceptible of the highest spiritual
beauty, destined, perhaps, to adorn the celestial abodes, and to
shine for ever in the mediatorial diadem of the Son of God--_Take
heed that ye despise not one of these little ones_."

No. 13.


       *       *       *       *       *

"The preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery
is the vital and animating spirit of the National Government."




The American Anti-Slavery Society, at its Annual Meeting in May, 1844,
adopted the following Resolution:

_Resolved_, That secession from the present United States
government is the duty of every abolitionist; since no one can take
office, or throw a vote for another to hold office, under the United
States Constitution, without violating his anti-slavery principles,
and rendering himself an abettor of the slaveholder in his sin.

The passage of this Resolution has caused two charges to be brought
against the Society: _First_, that it is a _no-government_ body,
and that the whole doctrine of non-resistance is endorsed by this
vote:--and _secondly_, that the Society transcended its proper
sphere and constitutional powers by taking such a step.

The logic which infers that because a man thinks the Federal
Government bad, he must necessarily think _all_ government so, has
at least, the merit and the charm of novelty. There is a spice of
arrogance just perceptible, in the conclusion that the Constitution
of these United States is so perfect, that one who dislikes it could
never be satisfied with any form of government whatever!

Were O'Connell and his fellow Catholics non-resistants, because for
two hundred years they submitted to exclusion from the House of
Lords and the House of Commons, rather than qualify themselves for a
seat by an oath abjuring the Pope? Were the _non-juring_ Bishops of
England non-resistants, when they went down to the grave without
taking their seats in the House of Lords, rather than take an oath
denying the Stuarts and to support the House of Hanover? Both might
have purchased power at the price of one annual falsehood. There are
some in this country who do not seem to think that price at all
unreasonable. It were a rare compliment indeed to the non-resistants,
if every exhibition of rigid principle on the part of an individual
is to make the world suspect him of leaning towards their faith.

The Society is not opposed to government, but only to _this_
Government based upon and acting for slavery.

With regard to the second charge, of exceeding its proper limits and
trespassing on the rights of the minority, it is enough to say, that
the object of the American Anti-Slavery Society is the "entire
abolition of slavery in the United States." Of course it is its duty
to find out all the sources of pro-slavery influence in the land. It
is its right, it is its duty to try every institution in the land,
no matter how venerable, or sacred, by the touchstone of
anti-slavery principle; and if it finds any one false, to proclaim
that fact to the world, with more or less of energy, according to
its importance in society. It has tried the Constitution, and
pronounced it unsound.

No member's conscience need be injured--The qualification for
membership remains the same, "the belief that slave-holding is a
heinous crime"--No new test has been set up--But the majority of the
Society, for the time being, faithful to its duty of trying every
institution by the light of the present day--of uttering its opinion
on every passing event that touches the slave's welfare, has seen it
to be duty to sound forth its warning,


No one who did not vote for the Resolution is responsible for it. No
one is asked to quit our platform. We, the majority, only ask him to
extend to our opinions the same toleration that we extend to him,
and agreeing to differ on this point, work together where we can. We
proscribe no man for difference of opinion.

It is said, that having refused in 1840, to say that a man _ought to
vote_, on the ground that such a resolution would be tyrannical and
intolerant, the Society is manifestly inconsistent now in taking
upon itself to say that no abolitionist _can_ consistently vote. But
the inconsistency is only apparent and not real.

There may he a thousand reasons why a particular individual ought
not to do an act, though the act be innocent in itself. It would be
tyranny therefore in a society which can properly take notice of but
one subject, slavery, to promulgate the doctrine that all its
members ought to do any particular act, as for instance, to vote, to
give money, to lecture, to petition, or the like. The particular
circumstances and opinions of each one must regulate his actions.
All we have a right to ask is, that he do for the slave's cause as
much as he does for any other of equal importance. But when an act
is wrong, it is no intolerance to say to the whole world that it
ought _not to be done_. After the abolitionist has granted that
slavery is wrong, we have the right to judge him by his own
principles, and arraign him for inconsistency that, so believing, he
helps the slaveholder by his oath.

The following pages have been hastily thrown together in explanation
of the vote above recited. They make no pretension to a full
argument of the topic. I hope that in a short time I shall get
leisure sufficient to present to our opponents, unless some one does
it for me, a full statement of the reasons which have led us to this

I am aware that we non-voters are rather singular. But history, from
the earliest Christians downwards, is full of instances of men who
refused all connection with government, and all the influence which
office could bestow, rather than deny their principles, or aid in
doing wrong. Yet I never heard them called either idiots or
over-scrupulous. Sir Thomas More need never have mounted the scaffold,
had he only consented to take the oath of supremacy. He had only to
tell a lie with solemnity, as we are asked to do, and he might not
only have saved his life, but, as the trimmers of his day would have
told him, doubled his influence. Pitt resigned his place as Prime
Minister of England, rather than break faith with the Catholics of
Ireland. Should I not resign a petty ballot rather than break faith
with the slave? But I was specially glad to find a distinct
recognition of the principle upon which we have acted, applied to a
different point, in the life of that Patriarch of the Anti-Slavery
enterprise, Granville Sharpe. It is in a late number of the
Edinburgh Review. While an underclerk in the War Office, he
sympathized with our fathers in their struggle for independence.
"Orders reached his office to ship munitions of war to the revolted
colonies. If his hand had entered the account of such a cargo, it
would have contracted in his eyes the stain of innocent blood. To
avoid this pollution, he resigned his place and his means of
subsistence at a period of life when be could no longer hope to find
any other lucrative employment." As the thoughtful clerk of the War
Office takes his hat down from the peg where it has used to hang for
twenty years, methinks I hear one of our opponents cry out,
"Friend Sharpe, you are absurdly scrupulous." "You may innocently
aid Government in doing wrong," adds another. While Liberty Party
yelps at his heels, "My dear Sir, you are quite losing your influence!"
And indeed it is melancholy to reflect how, from that moment the
mighty underclerk of the War Office(!) dwindled into the mere
Granville Sharpe of history! the man of whom Mansfield and Hargrave
were content to learn law, and Wilberforce, philanthropy.

One friend proposes to vote for men who shall be pledged not to take
office unless the oath to the Constitution is dispensed with, and
who shall then go on to perform in their offices only such duties as
we, their constituents, approve. He cites, in support of his view,
the election of O'Connell to the House of Commons, in 1828, I believe,
just one year before the "Oath of Supremacy," which was the
objectionable one to the Catholics, was dispensed with. Now, if we
stood in the same circumstances as the Catholics did in 1828, the
example would be in point. When the public mind is thoroughly
revolutionized, and ready for the change, when the billow has
reached its height and begins to crest into foam, then such a
measure may bring matters to a crisis. But let us first go through,
in patience, as O'Connell did, our twenty years of agitation.
Waiving all other objections, this plan seems to me mere playing at
politics, and an entire waste of effort.

It loses our high position as moral reformers; it subjects us to all
that malignant opposition and suspicion of motives which attend the
array of parties; and while thus closing up our access to the
national conscience, it wastes in fruitless caucussing and party
tactics, the time and the effort which should have been directed to
efficient agitation.

The history of our Union is lesson enough, for every candid mind, of
the fatal effects of every, the least, compromise with evil. The
experience of the fifty years passed under it, shows us the slaves
trebling in numbers;--slaveholders monopolizing the offices and
dictating the policy of the Government;--prostituting the strength
and influence of the Nation to the support of slavery here and
elsewhere;--trampling on the rights of the free States, and making
the courts of the country their tools. To continue this disastrous
alliance longer is madness. The trial of fifty years only proves
that it is impossible for free and slave States to unite on any terms,
without all becoming partners in the guilt and responsible for the
sin of slavery. Why prolong the experiment? Let every honest man
join in the outcry of the American Anti-Slavery Society,



_Boston, Jan_. 15, 1845.


"God never made a CITIZEN, and no one will escape as a man, from the
sins which he commits as a citizen."

Can an abolitionist consistently take office, or vote, under the
Constitution of the United States?

1st. What is an abolitionist?

One who thinks slaveholding a sin in all circumstances, and desires
its abolition. Of course such an one cannot consistently aid another
in holding his slave;--in other words, I cannot innocently aid a man
in doing that which I think wrong. No amount of fancied good will
justify me in joining another in doing wrong, unless I adopt the
principle "of doing evil that good may come."

2d. What do taking office and voting under the Constitution imply?

The President swears "to execute the office of president," and
"to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United
States." The judges "to discharge the duties incumbent upon them
agreeably to the constitution and laws of the United States."

All executive, legislative, and judicial officers, both of the
several States and of the General Government, before entering on the
performance of their official duties, are bound to take an oath or
affirmation, "_to support the Constitution of the United States_."
This is what every office-holder expressly _promises in so many
words_. It is a contract between him and the _whole nation_. The
voter, who, by voting, sends his fellow citizen into office as his
representative, knowing beforehand that the taking of this oath is
the first duty his agent will have to perform, does by his vote,
request and authorize him to take it. He therefore, by voting,
impliedly engages to support the Constitution. What one does by his
agent he does himself. Of course no honest man will authorize and
request another to do an act which he thinks it wrong to do himself!
Every voter, therefore, is bound to see, _before voting_, whether he
could himself honestly swear to _support_ the constitution. Now what
does this oath of office-holders relate to and imply? "It applies,"
says Chief Justice Marshall, "in an especial manner, to their conduct
in their official character." Judge Story, in his Commentaries on the
Constitution, speaks of it as "a solemn obligation to the due
execution of the trusts reposed in them, and to support the
Constitution." It is universally considered throughout the country,
by common men and by the courts, as a promise to do what the
Constitution bids, and to avoid what it forbids. It was in the
spirit of this oath, under which he spake, that Daniel Webster said
in New York, "The Constitution gave it (slavery) SOLEMN GUARANTIES.
To the full extent of these guaranties we are all bound by the
Constitution. All the stipulations contained in the Constitution in
favor of the slaveholding States ought to be fulfilled; and so far
as depends on me, shall be fulfilled, in the fulness of their spirit
and to the exactness of their letter."

It is more than an oath of allegiance; more than a mere promise that
we will not resist the laws. For it is an engagement to "support them";
as an _officer_ of government, to carry them into effect. Without
such a promise on the part of its functionaries, how could
government exist? It is more than the expression of that obligation
which rests on all peaceable citizens to _submit_ to laws, even
though they will not actively _support_ them. For it is the promise
which the judge makes, that he will actually _do_ the business of
the courts; which the sheriff assumes, that he will actually _execute_
the laws.

Let it be remarked, that it is an oath to support _the_
Constitution--that is, _the whole of it_; there are no exceptions.
And let it be remembered, that by it each _one_ makes a contract
with the _whole_ nation, that he will do certain acts.

3d. What is the Constitution which each voter thus engages to support?

It contains the following clauses:

Art. 1, Sect. 2. Representatives and direct taxes shall be
apportioned among the several States, which may be included within
this 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_.

Art. 1, Sect. 8. Congress shall have power ... to suppress

Art. 4, Sec. 2. No person, held to service or labor in one State,
under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence
of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or
labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such
service or labor may be due.

Art. 4, Sect. 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in
this Union a republican form of government; and shall protect each
of them against invasion; and, on application of the legislature, or
of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened) _against
domestic violence_.

The first of these clauses, relating to representation, gives to
10,000 inhabitants of Carolina equal weight in the government with
40,000 inhabitants of Massachusetts, provided they are rich enough
to hold 50,000 slaves:--and accordingly confers on a slaveholding
community additional political power for every slave held among them,
thus tempting them to continue to uphold the system.

Its result has been, in the language of John Quincy Adams, "to make
the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery the vital
and animating spirit of the National Government;" and again, to
enable "a knot of slaveholders to give the law and prescribe the
policy of the country." So that "since 1830 slavery, slaveholding,
slavebreeding, and slavetrading have formed the whole foundation of
the policy of the Federal Government." The second and the last
articles relating to insurrection and domestic violence, perfectly
innocent in themselves--yet being made with the fact directly in
view that slavery exists among us, do deliberately pledge the whole
national force against the unhappy slave if he imitate our fathers
and resist oppression--thus making us partners in the guilt of
sustaining slavery: the third is a promise, on the part of the whole
North, to return fugitive slaves to their masters; a deed which
God's law expressly condemns, and which every noble feeling of our
nature repudiates with loathing and contempt.

These are the clauses which the abolitionist, by voting or taking
office, engages to uphold. While he considers slaveholding to be sin,
he still rewards the master with additional political power for
every additional slave that he can purchase. Thinking slaveholding
to be sin, he pledges to the master the aid of the whole army and
navy of the nation to reduce his slave again to chains, should he at
any time succeed a moment in throwing them off. Thinking
slaveholding to be sin, he goes on, year after year, appointing by
his vote judges and marshals to aid in hunting up the fugitives, and
seeing that they are delivered back to those who claim them! How
beautifully consistent are his _principles_ and his _promises_!



Allowing that the clause relating to representation and that relating
to insurrections are immoral, it is contended that the article which
orders the return of fugitive slaves was not meant to apply to slaves,
but has been misconstrued and misapplied!

ANSWER. The meaning of the other two clauses, settled as it has been
by the unbroken practice and cheerful acquiescence of the Government
and people, no one has attempted to deny. This also has the same
length of practice, and the same acquiescence, to show that it
relates to slaves. No one denies that the Government and Courts have
so construed it, and that the great body of the people have freely
concurred in and supported this construction. And further, "The
Madison Papers" (containing the debates of those who framed the
Constitution, at the time it was made) settle beyond all doubt what
meaning the framers intended to convey.

Look at the following extracts from those Papers:

  _Tuesday, August 28th_, 1787.

  Mr. Butler and Mr. Pinckney moved to require "fugitive slaves and
  servants to be delivered up like criminals."

  Mr. Wilson. This would oblige the Executive of the State to do it,
  at the public expense.

  Mr. Sherman saw no more propriety in the public seizing and
  surrendering a slave or servant, than a horse.

  Mr. Butler withdrew his proposition, in order that some particular
  provision might be made, apart from this article.

  Article 15, as amended, was then agreed to, _nem. con._--Madison
  papers, pp. 1447-8.

  _Wednesday, August_ 29, 1787.

  Mr. Butler moved to insert after Article 15, "If any person bound to
  service or labor in any of the United States, shall escape into
  another State, he or she shall not be discharged from such service
  or labor, in consequence of any regulations subsisting in the State
  to which they escape, but shall be delivered up to the person justly
  claiming their service or labor,"--which was agreed to, _nem.
  con._--p. 1456.

And again, after the wording of the above article had been slightly
changed, and the clause newly numbered, as in the present
Constitution, we find another statement most clearly showing to what
subject the whole was intended to refer:

  _Saturday, September_ 15, 1787.

  Article 4, Section 2, (the third paragraph,) the term "legally" was
  struck out; and the words, "under the laws thereof," inserted after
  the word "State," in compliance with the wish of some who thought
  the term legal equivocal, and favoring the idea that SLAVERY was
  _legal_ in a moral view.--p. 1589.

Is it not hence evident that SLAVERY was the subject referred to by
the whole article?

The debates of the Convention held in the several States to ratify
the Constitution, at the same time show clearly what meaning it was
thought the framers had conveyed:--In Virginia Mr. Madison said,

  Another clause secures to us that property which we now possess. At
  present, if any slave elopes to any of those States where slaves are
  free, he becomes emancipated by their laws. For the laws of the
  States are uncharitable to one another in this respect. But in this
  Constitution, "no person held to service, or labor, in one State,
  under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence
  of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or
  labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such
  service or labor may be due." This clause was expressly inserted to
  enable owners of slaves to reclaim them. This is a better security
  than any that now exists.

Patrick Henry, in reply observed,

  The clause which had been adduced by the gentleman was no more than
  this--that a runaway negro could be taken up in Maryland or New

Governor Randolph said,

  But another clause of the Constitution proves the absurdity of the
  supposition. The words of the clause are, "No person held to service
  or labor in one State," &c. Every one knows that slaves are held to
  service and labor. If a citizen of this State, in consequence of
  this clause, can take his runaway slave in Maryland, &c.

General Pinckney in South Carolina Convention observed,

  "We have obtained a right to recover our slaves, in whatever part of
  America they may take refuge, which is a right we had not before."

In North Carolina, Mr. Iredell

  Begged leave to explain the reason of this clause. In some of the
  Northern States, they have emancipated all their slaves. If any of
  our slaves, said he, go there and remain there a certain time, they
  would, by the present laws, be entitled to their freedom, so that
  their masters could not get them again. This would be extremely
  prejudicial to the inhabitants of the Southern States, and to
  prevent it, this clause is inserted in the Constitution. Though the
  word _slave_ be not mentioned, this is the meaning of it. The
  Northern delegates, owing to their particular scruples on the
  subject of slavery, did not choose the word _slave_ to be mentioned.

But even if TWO clauses are immoral that is enough for our purpose,
and shews that no honest man should engage to uphold them. Who has
the right to construe and expound the laws? Of course the Courts of
the Nation. The Constitution provides (Article 3, Section 2,) that
the Supreme Court shall be the final and only interpreter of its
meaning. What says the Supreme Court? That this clause does relate
to slaves, and order their return. All the other courts concur in
this opinion. But, say some, the courts are corrupt on this question.
Let us appeal to the people. Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of
every thousand answer, that the courts have construed it rightly,
and almost as many cheerfully support it. If the unanimous,
concurrent, unbroken practice of every department of the Government,
judicial, legislative, and executive, and the acquiescence of the
people for fifty years, do not prove which is the true construction,
then how and where can such a question ever be settled? If the
people and the courts of the land do not know what they themselves
mean, who has authority to settle their meaning for them?

If the Constitution is not what history, unbroken practice, and the
courts prove that our fathers intended to make it, and what too,
their descendants, this nation say they did make it, and agree to
uphold,--who shall decide what the Constitution is?

This is the sense then in which the Nation understand that the
promise is made to them. The Nation _understand_ that the judge
pledges himself to return fugitive slaves. The judge knows this when
he takes the oath. And Paley expresses the opinion of all writers on
morals, as well as the conviction of all honest men, when he says,
"that a promise is binding in that sense in which the promiser
thought at the time that the other party understood it."


A promise to do an immoral act is not binding: therefore an oath to
support the Constitution of the United States, does not bind one to
support any provisions of that instrument which are repugnant to his
ideas of right. And an abolitionist, thinking it wrong to return
slaves, may as an office-holder, innocently and properly take an
oath to support a Constitution which commands such return.

ANSWER. Observe that this objection allows the Constitution to be
pro-slavery, and admits that there are clauses in it which no
abolitionist ought to carry out or support.

And observe, further, that we all agree, that a bad promise is
better broken than kept--that every abolitionist, who has before now
taken the oath to the Constitution, is bound to break it, and
disobey the pro-slavery clauses of that instrument. So far there is
no difference between us. But the point in dispute now is, whether a
man, having found out that certain requirements of the Constitution
are wrong, can, after that, innocently swear to support and obey them,
_all the while meaning not to do so_.

Now I contend that such loose construction of our promises is
contrary alike to honor, to fair dealing, and to truthfulness--that
it tends to destroy utterly that confidence between man and man
which binds society together, and leads, in matters of government,
to absolute tyranny.

The Constitution is a series of contracts made by each individual
with every other of the fourteen millions. A man's oath is evidence
of his assent to this contract. If I offer a man the copy of an
agreement, and he, after reading, swears to perform it, have I not a
right to infer from his oath that he assents to the _rightfulness_
of the articles of that paper? What more solemn form of expressing
his assent could he select? A man's oath expresses his conviction of
the rightfulness of the actions he promises to do, as well as his
determination to do them. If this be not so, I can have no trust in
any man's word. He may take my money, promise to do what I wish in
return, and yet, keeping my money, tell me, on the morrow, that he
shall not keep his promise, and never meant to, because the act, his
conscience tells him, is wrong. Who would trust property to such men,
or such maxims in the common affairs of life? Shall we not be as
honest in the Senate House as on 'Change? The North makes a contract
with the South by which she receives certain benefits, and agrees to
render certain services. The benefits she carefully keeps--but the
services she refuses to render, because immoral contracts are not
binding! Is this fair dealing? It is the rule alike of law and
common sense, that if we are not able, from _any cause_, to furnish
the article we have agreed to, we ought to return the pay we have
received. If power is put into our hands on certain conditions, and
we find ourselves unable to comply with those conditions, we ought
to surrender the power back to those who gave it.

Immoral laws are doubtless void, and should not be obeyed. But the
question is here, whether one knowing a law to be immoral, may
innocently promise to obey it in order to get into office? The
people have settled the conditions on which one may take office. The
first is, that he assent to their Constitution. Is it honest to
accept power with the intention at the time of not keeping the
conditions?--The rightfulness of those conditions is not here the


I swear to support the Constitution, _as I understand it_. Certain
parts of it, in my opinion, contradict others and are therefore void.

ANSWER. Will any one take the title deed of his house and carry it
to the man he bought of, and let him keep the covenants of that
paper as he says "he understands them?" Do we not all recognize the
justice of having some third, disinterested party to judge between
two disputants about the meaning of contracts? Who ever heard of a
contract of which each party was at liberty to keep as much as he
thought proper?

As in all other contracts, so in that of the Constitution, there is
a power provided to affix the proper construction to the instrument,
and that construction both parties are bound to abide by, or
repudiate the _whole_ contract. That power is the Supreme Court of
the United States.

Do we seek the common sense, practical view of this question? Go to
the Exchange and ask any broker how many dollars he will trust any
man with, who avows his right to make promises with the design, at
the time, of breaking some parts, and not feeling called upon to
state which those parts will be?

Do you seek the moral view of the point, which philosophers have
taken? Paley says, "A promise is binding in that sense in which the
promiser thought at the time of making that the other party
understood it." Is there any doubt what meaning the great body of
the American people attach to the Constitution and the official oath?
They are that party to whom the promise is made.

But, say some, our lives are notice to the whole people what meaning
we attach to the oath, and we will protest when we swear, that we do
not include in our oath the pro-slavery clauses. You may as well
utter the protest now, as when you are swearing--or at home, equally
as well as within the State House. For no such protest can be of any
avail. The Chief Justice stands up to administer to me the oath of
some office, no matter which. "Sir," say I, "I must take that oath
with a qualification, excluding certain clauses." His reply will be,
"Sir, I have no discretion in this matter. I am here merely to
administer a prescribed form of oath. If you assent to it, you are
qualified for your station. If you do not, you cannot enter. I have
no authority given me to listen to exceptions. I am a servant--the
people are my masters--here is what they require that you support,
not this or that part of the Constitution, but '_the Constitution_,'
that is, the _whole_."

Baffled here, I turn to the people. I publish my opinions in
newspapers. I proclaim them at conventions, I spread them through
the country on the wings of a thousand presses. Does this avail me?
Yes, says Liberty party, if after this, men choose to vote for you,
it is evident they mean you shall take the oath as you have given
notice that you understand it.

Well, the voters in Boston, with this understanding, elect me to
Congress, and I proceed to Washington. But here arises a
difficulty,--my constituents at home have assented--but when I get
to Congress, I find I am not the representative of Boston only, but
of the whole country. The interests of Carolina are committed to my
hands as well as those of Massachusetts; I find that the contract I
made by my oath was not with Boston, but with the whole nation. It
is the _nation_ that gives me the power to declare war and make
peace--to lay taxes on cotton, and control the commerce of New
Orleans. The nation prescribed the conditions in 1789, when the
Constitution was settled, and though Boston may be willing to accept
me on other terms, Carolina is not willing. Boston has accepted my
protest, and says, "Take office." Carolina says, "The oath you swear
is sworn to me, as well as to the rest--I demand the whole bond."
In other words, when I have made my protest, what evidence is there
that _the nation_, the other party to the contract, assents to it?
There can be none until that nation amends its Constitution.
Massachusetts when she accepted that Constitution, bound herself to
send only such men as could swear to return slaves. If by an underhand
compromise with some of her citizens, she sends persons of other
sentiments, she is perjured, and any one who goes on such an errand
is a partner in the perjury. Massachusetts has no right to assent to
my protest--she has no right to send representatives, except on
certain conditions. She cannot vary those conditions, without
leave from those whose interests are to be affected by the change,
that is, the whole nation. Those conditions are written down in the
Constitution. Do she and South Carolina differ, as to the meaning?
The Court will decide for them.

But, says the objector, do you mean to say that I swear to support
the Constitution, not as I understand it, but as some judge
understands it? Yes, I do--otherwise there is no such thing as law.
This right of private judgment, for which he contends, exists in
religion--but not in Government. Law is a rule _prescribed_. The
party prescribing must have the right to construe his own rule,
otherwise there would be as many laws as there are individual
consciences. Statutes would be but recommendations if every man was
at liberty to understand and obey them as he thought proper. But I
need not argue this. The absurdity of a Government that has no right
to govern--and of laws which have no fixed meaning--but which each
man construes to mean what he pleases and obeys accordingly--must be
evident to every one.

What more power did the most despotic of the English Stuarts ask,
than the right, after having sworn to laws, to break such as their
consciences disapproved? It is the essence of tyranny.

What is the Constitution of the United States? In good old fashioned
times we thought we knew, when we had read it and listened to the
court's exposition. But we have improved upon that. The Liberty
party man says, it is for him "what he understands it." John C.
Calhoun, of course, has the same right, and instead of "Liberty
regulated by law," we have liberty regulated by fourteen millions of

The Liberty party man takes office on conditions, which, he says,
are not binding upon him. He gives us notice that he shall use the
power as he thinks right, without any regard to these conditions of
his oath. Well, if this is law, it is good for all. John C. Calhoun
can of course take office with the same broad liberty, and swear to
support the Constitution "as _he_ understands it." He has told us
often what that "understanding" is--"to sustain Slavery." Of course
having made this public, if, after that, Carolina sends him,
according to Liberty party logic, it is evidence that Massachusetts
assents to his "understanding," and accepts his oath with that
meaning! Why I thought I had fathomed the pro-slavery depths of the
Constitution when I read over all its wicked clauses--but that is
skimming only the surface, if the Constitution allows every man, to
whom it commits power to use it, as he chooses to "understand" the
conditions, and not as the nation understands them. If with this
right, Abolitionists may take office and help Liberty, we must
remember that by the same rule, slaveholders may take office and
lawfully use all their power to help Slavery. If this be so, how
absurd to keep crying out of this and the other thing it is

Away with such logic! If we have a Constitution, let us remember
Jefferson's advice, and not make it "waste paper by construction."
The man who tampers thus with the sacred obligation of an
oath,--swears, and Jesuit like, keeps "reserved meanings" in his own
breast,--does more harm to society by loosening the foundations of
morals, than he would do good, did his one falsehood free every
slave from the Potomac to the Del Norte.


"The oath does not mean that I will positively do what I swear to do,
but only that I will do it, _or submit_ to the penalty the law awards.
If my actions in office don't suit the nation, let them impeach me."

ANSWER. That is, John Tyler may, without consulting Congress, plunge
us into war with Mexico--incur fifty millions of public debt--lose a
hundred thousand lives--and the _sufficient recompense_ to this
nation will be to impeach John Tyler, Esq., and send him home to his
slaves! These are the wise safeguards of Constitutional liberty! He
has faithfully kept it "as he understands it." What is a Russian
slave? One who holds life, property, and all, at the mercy of the
Czar's idea of right. Does not this description of the power every
officer has here, under our Constitution, reduce Americans to the
same condition?

But, is it true that the bearing of the penalty is an excuse for
breach of our official oaths?

The Judge who, in questions of divorce, has trifled with the
sanctity of the marriage tie--who, in matters of property has
decided unjustly, and taken bribes--in capital cases has so dealt
judgment as to send innocent men to the gallows--may cry out,
"If you don't like me, impeach me." But will impeachment restore the
dead to life, or the husband to his defamed wife? Would the community
consider his submission to impeachment as equivalent to the keeping
of his oath of office, and thenceforward view him as an honest,
truth-speaking, unperjured man? It is idle to suppose so. Yet the
interests committed to some of our officeholders' keeping, are more
important often than even those which a Judge controls. And we must
remember that men's ideas of right always differ. To admit such a
principle into the construction of oaths, if it enable one man to do
much good, will enable scoundrels who creep into office to do much
harm, "according to _their_ consciences." But yet the rule, if it be
admitted, must be universal. Liberty becomes, then, matter of


I shall resign whenever a case occurs that requires me to aid in
returning a fugitive slave.

ANSWER. "The office-holder has promised active obedience to the
Constitution in every exigency which it has contemplated and sought
to provide for. If he promised, not meaning to perform in certain
cases, is he not doubly dishonest? Dishonest to his own conscience
in promising to do wrong, and to his fellow-citizens in purposing
from the first to break his oath, as he knew they understood it? If
he had sworn, not regarding anything as immoral which he bound
himself to do, and afterwards found in the oath something against
his conscience of which he was not at first aware, or if by change
of views he had come to deem sinful what before he thought right,
then doubtless, by promptly resigning, he might escape guilt. But is
not the case different, when among the acts promised are some known
at the time to be morally wrong? 'It is a sin to swear unto sin,'
says the poet, although it be, as he truly adds, 'a greater sin to
keep the sinful oath.'"

The captain has no right to put to sea, and resign when the storm
comes. Besides what supports a wicked government more than good men
taking office under it, even though they secretly determine not to
carry out all its provisions? The slave balancing in his lonely
hovel the chance of escape, knows nothing of your secret reservations,
your future intentions. He sees only the swarming millions at the
North ostensibly sworn to restore him to his master, if he escape a
little way. Perchance it is your false oath, which you don't mean to
keep, that makes him turn from the attempt in despair. He knows you
only--the world knows only by your _actions_, not your _intentions_,
and those side with his master. The prayer which he lifts to Heaven,
in his despair, numbers you rightly among his oppressors.


I shall only take such an office as brings me into no connection
with slavery.

ANSWER. Government is a whole; unless each in his circle aids his
next neighbor, the machine will stand still. The Senator does not
himself return the fugitive slave, but he appoints the Marshal,
whose duty it is to do so. The State representative does not himself
appoint the Judge who signs the warrant for the slave's recapture,
but he chooses the United States Senator who does appoint that Judge.
The elector does not himself order out the militia to resist
"domestic violence," but he elects the President, whose duty requires,
that a case occurring, he should do so.

To suppose that each of these may do that part of his duty that
suits him, and leave the rest undone, is _practical anarchy_. It is
bringing ourselves precisely to that state which the Hebrew describes.
"In those days there was no king in Israel, but each man did what
was right in his own eyes." This is all consistent in us, who hold
that man is to do right, even if anarchy follows. How absurd to set
up such a scheme, and miscall it a _government_,--where nobody
governs, but everybody does as he pleases.


As men and all their works are imperfect, we may innocently
"support a Government which, along with many blessings, assists in
the perpetration of some wrong."

ANSWER. As nobody disputes that we may rightly assist the worst
Government in doing good, provided we can do so without at the same
time aiding it in the wrong it perpetrates, this must mean, of course,
that it is right to aid and obey a Government _in doing wrong_, if
we think that, on the whole, the Government effects more good than
harm. Otherwise the whole argument is irrelevant, for this is the
point in dispute; since every office of any consequence under the
United States Constitution has some immediate connection with Slavery.
Let us see to what lengths this principle will carry one. Herod's
servants, then, were right in slaying every child in Bethlehem, from
two years old and under, provided they thought Herod's Government,
on the whole, more a blessing than a curse to Judea! The soldiers of
Charles II. were justified in shooting the Covenanters on the muirs
of Scotland, if they thought his rule was better, on the whole, for
England, than anarchy! According to this theory, the moment the
magic wand of Government touches our vices, they start up into
virtues! But has Government any peculiar character or privilege in
this respect? Oh, no--Government is only an association of
individuals, and the same rules of morality which govern my conduct
in relation to a thousand men, ought to regulate my conduct to any
one. Therefore, I may innocently aid a man in doing wrong, if I
think that, on the whole, he has more virtues than vices. If he
gives bread to the hungry six days in the week, I may rightly help
him, on the seventh, in forging bank notes, or murdering his father!
The principle goes this length, and every length, or it cannot be
proved to exist at all. It ends at last, practically, in the old
maxim, that the subject and the soldier have no right to keep any
conscience, but have only to obey the rulers they serve: for there
are few, if any, Governments this side of Satan's, which could not,
in some sense, be said to do more good than harm. Now I candidly
confess, that I had rather be covered all over with inconsistencies,
in the struggle to keep my hands clean, than settle quietly down on
such a principle as this. It is supposing that we may--

  "To do a great right, do a little wrong;"

a rule, which the master poet of human nature has rebuked. It is
doing evil that good may come--a doctrine, of which an Apostle has
pronounced the condemnation.

And let it be remembered that in dealing with the question of slavery,
we are not dealing with extreme cases. Slavery is no minute evil
which lynx-eyed suspicion has ferreted out. Every sixth man is a
slave. The ermine of justice is stained. The national banner clings
to the flag-staff heavy with blood. "The preservation of slavery,"
says our oldest and ablest statesman, "is the vital and animating
_spirit_ of the National Government."

Surely IF it be true that a man may justifiably stand connected with
a government in which he sees some slight evils--still it is also
true, even then, that governments _may_ sin so atrociously, so
enormously, may make evil so much the _purpose_ of their being, as
to render it the duty of honest men to wash their hands of them.

I may give money to a friend whose life has some things in it which
I do not fully approve--but when his nights are passed in the brothel,
and his days in drunkenness, when he uses his talents to seduce
others, and his gold to pave their road to ruin, surely the case is

I may perhaps sacrifice health by staying awhile in a room rather
overheated, but I shall certainly see it to be my duty to rush out,
when the whole house is in full blaze.


God intended that society and governments should exist. We therefore
are bound to support them. He has conferred upon us the rights of
citizenship in this country, and we cannot escape from the
responsibility of exercising them. God made us _citizens_.

ANSWER. This reminds me of an old story I have heard. When the
Legislature were asked to set off a portion of the town of
Dorchester and call it South Boston, the old minister of the town is
said to have objected, saying, "God made it Dorchester, and
Dorchester it ought to be."

God made us social beings, it is true, but _society_ is not
necessarily the Constitution of the United States! Because God meant
some form of government should exist, does not at all prove that we
are justified in supporting a wicked one. Man confers the rights and
regulates the duties of citizenship. God never made a _citizen_, and
no one will escape, as a man, from the sins he commits as a citizen.
This is the first time that it has ever been held an excuse for sin
that we "went with the multitude to do evil!"

Certainly we can be under no _such_ responsibility to become and
remain _citizens_, as will excuse us from the sinful acts which as
such citizens we are called to commit. Does God make obligatory on
his creature the support of institutions which require him to do
acts in themselves wrong? To suppose so, were to confound all the
rules of God's moral kingdom.

President Wayland has lately been illustrating, and giving his
testimony to the principle, that a combination of men cannot change
the moral character of an act, which is in itself sinful--that the
law of morals is binding the same on communities, corporations, &c.
as on individuals.

After describing slavery, and saying that to hold a man in such a
state is wrong--he goes on:

  "I will offer but one more supposition. Suppose that any number, for
  instance one half of the families in our neighborhood, should by law
  enact that the weaker half should be slaves, that we would exercise
  over them the authority of masters, prohibit by law their
  instruction, and concert among ourselves means for holding them
  permanently in their present situation. In what manner would this
  alter the moral aspect of the case?"

  A law in this case is merely a determination of one party, in which
  all unite, to hold the other party in bondage; and a compact by
  which the whole party bind themselves to assist every individual of
  themselves to subdue all resistance from the other party, and
  guaranteeing to each other that exercise of this power over the
  weaker party which they now possess.

  Now I cannot see that this in any respect changes the nature of the
  parties. They remain, as before, human beings, possessing the same
  intellectual and moral nature, holding the same relations to each
  other and to God, and still under the same unchangeable law, Thou
  shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. By the act of holding a man in
  bondage, this law is violated. Wrong is done, moral evil is
  committed. In the former case it was done by the individual; now it
  is done by the individual and the society. Before, the individual
  was responsible only for his own wrong; now he is responsible both
  for his own, and also, as a member of the society, for all the wrong
  which the society binds itself to uphold and render perpetual.

  The scriptures frequently allude to the fact, that wrong done by
  law, that is by society, is amenable to the same retribution as
  wrong done by the individual. Thus, Psalm 94:20-23. 'Shall the
  throne of iniquity have fellowship with them which frame mischief by
  a law, and gather themselves together against the soul of the
  righteous, and condemn the innocent blood? But the Lord is my
  defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge. And he shall bring
  upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own
  wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off' So also
  Isaiah 10:1-4. 'Wo unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and
  that write grievousness which they have prescribed.' &c. Besides,
  persecution for the sake of religious opinion is always perpetrated
  by law; but this in no manner affects its moral character.

  There is, however, one point of difference, which arises from the
  fact that this wrong has been established by law. It becomes a
  social wrong. The individual, or those who preceded him, may have
  surrendered their individual right over it to the society. In this
  case it may happen that the individual cannot act as he might act,
  if the law had not been made. In this case the evil can only be
  eradicated by changing the opinions of the society, and inducing
  them to abolish the law. It will however be apparent that this, as I
  said before, does not change the relation of the parties either to
  each other or to God. The wrong exists as before. The individual act
  is wrong. The law which protects it is wrong. The whole society, in
  putting the law into execution, is wrong. Before only the
  individual, now, the whole society, becomes the wrong doer, and
  for that wrong, both the individuals and the society are held
  responsible in the sight of God."

If such "individual act is wrong," the man who knowingly does it is
surely a sinner. Does God, through society, require men to sin?


If not being non-resistants, we concede to mankind the right to
frame Governments, which must, from the very nature of man, be more
or less evil, the right or duty to support them, when framed,
necessarily follows.

ANSWER. I do not think it follows at all. Mankind, that is, any
number of them, have a right to set up such forms of worship as they
see fit, but when they have done so, does it necessarily follow that
I am in duty bound to support any one of them, whether I approve it
or not? Government is precisely like any other voluntary association
of individuals--a temperance or anti-slavery society, a bank or
railroad corporation. I join it, or not, as duty dictates. If a
temperance society exists in the village where I am, that love for
my race which bids me seek its highest good, commands me to join it.
So if a Government is formed in the land where I live, the same
feeling bids me to support it, if I innocently can. This is the
whole length of my duty to Government. From the necessity of the case,
and that constitution of things which God has ordained, it follows
that in any specified district, the majority must rule--hence
results the duty of the minority to submit. But we must carefully
preserve the distinction between _submission_ and _obedience_
--between _submission_ and _support_. If the majority set up an
immoral Government, I obey those laws which seem to me good, because
they are good--and I submit to all the penalties which my
disobedience of the rest brings on me. This is alike the dictate of
common sense, and the command of Christianity. And it must be the
true doctrine, since any other obliges me to obey the majority if
they command me to commit murder, a rule which even the Tory
Blackstone has denied. Of course for me to do anything I deem wrong,
is the same, in quality, as to commit murder.


But it is said, your theory results in good men leaving government
to the dishonest and wicked.

ANSWER. Well, if to sustain government we must sacrifice honesty,
government could not be in a more appropriate place, than in the
hands of dishonest men.

But it by no means follows, that if I go out of government, I leave
nothing but dishonest men behind. An act may be sin to me, which
another may sincerely think right--and if so, let him do it, till he
changes his mind. I leave government in the hands of those whom I do
not think as clear-sighted as myself, but not necessarily in the
hands of the dishonest. Whether it be so in this country now, is not,
at present, the question, but whether it would be so necessarily, in
all cases. The real question is, what is the duty of those who
presume to think that God has given them clearer views of duty than
the bulk of those among whom they live?

Don't think us conceited in supposing ourselves a little more
enlightened than our neighbors. It is no great thing after all to be a
little better than a lynching--mobocratic--slaveholding--debt
repudiating community.

What then is the duty of such men? Doubtless to do all they can to
extend to others the light they enjoy.

Will they best do so by compromising their principles? by letting
their political life give the lie to their life of reform? Who will
have the most influence, he whose life is consistent, or he who says
one thing to-day, and swears another thing to-morrow--who looks one
way and rows another? My object is to let men _understand me_, and I
submit that the body of the Roman people understood better, and felt
more earnestly, the struggle between the people and the princes,
when the little band of democrats _left the city_ and encamped on
_Mons Sacer, outside_, than while they remained mixed up and
voting with their masters, shoulder to shoulder. _Dissolution_ is
our _Mons Sacer_--God grant that it may become equally famous in the
world's history as the spot where the right triumphed.

It is foolish to suppose that the position of such men, divested of
the glare of official distinction, has no weight with the people. If
it were so, I am still bound to remember that I was not sent into
the world _to have influence_, but to do my duty according to my own
conscience. But it is not so. People do know an honest man when they
see him. (I allow that this is so rare an event now-a-days, as
almost to justify one in supposing they might have forgotten how he
looked.) They will give a man credit, when his life is one manly
testimony to the truthfulness of his lips. Even Liberty party, blind
as she is, has light enough to see that "Consistency is the jewel,
the everything of such a cause as ours." The position of a non-voter,
in a land where the ballot is so much idolized, kindles in every
beholder's bosom something of the warm sympathy which waits on the
persecuted, carries with it all the weight of a disinterested
testimony to truth, and pricks each voter's conscience with an
uneasy doubt, whether after all voting _is_ right. There is
constantly a Mordecai in the gate.

I admit that we should strive to have a _political_ influence--for
with politics is bound up much of the welfare of the people. But
this objection supposes that the ballot box is the _only_ means of
political influence. Now it is a good thing that every man should
have the right to vote. But it is by no means necessary that every
man should actually vote, in order to influence his times. We by no
means necessarily desert our social duty when we refuse to take
office, or to confer it. Lafayette did better service to the cause
of French liberty when he retired to Lagrange and refused to
acknowledge Napoleon, than he could have done had he stood, for years,
at the tyrant's right hand. From the silence of that chamber there
went forth a voice--from the darkness of that retreat there burst
forth a light; feeble indeed at first, like the struggling beams of
the morning, but destined like them to brighten into perfect day.

This objection, that we non-voters shall lose all our influence,
confounds the broad distinction between _influence_ and _power_.
_Influence_ every honest man must and will have, in exact
proportion to his honesty and ability. God always annexes influence
to worth. The world, however unwilling, can never get free from the
influence of such a man. This influence the possession of office
cannot give, nor the want of it take away. For the exercise of such
influence as this, man is responsible. _Power_ we buy of our fellow
men at a certain price. Before making the bargain it is our duty to
see that we do not pay "too dear for our whistle." He who buys it at
the price of truth and honor, buys only weakness--and sins beside.

Of those who go to the utmost verge of honesty in order to reach the
seats of worldly power, and barter a pure conscience for a weighty
name, it may be well said with old Fuller, "They need to have steady
heads who can dive into these gulfs of policy, and come out with a
safe conscience."


This withdrawing from government is pharisaical--"Shall we, 'weak,
sinful men,'" one says, "perhaps even more sinful than the
slaveholder, cry out, No Union with Slaveholders?" Such a course is
wanting in brotherly kindness.

ANSWER. Because we refuse to aid a wrong-doer in his sin, we by no
means proclaim, or assume, that we think our _whole character_
better than his. It is neither pharisaical to have opinions, nor
presumptuous to guide our lives by them. If I have joined with
others in doing wrong, is it either presumptuous or unkind, when my
eyes are opened, to refuse to go any further with them in their
career of guilt? Does love to the thief require me to help him in
stealing? Yet this is all we refuse to do. We will extend to the
slaveholder all the courtesy he will allow. If he is hungry, we will
feed him; if he is in want, both hands shall be stretched out for
his aid. We will give him full credit for all the good that he does,
and our deep sympathy in all the temptations under whose strength he
falls. But to help him in his sin, to remain partners with him in
the slave-trade, is more than he has a right to ask. He would be a
strange preacher who should set out to reform his circle by joining
in all their sins! It is a principle similar to that which the tipsy
Duke of Norfolk acted on, when seeing a drunken friend in the gutter,
he cried out, "My dear fellow, I can't help you out, but I'll do
better, I'll lie down by your side."


But consider, the abstaining from all share in Government will leave
bad men to have everything their own way--admit Texas--extend
slavery, &c. &c.

ANSWER. That is no matter of mine. God, the great conservative power
of the Universe, when he established the right, saw to it that it
should always be the safest and best. He never laid upon a poor
finite worm the staggering load of following out into infinity the
complex results of his actions. We may rest on the bosom of
Infinite Wisdom, confident that it is enough for us to do justice,
he will see to it that happiness results.


But the same conscientious objection against promising your support
to government, ought to lead you to avoid actually giving your
support to it by paying taxes or sueing in the courts.

ANSWER. This is what logicians call a _reductio ad absurdum_: an
attempt to prove our principle unsound by showing that, fairly
carried out, it leads to an absurdity. But granting all it asks, it
does not saddle us with any absurdity at all. It is perfectly
possible to live without petitioning, sueing, or holding stocks.
Thousands in this country have lived, died, and been buried, without
doing either. And does it load us with any absurdity to prove that
we shall be obliged to do from principle, what the majority of our
fellow-citizens do from choice? We lawyers may think it is an
absurdity to say a man can't sue, for, like the Apostle at Ephesus,
it touches our "craft," but that don't go far to prove it. Then, as
to taxes, doubtless many cases might be imagined, when every one
would allow it to be our duty to resist the slightest taxation, did
Christianity allow it, with "war to the hilt." If such cases may
ever arise, why may not this be one?

Until I become an Irishman, no one will ever convince me that I
ought to vote, by proving that I ought not to pay taxes! Suppose
all these difficulties do really encompass us, it will not be
the first time that the doing of one moral duty has revealed a
dozen others which we never thought of. The child has climbed the
hill over his native village, which he thought the end of the world,
and lo! there are mountains beyond! He won't remedy the matter by
creeping back to his cradle and disbelieving in mountains!

But then, is there any such inconsistency in non-voters sueing and
paying taxes?

Look at it. A. and B. have agreed on certain laws, and appointed C.
to execute them. A. owes me, who am no party to the contract, a just
debt, which his laws oblige him to pay. Do I acknowledge the
rightfulness of his relation to B. and C. by asking C. to use the
power given him, in my behalf? It appears to me that I do not. I may
surely ask A. to pay me my debt--why not then ask the keeper, whom
he has appointed over himself, to make him do so?

I am a prisoner among pirates. The mate is abusing me in some way
contrary to their laws. Do I recognize the rightfulness of the
Captain's authority, by asking him to use the power the mate has
consented to give him, to protect me? It seems to me that I do not
necessarily endorse the means by which a man has acquired money or
power, when I ask him to use either in my behalf.

An alien does not recognize the rightfulness of a government by
living under it. It has always been held that an English subject may
swear allegiance to an usurper and yet not be guilty of treason to
the true king. Because he may innocently acknowledge the king
_de facto_ (the king _in deed_,) without assuming him to be king
_de jure_ (king by _right_.) The distinction itself is as old as
the time of Edward the First. The principle is equally applicable to
suits. It has been universally acted on and allowed. The Catholic,
who shrank from acknowledging the heretical Government of England,
always, I believe, sued in her courts.

Who could convince a common man, that by sueing in Constantinople or
Timbuctoo, he does an act which makes him responsible for the
character of those governments?

Then, as for taxes. It is only our voluntary acts for which we are
responsible. And when did government ever trust tax-paying to the
voluntary good will of its subjects? When it does so, I, for one,
will refuse to pay.

When did any sane man conclude that our Saviour's voluntary payment
of a tax acknowledged the rightfulness of Rome's authority over Judea?

"The States," says Chief Justice Marshall, "have only not to elect
Senators, and this government expires without a struggle."

Every November, then, we _create_ the government anew. Now, what
"instinct" will tell a common-sense man, that the act of a
_sovereign_,--voting--which creates a wicked government, is,
_essentially_ the same as the submission of a
 _subject_,--tax-paying,--an act done without our consent. It should
be remembered, that we vote as _sovereigns_,--we pay taxes as
_subjects_. Who supposes that the humble tax-payer of Austria, who
does not, perhaps, know in what name the charter of his bondage runs,
is responsible for the doings of Metternich? And what sane man likens
his position to that of the voting sovereign of the United States?
My innocent acts may, through others' malice, result in evil. In that
case, it will be for my best judgment to determine whether to continue
or cease them. They are not thereby rendered essentially sinful. For
instance, I walk out on Sabbath morning. The priest over the way will
exclaim, "Sabbath-breaker," and the infidel will delude his followers,
by telling them I have no regard for Christianity. Still, it will be
for me to settle which, in present circumstances, is best,--to
remain in, and not be misconstrued, or to go out and bear a
testimony against the superstitious keeping of the day. Different
circumstances will dictate different action on such a point.

I may often be the _occasion_ of evil when I am not responsible for
it. Many innocent acts _occasion_ evil, and in such case all I am
bound to ask myself before doing such _innocent act_, is, "Shall I
occasion, on the whole, more harm or good." There are many cases
where doing a duty even, we shall occasion evil and sin in others.
To save a slaveholder from drowning, when we know he has made a will
freeing his slaves, would put off, perhaps forever, their
emancipation, but of course that is not my fault. This making a man
responsible for all the evil his acts, _incidentally_, without his
will, occasion, reminds me of that principle of Turkish law which
Dr. Clarke mentions, in his travels, and which they call "homicide
by an intermediate cause." The case he relates is this: A young man
in love poisoned himself, because the girl's father refused his
consent to the marriage. The Cadi sentenced the father to pay a fine
of $80, saying "if you had not had a daughter, this young man had
not loved; if he had not loved, he had never been disappointed; if
not disappointed, he would never have taken poison." It was the same
Cadi possibly, who sentenced the island of Samos to pay for the
wrecking of a vessel, on the principle that "if the island had not
been in the way, the vessel would never have been wrecked!"

Then of taxes on imports. Buying and selling, and carrying from
country to country, is good and innocent. But government, if I trade
here, will take occasion to squeeze money out of me. Very well. I
shall deliberate whether I will cease trading, and deprive them of
the opportunity, or go on and use my wealth to reform them. 'Tis a
question of expediency, not of right, which my judgment, not my
conscience, must settle. An act of mine, innocent in itself, and
done from right motives, no after act of another's can make a sin.
To import, is rightful. After-taxation, against my consent, cannot
make it wrong. Neither am I obliged to smuggle, in order to avoid it.
I include in these remarks, all taxes, whether on property, or
imports, or railroads.

A chemist, hundreds of years ago, finds out how to temper steel. The
art is useful for making knives, lancets, and machinery. But he
knows that the bad will abuse it by making swords and daggers. Is he
responsible? Certainly not.

Similar to this is trading in America,--knowing government will thus
have an opportunity to increase its revenue.

But suppose the chemist to see two men fighting, one has the other
down,--to the first our chemist presents a finely tempered dagger.

Such is voting under the United States Constitution--appointing an
officer to help the oppressor.

The difference between voting and tax-paying is simply this: I may do
an act right in itself, though I know some evil will result. Paul was
bound to preach the gospel to the Jews, though he knew some of them
would thereby be led to add to their sins by cursing and mobbing him.

So I may locate property in Philadelphia, trade there, and ride on
its railroads, though I know government will, without my consent,
thereby enrich itself. Other things being equal, of course I shall
not allow it the opportunity. But the advantages and good results of
my doing so, _may be_ such as would make it my duty there to live
and trade, even subject to such an evil.

But on the other hand, I may not do an act wrong in itself to secure
any amount of fancied good.

Now, appointing a man by my vote to a pro-slavery office, (and such
is every one under the United States Constitution,) is wrong in
itself, and no other good deeds which such officer may do, will
justify an abolitionist in so appointing him.

Let it not be said, that this reasoning will apply to voting--that
voting is the right of every human being, (which I grant only for
the sake of argument,) and innocent in itself.

Voting _under our_ Constitution is appointing a man to swear to
protect, and actually to protect slavery. Now, appointing agents
generally is the right of every man, and innocent in itself, but
appointing an agent to commit a murder is sin.

I trade, and government taxes me; do I authorize it? No.

I vote, and the marshal whom my agent appoints, returns a slave to
South Carolina. Do I authorize it? _Yes_. I knew it would be his
_sworn duty_, when I voted; and I assented to it, by voting under
the Constitution which makes it his duty. If I trade, it is said, I
may foresee that government will be helped by the taxes I pay,
therefore I ought not to trade. But I do not trade _for the purpose_
of paying taxes! And if I am to be charged with all the foreseen
results of my actions, then Garrison is responsible for the Boston

The reason why I am responsible for the pro-slavery act of a United
States officer, for whom I have voted, is this: I must be supposed
to have _intended_ that which my agent is _bound_ by his contract
with me (that is, his oath of office) to do.

Allow me to request our opposers to keep distinctly in view the
precise point in debate. This is not whether Massachusetts can
rightfully trade and make treaties with South Carolina, although she
knows that such a course will result in strengthening a wrongdoer.
Such are most of the cases which they consider parallel to ours, and
for permitting which they charge us with inconsistency. But the
question really is, whether Massachusetts can join hands and
strength with South Carolina, for the express and avowed purpose of
sustaining Slavery. This she does in the Constitution. For he who
swears to support an instrument of twelve clauses, swears to support
one as well as another,--and though one only be immoral,--still he
swears to do an immoral act. Now, my conviction is, "which fire will
not burn out of me," that to return fugitive slaves is sin--to
promise so to do, and not do it, is, if possible, baser still; and
that any conjunction of circumstances which makes either necessary,
is of the Devil, and not of God.


Duty requires of a non-voter to quit the country, and go where his
taxes will not help to build up slavery.

ANSWER. God gave me my birth here. Because bad men about me
"play such tricks before high Heaven, as make the angels weep," does
it oblige me to quit? I have as good right here as they. If they
choose to leave, let them--I Shall remain. 'Twould be a pretty thing,
indeed, if, as often as I found myself next door to a bad man, who
would bring up his children to steal my apples and break my windows,
I were obliged to take the temptation away by cutting down all my
apple trees and moving my house further west, into the wilderness.
This would be, in good John Wesley's phrase, "giving up all the good
times to the devil," with a witness.


"Society has the right to prescribe the terms, upon the expressed or
implied agreement to comply with which a person may reside within
its limits."

ANSWER. This principle I utterly deny. All that Society has a right
to demand is peaceful submission to its exactions:--_consent_ they
have neither the power nor the right to exact or to imply. Twenty
men live on a lone island. Nineteen set up a government and say,
every man who lives there shall worship idols. The twentieth submits
to all their laws, but refuses to commit idolatry. Have they the
_right_ to say, "Do so, or quit;" or, to say, "If you stay, we
will consider you as impliedly worshipping idols?" Doubtless they
have the _power_, but the majority have no _rights_, except those
which justice sanctions. Will the objector show me the justice of
his principle? I was born here. I ask no man's permission to remain.
All that any man or body of men have a right to infer from my
staying here, is that, in doing this _innocent act_, I think, that on
the whole, I am effecting more good than harm. Lawyers say, I cannot
find this right laid down in the books. That will not trouble me.
Some old play has a character in it who never ties his neckcloth
without a warrant from Mr. Justice Overdo. I claim no relationship
to that very scrupulous individual.


These clauses, to which you refer, are inconsistent with the
Preamble of the Constitution, which describes it as made "to
establish justice" and "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves
and our posterity:" And as, when two clauses of the same instrument
are inconsistent, one must yield and be held void--we hold these
three clauses void.

ANSWER. A _specific_ clause is not to be held void on account of
general terms, such as those of the preamble. It is rather to be
taken as an exception, allowed and admitted at the time, to those
general terms.

Again. You say they are inconsistent. But the Courts and the People
do not think so. Now they, being the majority, settle the law. The
question then is, whether the law being settled,--and according to
your belief settled immorally,--you will _volunteer_ your services
to execute it and carry it into effect? This you do by becoming an
officeholder. It seems to me this question can receive but one
answer from honest men.


The Constitution may be _amended_, and I shall vote to have it

ANSWER. But at present it is necessary to swear to support it
_as it is_. What the Constitution may become, a century hence, we
know not; we speak of it _as it is_, and repudiate it _as it is_.
How long may one promise to do evil, in hope some time or other to
get the power to do good? We will not brand the Constitution of the
United States as pro-slavery, after--it had ceased to be so! This
objection reminds me of Miss Martineau's story of the little boy,
who hurt himself, and sat crying on the sidewalk. "Don't cry!" said
a friend, "it won't hurt you tomorrow."--"Well then," said the child,
"I won't cry tomorrow."

We come then, it seems to me, back to our original conclusion: that
the man who swears to support the Constitution, swears to support
the whole of it, pro-slavery clauses and all,--that he swears to
support it _as it is_, not as it hereafter may become,--that he
swears to support it in the sense given to it by the Courts and the
Nation, not as he chooses to understand it,--and that the Courts and
the Nation expect such an one in office to do his share toward the
suppression of slave, as well as other, insurrections, and to aid
the return of fugitive slaves. After an _abolitionist_ has taken
such an oath, or by his vote sent another to take it for him, I do
not see how he can look his own principles in the face.

Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou lie?

We who call upon the slaveholder to do right, no matter what the
consequences or the cost, are certainly bound to look well to our
own example. At least we can hardly expect to win the master to do
justice by _setting him an example of perjury_. It is almost an
insult in an abolitionist, while not willing to sacrifice even a
petty ballot for his principles, to demand of the slaveholder that
he give up wealth, home, old prejudices and social position at their


The benefits of the Constitution of the United States, were the
restoration of credit and reputation, to the country--the revival of
commerce, navigation, and ship building--the acquisition of the
means of discharging the debts of the Revolution, and the protection
and encouragement of the infant and drooping manufactures of the
country. All this, however, as is now well ascertained, was
insufficient to propitiate the rulers of the Southern States to
the adoption of the Constitution. What they specially wanted was
_protection_. Protection from the powerful and savage tribes of
Indians within their borders, and who were harassing them with the
most terrible of wars--and protection from their own
negroes--protection from their insurrections--protection from their
escape--protection even to the trade by which they were brought into
this country--protection, shall I not blush to say, protection to
the very bondage by which they were held. Yes! it cannot be
denied--the slaveholding lords of the South prescribed, as a
condition of their assent to the Constitution, three special
provisions to secure the perpetuity of their dominion over their
slaves. The first was the immunity for twenty years of preserving
the African slave-trade; the second was the stipulation to surrender
fugitive slaves--an engagement positively prohibited by the laws of
God, delivered from Sinai; and thirdly, the exaction, fatal to the
principles of popular representation, of a representation for
slaves--for articles of merchandise, under the name of persons.

In outward show, it is a representation of persons in bondage; in
fact, it is a representation of their masters,--the oppressor
representing the oppressed.--Is it in the compass of human
imagination to devise a more perfect exemplification of the art of
committing the lamb to the tender custody of the wolf?--The
representative is thus constituted, not the friend, agent and trustee
of the person whom he represents, but the most inveterate of his foes.
To call government thus constituted a democracy, is to insult the
understanding of mankind. It is doubly tainted with the infection of
riches and of slavery. _There is no name in the language of national
jurisprudence that can define it_--no model in the records of
ancient history, or in the political theories of Aristotle, with
which it can be likened. Here is one class of men, consisting of not
more than one-fortieth part of the whole people, not more than
one-thirtieth part of the free population, exclusively devoted to
their personal interests identified with their own as slaveholders
of the same associated wealth, and wielding by their votes, upon
every question of government or of public policy, two-fifths of the
whole power of the House. In the Senate of the Union, the proportion
of the slaveholding power is yet greater. Its operation upon the
government of the nation is, to establish an artificial majority in
the slave representation over that of the free people, in the
American Congress, and thereby to make the PRESERVATION, PROPAGATION,
NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.--The result is seen in the fact that, at this
day, the President of the United States, the President of the Senate,
the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and five out of nine of
the Judges of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the United States, are
not only citizens of slaveholding States, but individual slaveholders
themselves. So are, and constantly have been, with scarcely an
exception, all the members of both Houses of Congress from the
slaveholding States; and so are, in immensely disproportionate
numbers, the commanding officers of the army and navy; the officers
of the customs; the registers and receivers of the land offices, and
the post-masters throughout the slaveholding States.

Fellow-citizens,--with a body of men thus composed, for legislators
and executors of the laws, what will, what must be, what has been
your legislation? The numbers of freemen constituting your nation
are much greater than those of the slaveholding States, bond and free.
You have at least three-fifths of the whole population of the Union.
Your influence on the legislation and the administration of the
Government ought to be in the proportion of three to two. But how
stands the fact? Besides the legitimate portion of influence
exercised by the slaveholding States by the measure of their numbers,
here is an intrusive influence in every department, by a
representation, nominally of persons, but really of property,
ostensibly of slaves, but effectively of their masters, overbalancing
your superiority of numbers, adding two-fifths of supplementary
power to the two-fifths fairly secured to them by the compact,
HOME AND ABROAD, and warping it to the sordid private interest and
oppressive policy of 300,000 owners of slaves.

In the Articles of Confederation, there was no guaranty for the
property of the slaveholder--no double representation of him in the
Federal councils--no power of taxation--no stipulation for the
recovery of fugitive slaves. But when the powers of _government_ came
to be delegated to the Union, the South--that is, South Carolina and
Georgia--refused their subscription to the parchment, till it should
be saturated with the infection of slavery, which no fumigation
could purify, no quarantine could extinguish. The freemen of the
North gave way, and the deadly venom of slavery was infused into the
Constitution of freedom. Its first consequence has been to invert
the first principle of Democracy, that the will of the majority
shall rule the land. By means of the double representation, the
minority command the whole, and a KNOT OF SLAVEHOLDERS GIVE THE LAW





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There was a time, fellow citizens, when the above address would have
included the PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES. But, alas! the freedom of
the press, freedom of speech, and the right of petition, are now
hated and dreaded by our Southern citizens, as hostile to the
perpetuity of human bondage; while, by their political influence in
the Federal Government, they have induced numbers at the North to
unite with them in their sacrilegious crusade against these
inestimable privileges.

On the 28th January last, the House of Representatives, on motion of
Mr. Johnson, from Maryland, made it a standing RULE of the House
that "no petition, memorial, resolution, or other paper, praying the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, or any State or
Territory of the United States, in which it now exists, SHALL BE

Thus has the RIGHT OF PETITION been immolated in the very Temple of
Liberty, and offered up, a propitiatory sacrifice to the demon of
slavery. Never before has an outrage so unblushingly profligate been
perpetrated upon the Federal Constitution. Yet, while we mourn the
degeneracy which this transaction evinces, we behold, in its
attending circumstances, joyful omens of the triumph which awaits
our struggle with the hateful power that now perverts the General
Government into an engine of cruelty and loathsome oppression.

Before we congratulate you on these omens, let us recall to your
recollection the steps by which the enemies of human rights have
advanced to their present rash and insolent defiance of moral and
constitutional obligation.

In 1831, a newspaper was established in Boston, for the purpose of
disseminating facts and arguments in favor of the duty and policy of
immediate emancipation. The Legislature of Georgia, with all the
recklessness of despotism, passed a law, offering a reward of $5000,
for the abduction of the Editor, and his delivery in Georgia. As
there was no law, by which a citizen of Massachusetts could be tried
in Georgia, for expressing his opinions in the capital of his own
State, this reward was intended as the price of BLOOD. Do you start
at the suggestion? Remember the several sums of $25,000, of $50,000,
and of $100,000, offered in Southern papers for kidnapping certain
abolitionists. Remember the horrible inflictions by Southern Lynch
clubs. Remember the declaration, in the United States Senate, by the
brazen-fronted Preston, that, should an abolitionist be caught in
Carolina, he would be HANGED. But, as the Slaveholders could not
destroy the lives of the Abolitionists, they determined to murder
their characters. Hence, the President of the United States was
induced, in his Message of 1835, to Congress, to charge them with
plotting the massacre of the Southern planters; and even to stultify
himself, by affirming that, for this purpose, they were engaged in
sending, by _mail_, inflammatory appeals to the _slaves_--sending
papers to men who could not read them, and by a conveyance through
which they could not receive them! He well knew that the papers
alluded to were appeals on the immorality of converting men, women,
and children, into beasts of burden, and were sent to the masters,
for _their_ consideration. The masters in Charleston, dreading the
moral influence of these appeals on the conscience of the
slaveholding community, forced the Post Office, and made a bonfire
of the papers. The Post Master General, with the sanction of the
President, also hastened to their relief, and, in violation of oaths,
and laws, and the constitution, established ten thousand censors of
the press, each one of whom was authorized to abstract from the mail
every paper which _he_ might think too favorable to the rights of man.

For more than twenty years, petitions have been presented to Congress,
for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. The right
to present them, and the power of Congress to grant their prayer,
were, until recently, unquestioned. But the rapid multiplication of
these petitions alarmed the slaveholders, and, knowing that they
tended to keep alive at the North, an interest in the slave, they
deemed it good policy to discourage and, if possible, suppress all
such applications. Hence Mr. Pinckney's famous resolution, in 1836,
declaring, "that all petitions, or papers, relating _in any way, or
to any extent_ whatever to the _subject of slavery_, shall, without
being printed or referred, be laid on the table; and no further
action, whatever shall be had thereon!"

The peculiar atrocity of this resolution was, that it not merely
trampled upon the rights of the petitioners, but took from each
member of the House his undoubted privilege, as a legislator of the
District, to introduce any proposition he might think proper, for the
protection of the slaves. In every Slave State there are laws
affording, at least, some nominal protection to these unhappy beings;
but, according to this resolution, slaves might be flayed alive in
the streets of Washington, and no representative of the people could
offer even a resolution for inquiry. And this vile outrage upon
constitutional liberty was avowedly perpetrated "to repress agitation,
to allay excitement, and re-establish harmony and tranquillity among
the various sections of the Union!!"

But this strange opiate did not produce the stupefying effects
anticipated from it. In 1836, the petitioners were only 37,000--the
next session they numbered 110,000. Mr. Hawes, of Ky., now essayed
to restore tranquillity, by gagging the uneasy multitude; but, alas!
at the next Congress, more than 300,000 petitioners carried new
terror to the hearts of the slaveholders. The next anodyne was
prescribed by Mr. Patton, of Va., but its effect was to rouse from
their stupor some of the Northern Legislatures, and to induce them
to denounce his remedy as "a usurpation of power, a violation of the
Constitution, subversive of the fundamental principles of the
government, and at war with the prerogatives of the people."[105] It
was now supposed that the people most be drugged by a _northern_ man,
and _Atherton_ was found a fit instrument for this vile purpose; but
the dose proved only the more nauseous and exciting from the foul
hands by which it was administered.

[Footnote 105: Resolutions of Massachusetts and Connecticut, April and
May, 1838.]

In these various outrages, although all action on the petitions was
prohibited, the papers themselves were received and laid on the table,
and _therefore_ it was contended, that the right of petition had
been preserved inviolate. But the slaveholders, maddened by the
failure of all their devices, and fearing the influence which the
mere sight of thousands and tens of thousands of petitions in behalf
of liberty, would exert, and, taking advantage of the approaching
presidential election to operate upon the selfishness of some
northern members, have succeeded in crushing the right of petition

That you may be the more sensible, fellow citizens, of the exceeding
profligacy of the late RULE and of its palpable violation of both the
spirit and the letter of the Constitution, which those who voted for
it had sworn to support, suffer us to recall to your recollection a
few historical facts.

The framers of the Federal Constitution supposed the right of
petition too firmly established in the habits and affections of the
people, to need a constitutional guarantee. Their omission to notice
it, roused the jealousy of some of the State conventions, called to
pass upon the constitution. The _Virginia_ convention proposed,
as an amendment, "that every _freeman_ has a right to petition,
or apply to the Legislature, for a redress of grievances." And this
amendment, with others, was ordered to be forwarded to the different
States, for their consideration. The Conventions of North Carolina,
New York, and Rhode Island, were held subsequently, and, of course,
had before them the Virginia amendment. The North Carolina Convention
adopted a declaration of rights, embracing the very words of the
proposed amendment; and this declaration was ordered to be submitted
to Congress, before that State would enter the Union. The Conventions
of New York and of Rhode Island incorporated in their _certificates
of ratification_, the assertion that "Every _person_ has a right to
petition or apply to the legislature for a redress of
grievances"--using the Virginia phraseology, merely substituting the
word _person_ for _freeman_, thus claiming the right of petition even
for slaves; while Virginia and North Carolina confined it to freemen.

The first Congress, assembled under the Constitution, gave effect to
the wishes thus emphatically expressed, by proposing, as an amendment,
that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or _abridging_
the freedom of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and _to petition Government_ for a redress of grievances."
This amendment was duly ratified by the States, and when members of
Congress swear to support the Constitution of the United States,
they are as much bound by their oath to refrain from abridging the
right of petition, as they are to fulfil any other constitutional
obligation. And will the slaveholders and their abettors, dare to
maintain that they have not foresworn themselves, because they have
abridged the right of the people to petition for a redress of
grievances, by a RULE of the House, and not by a _law_? If so, they
may by a RULE require every member, on taking his seat, to subscribe
the creed of a particular church, and then call their Maker to
witness that they are guiltless of making a _law_ "respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The right to petition is one thing, and the disposition of a petition
after it is received, is another. But the new rule makes no
disposition of the petitions; it PROHIBITS THEIR RECEPTION; they may
not be brought into the legislative chamber. Hundreds of thousands
of the people are debarred all access to their representatives, for
the purpose of offering them a prayer.

It is said that the manifold abominations perpetrated in the District
are no grievances to the petitioners, and _therefore_ they have no
right to ask for their removal. But the right guaranteed by the
Constitution, is a right to ask for the redress of _grievances_,
whether personal, social, or moral. And who, except a slaveholder,
will dare to contend that it is no grievance that our agents, our
representatives, our servants, in our name and by our authority,
enact laws erecting and licensing markets in the Capital of the
Republic, for the sale of human beings, and converting free men into
slaves, for no other crime, than that of being too poor to pay
United States' officers the JAIL FEES accruing from an iniquitous

Again, it is pretended that the objects prayed for, are palpably
unconstitutional, and that _therefore_ the petitions ought not to be
received. And by what authority are the people deprived of their
right to petition for any object which a majority of either
House of Congress, for the time being, may please to regard as
unconstitutional? If this usurpation be submitted to, it will not be
confined to abolition petitions. It is well known that most of the
slaveholders _now_ insist, that all protecting duties are
unconstitutional, and that on account of the tariff the Union was
nearly rent by the very men who are now horrified by the danger to
which it is exposed by these _petitions_! Should our Northern
Manufacturers again presume to ask Congress to protect them from
foreign competition, the Southern members will find a precedent,
sanctioned by Northern votes, for a rule that "no petition, memorial,
resolution, or other paper, praying for the IMPOSITION OF DUTIES FOR
THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF MANUFACTURES, shall be received by the House,
or entertained in any way whatever."

It does indeed, require Southern arrogance, to maintain that,
although Congress is invested by the Constitution with "exclusive
jurisdiction, in all cases whatsoever," over the District of Columbia,
yet that it would be so palpably unconstitutional to abolish the
slave-trade, and to emancipate the slaves in the District, that
petitions for these objects ought not to be received. Yet this is
asserted in that very House, on whose minutes is recorded a
resolution, in 1816, appointing a committee, with power to send for
persons and papers, "to inquire into the existence of an inhuman and
illegal traffic in slaves, carried on, in and through the District
of Columbia, and report whether any, and what means are necessary
for putting a stop to the same:" and another, in 1829, instructing
the Committee on the District of Columbia to inquire into the
expediency of providing by law, "for the gradual abolition of
slavery in the District."

In the very first Congress assembled under the Federal Constitution,
petitions were presented, asking its interposition for the
mitigation of the evils, and final abolition of the African
slave-trade, and also praying it, as far as it possessed the power,
to take measures for the abolition of slavery. These petitions
excited the wrath and indignation of many of the slave-holding
members, yet no one thought of refusing to receive them. They were
referred to a select committee, at the instance of Mr. Madison,
himself, who "entered into a critical review of the circumstances
respecting the adoption of the Constitution, and the ideas upon the
limitation of the powers of Congress to interfere in the regulation
of the commerce of slaves, and showed that they undoubtedly were not
precluded from interposing in their importation; and generally to
regulate the mode in which every species of business shall be
transacted. He adverted to the western country, and the Cession of
Georgia, in which Congress have certainly the power to _regulate the
subject of slavery_; which shows that gentlemen are mistaken in
supposing, that Congress cannot constitutionally interfere in the
business, in any degree, whatever. He was in favor of committing the
petition, and justified the measure by repeated precedents in the
proceedings of the House."--_U.S. Gazette, 17th Feb._, 1790.

Here we find one of the earliest and ablest expounders of the
Constitution, maintaining the power of Congress to "regulate the
subject of slavery" in the national territories, and urging the
reference of abolition petitions to a special committee.

The committee made a report; for which, after a long debate, was
substituted a declaration, by the House, that Congress could not
abolish the slave trade prior to the year 1808, but had a right so
to regulate it as to provide for the humane treatment of the slaves
on the passage; and that Congress could not interfere in the
emancipation or treatment of slaves in the _States_.

This declaration gave entire satisfaction, and no farther abolition
petitions were presented, till after the District of Columbia had
been placed under the "exclusive jurisdiction" of the General

You all remember, fellow citizens, the wide-spread excitement which
a few years since prevailed on the subject of SUNDAY MAILS. Instead
of attempting to quiet the agitation, by outraging the rights of the
petitioners, Congress referred the petitions to a committee, and
made no attempt to stifle discussion.

Why, then, we ask, with such authorities and precedents before them,
do the slaveholders in Congress, regardless of their oaths, strive to
gag the friends of freedom, under _pretence_ of allaying agitation?
Because conscience does make cowards of them all--because they know
the accursed system they are upholding will not bear the
light--because they fear, if these petitions are discussed, the
abominations of the American slave trade, the secrets of the
prison-houses in Washington and Alexandria, and the horrors of the
human shambles licensed by the authority of Congress, will be
exposed to the score and indignation of the civilized world.

Unquestionably the late RULE surpasses, in its profligate contempt of
constitutional obligation, any act in the annals of the Federal
Government. As such it might well strike every patriot with dismay,
were it not that attending circumstances teach us that it is the
expiring effort of desperation. When we reflect on the past
subserviency of our northern representatives to the mandates of the
slaveholders, we may well raise, on the present occasion, the shout
of triumph, and hail the vote on the recent RULE as the pledge of a
glorious victory. Suffer us to recall to your recollection the
majorities by which the successive attempts to crush the right of
petition and the freedom of debate have been carried.

Pinckney's Gag was passed May, 1836, by a majority of 51
Hawes's                   Jan. 1837,                  58
Patton's                  Dec. 1837,                  48
Atherton's                Dec. 1838,                  48
JOHNSON's                 Jan. 1840,                   6

Surely, when we find the majority against us reduced from 58 to
6, we need no new incentive to perseverance.

Another circumstance which marks the progress of constitutional
liberty, is the gradual diminution in the number of our northern
_serviles_. The votes from the free States in favor of the several
gags were as follows:--

For Pinckney's             62
For Hawes's                70
For Patton's               52
For Atherton's             49
For JOHNSON's              28

There is also another cheering fact connected with the passage of
the RULE which deserves to be noticed. Heretofore the slaveholders
have uniformly, by enforcing the previous question, imposed their
several gags by a silent vote. On the present occasion they were
twice baffled in their efforts to stifle debate, and were, for days
together, compelled to listen to speeches on a subject which they
have so often declared should not be discussed.

A base strife for southern votes has hitherto, to no small extent,
enlisted both the political parties at the north in the service of
the slaveholders. The late unwonted independence of northern
politicians, and the deference paid by them to the wishes of their
own constituents, in preference to those of their southern colleagues,
indicates the advance of public opinion. No less than 49 northern
members of the administration party voted for the Atherton gag,
while only 27 dared to record their names in favor of Johnson's; and
of the representation of SIX States, _every vote_ was given _against_
the rule, without distinction of party. The tone in which opposite
political journals denounce the late outrage may warn the
slaveholders that they will not much longer hold the north in bonds.
The leading administration paper in the city of New York regards the
RULE with "utter abhorrence;" while the official paper of the
opposition, edited by the state printer, trusts that the names of
the recreant northerners who voted for it may be "handed down to
eternal infamy and execration."

The advocates of abolition are no longer consigned to unmitigated
contempt and obloquy. Passing by the various living illustrations of
our remark, we appeal for our proofs to the dead. The late WILLIAM
LEGGETT, the editor of a Democratic Journal in the city of New York,
was denounced, in 1835, by the "Democratic Republican General
Committee," for his abolition doctrines. Far from faltering in his
course, on account of the censure of his own party, he exclaimed,
with a presentiment almost amounting to prophecy, "The stream of
public opinion now sets against us, but it is about to turn, and the
regurgitation will be tremendous. Proud in that day may well be the
man who can float in triumph on the first refluent wave, swept
onward by the deluge which he himself, in advance of his fellows,
had largely shared in occasioning. Such be my fate; and, living or
dying, it will in some measure be mine. I have written my name in
ineffaceable letters on the abolition record." And he did live to
behold the first swelling of the refluent wave. The denounced
abolitionist was honored by a democratic President with a diplomatic
mission; and since his death, the resolution condemning him has been
EXPUNGED from the minutes of the democratic committee.

Of the many victims of the recent awful calamity in our waters, what
name has been most frequently uttered by the pulpit and the press in
the accents of lamentation and panegyric? On whose tomb have freedom,
philanthropy, and letters been invoked to strew their funeral wreaths?
All who have heard of the loss of the Lexington are familiar with
the name of CHARLES FOLLEN. And who was he? One of the men
officially denounced by President Jackson as a gang of miscreants,
plotting insurrection and murder--and, recently, a member of the
Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Let us then, fellow citizens, in view of all these things, thank God
and take courage. We are now contending, not merely for the
emancipation of our unhappy fellow men, kept in bondage under the
authority of our own representatives--not merely for the overthrow
of the human shambles erected by Congress on the national
domain--but also for the preservation of those great constitutional
rights which were acquired by our fathers, and are now assailed by
the slaveholders and their northern auxiliaries. That you may
remember these auxiliaries and avoid giving them new opportunities
of betraying your rights, we annex a list of their dishonored names.

The following twenty-eight members from the Free States voted in the
affirmative on the recent GAG RULE.


  Virgil D. Parris
  Albert Smith


  Charles G. Atherton
  Edmund Burke
  Ira A. Eastman
  Tristram Shaw


  Nehemiah H. Earle
  John Fine
  Nathaniel Jones
  Governeur Kemble
  James de la Montayne
  John H. Prentiss
  Theron R. Strong


  John Davis
  Joseph Fornance
  James Gerry
  George M'Cullough
  David Petriken
  William S. Ramsey


  D.P. Leadbetter
  William Medill
  Isaac Parrish
  George Sweeney
  Jonathan Taylor
  John B. Weller


  John Davis
  George H. Proffit


  John Reynolds.

Let us turn to our more immediate representatives, and we trust more
faithful servants. Our State Legislatures will not refuse to hear
our prayers. Let us petition them immediately to rebuke the treason
by which the Constitution has been surrendered into the hands of the
slaveholders--let us implore them to demand from Congress, in the
name of the free States, that they shall neither destroy nor abridge
the right of petition--a right without which our government would be
converted into a despotism.

We call on you, fellow citizens of every religious faith and party
name, to unite with us in guarding the citadel of our country's
freedom. If there are any who will not co-operate with us in
laboring for the emancipation of the slave, surely there are none
who will stand aloof from us while contending for the liberty of
themselves, their children, and their children's children.

To the rescue, then, fellow citizens! and, trusting in HIM without
whom all human effort is weakness, let us not doubt that our faithful
endeavors to preserve the rights HE has given us will, through HIS
blessing, be crowned with success.


  _Executive Committee
  of the
  Anti-Slavery Society_.

_New York, February_ 13, 1840.

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