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Title: An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism - With reference to the duty of American females
Author: Beecher, Catharine Esther, 1800-1878
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism - With reference to the duty of American females" ***

    |Transcriber's Note:                                          |
    |                                                             |
    |The adjective 'Christian' is sometimes spelled 'christian'   |
    |and its use is inconsistent throughout the book. The original|
    |punctuation, language and spelling have been retained, except|
    |where noted at the end of the text.                          |

                                AN ESSAY


                        SLAVERY AND ABOLITIONISM,

                          WITH REFERENCE TO THE

                        DUTY OF AMERICAN FEMALES.


                          CATHARINE E. BEECHER.

                   HENRY PERKINS, 134 CHESTNUT STREET.
                        PERKINS & MARVIN, BOSTON.


Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1837, by _Henry
Perkins_, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.

                      L. ASHMEAD AND CO. PRINTERS.


THE following are the circumstances which occasioned the succeeding
pages. A gentleman and a friend, requested the writer to assign reasons
why he should not join the Abolition Society. While preparing a reply
to this request, MISS GRIMKÉ's Address was presented, and the
information communicated, of her intention to visit the North, for the
purpose of using her influence among northern ladies to induce them to
unite with Abolition Societies. The writer then began a private letter
to Miss Grimké as a personal friend. But by the wishes and advice of
others, these two efforts were finally combined in the following Essay,
to be presented to the public.

The honoured and beloved name which that lady bears, so associated as it
is at the South, North, and West, with all that is elegant in a scholar,
refined in a gentleman, and elevated in a Christian,--the respectable
sect with which she is connected,--the interesting effusions of her
pen,--and her own intellectual and moral worth, must secure respect for
her opinions and much personal influence. This seems to be a sufficient
apology for presenting to the public some considerations in connexion
with her name; considerations which may exhibit in another aspect the
cause she advocates, and which it may be appropriate to consider. As
such, they are respectfully commended to the public, and especially to
that portion of it for which they are particularly designed.






Your public address to Christian females at the South has reached me,
and I have been urged to aid in circulating it at the North. I have also
been informed, that you contemplate a tour, during the ensuing year, for
the purpose of exerting your influence to form Abolition Societies among
ladies of the non-slave-holding States.

Our acquaintance and friendship give me a claim to your private ear; but
there are reasons why it seems more desirable to address you, who now
stand before the public as an advocate of Abolition measures, in a more
public manner.

The object I have in view, is to present some reasons why it seems
unwise and inexpedient for ladies of the non-slave-holding States to
unite themselves in Abolition Societies; and thus, at the same time,
to exhibit the inexpediency of the course you propose to adopt.

I would first remark, that your public address leads me to infer, that
you are not sufficiently informed in regard to the feelings and opinions
of Christian females at the North. Your remarks seem to assume, that the
_principles_ held by Abolitionists on the subject of slavery, are
peculiar to them, and are not generally adopted by those at the North
who oppose their _measures_. In this you are not correctly informed. In
the sense in which Abolitionists explain the terms they employ, there is
little, if any, difference between them and most northern persons.
Especially is this true of northern persons of religious principles. I
know not where to look for northern Christians, who would deny that
every slave-holder is bound to treat his slaves exactly as he would
claim that his own children ought to be treated in similar
circumstances; that the holding of our fellow men as property, or the
withholding any of the rights of freedom, for mere purposes of gain, is
a sin, and ought to be immediately abandoned; and that where the laws
are such, that a slave-holder cannot _legally_ emancipate his slaves,
without throwing them into worse bondage, he is bound to use all his
influence to alter those laws, and, in the meantime, to treat his slaves,
as nearly as he can, _as if_ they were free.

I do not suppose there is one person in a thousand, at the North, who
would dissent from these principles. They would only differ in the use
of terms, and call this the doctrine of _gradual emancipation_, while
Abolitionists would call it the doctrine of _immediate emancipation_.

As this is the state of public opinion at the North, there is no
necessity for using any influence with northern ladies, in order that
they may adopt your _principles_ on the subject of slavery; for they
hold them in common with yourself, and it would seem unwise, and might
prove irritating, to approach them as if they held opposite sentiments.

In regard to the duty of making efforts to bring the people of the
Southern States to adopt these principles, and act on them, it is
entirely another matter. On this point you would find a large majority
opposed to your views. Most persons in the non-slave-holding States have
considered the matter of Southern slavery, as one in which they were no
more called to interfere, than in the abolition of the press-gang system
in England, or the tythe system of Ireland. Public opinion may have been
wrong on this point, and yet have been right on all those great
principles of rectitude and justice relating to slavery, which
Abolitionists claim as their _distinctive_ peculiarities.

The distinctive peculiarity of the Abolition Society is this: it is a
voluntary association in one section of the country, designed to awaken
public sentiment against a moral evil existing in another section of the
country, and the principal point of effort seems to be, to enlarge the
numbers of this association as a means of influencing public sentiment.
The principal object of your proposed tour, I suppose, is to present
facts, arguments, and persuasions to influence northern ladies to enrol
themselves as members of this association.

I will therefore proceed to present some of the reasons which may be
brought against such a measure as the one you would urge.

In the first place, the main principle of action in that society rests
wholly on a false deduction from past experience. Experience has shown,
that when certain moral evils exist in a community, efforts to awaken
public sentiment against such practices, and combinations for the
exercise of personal influence and example, have in various cases tended
to rectify these evils. Thus in respect to intemperance;--the collecting
of facts, the labours of public lecturers and the distribution of
publications, have had much effect in diminishing the evil. So in
reference to the slave-trade and slavery in England. The English nation
possessed the power of regulating their own trade, and of giving liberty
to every slave in their dominions; and yet they were entirely unmindful
of their duty on this subject. Clarkson, Wilberforce, and their
coadjutors, commenced a system of operations to arouse and influence
public sentiment, and they succeeded in securing the suppression of the
slave trade, and the gradual abolition of slavery in the English
colonies. In both these cases, the effort was to enlighten and direct
public sentiment in a community, of which the actors were a portion, in
order to lead them to rectify an evil existing among THEMSELVES, which
was entirely under their control.

From the success of such efforts, the Abolitionists of this country have
drawn inferences, which appear to be not only illogical, but false.
Because individuals in _their own_ community have aroused their fellow
citizens to correct their own evils, therefore they infer that attempts
to convince their fellow-citizens of the faults of _another_ community
will lead that community to forsake their evil practices. An example
will more clearly illustrate the case. Suppose two rival cities, which
have always been in competition, and always jealous of each other's
reputation and prosperity. Certain individuals in one of these cities
become convinced, that the sin of intemperance is destroying their
prosperity and domestic happiness. They proceed to collect facts, they
arrange statistics, they call public meetings, they form voluntary
associations, they use arguments, entreaties and personal example, and
by these means they arrest the evil.

Suppose another set of men, in this same community, become convinced
that certain practices in trade and business in the rival city, are
dishonest, and have an oppressive bearing on certain classes in that
city, and are injurious to the interests of general commerce. Suppose
also, that these are practices, which, by those who allow them, are
considered as honourable and right. Those who are convinced of their
immorality, wish to alter the opinions and the practices of the citizens
of their rival city, and to do this, they commence the collection of
facts, that exhibit the tendencies of these practices and the evils they
have engendered. But instead of going among the community in which the
evils exist, and endeavouring to convince and persuade them, they
proceed to form voluntary associations among their neighbours at home,
and spend their time, money and efforts to convince their fellow
citizens that the inhabitants of their rival city are guilty of a great
sin. They also publish papers and tracts and send out agents, not to the
guilty city, but to all the neighbouring towns and villages, to convince
them of the sins of the city in their vicinity. And they claim that they
shall succeed in making that city break off its sins, by these measures,
because other men succeeded in banishing intemperance by labouring among
their own friends and fellow citizens. Is not this example exactly
parallel with the exertions of the Abolitionists? Are not the northern
and southern sections of our country distinct communities, with
different feelings and interests? Are they not rival, and jealous in
feeling? Have the northern States the power to rectify evils at the
South, as they have to remove their own moral deformities; or have they
any such power over the southern States as the British people had over
their own trade and their dependent colonies in the West Indies? Have
not Abolitionists been sending out papers, tracts, and agents to
convince the people of the North of the sins of the South? Have they not
refrained from going to the South with their facts, arguments, and
appeals, because they feared personal evils to themselves? And do not
Abolitionists found their hopes of success in their project, on the
success which crowned the efforts of British philanthropists in the case
of slavery, and on the success that has attended efforts to banish
intemperance? And do not these two cases differ entirely from the
Abolition movement in this main point, that one is an effort to convince
men of _their own_ sins, and the other is an effort to convince men of
the sins of _other persons_?

The second reason I would urge against joining the Abolition Society is,
that its character and measures are not either peaceful or Christian in
tendency, but they rather are those which tend to generate party spirit,
denunciation, recrimination, and angry passions.

But before bringing evidence to sustain this position, I wish to make a
distinction between the _men_ who constitute an association, and the
_measures_ which are advocated and adopted.

I believe, that as a body, Abolitionists are men of pure morals, of
great honesty of purpose, of real benevolence and piety, and of great
activity in efforts to promote what they consider the best interests of
their fellow men. I believe, that, in making efforts to abolish slavery,
they have taken measures, which they supposed were best calculated to
bring this evil to an end, with the greatest speed, and with the least
danger and suffering to the South. I do not believe they ever designed
to promote disunion, or insurrection, or to stir up strife, or that they
suppose that their measures can be justly characterized by the
peculiarities I have specified. I believe they have been urged forward
by a strong feeling of patriotism, as well as of religious duty, and
that they have made great sacrifices of feeling, character, time, and
money to promote what they believed to be the cause of humanity and the
service of God. I regard individuals among them, as having taken a bold
and courageous stand, in maintaining the liberty of free discussion, the
liberty of speech and of the press; though this however is somewhat
abated by the needless provocations by which they caused those
difficulties and hazards they so courageously sustained. In speaking
thus of Abolitionists as a body, it is not assumed that there are not
bad men found in this party as well as in every other; nor that among
those who are good men, there are not those who may have allowed party
spirit to take the place of Christian principle; men who have exhibited
a mournful destitution of Christian charity; who have indulged in an
overbearing, denouncing, and self-willed pertinacity as to measures. Yet
with these reservations, I believe that the above is no more than a fair
and just exhibition of that class of men who are embraced in the party
of Abolitionists. And all this can be admitted, and yet the objection I
am to urge against joining their ranks may stand in its full force.

To make the position clearer, an illustration may be allowed. Suppose a
body of good men become convinced that the inspired direction, "them
that sin, rebuke before all, that others may fear," imposes upon them
the duty of openly rebuking every body whom they discover in the
practice of any sin. Suppose these men are daily in the habit of going
into the streets, and calling all by-standers around them, pointing out
certain men, some as liars, some as dishonest, some as licentious, and
then bringing proofs of their guilt and rebuking them before all; at the
same time exhorting all around to point at them the finger of scorn.

They persevere in this course till the whole community is thrown into an
uproar; and assaults, and even bloodshed ensue. They then call on all
good citizens to protect their persons from abuse, and to maintain the
liberty of speech and of free opinion.

Now the men may be as pure in morals, as conscientious and upright in
intention, as any Abolitionist, and yet every one would say, that their
measures were unwise and unchristian.

In like manner, although Abolitionists may be lauded for many virtues,
still much evidence can be presented, that the character and measures of
the Abolition Society are not either peaceful or christian in tendency,
but that they are in their nature calculated to generate party spirit,
denunciation, recrimination, and angry passions.

The first thing I would present to establish this, is the character of
the leaders of this association. Every combined effort is necessarily
directed by leaders; and the spirit of the leaders will inevitably be
communicated to their coadjutors, and appear in the measures of the
whole body.

In attempting to characterize these leaders, I would first present
another leader of a similar enterprise, the beloved and venerated
WILBERFORCE. It is thus that his prominent traits are delineated by an
intimate friend.

"His extreme benevolence contributed largely to his success. I have
heard him say, that it was one of his constant rules, and on the
question of slavery especially, never to provoke an adversary--to allow
him credit fully for sincerity and purity of motive--to abstain from all
irritating expressions--to avoid even such political attacks as would
indispose his opponents for his great cause. In fact, the benignity, the
gentleness, the kind-heartedness of the man, disarmed the bitterest
foes. Not only on this question did he restrain himself, but generally.
Once he had been called during a whole debate 'the religious member,' in
a kind of scorn. He remarked afterwards, that he was much inclined to
have retorted, by calling his opponent the _irreligious_ member, but
that he refrained, as it would have been a returning of evil for evil.
Next to his general consistency, and love of the Scriptures, the
_humility_ of his character always appeared remarkable. The modest,
shrinking, simple Christian statesman and friend always appeared in him.
And the nearer you approached him, the more his habit of mind obviously
appeared to be modest and lowly. His _charity in judging of others_, is
a farther trait of his Christian character. Of his benevolence I need
not speak, but his _kind construction of doubtful actions_, his
_charitable language_ toward those with whom he most widely differed,
his thorough forgetfulness of little affronts, were fruits of that
general benevolence which continually appeared."

This was the leader, both in and out of Parliament, of that body of men
who combined to bring to an end slavery and the slave trade, in the
dominions of Great Britain. With him, as principal leaders, were
associated CLARKSON, SHARPE, MACAULAY, and others of a similar spirit.
These men were all of them characterized by that mild, benevolent,
peaceful, gentlemanly and forbearing spirit, which has been described as
so conspicuous in Wilberforce. And when their measures are examined, it
will be found that they were eminently mild, peaceful, and forbearing.
Though no effort that is to encounter the selfish interests of men, can
escape without odium and opposition, from those who are thwarted, and
from all whom they can influence, these men carefully took those
measures that were calculated to bring about their end with the least
opposition and evil possible. They avoided prejudices, strove to
conciliate opposers, shunned every thing that would give needless
offence and exasperation, began slowly and cautiously, with points which
could be the most easily carried, and advanced toward others only as
public sentiment became more and more enlightened. They did not beard
the lion in full face, by coming out as the first thing with the maxim,
that all slavery ought and must be abandoned immediately. They began
with "inquiries as to the _impolicy_ of the _slave trade_," and it was
years before they came to the point of the abolition of slavery. And
they carried their measures through, without producing warring parties
among _good men_, who held common principles with themselves. As a
general fact, the pious men of Great Britain acted harmoniously in this
great effort.

Let us now look at the leaders of the Abolition movement in America. The
man who first took the lead was William L. Garrison, who, though he
professes a belief in the Christian religion, is an avowed opponent of
most of its institutions. The character and spirit of this man have for
years been exhibited in "the Liberator," of which he is the editor. That
there is to be found in that paper, or in any thing else, any evidence
of his possessing the peculiar traits of Wilberforce, not even his
warmest admirers will maintain. How many of the opposite traits can be
found, those can best judge who have read his paper. Gradually others
joined themselves in the effort commenced by Garrison; but for a long
time they consisted chiefly of men who would fall into one of these
three classes; either good men who were so excited by a knowledge of the
enormous evils of slavery, that _any thing_ was considered better than
entire inactivity, or else men accustomed to a contracted field of
observation, and more qualified to judge of immediate results than of
general tendencies, or else men of ardent and impulsive temperament,
whose feelings are likely to take the lead, rather than their judgment.

There are no men who act more efficiently as the leaders of an
enterprise than the editors of the periodicals that advocate and defend
it. The editors of the Emancipator, the Friend of Man, the New York
Evangelist, and the other abolition periodicals, may therefore be
considered as among the chief leaders of the enterprise, and their
papers are the mirror from which their spirit and character are

I wish the friends of these editors would cull from their papers all the
indications they can find of the peculiarities that distinguished
Wilberforce and his associates; all the evidence of "a modest and lowly
spirit,"--all the exhibitions of "charity in judging of the motives of
those who oppose their measures,"--all the "indications of benignity,
gentleness, and kind-heartedness,"--all the "kind constructions of
doubtful actions,"--all the "charitable language used toward those who
differ in opinion or measures,"--all the "thorough forgetfulness of
little affronts,"--all the cases where "opponents are allowed full
credit for purity and sincerity of motive,"--all cases where they have
been careful "never to provoke an adversary,"--all cases where they have
"refrained from all irritating expressions,"--all cases where they have
avoided every thing that would "indispose their opponents for their
great cause," and then compare the result with what may be found of an
opposite character, and I think it would not be unsafe to infer that an
association whose measures, on an exciting subject, were guided by such
men, would be more likely to be aggressive than peaceful. The position I
would establish will appear more clearly, by examining in detail some of
the prominent measures which have been adopted by this association.

One of the first measures of Abolitionists was an attack on a benevolent
society, originated and sustained by some of the most pious and devoted
men of the age. It was imagined by Abolitionists, that the influence and
measures of the Colonization Society tended to retard the abolition of
slavery, and to perpetuate injurious prejudices against the coloured
race. The peaceful and christian method of meeting this difficulty would
have been, to collect all the evidence of this supposed hurtful tendency,
and privately, and in a respectful and conciliating way, to have
presented it to the attention of the wise and benevolent men, who were
most interested in sustaining this institution. If this measure did not
avail to convince them, then it would have been safe and justifiable to
present to the public a temperate statement of facts, and of the
deductions based on them, drawn up in a respectful and candid manner,
with every charitable allowance which truth could warrant. Instead of
this, when the attempt was first made to turn public opinion against the
Colonization Society, I met one of the most influential supporters of
that institution, just after he had had an interview with a leading
Abolitionist. This gentleman was most remarkable for his urbanity,
meekness, and benevolence, and his remark to me in reference to this
interview, shows what was its nature. "I love truth and sound argument,"
said he, "but when a man comes at me with a sledge hammer, I cannot help
dodging." This is a specimen of their private manner of dealing. In
public, the enterprise was attacked as a plan for promoting the selfish
interests and prejudices of the whites, at the expense of the coloured
population; and in many cases, it was assumed that the conductors of
this association were aware of this, and accessory to it. And the style
in which the thing was done was at once offensive, inflammatory, and
exasperating. Denunciation, sneers, and public rebuke, were bestowed
indiscriminately upon the conductors of the enterprise, and of course
they fell upon many sincere, upright, and conscientious men, whose
feelings were harrowed by a sense of the injustice, the indecorum, and
the unchristian treatment, they received. And when a temporary
impression was made on the public mind, and its opponents supposed they
had succeeded in crushing this society, the most public and triumphant
exultation was not repressed. Compare this method of carrying a point,
with that adopted by Wilberforce and his compeers, and I think you will
allow that there was a way that was peaceful and christian, and that
this was not the way which was chosen.

The next measure of Abolitionism was an attempt to remove the prejudices
of the whites against the blacks, on account of natural peculiarities.
Now, prejudice is an _unreasonable_ and _groundless_ dislike of persons
or things. Of course, as it is unreasonable, it is the most difficult of
all things to conquer, and the worst and most irritating method that
could be attempted would be, to attack a man as guilty of sin, as
unreasonable, as ungenerous, or as proud, for allowing a certain

This is the sure way to produce anger, self-justification, and an
increase of the strength of prejudice, against that which has caused him
this rebuke and irritation.

The best way to make a person like a thing which is disagreeable, is to
try in some way to make it agreeable; and if a certain class of persons
is the subject of unreasonable prejudice, the peaceful and christian way
of removing it would be to endeavour to render the unfortunate persons
who compose this class, so useful, so humble and unassuming, so kind in
their feelings, and so full of love and good works, that prejudice would
be supplanted by complacency in their goodness, and pity and sympathy
for their disabilities. If the friends of the blacks had quietly set
themselves to work to increase their intelligence, their usefulness,
their respectability, their meekness, gentleness, and benevolence, and
then had appealed to the pity, generosity, and christian feelings of
their fellow citizens, a very different result would have appeared.
Instead of this, reproaches, rebukes, and sneers, were employed to
convince the whites that their prejudices were sinful, and without any
just cause. They were accused of pride, of selfish indifference, of
unchristian neglect. This tended to irritate the whites, and to increase
their prejudice against the blacks, who thus were made the causes of
rebuke and exasperation. Then, on the other hand, the blacks extensively
received the Liberator, and learned to imbibe the spirit of its

They were taught to feel that they were injured and abused, the objects
of a guilty and unreasonable prejudice--that they occupied a lower place
in society than was right--that they ought to be treated as if they were
whites; and in repeated instances, attempts were made by their friends
to mingle them with whites, so as to break down the existing
distinctions of society. Now, the question is not, whether these things,
that were urged by Abolitionists, were true. The thing maintained is,
that the method taken by them to remove this prejudice was neither
peaceful nor christian in its tendency, but, on the contrary, was
calculated to increase the evil, and to generate anger, pride, and
recrimination, on one side, and envy, discontent, and revengeful
feelings, on the other.

These are some of the general measures which have been exhibited in the
Abolition movement. The same peculiarities may be as distinctly seen in
specific cases, where the peaceful and quiet way of accomplishing the
good was neglected, and the one most calculated to excite wrath and
strife was chosen. Take, for example, the effort to establish a college
for coloured persons. The quiet, peaceful, and christian way of doing
such a thing, would have been, for those who were interested in the
plan, to furnish the money necessary, and then to have selected a
retired place, where there would be the least prejudice and opposition
to be met, and there, in an unostentatious way, commenced the education
of the youth to be thus sustained. Instead of this, at a time when the
public mind was excited on the subject, it was noised abroad that a
college for blacks was to be founded. Then a city was selected for its
location, where was another college, so large as to demand constant
effort and vigilance to preserve quiet subordination; where contests
with "sailors and town boys" were barely kept at bay; a college
embracing a large proportion of southern students, who were highly
excited on the subject of slavery and emancipation; a college where half
the shoe-blacks and waiters were coloured men. Beside the very walls of
this college, it was proposed to found a college for coloured young men.
Could it be otherwise than that opposition, and that for the best of
reasons, would arise against such an attempt, both from the faculty of
the college and the citizens of the place? Could it be reasonably
expected that they would not oppose a measure so calculated to increase
their own difficulties and liabilities, and at the same time so certain
to place the proposed institution in the most unfavourable of all
circumstances? But when the measure was opposed, instead of yielding
meekly and peaceably to such reasonable objections, and soothing the
feelings and apprehensions that had been excited, by putting the best
construction on the matter, and seeking another place, it was claimed as
an evidence of opposition to the interests of the blacks, and as a mark
of the force of sinful prejudice. The worst, rather than the best,
motives were ascribed to some of the most respectable, and venerated,
and pious men, who opposed the measure; and a great deal was said and
done that was calculated to throw the community into an angry ferment.

Take another example. If a prudent and benevolent female had selected
almost any village in New England, and commenced a school for coloured
females, in a quiet, appropriate, and unostentatious way, the world
would never have heard of the case, except to applaud her benevolence,
and the kindness of the villagers, who aided her in the effort. But
instead of this, there appeared public advertisements, (which I saw at
the time,) stating that a seminary for the education of young ladies of
colour was to be opened in Canterbury, in the state of Connecticut,
where would be taught music on the piano forte, drawing, &c., together
with a course of English education. Now, there are not a dozen coloured
families in New England, in such pecuniary circumstances, that if they
were whites it would not be thought ridiculous to attempt to give their
daughters such a course of education, and Canterbury was a place where
but few of the wealthiest families ever thought of furnishing such
accomplishments for their children. Several other particulars might be
added that were exceedingly irritating, but this may serve as a specimen
of the method in which the whole affair was conducted. It was an entire
disregard of the prejudices and the proprieties of society, and
calculated to stimulate pride, anger, ill-will, contention, and all the
bitter feelings that spring from such collisions. Then, instead of
adopting measures to soothe and conciliate, rebukes, sneers and
denunciations, were employed, and Canterbury and Connecticut were held
up to public scorn and rebuke for doing what most other communities
would probably have done, if similarly tempted and provoked.

Take another case. It was deemed expedient by Abolitionists to establish
an Abolition paper, first in Kentucky, a slave State. It was driven from
that State, either by violence or by threats. It retreated to Ohio, one
of the free States. In selecting a place for its location, it might have
been established in a small place, where the people were of similar
views, or were not exposed to dangerous popular excitements. But
Cincinnati was selected; and when the most intelligent, the most
reasonable, and the most patriotic of the citizens remonstrated,--when
they represented that there were peculiar and unusual liabilities to
popular excitement on this subject,--that the organization and power of
the police made it extremely dangerous to excite a mob, and almost
impossible to control it,--that all the good aimed at could be
accomplished by locating the press in another place, where there were
not such dangerous liabilities,--when they kindly and respectfully urged
these considerations, they were disregarded. I myself was present when a
sincere friend urged upon the one who controlled that paper, the
obligations of good men, not merely to avoid breaking wholesome laws
themselves, but the duty of regarding the liabilities of others to
temptation; and that where Christians could foresee that by placing
certain temptations in the way of their fellow-men, all the
probabilities were, that they would yield, and yet persisted in doing
it, the tempters became partakers in the guilt of those who yielded to
the temptation. But these remonstrances were ineffectual. The paper must
not only be printed and circulated, but it must be stationed where were
the greatest probabilities that measures of illegal violence would
ensue. And when the evil was perpetrated, and a mob destroyed the press,
then those who had urged on these measures of temptation, turned upon
those who had advised and remonstrated, as the guilty authors of the
violence, because, in a season of excitement, the measures adopted to
restrain and control the mob, were not such as were deemed suitable and

Now, in all the above cases, I would by no means justify the wrong or
the injudicious measures that may have been pursued, under this course
of provocation. The greatness of temptation does by no means release men
from obligation; but Christians are bound to remember that it is a
certain consequence of throwing men into strong excitement, that they
will act unwisely and wrong, and that the tempter as well as the tempted
are held responsible, both by God and man. In all these cases, it cannot
but appear that the good aimed at might have been accomplished in a
quiet, peaceable, and christian way, and that this was not the way which
was chosen.

The whole system of Abolition measures seems to leave entirely out of
view, the obligation of Christians to save their fellow men from all
needless temptations. If the thing to be done is only lawful and right,
it does not appear to have been a matter of effort to do it in such a
way as would not provoke and irritate; but often, if the chief aim had
been to do the good in the most injurious and offensive way, no more
certain and appropriate methods could have been devised.

So much has this been the character of Abolition movements, that many
have supposed it to be a deliberate and systematized plan of the leaders
to do nothing but what was strictly a _right_ guaranteed by law, and
yet, in such a manner, as to provoke men to anger, so that unjust and
illegal acts might ensue, knowing, that as a consequence, the opposers
of Abolition would be thrown into the wrong, and sympathy be aroused for
Abolitionists as injured and persecuted men. It is a fact, that
Abolitionists have taken the course most calculated to awaken illegal
acts of violence, and that when they have ensued, they have seemed to
rejoice in them, as calculated to advance and strengthen their cause.
The violence of mobs, the denunciations and unreasonable requirements of
the South, the denial of the right of petition, the restrictions
attempted to be laid upon freedom of speech, and freedom of the press,
are generally spoken of with exultation by Abolitionists, as what are
among the chief means of promoting their cause. It is not so much by
exciting feelings of pity and humanity, and Christian love, towards the
oppressed, as it is by awakening indignation at the treatment of
Abolitionists themselves, that their cause has prospered. How many men
have declared or implied, that in joining the ranks of Abolition, they
were influenced, not by their arguments, or by the wisdom of their
course, but because the violence of opposers had identified that cause
with the question of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and civil

But when I say that many have supposed that it was the deliberate
intention of the Abolitionists to foment illegal acts and violence, I
would by no means justify a supposition, which is contrary to the
dictates of justice and charity. The leaders of the Abolition Society
disclaim all such wishes or intentions; they only act apparently on the
assumption that they are exercising just rights, which they are not
bound to give up, because other men will act unreasonably and wickedly.

Another measure of Abolitionists, calculated to awaken evil feelings,
has been the treatment of those who objected to their proceedings.

A large majority of the philanthropic and pious, who hold common views
with the Abolitionists, as to the sin and evils of slavery, and the duty
of using all appropriate means to bring it to an end, have opposed their
measures, because they have believed them not calculated to promote, but
rather to retard the end proposed to be accomplished by them. The
peaceful and Christian method of encountering such opposition, would
have been to allow the opponents full credit for purity and integrity of
motive, to have avoided all harsh and censorious language, and to have
employed facts, arguments and persuasions, in a kind and respectful way
with the hope of modifying their views and allaying their fears. Instead
of this, the wise and good who opposed Abolition measures, have been
treated as though they were the friends and defenders of slavery, or as
those who, from a guilty, timid, time-serving policy, refused to take
the course which duty demanded. They have been addressed either as if it
were necessary to convince them that slavery is wrong and ought to be
abandoned, or else, as if they needed to be exhorted to give up their
timidity and selfish interest, and to perform a manifest duty, which
they were knowingly neglecting.

Now there is nothing more irritating, when a man is conscientious and
acting according to his own views of right, than to be dealt with in
this manner. The more men are treated as if they were honest and
sincere--the more they are treated with respect, fairness, and
benevolence, the more likely they are to be moved by evidence and
arguments. On the contrary, harshness, uncharitableness, and rebuke, for
opinions and conduct that are in agreement with a man's own views of
duty and rectitude, tend to awaken evil feelings, and indispose the mind
properly to regard evidence. Abolitionists have not only taken this
course, but in many cases, have seemed to act on the principle, that the
abolition of Slavery, in the particular mode in which they were aiming
to accomplish it, was of such paramount importance, that every thing
must be overthrown that stood in the way.

No matter what respect a man had gained for talents, virtue, and piety,
if he stood in the way of Abolitionism, he must be attacked as to
character and motives. No matter how important an institution might be,
if its influence was against the measures of Abolitionism, it must be
attacked openly, or sapped privately, till its influence was destroyed.
By such measures, the most direct means have been taken to awaken anger
at injury, and resentment at injustice, and to provoke retaliation on
those who inflict the wrong. All the partialities of personal
friendship; all the feelings of respect accorded to good and useful men;
all the interests that cluster around public institutions, entrenched
in the hearts of the multitudes who sustain them, were outraged by such
a course.

Another measure of Abolitionists, which has greatly tended to promote
wrath and strife, is their indiscreet and incorrect use of terms.

To make this apparent, it must be premised, that words have no inherent
meaning, but always signify that which they are commonly _understood_ to
mean. The question never should be asked, what _ought_ a word to mean?
but simply, what is the meaning generally attached to this word by those
who use it? Vocabularies and standard writers are the proper umpires to
decide this question. Now if men take words and give them a new and
peculiar use, and are consequently misunderstood, they are guilty of a
species of deception, and are accountable for all the evils that may
ensue as a consequence.

For example; if physicians should come out and declare, that it was
their opinion that they ought to poison all their patients, and they had
determined to do it, and then all the community should be thrown into
terror and excitement, it would be no justification for them to say,
that all they intended by that language was, that they should administer
as medicines, articles which are usually called poisons.

Now Abolitionists are before the community, and declare that all slavery
is sin, which ought to be immediately forsaken; and that it is their
object and intention to promote the _immediate emancipation_ of all the
slaves in this nation.

Now what is it that makes a man cease to be a slave and become free? It
is not kind treatment from a master; it is not paying wages to the
slave; it is not the intention to bestow freedom at a future time; it is
not treating a slave as if he were free; it is not feeling toward a
slave as if he were free. No instance can be found of any dictionary, or
any standard writer, nor any case in common discourse, where any of
these significations are attached to the word as constituting its
peculiar and appropriate meaning. It always signifies _that legal_ act,
which, by the laws of the land, changes a slave to a freeman.

What then is the _proper_ meaning of the language used by Abolitionists,
when they say that all slavery is a sin which ought to be immediately
abandoned, and that it is their object to secure the immediate
emancipation of all slaves?

The true and only proper meaning of such language is, that it is the
duty of every slave-holder in this nation, to go immediately and make
out the legal instruments, that, by the laws of the land, change all his
slaves to freemen. If their maxim is true, no exception can be made for
those who live in States where the act of emancipation, by a master,
makes a slave the property of the State, to be sold for the benefit of
the State; and no exception can be made for those, who, by the will of
testators, and by the law of the land, have no power to perform the
legal act, which alone can emancipate their slaves.

To meet this difficulty, Abolitionists affirm, that, in such cases, men
are physically unable to emancipate their slaves, and of course are not
bound to do it; and to save their great maxim, maintain that, in such
cases, the slaves are not slaves, and the slave-holders are not
slave-holders, although all their legal relations remain unchanged.

The meaning which the Abolitionist attaches to his language is this,
that every man is bound to treat his slaves, as nearly as he can, like
freemen; and to use all his influence to bring the system of slavery to
an end as soon as possible. And they allow that when men do this they
are free from guilt, in the matter of slavery, and undeserving of

But men at the North, and men at the South, understand the language used
in its true and proper sense; and Abolitionists have been using these
terms in a new and peculiar sense, which is inevitably and universally
misunderstood, and this is an occasion of much of the strife and alarm
which has prevailed both at the South and at the North. There are none
but these defenders of slavery who maintain that it is a relation
justifiable by the laws of the Gospel, who differ from Abolitionists in
regard to the real thing which is meant. The great mistake of
Abolitionists is in using terms which inculcate the immediate
annihilation of the relation, when they only intend to urge the
Christian duty of treating slaves according to the gospel rules of
justice and benevolence, and using all lawful and appropriate means for
bringing a most pernicious system to a speedy end.

If Abolitionists will only cease to teach that _all_ slave-holding is a
sin which ought to be _immediately abolished_; if they will cease to
urge their plan as one of _immediate emancipation_, and teach simply and
exactly that which they do mean, much strife and misunderstanding will
cease. But so long as they persevere in using these terms in a new and
peculiar sense, which will always be misunderstood, they are guilty of a
species of deception and accountable for the evils that follow.

One other instance of a similar misuse of terms may be mentioned. The
word "man-stealer" has one peculiar signification, and it is no more
synonymous with "slave-holder" than it is with "sheep-stealer." But
Abolitionists show that a slave-holder, in fact, does very many of the
evils that are perpetrated by a man-stealer, and that the crime is quite
as evil in its nature, and very similar in character, and, therefore, he
calls a slave-holder a man-stealer.

On this principle there is no abusive language that may not be employed
to render any man odious--for every man commits sin of some kind, and
every sin is like some other sin, in many respects, and in certain
aggravated cases, may be bad, or even worse, than another sin with a
much more odious name. It is easy to show that a man who neglects all
religious duty is very much like an atheist, and if he has had great
advantages, and the atheist very few, he may be much more guilty than an
atheist. And so, half the respectable men in our religious communities,
may be called atheists, with as much propriety as a slave-holder can be
called a man-stealer. Abolitionists have proceeded on this principle, in
their various publications, until the terms of odium that have been
showered upon slave-holders, would form a large page in the vocabulary
of Billingsgate. This method of dealing with those whom we wish to
convince and persuade, is as contrary to the dictates of common sense,
as it is to the rules of good breeding and the laws of the gospel.

The preceding particulars are selected, as the evidence to be presented,
that the character and measures of the Abolition Society are neither
peaceful nor Christian in their tendency; but that in their nature they
are calculated to generate party-spirit, denunciation, recrimination,
and angry passions. If such be the tendency of this institution, it
follows, that it is wrong for a Christian, or any lover of peace, to be
connected with it.

The assertion that Christianity itself has led to strife and contention,
is not a safe method of evading this argument. Christianity is a system
of _persuasion_, tending, by kind and gentle influences, to make men
_willing_ to leave off their sins--and it comes, not to convince those
who are not sinners, but to sinners themselves.

Abolitionism, on the contrary, is a system of _coercion_ by public
opinion; and in its present operation, its influence is not to convince
the erring, but to convince those who are not guilty, of the sins of
those who are.

Another prominent peculiarity of the Abolitionists, (which is an
objection to joining this association,) is their advocacy of a
principle, which is wrong and very pernicious in its tendency. I refer
to their views in regard to what is called "the doctrine of expediency."
Their difficulty on this subject seems to have arisen from want of a
clear distinction between the duty of those who are guilty of sin, and
the duty of those who are aiming to turn men from their sins. The
principle is assumed, that because certain men ought to abandon every
sin immediately, therefore, certain other men are bound _immediately_ to
try and make them do it. Now the question of expediency does not relate
to what men are bound to do, who are in the practice of sin
themselves--for the immediate relinquishment of sin is the duty of all;
but it relates to the duty of those who are to make efforts to induce
others to break off their wickedness.

Here, the wisdom and rectitude of a given course, depend entirely on the
_probabilities of success_. If a father has a son of a very peculiar
temperament, and he knows by observation, that the use of the rod will
make him more irritable and more liable to a certain fault, and that
kind arguments, and tender measures will more probably accomplish the
desired object, it is a rule of expediency to try the most probable
course. If a companion sees a friend committing a sin, and has, from
past experience, learned that remonstrances excite anger and obstinacy,
while a look of silent sorrow and disapprobation tends far more to
prevent the evil, expediency and duty demand silence rather than

There are cases also, where differences in age, and station, and
character, forbid all interference to modify the conduct and character
of others.

A nursery maid may see that a father misgoverns his children, and
ill-treats his wife. But her station makes it inexpedient for her to
turn reprover. It is a case where reproof would do no good, but only

So in communities, the propriety and rectitude of measures can be
decided, not by the rules of duty that should govern those who are to
renounce sin, but by the probabilities of good or evil consequence.

The Abolitionists seem to lose sight of this distinction. They form
voluntary associations in free States, to convince their fellow
citizens of the sins of other men in other communities. They are blamed
and opposed, because their measures are deemed inexpedient, and
calculated to increase, rather than diminish the evils to be cured.

In return, they show that slavery is a sin which ought to be abandoned
immediately, and seem to suppose that it follows as a correct inference,
that they themselves ought to engage in a system of agitation against
it, and that it is needless for them to inquire whether preaching the
truth in the manner they propose, will increase or diminish the evil.
They assume that whenever sin is committed, not only ought the sinner
immediately to cease, but all his fellow-sinners are bound to take
measures to make him cease, and to take measures, without any reference
to the probabilities of success.

That this is a correct representation of the views of Abolitionists
generally, is evident from their periodicals and conversation. All their
remarks about preaching the truth and leaving consequences to God--all
their depreciation of the doctrine of expediency, are rendered relevant
only by this supposition.

The impression made by their writings is, that God has made rules of
duty; that all men are in all cases to remonstrate against the violation
of those rules; and that God will take the responsibility of bringing
good out of this course; so that we ourselves are relieved from any
necessity of inquiring as to probable results.

If this be not the theory of duty adopted by this association, then they
stand on common ground with those who oppose their measures, viz: that
the propriety and duty of a given course is to be decided by
_probabilities as to its results_; and these probabilities are to be
determined by the _known laws of mind_, and the _records of past

For only one of two positions can be held. Either that it is the duty of
all men to remonstrate at all times against all violations of duty, and
leave the consequences with God; or else that men are to use their
judgment, and take the part of remonstrance only at such a time and
place, and in such a manner, as promise the best results.

That the Abolitionists have not held the second of these positions, must
be obvious to all who have read their documents. It would therefore be
unwise and wrong to join an association which sustains a principle false
in itself, and one which, if acted out, would tend to wrath and strife
and every evil word and work.

Another reason, and the most important of all, against promoting the
plans of the Abolitionists, is involved in the main question--_what are
the probabilities as to the results of their movements?_ The only way to
judge of the future results of certain measures is, by the known laws of
mind, and the recorded experience of the past.

Now what is the evil to be cured?


That this evil is at no distant period to come to an end, is the
unanimous opinion of all who either notice the tendencies of the age, or
believe in the prophecies of the Bible. All who act on Christian
principles in regard to slavery, believe that in a given period
(variously estimated) it will end. The only question then, in regard to
the benefits to be gained, or the evils to be dreaded in the present
agitation of the subject, relates to the _time_ and the _manner_ of its
extinction. The Abolitionists claim that their method will bring it to
an end in the shortest time, and in the safest and best way. Their
opponents believe, that it will tend to bring it to an end, if at all,
at the most distant period, and in the most dangerous way.

As neither party are gifted with prescience, and as the Deity has made
no revelations as to the future results of any given measures, all the
means of judging that remain to us, as before stated, are the laws of
mind, and the records of the past.

The position then I would aim to establish is, that the method taken by
the Abolitionists is the one that, according to the laws of mind and
past experience, is least likely to bring about the results they aim
to accomplish. The general statement is this.

The object to be accomplished is:

First. To convince a certain community, that they are in the practice of
a great sin, and

Secondly. To make them willing to relinquish it.

The method taken to accomplish this is, by voluntary associations in a
foreign community, seeking to excite public sentiment against the
perpetrators of the evil; exhibiting the enormity of the crime in full
measure, without palliation, excuse or sympathy, by means of periodicals
and agents circulating, not in the community committing the sin, but in
that which does not practise it.

Now that this method may, in conjunction with other causes, have an
influence to bring slavery to an end, is not denied. But it is believed,
and from the following considerations, that it is the least calculated
to do the _good_, and that it involves the greatest evils.

It is a known law of mind first seen in the nursery and school,
afterwards developed in society, that a person is least likely to judge
correctly of truth, and least likely to yield to duty, when excited by

It is a law of experience, that when wrong is done, if repentance and
reformation are sought, then love and kindness, mingled with
remonstrance, coming from one who has a _right_ to speak, are more
successful than rebuke and scorn from others who are not beloved, and
who are regarded as impertinent intruders.

In the nursery, if the child does wrong, the finger of scorn, the
taunting rebuke, or even the fair and deserved reproof of equals, will
make the young culprit only frown with rage, and perhaps repeat and
increase the injury. But the voice of maternal love, or even the gentle
remonstrances of an elder sister, may bring tears of sorrow and

So in society. Let a man's enemies, or those who have no interest in his
welfare, join to rebuke and rail at his offences, and no signs of
penitence will be seen. But let the clergyman whom he respects and loves,
or his bosom friend approach him, with kindness, forbearance and true
sincerity, and all that is possible to human agency will be effected.

It is the maxim then of experience, that when men are to be turned from
evils, and brought to repent and reform, those only should interfere who
are most loved and respected, and who have the best right to approach
the offender. While on the other hand, rebuke from those who are deemed
obtrusive and inimical, or even indifferent, will do more harm than

It is another maxim of experience, that such dealings with the erring
should be in private, not in public. The moment a man is publicly
rebuked, shame, anger, and pride of opinion, all combine to make him
defend his practice, and refuse either to own himself wrong, or to cease
from his evil ways.

The Abolitionists have violated all these laws of mind and of
experience, in dealing with their southern brethren.

Their course has been most calculated to awaken anger, fear, pride,
hatred, and all the passions most likely to blind the mind to truth, and
make it averse to duty.

They have not approached them with the spirit of love, courtesy, and

They are not the persons who would be regarded by the South, as having
any _right_ to interfere; and therefore, whether they have such right or
not, the probabilities of good are removed. For it is not only demanded
for the benefit of the offender, that there should really be a right,
but it is necessary that he should feel that there is such a right.

In dealing with their brethren, too, they have not tried silent,
retired, private measures. It has been public denunciation of crime and
shame in newspapers, addressed as it were to by-standers, in order to
arouse the guilty.

In reply to this, it has been urged, that men could not go to the
South--that they would be murdered there--that the only way was, to
convince the North, and excite public odium against the sins of the
South, and thus gradually conviction, repentance, and reformation would

Here is another case where men are to judge of their duty, by estimating
probabilities of future results; and it may first be observed, that it
involves the principle of expediency, in just that form to which
Abolitionists object.

It is allowed that the immediate abolition of slavery is to be produced
by means of "light and love," and yet it is maintained as right to
withdraw personally from the field of operation, because of
_consequences_; because of the probable danger of approaching. "If we go
to the South, and present truth, argument, and entreaty, _we shall be
slain_, and therefore we are not under obligation to go." If this
justifies Abolitionists in their neglect of their offending brethren,
because they fear evil results to themselves, it also justifies those
who refuse to act with Abolitionists in their measures, because they
fear other evil results.

But what proof is there, that if the Abolitionists had taken another
method, the one more in accordance with the laws of mind and the
dictates of experience, that there would have been at the South all this
violence? Before the abolition movement commenced, both northern and
southern men, expressed their views freely at the South. The dangers,
evils, and mischiefs of slavery were exhibited and discussed even in the
legislative halls of more than one of the Southern States, and many
minds were anxiously devising measures, to bring this evil to an end.

Now let us look at some of the records of past experience. Clarkson was
the first person who devoted himself to the cause of Abolition in
England. His object was to convince the people of England that they were
guilty of a great impolicy, and great sin, in permitting the
slave-trade. He was to meet the force of public sentiment, and power,
and selfishness, and wealth, which sustained this traffic, in that
nation. What were his measures? He did not go to Sweden, or Russia, or
France, to awaken public sentiment against the sins of the English.--He
began by first publishing an inquiry in England whether it was right to
seize men, and make them slaves. He went unostentatiously to some of the
best and most pious men there, and endeavoured to interest them in the

Then he published an article on the impolicy of the slave-trade, showing
its disadvantages. Then he collected information of the evils and
enormities involved in the traffic, and went quietly around among those
most likely to be moved by motives of humanity and Christianity. In this
manner he toiled for more than fourteen years, slowly implanting the
leaven among the good men, until he gained a noble band of patriots and
Christians, with Wilberforce at their head.

The following extract from a memoir of Clarkson discloses the manner and
spirit in which he commenced his enterprise, and toiled through to its

"In 1785 Dr. Peckhard, Vice-Chancellor of the University, deeply
impressed with the iniquity of the slave-trade, announced as a subject
for a Latin Dissertation to the Senior Bachelors of Arts: '_Anne liceat
invitos in servitutem dare?_' 'Is it right to make slaves of others
against their will?' However benevolent the feelings of the
Vice-Chancellor, and however strong and clear the opinions he held on
the inhuman traffic, it is probable that he little thought that this
discussion would secure for the object so dear to his own heart, efforts
and advocacy equally enlightened and efficient, that should be
continued, until his country had declared, not that the slave-trade
only, but that slavery itself should cease.

"Mr. Clarkson, having in the preceding year gained the first prize for
the Latin Dissertation, was naturally anxious to maintain his honourable
position; and no efforts were spared, during the few intervening weeks,
in collecting information and evidence. Important facts were gained from
Anthony Benezet's Historical Account of Guinea, which Mr. Clarkson
hastened to London to purchase. Furnished with these and other valuable
information, he commenced his difficult task. How it was accomplished,
he thus informs us.

"'No person,' he states,[1] 'can tell the severe trial which the writing
of it proved to me. I had expected pleasure from the invention of the
arguments, from the arrangement of them, from the putting of them
together, and from the thought, in the interim, that I was engaged in an
innocent contest for literary honour. But all my pleasure was damped by
the facts which were now continually before me. It was but one gloomy
subject from morning to night. In the day-time I was uneasy; in the
night I had little rest. I sometimes never closed my eyelids for grief.
It became now not so much a trial for academical reputation, as for the
production of a work which might be useful to injured Africa. And
keeping this idea in my mind ever after the perusal of Benezet, I always
slept with a candle in my room, that I might rise out of bed, and put
down such thoughts as might occur to me in the night, if I judged them
valuable, conceiving that no arguments of any moment should be lost in
so great a cause. Having at length finished this painful task, I sent my
Essay to the Vice-Chancellor, and soon afterwards found myself honoured,
as before, with the first prize.

    [1] History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

"'As it is usual to read these essays publicly in the senate-house soon
after the prize is adjudged, I was called to Cambridge for this purpose.
I went, and performed my office. On returning, however, to London, the
subject of it almost wholly engrossed my thoughts. I became at times
very seriously affected while upon the road. I stopped my horse
occasionally, and dismounted, and walked. I frequently tried to persuade
myself in these intervals that the contents of my Essay could not be
true. The more, however, I reflected upon them, or rather upon the
authorities on which they were founded, the more I gave them credit.
Coming in sight of Wade's Mill, in Hertfordshire, I sat down
disconsolate on the turf by the road-side, and held my horse. Here a
thought came into my mind, that if the contents of the Essay were true,
it was time some person should see these calamities to their end.
Agitated in this manner, I reached home. This was in the summer of 1785.

"'In the course of the autumn of the same year I experienced similar
impressions. I walked frequently into the woods, that I might think on
the subject in solitude, and find relief to my mind there. But there the
question still recurred, 'Are these things true?' Still the answer
followed as instantaneously,--'They are.' Still the result accompanied
it; 'Then, surely, some person should interfere.' I then began to envy
those who had seats in parliament, and who had great riches, and widely
extended connexions, which would enable them to take up this cause.
Finding scarcely any one at that time who thought of it, I was turned
frequently to myself. But here many difficulties arose. It struck me,
among others, that a young man of only twenty-four years of age could
not have that solid judgment, or knowledge of men, manners, and things,
which were requisite to qualify him to undertake a task of such
magnitude and importance: and with whom was I to unite? I believed also,
that it looked so much like one of the feigned labours of Hercules, that
my understanding would be suspected if I proposed it. On ruminating,
however, on the subject, I found one thing at least practicable, and
that this was also in my power. I could translate my Latin Dissertation.
I could enlarge it usefully. I could see how the public received it, or
how far they were likely to favour any serious measures, which should
have a tendency to produce the abolition of the slave-trade. Upon this,
then, I determined; and in the middle of the month of November, 1785, I
began my work.'

"Such is the characteristic and ingenuous account given by Clarkson of
his introduction to that work to which the energies of his life were
devoted, and in reference to which, and to the account whence the
foregoing extract has been made, one of the most benevolent and gifted
writers of our country[2] has justly observed,--

    [2] Coleridge.

"'This interesting tale is related, not by a descendant, but a
cotemporary; not by a distant spectator, but by a participator of the
contest; and of all the many participators, by the man confessedly the
most efficient; the man whose unparalleled labours in this work of love
and peril, leave on the mind of a reflecting reader the sublime doubt,
which of the two will have been the greater final gain to the moral
world,--the removal of the evil, or the proof, thereby given, what
mighty effects single good men may realize by self-devotion and

"When Mr. Clarkson went to London to publish his book, he was introduced
to many friends of the cause of Abolition, who aided in giving it
extensive circulation. Whilst thus employed, he received an invitation,
which he accepted, to visit the Rev. James Ramsay, vicar of Teston, in
Kent, who had resided nineteen years in the island of St. Christopher.

"Shortly afterwards, dining one day at Sir Charles Middleton's,
(afterwards Lord Barham,) the conversation turned upon the subject, and
Mr. Clarkson declared that he was ready to devote himself to the cause.
This avowal met with great encouragement from the company, and Sir C.
Middleton, then Comptroller to the Navy, offered every possible
assistance. The friends of Mr. Clarkson increased, and this encouraged
him to proceed. Dr. Porteus, then Bishop of Chester, and Lord Scarsdale,
were secured in the House of Lords. Mr. Bennet Langton, and Dr. Baker,
who were acquainted with many members of both houses of parliament; the
honoured Granville Sharpe, James and Richard Phillips, could be depended
upon, as well as the entire body of the Society of Friends, to many of
whom he had been introduced by Mr. Joseph Hancock, his fellow-townsman.
Seeking information in every direction, Mr. Clarkson boarded a number of
vessels engaged in the African trade, and obtained specimens of the
natural productions of the country. The beauty of the cloth made from
African cotton, &c. enhanced his estimate of the skill and ingenuity of
the people, and gave a fresh stimulus to his exertions on their behalf.
He next visited a slave-ship; the rooms below, the gratings above, and
the barricade across the deck, with the explanation of their uses,
though the sight of them filled him with sadness and horror, gave new
energy to all his movements. In his indefatigable endeavours to collect
evidence and facts, he visited most of the sea-ports in the kingdom,
pursuing his great object with invincible ardour, although sometimes at
the peril of his life. The following circumstance, among others, evinces
the eminent degree in which he possessed that untiring perseverance, on
which the success of a great enterprise often depends.

"Clarkson and his friends had reason to fear that slaves brought from
the interior of Africa by certain rivers, had been kidnapped; and it was
deemed of great importance to ascertain the fact. A friend one day
mentioned to Mr. Clarkson, that he had, above twelve months before, seen
a sailor who had been up these rivers. The name of the sailor was
unknown, and all the friend could say was, that he was going to, or
belonged to, some man-of-war in ordinary. The evidence of this
individual was important, and, aided by his friend Sir Charles
Middleton, who gave him permission to board all the ships of war in
ordinary, Mr. Clarkson commenced his search:--beginning at Deptford, he
visited successfully Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, and Portsmouth;
examining in his progress the different persons on board upwards of two
hundred and sixty vessels, without discovering the object of his search.
The feelings under which the search was continued, and the success with
which it was crowned, he has himself thus described:--

"'Matters now began to look rather disheartening,--I mean as far as my
grand object was concerned. There was but one other port left, and this
was between two and three hundred miles distant. I determined, however,
to go to Plymouth. I had already been more successful in this tour, with
respect to obtaining general evidence, than in any other of the same
length; and the probability was, that as I should continue to move among
the same kind of people, my success would be in a similar proportion,
according to the number visited. These were great encouragements to me
to proceed. At length I arrived at the place of my last hope. On my
first day's expedition I boarded forty vessels, but found no one in
these who had been on the coast of Africa in the slave-trade. One or two
had been there in king's ships; but they never had been on shore. Things
were now drawing near to a close; and notwithstanding my success, as to
general evidence, in this journey, my heart began to beat. I was
restless and uneasy during the night. The next morning I felt agitated
again between the alternate pressure of hope and fear; and in this state
I entered my boat. The fifty-seventh vessel I boarded was the Melampus
frigate.--One person belonging to it, on examining him in the captain's
cabin, said he had been two voyages to Africa; and I had not long
discoursed with him, before I found, to my inexpressible joy, that he
was the man. I found, too, that he unravelled the question in dispute
precisely as our inferences had determined it. He had been two
expeditions up the river Calabar, in the canoes of the natives. In the
first of these they came within a certain distance of a village: they
then concealed themselves under the bushes, which hung over the water
from the banks. In this position they remained during the day-light; but
at night they went up to it armed, and seized all the inhabitants who
had not time to make their escape. They obtained forty-five persons in
this manner. In the second, they were out eight or nine days, when they
made a similar attempt, and with nearly similar success. They seized
men, women, and children, as they could find them in the huts. They then
bound their arms, and drove them before them to the canoes. The name of
the person thus discovered on board of the Melampus was Isaac Parker. On
inquiring into his character, from the master of the division, I found
it highly respectable. I found also afterward that he had sailed with
Captain Cook, with great credit to himself, round the world. It was also
remarkable, that my brother, on seeing him in London, when he went to
deliver his evidence, recognized him as having served on board the
Monarch, man-of-war, and as one of the most exemplary men in that ship.'

"Mr. Clarkson became, early in his career, acquainted with Mr.
Wilberforce. At their first interview, the latter frankly stated, 'that
the subject had often employed his thoughts, and was near his heart,'
and learning his visitor's intention to devote himself to this
benevolent object, congratulated him on his decision; desired to be made
acquainted with his progress, expressing his willingness, in return, to
afford every assistance in his power. In his intercourse with members of
parliament, Mr. Clarkson was now frequently associated with Mr.
Wilberforce, who daily became more interested in the fate of Africa. The
intercourse of the two philanthropists was mutually cordial and
encouraging; Mr. Clarkson imparting his discoveries in the custom-houses
of London, Liverpool, and other places; and Mr. Wilberforce
communicating the information he had gained from those with whom he

"In 1788, Mr. Clarkson published his important work on the Impolicy of
the Slave-Trade.

"In 1789, this indefatigable man went to France, by the advice of the
Committee which he had been instrumental in forming two years before;
Mr. Wilberforce, always solicitous for the good of the oppressed
Africans, being of opinion that advantage might be taken of the
commotions in that country, to induce the leading persons there to take
the slave-trade into their consideration, and incorporate it among the
abuses to be removed. Several of Mr. Clarkson's friends advised him to
travel by another name, as accounts had arrived in England of the
excesses which had taken place in Paris; but to this he could not
consent. On his arrival in that city he was speedily introduced to those
who were favourable to the great object of his life; and at the house of
M. Necker dined with the six deputies of colour from St. Domingo,--who
had been sent to France at this juncture, to demand that the free people
of colour in their country might be placed upon an equality with the
whites. Their communications to the English philanthropist were important
and interesting; they hailed him as their friend, and were abundant in
their commendations of his conduct.

"Copies of the Essay on the Impolicy of the Slave-Trade, translated into
French, with engravings of the plan and section of a slave ship, were
distributed with apparent good effect. The virtuous Abbé Gregoire, and
several members of the National Assembly, called upon Mr. Clarkson. The
Archbishop of Aix was so struck with horror, when the plan of the slave
ship was shown to him, that he could scarcely speak; and Mirabeau ordered
a model of it in wood to be placed in his dining-room.

"The circulation of intelligence, although contributing to make many
friends, called forth the extraordinary exertions of enemies. Merchants,
and others interested in the continuance of the slave-trade, wrote
letters to the Archbishop of Aix, beseeching him not to ruin France;
which they said he would inevitably do, if, as the president, he were
to grant a day for hearing the question of the abolition. Offers of
money were made to Mirabeau, if he would totally abandon his intended
motion. Books were circulated in opposition to Mr. Clarkson's; resort
was had to the public papers, and he was denounced as a spy. The clamour
raised by these efforts pervaded all Paris, and reached the ears of the
king. M. Necker had a long conversation with his royal master upon it,
who requested to see the Essay, and the specimens of African
manufactures, and bestowed considerable time upon them, being surprised
at the state of the arts there. M. Necker did not exhibit the section of
the slave ship, thinking that as the king was indisposed, he might be
too much affected by it. Louis returned the specimens, commissioning M.
Necker to convey his thanks to Mr. Clarkson, and express his
gratification at what he had seen.

"No decided benefit appears at this time to have followed the visit: but
though much depressed by his ill success in France, Mr. Clarkson
continued his labours, till excess of exertion, joined to repeated and
bitter disappointments, impaired his health, and, after a hard struggle,
subdued a constitution, naturally strong and vigorous beyond the lot of
men in general, but shattered by anxiety and fatigue, and the sad
probability, often forced upon his understanding, that all might at last
have been in vain. Under these feelings, he retired in 1794 to the
beautiful banks of Ulleswater; there to seek that rest which, without
peril to his life, could no longer be delayed.

"For seven years he had maintained a correspondence with four hundred
persons; he annually wrote a book upon the subject of the abolition, and
travelled more than thirty-five thousand miles in search of evidence,
making a great part of these journeys in the night. 'All this time,' Mr.
Clarkson writes, 'my mind had been on the stretch; it had been bent too
to this one subject; for I had not even leisure to attend to my own
concerns. The various instances of barbarity, which had come
successively to my knowledge within this period, had vexed, harassed,
and afflicted it. The wound which these had produced was rendered still
deeper by the reiterated refusal of persons to give their testimony,
after I had travelled hundreds of miles in quest of them. But the
severest stroke was that inflicted by the persecution begun and pursued
by persons interested in the continuance of the trade, of such witnesses
as had been examined against them; and whom, on account of their
dependent situation in life, it was most easy to oppress. As I had been
the means of bringing them forward on these occasions, they naturally
came to me, as the author of their miseries and their ruin.[3] These
different circumstances, by acting together, had at length brought me
into the situation just mentioned; and I was, therefore, obliged, though
very reluctantly, to be borne out of the field where I had placed the
great honour and glory of my life.'"

    [3] The father of the late Samuel Whitbread, Esq., generously
    undertook, in order to make Mr. Clarkson's mind easy upon the
    subject, "to make good all injuries which any individuals might
    suffer from such persecution;" and he honourably and nobly
    fulfilled his engagement.

It was while thus recruiting the energies exhausted in the conflict,
that Clarkson, and the compatriot band with which he had been associated
in the long and arduous struggle, were crowned with victory, and
received the grateful reward of their honourable toil in the final
abolition of the slave-trade by the British nation, in 1807, the last
but most glorious act of the Grenville administration.

The preceding shows something of the career of Clarkson while labouring
to convince the people of Great Britain of the iniquity of _their own_
trade, a trade which they had the power to abolish. During all this
time, Clarkson, Wilberforce, and their associates avoided touching the
matter of _slavery_. They knew that one thing must be gained at a time,
and they as a matter of expediency, avoided discussing the duty of the
British nation in regard to the system of slavery in their Colonies
which was entirely under their own control. During all the time that was
employed in efforts to end the slave-trade, slavery was existing in the
control of the British people, and yet Clarkson and Wilberforce decided
that it was right to let that matter entirely alone.

The following shows Clarkson's proceedings after the British nation had
abolished the slave-trade.

"By the publication of his Thoughts on the Abolition of Slavery, Mr.
Clarkson showed that neither he nor those connected with him, considered
their work as accomplished, when the laws of his country clasped with
its felons those engaged in the nefarious traffic of slaves. But the
efforts of Mr. Clarkson were not confined to his pen. In 1818, he
proceeded to Aix la Chapelle, at the time when the sovereigns of Europe
met in congress. He was received with marked attention by the Emperor of
Russia, who listened to his statements (respecting the _slave-trade_,)
and promised to use his influence with the assembled monarchs, to secure
the entire suppression of the trade in human beings, as speedily as
possible. Describing his interview with this amiable monarch, in which
the subject of peace societies, as well as the abolition of the
slave-trade was discussed, Mr. Clarkson, in a letter to a friend, thus

"'It was about nine at night, when I was shown into the emperor's
apartment. I found him alone. He met me at the door, and shaking me by
the hand, said, 'I had the pleasure of making your acquaintance at
Paris.' He then led me some little way into the room, and leaving me
there, went forward and brought me a chair with his own hand, and
desired me to sit down. This being done, he went for another chair, and
bringing it very near to mine, placed himself close to me, so that we
sat opposite to each other.

"'I began the conversation by informing the emperor that as I supposed
the congress of Aix la Chapelle might possibly be the last congress of
sovereigns for settling the affairs of Europe, its connexions and
dependencies, I had availed myself of the kind permission he gave me at
Paris, of applying to him in behalf of the oppressed Africans, being
unwilling to lose the last opportunity of rendering him serviceable to
the cause.

"'The emperor replied, that he had read both my letter and my address to
the sovereigns, and that what I asked him and the other sovereigns to
do, was only reasonable.

"'Here I repeated the two great propositions in the address--the
necessity of bringing the Portuguese time for continuing the trade
(which did not expire till 1825, and then only with a condition,) down
to the Spanish time, which expired in 1820; and secondly, when the two
times should legally have expired, (that is, both of them in 1820,) then
to make any farther continuance _piracy_. I entreated him not to be
deceived by any other propositions; for that Mr. Wilberforce, myself,
and others, who had devoted our time to this subject, were sure that no
other measure would be effectual.

"'He then said very feelingly in these words, 'By the providence of God,
I and my kingdom have been saved from a merciless tyranny, (alluding to
the invasion of Napoleon,) and I should but ill repay the blessing, if I
were not to do every thing in my power to protect the poor Africans
against their oppression also.'

"'The emperor then asked if he could do any thing else for our cause. I
told him he could; and that I should be greatly obliged to him if he
would present one of the addresses to the Emperor of Austria, and
another to the King of Prussia, _with his own hand_. I had brought two
of them in my pocket for the purpose. He asked me why I had not
presented them before. I replied that I had not the honour of knowing
either of those sovereigns as I knew him; nor any of their ministers;
and that I was not only fearful lest these addresses would not be
presented to them, but even if they were, that coming into their hands
without any recommendation, they would be laid aside and not read; on
the other hand, if he (the emperor,) would condescend to present them,
I was sure they would be read, and that coming from him, they would come
with a weight of influence, which would secure an attention to their
contents. Upon this, the emperor promised, in the most kind and affable
manner, that he would perform the task I had assigned to him.

"'We then rose from our seats to inspect some articles of manufacture,
which I had brought with me as a present to him, and which had been laid
upon the table. We examined the articles in leather first, one by one,
with which he was uncommonly gratified. He said they exhibited not only
genius but taste. He inquired if they tanned their own leather, and how:
I replied to his question. He said he had never seen neater work, either
in Petersburg or in London. He then looked at a dagger and its scabbard
or sheath. I said the sheath was intended as a further, but more
beautiful specimen of the work of the poor Africans in leather; and the
blade of their dagger as a specimen of their work in iron. Their works
in cotton next came under our notice. There was one piece which
attracted his particular notice, and which was undoubtedly very
beautiful. It called from him this observation, 'Manchester,' said he,
'I think is your great place for manufactures of this sort--do you think
they could make a better piece of cotton there?' I told him I had never
seen a better piece of workmanship of the kind any where. Having gone
over all the articles, the emperor desired me to inform him whether he
was to understand that these articles were made by the Africans in their
own country, that is, in their native villages, or _after they had
arrived in America_, where they would have an opportunity of seeing
European manufactures, and experienced workmen in the arts? I replied
that such articles might be found in every African village, both on the
coast and in the interior, and that they were samples of their own
ingenuity, without any connexion with Europeans. 'Then,' said the
emperor, 'you astonish me--you have given me a new idea of the state of
these poor people. I was not aware that they were so advanced in
society. The works you have shown me are not the works of brutes--but of
men, endued with rational and intellectual powers, and capable of being
brought to as high a degree of proficiency as any other men. _Africa
ought to have a fair chance of raising her character in the scale of the
civilized world._' I replied that it was this cruel traffic alone, which
had prevented Africa from rising to a level with other nations; and that
it was only astonishing to me that the natives there had, under its
impeding influence, arrived at the perfection which had displayed itself
in the specimens of workmanship he had just seen.'"

Animated by a growing conviction of the righteousness of the cause in
which he was engaged, and encouraged by the success with which past
endeavours had been crowned, Mr. Clarkson continued his efficient
co-operation with the friends of Abolition, advocating its claims on all
suitable occasions.

It would be superfluous to recount the steps by which, even before the
venerated Wilberforce was called to his rest, this glorious event was
realized, and Clarkson beheld the great object of his own life, and
those with whom he had acted, triumphantly achieved. The gratitude
cherished towards the Supreme Ruler for the boon thus secured to the
oppressed--the satisfaction which a review of past exertions afforded,
were heightened by the joyous sympathy of a large portion of his

    [4] This account of Clarkson, and the preceding one of Wilberforce,
    are taken from the Christian Keepsake of 1836 and 1837.

The History of the Abolition of the Slave-trade, by Clarkson himself,
presents a more detailed account of his own labours and of the labours
of others, and whoever will read it, will observe the following
particulars in which this effort differed from the Abolition movement
in America.

In the first place, it was conducted by some of the wisest and most
talented statesmen, as well as the most pious men, in the British
nation. Pitt, Fox, and some of the highest of the nobility and bishops
in England, were the firmest friends of the enterprise from the first.
It was conducted by men who had the intellect, knowledge, discretion,
and wisdom demanded for so great an enterprise.

Secondly. It was conducted slowly, peaceably, and by eminently judicious

Thirdly. It included, to the full extent, the doctrine of expediency
denounced by Abolitionists.

One of the first decisions of the "Committee for the Abolition of the
Slave-trade," which conducted all Abolition movements, was that
_slavery_ should not be attacked, but only the _slave-trade_; and
Clarkson expressly says, that it was owing to this, more than to any
other measure, that success was gained.

Fourthly. Good men were not divided, and thrown into contending
parties.--The opponents to the measure, were only those who were
personally interested in the perpetuation of slavery or the slave-trade.

Fifthly. This effort was one to convince men of their _own_ obligations,
and not an effort to arouse public sentiment against the sinful
practices of another community over which they had no control.

I would now ask, why could not some southern gentleman, such for example
as Mr. Birney, whose manners, education, character, and habits give him
abundant facilities, have acted the part of Clarkson, and quietly have
gone to work at the South, collecting facts, exhibiting the impolicy and
the evils, to good men at the South, by the fire-side of the planter,
the known home of hospitality and chivalry. Why could he not have
commenced with the most vulnerable point, the _domestic slave-trade_,
leaving emancipation for a future and more favourable period? What right
has any one to say that there was no southern Wilberforce that would
have arisen, no southern Grant, Macaulay or Sharpe, who, like the
English philanthropists, would have stood the fierce beating of angry
billows, and by patience, kindness, arguments, facts, eloquence, and
Christian love, convinced the skeptical, enlightened the ignorant,
excited the benevolent, and finally have carried the day at the South,
by the same means and measures, as secured the event in England? All
experience is in favour of the method which the Abolitionists have
rejected, because it involves _danger to themselves_. The cause they
have selected is one that stands alone.--No case parallel on earth can
be brought to sustain it, with probabilities of good results. No
instance can be found, where exciting the public sentiment of one
community against evil practices in another, was ever made the means of
eradicating those evils. All the laws of mind, all the records of
experience, go against the measures that Abolitionists have taken, and
in favour of the one they have rejected. And when we look still farther
ahead, at results which time is to develope, how stand the probabilities,
when we, in judging, again take, as data, the laws of mind and the
records of experience?

What are the plans, hopes, and expectations of Abolitionists, in
reference to their measures? They are now labouring to make the North a
great Abolition Society,--to convince every northern man that slavery at
the South is a great sin, and that it ought immediately to cease.
Suppose they accomplish this to the extent they hope,--so far as we have
seen, the more the North is convinced, the more firmly the South rejects
the light, and turns from the truth.

While Abolition Societies did not exist, men could talk and write, at
the South, against the evils of slavery, and northern men had free
access and liberty of speech, both at the South and at the North. But
now all is changed. Every avenue of approach to the South is shut. No
paper, pamphlet, or preacher, that touches on that topic, is admitted in
their bounds. Their own citizens, that once laboured and remonstrated,
are silenced; their own clergy, under the influence of the exasperated
feelings of their people, and their own sympathy and sense of wrong,
either entirely hold their peace, or become the defenders of a system
they once lamented, and attempted to bring to an end. This is the record
of experience as to the tendencies of Abolitionism, as thus far
developed. The South are now in just that state of high exasperation, at
the sense of wanton injury and impertinent interference, which makes the
influence of truth and reason most useless and powerless.

But suppose the Abolitionists succeed, not only in making northern men
Abolitionists, but also in sending a portion of light into the South,
such as to form a body of Abolitionists there also. What is the thing
that is to be done to end slavery at the South? It is to _alter the
laws_, and to do this, a small minority must begin a long, bitter,
terrible conflict with a powerful and exasperated majority. Now if, as
the Abolitionists hope, there will arise at the South such a minority,
it will doubtless consist of men of religious and benevolent
feelings,--men of that humane, and generous, and upright spirit, that
most keenly feel the injuries inflicted on their fellow men. Suppose
such a band of men begin their efforts, sustained by the northern
Abolitionists, already so odious. How will the exasperated majority act,
according to the known laws of mind and of experience? Instead of
lessening the evils of slavery, they will increase them. The more they
are goaded by a sense of aggressive wrong without, or by fears of
dangers within, the more they will restrain their slaves, and diminish
their liberty, and increase their disabilities. They will make laws so
unjust and oppressive, not only to slaves, but to their Abolitionist
advocates, that by degrees such men will withdraw from their bounds.
Laws will be made expressly to harass them, and to render them so
uncomfortable that they must withdraw. Then gradually the righteous will
flee from the devoted city. Then the numerical proportion of whites will
decrease, and the cruelty and unrestrained wickedness of the system will
increase, till a period will come when the physical power will be so
much with the blacks, their sense of suffering so increased, that the
volcano will burst,--insurrection and servile wars will begin. Oh, the
countless horrors of such a day! And will the South stand alone in that
burning hour? When she sends forth the wailing of her agonies, shall not
the North and the West hear, and lift up together the voice of wo? Will
not fathers hear the cries of children, and brothers the cries of
sisters? Will the terrors of insurrection sweep over the South, and no
Northern and Western blood be shed? Will the slaves be cut down, in such
a strife, when they raise the same pæan song of liberty and human
rights, that was the watchword of our redemption from far less dreadful
tyranny, and which is now thrilling the nations and shaking monarchs on
their thrones--will this be heard, and none of the sons of liberty be
found to appear on their side? This is no picture of fancied dangers,
which are not near. The day has come, when already the feelings are so
excited on both sides, that I have heard intelligent men, good men,
benevolent and pious men, in moments of excitement, declare themselves
ready to take up the sword--some for the defence of the master, some for
the protection and right of the slave. It is my full conviction, that if
insurrection does burst forth, and there be the least prospect of
success to the cause of the slave, there will be men from the North and
West, standing breast to breast, with murderous weapons, in opposing

Such apprehensions many would regard as needless, and exclaim against
such melancholy predictions. But in a case where the whole point of
duty and expediency turns upon the probabilities as to results, those
probabilities ought to be the chief subjects of inquiry. True, no one
has a right to say with confidence what will or what will not be; and it
has often amazed and disturbed my mind to perceive how men, with so
small a field of vision,--with so little data for judging,--with so few
years, and so little experience, can pronounce concerning the results of
measures bearing upon the complicated relations and duties of millions,
and in a case where the wisest and best are dismayed and baffled. It
sometimes has seemed to me that the prescience of Deity alone should
dare to take such positions as are both carelessly assumed, and
pertinaciously defended, by the advocates of Abolitionism.

But if we are to judge of the wisdom or folly of any measures on this
subject, it must be with reference to future results. One course of
measures, it is claimed, tends to perpetuate slavery, or to end it by
scenes of terror and bloodshed. Another course tends to bring it to an
end sooner, and by safe and peaceful influences. And the whole
discussion of duty rests on these probabilities. But where do the laws
of mind and experience oppose the terrific tendencies of Abolitionism
that have been portrayed? Are not the minds of men thrown into a
ferment, and excited by those passions which blind the reason, and warp
the moral sense? Is not the South in a state of high exasperation
against Abolitionists? Does she not regard them as enemies, as reckless
madmen, as impertinent intermeddlers? Will the increase of their numbers
tend to allay this exasperation? Will the appearance of a similar body
in their own boundaries have any tendency to soothe? Will it not still
more alarm and exasperate? If a movement of a minority of such men
attempt to alter the laws, are not the probabilities strong that still
more unjust and oppressive measures will be adopted?--measures that will
tend to increase the hardships of the slave, and to drive out of the
community all humane, conscientious and pious men? As the evils and
dangers increase, will not the alarm constantly diminish the proportion
of whites, and make it more and more needful to increase such
disabilities and restraints as will chafe and inflame the blacks? When
this point is reached, will the blacks, knowing, as they will know, the
sympathies of their Abolition friends, refrain from exerting their
physical power? _The Southampton insurrection occurred with far less
chance of sympathy and success._

If that most horrible of all scourges, a servile war, breaks forth, will
the slaughter of fathers, sons, infants, and of aged,--will the cries of
wives, daughters, sisters, and kindred, suffering barbarities worse than
death, bring no fathers, brothers, and friends to their aid, from the
North and West?

And if the sympathies and indignation of freemen can already look such
an event in the face, and feel that it would be the slave, rather than
the master, whom they would defend, what will be the probability, after
a few years' chafing shall have driven away the most christian and
humane from scenes of cruelty and inhumanity, which they could neither
alleviate nor redress? I should like to see any data of past experience,
that will show that these results are not more probable than that the
South will, by the system of means now urged upon her, finally be
convinced of her sins, and voluntarily bring the system of slavery to an
end. I claim not that the predictions I present will be fulfilled. I
only say, that if Abolitionists go on as they propose, such results are
_more_ probable than those they hope to attain.

I have not here alluded to the probabilities of the severing of the
Union by the present mode of agitating the question. This may be one of
the results, and, if so, what are the probabilities for a Southern
republic, that has torn itself off for the purpose of excluding foreign
interference, and for the purpose of perpetuating slavery? Can any
Abolitionist suppose that, in such a state of things, the great cause of
emancipation is as likely to progress favourably, as it was when we were
one nation, and mingling on those fraternal terms that existed before
the Abolition movement began?

The preceding are some of the reasons which, on the general view, I
would present as opposed to the proposal of forming Abolition Societies;
and they apply equally to either sex. There are some others which seem
to oppose peculiar objections to the action of females in the way you
would urge.

To appreciate more fully these objections, it will be necessary to recur
to some general views in relation to the place woman is appointed to
fill by the dispensations of heaven.

It has of late become quite fashionable in all benevolent efforts, to
shower upon our sex an abundance of compliments, not only for what they
have done, but also for what they can do; and so injudicious and so
frequent, are these oblations, that while I feel an increasing respect
for my countrywomen, that their good sense has not been decoyed by these
appeals to their vanity and ambition, I cannot but apprehend that there
is some need of inquiry as to the just bounds of female influence, and
the times, places, and manner in which it can be appropriately exerted.

It is the grand feature of the Divine economy, that there should be
different stations of superiority and subordination, and it is
impossible to annihilate this beneficent and immutable law. On its first
entrance into life, the child is a dependent on parental love, and of
necessity takes a place of subordination and obedience. As he advances
in life these new relations of superiority and subordination multiply.
The teacher must be the superior in station, the pupil a subordinate.
The master of a family the superior, the domestic a subordinate--the
ruler a superior, the subject a subordinate. Nor do these relations at
all depend upon superiority either in intellectual or moral worth.
However weak the parents, or intelligent the child, there is no
reference to this, in the immutable law. However incompetent the
teacher, or superior the pupil, no alteration of station can be allowed.
However unworthy the master or worthy the servant, while their mutual
relations continue, no change in station as to subordination can be
allowed. In fulfilling the duties of these relations, true dignity
consists in conforming to all those relations that demand subordination,
with propriety and cheerfulness. When does a man, however high his
character or station, appear more interesting or dignified than when
yielding reverence and deferential attentions to an aged parent, however
weak and infirm? And the pupil, the servant, or the subject, all equally
sustain their own claims to self-respect, and to the esteem of others,
by equally sustaining the appropriate relations and duties of
subordination. In this arrangement of the duties of life, Heaven has
appointed to one sex the superior, and to the other the subordinate
station, and this without any reference to the character or conduct of
either. It is therefore as much for the dignity as it is for the
interest of females, in all respects to conform to the duties of this
relation. And it is as much a duty as it is for the child to fulfil
similar relations to parents, or subjects to rulers. But while woman
holds a subordinate relation in society to the other sex, it is not
because it was designed that her duties or her influence should be any
the less important, or all-pervading. But it was designed that the mode
of gaining influence and of exercising power should be altogether
different and peculiar.

It is Christianity that has given to woman her true place in society.
And it is the peculiar trait of Christianity alone that can sustain her
therein. "Peace on earth and good will to men" is the character of all
the rights and privileges, the influence, and the power of woman. A man
may act on society by the collision of intellect, in public debate; he
may urge his measures by a sense of shame, by fear and by personal
interest; he may coerce by the combination of public sentiment; he may
drive by physical force, and he does not outstep the boundaries of his
sphere. But all the power, and all the conquests that are lawful to
woman, are those only which appeal to the kindly, generous, peaceful and
benevolent principles.

Woman is to win every thing by peace and love; by making herself so
much respected, esteemed and loved, that to yield to her opinions and to
gratify her wishes, will be the free-will offering of the heart. But
this is to be all accomplished in the domestic and social circle. There
let every woman become so cultivated and refined in intellect, that her
taste and judgment will be respected; so benevolent in feeling and
action, that her motives will be reverenced;--so unassuming and
unambitious, that collision and competition will be banished;--so
"gentle and easy to be entreated," as that every heart will repose in
her presence; then, the fathers, the husbands, and the sons, will find
an influence thrown around them, to which they will yield not only
willingly but proudly. A man is never ashamed to own such influences,
but feels dignified and ennobled in acknowledging them. But the moment
woman begins to feel the promptings of ambition, or the thirst for
power, her ægis of defence is gone. All the sacred protection of
religion, all the generous promptings of chivalry, all the poetry of
romantic gallantry, depend upon woman's retaining her place as
dependent and defenceless, and making no claims, and maintaining no
right but what are the gifts of honour, rectitude and love.

A woman may seek the aid of co-operation and combination among her own
sex, to assist her in her appropriate offices of piety, charity,
maternal and domestic duty; but whatever, in any measure, throws a woman
into the attitude of a combatant, either for herself or others--whatever
binds her in a party conflict--whatever obliges her in any way to exert
coercive influences, throws her out of her appropriate sphere. If these
general principles are correct, they are entirely opposed to the plan of
arraying females in any Abolition movement; because it enlists them in
an effort to coerce the South by the public sentiment of the North;
because it brings them forward as partisans in a conflict that has been
begun and carried forward by measures that are any thing rather than
peaceful in their tendencies; because it draws them forth from their
appropriate retirement, to expose themselves to the ungoverned violence
of mobs, and to sneers and ridicule in public places; because it leads
them into the arena of political collision, not as peaceful mediators to
hush the opposing elements, but as combatants to cheer up and carry
forward the measures of strife.

If it is asked, "May not woman appropriately come forward as a suppliant
for a portion of her sex who are bound in cruel bondage?" It is replied,
that, the rectitude and propriety of any such measure, depend entirely
on its probable results. If petitions from females will operate to
exasperate; if they will be deemed obtrusive, indecorous, and unwise, by
those to whom they are addressed; if they will increase, rather than
diminish the evil which it is wished to remove; if they will be the
opening wedge, that will tend eventually to bring females as petitioners
and partisans into every political measure that may tend to injure and
oppress their sex, in various parts of the nation, and under the various
public measures that may hereafter be enforced, then it is neither
appropriate nor wise, nor right, for a woman to petition for the relief
of oppressed females.

The case of Queen Esther is one often appealed to as a precedent. When a
woman is placed in similar circumstances, where death to herself and all
her nation is one alternative, and there is nothing worse to fear, but
something to hope as the other alternative, then she may safely follow
such an example. But when a woman is asked to join an Abolition Society,
or to put her name to a petition to congress, for the purpose of
contributing her measure of influence to keep up agitation in congress,
to promote the excitement of the North against the iniquities of the
South, to coerce the South by fear, shame, anger, and a sense of odium
to do what she has determined not to do, the case of Queen Esther is not
at all to be regarded as a suitable example for imitation.

In this country, petitions to congress, in reference to the official
duties of legislators, seem, IN ALL CASES, to fall entirely without the
sphere of female duty. Men are the proper persons to make appeals to
the rulers whom they appoint, and if their female friends, by arguments
and persuasions, can induce them to petition, all the good that can be
done by such measures will be secured. But if females cannot influence
their nearest friends, to urge forward a public measure in this way,
they surely are out of their place, in attempting to do it themselves.

There are some other considerations, which should make the American
females peculiarly sensitive in reference to any measure, which should
even _seem_ to draw them from their appropriate relations in society.

It is allowed by all reflecting minds, that the safety and happiness of
this nation depends upon having the _children_ educated, and not only
intellectually, but morally and religiously. There are now nearly two
millions of children and adults in this country who cannot read, and who
have no schools of any kind. To give only a small supply of teachers to
these destitute children, who are generally where the population is
sparse, will demand _thirty thousand teachers_; and _six thousand_ more
will be needed every year, barely to meet the increase of juvenile
population. But if we allow that we need not reach this point, in order
to save ourselves from that destruction which awaits a people, when
governed by an ignorant and unprincipled democracy; if we can weather
the storms of democratic liberty with only one-third of our ignorant
children properly educated, still we need _ten thousand_ teachers at
this moment, and an addition of _two thousand every year_. Where is this
army of teachers to be found? Is it at all probable that the other sex
will afford even a moderate portion of this supply? The field for
enterprise and excitement in the political arena, in the arts, the
sciences, the liberal professions, in agriculture, manufactures, and
commerce, is opening with such temptations, as never yet bore upon the
mind of any nation. Will men turn aside from these high and exciting
objects to become the patient labourers in the school-room, and for only
the small pittance that rewards such toil? No, they will not do it. Men
will be educators in the college, in the high school, in some of the
most honourable and lucrative common schools, but the _children_, the
_little children_ of this nation must, to a wide extent, be taught by
females, or remain untaught. The drudgery of education, as it is now too
generally regarded, in this country, will be given to the female hand.
And as the value of education rises in the public mind, and the
importance of a teacher's office is more highly estimated, women will
more and more be furnished with those intellectual advantages which they
need to fit them for such duties.

The result will be, that America will be distinguished above all other
nations, for well-educated females, and for the influence they will
exert on the general interests of society. But if females, as they
approach the other sex, in intellectual elevation, begin to claim, or to
exercise in any manner, the peculiar prerogatives of that sex, education
will prove a doubtful and dangerous blessing. But this will never be the
result. For the more intelligent a woman becomes, the more she can
appreciate the wisdom of that ordinance that appointed her subordinate
station, and the more her taste will conform to the graceful and
dignified retirement and submission it involves.

An ignorant, a narrow-minded, or a stupid woman, cannot feel nor
understand the rationality, the propriety, or the beauty of this
relation; and she it is, that will be most likely to carry her measures
by tormenting, when she cannot please, or by petulant complaints or
obtrusive interference, in matters which are out of her sphere, and
which she cannot comprehend.

And experience testifies to this result. By the concession of all
travellers, American females are distinguished above all others for
their general intelligence, and yet they are complimented for their
retiring modesty, virtue, and domestic faithfulness, while the other sex
is as much distinguished for their respectful kindness and attentive
gallantry. There is no other country where females have so much public
respect and kindness accorded to them as in America, by the concession
of all travellers. And it will ever be so, while intellectual culture in
the female mind, is combined with the spirit of that religion which so
strongly enforces the appropriate duties of a woman's sphere.

But it may be asked, is there nothing to be done to bring this national
sin of slavery to an end? Must the internal slave-trade, a trade now
ranked as piracy among all civilized nations, still prosper in our
bounds? Must the very seat of our government stand as one of the chief
slave-markets of the land; and must not Christian females open their
lips, nor lift a finger, to bring such a shame and sin to an end?

To this it may be replied, that Christian females may, and can say and
do much to bring these evils to an end; and the present is a time and an
occasion when it seems most desirable that they should know, and
appreciate, and _exercise_ the power which they do possess for so
desirable an end.

And in pointing out the methods of exerting female influence for this
object, I am inspired with great confidence, from the conviction that
what will be suggested, is that which none will oppose, but all will
allow to be not only practicable, but safe, suitable, and Christian.

To appreciate these suggestions, however, it is needful previously to
consider some particulars that exhibit the spirit of the age and the
tendencies of our peculiar form of government.

The prominent principle, now in development, as indicating the spirit of
the age, is the perfect right of all men to entire freedom of opinion.
By this I do not mean that men are coming to think that "it is no matter
what a man believes, if he is only honest and sincere," or that they are
growing any more lenient towards their fellow-men, for the evil
consequences they bring on themselves or on others for believing wrong.

But they are coming to adopt the maxim, that no man shall be forced by
pains and penalties to adopt the opinions of other minds, but that every
man shall be free to form his own opinions, and to propagate them by
all lawful means.

At the same time another right is claimed, which is of necessity
involved in the preceding,--the right to oppose, by all lawful means,
the opinions and the practices of others, when they are deemed
pernicious either to individuals or to the community. _Facts_,
_arguments_ and _persuasions_ are, by all, conceded to be lawful means
to employ in propagating our own views, and in opposing the opinions and
practices of others.

These fundamental principles of liberty have in all past ages been
restrained by coercive influences, either of civil or of ecclesiastical
power. But in this nation, all such coercive influences, both of church
and state, have ceased. Every man may think what he pleases about
government, or religion, or any thing else; he may propagate his
opinions, he may controvert opposite opinions, and no magistrate or
ecclesiastic can in any legal way restrain or punish.

But the form of our government is such, that every measure that bears
upon the public or private interest of every citizen, is decided by
_public sentiment_. All laws and regulations in civil, or religious, or
social concerns, are decided by the _majority of votes_. And the present
is a time when every doctrine, every principle, and every practice which
influences the happiness of man, either in this, or in a future life, is
under discussion. The whole nation is thrown into parties about almost
every possible question, and every man is stimulated in his efforts to
promote his own plans by the conviction that success depends entirely
upon bringing his fellow citizens to think as he does. Hence every man
is fierce in maintaining his own right of free discussion, his own right
to propagate his opinions, and his own right to oppose, by all lawful
means, the opinions that conflict with his own.

But the difficulty is, that a right which all men claim for themselves,
with the most sensitive and pertinacious inflexibility, they have not
yet learned to accord to their fellow men, in cases where their own
interests are involved. Every man is saying, "Let me have full liberty
to propagate my opinions, and to oppose all that I deem wrong and
injurious, but let no man take this liberty with my opinions and
practices. Every man may believe what he pleases, and propagate what he
pleases, provided he takes care not to attack any thing which belongs to

And how do men exert themselves to restrain this corresponding right of
their fellow men? Not by going to the magistrate to inform, or to the
spiritual despot to obtain ecclesiastical penalties, but he resorts to
methods, which, if successful, are in effect the most severe pains and
penalties that can restrain freedom of opinion.

What is dearer to a man than _his character_, involving as it does, the
esteem, respect and affection of friends, neighbours and society, with
all the confidence, honour, trust and emolument that flow from general
esteem? How sensitive is every man to any thing that depreciates his
intellectual character! What torture, to be ridiculed or pitied for such
deficiencies! How cruel the suffering, when his moral delinquencies are
held up to public scorn and reprehension! Confiscation, stripes,
chains, and even death itself, are often less dreaded.

It is this method of punishment to which men resort, to deter their
fellow-men from exercising those rights of liberty which they so
tenaciously claim for themselves. Examine now the methods adopted by
almost all who are engaged in the various conflicts of opinion in this
nation, and you will find that there are certain measures which
combatants almost invariably employ.

They either attack the intellectual character of opponents, or they
labour to make them appear narrow-minded, illiberal and bigoted, or they
impeach their honesty and veracity, or they stigmatize their motives as
mean, selfish, ambitious, or in some other respect unworthy and
degrading. Instead of truth, and evidence, and argument, personal
depreciation, sneers, insinuations, or open abuse, are the weapons
employed. This method of resisting freedom of opinions, by pains and
penalties, arises in part from the natural selfishness of man, and in
part from want of clear distinctions as to the rights and duties
involved in freedom of opinion and freedom of speech.

The great fundamental principle that makes this matter clear, is this,
that a broad and invariable distinction should ever be preserved between
the _opinions_ and _practices_ that are discussed, and the _advocates_
of these opinions and practices.

It is a sacred and imperious duty, that rests on every human being, to
exert all his influence in opposing every thing that he believes is
dangerous and wrong, and in sustaining all that he believes is safe and
right. And in doing this, no compromise is to be made, in order to
shield country, party, friends, or even self, from any just censure.
Every man is bound by duty to God and to his country, to lay his finger
on every false principle, or injurious practice, and boldly say, "this
is wrong--this is dangerous--this I will oppose with all my influence,
whoever it may be that advocates or practises it." And every man is
bound to use his efforts to turn public sentiment against all that he
believes to be wrong and injurious, either in regard to this life, or
to the future world. And every man deserves to be respected and
applauded, just in proportion as he fearlessly and impartially, and in a
_proper spirit_, _time_ and _manner_, fulfils this duty.

The doctrine, just now alluded to, that it is "no matter what a man
believes, if he is only honest and sincere," is as pernicious, as it is
contrary to religion and to common sense. It is as absurd, and as
impracticable, as it would be to urge on the mariner the maxim, "no
matter which way you believe to be north, if you only steer aright." A
man's character, feelings, and conduct, all depend upon his opinions. If
a man can reason himself into the belief that it is right to take the
property of others and to deceive by false statements, he will probably
prove a thief and a liar. It is of the greatest concern, therefore, to
every man, that his fellow-men should _believe right_, and one of his
most sacred duties is to use all his influence to promote correct

But the performance of this duty, does by no means involve the necessity
of attacking the character or motives of the _advocates_ of false
opinions, or of holding them up, individually, to public odium.

Erroneous opinions are sometimes the consequence of unavoidable
ignorance, or of mental imbecility, or of a weak and erring judgment, or
of false testimony from others, which cannot be rectified. In such
cases, the advocates of false opinions are to be pitied rather than
blamed; and while the opinions and their tendencies may be publicly
exposed, the men may be objects of affection and kindness.

In other cases, erroneous opinions spring from criminal indifference,
from prejudice, from indolence, from pride, from evil passions, or from
selfish interest. In all such cases, men deserve blame for their
pernicious opinions, and the evils which flow from them.

But, it maybe asked, how are men to decide, when their fellow-men are
guilty for holding wrong opinions; when they deserve blame, and when
they are to be regarded only with pity and commiseration by those who
believe them to be in the wrong? Here, surely, is a place where some
correct principle is greatly needed.

Is every man to sit in judgment upon his fellow-man, and decide what are
his intellectual capacities, and what the measure of his judgment? Is
every man to take the office of the Searcher of Hearts, to try the
feelings and motives of his fellow-man? Is that most difficult of all
analysis, the estimating of the feelings, purposes, and motives, which
every man, who examines his own secret thoughts, finds to be so complex,
so recondite, so intricate; is this to be the basis, not only of
individual opinion, but of public reward and censure? Is every man to
constitute himself a judge of the amount of time and interest given to
the proper investigation of truth by his fellow-man? Surely, this cannot
be a correct principle.

Though there may be single cases in which we can know that our
fellow-men are weak in intellect, or erring in judgment, or perverse in
feeling, or misled by passion, or biased by selfish interest, as a
general fact we are not competent to decide these matters, in regard to
those who differ from us in opinion.

For this reason it is manifestly wrong and irrelevant, when discussing
questions of duty or expediency, to bring before the public the
character or the motives of the individual advocates of opinions.

But, it may be urged, how can the evil tendencies of opinions or of
practices be investigated, without involving a consideration of the
character and conduct of those who advocate them? To this it may be
replied, that the tendencies of opinions and practices can never be
ascertained by discussing individual character. It is _classes_ of
persons, or large _communities_, embracing persons of all varieties of
character and circumstances, that are the only proper subjects of
investigation for this object. For example, a community of Catholics,
and a community of Protestants, may be compared, for the purpose of
learning the moral tendencies of their different opinions. Scotland and
New England, where the principles opposite to Catholicism have most
prevailed, may properly be compared with Spain and Italy, where the
Catholic system has been most fairly tried. But to select certain
individuals who are defenders of these two different systems, as
examples to illustrate their tendencies, would be as improper as it
would be to select a kernel of grain to prove the good or bad character
of a whole crop.

To illustrate by a more particular example. The doctrines of the Atheist
school are now under discussion, and Robert Owen and Fanny Wright have
been their prominent advocates.

In agreement with the above principles, it is a right, and the duty of
every man who has any influence and opportunity, to show the absurdity
of their doctrines, the weakness of their arguments, and the fatal
tendencies of their opinions. It is right to show that the _practical_
adoption of their principles indicates a want of common sense, just as
sowing the ocean with grain and expecting a crop would indicate the same
deficiency. If the advocates of these doctrines carry out their
principles into practice, in any such way as to offend the taste, or
infringe on the rights of others, it is proper to express disgust and
disapprobation. If the female advocate chooses to come upon a stage, and
expose her person, dress, and elocution to public criticism, it is right
to express disgust at whatever is offensive and indecorous, as it is to
criticize the book of an author, or the dancing of an actress, or any
thing else that is presented to public observation. And it is right to
make all these things appear as odious and reprehensible to others as
they do to ourselves.

But what is the private character of Robert Owen or Fanny Wright?
Whether they are ignorant or weak in intellect; whether they have
properly examined the sources of truth; how much they have been biased
by pride, passion, or vice, in adopting their opinions; whether they are
honest and sincere in their belief; whether they are selfish or
benevolent in their aims, are not matters which in any way pertain to
the discussion. They are questions about which none are qualified to
judge, except those in close and intimate communion with them. We may
inquire with propriety as to the character of a _community_ of Atheists,
or of a community where such sentiments extensively prevail, as compared
with a community of opposite sentiments. But the private character,
feelings, and motives of the individual advocates of these doctrines,
are not proper subjects of investigation in any public discussion.

If, then, it be true, that attacks on the character and motives of the
advocates of opinions are entirely irrelevant and not at all necessary
for the discovery of truth; if injury inflicted on character is the most
severe penalty that can be employed to restrain freedom of opinions and
freedom of speech, what are we to say of the state of things in this

Where is there a party which does not in effect say to every man, "if
you dare to oppose the principles or practices we sustain, you shall be
punished with personal odium?" which does not say to every member of the
party, "uphold your party, right or wrong; oppose all that is adverse to
your party, right or wrong, or else suffer the penalty of having your
motives, character, and conduct, impeached?"

Look first at the political arena. Where is the advocate of any measure
that does not suffer sneers, ridicule, contempt, and all that tends to
depreciate character in public estimation? Where is the partisan that is
not attacked, as either weak in intellect, or dishonest in principle, or
selfish in motives? And where is the man who is linked with any
political party, that dares to stand up fearlessly and defend what is
good in opposers, and reprove what is wrong in his own party?

Look into the religious world. There, even those who take their party
name from their professed liberality, are saying, "whoever shall adopt
principles that exclude us from the Christian church, and our clergy
from the pulpit, shall be held up either as intellectually degraded, or
as narrow-minded and bigoted, or as ambitious, partisan and persecuting
in spirit. No man shall believe a creed that excludes us from the pale
of Christianity, under penalty of all the odium we can inflict."

So in the Catholic controversy. Catholics and their friends practically
declare war against all free discussion on this point. The decree has
gone forth, that "no man shall appear for the purpose of proving that
Catholicism is contrary to Scripture, or immoral and anti-republican in
tendency, under penalty of being denounced as a dupe, or a hypocrite, or
a persecutor, or a narrow-minded and prejudiced bigot."

On the contrary, those who attack what is called liberal Christianity,
or who aim to oppose the progress of Catholicism, how often do they
exhibit a severe and uncharitable spirit towards the individuals whose
opinions they controvert. Instead of loving the men, and rendering to
them all the offices of Christian kindness, and according to them all
due credit for whatever is desirable in character and conduct, how often
do opposers seem to feel, that it will not answer to allow that there is
any thing good, either in the system or in those who have adopted it.
"Every thing about my party is right, and every thing in the opposing
party is wrong," seems to be the universal maxim of the times. And it
is the remark of some of the most intelligent foreign travellers among
us, and of our own citizens who go abroad, that there is no country to
be found, where freedom of opinion, and freedom of speech is more really
influenced and controlled by the fear of pains and penalties, than in
this land of boasted freedom. In other nations, the control is exercised
by government, in respect to a very few matters; in this country it is
party-spirit that rules with an iron rod, and shakes its scorpion whips
over every interest and every employment of man.

From this mighty source spring constant detraction, gossiping,
tale-bearing, falsehood, anger, pride, malice, revenge, and every evil
word and work.

Every man sets himself up as the judge of the intellectual character,
the honesty, the sincerity, the feelings, opportunities, motives, and
intentions, of his fellow-man. And so they fall upon each other, not
with swords and spears, but with the tongue, "that unruly member, that
setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell."

Can any person who seeks to maintain the peaceful, loving, and gentle
spirit of Christianity, go out into the world at this day, without being
bewildered at the endless conflicts, and grieved and dismayed at the
bitter and unhallowed passions they engender? Can an honest, upright and
Christian man, go into these conflicts, and with unflinching firmness
stand up for all that is good, and oppose all that is evil, in whatever
party it may be found, without a measure of moral courage such as few
can command? And if he carries himself through with an unyielding
integrity, and maintains his consistency, is he not exposed to storms of
bitter revilings, and to peltings from both parties between which he may

What is the end of these things to be? Must we give up free discussion,
and again chain up the human mind under the despotism of past ages? No,
this will never be. God designs that every intelligent mind shall be
governed, not by coercion, but by reason, and conscience, and truth.
Man must reason, and experiment, and compare past and present results,
and hear and know all that can be said on _both_ sides of every question
which influences either private or public happiness, either for this
life or for the life to come.

But while this process is going on, must we be distracted and tortured
by the baleful passions and wicked works that unrestrained party-spirit
and ungoverned factions will bring upon us, under such a government as
ours? Must we rush on to disunion, and civil wars, and servile wars,
till all their train of horrors pass over us like devouring fire?

There is an influence that can avert these dangers--a spirit that can
allay the storm--that can say to the troubled winds and waters, "peace,
be still."

It is that spirit which is gentle and easy to be entreated, which
thinketh no evil, which rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the
truth, which is not easily provoked, which hopeth all things, which
beareth all things. Let this spirit be infused into the mass of the
nation, and then truth may be sought, defended, and propagated, and
error detected, and its evils exposed; and yet we may escape the evils
that now rage through this nation, and threaten us with such fiery

And is there not a peculiar propriety in such an emergency, in looking
for the especial agency and assistance of females, who are shut out from
the many temptations that assail the other sex,--who are the appointed
ministers of all the gentler charities of life,--who are mingled
throughout the whole mass of the community,--who dwell in those
retirements where only peace and love ought ever to enter,--whose
comfort, influence, and dearest blessings, all depend on preserving
peace and good will among men?

In the present aspect of affairs among us, when everything seems to be
tending to disunion and distraction, it surely has become the duty of
every female instantly to relinquish the attitude of a partisan, in
every matter of clashing interests, and to assume the office of a
mediator, and an advocate of peace. And to do this, it is not necessary
that a woman should in any manner relinquish her opinion as to the
evils or the benefits, the right or the wrong, of any principle or
practice. But, while quietly holding her own opinions, and calmly
avowing them, when conscience and integrity make the duty imperative,
every female can employ her influence, not for the purpose of exciting
or regulating public sentiment, but rather for the purpose of promoting
a spirit of candour, forbearance, charity, and peace.

And there are certain prominent maxims which every woman can adopt as
peculiarly belonging to her, as the advocate of charity and peace, and
which it should be her especial office to illustrate, enforce, and
sustain, by every method in her power.

The first is, that every person ought to be sustained, not only in the
right of propagating his own opinions and practices, but in opposing all
those principles and practices which he deems erroneous. For there is no
opinion which a man can propagate, that does not oppose some adverse
interest; and if a man must cease to advocate his own views of truth and
rectitude, because he opposes the interest or prejudices of some other
man or party, all freedom of opinion, of speech, and of action, is gone.
All that can be demanded is, that a man shall not resort to falsehood,
false reasoning, or to attacks on character, in maintaining his own
rights. If he states things which are false, it is right to show the
falsehood,--if he reasons falsely, it is right to point out his
sophistry,--if he impeaches the character or motives of opponents, it is
right to express disapprobation and disgust; but if he uses only facts,
arguments, and persuasions, he is to be honoured and sustained for all
the efforts he makes to uphold what he deems to be right, and to put
down what he believes to be wrong.

Another maxim, which is partially involved in the first, is, that every
man ought to allow his own principles and practices to be freely
discussed, with patience and magnanimity, and not to complain of
persecution, or to attack the character or motives of those who claim
that he is in the wrong. If he is belied, if his character is impeached,
if his motives are assailed, if his intellectual capabilities are made
the objects of sneers or commiseration, he has a right to complain, and
to seek sympathy as an injured man; but no man is a consistent friend
and defender of liberty of speech, who cannot bear to have his own
principles and practices subjected to the same ordeal as he demands
should be imposed on others.

Another maxim of peace and charity is, that every man's own testimony is
to be taken in regard to his motives, feelings, and intentions. Though
we may fear that a fellow-man is mistaken in his views of his own
feelings, or that he does not speak the truth, it is as contrary to the
rules of good breeding as it is to the laws of Christianity, to assume
or even insinuate that this is the case. If a man's word cannot be taken
in regard to his own motives, feelings, and intentions, he can find no
redress for the wrong that may be done to him. It is unjust and
unreasonable in the extreme to take any other course than the one here

Another most important maxim of candour and charity is, that when we are
to assign motives for the conduct of our fellow-men, especially of
those who oppose our interests, we are obligated to put the best, rather
than the worst construction, on all they say and do. Instead of
assigning the worst as the probable motive, it is always a duty to
_hope_ that it is the best, until evidence is so unequivocal that there
is no place for such a hope.

Another maxim of peace and charity respects the subject of
_retaliation_. Whatever may be said respecting the literal construction
of some of the rules of the gospel, no one can deny that they do,
whether figurative or not, forbid retaliation and revenge; that they do
assume that men are not to be judges and executioners of their own
wrongs; but that injuries are to be borne with meekness, and that
retributive justice must be left to God, and to the laws. If a man
strikes, we are not to return the blow, but appeal to the laws. If a man
uses abusive or invidious language, we are not to return railing for
railing. If a man impeaches our motives and attacks our character, we
are not to return the evil. If a man sneers and ridicules, we are not to
retaliate with ridicule and sneers. If a man reports our weaknesses and
failings, we are not to revenge ourselves by reporting his. No man has a
right to report evil of others, except when the justification of the
innocent, or a regard for public or individual safety, demands it. This
is the strict law of the gospel, inscribed in all its pages, and meeting
in the face all those unchristian and indecent violations that now are
so common, in almost every conflict of intellect or of interest.

Another most important maxim of peace and charity imposes the obligation
to guard our fellow-men from all unnecessary temptation. We are taught
daily to pray, "lead us not into temptation;" and thus are admonished
not only to avoid all unnecessary temptation ourselves, but to save our
fellow-men from the danger. Can we ask our Heavenly Parent to protect us
from temptation, while we recklessly spread baits and snares for our
fellow-men? No, we are bound in every measure to have a tender regard
for the weaknesses and liabilities of all around, and ever to be ready
to yield even our just rights, when we can lawfully do it, rather than
to tempt others to sin. The generous and high-minded Apostle declares,
"if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world
standeth;" and it is the spirit of this maxim that every Christian ought
to cultivate. There are no occasions when this maxim is more needed,
than when we wish to modify the opinions, or alter the practices of our
fellow-men. If, in such cases, we find that the probabilities are, that
any interference of ours will increase the power of temptation, and lead
to greater evils than those we wish to remedy, we are bound to forbear.
If we find that one mode of attempting a measure will increase the power
of temptation, and another will not involve this danger, we are bound to
take the safest course. In all cases we are obligated to be as careful
to protect our fellow-men from temptation, as we are to watch and pray
against it in regard to ourselves.

Another maxim of peace and charity requires a most scrupulous regard to
the reputation, character, and feelings of our fellow-men, and
especially of those who are opposed in any way to our wishes and
interests. Every man and every woman feels that it is wrong for others
to propagate their faults and weakness through the community. Every one
feels wounded and injured to find that others are making his defects and
infirmities the subject of sneers and ridicule. And what, then, is the
rule of duty? "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them." With this rule before his eyes and in his mind, can a man retail
his neighbour's faults, or sneer at his deficiencies, or ridicule his
infirmities, with a clear conscience? There are cases when the safety of
individuals, or public justice, demands that a man's defects of
character, or crimes, be made public; but no man is justified in
communicating to others any evil respecting any of his fellow-men, when
he cannot appeal to God as his witness that he does it from benevolent
interest in the welfare of his fellow-men--from a desire to save
individuals or the public from some evil--and not from a malevolent or
gossiping propensity. Oh, that this law of love and charity could find
an illustration and an advocate in every female of this nation! Oh, that
every current slander, and every injurious report, might stand abashed,
whenever it meets the notice of a woman!

These are the maxims of peace and charity, which it is in the power of
the females of our country to advocate, both by example and by
entreaties. These are the principles which alone can protect and
preserve the right of free discussion, the freedom of speech, and
liberty of the press. And with our form of government, and our
liabilities to faction and party-spirit, the country will be safe and
happy only in proportion to the prevalence of these maxims among the
mass of the community. There probably will never arrive a period in the
history of this nation, when the influence of these principles will be
more needed, than the present. The question of slavery involves more
pecuniary interests, touches more private relations, involves more
prejudices, is entwined with more sectional, party, and political
interests, than any other which can ever again arise. It is a matter
which, if discussed and controlled without the influence of these
principles of charity and peace, will shake this nation like an
earthquake, and pour over us the volcanic waves of every terrific
passion. The trembling earth, the low murmuring thunders, already
admonish us of our danger; and if females can exert any saving influence
in this emergency, it is time for them to awake.

And there are topics that they may urge upon the attention of their
friends, at least as matters worthy of serious consideration and

Is a woman surrounded by those who favour the Abolition measures? Can
she not with propriety urge such inquiries as these?

Is not slavery to be brought to an end by free discussion, and is it not
a war upon the right of free discussion to impeach the motives and
depreciate the character of the opposers of Abolition measures? When the
opposers of Abolition movements claim that they honestly and sincerely
believe that these measures tend to perpetuate slavery, or to bring it
to an end by servile wars, and civil disunion, and the most terrific
miseries--when they object to the use of their pulpits, to the embodying
of literary students, to the agitation of the community, by Abolition
agents--when they object to the circulation of such papers and tracts as
Abolitionists prepare, because they believe them most pernicious in
their influence and tendencies, is it not as much persecution to use
invidious insinuations, depreciating accusation and impeachment of
motive, in order to intimidate, as it is for the opposers of
Abolitionism to use physical force? Is not the only method by which the
South can be brought to relinquish slavery, a conviction that not only
her _duty_, but her highest _interest_, requires her to do it? And is
not _calm, rational Christian_ discussion the only proper method of
securing this end? Can a community that are thrown into such a state of
high exasperation as now exists at the South, ever engage in such
discussions, till the storm of excitement and passion is allayed? Ought
not every friend of liberty and of free discussion, to take every
possible means to soothe exasperated feelings, and to avoid all those
offensive peculiarities that in their nature tend to inflame and offend?

Is a woman among those who oppose Abolition movements? She can urge such
inquiries as these: Ought not Abolitionists to be treated as if they
were actuated by the motives of benevolence which they profess? Ought
not every patriot and every Christian to throw all his influence against
the impeachment of motives, the personal detraction, and the violent
measures that are turned upon this body of men, who, however they may
err in judgment or in spirit, are among the most exemplary and
benevolent in the land? If Abolitionists are censurable for taking
measures that exasperate rather than convince and persuade, are not
their opponents, who take exactly the same measures to exasperate
Abolitionists and their friends, as much to blame? If Abolitionism
prospers by the abuse of its advocates, are not the authors of this
abuse accountable for the increase of the very evils they deprecate?

It is the opinion of intelligent and well informed men, that a very
large proportion of the best members of the Abolition party were placed
there, not by the arguments of Abolitionists, but by the abuse of their
opposers. And I know some of the noblest minds that stand there, chiefly
from the influence of those generous impulses that defend the injured
and sustain the persecuted, while many others have joined these ranks
from the impression that Abolitionism and the right of free discussion
have become identical interests. Although I cannot perceive why the
right of free discussion, the right of petition, and other rights that
have become involved in this matter, cannot be sustained without joining
an association that has sustained such injurious action and such
erroneous principles, yet other minds, and those which are worthy of
esteem, have been led to an opposite conclusion.

The South, in the moments of angry excitement, have made unreasonable
demands upon the non-slave-holding States, and have employed overbearing
and provoking language. This has provoked re-action again at the North,
and men, who heretofore were unexcited, are beginning to feel
indignant, and to say, "Let the Union be sundered." Thus anger begets
anger, and unreasonable measures provoke equally unreasonable returns.

But when men, in moments of excitement rush on to such results, little
do they think of the momentous consequences that may follow. Suppose the
South in her anger unites with Texas, and forms a Southern slave-holding
republic, under all the exasperating influences that such an avulsion
will excite? What will be the prospects of the slave then, compared with
what they are while we dwell together, united by all the ties of
brotherhood, and having free access to those whom we wish to convince
and persuade?

But who can estimate the mischiefs that we must encounter while this
dismemberment, this tearing asunder of the joints and members of the
body politic, is going on? What will be the commotion and dismay, when
all our sources of wealth, prosperity, and comfort, are turned to
occasions for angry and selfish strife?

What agitation will ensue in individual States, when it is to be decided
by majorities which State shall go to the North and which to the South,
and when the discontented minority must either give up or fight! Who
shall divide our public lands between contending factions? What shall be
done with our navy and all the various items of the nation's property?
What shall be done when the post-office stops its steady movement to
divide its efforts among contending parties? What shall be done when
public credit staggers, when commerce furls her slackened sail, when
property all over the nation changes its owners and relations? What
shall be done with our canals and railways, now the bands of love to
bind us, then the causes of contention and jealousy? What umpire will
appear to settle all these questions of interest and strife, between
communities thrown asunder by passion, pride, and mutual injury?

It is said that the American people, though heedless and sometimes
reckless at the approach of danger, are endowed with a strong and
latent principle of common sense, which, when they fairly approach the
precipice, always brings them to a stand, and makes them as wise to
devise a remedy as they were rash in hastening to the danger. Are we not
approaching the very verge of the precipice? Can we not already hear the
roar of the waters below? Is not now the time, if ever, when our stern
principles and sound common sense must wake to the rescue?

Cannot the South be a little more patient under the injurious action
that she feels she has suffered, and cease demanding those concessions
from the North, that never will be made? For the North, though slower to
manifest feeling, is as sensitive to her right of freedom of speech, as
the South can be to her rights of property.

Cannot the North bear with some unreasonable action from the South, when
it is remembered that, as the provocation came from the North, it is
wise and Christian that the aggressive party should not so strictly
hold their tempted brethren to the rules of right and reason?

Cannot the South bear in mind that at the North the colour of the skin
does not take away the feeling of brotherhood, and though it is a badge
of degradation in station and intellect, yet it is oftener regarded with
pity and sympathy than with contempt? Cannot the South remember their
generous feelings for the Greeks and Poles, and imagine that some such
feelings may be awakened for the African race, among a people who do not
believe either in the policy or the right of slavery?

Cannot the North remember how jealous every man feels of his domestic
relations and rights, and how sorely their Southern brethren are tried
in these respects? How would the husbands and fathers at the North
endure it, if Southern associations should be formed to bring forth to
the world the sins of Northern men, as husbands and fathers? What if the
South should send to the North to collect all the sins and neglects of
Northern husbands and fathers, to retail them at the South in tracts
and periodicals? What if the English nation should join in the outcry,
and English females should send forth an agent, not indeed to visit the
offending North, but to circulate at the South, denouncing all who did
not join in this crusade, as the defenders of bad husbands and bad
fathers? How would Northern men conduct under such provocations? There
is indeed a difference in the two cases, but it is not in the nature and
amount of irritating influence, for the Southerner feels the
interference of strangers to regulate his domestic duty to his servants,
as much as the Northern man would feel the same interference in regard
to his wife and children. Do not Northern men owe a debt of forbearance
and sympathy toward their Southern brethren, who have been so sorely

It is by urging these considerations, and by exhibiting and advocating
the principles of charity and peace, that females may exert a wise and
appropriate influence, and one which will most certainly tend to bring
to an end, not only slavery, but unnumbered other evils and wrongs. No
one can object to such an influence, but all parties will bid God speed
to every woman who modestly, wisely and benevolently attempts it.

I do not suppose that any Abolitionists are to be deterred by any thing
I can offer, from prosecuting the course of measures they have adopted.
They doubtless will continue to agitate the subject, and to form
voluntary associations all over the land, in order to excite public
sentiment at the North against the moral evils existing at the South.
Yet I cannot but hope that some considerations may have influence to
modify in a degree the spirit and measures of some who are included in
that party.

Abolitionists are men who come before the public in the character of
_reprovers_. That the gospel requires Christians sometimes to assume
this office, cannot be denied; but it does as unequivocally point out
those qualifications which alone can entitle a man to do it. And no man
acts wisely or consistently, unless he can satisfy himself that he
possesses the qualifications for this duty, before he assumes it.

The first of these qualifications is more than common exemption from the
faults that are reproved. The inspired interrogatory, "thou therefore
which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?" enforces this
principle; and the maxim of common sense, that "reprovers must have
clean hands," is no less unequivocal. Abolitionists are reprovers for
the violation of duties in the domestic relations. Of course they are
men who are especially bound to be exemplary in the discharge of all
their domestic duties. If a man cannot govern his temper and his tongue;
if he inflicts that moral castigation on those who cross his will, which
is more severe than physical stripes; if he is overbearing or exacting
with those under his control; if he cannot secure respect for a kind and
faithful discharge of all his social and relative duties, it is as
unwise and improper for him to join an Abolition Society, as it would be
for a drunkard to preach temperance, or a slave-holder Abolitionism.

Another indispensable requisite for the office of reprover is a
character distinguished for humility and meekness. There is nothing more
difficult than to approach men for the purpose of convincing them of
their own deficiencies and faults; and whoever attempts it in a
self-complacent and dictatorial spirit, always does more evil than good.
However exemplary a man may be in the sight of men, there is abundant
cause for the exercise of humility. For a man is to judge of himself,
not by a comparison with other men, but as he stands before God, when
compared with a perfect law, and in reference to all his peculiar
opportunities and restraints. Who is there that in this comparison,
cannot find cause for the deepest humiliation? Who can go from the
presence of Infinite Purity after such an investigation, to "take his
brother by the throat?" Who rather, should not go to a brother, who may
have sinned, with the deepest sympathy and love, as one who, amid
greater temptations and with fewer advantages, may be the least offender
of the two? A man who goes with this spirit, has the best hope of doing
good to those who may offend. And yet even this spirit will not always
save a man from angry retort, vexatious insinuation, jealous suspicion,
and the misconstruction of his motives. A reprover, therefore, if he
would avoid a quarrel and do the good he aims to secure, must be
possessed of that meekness which can receive evil for good, with patient
benevolence. And a man is not fitted for the duties of a reprover, until
he can bring his feelings under this control.

The last, and not the least important requisite for a reprover, is
_discretion_. This is no where so much needed as in cases where the
domestic relations are concerned, for here is the place above all
others, where men are most sensitive and unreasonable. There are none
who have more opportunities for learning this, than those who act as
teachers, especially if they feel the responsibility of a Christian and
a friend, in regard to the moral interests of pupils. A teacher who
shares with parents the responsibilities of educating their children,
whose efforts may all be rendered useless by parental influences at
home; who feels an affectionate interest in both parent and child, is
surely the one who might seem to have a right to seek, and a chance of
success in seeking, some modifications of domestic influences. And yet
teachers will probably testify, that it is a most discouraging task, and
often as likely to result in jealous alienation and the loss of
influence over both parent and child, as in any good. It is one of the
greatest compliments that can be paid to the good sense and the good
feeling of a parent to dare to attempt any such measure. This may show
how much discretion, and tact, and delicacy, are needed by those who aim
to rectify evils in the domestic relations of mankind.

The peculiar qualifications, then, which make it suitable for a man to
be an Abolitionist are, an exemplary discharge of all the domestic
duties; humility, meekness, delicacy, tact, and discretion, and these
should especially be the distinctive traits of those who take the place
of _leaders_ in devising measures.

And in performing these difficult and self-denying duties, there are no
men who need more carefully to study the character and imitate the
example of the Redeemer of mankind. He, indeed, was the searcher of
hearts, and those reproofs which were based on the perfect knowledge of
"all that is in man," we may not imitate. But we may imitate him, where
he with so much gentleness, patience, and pitying love, encountered the
weakness, the rashness, the selfishness, the worldliness of men. When
the young man came with such self-complacency to ask what more he could
do, how kindly he was received, how gently convinced of his great
deficiency! When fire would have been called from heaven by his angry
followers, how forbearing the rebuke! When denied and forsaken with
oaths and curses by one of his nearest friends, what was it but a look
of pitying love that sent the disciple out so bitterly to weep? When, in
his last extremity of sorrow, his friends all fell asleep, how gently
he drew over them the mantle of love! Oh blessed Saviour, impart more of
thy own spirit to those who profess to follow thee!

                                THE END.

    |Transcriber's Notes.                                              |
    |                                                                  |
    |                                                                  |
    |The following changes were made to the original text (correction  |
    |in brackets):                                                     |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page   3: to this request, MISS GRIMKE's(Grimké) Address was      |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page  19: associated CLARKSON, SHARPE, MACAULEY(Macaulay), and    |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page  44: (than) it is with "sheep-stealer." But Abolitionists    |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page  53: Secondly,(.) To make them willing to relinquish         |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page  59: sustained this trafic(traffic), in that nation. What    |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page  71: visiter's(visitor's) intention to devote himself to this|
    |                                                                  |
    |Page  77: Footnote 3: suffer from such persecution;(") and he     |
    |honourably and nobly                                              |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page  84: Mr. Clarkson continued his efficient                    |
    |co-opetion(co-operation)                                          |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page 101: so benevolent in feeling and action;(,) that her        |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page 108: when she cannot please, or by petulent(petulant)        |
    |complaints                                                        |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page 112: Every man is saying, "let(Let) me have                  |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page 124: and prejudiced bigot.(")                                |
    |                                                                  |
    |Page 134: tempation(temptation), and lead to greater evils than   |

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