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Title: Abolition a Sedition - By a Northern Man
Author: Donohue, Geo. W.
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 "Abolition a Sedition - By a Northern Man" ***







    Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the
    year 1839, by GEO. W. DONOHUE, in the Clerk’s
    Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    | Transcriber’s Notes:                        |
    |                                             |
    | 1. Obvious printer and typographical errors |
    |    silently corrected.                      |
    | 2. Archaic and inconsistent spelling and    |
    |    punctuation retained.                    |


            CHAPTER I.
    The character of the Abolition organization

            CHAPTER II.
    The American Anti-slavery Society a seditious organization

            CHAPTER III.
    The seditious character of the Annual Report of the American
    Anti-slavery Society, of 1838

            CHAPTER IV.
    The seditious character of the American Anti-slavery Society
    farther considered

            CHAPTER V.
    Violent reforms, and their connexion with Abolitionism

            CHAPTER VI.
    The Abolition organization borrowed from the religious world

            CHAPTER VII.
    The anarchical principles of Abolitionism

            CHAPTER VIII.
    The incendiary doctrines of Abolitionism

            CHAPTER IX.
    Political responsibility in regard to slavery

            CHAPTER X.
    The romance of Abolitionism

            CHAPTER XI.
    Every man mind his own business

            CHAPTER XII.

            CHAPTER XIII.
    Liberty and Equality

            CHAPTER XIV.
    Social and political effects of Abolitionism

            CHAPTER XV.
    The bad effects of Abolitionism on the free colored population,
    and on the condition and prospects of the slaves

            CHAPTER XVI.
    A hypothetical view of Abolitionism

            CHAPTER XVII.
    Abolitionism considered as proposing no compensation for slave

            CHAPTER XVIII.
    The condition of American slaves as compared with other portions
    of the African race

            CHAPTER XIX.
    The example of the Quakers, or Society of Friends

            CHAPTER XX.
    The South have done with argument

            CHAPTER XXI.
    Reasons why the Abolition movement, under its present
    organization, will overthrow the Government

            CHAPTER XXII.
    The Abolition organization destructive of republican liberty


We trust it will be obvious to all, that it was impossible to treat
Abolitionism according to its merits, or to exhibit its true
character, without regarding it as a RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT. There are two
prominent features of the moral and religious history of our country,
with which we have been compelled to come in contact. We, therefore,
take this opportunity so far to explain, as to bar the accident of
being misapprehended. First, then, we have averred the philosophical
connexion of antecedent and consequence between _Abolitionism_ and
_violent reforms_. It is proper, therefore, that we should state how
much we are willing to be understood as meaning by this couplet of
terms, having such a relation to the subject of this work. We say,
then, that by _violent reforms_, we mean those religious and moral
agitations of our country, which have proved alike unfriendly to
religious and social order, which are generally disapproved by sober
Christians, and we believe by the great majority of Christians, of
all, or nearly all, denominations. It is possible, that on a single
point we have hit hard a cherished opinion of many persons, for whom
we have the greatest respect; but as it relates merely to a _mode_ of
action, we must claim to be indulged in our own opinion in that
matter, as we allow the same privilege to others.

In the next place, we have found it necessary, in the _exhibit_ we
have made of the political machinery of the Abolition movement, to
enquire into its origin; and it will be manifest to all, that it was
brought from the religious world. The fact, that the model of the
American Anti-slavery Society was borrowed from the Religious and
Benevolent Society system, could not implicate those institutions, in
the estimation of the public, unless they should see fit to follow the
same example, and so far as they might do it, by going over from the
religious and moral, into the political sphere; which, we trust, they
will be wise enough not to do. It was necessary to describe the
machinery of those Societies in order to give the true picture of the
one under particular consideration; but we have taken care at the same
time to state, that the American Anti-slavery Society has betrayed
and violated the principles of the Religious and Benevolent Society
system, by first assuming its model, and then passing over into the
field of political action. That all these machineries are well adapted
to political ends, whenever they may be perverted and applied in that
direction, it is unnecessary to say; and the only way to escape the
charge, is to avoid the fault. The Abolition Society has gone openly
into that field, on which account we have considered it fair and
exactly true to represent it as a _political organization_, and as
being necessarily such from the work it has taken in hand.

Having, therefore, explained on these two points, we submit the work,
without farther comment, to speak for itself.

  _January 1, 1839._



There seems to have been a uniform impression among the great majority
of the citizens of the United States, that the Abolition movement in
this country is wrong, as it stands related to our political fabric;
but the exact character and extent of this wrong have not been so well
defined in the public mind, as to enable the people to see how a
remedy can be applied to arrest and control the mischief that appears
to be growing out of this agitation. Every reflecting person in the
land sees and feels, that it threatens to break asunder the American
Union; and few doubt, that such will be the result, if it is permitted
to go on. We take for granted, that the almost unanimous voice of the
whole country would concur in the opinion, that a violent dissolution
of the American Republic would be the greatest calamity that could
happen in this Western world. Can it be, then, that there is no
Constitutional power to suppress an organization, the rise and course
of which tend so directly and so inevitably to the disruption and
demolition of the Federal Government? Certainly, it would be a great
and notable defect in the political structure of the United States,
if there were to be found in it no principle of conservation against
such a danger, and if the people of this country were compelled to see
an enemy start up among themselves, and march directly to the
overthrow of the Government, without any power to resist. Doubtless,
in a last resort, the Union is too dear to the American people
generally to allow it to be sacrificed without an attempt to maintain
it, even if there should prove to be no provision in the Constitution
and laws. The necessity and importance of the case would create a law
for the occasion. The people would feel, that they have a better right
to defend the Union, than an enemy has to destroy it. But if the law
of necessity be waited for, the scale of chances as to the final issue
may have become doubtful--too doubtful and too portentous to be
prudently staked on such a hazard; and the American Union might be
lost forever.

If, however, it can be shown, that the Abolition movement is at war
with the genius and letter of the National Constitution and of the
Constitutions of the States respectively, and with that social compact
which created the Union, and under which it has hitherto been
maintained, then clearly there will be presented a Constitutional
basis on which this movement can be opposed, and by which, if it shall
become necessary, it can be suppressed. We propose an attempt to
establish the position, that such _is_ the character of this movement,
and consequently, that there is a remedial power against its action in
the Constitution and laws of the land.

Before we proceed to an array of the law which applies to the case, it
may be useful to inquire into the nature and character of the
organization, under which the Abolition movement is carried on. As
this machinery is so well known to the public, it will only be
necessary to refer to such general facts as the Abolitionists
themselves will not deny, however they may differ from us in the
character and name ascribed to them as a whole.

We observe, then, that the American Anti-Slavery Society, under the
authority and by the action of which, this movement is conducted, is a
_grand and permanent political organization, self-elected,
self-governed, independent, and irresponsible, having no connexion
with the Government of the country, but yet usurping the appropriate
business of that Government_.

It is an _organization_. This, certainly, will require no proof, as
nobody will deny it. It is formed after the model of the Religious and
Benevolent Society system, which has been in action for about thirty
years past, and which, in the later parts of this period, has grown
into considerable importance in the United States and in Great
Britain. The social influence of this system has been much greater in
this country than in the father land. But so long and so far as it was
confined to religious and benevolent objects, the political
authorities and feeling of the community seem to have taken little or
no alarm. It was obvious, from experience and observation, that these
organizations were armed with a wide spread, and many of them with an
all pervading influence; and that they were admirably calculated to
acquire power, and to bring to bear an efficient and energetic action
on their specific objects. In their history and progress, as their
exigencies have seemed to require, they have severally erected a sort
of State machinery, with a Constitution as a general basis of polity;
with the customary law-making, executive and judicial powers; with
principal and under secretaries; with a fiscal department; and with
numerous subsidiary agencies, according to the nature and extent of
their operations. Some of these institutions are engaged in
enterprises as wide as the globe, have numerous foreign establishments
of no mean consideration, and foreign colonies have been erected and
are governed by them. Nothing but a state machinery, with a
corresponding polity, was adequate to the execution of such designs.
And while they were confined to religious and benevolent operations,
they had not excited the jealousy of the political world; at least, so
far as we know, not to any considerable extent.

And it may be remarked--as we shall have occasion hereafter to notice
more particularly--that the Abolition movement, under its present
organization, originated in religious sentiment, and commenced as a
benevolent enterprise. It was natural, therefore, in view of the
success which had attended these other institutions, and of the great
power and efficiency they had acquired over the public mind, to adopt
the same model--the same sort of State machinery in the several
departments of its organization. And thus, in the American
Anti-Slavery Society, we have an independent and powerful
Commonwealth, organized, like every other State, on the basis of a
Constitution declarative of its great and fundamental principles,
with a head, with a cabinet, with its various State departments and
secretaries, with a productive and regular system of fiscal
operations, with a polity of its own, with a vast republic of
subsidiary combinations, multiplying rapidly, and each constantly
increasing in numbers and influence, acquiring talent, wealth, and
power on a large scale, creating and sending forth upon the public a
world of literature of its own chosen character, in the various
forms of books, periodicals, journals, tracts, and pictorial
representations; and able, on the principle of such an organization,
while unresisted by any opposing power, to extend and wield an
influence, which, sooner or later, will dissolve the Union, and send
the Government of this proud Republic, in broken fragments, to the
winds of heaven.

And it is a _political_ organization. It is true, indeed, that when
Abolition first broke out in New York, in 1834, the most prominent
leaders there disclaimed all participation in political matters, as
will appear from the following note, unless it is to be regarded as a
_ruse de guerre_ for the occasion: “It has been our object to address
the hearts and consciences of our fellow citizens, and to defend our
principles by facts and arguments; to encourage the people of color to
great circumspection of conduct and forbearance; _and to abstain from
mingling the objects of our society with either of the political

Signed, “Arthur Tappan, John Rankin, E. Wright, jr., Joshua Leavitt,
W. Goodell, Lewis Tappan, Samuel E. Cornish.

New York, July 16th, 1834.”

The following _Circular_, from the Anti-slavery office in New York,
issued for electioneering purposes, in the New York political campaign
of 1838, would seem to show, that great advances have been made in
regard to the political character of this society, since 1834:--

     “Dear Sir,

     “Enclosed you have a list of the publications of this society,
     to which you will please direct any of our _Whig_ friends, who
     may desire a knowledge of the _truth_. I am gratified that our
     Abolition friends are to be found on the _Whig side_, rather
     than the _Loco Focos_; for the cause of the country and of
     humanity ought to go together. _If we can_ RIVET _ourselves
     firmly on one of these parties, we can gain our object. Be
         I am yours, &c. per Arthur Tappan.
                                                         B. LE ROY.”
     New York, Nov. 1, 1838.

This _Circular_ was addressed to P. W. Wesley, jr., and marked No.
126. How many _more_ were sent out, of course we do not know--it might
be _hundreds_, or it might be _thousands_.

It is no more than fair, however, to observe, that Mr. Arthur Tappan
has disclaimed having authorized Mr. Le Roy the use of his name in
this instance; which, indeed, is of very little consequence, and in no
way affects the object we have in view by these references. Whether
the gentlemen, who signed the note of July 16, 1834, were really so
blind as not to see the _necessary_ connexion of their cause with
politics, we cannot pretend to say. If they _did_ see it, their
disclaimer, to say the least, was unbecoming. As men of common
discernment, they _ought_ to have known as well then as now, that they
could do nothing in this business, in the way they propose, without
affecting the politics of the country; and that the movement _in
toto_, from beginning to end, is political in its character and
bearings. Certainly, since that time, the Abolitionists have better
learned the position which they occupy. What shall we say? That their
early disclaimer was a cloak to conceal their designs? We would rather
suppose, that they did not know what they were about. Would, that we
could say, they are equally ignorant now, that thereby they might be
proved more innocent. Evidently, the disguise, if disguise it was, is
thrown aside. By their own public avowals and acts, official and
other, they are now fairly and openly in the political field. The
following resolution was passed at the Annual meeting of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, at New York, May, 1838: “_Resolved_, that we
deprecate the organization of any Abolition political party; but that
we recommend to Abolitionists throughout the country, to interrogate
candidates for office, with reference to their opinions on subjects
connected with the abolition of slavery; and to vote, irrespective of
party, for those only who will advocate the principles of universal

Three of the Corresponding Secretaries of this Society, James G.
Birney, E. Wright, jr., and Henry B. Stanton, issued a circular from
the office at New York, in July 1838, to Agents in the country,
quoting the above resolution, and remarking, that “resolutions
embodying the same idea have been passed by the New England
Anti-Slavery Convention, and we believe, by nearly all, if not all,
the State Anti-Slavery Societies;” and that “they think the time has
come, when the friends of the slave, throughout the free States,
should act fully up to the letter and the spirit of these resolutions.
We hope, therefore, you will, without delay, confer with Abolitionists
in your region on the subject, by correspondence, by holding meetings,
and in such other ways as may be deemed expedient, and take prompt and
efficient measures, _to secure the election of such candidates for the
National and State Legislatures_, as the friends of the slave can
cheerfully support. By order of the Executive Committee.”

The following is an extract from a letter written by Mr. Stanton, one
of the Secretaries who signed the above Circular, showing how well he
himself had been engaged in these duties: “From Lockport I returned to
Utica. By request I delivered an address in the Bleeker street Church,
the evening of the 10th inst. _on the political duties of the 40,000
Abolition voters in this State_, (New York) _with reference to the
fall elections_.”

The following are extracts from the public, well considered,
authoritative and solemn document of the Annual Report of the American
Anti-Slavery Society for 1838:--“It is often said, that religion has
nothing to do with our republican politics; and hence it is inferred,
that a cause which is based upon and inseparable from religion,
should not presume to meddle with political affairs. But to make
the proposition true, we must read instead of _religion,
sectarianism_.... The religious principles of Abolitionism have
nothing to do with _sects_.... They are but the thoughts and opinions
of all who truly love God.... Abolitionism _must_ have much to do with
politics.... Abolitionists have resolved, _from the first_, to act
upon slavery _politically_.... During the year this principle has
produced the happiest results. The candidates of the opposing parties
have been questioned, and their answers published; and in cases too
numerous to mention, the election has resulted in favour of those who
most decidedly pledged themselves to Anti-Slavery measures.”

The _religious_ character of Abolitionism, as here confessed, will be
considered in a subsequent place. We do not dissent from the
suggestion conveyed, that religion has its political _rights_, under
the Constitution, as much as any other interest, feeling, or
principle; but we do not see the force of the distinction drawn
between _religion_ and _sectarianism_ for this particular purpose;
although the distinction is in fact obvious. Are not Abolitionists a
_sect_, and as strongly marked as any that can be named? They fall,
therefore, under the ban of their own rule. But, although religion has
its political _rights_, not excepting even _sectarianism_--and we have
yet to learn that there is any religion in the country, which is not
sectarian, both in its principles and modes of operation, not only in
relation to other religious bodies, but to Christianity itself, the
catholic standard--it must yet be very careful not to usurp political
_powers_ in this country--not to have _too much_ “to do with our
republican politics.” “Abolitionism _must_ have much to do with
politics.” The word “must,” is italicised in the Report, and _may_,
therefore, be taken as intended to be emphatically significant. We
agree with them perfectly. But, that “Abolitionists have resolved,
_from the first_, to act upon slavery _politically_,” is a matter
which they must settle among themselves, inasmuch as when they _first
set out_, they disclaimed it, as would appear from the note of July
16th, 1834, above introduced.

Our object in these quotations, is not to inform the public generally
in regard to facts of this kind, as they are sufficiently well
known--but merely to throw out a few tangible materials, connected
with volumes of the same class, which might easily be collected, for
the purpose of justifying in our pages the conclusions we deduce from
them. We will trouble our readers with but one more which is from a
_clerical_ Agent of the Society in the western part of New York, dated
Aurora, Oct. 8, 1838. It is a letter to a fellow laborer in Chetauque

     “Dear Sir,

     “I have just had assigned to me, by the Executive Committee of
     the New York State Anti-Slavery Society, as my field of labor
     for several months to come, Niagara, Erie, Chetauque, and
     Cataraugus Counties. The first object to which I am bending all
     my energies, is the holding of County meetings _before the
     coming election, with a view especially of preparing and
     exciting Abolitionists to carry their principles to the polls,
     and wield all their_ POLITICAL, _as well as moral and
     religious power_ for the redemption, &c. ... Can you not create
     a _tremendous reaction_ at this time, &c.? ... The only way in
     which we can move the proslavery and dough-faced politicians,
     is by showing them our _political strength_, &c.... Now, will
     you call together your Executive Committee, and fix on a time
     and place for a Convention? Let me know immediately, and write
     letters all over the County,--_have notices given out in the_
     CHURCHES, &c. ... and have town Abolition Meetings held before
     the County Convention.
                    “Yours for the crushed slave,
                                            “T. M. BLAKESLEY.”

These extracts may serve to indicate the zeal and activity of the
Secretaries and numerous Agents of this society, _clerical_ and other,
previous to the New York elections, and the modes adopted to secure
their ends. The interrogation of “candidates for the National and
State Legislatures,” and for other civil and political stations, as
resolved upon and recommended by the parent Society, has been
scrupulously carried out. The correspondence between Messrs. Seward
and Bradish on the one side, and the official organs of the Society on
the other, while these two gentlemen stood before the people of the
State of New York as candidates, the first for Governor, and the
second for Lieutenant Governor, has been laid before the public--all
tending to the same point. Not being exactly satisfied with the result
of the election in New York, so far as it demonstrated the influence
of the Anti-Slavery Society, it has been suggested by Gerritt Smith,
Esq., who seems to be a sort of Dictator General in these matters,
that the Abolition societies should undergo a new organization, with a
view to the expurgation of the baser and unsound materials, by
requiring the despotic test of binding the conscience in the use of
the elective franchise. How this will go down, we are unable to say;
though it seems to us to be carrying matters with a high hand.
Doubtless, the business, in one form or another, will go ahead, in
despite of the imprudence of individuals, until the people of this
country can be made to see the real character and tendency of the
movement. Suffice it to say, as is sufficiently evident, that the
American Anti-Slavery Society is now a _grand political organization_,
aiming, by the use of political agencies and powers, at a radical and
great change in the American political fabric. We shall yet have
occasion to show, that this change, urged in this mode and under
present circumstances, unless the movement can be checked and
suppressed, must necessarily and inevitably dissolve the Union, and
consequently overthrow the Government, as it now exists. But our
immediate object is to establish the proposition, as stated in
_Italics_ on page 3, in order to prepare the way for the application
of those principles of American Constitutional law, which will prove
this Society to be a _seditious organization_.

The most essential point of the proposition now under consideration,
is the fact, that the American Anti-Slavery Society is a _political_
organization. That, we think, may be regarded as already established;
but it may still be fortified by the consideration, that it is
_necessarily_ so from the object it has in view, apart from the
position it has assumed before the public by its own avowals and
measures, and by the agencies it has taken in hand. Slavery, as is
well known, and as will hereafter be made apparent by the introduction
of authorities, is a corporate part of the American political fabric,
established by Constitutional law, and interwoven with the frame of
the Federal Government. It is not only a thoroughly pervading element,
and main pillar of political society in the slave-holding States, but
it is made a part of the supreme law of the land in the Federal
Constitution. It is impossible, therefore, from the nature of the
case, to institute any action, private or public, individual or
combined, in any form, or by any agency, to abolish or eradicate
slavery from American society, which will not be of a political
character. Consequently, the Abolition movement, which, as before
remarked, originated in religious sentiment, which was prompted and is
still sustained principally by religious men, and which borrowed the
model of its organization from the action of the religious world, by
instituting an exact copy, the moment it entered the field, was
transformed into a political body from the very nature of the work it
had undertaken, notwithstanding it was, and still is, actuated by
religious sentiment. It is nevertheless political, and it is all the
more dangerous, because religion is in it--not Christianity. We shall
by and by attempt to show the difference between Christianity and that
religion, which lies at the bottom, and is the instigator, of this
movement. We have seen, that, in the first setting out, the leaders
professed to disclaim political alliance; but, allowing they were
sincere in that disclaimer, they soon discovered it was a false step.
Throwing aside all disguise, they have now gone _the whole_ for
political action. At first, they were timid, perhaps--did not know
their strength, which might be a reason for not coming out under their
own flag. But, _crescit eundo_--the cause soon obtained sympathy, and
found way to importance; and behold! it dares to face the Government
of the country in open conflict, and to erect its batteries against
that Constitutional fabric, which has hitherto been so dear to
American citizens.

We have stated, that this political organization is _permanent_. The
meaning under which we propose to sustain the application of this
epithet in this case, refers, by contradistinction, to a mode of
popular political action, which, we conceive, is authorised by the
Constitutional law of the land, and which proves equally, that a
_permanent_ organization of this kind is unauthorised and prohibited.
For the present we simply state, what we suppose will not be
contradicted, that the American Anti-Slavery Society is a _permanent_
body, in distinction from those popular assemblages or conventions,
which are customarily held in this country for political purposes,
under the specific sanction of the Constitution and laws, which exist
only for the time being, which do not presume to arm themselves with a
distinct and separate polity, or to set up an imperium in imperio,
independent and irresponsible.

We have stated also, that it is a _grand_ political organization. This
term is of no farther importance than simply to indicate, what is very
well known, that this Society is great and powerful. It claims to
wield 40,000 of the political votes of the State of New York. Whether
this be over or under the true estimate, we take it from themselves;
and it is probably fair to conclude, that they are equally strong in
most of the other free States. Admitting that they have one-half, or
even one-fourth, of this power, it is enough to justify the
application of this term. It is a _grand_ organization also, in
consideration of its vast and complicated machinery, of the variety
and extent of its operations, and of its means of influence. In 1838,
this Society reports 1350 auxiliaries, of which 12 were State
Societies, now 13, and 340 of these organized in the course of the
previous year; 38 travelling Agents, so constantly engaged, as to have
performed jointly 27 years’ labour in one; 75 local lecturers,
circulating in adjacent towns, as far as convenient; money raised in
the course of the year, $40,000, being $5,000 in excess of the
previous year, notwithstanding the pecuniary embarrassments of the
community; the issues of the press, 187,316 copies of Human Rights,
193,800 of the Emancipator, 42,100 Circulars and Prints, 12,054 bound
volumes, 72,732 Tracts and Pamphlets, 97,600 of the Slaves’ Friend,
and 40,000 of the Anti-Slavery Record. Total: 646,502.

This society, therefore, is a _grand_, and in its moral and political
influence, a stupendous machinery.

And it is _self-erected_, _self-governed_, _independent_, and
_irresponsible_. The truth of these statements, we think, is
self-evident in all that we intend, or desire to be understood, by
them. The first, certainly, is true. For what authority, independent
of its component parts, suggested, or sanctioned it? And the second is
equally true. For, where is the power, out of itself, that dictates,
or controls, its proceedings? The third and fourth are also true. For
what authority will they acknowledge, as competent to call them to
account? They are, indeed, responsible to public opinion; but the
relation we intend to express, is responsibility to some constituted
authority; and in this view our proposition is sustained, so far as
their designs are concerned. We presume they do not recognize the
right of any known authority to call them to account. We think it
fair, therefore, to represent this Society as _self-erected_,
_self-governed_, _independent_, and _irresponsible_. So far as our
individual opinion is concerned, we do indeed believe and hold, that
they are responsible to an authority that is competent to act upon
them, when a sense of public duty may require it, and that it is
sufferance only that screens the action of this Society from
uncomfortable rebuke. But we mean only to assert in our proposition,
what we suppose is true: that they do not _hold_ themselves
responsible; that there is no constituted, or official, connexion
between them and a superior power; and that they consider themselves
entitled to carry on the operations in which they are engaged, under
their present organization, without check, control, or interference of
any authority.

Moreover, _there is no such connexion between them and the Government
of the country_, as is prescribed by constitutional law to popular
assemblages, or associations, for political purposes. There is,
indeed, no connexion at all. The government is not even advised of
the existence of this society by its own official acts; at least we
have never heard of it.

And yet further--which is the last point of our proposition--this
society _has usurped the appropriate business of the Government_. They
have formally and solemnly declared, in various forms, so far as their
authority goes, that slavery is wrong by a higher and more imperative
law than that of the country, and set themselves directly to do it
away, by all the means they can employ, in the application of a
stupendous machinery of their own creation, and under their own
independent control. The elective franchise is only one means, and as
yet by far the least efficient. Without any balance of influence to
oppose and counteract the effect of their proceedings on the public
mind, they have been enabled, by the advantages and power of their
organization, to agitate the whole country, to throw the South into a
state of consternation, and to menace the overthrow of the Government.
No one doubts--and therefore we think we are justified in
saying--that, had it not been for the necessary posture of
self-defence, assumed by the slave-holding States, the Agents of this
Society, without waiting for the action of Government, would have
carried their incendiary measures directly into the South, and raised
a servile insurrection and civil war. It is true, indeed, that this
Society have commenced working hard at the polls, as a means of
accomplishing their end, and so far have recognized the principle,
that Government is to be consulted. But all their other operations,
which comprehend the principal sum of their labors, have been of a
character which would seem to imply, that the removal of slavery was
their business. They have never entered on that course of action for a
change in the political fabric of the country, which Constitutional
law prescribes, by acting on the Government, the only legitimate
organ. They have not even approached the Government, nor recognised
either its existence or authority for such a purpose. We speak of the
action of the Society _as such_, and not of the action of its
individual members in their capacity as citizens. If citizens,
desiring such an object, are required to address the Government,
instead of seeking to undermine the Constitution and laws, by indirect
and independent operations; and if this rule has been wisely enacted
for the public peace and safety, much more is it incumbent on a
powerful combination, in undertaking to change the laws of the
country--if it be lawful for such a combination to be formed--to
advise the Government of their wishes and proceedings. Just in
proportion as they are more influential and more powerful than
individuals, by virtue of association, is it more incumbent on them,
and more important, to consult the regular and constituted

But what has been the fact in regard to the operations of the American
Anti-slavery Society? Simply, that they have gone to this work just as
if it were their own proper business--as if there were no government
in the land. They have never addressed the Government; they have never
consulted it; they have never asked leave to be, to act, or to enter
this field; but have erected a republic of their own, with a State
machinery, and set themselves to change the government of the country,
as if it devolved upon them by original and indefeasible right. In a
word, they have taken in hand, by a virtual usurpation, the most
delicate, and the most disturbing political question, which could
possibly be agitated--a question, which, by the Constitutional frame
of our Government, belongs properly and only to the States where
slavery exists, and which, for that reason, the General Government
itself can never meddle with, without the consent of those States.
Clearly, the National Government is the only channel through which the
subject can be lawfully approached from the free States; by the
Federal compact the National Government is the public guardian of
slavery; and consequently, when ever its abolition is attempted under
the jurisdiction of the United States, independent of the action of
the General Government, and without the consent of the slave States,
it is a direct invasion of chartered rights, and a usurpation.

We have now done with the proposition laid down for the argument of
this chapter, and will only repeat it in form for the consideration of
the reader: _That the American Anti-slavery Society is a grand and
permanent political organization, self-erected, self-governed,
independent, and irresponsible, having no connexion with the
Government of the country, but yet usurping the appropriate business
of that government._



We have shown, in the previous chapter, that the American Anti-slavery
society is a _permanent political organization_, attempting to effect
a change in the government of the country, by its own independent, and
we may add, sovereign, operations. We now propose to show, that such
an organization, under such independent and irresponsible action, is
unconstitutional and illegal, and consequently seditious. Even if
there were no law in the case, we suppose the sovereignty of a nation,
in other words, of the majority of the people, in a government
constituted like ours, is competent to interpose their authority to
prevent the damage of the Republic in an unforeseen exigency. So far
as Constitutional law is provided, it is the rule; but where it is
wanting, necessity becomes law, to be used in the best discretion of
the constituted authorities, in all emergencies in which the safety of
the public may demand such a resort. This is the original and
undisputed right of that sovereignty, which is always supposed to be
vested in a national and independent government. It is of the nature
of original legislation for a supposed occasion. It is the use of a
right, and a violation of no law, inasmuch as no law exists that is
applicable to the case.

But, fortunately, and to bar all controversy, there _is_ a law
provided for the case now under consideration. It is well known--it is
written in the characters of blood on the pages of our history--that
our fathers fought and died to secure the right of the people to a
representation in the Government, and to be heard by the government,
whenever they feel the pressure of an evil demanding the interposition
and action of the public authorities, before a remedy can be applied,
in the usual forms of legislation, as the result of the use of the
elective franchise. But it is not to be forgotten, that the most
desirable, the most quiet, and the most salutary action of Government,
is the regular and uniform routine of its legislative, executive, and
judicial functions, as constituted for general purposes. But the
experience of history proves, that public exigencies may arise, when
the action of Government may be required out of the usual course; or
when the measures of a Government may operate so uncomfortably and
oppressively on the people, as to furnish occasion for an expression
of their will, before it can be conveyed through the channel of the
elective franchise. The Constitutional law of our country, both of the
Federal Government and of the States, has provided for these
occasions; and in that particular afforded an eminent advantage over
that despotic sway of absolute monarchies, which rebukes and
suppresses the expressions and interferences of the popular will. The
most valuable right of our free institutions is the choice of our own
rulers. Next to that, is the right of instructing them in a knowledge
of what the people desire. For the conveyance of this will two
Constitutional channels have been opened; one in the elective
franchise, and the other by the right of petition and remonstrance.
The use of both these rights is always supposed to have a direct and
immediate connexion with the Government: the first appoints the
Government, and the second instructs it. And there rights are found to
be sufficient, because, if a Government refuses to respect the popular
will, fairly expressed and well ascertained, the people have their
remedy in the franchise. They can appoint such rulers as will do their
pleasure. Hence there is never a necessity, and there can be no
apology, for the dangerous resort to permanent political combinations,
acting under an organized polity, independent of the Government of the
country, having designs upon that Government, either to control its
counsels, or to affect a change in its structure. But such precisely,
as will be seen, is the American Anti-slavery Society.

Moreover, it is inconsistent with the _genius_ of a Constitutional
government, that such an organization should be permitted to arise in
its bosom, and make war upon it by original, usurped, and independent
functions. The Constitution of a nation knows no rival, admits of
none, within its own jurisdiction. It would be the same as to sanction
sedition and treason; it would be forging the weapons of its own
destruction, and turning a suicidal hand upon itself. The empire
claimed, and designed to be maintained, by a Constitutional
government, like that of the United States, is _sole_. It cannot,
without peril to itself, admit a rival political and independent power
on the same territory. But such is the American Anti-slavery Society.
It is an independent Commonwealth, a republic _within_ the Republic,
a State, having all the machinery of a State which its exigencies
require, and is perpetually adding to that machinery, without limit,
and without control. It has already proved sufficiently powerful to
disturb the peace of the country, to endanger the lives of its
citizens, and to threaten a dissolution of the Union; and who can say,
that it will not revolutionise the government, and introduce anarchy
and desolation? Such is the prospect, and such are the most sober
convictions of discerning and far seeing minds, if it is permitted to
go on.

But let us look to the law which applies to the case. The Constitution
of the United States, and in accordance with that, the Constitutions
of the several States, in the same manner, and in like terms, have
provided a safety valve for the discontents and fermentations of the
popular mind, under real or supposed grievances, or under any
occasions of dissatisfaction, by guaranteeing freedom of speech and of
the press, the right of popular assemblies to declare and express the
public will, and the right of petition and remonstrance addressed to
the Government. The Constitution of the United States, on this point,
reads thus: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Constitution of the State of Pennsylvania has it thus: “The
printing presses shall be free to every person who undertakes to
examine the proceedings of the Legislature, or any branch of
Government; and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right
thereof. The free communication of thoughts and feelings is one of
the invaluable rights of man; and every citizen may freely speak,
write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of
that liberty.... The citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to
assemble together for their common good, and to apply to those
invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or
other proper purposes, by petition, address, or remonstrance.”

We have selected the Constitution of Pennsylvania for what it says on
this point, as it is more full than any other, and contains the
substance of all. We believe, that this extract, in connexion with
that from the National Constitution, comprehends the whole of the
Constitutional law of the country on the subject, and that is a fair
expression of the public mind--of the political creed of the citizens
of the United States, in regard to the particulars here represented.

We observe, then, that certain _specific_ modes of combined popular
action for political purposes, are here licensed. Of course, we
suppose it is fairly to be inferred, that the framers of these
Constitutional laws did not intend to license _all_ and _any_ modes
_whatever_ of popular action for public purposes. Such an assumption
would be preposterous and absurd. It would be tantamount to the
setting aside of all authority, and the dissolution of _one_ all
government. On the contrary, the declaration, that _these_ modes are
lawful, is an implied and virtual declaration, that _other_ modes are
unlawful. We think there can be no mistake, and we trust, no
difference of opinion, on this point. Because, if other mode be
lawful, then _any_ and _all_ others are, and the rule falls to the
ground--is good for nothing; it is, in that case, a mere mockery of
legislation, and the community is left without law, and without
government, in this particular.

Moreover, a consideration of the _occasion_ of this law goes to settle
the question of its meaning and limitation: It was the common and
known prohibition of these rights, under absolute and despotic
governments, and more particularly under the Colonial administration
of British law in America, that suggested these declarations of rights
in the establishment of our independence, and which caused them to be
adopted as parts of Constitutional and fundamental law. These rights
were deemed sufficient, and they have always proved satisfactory. They
have also been held very sacred. The people of this country would shed
their most precious blood, before they would surrender them. It was an
invaluable acquisition to liberty. And as this law is deemed
sufficient, and has proved so by experience, we suppose it will be
allowed to be equally important, that it should not be _transcended_,
as that it should be _maintained_; and that a licentious _extension_
thereof is as criminal as an _abridgement_. It has every thing in it
that a people can ask, who are free to choose their own legislators
and magistrates. If the views of the public press, and the petitions
and remonstrances of the people, carried forward to the Government,
when they may see occasion for it, are not respected, the people know
their remedy, and can effectually apply it at the polls. They have
liberty of speech and of the press, the right of popular assemblages
for the discussion of public interests and measures, and the right of
petition, address, and remonstrance, guarantied to them; and to crown
the whole, they are themselves the source of all law and government,
always subjected to the will of the majority, in a Constitutional mode
of action.

Now we ask, where is the license in the Constitutional law of this
land for such a political machinery as the American Anti-Slavery
Society? It cannot be found. Individuals are free to speak, write, and
publish, what they please, on slavery, or any other subject--_they
being responsible for the abuse of that liberty_. The people may
assemble, _in a peaceable manner_, and discuss any subject that may be
agreeable to them; they may pass any resolutions they may see fit, as
an expression of their opinions or wishes; but the _only
constitutional and lawful mode_ of popular action for political
purposes, designed to influence the measures of the Government, or to
effect any change in the laws, apart from the use of the elective
franchise, is for the people to connect themselves with the proper
authorities, by petition, or address, or remonstrance, unless they see
reasons for abandoning their purpose. There is no license for a
_permanent_ political organization, to act independently of the
constituted authorities of the land; nor to act _with_ them.
Government requires no such auxilliary; much less can it tolerate an
_opponent_ of such a character. The Government is the _only_
permanent, political organization, which the Constitution recognises.

We are inclined to believe, that these statements will commend
themselves to the common sense of all intelligent persons, and that
this position will be admitted as indisputable. What! an independent
political body _within_ the State, acting under a polity of its own,
plotting and carrying on designs _against_ the State, and claiming the
State’s protection, while it is enacting treason, if it chooses so to
do! What an anomaly! Who ever dreamt that such a thing were possible?
Who would think that it could be advocated and defended--maintained as
a right? And yet, what else, and what less, is the American
Anti-Slavery Society?

The wisdom of the Constitution, or Constitutions--for those of the
States, and that of the nation, embody the same identical
principles--in licensing such modes of political action as have been
quoted, and in prohibiting all others, is obvious. If any association,
or associations, of individuals, were at liberty to set up an
independent political machinery, to be extended without limit, and to
be managed without control or responsibility, there would be no safety
for the constituted authorities of the States and Nation. They would
be liable, at any time, to be undermined and overthrown by agencies
under their own eyes. There is equal wisdom in prohibiting such
combinations altogether; for there is no demand, there _can_ be no
lawful occasion, for them in such a government as ours, where the
people can always move, without let or hinderance, directly, towards
the objects they desire, or which the majority desire, under the
prescribed forms of the Constitution and laws. If it were allowable
for the people to depart from these forms in one instance, they might
do it in another; if in one degree, they might extend it at their own
option; and there would be no end to it. Sedition and treason, in that
case, would be authorised by law. But, most happily, the
Constitutional law of this land has been minutely scrupulous in
prohibiting all permanent political organizations, which are not
created by itself, as parts of one great political fabric, asserting
_sole_ empire over its own jurisdiction. We say, in _prohibiting_
them, as we have before shown, that the license given is equally a law
of prohibition for all that is not licensed.

This wisdom is moreover apparent from the consideration, that by
adhering to these forms, there is always a balance of influence
against any attempts to injure, or impair, or overthrow the
Government, Constitution, and laws of the land, or to surprise the
public by the advantages acquired by political combinations of a
permanent and organized character. The freedom of speech guaranteed to
one citizen, is guaranteed to all. Hence, the private influence of one
man on one side, is balanced by that of another on the other side, of
the same question; and between the two, the chances are in favour of
the right. The same remark applies to the influence of the press:
there is always a balance of power, operating on the public, so long
as the forms of the Constitution are observed. In the same manner,
popular assemblies of one party and the other, so long as they keep
within the Constitutional license, neutralize each other, in all their
inordinate excesses, and afford a chance for the right to prevail.
Whenever a petition, or address, or remonstrance is preferred to
Government, in regard to which there is a difference of opinion, its
undue influence will be counteracted by another. And so a salutary
balance of power is maintained in all the Constitutional modes of
political action.

But the moment the Constitutional license is transcended, as in the
case of the American Anti-Slavery Society, this healthful balance of
power is lost. Such an unconstitutional organization steals a march
upon the public, and by the amazing power of its vast political
machinery, assails the Constitution and laws of the country, with no
rival influence to counteract it. While the rest of the people keep
_within_ the laws, this combination has _transcended_ them, and
occupies the field of its usurpation alone. There is no balance of
influence any where, that can lawfully be employed, except in the
strong arm of authority. The public, the Government, the world, have
been taken by surprise. Here is an immense and powerful combination,
that has suddenly leaped from the sphere of the religious world,
brought with it a machinery which was manufactured in that sphere,
seized upon affairs of State, usurped the business of State, and
neither the public, nor the Government, seem yet to know which end, or
how, head or tail, to take hold of the monster. It comes in shapes
unknown, unrecognized before, and has pounced upon the political
fabric of the nation, with an apparent determination to rend it
asunder, and tear it down before the eyes of the world. Like as Satan,
when he came with errand fatal to our race, from out Hell’s regions,
and approached the gates that opened from that dark abyss, encountered
and addressed his monster child, so the Government, not less amazed,
seems also to say to this unexpected Apparition:

    “Whence, and what art thou, execrable shape,
    That durst, though grim and terrible, advance
    Thy miscreated front athwart my way?”

But, we fear, that a like truce will not be made between these
parties. Like as “SIN” gave her own history to her Father, so the
world may yet be favoured with a philosophical account of this other
monster, a part of which, peradventure, shall be found in these pages.

It is the perfectly anomalous character and position of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, that has so embarrassed and overwhelmed the
public mind, produced such a vast excitement, and frightened half the
nation. Armed with a machinery hitherto unknown in the political
world, it has broken through the bounds of law and the restraints of
the Constitution, opened its artillery on both these departments of
our political fabric, and so astounded the public, that few have yet
learned how this audacious assault has been planned and executed, or
what is the character of the enemy to be encountered. It is because,
in this political crusade, the actors have thoroughly transcended the
prescribed limits of Constitutional action, and entered a field
untrodden before, in an unknown shape, that the public know not where
to find them, or how to meet and take hold of them. The battle,
hitherto, has been all their own; and it cannot be denied, that they
have done execution, and stand responsible for infinite mischief.
Neither is it any less certain, in our opinion, that, with all the
advantage and power of their organization, if it should be recognized
as lawful, and permitted by the public authorities of our country to
go on, without check or control, they will revolutionize the
Government, and divide the Union. All beyond this is uncertain, and
fearfully so.

Suppose the Abolitionists had kept within the bounds of law, and
contented themselves with that freedom of speech and of the press,
with such public discussions, and with such petitions, addresses, and
remonstrances to Government, as the Constitution authorises; suppose
they had been as mild and Christian-like in their action on this
subject, as the Quakers; their influence would then have distilled
like the dew, fallen like the rain, and cheered the heart like the
sun. In such a case, the subject could still have been discussed with
reason and temperance, throughout the wide community, not excepting
even the South; the South would not have been alarmed; the free
colored population would not have been, as now, filled with all
bitterness and malice; the amelioration of the condition of slaves
would have continued and increased, as before, instead of that
augmented rigour of discipline and surveillance to which the South has
been compelled by these violent measures; the country would have
remained in peace, and the whole subject would still have been open to
free and candid discussion every where, and with every body. Whereas,
the erection of this unconstitutional machinery, and the spirit with
which it has been swayed, has put the whole Republic out of temper,
and out of joint; has made pro-slavery men of one party, and fanatics
of another; has unfitted the colored population, free and bond, for
the culture of benevolence; has rivetted the chains of slavery with
tenfold power, blighted the prospects, and thrown forward the period,
of ultimate emancipation, for a time which baffles prophecy, unless,
peradventure--which God forbid--this movement shall prevail to break
down the Government, and let loose the spirit of fiends to desolate
the land. The strife henceforth will be, not that of benevolence for
the good of the slave--for the Abolitionists themselves are his most
dangerous foes--but it will be between this organized sedition and the
Government of the country--between the Constitution and a grand
political faction. And all this as the consequence of departing from
the wholesome regulations of law, of setting up a romantic sympathy as
a substitute for true benevolence, and fanaticism for Christianity.

In view of the argument of this chapter, we trust we shall stand
justified with all reasonable minds, for the heading we have placed
over it, and for the title of the book. It has been from a
conscientious conviction of the seditious character of the American
Anti-slavery Society, that we have sat down to this task. The public
generally have felt, that this association was warring against the
supreme law of the land; but nobody has taken pains to set forth the
argument by which it is proved. Every body has seen, that the
tranquillity of the country has been disturbed, and a dissolution of
the Union threatened, by the action of this Society; but the more
common impression has been, that it is rather the result of rashness
and imprudence, than the effect of an unlawful political combination.
The popular disgust and indignation, with which some of the more
outrageous proceedings of Abolitionists have been received, have
arisen from a vague and undefined notion, that they were wrong--and
wrong in relation to the Constitution and laws of the land; but, we
think, that the true position, and proper political character of this
Society, as being seditious, has not generally been perceived. If,
indeed, we are right in the views here presented, we hope they may be
the means of enlightening the public. Abolitionists themselves,
especially the most active and determined, we have little hope of
benefitting; else, we might have studied more to humour their
prejudices, and gain them over to reason. We have rather been
convinced, that the greatness and danger of the error demand a
somewhat decided and vigorous treatment. We have observed with pain,
that the people of the South are getting more and more into the
feeling and conviction, that a dissolution of the Union will be
necessary for their own protection. In so far, therefore, as the
people of the North would deprecate such a result, it is most
desirable, that they should thoroughly understand the position and
character of the Abolition organization, in order that they may be
prepared to appreciate and treat it according to its merits. If,
indeed, it is a sedition, and can be clearly proved to be such, to the
satisfaction of the public, can it be supposed, that it would continue
to have the same moral power, even with its own advocates? Will not
many of them shrink from the thought of being traitors to their
country; and more especially when they shall have occasion to see, as
by this time they ought to see, that, in such a course, they are
rivetting, instead of breaking, the chains of slavery, unless they
succeed in plunging the nation into a civil war, which ought to be
still more revolting to their feelings? How much more should such a
conviction arm that portion of the Northern public, who have never
fallen into this delusion, with zeal and determination to vindicate
the honor of their country, and maintain its laws, not, indeed, by a
persecution of those who have been led astray, but by showing, in all
suitable ways, their unyielding attachment to the Constitution and
Government, in its unavoidable struggle against such an unlawful
combination, and by convincing the people of the South, that there is
a sympathy in the North, that will not abandon them in the trying and
perilous condition, into which they have been thrown by this seditious

And would we advise an authoritative suppression of this sedition? We
say not, that we would. Ours is a Government of forbearance, because
it is the Government of the people. As we have reason to suppose, that
the public generally have not even yet discovered the true position of
the Anti-slavery Society, in relation to the Constitution, much less
can we presume to say, that the members of that Society, as a body,
have ever imagined, that they were involved in the responsibility of
seditious action against the Government of their country. We
charitably believe, that for the most part, their benevolent
sympathies have been worked upon by the exaggerated statements and
high colored pictures of more artful, of ambitious, and less innocent
men; and that, when left to choose between sedition and the Union,
they will unhesitatingly prefer the latter, even though the former, if
it had been a lawful enterprise, might still seem to them a worthy and
desirable object. But, if the extremity must unavoidably come, to
dissolve the Union and the Government, or encounter this movement by
the strong arm of authority, with our present views of its seditious
character, we cannot entertain a doubt, on which side it would be our
duty to engage. Nevertheless, our confidence in the good sense of the
people, leads us to hope for better things.



If the showing already made, in regard to the seditious _organization_
of the American Anti-slavery Society, be a fair one, its action as
such becomes a conspiracy in the Republic, so far as it militates
against its political fabric. It is no more than fair to notice, that
in the first article of the Constitution of this Society, it is
assumed, that “slavery is contrary to the principles of _our_
republican form of government.” This is a very material point, vital,
fundamental, so far as it relates to the question now in hand. The
truth of this assumption would justify the _cause_, in which this
Society are engaged, so long as it should be sustained in a
Constitutional way; though it cannot justify an independent political
organization in the Republic for such an object. We have already
pointed out, as we trust clearly, the only Constitutional modes of
political action for reform, or any other purposes, under the
Government; and shown that this Society is unconstitutional. The truth
of this assumption, therefore, would not justify its mode of action,
and it would still be open to the charge of sedition. But, let us see,
whether this assumption be true.

“Slavery is contrary to the principles of _our_ republican form of
government.” If they mean to say, it is contrary to the principles of
the free States, as recognised and established for their own separate
jurisdictions, it is true. But it was quite unnecessary to say it, as
all the world knew it before. If they mean to say it is contrary to
the principles of a republican form of government in the _abstract_,
as a _theory_, it may be true, or it may be false, and depends
entirely upon the character of the theory that is set up. This is a
question, which cannot easily be settled, because it is a matter of
_opinion_, not of _fact_. The people of the South would be on one
side, and those of the North on the other; and we ourself, be it
known, should be on the side of the North. If the question be as to
the _common_ opinion, prevalent among mankind, of the principles of a
republican form of government, this Society is doubtless right on
_that_ ground. But we apprehend, indeed we know, and every body knows,
that it is not a question of opinion, but of fact, that is involved in
this assumption. Did the Society mean to say, that “slavery is
contrary to the principles” of the Slave-holding States? Manifestly
not. What, then, did they mean? Contrary to the principles of the
Government of the United States, undoubtedly. “Slavery is contrary to
the principles of _our_ Republican form of Government.” We say, then,
that as a _fact_, this is _false_; and we need travel no further to
prove it, than from the Preamble of the Constitution of this Society,
in which this assertion is made, to the second Article, where we find
this clause: “While it (the Society) admits, that each State, in which
slavery exists, has the _exclusive_ right, _by the Constitution of the
United States_, to legislate in regard to its Abolition in said
State,” &c. As this is a candid recognition of that part, and of those
“_principles_ of _our_ Republican form of Government,” which we shall
have occasion in another place to introduce in form, it is superfluous
to quote the passages here, inasmuch as this Society, by its own
confession, has done the work _for_ us, and _against_ itself. It is a
simple question of _fact_; and that fact recognized, in express terms,
by the Society, in the second article of its own Constitution, the
assumption of the Preamble, in regard to this point, is proved to be
_false_. Slavery, therefore, is _not_ contrary to the principles of
_our_ Republican form of Government; and the Constitution of the
United States, (Art. II. Sec. 2d. Clause 3d.) which we shall hereafter
consider, recognises the _validity_ of property in the Slave, and
engages to defend it throughout the Union; and it is well known, that,
by the force of this law, runaway Slaves are habitually recovered. It
will be understood, that we are not discussing the propriety of this
law, but the fact. It is a “_principle_ of _our_ Republican form of
Government;” and as would seem, a potent and paramount one.

All the other principles of the American Anti-Slavery Society will
avail nothing, _politically considered_, so long as they are false in
this. They have hazarded their whole cause, in an open and seditious
conflict with the Government of the United States, _on a false
assumption as to fact_!

We shall now proceed to a consideration of the seditious character of
the ANNUAL REPORT of this Society, of 1838. This Society must now be
viewed, as we have proved it to be, in the light of a grand and
independent political organization, set up in the Republic, and at war
with it--as an unconstitutional and self-erected corporation. Any
political action it may assume, therefore, whether _for_ or _against_
the Republic, is unconstitutional. The Government wants not its
help--certainly it has never asked for it--much less can it tolerate a
conspiracy. What may be lawful for a private citizen to do, is
unlawful for this Society as a political organization of its specific
character. What may be lawful for popular assemblies, or associations,
acting in the modes prescribed by the Constitution, for political
ends, of whatever nature, is unlawful for this Society, because it is
a body unknown to the Constitution and laws of the land. It is a State
_within_ the State, that has asked no leave to be, that is prohibited
by law, acting under a State machinery, disturbing the peace of the
State, and threatening its overthrow.

The Annual Report of this Society of 1838, is a document of a
remarkable character, when viewed in this light. It is almost
exclusively political. It seems true enough, as its own language
declares, that “abolitionism _must_ have much to do with politics.” It
discusses all the affairs of the nation, and of the States, in
relation to this great and portentous subject, as must be confessed
with no inconsiderable ability, and with a boldness which might
astound any one who looks at the position which this Society occupies,
and the sweep of its influence; and more especially, when we consider
the decorum, and the gravity, and the solemnity which, one would
think, ought to characterize such a document, emanating from so great
a body, on such an occasion, and so exciting a theme, when every
opportunity for reflexion had been afforded, and when there could be
little apology for violence of language, or uncourteous demeanor,
towards public men, and the public authorities. Even if the existence
and action of this Society had been constitutional and lawful, as it
was no doubt thought to be by its members, still there was something
in the elevation and responsibility of its position before the public,
on account of which the ordinary proprieties, which might seem to be
reasonably incumbent on all such bodies, had strong claims to be
respected. In all seriousness, we do not think the time has
come--certainly we hope not--when the political violence and rancour
of newspaper columns, can be regarded as becoming in such a document.
Could it easily be believed, by those who have not read this Report--a
document occupying one hundred and fifty-two crowded octavo pages, the
major part of which breathes the same spirit--that all public men,
from the President of the United States downwards, including
Senators, Governors, Ministers to foreign nations, Magistrates, and
officers of every grade, of the States and Nation, who may have
manifested any symptoms of opposition to Abolitionism, or whose public
acts have been unfavorable to it, are treated as if ---- but we will
not trust ourselves to describe it, lest we fall into the same excess
of rudeness.

Freedom of speech, and of the press, in treating of public men and
public measures, is undoubtedly guaranteed by the Constitutional law
of this land; and if this Report had emanated from an authorised and
constitutional body, no legal exception could have been taken to its
character or terms, however it might seem to be indecorous and
undignified, not to say inflammatory and incendiary. In point of
dignity, as being the public and solemn act of such a body, we think
there could be but one opinion of its character. As if the genius that
presided over its composition were not prolific enough in nerve
astounding artillery, it seems to have taken out a license to cater
from the widest range of Newspaper authorities, and ex parte
statements and reports, for its facts and arguments, and for its
delicious treat of suavity and kindness.

But there is yet a more portentous aspect of this Report, that remains
to be considered. We allude to its treatment of the decisions of the
highest Legislative Assembly of the Nation: the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States.

It is well known, that the disposal made in Congress of petitions on
the subject of Abolition, has not been agreeable to the members of
this Society, although it might be difficult to see how it could have
been done very differently, so long as the majority of both Houses
were opposed to the object; unless it be claimed as a right to occupy
the whole time of the National Legislature, in reading and discussing
these petitions, to the neglect of all other business, which would
seem to be very unreasonable. No new idea could be presented; the mind
of Congress was made up; and it would seem to be factious to demand a
separate consideration of every petition on this subject, without any
prospect or hope of a different result. So far from involving a denial
of the right of petition, any other course would have been a manifest
violation of public duty, in neglecting the ordinary and other affairs
of legislation. The wishes of these petitioners being known, the
design of the Constitution in regard to such a matter was answered;
and so long as they were known to be a very small minority of the
nation, and the great majority opposed, no action on the subject, in
the way of legislation, could be expected. It would be altogether
unreasonable, and “contrary to the principles of our republican form
of Government.” Moreover, the great majority of both houses of
Congress considered it, not only disturbing, but unconstitutional,
either for them, as a branch of the Government, or for the people, not
citizens of the Slave States, to meddle with the subject, with a view
to legislation, as these petitions requested. Of course, no farther
action could be expected, in that quarter, till the use of the
elective franchise might carry into Congress a set of men of a
different opinion.

Not to speak particularly of the charges of violating the
Constitution, thrown upon the House of Representatives, by this
Report; or of its “seditious members,” as it calls them; or of the
“demoniac yells,” by which the remonstrance of the Ex-President Adams
was silenced; it is more to our present purpose to call attention to
the treatment rendered to the Senate, in this same document, for the
resolutions passed in that body on this subject, in January, 1838:--

“Neither humanity, nor patriotism, will permit us to pass over this
proceeding of the Senate, without setting it in what seems to us its
true light. _We pronounce it a bootless usurpation--an act equally
unconstitutional and impotent._ If these expressions should seem
disrespectful towards the highest branch of the National Legislature,
let it be remembered, that that officially august body can claim to be
respected only while it respects the primary act of the people, by
virtue of which it exists. _When it oversteps the limits of the
Constitution_, for any object whatever, _its authority is forfeited_.
But when it oversteps those limits for the attainment of an object
which is in itself essentially absurd and impossible--when it essays
to do by mere resolutions what it would be ridiculous to attempt by
statutory enactment--_it must sink to the level of contempt_.... If we
are correct in these views of the nature and force of our Federal
Constitution, the Senate of the United States was employed from the 3d
to the 13th of January, 1838, _in enacting a farce_ well adapted to
turn legislation into mockery.”

Not to speak of the _exceeding indecorum_ of this language, as coming
from what ought to be a _reverend_, as it is doubtless a _religious_
as well as a political body, it is certainly going quite far enough
for a power, whose lawful existence and action for any such purposes,
hang suspended at best in a doubtful balance. It falls on the ear like
the death sounding knell of revolutionary times. But we cannot
consider it doubtful, in view of the facts and reasonings heretofore
brought under review, whether this Society be a lawful one, or not.
Our own convictions compel us to “pronounce it,” not simply “a
bootless,” but _seditious_ “usurpation.”

Here, then, is a grand and permanent political organization,
self-erected, self-governed, independent, and irresponsible, having no
connexion with the Government of the country, but yet usurping the
business of that Government; having come into existence, and set up
its action, in violation of the prescribed forms of the Constitution;
with a distinct and systematic polity of its own creation, on a scale
comparing with the machinery of a State; with a President and
seventeen Vice Presidents; four Secretaries, one for correspondence
with lecturing agents scattered over the country, and for other
general purposes; one for correspondence with foreign countries; one
devoted to domestic political action and financial agents; and one to
record the doings of the Society; a Treasurer; a Board of one hundred
and three Managers; 1350 auxiliaries, 13 of which are on the grand
scale of State Societies; 38 travelling agents, and 75 circulating
within a narrower compass; disbursing an annual income of $50,000,
besides a vast amount of gratuitous labour; employing the power of
the press to the amount of 646,502 copies of various literary
productions annually distributed; and all these various forms of
political and combined power constantly augmenting. Such is the
machinery of this institution--and such the history of its origin,--an
institution, which, in its annual assemblage, by representation from
all its dependencies, dares, by its own public, recorded, and
proclaimed acts, to “pronounce” the solemn decisions of the Senate of
the nation “_an unconstitutional usurpation_,” and to declare its
“_authority forfeited_!”--thus unfurling the flag of rebellion, and
like the Jacobins of revolutionary France, seeming to say to the
swelling of its train--Onward! Such a power legalized, with no balance
of influence to counteract it, with all the advantages of its
organization, of its peculiar and effective modes of operation, is
enough to revolutionize any State, and any nation.



Having proved the sedition of the American Anti-Slavery Society as a
political organization, which has usurped the business of the
Government, under a form prohibited by the Constitution, which of
course involves two points of criminality, we shall now proceed to
show, that it is seditious in another important and grave particular,
as having committed, and as continuing to commit, a trespass on the
political rights of the slave-holding States, as guaranteed to them by
the Federal Compact, and as recognized by the law of nations.

In the first place, the action of this Society, as a grand political
organization, on the social fabric of foreign States--for the slave
States are foreign in respect to it--with the intent to change it
against their consent, and thus disturbing their domestic tranquility,
is a violation of the law of nations. This is sedition in a higher and
more important sense, than any combined assault on the social
institutions of a community by its own members, inasmuch as the remedy
is more difficult to be attained, and more momentous in its
consequences. It can be settled only by the sword. The noninterference
of one nation in the domestic condition of another, is an established
doctrine, and a settled maxim, of international law. A trespass on
this principle is always considered tantamount to a declaration of
war. Just in proportion as the peace of nations, in their relations to
each other, is more important than the domestic tranquility of a
single State, and the breach of it more difficult to be healed, is the
criminality of such trespass increased. The action of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, therefore, on the slave-holding States, as an
interference of this kind, is much more responsible and more criminal,
than as a violation of the social fabric of the United States. It
matters not what may be the faults in the social condition of any
State or nation, in the judgment and conscience of the people of
another State or nation; such considerations, however aggravated and
serious, furnish no ground or justification for interference; but the
fact of interference is war begun.

The American Anti-Slavery Society, as we have seen, is a political
organization--unlawful, indeed, but yet such is its character--and as
such they have great power. They hold in their hands the peace and
well being of all the slave States. On the principle above
recognized--the soundness of which we dare to say will not be
questioned--its action on those States is war. It is impossible that
this Society should screen itself from this responsibility under the
plea, that they are only using that freedom of speech and of the
press, and other modes of social influence, which the Constitutional
law of the land has guaranteed. For we have shown, that in the
machinery they have set up, and in their modes of action, they have
transcended that law; and as a consequence it will follow, that they
have cast themselves beyond its protection. It will, moreover, be vain
for them to plead, that they are a part of the same nation, and that
however it may appear, that they have been guilty of sedition in
disturbing the tranquility, by violating the laws, of the Federal
Commonwealth, they have not trespassed on the law of nations. For, we
shall yet, and very soon, have occasion to see, that the sovereignty
of the States composing the American Union, is perfect and unimpaired,
in all that has not been resigned or prohibited in the Federal
Constitution for national purposes; and that, with these exceptions,
the several States occupy precisely the same position, in their
relations to each other, as do any other States or nations. And the
institution of slavery is not comprehended in these exceptions, but
remains the sovereign right of the States where it is established, so
far as it concerns other States, and other nations, and so far as
concerns the whole world out of their jurisdiction. It is therefore
true, that the American Anti-Slavery Society, being a political body,
incorporated in its own claimed and independent right, has made war on
the slave-holding States of the Union.

But as it happens, this Society is a nondescript organization, because
it is an unlawful one. It has no territorial jurisdiction, and no
political relations, apart from its own constituent elements; it is a
parvenu and stranger among recognised republics and nations--a mere
pirate, a brigand, that has broken loose from law, and invaded, from
inaccessible ambushes, the peace of whole communities, putting in
peril the lives of their citizens, and their institutions. It cannot,
therefore, be approached by the injured parties, under that _lex
talionis_ of nations, which is customarily resorted to, when their
honor has been insulted, their rights violated, or their interests
impaired, by a foreign foe. This Society protects itself under the
shield of that Government, of the laws of which its very existence is
a violation. That Government, therefore, is responsible for its
action, and the injured parties have a claim upon it for
indemnification and redress of the evils which they suffer. In
existing circumstances, this is the only medium by which a remedy can
be obtained. Nevertheless, the law of nations has been violated by
foreign interference in the domestic condition of the slaveholding
States--an interference, which, in any other case, would be regarded
as a just occasion for retaliation by a resort to arms.

In the discussion of this point of the subject, we have nothing to do
with the rights of the slave in relation to the authorities by which
he is held in bondage, any more than with those of the serfs of
Poland, or of Hungary, or of Prussia, in case the sympathies of this
Society should happen to take that direction, and make war on the
peace and social institutions of those countries. The two cases are
precisely parallel, and one is as justifiable as the other, by the law
of nations, and of human society as it exists. The authorities of
those countries would fairly hold the Government of the United States
responsible for such an invasion, in the same manner, as we are bound
by treaty with the British Government to maintain our obligations of
neutrality on the Canadian frontier, and to prevent our citizens from
invading the rights, and destroying the lives of British subjects in
their own territory. Even though it could be shown, that the Canadians
are oppressed, and deprived of their just rights, still it would be no
justification or apology for the interference of our citizens. The
same principle precisely applies to the action of the American
Anti-Slavery Society on the Southern States.

But this Society is even more criminal than these invaders of Canada,
because it has first violated the laws of the United States by the
erection of a systematic and unlawful polity, an unconstitutional and
powerful machinery, the plans and scope of which, if not abandoned or
suppressed, are adequate to protract, perpetuate, and forever to
augment the illegal and destructive powers they have set in operation,
till they shall upset the Government, and desolate the South; whereas
the invasion of Canada is nothing more than the mad enterprise of a
few deluded individuals. Had they followed the example of the American
Anti-Slavery Society,--which, doubtless, they had an equal right to
do--and set up a like political organization, under like immunities,
and with like strength of preparation, they would inevitably have
involved this country in a war with Great Britain. What sufferance,
therefore, has been practised towards this Society! And what
protracted injuries have the Southern States been compelled to endure!

As remarked in the previous chapter, it is the perfectly anomalous
character of this enterprise, which has so long embarrassed the public
mind. All not engaged in it, have felt it to be wrong; the wide spread
indignation, and the popular outbreaks it has occasioned in rebuke of
its designs and operations, show that it involves some great and
vitally important principle in our social fabric; but its distinct and
definite character, and its exact political position and relations,
have not heretofore been evolved and so exhibited, as to enable the
public to see it clearly, and to know how to treat it. It was the
suddenness and novelty of the movement, as a grand and unlawful
political transaction, that astounded the public mind, and threw it
from the balance of its wonted composure; but the agitation and
disturbance it occasioned are prima facie evidence of its aberration
from right principles--of its criminality. That cannot be regarded, by
sober minds, other than a highly responsible operation in society,
which breaks its peace, and puts in peril its political existence; and
we dare to aver, that the common impression of its criminality cannot
be without good reason. Even if no law had been violated, other than a
common and implied obligation of all good citizens to keep the peace,
and sustain the tranquil operation of our Constitution and laws, that
is enough to authorize a verdict of guilty against this Society on the
_general_ charge of a public nuisance. But in all points of view we
find there is recognised and written law for the case, and the common
feeling of the public mind is honored and sustained by the
investigation. We might fairly presume it impossible for this feeling
to be wrong, as it springs up spontaneously in the bosom of a
community where slavery is not only disapproved, but abhorred.

It is morally certain, therefore, that it is not a feeling of
complacency in slavery, nor any desire, nor even willingness, to see
it perpetuated, that has arrayed itself so generally in the North
against the Abolition movement. But it is a conviction, that the
supreme law of the land has been invaded, and the certain knowledge,
that the public peace has been disturbed, and the stability and
permanence of our social and political institutions put in peril. It
is a correct view of the nature of our political fabric, which leads
the public mind, in such an exigency, to the conclusion, that the
people of one State have no right to interfere with the domestic
condition of another, unless that right has been _specified_ and
conferred in the Federal compact; and that even then, it can be
employed only in general concert by a representation of all the States
in Congress assembled. The people know, as they are bound to know, so
long as they claim the privilege of self-government, that the rights
of the several States, not transferred or prohibited by the general
Constitution, are sacred in their own keeping, and ought to be sacred
from foreign interference and invasion. And although they may not have
discovered, and as would appear, have not, as a body, that the
_organization_ of the American Anti-Slavery is an open and flagrant
violation of law, yet they have felt and been convinced, that its
_transactions_ are of this character. Hence the public feeling of
remonstrance and indignation, that has been manifested. It is not
unprovoked and wanton; it is not an opposition to the principle of
Abolition in itself considered, for all the early and abiding
prejudices of the North are on that side; it is not persecution,
however such a clamour may be raised, for there is no adequate moral
cause; but it is an attachment to the existing, and long tried,
institutions of the country, which, though they may not be perfect,
are yet deemed too valuable to be suddenly and ruthlessly broken down
by a faction--by an organized sedition. This feeling, therefore, is
worthy of some respect--nay, of the greatest respect--for it proves to
be based on sound Constitutional principles. We hold it to be
impossible, that a lawful enterprise could produce so great an
excitement, under a Constitution and Government so good, and so well
approved, as ours.

But, having disposed of this subject, as a violation of the law of
nations, which involves the highest criminality, because it is liable
to work mischief on the largest scale, and of the deepest die, let us
consider it as a violation of the Federal Compact, in an Article not
yet introduced: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
States respectively, or to the people.” This is the Tenth Article of
the Constitution of the United States; and although it involves
precisely the same principle of international law, as that we have
just been considering, it presents itself here in the character and
with the sanction of a corporate element of our own political fabric.
It draws the line, in black and white, between the powers of the
nation and those of the States respectively. It leaves the States in
absolute and uncontrolled possession of all the sovereign powers,
customarily asserted and employed by sovereign States, which are not
delegated or prohibited in the general Constitution; and one of those
powers is a sovereign right of legislation and control over the
institution of slavery. Another, of course, is the common and national
right, universally recognized, of claiming the unrestricted scope and
benefit of the law of noninterference in regard to this matter. This
Article of the Federal Constitution places every State precisely on
the footing, and in the position, of nations entirely independent of
each other, in all particulars not surrendered or prohibited by this
instrument. Its language is, that all other powers--“the powers not
delegated, &c. are _reserved_ to the States _respectively_, or to the
people.” Whatever may have been intended by this alternative of “_the
people_,” it cannot be construed to qualify or restrict the object of
our present remarks. We suppose it points to the principle of general
sovereignty, as appears to be recognized in the Ninth Article, as
follows: “The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights,
shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the
people;” that is--if we may be allowed the privilege of interpretation
here--those general rights of sovereignty, which belong to all
nations, acting in their Constitutional modes, authorizing measures
adapted to unforeseen exigencies. Certainly, this rule cannot be
construed to authorize a minority, or a faction, to do what they
please, or to depart from the constituted forms of law. And that is
all the bar we have any occasion, for our present purpose, to
introduce, whatever other interpretation may be given to it.

The sovereignty of the States, in and over their own respective
jurisdictions, in all that is not taken out of their hands by the
National Constitution, is recognized and settled by the Tenth Article;
and the power to claim the privilege of _noninterference_ from foreign
quarters, as to their domestic condition, is a part of that
sovereignty. Consequently, if the people, or any association of
people, in one State, should interfere with the domestic concerns of
another, they are guilty of sedition in and against the Republic; and
on the principles of international law, if it be a seriously
disturbing movement--of which the injured party is constituted
judge--they have made war upon that State, and furnished a just
occasion of resort to arms, if remedy and redress can be obtained in
no other way. We speak not the language of advice, but of the law
simply--of recognized and established principles of civilized and
political society;--and so far as the question of sedition is
concerned, we speak of the supreme law of this land. In the condition
and relations of the members of our Confederacy, the remedy for such
interference is doubtless to be sought through the medium, and by the
action, of the General Government. If that Government should prove
incompetent, or be unwilling, to perform the duty claimed by the
injured party, and devolving upon it in such an exigency, the natural
consequence would be a dissolution of the Union, and a probable resort
to arms. And this is the result to which our country is now imminently
exposed by the seditious and criminal interferences of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, with the domestic condition of the slave-holding
States. They have no more right to meddle with Southern slavery, than
with that of the Irish peasantry, or of the miserable beings immured
in British Manufactories, or of Hungarian, or Polish, or Russian
boors, which, in each of these instances, is far more worthy of
commiseration and relief, than the slavery of the Southern States, and
calls louder for the offices of humanity, if any such interferences
would be tolerated.

But the case is even stronger than has yet been stated. The General
Government itself cannot interfere in this matter, except to keep the
peace, and _prevent_ interference; and this they are bound to do. The
Federal Constitution has recognized the validity of slave property,
and established a law to maintain and defend it, throughout the
jurisdiction of the United States, as follows: “No person held to
service, or labor, in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping to
another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be
discharged from such service, or labor; but shall be delivered up on
claim of the party to whom such labor or service may be due.” Art. IV,
Sect. II, Clause 3d. The Tenth Article of the Constitution cuts off
all interference of the General Government, in the matter of slavery,
as it exists in any of the States. Next, it debars interference to all
the States, in relation to each other. Much more does it debar such
interference to private citizens, or to any combinations of citizens,
in any State, or States, with the slavery of other States. For,
surely, that right of property, which the public authorities may not
infringe, may not be infringed by those who are not invested with
authority. Neither can a private citizen, or any combinations of
citizens, lawfully disturb or weaken the possession of property, which
is sanctioned and upheld by the laws of the land.

Moreover, the General Government is bound by an express law of the
Federal Constitution to protect and defend this species of property
against invasion, conspiracy, insurrection, and violence: “The United
States shall protect every State in this Union _against invasion_; and
on application of the legislature, or of the executive, when the
legislature cannot be convened, _against domestic violence_.” Of
course, this is a general and comprehensive rule for all possible
exigencies of the kind; but it is generally understood--the last
clause, particularly, respecting “domestic violence”--to have been
enacted in anticipation of _servile_ insurrections, and such other
disturbances as are liable to occur under a system of slavery. Any
how, the rule applies to these cases, and comprehends them; and that
is enough. The General Government is bound to keep the peace under its
own laws; and whenever the slave-holding States shall have occasion
for its services, in consequence of “domestic violence,” or of
“invasion,” they have a right to demand them, under this law of the
Constitution; and they would no doubt be promptly afforded.

We see, therefore, that slavery is protected and defended at all
points by the political fabric of this country. We profess, that we
have no complacency in slavery, and never had: and that we have no
gratification in coming to this conclusion, so far as it presents the
prospect of the perpetuity of this acknowledged evil. But the time has
come when a far greater evil, than that of slavery, threatens this
land, in the unlawful measures which have been concerted, and which
are being unlawfully urged, to do it away. The time has come, when it
is important for the public to know what the law is, in relation to
this movement; that they may know how to appreciate it, and how to
act. The time has come, when it would be treason to the country
wilfully to conceal the law, or to misinterpret it; for the law is the
only power, that can settle this question in the public mind, on this
side of that fearful resort, which brings despotism first, and
barbarism last. Whatever the law is, we want to know it; the people of
this country want to know it; and we believe they will abide by it,
till, in peaceable times, they can make a better, if a better can be

The Abolitionists of this country are fast driving the people to the
law--to a law, which has long been asleep and forgotten, because there
was no demand for its authority; to a law, which we think, will
assuredly work against the Agitators; to a law, which may yet have
occasion to say to the tempest they have raised--“Hitherto shalt thou
come, but no further.”



It can hardly have escaped the attentive observer of the history of
our country, that for a considerable period, and to a great extent, it
has been characterised by _violent reforms_, both in religion and
morals; and it would be impossible, in our judgment, to understand the
causes of the Abolition movement, if we should leave out of view this
important and prominent historical feature. All great movements in
society have their moral causes, and it is by referring to them, that
we are enabled to ascertain their true character.

Religion has always been a potent element in American society, and it
is to the conservative power of Christianity, that we owe our greatest
blessings. But it does not remain for us to prove what history has
decided, that religion may be abused and perverted. In such a case,
it becomes important to distinguish between Christianity and religious
excesses, or corruptions, and to rescue the former from a
responsibility which would dishonor and injure it. When religion is
profaned and degraded by extravagant modes of action; when it becomes
rude and violent, instead of maintaining the genuine character of
Christian suavity and mildness; when it assumes an overbearing and
despotic dictation to private and public conscience, instead of the
kind and winning arts of persuasion, which shine so conspicuously in
the example of the Divine founder of Christianity, and of his
Apostles;--and more especially, when it has leaped from its
appropriate sphere of the moral, to the agitations of the political,
world, seized on a stupendous political machinery in violation of the
laws of the country, disturbed civil order to an alarming extent,
threatened to overthrow the Government, and to deluge the land in the
blood of a civil war--it is time to enquire into the causes of such a
movement, how it originated, and how it may be checked, if checked it
can be. These causes cannot be understood, without alluding to the
facts and events of our religious history; for it is after all, and in
truth, a religious movement, even by its own public and authoritative
confession, as before seen. The Constitutional law of this land has
carefully excluded religion from a participation in the authorities of
State, and it cannot lawfully meddle with its affairs. It is a notable
fact, however, notwithstanding these cautious provisions, that it has
finally and suddenly overstepped these constitutional barriers, and
usurped the most important and most momentous State questions, that
could possibly be taken in hand.

In the first place, we remark, as a simple matter of fact--the
deductions from which will afterwards claim our attention--that
certain very extraordinary and painful scenes, sufficiently well
known, have been enacted in our religious history, bordering on
fanaticism, in some of the means employed, and modes adopted, for the
extension of the interests of religion, according to the particular
views of those engaged in these measures. So long, however, as those
excesses were confined to religious action, they have been tolerated
and protected by the laws of the land. It is the spirit of our
Government, and the general temper of the community, not to disturb
religion, even when its measures, in the judgment of the more sober,
are deemed very extravagant and fanatical. Hence the rather _forcing_
methods that have been so extensively adopted to gain and multiply
converts, have been connived at, because they have been allowed to be
sincere, and it was hoped they might be useful, as a conscientiously
religious man is a better citizen than one whose sense of moral
obligation is not founded in religious motives. This high stimulation
of the moral world, however, has had the effect to produce an
extensive and powerfully active leaven of a specific character, which
seemed to require a wider scope of action, or an action the results of
which might be somewhat more palpable in the common regions of
society, than that which relates merely to the spiritual affections of
mankind. In a word, instead of being satisfied with the religion of
those “who declare plainly, that they _seek_ a country” not yet
possessed, it has shown a disposition to take under its charge a
country _already_ possessed. A religious faith, which ought to have
maintained ulterior and higher aims, has degenerated somewhat into a
religious patriotism; which still might have been well enough, as to
any objections from general society, if it had not transcended the
laws of the land. But it was perfectly natural, that a spirit which
was violent, and addicted to forcing measures in one department of
society, should also be violent, and employ like forcing measures in
another, whenever its drift or inclinations should tempt it from its
original and legitimate sphere of action.

It will be understood, of course, that we allude, in the first place,
to the violence which has been so extensively manifested in religious
reforms; and next, to the same spirit which afterwards took hold of
Abolitionism. It was the breaking over of all religious order in the
first instance, which prepared the way for the violation of civil
order in the second. That boldness which trampled on custom in one
case, was naturally schooled to set at defiance the law in the other.

But all breaches of propriety and of law, human or divine, are
generally a work of degrees. Moral reforms came next to the
religious--to neither of which, of course, do we take exception, any
farther than as respects the violence that has been practised. But it
is equally known, that the excesses which characterized one class,
have been carried into the other. That religious patriotism, if we may
call it so--an honorable appellation, certainly--which began to
trouble itself with the condition and affairs of the country, soon
discovered, that the state of public and general morals required
attention--a conclusion most natural and most worthy, and an object
which could hardly fail to meet with general approbation. And
accordingly it has been approved, and well sustained. It was a work,
in its various forms, from which much good was expected, and by which,
no doubt, much good has been done.

But, unfortunately, the same excesses and the same violence, which
characterized the religious operations of the country so extensively,
were transferred into the moral reforms which were undertaken, and
became a principal ingredient, because it happened, that the most
violent religionists had a principal hand and a controlling influence
in these matters also. As in religion, they undertook to convert
sinners by force, so they undertook to reclaim mankind from their
vices by force; and as they had adopted various new inventions and
machineries for the former operations, so they did for the latter. But
_force_ was the dominant power in all--forcing opinions, forcing
conscience, forcing the will--in the one case fulminating the terrors
which come up from the future world to frighten mankind into religion;
and in the other, arming themselves with all the power of an
associated influence to destroy the characters of those who differed
from them in opinion, as to the best modes of moral reformation, or
who did not fall in with all their extravagant and coercing measures.
The sanctuary of domestic and private life was not secure from their
invasion; the thunders of authoritative anathemas pealed on the ears
of the public, from the solemn decisions of imposing popular
Conventions, to proscribe opposition and remonstrance, because it was
_assumed_ to be wrong and criminal, by a judgment _ex cathedra_; the
title was claimed to examine every private citizen as to his private
habits and opinions, and to denounce him, if heterodox; nor did they
wait even for that; for they had the sagacity to discover what a man
was by looking in his face. The character of no man was safe under
such an inquisitorial, all pervading, self-constituted, and
irresponsible tribunal, if he did not succumb at once to its

Violent _moral_ reforms constituted the _second_ stage of advancement
with this disturbing spirit of our land; and the impunity which it
realized in its progress seemed to be a warrant for the still farther
extension of its domain. And behold! the next step was an invasion of
the political fabric of our country, by a crusade on the Southern
States for the rescue of the slaves! By this time a mighty moral
associated power had been arrayed for any violent enterprise that
should be set on foot. The entire ranks had been well schooled in a
thorough contempt of all opinions except their own, and seemed to
think, that the whole world were under a moral obligation to respect
and yield to theirs. Custom and law seemed to have no respect in their
eyes _because_ they were custom and law; but existing institutions
were rather assumed to be wrong _because_ they existed. They had found
the religious world all wrong, and undertook to revolutionize it
without scruple; they had found the conventional social state all
wrong, and assumed the task of imposing new laws upon that; and now
they have discovered that the political fabric of our country is
wrong, and have begun to tear it down, without leave, and in open
violation of the supreme law of the land. Before they had stepped foot
upon this ground, they had nothing to oppose them, and success
inspired confidence. Wrong themselves they could not be, in their own
esteem; they have never dreamed of being wrong; it is not the nature
of fanaticism. But this stepping out of the appropriate sphere of
religious and moral reform, into the arena of political strife, under
a vast and powerful political machinery of their own creation, puts
them in a new position. The religious world, and the conventional
social state, they might invade with impunity, and devastate at
pleasure; there was no adequate power to withstand them; but a
recognized and long established political fabric will not give way so

Avaunt, ye infidels, and suspend your song of triumph, that religion
is fallen, though it cannot be denied, that she is dishonored. She has
been betrayed in her own house, and by her professed adherents: but
their true character stands revealed. Christianity has never
authorized such proceedings; but they are violations of her most
sacred principles.

It requires but the slightest observation to justify the position we
have assumed, as to the connexion between Abolitionism and other
violent reforms. We do not, indeed, suppose it true, that all
Abolitionists have been engaged in the other; or that all who may have
taken part in the violences which came first, are engaged in the last.
We only mean to aver, that there is not only a natural and common
sympathy in all these movements, but that the most prominent leaders
in any one of them, are generally found in all; and that they are a
flock which instinctively jump together over the same fence, when any
one of them gives the lead. “We mean, moreover, to be understood as
maintaining, that Abolitionism is only a new form of an old spirit,
which, having found no great impediment in its former pranks, has
thought fit to lay aside the comedy, and attempt the more grave
enactment of a tragedy. This we regard as the philosophy of its

So far as Abolitionists themselves may turn their eyes upon these
pages, we beg leave to assure them, that we mean nothing uncharitable
by these remarks, or in our general treatment of this subject. They
must be quite aware that the affluence of language has been exhausted,
used up, and worn out, on their side, in epithets of censure on their
opponents; and that they are the assailants in the most important
particular. We believe, that the great majority of those, who have
been drawn into the Abolition ranks, are honest, good people; but,
that they are deceived. As we are convinced, that this business cannot
go on much longer, in its present shape, without ruining the country,
we therefore think the time has come, when the language of plainness
is demanded, if, peradventure, the deluded may be undeceived; at
least, that that portion of the public, not already committed to this
cause, may clearly understand its character and position. It professes
to be engaged in the cause of humanity and liberty; while in fact it
leads directly to anarchy and bloodshed. It originated in violence,
and has never lost its character--a violence which has been
successively jumping from one line of movement, and from one object of
assault, to another, acquiring strength in every stage of progress by
the principle of organization. Finding, that its coercive measures did
not answer all its purposes in the religious sphere, on account of
certain obstacles existing in the state of public morals, it buckled
on its armour for this new field, and applied the screw and lever to
the dead weights found there. After working awhile with the same
characteristic violence, and with some success, but on the whole, with
a reasonable prospect of defeat, on account of its mode of operation,
it jumped over into the political arena, where it now is, well at work
with accumulated and accumulating powers; and what shall be the end
thereof, heaven only knows; but it is, at least, a dangerous business.
Of course, in consequence of the division of its forces, it can only
carry on its former enterprises with diminished vigor, while it is
supremely bent upon this. But the immense machinery that has been in
operation, which is continually augmenting in its parts and power, is
growing more and more formidable, and more and more efficient.
Encountered it must be by the authorities of the nation, or else, in
our opinion, it will soon force those authorities to resign their



We have nothing to do with the merits of the Religious and Benevolent
Society system of this country; it is only necessary for us to allude
to the character, skill, operation, and efficiency of its framework,
to illustrate the fabric of the American Anti-Slavery Society, which
has been constructed precisely after that model. To accomplish the
various objects of the religious and benevolent public, they have
thought it expedient and necessary to erect themselves, by
association, into sundry bodies politic, or incorporations, which
originally were small, but which have gradually grown to considerable
importance. It has been found by experience, that by a skilful
organization, and by an economical application of its means and
agencies, a single Society, enjoying public favor, can operate upon
the whole country, to secure interest, raise money, and carry on its
designs. But the very necessities of the case have put in requisition
a sort of State machinery, which, as is well known, has been erected,
and in some instances extended, on a very large scale; and they are
conducted with as much system, as the affairs of a Nation, not
unfrequently with a superior tact and efficiency, as compared with the
ordinary concerns of the political world. The fact, that rotation of
office does not follow in these Societies, as in the State, gives them
greater advantage in this particular. The various officers and agents
become highly accomplished and skilled in their vocation, are
supported by fixed and adequate salaries, and can devote themselves
entirely to their work, from the day of their induction to the day of
their death. They are at home in their several places and spheres, and
know all about them. They understand by what means their objects can
best be obtained, are always growing wiser by experience, and
consequently more influential and powerful, in this particular. These
Societies have always a Head; a Council Board; legislative, executive,
and judicial departments of Government; Secretaries and
Under-secretaries; a fiscal system; itinerating Agents; subsidiary
organizations, multiplying in numbers, and increasing in influence;
journals, periodicals, tracts, books, &c. &c.--all subserving their
designs. These machineries are all the inventions of a single age, and
constitute a new era in human Society. They are, undeniably,
institutions of great influence and power. For religious and
benevolent objects, they seem to have been welcomed by the Christian
world generally, have been encouragingly sustained; and some of them
are engaged in large schemes, as wide as the human family, and might
vie, in the extent of their correspondence and responsibilities, with
the ordinary operations of political Governments. Confining themselves
to the objects and cares which they have assumed before the public,
they have neither roused the jealousies, nor encountered the
opposition, of the political world. Their powers are of a high order,
of great scope, and of no inconsiderable importance in the social

Exactly according to this pattern is the American Anti-slavery
Society. The simple fact, that it has borrowed this machinery from
this quarter, proves, that the argument of the previous chapter,
showing it to be a religious movement, is founded in truth. Such,
beyond all question, is its character. Neither is it any the less
political on that account. The sum of the matter is: IT IS RELIGION IN
THE STATE; and so much _worse_ than a _Union of Church and State_, as
that it is a _usurpation_, set up in defiance of the State’s
authority, and in open violation of its highest, strongest, most
sacred law!

It is well for the Churches of this land, that they are not engaged in
this business, that they have lifted their voices against it, and
acquitted themselves of its responsibilities. It would be enough to
sink Christianity amongst us to the lowest depths, to rise again, no
one could tell when. But, fortunately, the public, the world will see,
that this responsibility rests on a few, and only a few, designing,
ambitious, turbulent spirits; that the great majority of those who
have been drawn into this mad enterprise, are perfectly innocent of
any evil designs, have never dreamed of violating law, have had their
best feelings worked upon by exaggerated statements and false
representations, have been made to believe that this was their proper
business, and been constituted Judges of that which did not belong to
them, and which they know little or nothing about. We are disposed to
believe, to hope, certainly, that it will only be necessary for them
to be enlightened in the knowledge of their position, as members and
abettors of such an organization, to be induced to withdraw, and wash
their hands of its responsibilities. It is the moral power which their
numbers give to it, that constitutes its importance and influence. It
is in fact a vast and powerful machinery, from the very nature of its
organization, and the methods of its operation, so long as it can hold
its own; more especially, so long as it is in a state of actual
growth, and in an advancing career. The Government of this country,
and those States which are parties concerned, cannot be too much alive
to this fact. The public generally ought to understand it; and if the
knowledge and conviction should generally obtain, that this Society is
a seditious organization, and engaged in a work of sedition, which, by
continuance, may grow into treason, it is believed, that no more
acquisitions to its numbers and power could be made, and that it would
gradually die away, and cease to agitate the public mind, without the
intervention of the public authorities.

We have shown, as we think, by the fairest argument, that this Society
_is_ an _organized_ sedition. But even if there were any doubt upon
the subject, that doubt ought to go in favour of public peace and
safety--_Ne quid detrementi respublica capiat_--lest the republic
receive damage.

If, in the judgment of the constituted authorities of this country,
the public safety should require it, we have no more doubt of their
competency to dissolve the American Anti-Slavery Society, and
suppress its action as an organization, than of the power of a Court
of Chancery to issue an injunction to arrest an alledged and apparent
violation of law, till the case can be fairly tried. But whether, or
when, it may be expedient, is for the proper authorities themselves,
in their discretion, to decide. In such a case, the present component
parts of this Society would be reduced to the Constitutional basis,
with all the license of the Constitutional provisions; and on that
ground they would be harmless. Whereas, as a _permanent_ and
_independent_ political organization, they are an unconstitutional,
vast, formidable, and dangerous power. This Society is in fact a rival
Empire on the territories of the Republic; and the simple question is,
whether this usurpation, or the old and Constitutional Government,
shall stand. If this organization has _already_ attained sufficient
strength and confidence in its power, to refuse submission to the
claims of the Constitution, and if it would _now_ resist the empire of
the law, in case it should be asserted, the very grave and portentious
question arises, what is likely to be the state of things in this
country, after the continued action and growth of this Society shall
_compel_ the Government to take a stand against it? There is all the
difference between the two cases, as between the strength of a bud,
and the vigorous trunk and extended arms of a full grown tree.



_Nous verrons_--Onward! seems to be alike the maxim and tendency of
all violent reforms. It may be said, that Abolitionism has at last
come to a fair and palpable _denoument_, in the formation of the _New
England Non-resistence Society_, which was organized at Boston, in
September, 1838, with William Lloyd Garrison, and such others, men and
_women_, leaders. The fundamental principle of this new association is
_identical_ with that of the Abolition movement. Both hinge upon the
same pivot. Indeed, it will be found, that all the violent reforms of
our country are based upon this. It is stated in the Constitution of
the Non-resistence Society in the following terms: “It appears to us a
self-evident truth, that whatever the Gospel is designed to _destroy_
at any period of the world, being contrary to it, ought _now_ to be
abandoned.” The mischievous element of this proposition, as reduced to
practice by the violent reformers, is _occult_, and would appear in
its naked form by substituting for the last word “_abandoned_,” that
of _destroyed_--“ought _now_ to be _destroyed_;” for these reformers
do not admit, that those customs and laws, judged by their
interpretation of the Gospel unlawful, may be retained till
_persuasion_ shall produce reform, and simply preach, that they
“_ought_ to be _abandoned_.” But they clearly show their meaning is,
that they “ought to be _destroyed_” and that it is not only lawful,
but praiseworthy and a duty, to destroy them. _Destruction_ is the
ruling power of the code; and society, the world, is to take its
chances for the setting up of a better state of things.

Now, we maintain, that this is a fair statement of the principles of
Abolitionism, and of all other of the violent movements. Their
doctrine of _immediatism_--if we may invent a new term--is always one
and the same, and always has been. Wherever they find an evil, or
wrong--_Down with it_--is the rule. _Fiat Justitia, ruat calum_--a
sound principle, certainly; and a good maxim, in prudent hands; but a
terrible one, in rash hands.

It is a good thing, and a very instructive result, that the principles
of these Destructives have at last come out, and been openly published
to the world, in the Constitution and “Bill of sentiments,” adopted by
the New England Non-resistance Society. There is now no longer a
disguise. They openly renounce allegiance to all government: “_We
cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human government!_” Here, then,
it is, fairly ushered into the light of day--_a condition of universal
anarchy_, the proclaimed Jubilee of these reformers. We have only to
say, that this new Society has come honestly and openly to the end, to
which all the _Immediatists_ of whatever name, are rapidly advancing.
The maxim--_Down with it_--which governs them all, and which is the
soul, body, and foundation of their enterprise--cannot stop short of
anarchy. There is nothing of importance in the avowed principles of
this new Society, revolting and shocking as they are, which is not a
legitimate consequence of Abolitionism; or, by the remotest degree of
relationship, cousin-german to it. In the first place, they renounce
allegiance to human government; the Abolitionists, to be consistent,
ought to do the same; for they have made open war against it. _They_
have announced the doctrine of _Immediatism_[1] as their fundamental
principle; that also is the fundamental principle of the
Abolitionists. _They_ have levelled all distinctions in society, of
rank, color, caste, and _sex_; and the doctrines of Abolitionism,
carried out, have legitimately led them to this. _They_ have
proclaimed the Agrarian principle, in all forms of application, and
denied the right of defending property, or any civil inheritance, by
human authority, or force of arms; and Abolitionism requires the
sanction of this principle to affect its designs. _They_ recognise but
one ruler--the King of heaven; it is equally necessary for the
Abolitionists to set aside the authorities of earth. _They_ have no
country but the world, and no countrymen but mankind; the
Abolitionists seem to be equally devoid of patriotism. _They_ avow
that neither nations, nor individuals, have a right to defend
themselves against aggression; this will be convenient, and even
necessary, to Abolitionists, in the execution of their plans. _They_
pronounce the doctrine, that “the powers that be are ordained of God,”
“an absurd and impious dogma;” this, too, will be convenient to the
Abolitionists, and it might be supposed, they had adopted it. _They_
declare against all military preparations; we presume the
Abolitionists are equally unfriendly to them, as they might prove
uncomfortable opponents in their career. “As every human government is
upheld by physical strength, and its laws enforced virtually at the
point of the bayonet,” _they_ “repudiate all human politics” and
legislation; the Abolitionists are equally averse to the “politics”
and legislation of the slave-holding States, and of course to the
political fabric of the Union. _They_ deny the right of prosecution
and indemnification for felony, which of course would be impossible,
where there is no law; the Abolitionists deny the right of
indemnification for the deprivation of property in slaves. _They_ deny
the right of all punishment for crimes; this would be extremely
convenient for Abolitionists. _They_ deny that their “doctrines are
Jacobinical;” and why set up this defence before they are accused,
except from the consciousness, that all the world will pronounce them
so? The Abolitionists, too, as we think, are somewhat involved in this
predicament. The members of this new Society are advocates of
Non-resistance, _on one side_; and so are the Abolitionists: both are
averse to being _opposed_, except so far as it may afford them the
opportunity and title to plead the rights of the honest Connecticut
negro’s conscience, who, being asked by his master, what it said,
replied, “Why, Massa, it says, I _won’t_.” But the members of this
Society are to be great fighters, after all, and that, too, in the way
of _aggression_, as they claim the right and declare the purpose of
making war “boldly, by the application of their principles, upon all
existing civil, political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions;”
that is, as one, remarking well on their scheme, hath it, “to take the
greatest possible pains to get mobbed, persecuted, imprisoned, hung,
and murdered.” And little pity would they get. They, of course, are
the framers of their own conscience, and its interpreters; and that is
the empire, the rights of which they claim, under their professions of
_Non-resistance_. Allow any man that, and what, repudiating the
restraints of law, could he ask more?

[Footnote 1: The abstract notion, that whatever is judged to be wrong
in the customs or laws of society, _may_ and _must_ be broken down, or
rooted out, _forthwith_, without any regard to consequences.]

But, notwithstanding the magisterial offices of society, they say, “We
believe that the penal code of the old Covenant, ‘_An eye for an eye,
and a tooth for a tooth_,’ has been abrogated by Jesus Christ,” &c. In
other words, we suppose, they mean to set aside the authority of the
Old Testament Scriptures; of course, the Decalogue: and _in_ course,
proceeding onward, the whole Bible. In this way, the Abolitionists
would gain an important point, and procure the right of making a Bible
to suit themselves. Thus endeth the career of violent reform--_in
universal anarchy_. The New England Non-resistance Society is the
climax; and it is remarkable, that there is scarcely a principle
involved in the public declaration of their Creed, which, in some
form of application, does not exactly suit the case and cause of the
Abolitionists.--None, we apprehend, which does not very naturally and
legitimately flow from it. _They were_ Abolitionists in the previous
stage of their career, and one of them was the founder of
Abolitionism.[2] It only happens, that he still keeps the lead; and he
and his present associates are only more consistent and more honest,
in having opened the entire budget to the public gaze. There are,
indeed, some few _outré_ peculiarities of this new Association,
ingeniously appended and incorporated, just enough to attract
attention, and make it interesting as a curiosity. But there is
nothing surprising in it, when we inquire into the causes which have
generated the extravagant opinions, and set on foot the violent
reforms, of our country. They may all be traced backward, through all
their stages, and in all their connexions, under the broad and clear
sun light of philosophical research.

[Footnote 2: Of Abolitionism in its modern garb of a violent reform--a
totally, radically, and essentially, different thing from Emancipation
in the sense attached to it before this agitation commenced.
Abolitionism is now identified with an unconstitutional, and as we
have proved, seditious interference of a combination of people in the
free States, with the domestic condition of the slave States. It is
shorn of the honors, both of a humane and patriotic enterprise, and
merged in the responsibility of a political misdemeanor. This is the
sense in which we use the term throughout this work; and we have
supposed there was some foundation for ascribing the authorship of
this movement to the gentleman above alluded to. Certainly, he was the
most conspicuous actor, when it began to attract public attention. And
behold! he is at the head, and we suppose at the bottom--(for we take
for granted he must be the leader wherever he is)--of an Association
set up professedly and without disguise, to overthrow all Government.
This last stage--for we see not how it can go any further--is, in our
esteem, an open and fair _denoument_ of the principles of
Abolitionism. Not, indeed, that the Abolitionists, as a body, have any
such designs--for we charitably suppose, and fully believe, they have
not--but the action of their fundamental principle of _immediatism_,
to gain, by a _coup de main_, a visionary state of _perfectionism_,
cannot stop short of this.]

It is proper to remark, that, in the comprehensive picture given in
this chapter, of the principles of the New England Non-resistance
Society, we have taken the liberty to lay aside the garb in which they
have presented them, except here and there a literal quotation, not
only for brevity’s sake, but to show them in their naked form. We
think, however, that we have not misrepresented; and even if we have
done so, in any slight shades, the moiety of this delicious _morceau_,
is enough to show the _taste_ of those who have swallowed it, and
how the _physic_ is likely to operate. As to the feature of
_non-resistance_, it is what is vulgarly called a “fudge,” they having
reserved to themselves the privilege of conscience, according to their
own interpretation of its prerogatives, and moreover declared their
resolute and unflinching purpose to “_assail_ all existing
institutions.” Besides, this _pretension_, to adopt their own
language, is “a measure of sound policy;” for they could not otherwise
be tolerated for a moment; and they hope to gain sympathy by
_appearing_ not to resist, while they themselves are engaged in _open
war_ on every thing that is valuable and dear to society. To show the
connexion between this and things that had gone before, it is only
necessary to quote one sentence from their own hand: “The triumphant
progress of the cause of _Temperance_ and _Abolition_ in our land ...
_encourages us_ to _combine_ our own means and efforts for the
promotion of a STILL GREATER CAUSE.” Far be it from us, however, by
this allusion, to disparage the Temperance reformation, any farther
than the violent and overstrained part of it is concerned. And this
qualification, we trust, will be satisfactory to all, whose good
opinion we have any hope of enjoying.



_Facit per alium, facit per se._ The accessory to a crime is by law,
and in justice, made responsible with the principal. No man can deny,
that the effect of the Abolition doctrines and measures on the
slave-holding States, if they were not resisted, would speedily lead
to insurrection and massacre; that scenes of this horrible kind would
be constantly occurring, till the whole South would become a field of
desolation. It is true, the Abolitionists say, it would not be so, if
the slave-holders would give up. This, however is a justification,
which, we suppose, is not likely to be admitted. Everybody knows, that
the slave-holders will not give up, and that they are more remote
from it now than when this agitation commenced. The Abolitionists are
responsible for having, by their imprudence and rashness, rivetted the
chains of slavery, and put far off the day of Emancipation, unless
they shall succeed in breaking up society, by forcing abolition--the
responsibility of which, we apprehend, would be immeasureably greater
than that which now rests upon them. The right or wrong of slavery
cannot now be discussed with any effect, because another great
question has forced that aside. It is the question, whether the
political fabric of the country, in relation to this subject, shall
give way to violence? The claim of the slave to his freedom, we think,
will never be listened to, till that is settled. We must take things
as they are, and man as he is.

“No,” says the Abolitionist, “God forbid. We stick to _principle_; and
our principle is, that the slave has a right to his freedom--a right
paramount to any artificial and accidental state of society that
exists, standing in the way of it; and the consequences of opposing
this claim, _be_ on those who take this stand.” Is this a fair
statement? We are inclined to think it is, as to those Abolitionists
who lead and govern the cause. Certainly, we should be willing to
state it in any other form, if we could do it more fairly. We only
wish to know on what ground they stand, that we may know how to take
them. From all we have been able to learn of their principles, we
believe that the above statement does them no injustice.

Let us, then, observe the following facts: The slave-holders are
resolved they will not give up; the Abolitionists are resolved they
shall. The more the latter do, in the way they are now engaged, to
accomplish their end, so much the more determined are the former to
maintain what they claim to be their rights. The former point, first,
to the Federal Constitution, as their security; next, to their own
swords. Such, undoubtedly, is the true state of the case. The right of
the slave to his freedom, as claimed by the Abolitionists in his
behalf, is out of the question, till this political warfare is ended;
and every step makes the case worse and worse. Such is the present
position of the cause of Abolition in this country: the Abolitionists
stick to their principle, that “the duty, safety, and best interests
of all concerned, require the _immediate abandonment_” of slavery.
Such is the language of their Constitution, italicised as above; and
they are accustomed to press that principle by all the means in their
power, _without regard to consequences_; and we think it may be fairly
added, as a general fact, _without respect to the supreme law of the
land_, which happens to be against them. They view the right claimed
for the slave _paramount to all law that stands opposed_. We believe
we do not mistake in this. Every one may see what such principles,
carried out and enforced, lead to; and when we consider the certainty
of their being opposed, and opposed to the last, we think it not
unjust to pronounce them _incendiary_ in their character.

We will illustrate this state of things by a case of fact. We happened
to be acquainted with a very estimable and exemplary clergyman, some
ten years ago, or more, mild and benevolent in his disposition, bland
in his manners, of unquestionable piety, and in all respects
agreeable; but we observed, with some concern, that he appeared to be
tending strongly to the way of violent reforms. In the spring of 1838
we were glad to meet him again, as an old friend; but found him
thoroughly in for Abolition, according to the modern type. In the
course of conversation, it was suggested, that Abolition, hardly
pushed, would chance to make some bad work. “No matter,” said the
gentleman, “the principle is sacred.” “And must be maintained at all
events?” “Certainly.” “But it may occasion the effusion of blood.” “We
can’t help it.” “There will be insurrections and massacres.” “That is
the fault of those who committed the first sin; and they must take the
consequences.” It will be seen, that they who committed the first sin,
were out of the way many generations ago, and were never citizens of
this country. “But, do you mean to advocate the _instant_ manumission
of all slaves, without regard to consequences?” “Certainly. Slavery is
sin; and all sin ought to be left off instantly.” “But do you not see,
that slavery is interwoven with a complicated state of society,
political and domestic; and that it is impossible to do it away
_immediately_?” “No matter; it is wrong, and ought not to continue a
moment.” “But your doctrine will produce anarchy.” “No--God will take
care of that. God never required any thing, that will produce a bad
result. Obedience to his will is always safe; and disobedience unsafe.
Slavery is sin; and all sin should be repented _now_, radically and
thoroughly, in practice as well as in heart.” “But, there is the law
of the land.” “And there is the law of God, and of nature.” “But the
law of God says, _the powers that be are ordained of God. Put them in
mind to be subject to principalities and powers, and to obey
magistrates._” “That is a general rule, and was never intended to
vitiate the authority of conscience. If it is to be construed
strictly, and without exception, we had never had the Protestant
Reformation, nor American Independence. The indefeasible rights of
conscience, and of liberty, in the sense now maintained, may always be
asserted, and ought to be.” “But may we go on a crusade, in behalf of
others, for these objects?” “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,
and shalt not suffer sin upon thy brother.” “Then you are in favor of
carrying Abolition _forthwith_, as best it can be done, in despite of
the law of the land, and without regard to consequences?”
“Undoubtedly. It is impossible, there should be a higher law, than
that asserted in this cause. The law of the land will never be
altered, if we let it alone; and the only way to bring it about, is to
press matters by agitation. There are always enough on the side of
order, and we have no fear of consequences in so good and holy an
enterprise,” &c. &c.

We have abridged this dialogue, and profess no more than to give the
substance of it. And when we compare it with all we have seen, heard,
and read on the side of Abolition, and with the ordinary features of
the movement, we see not but it is a fair representation. Any persons,
however, are at liberty to qualify it, as they may think it deserves.
There are, doubtless, Abolitionists of all shades and degrees; but
there is a common ground, on which those who constitute the strength
of the movement, meet. We suppose it ought to be allowed, that most of
them _profess_ respect for the authority of law on this point, and
that they intend nothing but Constitutional modes of reformation. The
Constitution of their great Society, proposes “to do all that is
_lawfully_ in our power to bring about the extinction of slavery.” But
every one construes the law for himself; and generally, that is
lawful, which sets up the right of the slave to his freedom, as
paramount to the law of the land. That we do no injustice to
Abolitionists by these statements, is open to proof, by the high
authority of the last Annual Report of their Parent Society, in which,
however startling it may seem, they have not only in effect, _but in
form_, set aside the authority of the Federal Constitution, in regard
to slavery, by _construction_! After quoting the well known third
clause of the second Section of the Fourth Article, which recognizes
the validity of property in slaves, and provides to defend it, having
first stated, that, “if strictly construed it could not apply to
slaves,” because it does not _name_ them _as slaves_, the Report goes
on to say: “It is obvious to remark, in the first place, that the
_intentions_ of the framers--_whatever by historical evidence we may
ascertain them to have been_--_cannot bind_ us to an interpretation of
the Constitution which its own language does not render necessary, and
which is inconsistent with objects for which it was professedly
framed, to wit, ‘to establish justice,’ and ‘to secure the blessings
of liberty.’ _But we go further_: We contend, that when the
Constitution was framed, it was the understanding of _all parties_,
that slavery was soon to be abolished by the States, and the clause
intended to facilitate the recovery of fugitive slaves was a mere
_temporary_ concession, to _expire_ with the unhallowed anomaly which
called for it. If such be the case, it need hardly be said, that the
slave States, after having _violated_, on their part, that good faith
which was implied in the compact, _have no right_ to urge its
fulfilment, beyond the letter, on the other part.” “Beyond the
letter.” “The _letter_” does not happen to _name_ slaves.

Now, if _this_ is not _coming out_, and by the highest authority, by
their own solemn and sanctioned Annual Scripture, declaring _null_ and
_void_ the law of the land, and its highest law, in relation to the
subject of controversy, it might be difficult to say what would be so.
They even set aside the universally established rule of
interpretation, confessing to the _intention_ of the law, but denying
its authority. Henceforth the public may know what to expect. We
think, that, with this document lying before our eyes, it is no libel
to say, the Abolitionists _do not respect the law_; and that they have
made up their minds, to trample it under foot. Their measures, and
their language, would certainly imply it. They seem to be so far
carried away by their sympathy for the slaves, that the hazard of
causing to flow in rivers the best blood of the land, by a civil war,
seems hardly sufficient to effect an abatement of their zeal; and if
the slave-holders and their families, should be butchered in the
strife of Abolition, “that is the fault of those who committed the
first sin, and they must take the consequences.” _Immediate, instant
emancipation_ is the word and the _principle, whatever comes_. There
is no law above it--none that must not give way to it. Let the public
judge, whether this principle be not incendiary, and sanguinary, in
the most revolting aspects. The only barrier, hitherto supposed to
stand in its way, the Federal Constitution, is swept away by an
authoritative commentary, and the license to go forth to battle, has,
by this act, received the sanction of the Supreme Legislative Assembly
and high Court of the American Anti-Slavery Society!

We think the time has come, when the public of this country have a
right to demand, whether the Abolitionists do indeed intend thus to
_force_ the application of their principles, in contempt of law, and
at the hazard of all consequences. Let them avow this scheme openly,
and it will be enough. The uncharitable imputation of occult criminal
designs is unwarrantable. But we submit, whether the passage just
quoted from the Annual Report of this Society is not sufficiently
open; and whether the habitual developements of the great movement, as
made before the public, in so many forms, do not corroborate and
confirm the impression which this document is calculated to produce?



We believe the Abolitionists are accustomed to find one apology for
the movement in which they are engaged, in the assumption, that all
the Members of the American Union are responsible for the existence of
slavery therein, if not equally, yet in part; and being
conscientiously opposed to slavery, their conscience obliges them to
act in obedience to its dictates. They cannot, therefore, choose to
abstain from this enterprise, if they would. We propose here to
consider this question, as it cannot be denied, if the assumption be
founded in truth and justice, that there is some weight in the
statement. It is obviously proper to begin at the _beginning_, and
enquire where the responsibility rests for introducing slavery into
this country.

We say, therefore, that it was imposed upon this country against the
avowed wishes, and resolute remonstrances of the ancestors of those,
who now have charge of the evil that was thus entailed; and that
resistance to the imposition came to the brink of a rebellion--nay,
was a cause of rebellion.

“So early as 1502, the Spaniards begun to employ a few negroes in the
mines of Hispaniola; and in the year 1517, the Emperor, Charles V.,
granted a patent to certain persons for the exclusive supply of 4000
negroes annually, to the islands of Hispaniola, Jamaica, Cuba, and
Puerto Rico.”[3] John Hawkins, an Englishman, received the honors of
knighthood, and was made Treasurer of the Navy, by Queen Elizabeth,
for his achievements in the slave trade. Elizabeth, James I., Charles
I., and II., were all in the habit of chartering companies to carry it
on. Charles II., his brother, the Duke of York, noblemen, gentry, and
_ladies_ of high rank and quality, were subscribers to these
companies; and England, Europe, revolted not at the deed! The public
conscience of the world seemed to tolerate it! When the slave trade
first commenced, from Great Britain, under Elizabeth, the American
Colonies did not exist. The succeeding princes patronized the traffic,
and introduced slavery into their American provinces. “In 1760, South
Carolina, a British Colony, passed an act to prohibit further
importation; but Great Britain rejected this act with indignation, and
declared that the slave trade was beneficial and necessary to the
mother country. The Governors of the Colonies had _positive orders_ to
sanction no law enacted against the slave trade. In Jamaica, in the
year 1765, an attempt was made to abolish the trade to that island.
The Governor declared, that his instructions would never allow him to
sign the Bill. It was tried again in 1774, but Great Britain, by the
Earl of Dartmouth, President of the Board, answered: _We cannot allow
the Colonies to check or discourage, in any degree, a traffic so
beneficial to the nations._”[4]

[Footnote 3: Bryant Edward’s West Indies.]

[Footnote 4: Professor Dew’s Review of the Debate in the Virginia
legislature, of 1831-’32.]

The history of legislation, in the Colony of Virginia, records
_twenty-three_ Acts, imposing duties on the importation of slaves,
with the avowed design of suppressing the trade. “In 1772, most of the
duties, previously imposed, were re-enacted, and the Assembly
transmitted, at the same time, a petition to the Throne, of which the
following are extracts:--

“‘We are encouraged to look up to the Throne, and _implore_ your
Majesty’s paternal assistance, in averting a calamity of a most
alarming nature.... The importation of slaves into the Colonies from
the coast of Africa, hath long been considered a trade of _great
inhumanity_, and under its present encouragement, we have too much
reason to fear, will endanger the very existence of your Majesty’s
American dominions. Deeply impressed with these sentiments, we most
_humbly beseech_ your Majesty _to remove all those restraints_ on your
Majesty’s Governors of this Colony, which prohibit such laws as might
check so very pernicious a commerce.’

“The _first_ Assembly which met in Virginia, after the adoption of her
Constitution, prohibited the traffic; and ‘_the inhuman use of the
royal prerogative_’ against the action of the Colony upon this
subject, is enumerated in the _first_ clause of the first Virginia
Constitution, _as a reason of the separation from the mother

[Footnote 5: Professor Dew.]

Such was the _common_ feeling of the Southern Colonies, though more
decidedly manifested in Virginia. They never invited, they never
tempted the slave trade, except by a silent acquiescence for a
season, in what was imposed upon them by the cupidity of foreigners,
and the mandates of authority, before the public conscience of mankind
had begun to remonstrate; and the moment they opened their eyes to its
domestic results among themselves, they set their faces, and employed
all their lawful powers, against it.

“Federal America interdicted the slave trade from her ports _thirteen_
years before Great Britain; she made it punishable as a crime _seven_
years before, she fixed _four_ years sooner the period of
non-importation--which period was earlier than that determined upon by
Great Britain for her Colonies.”[6]

[Footnote 6: Walsh’s Appeal.]

For the introduction of Slavery into America, therefore, the Americans
themselves are acquit of all political responsibility. All that can be
said is, that individuals purchased slaves that were brought and
offered, when the public conscience of the world tolerated the
traffic; but it was under the authority, and by the imposition, of a
parent Government, in another Continent, that slavery was reared into
a domestic and political institution, the process all the while having
been solemnly protested against by those whose voice had a claim to be
heard, and who were most intimately concerned, until it grew into a
magnitude and importance, too formidable to be dealt with by a violent
hand of excision and extirpation--sufficiently formidable, indeed, to
demand the utmost wisdom and prudence of man for its treatment and
ultimate disposal.

Thus, having fairly wiped from the American escutcheon the political
responsibility of introducing slavery in this Continent, and among
ourselves, it remains to be considered, how far the present generation
of slaveholding Americans are responsible for this state of things.
The sum of the matter lies in one short sentence: _They were born into
the world the heirs of this condition._ In no manner or degree are
they responsible for it, any farther than they maintain it, and _as_
they maintain it. We suppose the Abolitionists themselves would not
differ widely from us here, except as, peradventure, some of them may
take their stand on the theological proposition--“In Adam’s fall we
sinned all.” If, however, it may be assumed, that all agree on this
point, it is the simple and the great question at issue. The slave
States say, that is _their_ business; and the Abolitionists say, it is
_ours_. This is the _contest_--the question _to be tried_.

And one of the apologies of the Abolitionists, for interference in
this concern, is, that the whole nation is involved in the
responsibility. Let us see, whether this be true. It must be admitted,
that it requires some study to comprehend the nature of our political
fabric, as a nation, with the relations of its parts to each other,
and to the Unity; but still, like a mathematical problem, though
obscure and misty to the intellect, before it is laid down and
demonstrated step by step, it is afterwards no less clear and
satisfactory. It happens, that this task has already been done in a
former chapter, and requires only to be restated here. The great
principle, and its whole scope, are laid down before the eye, in the
tenth Article of the Federal Constitution.[7] By this rule, the
respective States are declared possessed, by original right, of all
independent and sovereign powers, not “delegated or prohibited” by the
Federal Constitution. In these limited attributes of sovereignty,
therefore, they are placed precisely on the footing of all other
independent States and Nations; and as the institution of slavery, and
all legislation over it, is one of these “reserved” powers, it
follows, that all its responsibility devolves on those States, in
which it exists, and is maintained. It is impossible it should extend
any farther, from the nature of the compact. It is a simple
proposition, and may be understood by any body, by a child, that I
cannot be responsible for that which the laws of society forbid me to
meddle with; and this is precisely the proposition which sets forth
and limits the responsibility of slavery in the United States. The
Union was formed on these conditions, and in an exigency under which
the parties were forced to combine for common good, with mutual
concessions thus specified, in the same manner as a society of any
individual persons is formed by mutual compact and mutual concession,
and the responsibility of every member is limited by the line thus
marked out. As he is not permitted to trespass on the rights secured
to others, he cannot be held responsible for any thing that would
demand such a trespass. If the rights thus secured are invaded, or
violated, the administration of justice does not devolve on individual
members of the community, or on any combination not provided for by
law, but on the constituted and public authorities. Even though there
be manifest injustice for which the law does not provide a remedy, or
injustice sanctioned by law, the same principle applies, and the evil
can be redressed only by a constitutional legislation.

[Footnote 7: Page 52.]

But, it is said, the principle of slavery is incorporated and
sanctioned in the Federal Constitution; and we are all at least so far
responsible. This, surely, will not be urged by Abolitionists, who
have formally and publicly declared, by their own mode of legislation,
as shown in the previous chapter, that this principle has ceased to
exist, and is no longer binding. But suppose it does exist. It neither
declares, nor sanctions, the _right_ of slavery _as such_: but simply
interposes the authority of a principle, which applies equally to all
the States, to enable them to maintain and secure their domestic
institutions, as established by their sovereign will--a principle,
which may accidentally operate more in favour of one State, than of
another, but which is equally important to all, and is habitually
employed by all. The Government of the United States, therefore, is
not responsible in this matter, politically considered; and therefore
not responsible at all, as it exists only as a political institution.
All these public relations are political, and can involve no other
responsibility than that which is prescribed by the laws of the social
state, as it exists. The relation of the master to the slave involves
a responsibility which applies to private conscience, and the master
must answer for it. So also the relation of the master to that
political commonwealth which maintains slavery; and he must answer for
that, to the extent of his political influence and relations. And so
with every member of such a commonwealth; but farther than this, he
cannot be held to account. This, we think, is the legitimate domain of
conscience, and the limit of responsibility, in regard to this

But, it will yet be said, that the Government of the United States is
the public guardian of slavery, by the force and habitual application
of the fourth article of the Federal Constitution; and therefore, all
the citizens of the Republic are involved in this responsibility, and
consequently have a right to concern themselves about it.
Notwithstanding, it cannot be denied, that the Federal compact bars
this claim; and the Christian’s conscience might find its salvo in the
Scripture which saith--“He shall abide in the Tabernacle and holy hill
of the Lord, who sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” In the
day of trial, our fathers swore to this compact, and bound their
children in the covenant, if we accept the inheritance; if not, then
we have no voice in the matter. But, we think, the political pledge of
the general Government to maintain the domestic institutions of the
several States, in case of need, so far as they do not interfere with
the prerogatives “delegated,” or those “prohibited,” does not involve
a responsibility for the _character_ of those institutions--not at

The _Union_ is admitted to have been indispensible to our National
Independence, and the slave States came into it on the condition, that
the institution of slavery should not be disturbed, and that it should
be maintained in the way the Federal Constitution prescribes. Whether
slavery was right or wrong in itself, or how long it should be
maintained, were questions never submitted; but were left among the
“reserved” rights. The Union never had any responsibility in the
existence of slavery; it never assumed any; it has never had any
whatever; it has only covenanted to protect the sovereign rights of
the slave States, as it has the sovereign rights of all other States,
leaving to them the sovereign control over their own domestic
institutions, without assuming any one item of responsibility in
regard to their character. The principle which forbids the
interference of the Union, absolves it from responsibility.

But still the Abolitionist holds his ground, as a religionist, and
declares, that he is bound to have a care for all his fellow
creatures, and to help them, wherever he sees them laboring under any
evils, physical or moral, or any wrongs social or political. So far as
his benevolence extends to those who suffer under social and political
wrongs, if they happen to be beyond the limits of his own
Commonwealth, we can only give him a piece of advice, which he may use
or not, at his own discretion, viz. that, till the world gets to be in
a more favorable state for the range of his sympathies, as a
religionist claiming to carry his religion into politics by force, he
had better be content with the wisdom of Moses, who, as it would seem,
saw fit, not only to tolerate, but to _legalize_, slavery--for
whatever may be said of _different forms_, it cannot be denied that
the _principle_ was there. Or, with the wisdom of the Apostle Paul,
who, instead of interfering with the political fabrics of his time, in
regard to this as well as other matters, sent back Onesimus, a runaway
slave, thereby recognizing the legal claim of his master, Philemon,
with such messages as these: “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee
ought, put that to my account.... Whom I would have _retained_ ... but
_without thy mind_ would I do nothing.... Though I might be much bold
in Christ to _enjoin_ thee that which is convenient, yet for love’s
sake I rather _beseech_ thee.” Or, with the wisdom of the Apostle
Peter, who said: “Servants, be subject to your Masters with all
fear--not only to the _good_ and _gentle_, but to the _froward_. And
what glory is it, if, when ye shall be buffetted for your faults, ye
take it patiently; but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take
it patiently, this is acceptable to God.” It is also written by “such
an one as Paul, the aged: Let as many servants as are _under the
yoke_, count their own Masters worthy of all honor, that the name of
God and his doctrines be not blasphemed, &c. _These things_,” saith he
to Timothy, “_teach_ and _exhort_.” For, we think, the Abolitionist
would be much better employed in imitating these illustrious examples,
than by inculcating sedition, and stirring up insurrection. Or, if
this should not suit his taste, then we would advise him by all means,
to let the politics of foreign States alone, as it is a delicate and
dangerous business, not as yet tolerated by the actual state of
society. If he thinks so, he may rely upon it, he has made a mistake.

If, however, he insists on being thus occupied, and since his labors
are not well received in the slave holding States of America, and seem
likely to do more hurt than good, we would advise him to “shake off
the dust off his feet against them,” and turn to another field, and
still _more_ remote, as he likes distant objects. If he would do the
greatest amount of good, and since he is resolved to have a _foreign_
field, let him try where the evil exists in more aggravated forms. For
there is actually less slavery in the United States, in proportion to
the population, and the whole of it in a milder form, than in any
other part of the world, civilized or uncivilized. For what is the
_name_ of a thing, apart from its essential attributes? Slavery,
fairly defined, is the unequal and unjust depression of man in
relation to his fellow man, as the result of an artificial state of
society, which has been erected, and is maintained for the advantage
of the few, and to the disadvantage of the many. The degree of
depression, and the amount of _oppression_, are accidental. Both are
greater in any other part of the world that can be named, beyond the
bounds of the United States, than in the slave States of the
South--if, perhaps, we except the North American British
Provinces--now being invaded on Abolition principles.

If the Abolitionists are resolved to interfere with the domestic
condition of other States for the relief of the oppressed, and cannot
otherwise satisfy their consciences, let them go to England, to
Ireland, and to the British manufactories. We assure them, they will
find work enough there, and enough of slavery too, as that particular
form of evil is especially to their taste. Let them go to the
Continent of Europe, and they will find enough of it any where in that
field--more especially in Italy, in Spain and Portugal, in Hungary, in
Poland, and above all, in Russia. Let them go to the tribes and
nations that border on the shores of the Mediterranean; let them
penetrate into Northern, Southern, and Eastern Asia; it is all a ripe
field for their sickle, or if they like it better, for their
sword--for it will no doubt soon come to that. Let them go to
Africa--which their sympathies would naturally lead them to first--and
there, independent of the temptations and effects of the slave
traffic, as all travellers inform us, they will find slavery in such
amount, and in forms of such horrid and murderous cruelty, as to show
the fields of its abode in the Southern States a paradise in
comparison. There they will see, that it is better to be a slave in
America, than a free man in Africa, without justifying slavery; and
that the best conditions of African barbarism could never be envied by
the worst of American slavery, if both were equally well known to the
parties, having their option between the two. There they might learn,
that God, in his high and inscrutable providence, can bring good out
of evil, and that, by the lights of American civilization, and the
blessings of American Christianity, thrown out upon Africa from these
shores, that long suffering, abused, and “pealed” race, may yet hope
to receive some indemnification for their bleeding wrongs.

But do the Abolitionists reply, “that if we enter on the fields of
Europe, or of any other countries, for political action, by any
efficient force, to rescue the oppressed, we shall lose our heads.”
That, indeed, may be a wise thought. Or, “if we attempt it by secret
operations, and by emissions of the press, clandestinely introduced,
we shall embroil our country in a foreign war.” There is little doubt
of that. Or, “if we organize a political machinery at home,
industriously occupying years of preparation for descent, waiting for
an opportunity, and it is known that our force is likely to tell with
effect, when the time of aggressive action shall arrive, it will
produce the same result, unless our own Government shall interpose,
and suppress our movement.” This, too, is doubtless a fair conclusion.
But, let it be remembered, that a foreign war is infinitely less to be
dreaded, than a domestic and civil one; and that it is no less
certain, if the Abolition movement is not suppressed, we must have the
last. The cases are parallel: as a foreign Nation could not endure
such interference, neither can the slave States of the South. There is
as valid and justifiable a right of interference in one case, as in
the other, and an equal provocation for resort to arms, if the General
Government should not interpose its authority, and arrest the



We live in an age of romantic sympathy and religious sentimentalism.
There is a charity that prefers a remote object, to one that is near.
A blind beggar, with every appearance of want and wretchedness, sits
daily by the way side, to ask alms. Floods of population swim along,
and now and then he gets a penny; but no body stops to ask him of his
misery, or sympathize with his woes. He is a solitary, uncheered being
during the day, in the midst of a busy, moving, and apparently happy
world; and as night comes on, he feels his way to his wretched hovel,
if he has one, and lies down in rags and filth, to sleep as he can. He
may, or may not, have some one to comfort him there; but the world
never asks. In every crowded population there are hundreds of poor and
wretched beings, whose wants are fruitful of sorrow, and whose pains
are without relief. They live in misery, and die without comfort; and
that, too, while surrounded with an affluence that knows not how to
dissipate its treasures. The sound of the light steps of the happy is
heard in the street, but they enter not the uninviting abode to
inquire into the wants of its tenants; the carriages of the wealthy
roll onward; but the suffering poor, so near at hand, are not
remembered. Even if you apply to the public in their behalf, you will
chance to receive for answer, “they are worthy of their doom, and are
only reaping the wages of their sins. We have known them well, and
generally speaking, there is little merit, and a slender reward, in
relieving such objects.”

But, form a Society of these very persons, and send out an Agent to
the Antipodes to hunt up the misery that may be found there, to report
in due form on precisely the same cases of distress, or on such,
perhaps, as are not half so worthy of pity, and the tear of sympathy
will be seen trickling down the cheek of the sentimentalist, as he
reads the printed document in his easy chair, or listens to the fervid
eloquence of the platform orator, who feels the same pleasure in
telling the story which his hearers do in receiving it. “’Tis distance
lends enchantment,” and because these persons can luxuriate in the
indulgence of their benevolence in agreeable circumstances, without
being compelled to come in actual contact with the squalid and
disgusting forms of misery; or like Howard, to sacrifice home and
comfort to look it up, and administer consolation at the expense of
ease and better society.

To all this we have no objection. Even if the statements are
exaggerated, and the pictures highly colored; though the Agents
engaged in this work know well, that their support depends on the
interest they create; though there is not half the good accomplished
that was dreamt of, or is supposed; nay, though all the fruits of this
sympathy were expended on the way to its objects, and in sustaining
this machinery, still the world is made better, and the compensation
is abundant, though nothing else be gained, but the good and kind
feeling it has kindled up at home. It is even better, that they who
will not relieve the miserable objects that lie at their doors, or
perish in the streets, or starve in the comfortless abodes of their
own city or town, should have some small pittances of their abundance
drawn out by the workings of a romantic sympathy for the remotest
objects, than that they should do nothing at all. If they feel not for
the wretched before their eyes, it is yet good that they can be made
to feel for those who are far off.

The Christian missions of the age, and all purely benevolent
enterprises, which meddle not with the political structures of
society, are most worthy of patronage and support, _under a suitable
organization_. However they may, in some degree, fall under these
strictures, our remarks are only an echo of practical and faithful
missionaries, who have themselves written largely on the romance of
Missions, and laboured to chasten the views and expectations of
contributors to the cause, and to establish the work on the basis of
sound Christian principle. As we have before intimated, the Abolition
movement is a wandering star, an eccentric and fiery orb, that has
broken loose from the Religious and Benevolent Society system, with
all its armor on, and betrayed and violated the principles of that
system, by plunging into the battle field of political strife, and
running riot in a wild and mad encounter with the political interests
of mankind. It is a comet out of place, thrown off from its own sphere
by the violence of its centrifugal action, and comes dashing on its
way into a family of planetary worlds, whose orderly course around a
common centre it threatens to throw into confusion, and is likely to
plunge full sweep on that great central ORB which gives us light and
heat, and which, we hope and pray, will be able to sustain the shock
without injury.

The romance of Abolitionism is well illustrated in the history of that
crusade which roused all Europe, and led forth its armies upon the
plains of Western Asia against the infidels, to rescue “the Holy City”
from “the abomination of desolation;” and we will venture to say, that
the great majority of Abolitionists are equally and no more wise, in
the expedition to which they are lending their aid. They know just as
much of the real state of things in the slave-holding States, and seem
to be equally blind to the romantic character of the enterprise.

Let it be always understood, that we make no controversy with the
Abolitionists, as to the right or wrong of slavery, in this country or
any other, or in any case whatever. For in all cases, we presume, that
we are as much opposed to slavery as they are. We consider, that this
question is entirely forced aside by the position assumed by the
Abolitionists, and by principles they have avowed before the public,
which must necessarily supercede this question, till those principles
are practically settled. Abolitionists claim the right to a political
interference, which is denied to them alike by the Constitutional law
of the land, by the expressed opinions of our national authorities, by
the parties most intimately concerned, and by the general voice of
public opinion. And this is the ground upon which we meet them, and
only upon this ground. We have no objection to their opinion
concerning the inexpediency and sin of slavery, or to any proper modes
of expressing that opinion. This has long been known to be the common
opinion of the North, without disturbing society in the South; and the
action of that opinion, in a proper way, was likely to make advances,
and ultimately to gain its object, if it had not been checked by this
inauspicious interference with existing political society and
political claims. Abolition, in the peculiar circumstances and
relations of American political society, can never, as we think, be
_enforced_ by political action from abroad; it can only be gained
through the moral sense of those who have the charge of slavery, in
connexion with their interests. While, therefore, we declare the
general ignorance of Abolitionists of the real state of slavery, as a
reason why they should not meddle with it in the way they propose, we
protest against being represented as the apologist of slavery.

Since, therefore, the people of the North cannot interfere
_politically_ with the slavery of the South--for we deem ourselves
entitled to assume this ground, in view of the reasons already
presented--and since a wide spread and powerful political combination
is in the field, mustering additional forces, and stirring up their
ranks to an onward course, by exaggerated and unfair representations,
we think it important, by all suitable means, to endeavour to break
that spell of romance, which, we conceive, has no small share in this
undertaking. We say, then, that the great body of Abolitionists have
not the means of knowing, and consequently do not know, the real
condition of slavery in the States where it exists, either as to what
it is in itself, or as to what it is in comparison of other states of
society in this and other countries. Instructed and excited by the
documents and various literary emissions of the Society--all of which
appear to be greatly exaggerated in their representation of facts,
inflammatory in their character, and some of the most influential of
them purely fictitious--they have obtained views of slavery at the
South which cannot be sustained by the truth of the case, and have
been stirred up to a sympathy which is for the most part romantic.
_All_ their views of the practicability of that form of action they
have assumed, being itself an unlawful organisation, as we have shown,
and at war with the political structure of our society, are, as we
think, purely romantic. They are generally, therefore, involved in an
atmosphere of romance on this subject.

As to the practicability of _immediate emancipation_--which is the
avowed doctrine and aim of the Abolitionists--either for the good of
the slaves, or the safety of society, it receives the unqualified
negative of all Northern men and foreigners, who have visited the
slave-holding States, without having been previously committed to the
principles of Abolitionism; and that, too, against all the reports
that have been brought from the British West Indies, down to this
time, by the Agents of the American Anti-Slavery Society, or through
other more circuitous or direct channels. Every practical man may see,
that the experiment of emancipation in the West Indies is not yet
fairly tested. We have read Thome’s & Kimball’s “Six Months’ Tour” and
Professor Hovey’s “Letters,” and compared them with other evidence and
the unalterable principles of human nature; and after making those
abatements which experience teaches are always due to ex parte
statements, we honestly conceive, that the argument is neutralised,
and the whole subject is necessarily left in suspense as to the
legitimate influence of such testimony.

We say, then, without fear of contradiction, that every disinterested
_man’s_ report from the South, whether American or foreigner, on the
question of _immediate abolition_, declares decidedly and solemnly to
the Abolitionists, “Gentlemen, you are wrong. It is impossible.”

But the doctrine of _immediate_ abolition, _dictated_ to the
slave-holding States, and _imposed_ upon them, even though it were
safely practicable, assumes the right of interference, and therefore
cannot be expected to be conceded by those concerned, and who claim
the right of originating and deciding this question for themselves.
The same right has been claimed by the Northern States, where slavery
formerly existed, and in no case have they seen fit to attempt
_immediate_ emancipation. To enforce it upon the South by foreign
dictation would be despotic, nay, an invasion, and, as we think,
“contrary to the principles of our republican form of Government.” We
declare, in the first place, that foreign, that is, Northern
Abolitionists are, from the necessities of their position,
_incompetent_ judges of this question; and next, that they are
unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful judges. Certainly, we do not
mean by this to debar the right of opinion, or any constitutional
modes of expressing it; but only, that they have no right to sit in
judgment on this question for the purposes of dictation and
legislation, or for that which is tantamount to legislation, to
_enforce_ this principle.

Moreover, some of the most influential literary emissions of the
American Anti-Slavery Society are _purely fictitious_, and generally
so exaggerated and highly coloured, or so unfaithful in not giving the
whole truth, as to misrepresent the truth. “The narrative of James
Williams,” which has probably had more influence, and excited more
feeling, than any other single document, and which was thought of
sufficient importance to be made conspicuous in the last Annual Report
of the Society, by devoting one third of a page _to attest its
veracity_, notwithstanding the Abolitionists had been sufficiently
advised, _that it was false_. They have at last been forced to make
public confession, _that it is a fiction_! It is impossible to say,
what proportion of the issues of this Society are of this character,
because the proof of a negative, especially in such matters, is always
slow and difficult; but the exceeding avidity of the Abolitionists to
take up and accredit such stories as “the Narrative of James
Williams,” directly in the face of rebutting and conclusive evidence,
and the strong temptations in such circumstances to fiction, may
fairly establish the presumption, that many of their issues are purely

But exaggeration of statement, over-coloring of facts, and keeping
back parts of truth which are essential to a correct judgment, are
precisely of the nature of fiction. Such is the concurrent testimony
from all quarters, and such the evidence of probability in the very
nature of things, that this part of the budget must be immense. Every
body, who has visited the slave States, _knows_, that slavery there is
_not_ what it is represented to be in the publications of the American
Anti-slavery Society, in general, or in particular. Certain specific
evils, necessarily resulting from a system of slavery, no fair man can
deny; that some of these are of a revolting character, candor requires
to be confessed; that there are cruel and inhuman masters, is no less
true. So also are there cruel and inhuman parents, husbands, masters
of indented apprentices, and various other superiors in the relations
of life, _out_ of the slave States. We will venture to say, from
authoritative evidence submitted to the British Parliament, amounting
to many volumes, that there is more maiming of the human body, and
more crushing of the human mind, from infancy to the grave, in the
manufactories of Great Britain, by the cruelties inflicted on that
perpetual bondage which in fact endures from generation to generation,
than the _whole amount_ of the same class of evils inflicted on _all_
the slaves in the United States, notwithstanding the immense
difference between the number of persons in one case and the other;
and that this result may be established by the best certified
evidence. If it should be said, that the bondage of the British
manufactories is voluntary, we reply, _it is not_, and that the _law
of necessity_ which imprisons its victims there, while they can work,
on a bare subsistence, without enough to get away, and dismisses them
when they can work no longer, without providing for their support, is
far more cruel than American bondage, where the law that makes it
hereditary, provides for the sick and superannuated. We are quite
aware, that one of these cases does not justify, though it relieves,
the other, by the light of comparison. There is no state of society in
the world, not even in the free States of North America, where these
cruelties and inhumanities cannot be found in great abundance. And why
do not the Abolitionists begin at home, and tear down society in their
respective Commonwealths, because these enormities are to be found,
notwithstanding the law and public opinion are against them, in the
same manner as law and opinion are against them in the slaveholding
States? Or, since they have a propensity to these foreign missions,
why do they not go to the nations of Europe, where bondage is more
cruel, and where they might, in that proportion, be more useful, if,
peradventure, they are likely to be useful at all? In all these cases,
and in all parts of the world, these cruelties are exceptions to the
general state of society, not the rule.

The decrease of the slave population of the West Indies, and
the better economy--barbarous indeed--of keeping it up by
importation, was adduced in evidence of the inhumanities of the
system. And we think very fairly so. By the same rule, the rapid
increase of the slave population in the Southern States, over the
whites in the same States--it being in the proportion of 80 to 100 of
the whites, and of 112 to 100 of the slaves, in the term of 40
years--proves, that slavery in the United States is comparatively
mild. It is commonly reported and believed, by disinterested visitants
to the slave States of the Union, that, from all appearances, the
slaves, as a body, are the happiest people in the world. And although
we are far from advocating the doctrine, in application to involuntary
and hereditary bondage, as an element of society, that, “where
ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise;” yet the real condition of
American slavery, when fairly ascertained, may go to show, that the
pains taken by Abolitionists, in the use of false testimony, to awaken
a romantic sympathy in the North, and to muster and urge on a violent
crusade upon the South, in violation of the laws of the land, and of
the obvious proprieties of man’s social condition, thereby disturbing
the public peace, and threatening to bring about a civil war, involves
a very grave responsibility. It is undoubtedly true, that the
Abolitionists of the North know very little about Southern slavery;
and that they know far less about it now, than they did before the
Abolition press, under the American Anti-Slavery Society, began to
instruct them. Nearly all their sympathy is romantic, resting on “the
baseless fabric of a vision;” and they may rely upon it, that their
crusade upon the South has as little hope of good result, as may now
be read in the history of the crusade of the Christian nations of
Europe upon “the Holy land.”



The observance of this rule would secure universal peace. There would
never be quarrelling, never war, on the smaller or larger scale; but
the breach of it soon produces difficulty, and leads to strife. We
have stated in a former chapter, to the effect, that the causes of the
Abolition movement of this country, cannot be understood, without
allusion to certain cognate events and reforming schemes, that have
been set on foot among us, and to certain extravagant and peculiar
features of those reforms, which fairly entitle them to the name of
_violent_. For example, it was assumed, that the action and scope of
Christian benevolence could not stop short of calling all men to
account for their principles, manners, habits, and especially meats
and drinks, according as these interrogators, _alias_ inquisitors,
might judge to be wrong. Great Societies were formed to give to these
measures the weight and sanction of their publicly declared opinion;
and under the shield of Conventional and solemn resolutions, which
struck at the root of all independence of private opinion and private
character, and excommunicated from good society all that should refuse
a strict conformity to these published “Bulls,” by stamping them with
the _taint_ of immorality, their Agents went forth upon the land to
deal authoritative rebuke and denunciation against dissentients. The
rest is known. All we have to say is, that schools of this kind--and
we have only pointed to _one_ of many--were admirable preparations for
the Abolition movement. A public that would bear all this, it was
thought, would bear any thing else; and they who had been accustomed
freely, and with little opposition, to use these high prerogatives in
the religious and moral sphere, ventured _one_ step farther, into the
_political_. They did it without scruple, seeming to regard themselves
as well entitled to one field, as to the other; and to this day, they
seem not to have discovered the impropriety of the trespass.

Now, let it be understood, that the application of these remarks does
not go a whit farther, than to comprehend those violent reforms, of
which the great body of the religious public of this country, of all
denominations, or nearly all, are heartily tired, and earnestly wish
them a good riddance. We think we are entitled, without offending any
Christian, not an Abolitionist, to point to this indubitable source of
this great movement, inasmuch as it would be impossible to do justice
to this subject without this leave. It is the wide spread sanction
that has been given to _meddling_ and _interference_ in the social
state, and the protracted and almost undisputed use of this
prerogative, that has conjured up the spirit of Abolitionism, and
given it weight and influence among that class of persons, who
sustained the other violent reforms, with few exceptions. They have
generally passed readily and regularly, as a matter of course, from
one sphere of action to the other, accumulating forces as they
advanced. It is even astonishing to observe, how that gem of society,
independence of private character, and the right of private opinion,
has been marred and prostrated before the authoritative edicts of
these high and formidable Associations, the most extravagant of which
were concocted in caucus, and forced upon the public, by those very
men who will generally be found in the Abolition ranks.

We think it a great mistake, in the administration of the social
state, and highly injurious to it, that this title to interfere in the
affairs of our neighbors, has been so widely sanctioned. It is bad in
itself; and bad in all its results. Once give sanction to this
principle by public authority, and there is no end to the modes and
forms of its application, in private life or public affairs, in the
religious or political world; and there is scarcely any thing more
fruitful of strife, or more mischievous in its workings. The reformer
assumes, that he has a right, and is bound, to seek the good of his
neighbour--_in his own way_, of course--and there is the mistake. And
if he can get the sanction of the public, on a large scale, as to the
use of his _particular_ modes, he is then backed by authority, and is
confident. He will then march directly into society, and rebuke and
denounce opposition with little ceremony. We are doubtless understood
by these allusions. The rule laid down becomes a bed of Procustes: If
any one’s legs happen to be too long, they must be cut off; or if too
short, they must be stretched out by force. And so it goes. There is
no such thing as private judgment, private conscience, or independence
of character; but a man’s soul, and body, and every thing must yield
to authority; or, he will have the mark set upon his forehead, and be
denounced, as the enemy of society, because he does not agree in
opinion with these men, as to the best modes of promoting its

Great and lamentable as the evil of Abolitionism is in our country,
and inauspicious in its aspects, we confess, we are not sorry, since
it has come to this, that these violent reformers have now got into a
position, in which they must encounter an authority that will be
likely to rebuke their _meddling interference_, in terms and in a
manner which they have not heretofore experienced. Having taken
political ground, in violation of the laws of the country, they must
henceforth look “the powers that be” in the face, and render an
account for their temerity.



This is a theological term, and announces the doctrine, as we
understand it, that it is possible for man to be perfect in this life,
and perfect at once. It is a species of _immediatism_; indeed, it is
the essence of it, its origin, and foundation; and out of this
abstract, theological, and visionary scheme grew the practical and
momentous doctrine of _immediate_ abolition. This is the application
of _perfectionism_ to politics, which was originally a religious
notion. At all points we see, therefore, that Abolitionism has to do
with religion, and religion with it. Whether such an interference of
religion with politics, will be agreeable to the people of this
country, remains to be seen.

_Perfectionism_ is an old doctrine in the religious world, but has
recently been revived in this country, and extensively adopted in the
ranks of these violent reformers, whose impatience would not allow
them to wait for the action and effect of the ordinary and generally
approved means of improving society. With the abstract notion in their
heads, that all sin ought to be left off _now_--from which, and so
far, we have no inclination to dissent--they have jumped to the
conclusion, that it can, must, and shall be; and accordingly have
adopted a system of action which assumes, that all departments of
society, social, moral, religious, and political, can be managed on
this principle.

It will be seen, that the principles of the New England Nonresistance
Society, which have been set forth in a former chapter, are the
legitimate result of this doctrine. They have stepped at once on the
ground of universal anarchy, by renouncing allegiance to all human
government, because they say it is badly constituted, and ought to be
broken up _instantly_. Nothing wrong in society, they being judges, is
to be tolerated for a moment. The entire fabric of society, therefore,
being wrong, requires to be dissolved at once. It is fortunate for the
public, that in the case of the New England Nonresistance Society, we
have a fair exemplification of these principles. _It is perfectionism
carried out._ We need go no farther to see what this doctrine, reduced
to practice, will lead to.

It may be seen, therefore, _whence_ the doctrine of _immediate_
Abolition has come, and how it proposes to sweep every thing before it
that stands in its way. Like the members of the Nonresistance Society,
the Abolitionists are fighting characters. The former declare, “We
propose to assail iniquity in _high_ places and in low; to apply our
principles to _all existing civil, political, legal, and
ecclesiastical institutions_.” The Abolitionists differ from this
scheme by taking one thing at a time; in that, they are doubtless more
wise. But it is precisely the same principle applied in this
particular direction.

It will be seen, therefore, that the peace of this country has been
disturbed, and the integrity of our political fabric menaced, by a
visionary, and we may add, fanatical religious notion. In violation of
the Constitutional law of the land, so far as respects the nature of
the Abolition organization, as shown in the second chapter and onward,
and also in violation of a distinct, established, and well known
principle of our Government, to wit, that religion shall not enter
into the State, the Abolitionists, as a religious _sect_--for it
cannot be denied that such is their character--have marched directly
into the political field, with this anarchical principle in hand, and
under a vast and powerful political machinery, have assailed the
Government of the country, and directly interfered with the
Constitutional prerogatives of foreign States. They have solemnly
declared, in their highest and most authoritative State paper, the
Annual Report of the Society, as before seen, that these
Constitutional regulations, defining the prerogatives of the slave
States, are null and void, and no longer binding. Of course, it is not
to be supposed they will respect them. And will the people of this
country allow a _religious_ faction to take possession of the
Government, and dictate to Sovereign States, with which we are in
solemn covenant to protect and defend them in these matters, what they
shall do--to _enforce_ their principle of _perfectionism_ on the
political structure of our society, to dissolve and overthrow it?

We do not mean to say, or to intimate, that Abolitionists are all
_perfectionists_ in the religious sense of this term, and in regard to
_all_ modes of improving society. That is not true. But we do mean to
say, that Abolitionism emanates from this source, and that, like the
gradual progress of all error, it is only a stage to the admission of
the full sweep of the doctrine. It is a notable fact, however, that
the religious perfectionists of the country, who are numerous, are
almost to a man Abolitionists, and the most violent of the sect.

It is not necessary to suppose, that perfectionism in the community
should have pervaded the entire mass before it can do mischief; or
that it cannot have a surreptitious influence on individuals, in
regard to particular subjects and in particular applications, while
they disclaim the doctrine, and that very sincerely. In this way a man
may be an Abolitionist, yet not a perfectionist in general.

The doctrine of perfectionism may be much safer as a theological than
as a political notion, for individuals than for society; inasmuch as
the religious perfectionist keeps two separate moral reckonings: one
for his virtues, the other for his faults. When he happens to be
guilty of a fault, he is in a state of _lapse_; at other times in a
state of _perfectionism_. We hope his faults are rare; but when he
happens to get into them unavoidably, society holds him up. But alas!
when society _lapses_, who and what will hold that up? This single
question brings the whole subject before the mind’s eye, in its
political bearings, and suggests the folly and madness of that
doctrine, which attempts to introduce perfectionism into the social

As the religionist professes respect for the Bible, and for Divine
authority, it may be well to refer him to these examples on this
particular point. We say, then, that, although God is an _immediatist_
in the authoritative force of his law over the conscience of
individuals, he is not an immediatist as the Governor of the world.
Clearly, it cannot be denied, that God could have made human society
perfect _at once_; but for some good reason he has not done so. If it
should be replied: “It is because men do not _obey_”--Very well. We
speak of a _great fact_, under God’s administration of the world.
Moreover, if the _Divine_ legation of Moses be allowed, we have the
authority of the Saviour, that he enacted a certain law of divorcement
“for the hardness of their hearts;” that is, as we suppose, on account
of the bad state of society, and not because it was right: “for it was
not so from the beginning.”[8] For the same reason, as _we_ hold,
though we have not the same authority for saying it, Moses _legalized_
slavery. If it was _not_ for that reason, then the slave holders have
the highest authority for the institution. It is impossible to get off
from this dilemma by the plea of _different forms_, while the
_principle_ stares us in the face. Forms of society are _accidental_,
and never agree exactly, and often differ widely, under the same name,
in different ages and countries.

[Footnote 8: Matth. 19: 8. Mark 10: 5.]

John the Baptist was a Divinely commissioned teacher. “And the
_soldiers_ likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall _we_ do?”
Though not a member of the New England Nonresistance Society, we are a
little bit of a Quaker, and hold that the principles of Christianity
are at _war_ with war. Consequently, if _immediatism_ is to be forced
upon society, according to _our_ notions, John should have replied:
“The first thing, my friends, is to lay down your arms.” But, “he said
unto them, Do violence to no man; neither accuse any falsely; and be
content with your _wages_.”

We believe it true to say, that no Divinely commissioned teacher ever
attempted to introduce _immediatism_ as an element of the social
fabric; or ever protested against the action of society for want of
it, so long as we understand immediatism to be an attempt to sweep
away, by one stroke, every fault, or defect, or imperfection of
society. Such was not the example of _Christ_; and such was not the
example of the Apostle Paul, in application to slavery itself, as will
appear in his courteous treatment of Philemon, a slave-holder. So also
in this Apostle’s doctrine, and in the doctrine of the Apostle
Peter.[9] History proves, that the persons called “servants” in these
passages, were slaves, or the property of their masters. Yet the
Apostles never felt authorized, or saw fit, to disturb this state of
society, bad as it was in this particular, and many others; but they
availed themselves of the facilities afforded them by the existence of
political society to apply _immediatism_ to the consciences of
individuals, in regard to the state of their hearts, and to their
personal conduct.

[Footnote 9: I Cor. 7: 20, 21. I Tim. 6: 1, 2. Eph. 6: 5, 9. Titus 2:
9, 10. Coloss. 3: 22, and 4: 1. I Pet. 2: 18, 20.]

If, indeed, the Abolitionists will produce a _Divine_ commission,
sustained by miracles, entitling them to go _one step_ farther than
any other Divinely commissioned teachers have ever gone, by investing
them with authority to _remodel_ political society, we will respect
their claim, and advise the public to do so. But till that time, we
think it fair to say, that the _preaching_ of such doctrines as they
choose to maintain, moral, social, religious, or political,
_independent of any political organization_, such as they _now_ have,
to sustain them, is all they are entitled to by the Constitution and
laws of this land. By _preaching_, we mean, of course, to comprehend
all the _prescribed_ Constitutional modes of political action, so long
as they choose to meddle with politics. Preaching to _private_
conscience, is one thing; and that is the office of Christianity,
within the range of its own precepts. But the political constitution
and administration of society, is another thing; and this, in _our_
opinion, Christianity never presumes to meddle with.



Aware, that we are constantly liable to perversion as to the intent of
our remarks in these pages, it is proper for us to say, that we have
not taken up this topic in order to bring our interpretation of it to
bear against the right of slaves to their freedom. That is a question
which we do not assume to discuss, though we have signified our
opinion, and are ready freely and frankly so to do on all proper
occasions. But our object at this time is to correct the vague,
poetic, and romantic notions which are commonly attached to these
terms. In this country, their origin may fairly be ascribed to a
notable declaration, so often quoted from our national bill of rights:
“that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Now, what is the meaning of
this? The history of those times, and of the occasions which produced
it, will answer this question.

First, as to the term _Liberty_. The British Government refused the
Colonies a representation in the law-making power of the empire, and
this was the ground of the quarrel, the cause of the Revolution. We
have, then, in this great historical fact, a fair and clear
interpretation of the meaning of the term “liberty” in the declaration
of Rights, viz. the right to a representation of the people in the
law-making authority. So much and no more, we conceive, is the meaning
of this term in this place; and that is enough for the free and full
action of “the principles of our republican form of Government.” In
connexion with the provisions of our National and State Constitutions,
the people are thus constituted the law-making power. That is, they
are entitled to _govern_ themselves. But the very idea of Government
is _subjection_ to law, not a _liberty_ for every man to do as he
pleases. This last meaning is the _vague_, _poetic_, and _romantic_
notion commonly attached to this term--to do as one pleases; whereas,
the Constitutional and proper meaning is the _right_ to a voice in the
making of law. In the strict sense of the term, therefore, it is not
liberty, but a right. The moment a man enters into society, he
resigns his liberty, and consents to be _subjected_ to the
regulations of the community, of which he is a member. There is no
liberty, except in the simple state of nature, where man is isolated
from man, and becomes a solitary savage.

Having alluded to _the state of nature_, it may be proper in this
place to observe, that the same poetic fancies are constantly played
off on “natural rights,” as on liberty and equality; whereas, the
slightest reflection ought to teach us, that all society is artificial
and conventional, and that no man who enters into society can any
farther lay claim to “natural rights” than the law allows. Every
regulation of society is so far an infringement on natural rights, if,
indeed, we have any correct notion of the meaning of these terms. It
is difficult, indeed, to define natural rights. We have never yet seen
it done, and confess our own inability for the task. What is the use,
then, in talking about that for which we cannot find even a
definition? We have a right, however, since it is used for practical
purposes, to make it mean something. Say, then, that it means such
rights as a savage would be entitled to, when alone in the desert, to
do what he is inclined, as in such circumstances he would not
interfere with any social right. But in society men give up their
natural rights, if the above is a fair statement of what they are; and
the law becomes the rule of right. The whole system of society is
artificial, and at war with natural rights; and he who claims the
privilege of natural right, in opposition to the established code of
society, asserts the right of rebellion. We have no objection,
however, that any body should give us a definition of natural rights,
that would lead to a different conclusion, if it can be done; but till
that time, we are compelled to say, that this talk about natural
rights, for any practical purpose in society, is something we do not
understand, unless, for example, it be the right to live and to
breathe; and even that may be forfeited to the law. Suppose the
murderer sentenced to be hung, should claim the privilege of natural
rights--would he be heard? Natural rights, as we understand them, are
not available in society, when they interfere with law. That is to
say, the law is always above them, and must be, so long as it is
judged best to maintain the social state. There is not a single
natural right that can be named, which may not, in given cases, be
abridged, or controlled, or superseded, or entirely suppressed, by the
artificial organisation of society. To talk of natural right,
therefore, as being paramount to law, simply because it _is_ natural
right, is arrant nonsense--mere declamation, at best.

But, to return to “liberty.” We have seen, that the Constitutional
meaning of this term in our Charter or Bill of rights is limited to
the single and simple claim to a voice by representation in the power
of making law, and that laws are made for our _subjection_. All the
rest beyond this is _duty_, _obedience_, _not_ liberty. Law limits and
circumscribes us at all points, in the house and out of it, every
where, in relation to every body, and to every body’s rights. All the
rights of our fellow beings, as secured by law, are an abridgment of
our liberty. The higher the degrees of civilization, which add to the
multiplication of laws, so much greater is the abridgment of liberty.
That is, the more perfect society is made, so much less of liberty do
we have; and, as good citizens, we are not only contented with it, but
we prefer it. For the advantages of society, we enter into terms of
mutual concession; and every degree of concession cuts us off from

Now for the romance of “Equality”--“that all men are created _equal_.”
And what is the meaning of this in the Charter of our rights? Simply,
that royal blood, and noble blood, is no better than any other blood;
and therefore, that we will have no king, and no aristocracy. The
hereditary and divine right of kings, and the hereditary right of
nobles, are here barred, and the _people_ are enthroned in their
place, with all the chances open before them of _rising_ in society,
according to their merits, even to the highest honors of the Republic.
This, we think, is the exact meaning of equality in this place, and
that it goes no farther than to cut off the hereditary claims of kings
and nobles, and of privileged orders in the community--that is, of
orders privileged by the enactments of Constitutional law. But this
principle, obviously, was never intended to apply practically to
general society, nor to any ranks of society below these degrees. In
this sense of the term the whole community is reduced fairly to what
is generally understood by the republican level: that all may have a
chance to rise according to their merits. But who will say, that it
was intended to make a President of the United States of a man, who
has no sort of qualification or claim to that office? Or to raise any
man to an honor or office, to which he is not judged to be entitled by
a majority of those voices appointed by law to determine such a
question? Who will say, that it was intended to annihilate those
grades of society, which the use of common rights necessarily creates,
because one man is more industrious, or more virtuous, or more
fortunate than another? Who will say, that it was intended to
establish the Agrarian principle, that because the industry of one man
has built him a good house, the lazy, idle, and worthless man has a
right to claim a part of it, and a part of the wealth of its owner?
Or, that all inequalities of wealth and condition in life, produced by
different degrees of virtue, application to business, and good luck,
are to be levelled by making all things common, and an equal
distribution to every man, whatever may be his character? We are
disposed to believe, that our American society is hardly yet prepared
for the application of such a rule as this; or that there is a single
man in the community who will relinquish his fairly acquired rights
and property to those, who may happen not to have acquired the same

As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as equality among men, nor
can there be. There is no equality in their physical powers, none in
the circumstances of their birth and education, none in the privileges
and wealth which they inherit or acquire, none in their social
advantages--_no_ equality in any thing. The two men cannot be found
who are in all or any respects exactly equal. If all the talents and
powers of the whole community were solely devoted to produce equality,
they would be unequal to the task. Neither God nor man ever instituted
equality. We do not say, that God could not have done it; but, to our
taste, he would have spoiled creation, if he had. We desire,
therefore, and think we have good reasons, to be contented with such a
Universe as he has made. We desire also to be contented, that any man,
by his virtues or good fortune, should be more elevated and better off
than ourself. If we are not, we sin: “Thou shalt not covet.” This
Divine law, was enacted for such a case, as well as others; and the
very frame of society was intended to maintain these inequalities;
that is, to secure to every man his own rights.

What, then, becomes of this _song_ of liberty and equality--this
poetry and romance of popular declamation--this soul-stirring and
heaven-appealing claim?--Has nothing really been acquired? Yes, much:
We have acquired the right of making our own laws, and cut off kings
and nobles from all claim to hereditary ascendancy. This is a great, a
mighty achievement, if we prove wise enough to know how to use it. We
hold it to be an advance in human society--a most important
acquisition to the liberties and rights of mankind. But it will be
seen, that the general and vague notion commonly attached to these
terms is utterly without foundation--mere poetry and romance.

We may ask, then, with what propriety the Abolitionists apply this
passage in our National bill of rights to slavery? Obviously, there is
no warrant for it, if we stick to the meaning and intent thereof. If
they see fit to give it another meaning--to force a construction from
it that was never intended, of course, in such an arbitrary
interpretation, we can have no farther controversy with them, than to
state, that it _is_ arbitrary.

We deem it proper to say, that the Bill of Rights set forth in the
Declaration of our Independence, was never intended for such an
application; but that this particular passage was limited to the two
single points which we have noticed. It neither affirms nor denies, it
neither vitiates nor strengthens, the claim of the slave to his
freedom, because it never contemplated the case. We are now settling a
question of fact. To be wrong is one thing; to be inconsistent
another. That there is wrong in slavery we do not deny; but we do say,
that there is no inconsistency in the existence of slavery in the
United States with our National Bill of Rights, when fairly
interpreted. It will doubtless be allowed, that the Federal
Constitution is a good interpreter of that Bill; and that decrees the
perpetuity of slavery, at the will of the slave States. The
_consistency_ of our Government, and of our country, therefore, is
maintained and defended, in this particular, against all imputation to
the contrary, whatever may be the _right_ of the case. If any body
chooses to say, that the _principle_ involved in this passage of our
Bill of Rights _reaches_ the case of the slave, we have no objection.
For, we frankly confess, we have always thought so too. But we deny,
that it was ever intended to have such an application, and that there
is any inconsistency, however there may be wrong, in the existence of
slavery in our country, so long as we abide by the Bill of Rights and
the Constitution as the rule, when interpreted according to their

We gained a great step in the acquisition of our National
Independence; but we did not arrive to a state of _perfectionism_.
Since that time we have made advances in society, for the better, too.
We have abolished the slave trade, and slavery itself in all the
States north of Mason’s and Dixon’s line; and it is manifest, that the
slave States bordering on the free, are greatly affected by the
influence of the latter, to make slave property less valuable, and to
lead towards emancipation. But so long as the laws of the land are
respected and maintained, the slave States can never be compelled to
emancipation by foreign dictation; nor will they be advised. By the
existing regulations of society, there is no power authorized to
advise them. We, of the North, in like circumstances, would not be
advised. Every State and nation is the best judge of what may be
expedient in the management of its own domestic polity; and if any of
its component parts are depressed and oppressed, they have an
undoubted right to relieve themselves, if they can, at their own risk.
But the law of nations, which is the highest and most important of all
laws, and the breach of which is most momentous in its consequences,
does not authorize, but forbids, interference.



First, its _social_ effects. It has produced a very unhappy state of
feeling in the North. Just in proportion to a man’s unreasonableness,
if he happens to be in the wrong, will be his zeal to maintain his
cause; and the effect of his zeal on all concerned may generally be
measured by the same rule. The Abolitionists are believed to be in the
wrong; and the extreme zeal and infatuation, not to say madness, with
which they urge their cause, would seem to prove them so. Why should
men, conscious of the rectitude of their principles and conduct, be
violent? Even if they were in the heat of battle, dignity and self
possession, and even generosity towards their foes, would be more
becoming. That they are the aggressors, is certain. Who else began it?
Like as a man, who slanders his neighbour, will take all possible
pains to prove it is not slander, and by-and-by believe his own story,
because he has told it so often, and is determined to have it so; so
the Abolitionists, becoming fervid in their cause, persuade themselves
that they are right. But they appear to the rest of the community so
unreasonable, and so manifestly wrong, that the effect of their zeal
on the public mind is very unhappy--more especially so, as the
interests of the country, which are dear to all good citizens, are put
in great peril by their movement. Hence families, neighbourhoods,
towns, cities, and the whole community, are divided, and driven to
acrimonious controversy on this subject. We scarcely recollect any
occasion of public excitement in this country, that has given birth to
greater violence of language, to more uncharitableness, or greater
bitterness of feeling, than this. That this bad temper has been all on
one side, it would be unjust to say; but that the Abolitionists have
had a good share of it, we think it no libel to suggest; nor are we
prepared to say, that they have endured opposition in the most
Christian-like way. We hesitate not to say, that their literary
publications are of a very inflammatory character. Even the grave and
solemn document of their last Annual Report--or which ought to have
been grave and solemn--is so rude, violent, and denunciatory--so much
like a tear-all-down--that the nerves of a well composed person, as we
will venture to say, will be not a little _dis_-composed in the
reading thereof. One is shocked to think, that we have come to such
revolutionary times, as that production would seem to indicate--that a
grand political organization, wielding such a tremendous sway of
influence, as the American Anti-Slavery Society, should take upon
itself to declare the Constitutional law of the land null and void,
and no longer binding; and by one stroke of the pen to abrogate the
authority of the Senate of the Nation, and proclaim their decisions as
worthy only of contempt. What next? But we forbear; for we seem to
feel, that we are getting into the same strain, inasmuch as the record
of the simple facts of their history is too exciting to be set in
their true light. No wonder then, that the people of this country
have felt themselves injured and outraged by such bold assaults on
that social edifice, under the shadow, and within the precincts of
which, they have and hold all their most valuable privileges. It is a
pity, indeed, that fellow citizens and christian brethren should be
driven so far asunder, and be filled with so much animosity, by such
an unnatural broil. On whom does this responsibility rest? In our
judgment, on those who have instigated the quarrel, on the aggressors,
and not on those who act merely on the defensive, in vindication and
support of the Government of the country. The question, now, is not
the rights of the slave; that is entirely set aside by another, which
this controversy has forced into its place--the peace of the country,
and the integrity of the Union.

But the social effects between the North and the South are much more
unhappy, than between the Abolitionists and Anti-Abolitionists of the
North. Time was when a northern man could go to the South without
suspicion, and be received in all good faith. But it is no longer so.
The very name of a Northerner is odious at the South, till his
personal qualities shall happen to make him agreeable. Time was, when
a Southern man could enjoy himself in visiting the North, and be
honored; but now he feels, that every second man he meets with may be
an Abolitionist, to him a name of horror, because he loves his wife
and his children, and thinks of the terrible scenes which the
doctrines and measures of the Abolitionists expose them to. In the
social intercourse of the North with the South, there has been raised
a barrier of a very formidable character, and every month and every
day it is getting worse and worse. It is impossible it should be
otherwise, so long as the end of this sad controversy cannot be

The violence of language used by the Abolitionists against the slave
States and slave holders, is most uncharitable and unwarrantable, and
its social effects pernicious. The people of the South are _men_, and
remarkable for their courtesy and hospitality to strangers. They have
been educated to think and to feel, that slavery is justifiable in the
circumstances under which it has come down to them. They do not view
the subject as we Northerners do. And admitting that they are wrong,
the worst that could be said of them is, that they are unenlightened
in this particular. They are found to be gentlemen, amiable and kind,
and many of them Christians--yes, Christians. Philemon, of Bible
notoriety, was a Christian, and a slaveholder. And yet the
Abolitionists do not hesitate to call them MONSTERS in human shape!

But the _political_ effects are still worse, in so far as they are
more important and more momentous. Abolition is a fire brand on the
floor of Congress, which we have reason to fear is gratifying to the
movers of this sedition. But the worst of all is, the South is
evidently anticipating and preparing for a dissolution of the Union;
and no spirit of prophecy, now the gift of mortals, can foretell the
consequences of such an event. If it shall be forced by this
agitation, one of the first measures of the South will be to visit
with tremendous vengeance all disturbers of their peace in this
particular concern; and who of us, in like circumstances, could blame
them for it? And the misfortune will be, that the innocent will not
always escape, as every Northern man will of course be suspected.
Would it not be difficult to maintain peace between two such
Republics? Evidently, nothing is more to be deprecated in a political
horoscope, than a dissolution of this Union. The South is essential to
the North, and the North to the South, on the terms of the Federal
compact; but put them asunder, by such a cause, and the chances are,
that they will be implacable enemies. To all these evils are we
exposed by the Abolition movement, besides what have already come.



It cannot be denied, that Abolitionism has created a very unpleasant
state of feeling in the minds of the free colored population, and made
them unhappy; that it has excited them, in no inconsiderable degree,
to insubordination as citizens; that it has vitiated their domestic
and social character, as servants, wherever they are employed; that it
has invested them with an importance, in their own esteem, which the
present state of society is not prepared to award them, and
encouraged them to assume airs which are often rebuked to their great
unhappiness, and to the disturbance and injury of their temper; and
that it has exposed them to insult and outrage from the lower classes
of the white population, which very naturally provokes the same kind
of treatment in return, and consequently keeps alive perpetual feuds
in these conditions of life, not unfrequently leading to tragical
results, in which generally the colored people have the worst of it.

It will be observed, that we are now stating facts, not principles.
Abolitionists may say, it ought not to be so, and we admit it. But
their error is, in this, as in all departments of their cause, that
they build and go on the principle of _perfectionism_, and refuse to
submit to the suggestions of practical wisdom--of experience. They
assume, that it is possible to manage society just as if it were
perfect in its structure, and morally perfect in all its component
parts, and insist, that it shall be so managed. The consequence is,
that disturbance instantly insues, on the attempt to enforce their
principles, and the colored people are doomed to suffer the evil
consequences of the rashness of their pretended friends and
benefactors, besides that they are injured in their temper and
character as citizens.

Again we observe, that we are stating facts, as we know that we are
exposed to misrepresentation. We say, then, what every body
knows--though we regret the fact as sincerely as any one can--that the
free colored people of this country, with few exceptions, have risen,
in person or by genealogy, from a depressed condition, from a state of
bondage, which, in connexion with the public feeling and prejudice
against the race, on account of a difference of physical constitution,
subjects them unfortunately to social disadvantage, in a white
population, who have always had the ascendency, and to whom society,
as it exists, owes its origin and maintenance. This may be wrong in
the widest view and with the most generous construction of human
rights, as they are commonly maintained in the abstract; but it is a
fact. We say, moreover, in reference to such a fact, it has never been
known, in the history of human society, that such a class has risen,
by a single step, to a full equality of social immunity and privilege.
We know it is a doctrine of _perfectionism_, but it is not a
practicable doctrine, in our opinion. It will doubtless commonly be
regarded as impossible for such a class to be qualified, except by
time and degrees, for such a station in society with a white
population. To attempt, therefore, to enforce it on the people of this
country, in such circumstances, is only to make the colored people
unhappy, to put a claim into their mouths which they cannot hope to
realize, and to arm the white population with still stronger
prejudices against them.

Look, for example, to the effect of the Abolition agitation, in the
formation and adoption of the new Constitution of the State of
Pennsylvania: Before, free colored people, of specific qualifications,
were entitled to the privilege of electors; now they are all
disfranchised. We are inclined to the opinion, that if all
the Northern States were now engaged in remodelling their
Constitutions--especially where the colored people are numerous--they
would do the same thing, merely as the effect of the Abolition
movement. However this may be regretted, it is a natural consequence,
and on the Abolitionists rests the responsibility. Just in proportion
as they violently urge their measures, will the social privileges of
the colored population be abridged, and their comfort, happiness, and
prospects impaired. Before this agitation commenced, the colored
people were comparatively contented and happy, their privileges were
being extended, they were gradually rising in the scale of society,
and every body--at least the public generally--were gratified to see
them rise, and ready to help them. There was a common pleasure in
encouraging the worthy and industrious of their color; and though an
Abolitionist may be surprised at the fact, _we_ have entertained them
_as guests_ in our house, and at our table for days in succession, in
the same manner and with the same hospitalities which we are
accustomed to render to those of our own color, and with much greater
satisfaction, because we were delighted to see such proofs of their
excellence and worth. And notwithstanding that the measures of the
Abolitionists have thrown formidable obstacles in the way, we declare,
we would do the same thing again, in like circumstances. But however
worthy they may be, and the more worthy they are, they would be
backward and diffident in accepting such hospitalities, simply because
the effect of the Abolition movement has been to depress, instead of
raising them in society. It has abridged their privileges at all
points, and in all their relations with the white population, the
Abolitionists only excepted. Nor can the favor of the Abolitionists be
regarded as a fair and full indemnification for the loss they have
sustained by such an unfortunate alliance, inasmuch as the highest and
most influential agencies of society are now, and are likely to
continue, indirectly armed against them, by maintaining the
Government, and defending the institutions of the country, against
violence. The effect of the agitation, generally and particularly, on
the colored people themselves, and on the white population
individually and collectively, is to abridge the privileges of the
former, and to injure them.

We are aware, that the Abolitionists will probably say, such
incidental and unavoidable evils are always the concomitants of great
reformations in society. We suppose, of course, they will not say, it
is a proof of the justice of their cause, as such a reason would go to
authorize any mischief. These facts, then, are admitted. Indeed, we
see not, how they can be denied. It remains to be seen, whether the
final result will be any better than the beginning. We fear it will

But the effects of Abolitionism on the condition and prospects of the
slaves, is even and far worse than on the free colored people. It has
rivetted the chains of slavery with a manifold firmness and strength;
it has greatly abridged the privileges before allowed them for
intellectual and moral culture; it has barred the door, in the slave
States, against all open and free discussion of the subject of
emancipation, which before was tolerated; it has interdicted all
intercourse between the North and South, that presumes to meddle with
the subject of slavery, and of course raised an insurmountable barrier
against the social influence of the North in this particular
direction; it has barred the influence of public opinion on slavery
from all quarters beyond the slave States; it has driven the South as
a body to maintain the _principle_ of slavery _out_ and _out_, without
restriction or qualification, whereas before, a large portion of the
slave-holders were ready to admit it was wrong, desired to see their
way out of it, and were open to advice; it has caused to be
established a most rigid police and surveillance over the system; it
has multiplied the enactments and increased the strength of
legislation for its protection and defence; it has nerved the arm of
the law with greater vigor and determination; it has bound the slave
States together by stronger ties in defence of a common interest; it
has given sanction to Lynch law for the summary treatment of
offenders; and for all these, and many other reasons that might be
named, it has put far off the day of emancipation, if it has not
determined the _perpetuity_ of slavery.

Here, again, the Abolitionists will perhaps say, it only proves the
right of our cause, and that all this is the struggle of a last and
dying effort. But, it might be wise for them not to forget, that the
bulwark of the Nation’s Constitution stands between them and slavery;
and that, till that is pulled down and trampled under foot, as they
themselves have set the example in their last Annual Report, they will
not have gained their object. Nay, though the fabric of the Nation
should be broken in pieces by their hands, and thrown to the winds of
Heaven, such is the spirit they have kindled in the South, that they
would be compelled to wade through blood, and with iron heel to
trample on the carcasses of their opponents, before they will have
triumphed. We speak of men as they are, as they always have been, and
as they are likely for some time yet to be; and in doing so, the
language we employ is no figure of speech, but, as we think, the
veritable prophecy of the future. And by the time the Abolitionists
shall have done this work, there will be good room and a fit
opportunity for the establishment of a despotism unrivalled in
severity by any known to the present age, as the only adequate remedy
for the anarchy they will have produced.

Such are some of the lamentable effects of this lamentable movement,
as they bear on the free coloured people, and on the condition and
prospects of the slaves of this country; and we submit them to the
serious consideration of those whom it may concern.



We think it must strike every intelligent observer--every one
certainly that lays claims to any knowledge in the workings of
society--that _immediate_ Abolition, whenever acquired by the measures
now in operation--admitting it can be effected without a civil war,
though we do not believe it can--must find the two conflicting
parties in the worst possible humour in relation to each other. On the
one side would be arrayed the Abolitionists with their protégés; and
on the other the party defeated after a long and violent struggle. In
the mean time all the colored people, now free or in bondage, will
have been filled with the most violent hatred and animosity towards
the opponents of their claims. The feeling already produced in that
class of colored people, that has come under the influence of
Abolitionists, may serve as an illustration; and the well known
principles of human nature may fill out the complement of the lesson.
It would be seen by the people of this country, in the progress of
events, long before this object shall have been attained, that an
immediate emancipation at any time, brought about by such means, will
place the country in a most undesirable and perilous condition. These
anticipations and apprehensions must necessarily, as we think, mount
to an insuperable barrier.--Self-preservation is the first law of
nature; and when that comes to be the question, either with
individuals or with society, people are not wont to suspend action to
discuss casuistry or right.--The drowning man seizes the plank within
his reach, even though he should hear the voice of a remonstrant,
giving some very subtle reasons why he ought not to do so. So society,
finding itself in peril, from within or from without, will save
itself, if it can. We are inclined to believe, that the harder
Abolition is pushed in its present shape, and under its present avowed
principles, so much greater will be the apprehensions of the people,
as to the consequences of its success. We think they will never
consent, that three millions of the colored race should be raised by
one step, from the condition in which they now are, to a full equality
of privilege with all other citizens, backed by such a party as the
Abolitionists, and actuated by their principles. The dangers would be
too obvious and too imminent to admit of parley. They must first be
made to believe in _perfectionism_, before they would venture on such
an experiment. Every stage of the progress of Abolitionism hitherto,
instead of allaying those apprehensions, has only served to augment
them. If the peace of the country can hardly be maintained now, and is
more and more disturbed at every successive stage of the movement,
under its present organization, who can answer for it a little while
to come?--Much more, who could answer for it in the hottest of the
conflict? The Abolitionists insist on principles, apart from
emancipation, which rouse popular indignation, and occasionally blow
it into flame, even while the people know that the power is in their
own hands. But when once they shall be obliged to see, that these
principles are actually going into practice by force, throughout the
length and breadth of the land, it requires no prophet to foretell how
they will feel, and how they will act. Honestly, we do not think it
among the possible events of the future, that Abolition principles, as
they now stand forth before the public, can be forced upon the people
of this country; but on the contrary, that, foreseeing the evil, they
will take care to prevent it.

The Abolitionists cannot appeal to the effects of emancipation in the
British West Indies, even on the ground of their own showing, to allay
these apprehensions; for there is no parallel between the two cases.
Every circumstance and every attribute of the question, as it exists
here, in its essential influences, are at variance with that example.

But so long as our political fabric remains such as it is, it would
seem to be folly to discuss this subject on this hypothetical basis.
We have only taken this license for a moment, for the sake of showing,
that, if this political structure of our society were all out of the
way, and if the slave-holders had no interest or voice in the
question, the avowed principles of the Abolitionists, apart from the
difficulty of political rights, would erect an insuperable barrier in
the public mind to the accomplishment of their designs.



The political frame of society governs the world, the doctrines of
_perfectionists_ to the contrary notwithstanding; and we shall be
heartily thankful that it is so, until we can fall into better hands
than this visionary fraternity. And since the Abolitionists have come
into the political field, it might be wise for them to consider,
whether they can carry their measures in contempt of established
political principles. The responsibility of slavery is divided among
the community of nations; and there are few of those which profess
respect for the code of international law, and feel obliged by their
political relations to regard it, that have not some share in it,
directly or indirectly. Among these exceptions, if there is any, is
the Government of the United States. For we have seen, that it has
never made itself responsible for the slavery of individual States. We
have also seen, that the slave States are not responsible for its
introduction, but that it was imposed upon them by authority. And
before the public conscience of the parties concerned had become alive
to the enormities and guilt of the slave trade, and much more before
slavery itself had become the subject of public remonstrance, it had
attained to a growth in the Southern States, not easily to be
eradicated. So long, therefore, as political society is dominant, and
is bound together by common ties, by common interests, and by common
principles, no part of such society can claim of another part the
relinquishment of property in slaves without an indemnification. This
principle, it will be observed, does not vitiate the claim of the
slave to his own freedom; it only affects the parties concerned in the
political structure of general society.

The British Government acquitted itself honorably on this point, in
decreeing the abolition of slavery in its West India Colonies, and
voted a full indemnification for the property, the right to which was
thus effaced from the statute book. We say, a _full_ indemnification,
notwithstanding it is commonly rated higher, as quoted in this
country. The reason of this high quotation results from the fact, that
it is not commonly considered, perhaps not known, that slave property
in the British West Indies had depreciated so greatly and so rapidly
in a few years, by political aspects having a bearing upon it, as to
have passed, in very large amounts, into other hands, at the
depreciated price, by the necessities of bankruptcy, and consequently
graduated the valuation of all such property in the same
circumstances. Whenever, therefore, that property should be
transferred to other holders for any purpose whatever, the commercial
valuation at the time would of course be assumed as the rule of
estimate. That was the rule consulted by the British Parliament, and
it was considered, that the 20,000,000 sterling was a fair estimate of
the property redeemed. But, whether this be the exact truth or not,
the principle of indemnification was recognized, and was supposed to
have been honorably respected in this transaction.

Clearly, it must be seen, that by the political history of the world,
and the action of general society, under the sanction of which all
those commercial transactions have been carried on, which have
determined and graduated the valuation of slave property from time to
time, in all and any States where it exists, the public faith of the
world that has sanctioned and tolerated slavery so long, and thereby
profited by it, is pledged as the guardian of that property to the
indemnification of the holders, whenever the public conscience shall
demand it to be annihilated, as to its previous form, and return to
that law which generally prevails in human society. There is not a
man, woman, or child, in the circle of Christendom, hardly in the
world, that has not profited by slavery, in a commercial point of
view, which is the only point we are here concerned to notice. Much
less is there one such individual in the free States of our country,
that has not profited by it. All the property of the Northern States,
and all their commercial interests, have been interwoven with it. It
is that property which has determined the value of ours, and ours that
has determined the value of that, reciprocally. And just in proportion
to the foreign commercial relations and transactions of our country,
does the same rule apply to the respective communities with which we
have maintained such intercourse. The amount of the slave property of
the South is not theirs, except in the convenient title of a
regulation of general society; but it is the world’s, or all that part
of the world’s, where commercial transactions have determined its
estimate. But since it has been convenient for the world, for general
society, that it should _vest_ in certain persons, in the same manner
as any other property vests in certain other persons, either here or
there, in this country or any other, and that no persons should have
any other title in any other property than that which is held by this
conventional rule for general good, it would be a manifest and
flagrant injustice, robbery, for one part of general society to demand
of another part, to resign this title without indemnification, while
the party making this demand claims to hold its own. Of course, this
question does not touch the right of the slave to himself, or in any
way affect that claim.

It may be seen, then, how this matter stands in the United States. We
strike at the very foundations of society, when we use our influence
to impair the rights of property, as established by general consent;
and the impulse of the blow, in the circle of its action, must
necessarily return to ourselves, in its natural, or rather artificial,
channel, as society in all its parts is an artificial edifice. We can
no more move upon the South for such an object, than they can move
upon us; in laying our hand upon their property to impair its title,
we impair our own in the same degree. For our convenience and profit,
be it known, the title to slave property has happened to vest in them;
and for their convenience and profit the title to our property has
happened to vest in us, because we happen to be here and not there,
and they there and not here. Both titles are equally sacred in the
relations we bear to each other.

Unless, therefore, the Abolitionists have made up their minds to go
into this field in the character of pirates and brigands, we see not
how they can move an inch, till they are prepared to make the tender
of indemnification for the release of the property which they claim.
We aver solemnly, that it is with pain we have written the last
sentence, and that if any other terms would have represented the exact
truth of the case, as it stands before our mind, we should have
preferred them. We agree with the Abolitionists as to the _wrong_ of
slavery, though we dissent from them, both as to the expediency and
duty of _immediate_ emancipation, in view of all the facts and
circumstances of the case; and we dissent from them utterly, _ab imo
pectore_, as to the _validity_ of slave property, not in relation to
the slave, however, but in relation to general society; and we are
prepared to go with the nation for redemption by a fair
indemnification. Though we may have little at stake in such a concern,
yet he who has little may feel the burden more than he that has much.
We are prepared, however, to point out a way, the burden of which no
man will feel, and one that is practicable, too. To enforce abolition
without indemnification, would be as bad for the slave, as for the
master, because it would be the ruin of both; it would blot from
future history all those political Commonwealths, because they would
be absolutely too poor to maintain themselves.

The most formidable difficulty of Abolitionism, therefore, and the
most disorganizing principle, of all, plants itself on the very
threshold of the enterprise: _non-indemnification_. Their only reason,
so far as we understand, is, that indemnification would be a tacit and
implied confession on the _right_ of slavery. Admitting, that
Abolitionists themselves think and feel so; the rest of the public do
not; Abolitionists, therefore, would neither be weakened in principle,
nor injured in fact, by giving up this point, except in the workings
of their own imagination. This can be a valid objection only as it
vitiates principle before the eyes of the public, and in the view of
opponents. That, however, not being the fact, the objection ought to
lose its force. But suppose some mischievous wags _should_ say to the
Abolitionists: “Well, gentlemen, you have given up a main principle,
after all”--as they would be intitled to make declaration of their
reason for consenting to indemnification, they would not only be
defended on that point, but receive credit for making a concession,
that involves no sacrifice of principle, for the public good. Consent
to indemnification, either for one reason or for another--and every
man may have his own reason--and one of the principal causes of the
contest is superseded. But will the Abolitionists, from sheer
stubbornness, insist upon a point, which, if carried, will ruin the
slave States, and reduce them to beggary, involving in the catastrophe
the ruin of the slaves; upon a point, which levels its blow at the
foundation stone of the fabric of society, as it has heretofore
existed; upon a point, which, unless human nature be miraculously
changed, can never, no never, be gained, without the effusion of
blood, no one can tell how much, or what state of things may succeed?
Let that point be once properly adjusted, as it may be without
compromitting the principles of either party, and much, very much will
be gained towards pacification. It is not unlikely, indeed, that the
zeal of some engaged in the cause, when they shall find that they may
be required to put their hands in their pockets, will be somewhat
cooled. And is it not reasonable to suppose also, that some other
men’s zeal will be somewhat sharpened, when they shall find what will
be to them--without imputing any such motives to the aggressors--a
horde of bandits at their doors to rob them of their all?

But it may possibly be said, “We do not exactly see how the giving up
of slave property, without indemnification, will be the ruin of the
slave States.” Then we think it must be for the want of eyes.

The value of all capital is commercial, and accidental, and depends on
the ever shifting conditions of political society. This may be seen
and illustrated by the fluctuating price of that species of capital,
called stocks, which is to be found in the market of every civilized
community. The price of stocks never makes a false report, as to the
political aspects of society, but is as infallible a guage in this
particular, as is the thermometer of the weather; and the wise
statesman understands it. The same principle which determines the
value of this species of capital, determines the value of every other.
It only happens that the guage of one is always visible, and that of
the others invisible, until they come into market.

The moment emancipation for the British West Indies began to be
agitated, the value of slave and other property connected with it,
began to fall, and continued to fall, till the certainty of the event
reduced it to about one third of what it would otherwise have been, at
which time it was redeemed by the British Government at the commercial
valuation. It was only public faith in the Government which kept it
from going down to nothing; and _this nothing_ would of course have
been the ruin of the former state of society. What might succeed to
such a revolution, would have depended on contingencies which no human
foresight could solve beforehand, as every thing would have required
to be erected on a new basis. It is a new basis even as it is, but
saved from the wreck of a revolution by the care of the British
Government; and it is to be hoped, that the wise counsels and strong
arm of that Government will make it do well. It is, however, to be
observed, that the actual depreciation of slave and other property in
the British West Indies, during and in consequence of the Abolition
agitation, was so much loss to the individual holders during that
period, it being 40,000,000 sterling in slave property alone, if the
price of redemption be assumed to have been _one-third_ of the
hypothetical estimate. It may, possibly, be said, that this is
imaginary; but the only sure criterion is the commercial value at any
given time, which is always the true value.

In the same manner, the slave property of the southern States, and
other portions of their wealth necessarily connected with it, will
sink instantly, whenever it shall be seen that the Abolition movement
is likely to break down the only protection which it has; and the
wealth of the slave States will dwindle, and continue to dwindle, so
long as there is any uncertainty in their political prospects arising
from such a cause, and in exact proportion to the degree of that
uncertainty. This is a principle, a law of society, that is sure to
prevail over all other laws, because it is the concentrated action of
the entire machinery of society on a single point for the time being,
and so far as occasion calls, resulting not from the force of
legislation directly--though it may be indirectly--but from the
watchful care which every man has over his own interests, in a given
state of things.

Political economy, in all its accidental bearings and in its scope,
is, indeed, deep water for any man to dive into; but there are
certain practical principles, applicable to this question, which may
be obvious to all minds. First, slave property is the capital of the
slave States. No dispute about that, as a general truth, and
sufficiently comprehensive to decide the question now before us.
Consequently, it is this property which gives value to all other
property. Take it away, without a fair consideration, without
indemnification, and all that portion of the United States is ruined.
This is the nutshell of the matter, and comprehends it all.

“No, no,” it is said: “the same bone, and muscle, and sinews are
there.” Nay, but you have changed the whole machinery of society; you
have revolutionized it; you have put the master in the power of the
quondam slave, and constituted the latter master over the former,
without leaving the quondam master a penny in his pocket, unless
peradventure, by some good luck, here and there one may have an
interest somewhere else beyond the reach of your rapacity. Even with a
fair and full indemnification in the present master’s hand, or subject
to his order, after such a revolution; and in the midst of its
disorders and unsettled condition of things, it would be, as we think,
somewhat more than enough to baffle ordinary wisdom and perseverance
to establish permanently and comfortably that new and untried state of
society, that would be required; and it is not unlikely, that enough
would abandon the attempt in discouragement,--seeking a better fortune
in other States and Territories of the Union--to leave the residue
inadequate to sustain the interests of the several Commonwealths thus
deserted, in any degree of prosperity. They might dwindle and decline,
till all would be glad to be out of them, if they could
conscientiously. This is purely a question of domestic and political
economy, that would depend on the practical workings of such a system.
If this were the only field open before them, then they would all be
compelled to stay, and put to their strength, and make the best of it.
But we know, that men are always governed by their interests, and
habits, as to where they will stay or go.

Certainly, we do not present the doubtfulness of such a prospect,
pending on such contingencies, as an objection to the measure; but as
one that claims to be considered in this discussion, that will of
course be considered by the parties immediately concerned. It is
impossible to determine beforehand how many influences, in such a new
state of things, might operate to their discouragement or the
contrary, or what would be the balance of those influences on either
side, after each shall have been neutralized by each, to the extent of
their action. It is sufficiently obvious, however, that they would
require all the capital invested in a fair indemnification for the
property resigned, to work such a system advantageously. It would be
enough, and probably more than many of them could well endure, to
change all their habits of society and of living so entirely as the
new system would require; and those who could not satisfactorily
accommodate themselves to it, would of course emigrate--and a general
disposition to emigrate would probably involve political ruin--that
is, ruin absolute; for nothing is better for mankind, in their
associated capacity, than political prosperity, and nothing worse than
political adversity.

Admitting, then, that the effects of the operation of such a system on
the internal condition, absolute wealth, and political prosperity of
the present slave States, would present the result as _simply
doubtful_, as to what it would be with the capital of indemnification
available on the premises--what would it be without any
indemnification at all? We think this question might fairly be set
down as the end of the story and of the argument. Every practical man
must see, that it would be beggary and ruin; and that the entire field
must be abandoned to the colored race, now there, to set up such a
state of society as they might be able, unless the Government of the
United States, in charity, should take it in charge as an immense poor
house, to make the best of it they could--the white population in the
mean time, reduced to poverty, and going out where they might, to
begin the world anew.

But do the Abolitionists say, “These are questions we never regard
ourselves as bound to consider, and consequences with which we have
nothing to do.” But gentlemen, you _are_ bound to consider these
questions; you _cannot_ rid yourselves of the responsibility of these
consequences, if the work that produces them be yours. “But, _no
matter_ what becomes of the master, so the slave be free; if the
master _should_ be ruined, he has well deserved it.” _Say_ this,
gentlemen, but _once_--say it _openly_, _fairly_, _publicly_, that the
world may understand you--and we think, that will be enough.

But do the Abolitionists still say, “We can neither talk nor treat
with persons or parties, who speak of ‘_slave property_,’ of property
in the persons of men, a thing not possible _to be_, and an idea not
to be tolerated for a moment, wherever, and whatever authority, may
have usurped it.” This may be a very good reason why they should not
talk _at all_ on the subject, since it is a simple matter of fact,
which constitutes the matter and ground of controversy. We hope we
have a proper respect for scruples of conscience, and that we are
sufficiently unwilling to disturb nervous sensitiveness; but we have
not forgotten honest Joe’s definition of his own conscience, in a
certain case, when hardly pressed, viz. “I wont.” Nothing would more
effectually put a party in argument, _hors de combat_, than such
logic. There is really no getting at them; and yet they insist on
having to do with the matter. We have probably as great an aversion to
_the thing_ signified by these terms, as the Abolitionists; at least,
we used to have, and we have seen no good reason for a change of
sentiment. But for the practical purposes of so great a theme, if we
think fit to meddle with it, we see not how such language can be
avoided, as it is indispensible to set forth the facts of the case.

But, if the Abolitionists prefer to foreclose debate, by saying, “We
lay our hands upon our swords, in the presence of all persons, who
shall presume thus to insult humanity, and assume this defiance in the
presence of the country, and before the world, as to the cause in
which we are engaged, the Constitution and the laws of the land and
the Government and all the slave States to the contrary
notwithstanding,” there is of course an end of logic, and of “free
discussion;” and their position would be well understood, under such a
frank avowal. But we cannot say, that we are prepared to commend it;
although we are unable to see, how this violent setting aside of the
only terms of debate, through the medium of which the subject can be
approached, and yet urging forward the irresistible momentum of their
tremendous machinery on the parties most intimately concerned in this
question, is much short of this.



There is nothing but the most _enlarged_ view of a great question,
that can fairly determine its merits; and it cannot be denied, that
slavery is _one_ of the great questions appertaining to the social
state of mankind, and to the political state of the world. It is so
great, in our opinion, that it can neither be disposed of by the logic
of visionary theorists, nor by a _coup du main_ of an ill-considered
and intemperate effort, nor by any legerdemain of political quackery.
Ever since human society was set up, so far as history deposes,
slavery has been a component element in one form or another. We
suppose, there are some good reasons for saying, that there is no
institution--we beg pardon of the Abolitionists for using this
term, and assure them that we mean nothing by it but the fact--none,
that can assert a more ancient date, except that of matrimony, and the
natural relations accruing therefrom; and none that has been more
uninterrupted, since it was first set up. Reason might teach us,
therefore, that a custom thus sanctioned by time and the history of
human society, so deeply rooted, so thoroughly interwoven, and
incorporated with the social fabric of large portions of the human
family, however wrong it may be, so long as there is not a uniform
opinion on the subject among those who have the charge of it, cannot
be eradicated and put out of the way by a single blow.

We are aware, that the Abolitionists have published some very strong
and significant doctrines, intended to be applied to the evils of the
social system. For example in their last Annual Report:--“The very
_vitality_ of human society for these six thousand years, has
consisted in the victories of certain institutions over others--_of
the new over the old_--of the better over the worse--just as the
heart, by successive tides of regenerated blood, chases corruption and
death from the bodily system. Tyranny in all ages, has striven to
carry this moral (political) non-intercourse (non-interference) law
into practice, but never with success. Had it succeeded, where would
have been our Christianity and its successive reformations?” &c. Who
would not say, “Good Lord deliver us” from the operation of a
principle, thus boldly avowed, which asserts the right and necessity
of everlasting revolution! and which plants itself on the platform,
_that might is right_! Christianity itself is not protected from its
invading sweep: “its successive _reformations_!” Where is the man in
history, or living, that can lay claim to have _reformed_, or now to
_reform_, Christianity? The very suggestion is blasphemous. And yet,
it would seem, an ACT of this kind is even now, and among us, proposed
to be enacted, because, forsooth, Christianity, after all “its
reformations” and improvements, is not quite bold enough, is rather
doubtful, and has even thrown out some suggestions a little adverse to
the necessities of present exigencies!

But to return: Abolition simply, and in itself considered, is not the
only question to be discussed, as the whole matter now presents itself
to the mind of the public, and claims consideration. The phasis of the
subject comprehends the broad disk of society. The Abolitionists have
forced their opponents to this wide view, by having set the example.
They have brought up so many questions, and implicated so many
principles, as to have set aside the main question; at least have
thrown it into the back ground, so that the term Abolition no longer
suggests alone the primitive idea of emancipation, nor hardly suggests
it at all; but arrays before the mind a _system_ of principles, social
and political, which are regarded by most people as of a very
revolting character. It is impossible to meet such a foe without
taking into consideration the ground which he occupies, without
reconnoitring and surveying his position. He has already betrayed the
poor slave, vitiated his cause, rivetted his chains, made all his
prospects more hopeless, put far off the day of his emancipation, and
at last run foul of a precipitous, frowning, and immoveable rock, that
is likely to sit long in dignified composure on the base of the
eternal hills, while the assailant exhausts his energies and breaks
his sides by dashing against the rude and projecting points below.

The opponents of Abolition principles, therefore, are treated very
unfairly when they are of course set down as opposed to emancipation.
This latter question cannot now be taken up, till the battle is
concluded in defence of other and more momentous principles, for the
subversion of which a disciplined army of Destructives has rushed into
the field. Nevertheless, so long as the Abolitionists continue to hold
up the slave--whose prospects they have ruined, till he gets better
help--as a shield for the accomplishment of other ends, it still
remains necessary to give reasons why emancipation cannot be brought
about with that precipitate haste which the Abolitionists propose.

We design, however, in this chapter, not to aim directly at the point
above suggested, but to present somewhat of the _comparative
condition_ of the slaves in the United States, principally in relation
to the history of the African race, since, at the time, and previous
to the time, when the slave trade commenced, with the purpose of
coming fairly to the conclusion, whether their condition in this
country is an improvement or deterioration; and consequently, whether,
in the Providence of God, and in their social right, as a distinct and
separate race, they have a fair claim to the instant elevation among
the people of this country, which the Abolitionists demand for them,
if it can be obtained only at the expense of social order, and at the
peril of our institutions.

First, we observe, that the African race, in the Middle, Western, and
more Southern parts of the Continent, have for many centuries, or from
time immemorial, been most barbarous and degraded, and in the practice
of domestic slavery on the largest scale and in the most inhuman
forms, entirely independent of the effects of the slave traffic by
exportation from Africa to America.

“It is evident,” says Mungo Park, “that the system of slavery which
prevails in Africa is of _no modern date_. It probably had its origin
in the remote ages of antiquity, before the Mohammedans explored a
path across the desert. How far it is maintained and supported by the
slave traffic, which for two hundred years the nations of Europe have
carried on with the natives of the Coast, it is neither within my
province, nor in my power to explain. If my sentiments should be
desired concerning the effect of a discontinuance of this commerce on
the manners of the natives, _I should have no hesitation in saying_,
that in the present unenlightened state of their minds, _my opinion
is, the effect would neither be so extensive nor so beneficial as many
wise and worthy persons fondly expect_.”

Park estimates the domestic slavery of Africa, on an average, at
_three fourths_, and Lander at _four fifths_, of the population. Some
travellers have gone much higher, and we have seen it put down at
_nine tenths_.

“In a speech delivered in the British House of Commons, by Mr.
Henniker, in 1789, the speaker asserts, that a letter had been
received by George III. from one of the most powerful of the African
potentates, the Emperor of Dehomey, which exemplifies the notions of
the Africans about the right to kill and enslave prisoners of war. He
(the Emperor) stated: ‘That as he understood King George was the
greatest of white kings, so he thought himself the greatest of black
ones.’ He said, that he could lead 500,000 armed men into the field,
that being the pursuit to which _all_ his subjects were bred, the
women _only_ staying at home to plant and manure the earth. He had
himself fought _two hundred and nine battles_, with great reputation
and success, and had conquered the great king of Ardah. The king’s
head was to this day preserved with the flesh and hair; the heads of
his generals were distinguished by being placed on each side of the
doors of their Fetiches; with the heads of the inferior officers they
paved the space before the doors; and the heads of the common soldiers
formed a sort of fringe or outwork round the walls of the palace.
Since this war he had experienced the greatest good fortune; and he
hoped in good time to be able to complete the outwalls of all his
great houses, _to the number of seven, in the same manner_.

“Mr. Norris, who visited this Empire, testifies to the truth of this
letter. He found the palace of the Emperor an immense assemblage of
cane and mud tents, enclosed by a high wall. The skulls and jaw bones
of enemies slain in battle, formed the favorite ornaments of the
palaces and _temples_. The king’s apartments were paved, and the walls
and roofs stuck over, with these horrid trophies. _And if a farther
supply appeared at any time desirable, he announced to his general_,
THAT HIS HOUSE WANTED THATCH, _when a war for that purpose was
immediately undertaken_.”[10]

[Footnote 10: Professor Dew’s Review &c.]

“All these unfortunate beings,” prisoners of war, says Park, “are
considered as strangers and foreigners, _who have no right to the
protection of the law_, and may be treated with severity, or sold to a
stranger, according to the pleasure of their owners. There are indeed,
regular markets, where slaves of this description are bought and sold;
and the value of a slave in the eye of an African purchaser increases
in proportion to the distance from his native kingdom; for, when
slaves are only a few days journey from the place of their nativity,
they frequently effect their escape; but when one or more kingdoms
intervene, escape being more difficult, they are more readily
reconciled to their situation. On this account the unhappy slave is
often transferred from one dealer to another, until he has lost all
hope of returning to his native kingdom.

“A battle is fought; the vanquished never think of rallying again; the
inhabitants become panic-struck; and the conquerors have only to bind
the slaves, and carry off the victims and their plunder. Such of their
prisoners as through age or infirmity are unable to endure fatigue, or
are found unfit for sale, are considered useless, _and I have no doubt
are put to death. The same fate commonly awaits chiefs, or any other
persons who have taken a distinguished part in the war._”

The Rev. Stephen Kay, Corresponding member of the South African
Institution &c., gives a most heart rending account of the horrid
barbarities of war; of the great extent and atrocities of slavery; of
the extreme degradation and hardships of females, who are always
regarded and treated as slaves, and no longer valued when they become
useless; of modes of torture and killing too shocking to be narrated;
all of which, and many other atrocities of African barbarism, are the
common scenes of those regions of Africa which he visited. Major Laing
is to the same point, and various other travellers that have found
motives to visit Africa, or to penetrate into its interior. There is
no diversity of testimony on the subject, but one common voice going
out upon the world, through a variety of channels, running back for
ages, and from numerous and remote sections of that dark and cruel
Continent, all certifying to their extreme barbarism and brutal
degredation, with scarcely a gleam of intellectual light, or social
comfort, beaming out from their history. Do not the readers of Mungo
Park recollect the story of poor Nealee? Does not the world know the
fate of Park himself, and of Lander? And are not the testimonies
abundant to the barbarous treachery and atrocious cruelty of the race,
independent of the effects of that European traffic in human flesh and
blood, which began, between two and three hundred years ago, to draw
off a fraction of this immense amount of human misery, which could
scarcely be increased by the agonies and suffocations of “THE MIDDLE
PASSAGE”? It was, indeed, this very state of things which presented
temptations and opened the door to that traffic, which transplanted a
portion of the African race to the Islands and Continent of this
Western hemisphere. It is to the Africans themselves, that this trade
owes its origin--to their barbarism, to their everlasting trade in
war, and the glutting of their own marts with the blood and sinews of
their own flesh all to the sore evil of this Continent, and to the
inexpiable scandal of Christian Europe, that the flood gates of
African barbarism were let out upon these Western Isles and shores, to
gratify the lust of gain in those monsters who carried on and profited
by the traffic, and to entail a long protracted curse on the less
guilty, though not innocent, tenants of this new world.

The continuance of this traffic, and the inhuman over-working of this
race in the South American and West Indian Colonies appertaining to
the Governments of Europe, are too notorious to require recitation. We
are more concerned to notice the history and character of that slavery
which is to be found in our own Republic, as the result of that trade
which disgraced Christendom, and imposed on the Nations that tolerated
and patronized it a fearful responsibility.

Now, what we have to say, in reference to the facts and general
allusions appertaining to the history of the African race,
comprehensively stated in this chapter, the truth and fairness of
which we presume will not be drawn in question, is for the simple
purpose of comparison. It is not to apologize for slavery; it is not
to palliate, in any degree, the guilt of those agents who introduced
it to this Continent; it is not to justify the principle of slavery;
it is not to extenuate any of its evils; but simply to determine the
question, so far as it may be obvious in the lights of such
comparison, whether that portion of the African race to be found in
the United States, are actually better off than they would have been
any where else, in all reasonable probability?

We think, then, we are prepared to say, that when all the evils of
slavery in the Southern States of this country are put together,
without abatement in the smallest item; when the domestic slave trade
is posted and summed up in all its worst features and worst
consequences; when all the overworking of the proedul slave is
brought into the account, with its attendant cruelties; when the
driving system, so far as it exists, and all arbitrary severities of
discipline for offences, are considered; and nothing of evil that
belongs to the whole system in the United States be left out, the fair
conclusion will be, that the whole sum is but a small fraction of the
same classes of evils that from time immemorial have belonged and
still belong to the barbarism of the father land of this race--not
reckoning other evils, scarcely to be told for their number, or
estimated for their enormity or magnitude, to be found there, but not
to be found here.

Although the difference is not of the same kind, nor probably so
great, still the comparison of the slavery of the United States with
that which has existed in the West Indies and other parts of America,
presents the former in the light of comparative comfort and happiness.
It may be said, indeed, that in the British West Indies, the quondam
slaves, so cruelly treated and so severely overworked, have at last
come to their freedom; but it is by far too soon to estimate the
result. In St. Domingo, where they have been free, or said to be free,
nearly a half century, they are still under “overseers,” and
“drivers,” still subject to the law of “passports,” still forced to
work a specific number of hours on penalty of fines, imprisonments,
and sundry severe modes of discipline, under “the _Code rural_” and
“the _Code Henri_,” differing in despotic character only, that the
people are slaves to the Government, and not to private owners, and
driven to work by a black man instead of a white man, when universally
they prefer the white, as being more merciful of the two. The three
great staples of Hayti fell off from 1791 under the French, to 1822
under Boyer: Sugar from 163,405,220 lbs. annually to 652,541 lbs.;
Coffee from 68,151,180 lbs. annually to 35,117,834 lbs.; and Cotton
from 6,286,126 lbs. annually to 891,950 lbs.; and have since declined,
till the public revenue has fallen below the expenditures of the

We see, then, that the _evils_ of American slavery are _blessings_ as
compared with the general fate of the African race in their native
Continent, independent of the effects of the exportation of slaves to
foreign parts; and that they are light in comparison of other foreign
servitude down to this date.

Let us now turn to the scale of comparative comfort and of actual
privilege. In the first place, American slaves are placed in the midst
of a high state of civilization, where their very bondage has rights
secured by law which would be a blessing in Africa, even after
deducting the entire scope of the arbitrary sway of masters. They are
clustered round a refinement of manners, which, though it may have
little influence for the benefit of the proedal slave, acts
powerfully on the great body for their personal improvement and
elevation in the scale of intellectual and moral being, and remotely
has a favorable effect upon all. A great portion of them have been
admitted to no inconsiderable degrees of intellectual and moral
culture; domestic and body servants are often found highly improved
and accomplished, whose principles, morals, and manners would be a
good example to a large part of our white population; the privileges
of the Gospel, and its blessed and eternal hopes, have been brought
within the reach of a greater proportion of the slaves, than of the
white population, who customarily _use_ them, when brought to their
doors, and these privileges were being still farther extended till the
crusade of the Abolitionists caused them to be abridged; the system of
American slavery makes it the interest of the master to be careful of
the physical constitution of the slave, that it should not be
impaired, and in this particular makes it preferable to the more cruel
bondage of British manufactories; American masters are compelled by
law to maintain the sick, the infirm, and the aged; the law itself
enacts penalties for inhuman treatment, and public opinion sustains
it, notwithstanding that in this, as in all states of society, the law
may be better than the practice, still, however, it has its general
influence for the protection of the slave, and demands justice for
him when abused as well as for the abused white man; many of the
slaves of this country have emerged, and are constantly emerging, from
a state of bondage to a state of freedom, till they amount to about
one sixth of the colored population, and are admitted to important
civil, social, and religious privileges, though not to all which the
Abolitionists claim for them, yet important and invaluable as compared
with what they would have been likely to enjoy any where else; the
public opinion of this country, previous to the present Abolition
agitation, not excepting even that of the slave States, had been
constantly growing more favourable to an increased amelioration of
slavery, and to ultimate emancipation.

In a word: If we take into consideration the origin of this race, the
barbarism, the brutal degradation, and the customary inhuman vices of
their ancestry, which remain the same to this day in Africa; if we
look at the different conditions and fate of other portions of the
same race, who, in consequence of such a state of things in the land
of their fathers, have been carried away from their native shores; and
then compare the whole with the general progress of nations and tribes
in human improvement over the face of the earth, we shall, as we
think, be compelled to the conclusion, that no other people can be
found on the globe, civilized or uncivilized, who have, within the
same period of time, risen so much, or been improved so much, as a
body, in their actual condition, social character, privileges,
relations, and prospects, for time and for eternity, as that portion
of the African race now to be found in the United States of North

Let it not be understood or said, that we adduce this _great fact_, as
a bar to any claims that may be fairly asserted by the colored people
of this country, bond or free, or in their behalf, to still farther
improvement; but only, that it is proper--that in present
circumstances, we are bound--to take the most enlarged view of so
great a question; that we are bound to consider, as human nature is,
and in such a world as ours, that all nations and tribes, in their
best estate, necessarily advance in improvement by _degrees_; that one
tribe or nation cannot claim to rise at the expense of another, more
especially when their own vices have put them at the bottom of the
scale; and that all must fall in with the fair, proper, and
unavoidable influence of time, events, and accidental circumstances,
over which society, in a regular and constituted course of action, has
no control. To insist on breaking in upon this general and
conventional movement by violence, on disturbing the established order
of human society, to force forward one race, one nation, one tribe,
and one class, at the expense of another, and in violation of the
recognized principles and actual frame of society, is treason to
society, and to the general rights of mankind. The time of absolute
_perfectionism_, either as to individual character, or as to the
structure of human society, in our opinion, has not yet come. And
while all are anxious for improvement, public and private, and are
striving for it, all must consent to carry it forward on recognized
principles--on principles which will not tear down society, and
subvert and overthrow important advantages and vital interests already
acquired for common good.

We say, then, as much as we sympathize with the colored population of
this country--and we solemnly aver, that we are not wanting in such
sympathy--in all that they are deprived of social advantages and
political privileges enjoyed by the white population, in all that they
fall below the most satisfactory standard and elevation in human
improvement--we say, that we do not see how they can fairly claim to
rise by _one step_ to such a desirable point, contrary to the usual
modes of progress in human society, and contrary to the known laws and
capabilities of human nature, if it must be to the disturbance of the
peace of the community, and to the great peril of our Government and
its institutions. We have seen, that the colored population of this
country, as a body, have not been injured, but benefitted, by the
position which they now occupy, not only in comparison with the
history of the race to which they belong, but also in comparison with
the common history of other tribes and nations. They undoubtedly
occupy at this moment the highest point of actual comfort, of social
condition, and of general privilege, which has yet fallen to the lot
of any portion of the African race.

We have now done with this branch of the subject, and have only to
add, that we shall be treated with great injustice, if these
considerations are received as having been offered for any other
purpose than a shield alike to the social and political fabric of our
country against violence, and to the best interests of the colored



The Quakers have generally received credit for being a peace-loving
and peace-making Society of Christians; and we are compelled to admit,
and have great pleasure in doing so, that they have always sustained
the character. They have always been known as the opponents of
slavery; but their modes of protest and remonstrance have been
conducted in the spirit of Christianity. They have never broken the
public peace, directly or indirectly, in this conflict of principle;
they have never outraged public feeling by obtruding their opinions in
a violent way; they have not sought to raise mobs against themselves,
and thus get the advantage of a cry of persecution; but they have
published their principles in a quiet, and in that way, most
influential manner. All the world has known, that the Society of
Friends have been opposed to slavery, as well as to war; but society
has never been battered by their artillery, by violent and
uncharitable denunciation, by defamation, by exaggerated and
fictitious stories, by inflammatory appeals, by threatening to
overthrow a fabric which they cannot conscientiously support, by
undermining the authority of Government and proclaiming it forfeited,
and by sowing the seeds of servile insurrection and popular violence.
It is known, that a Quaker will not eat sugar or molasses made by a
slave; that is a fact that tells--sets people to thinking. It is the
silent, insinuating action of principle on society and into the minds
of men. The Quakers will do nothing, directly or indirectly, to
countenance and support slavery, so far as they can avoid it. Their
precepts are known, and their example is seen. They are a living
epistle before the world, on this and some other subjects. They use
freedom of speech and of the press; they employ persuasion and
remonstrance in a Christian like way; they give “line upon line,
precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little;” but they do
no violence. They are faithful and true to their principles, and
consistent in practising as well as preaching them; but they assume
not the responsibility of disturbing others in the use of a privilege
which is so important and dear to themselves. They seem to understand
the rule: “Do unto others, as ye would that others should do unto
you.” Hence the Quakers never disturb the peace of society. They are
good neighbours, good citizens, good, we presume, in domestic and
private life, and as we hope, good Christians.

Such is the legitimate action of Christianity, and such is the
strongest possible proof, that a man is actuated by Christian
principle. Such was the example of Christ and his Apostles. There is
not a single intimation, nor fair inference from any fact, that they
ever made war upon the existing fabric of society, any farther than
the silent action of their principles would _gradually_ operate a
change in the social state and in social institutions. Such is the
Divine superiority of Christianity: silent, but effective and
irresistable in its march--irresistable, _because_ it is never
violent--because, veritas valebit, truth will prevail.

But, alas! how utterly opposed to all this are the measures and
movements of the Abolitionists! They seem as if they would take heaven
and earth by storm; but if they happen to raise a storm over their own
heads, they demand impunity from its effects. Stirrers-up of mischief,
they deny the right of its re-action on themselves. It is ridiculous,
absolutely. If a man will be a fool, he must _reap_ his folly; if “he
sows the wind,” he must be content, if the elements in their natural
workings should so decree, “to reap the whirlwind.”

If, indeed, we have given more credit to the Quakers than they
deserve, we hope, if any of them have got out of the way into the
Abolition ranks under their present flag, they will see the propriety
of getting back again as fast as they can, for the good reputation of
their own Society, that hereafter there may be no exception among them
as a good example worthy of imitation in all such matters.



“Yea, doubtless,” saith the Abolitionist, “for reason fails them.” And
so we have all done with argument; for we shall not stop to reply to
this. “The South know their rights,” said a Southern gentleman the
other day on the floor of Congress, very significantly, and in
relation to this subject. This, we believe, is the present common
feeling of the slaveholding States. They have made up their minds; and
we think they will have the sympathy of the reasonable part of
mankind. Their present attitude is that of pointing the people of this
country to the bulwark of the Federal Constitution; and if that will
not protect them, “they know their rights.” We do not quote this
language to expose the Southerners to the charge of holding up a
menace; for we do not accept it as such, and think it would be unfair
for any body to do so. They stand on the defensive; they have been
assailed, and are yet assailed; they have felt themselves insulted on
the floor of Congress by indirect attempts to invade their rights of
State sovereignty; they have been compelled to special legislation and
other public action to defend their own territories from violation;
they have dreamed of seeing their wives and children butchered, and
their houses pillaged and burned; they have seen, in imagination, and
as a natural consequence of the Abolition movement unresisted and
unchecked, all these and many other horrors of a like kind, enacted
before their eyes; they have seen the Government upturned, society
dissolved, and anarchy stalking amid the triumphs of its own
desolation over their fields; and with such prospects before them, as
the result of a foreign interference, organized in open violation of
the laws of the land, and in the face of a solemn national compact
forbidding such aggression, and engaging to protect and defend them
against it, are they not entitled to say--“We know our rights?” How
long must they suffer--how long must they be menaced by such invasion,
before they may say, we will suffer it no longer? A day of anxiety is
as a year of torment; a year of such suspense, is as an age of agony.

And what will they do? Why, clearly, break loose from the Union, to
which, generally, they have already made up their minds, in case of
necessity, they being judges--if the straws in the wind are any sure
indication of its career--“Necessity needs no law.” If the Government
of the country will not protect them, they must protect themselves, or
try to do so. They may fail, and prove impotent; but when men are
insulted and outraged, especially the men of the South, they are not
nice calculators of consequences; and it is for us of the North to
determine, whether we are willing to see our brethren of the South
driven to such a resort, by the continued action of an unlawful
combination, that exists and has grown up among ourselves; whether,
indeed, we are willing to see the Government of this proud Republic
rent asunder by such a cause, and to hazard the consequences.

If any body thinks these remarks are not well founded, we are sorry
they are not better observers of the symptomatic phenomena of our own
society. If they should think them unreasonable and out of place, we
are sorry for that also, as we have judged otherwise, and take leave
to invite their attention to the next chapter.



We do not believe, after what has taken place, that the Abolitionists
will be able to carry _emancipation_. Their imprudent and rash modes
of action seem to have barred the door effectually against that event
for the present. We think it reasonable to say, that without the
concurrence of the slave States, such an event is impossible. But such
is the character, effectiveness, and irresistible sweep of their
organization, that it cannot fail to break down something; and that
something, we fear, will be the Federal Union. We now propose to give
our reasons for this apprehension. Those reasons are embodied in the
unconstitutional and illegal character of the Association.

The political structure of our Government cannot be too much admired
for the balance of power which is every where to be found in its
Constitutional modes of action. The theory seems to be a perfect one.
But the moment there is a departure from the rules, or a violation of
the principles of Constitutional law, the machinery is embarrassed,
and danger threatens. In the same manner as the action of the
Government demands a strict adherence to these rules, so also does the
action of the people. We have seen in the second chapter what rules
the Federal Constitution and those of the States prescribe to
individual and popular action for political purposes, independent of
and in addition to the privilege of the elective franchise: freedom of
speech and of the press, and the right of petition, address, and
remonstrance to the Government. It was there stated, that the license
given to these proscribed forms constituted equally a law of
prohibition to all _other_ forms, as it would be absurd to suppose,
that a written law of this kind is not a law of limitation; in other
words, that it is no law at all. It was also shown, as is manifest at
first sight, that this license is all sufficient, as the people always
have their remedy in the elective franchise, if the Government do not
regard their wishes, as expressed in these modes. No occasions can be
expected to occur, that would require to transcend these salutary
rules; and we believe the existence and action of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, as an independent political body, is the first
instance, in the history of our country, by which they have been

It is true, indeed, that a popular charge has been brought against the
Masonic Institution, as having been perverted into political action,
and as being dangerous to the liberties of the country on that
account. How far this charge is just, it is impossible for us to know,
as we have never been a member of that Society. It is sufficient to
observe, that the very suspicion of such action has operated, as is
well known, almost entirely to suppress that Institution, and wind up
its history in the country. Had the truth of this charge been obvious,
and as susceptible of proof, as in the case of the American
Anti-Slavery Society, we need not say what would have been its fate.
The legislation of the country would have settled the matter soon. We
believe it to be a self-evident proposition, that the genius of a
Constitutional Government, or of any government whatever, does not
admit of a rival independent political organization on the same
territory; that it cannot tolerate _any permanent_ political
organization _at all_ independent of itself; much less one of
unlimited powers. It would not be very acceptable, even if it were to
come in as an auxiliary, but would rather be regarded as an insult.
There is no point of view in which we can conceive it would be

It would be ridiculous and impotent to say, that the action of the
American Anti-Slavery Society cannot be liable to objection, since it
is open, and not secret, like the Masonic Institution, admitting that
the latter is fairly accused by popular suspicion. Such a plea would
justify the acts of fraud, theft, felony, and crime of any
description, if they be done openly. It is only the more astonishing,
that it should be endured. But the reason of that we have already
stated: It is a new thing under the Sun; the public have been taken by
surprise; and have not even yet recovered from the shock. It was taken
for granted, that religion could not find its way into the State over
such Constitutional barriers erected to intercept the trespass; and
yet it is there--the religion of a _Sect_--of a great, powerful,
fanatical, religioso-political sect--which, having leaped the wall,
has carried with it a great and powerful political machinery from
another region, and is well at work, as if it were perfectly at home.
It may be said, that the political world has never yet had such a
fellow worker before, and looks at it askance as a strange companion,
not knowing what to make of it. Doubtless, after a little reflection,
a more definite opinion will be formed of its unwelcome character and
awkward position.

But, it is proper to exhibit more distinctly the beautiful and
symmetrical action of the Constitutional law of this land, when
scrupulously observed in regard to such matters, and how a departure
from it leads to difficulty. It will be seen, that freedom of speech
and of the press, and the right of petition, address, and remonstrance
to Government, as guaranteed, are important safety valves, through
which to give scope to individual opinion, and vent to popular
fermentations. The regular action of these powers in the
Constitutional modes, and through the Constitutional channels, are
always balanced by each other. That same freedom of speech and of the
press which is guaranteed to one individual or party, is guaranteed to
another; and the inordinate excesses of each are sure to be
counteracted by the ordinary sway of these Constitutional principles;
at least, so far as the imperfect state of society will allow. It
seems to be the highest attainment of a practical political sagacity.
In the same manner, the action of associated popular movements, when
they aim to affect and influence the Government, is always balanced by
the counteraction of one party as opposed to the other, so long as
both keep within the prescribed forms of the Constitution and laws,
and connect themselves regularly with the Government in the recognized
modes of petition, address, or remonstrance. In this way it is
impossible that one party should gain a sudden, undue, and
overwhelming advantage, to which they are not fairly entitled by the
merits of their cause, and by a fair hearing before the public.

But the moment that one party, or any new party, is permitted to set
up an independent, permanent, and unconstitutional political
machinery, having no connexion with the Government, but acting under a
polity of its own, as much and as truly as an independent empire, and
thus instituting a mode of action unknown to the Constitution and
laws, this salutary equipoise of influence is lost, in the same manner
as by throwing an ounce weight into one of two scales equally
balanced, the other is made to kick the beam. Such is the character,
and such the overbearing power of the American Anti-slavery Society in
the political condition of our country. There is, there can be, no
balance of influence, apart from the interference of authority, except
by setting up another unconstitutional organization, to put aside the
Constitutional Government, to carry on the war between themselves, and
settle the questions in dispute, as best they might; in other words,
to establish the reign of anarchy.

So long as the American Anti-slavery Society is permitted to exist,
and to carry on its operations under its present form, it is not the
reason of their cause that prevails, but the power of their machinery
in its action on the public mind. All opposing influences, so long as
the Government is inactive, are like the scattering, random, and
over-shoulder shot of a routed and retreating host that is flying in
the field before the well-formed, steady, and disciplined march of a
triumphant army--triumphant, because there is no corresponding agency
to oppose them, not because they have the right. Such, precisely, is
the effect of all the newspaper squibs that are fired off on the
Abolitionists, and such the effect of the unorganized remonstrances of
the public. The Abolitionists are in the field with a disciplined
army, officered, paid, with a full staff, and an adequate
Commissariat. In other words, they are a regularly organized and
permanent political body, acting under a complete State machinery in
all that their exigences require, adding to it at pleasure, with ever
active and industrious agents, with money at command and the power of
the press, and as independent of the Government of this country as the
throne of the Sultan at Constantinople--and yet doing the business
of the country!

There are most obvious reasons, why such a power, once recognized as
suitable and proper, will carry all before it, till it shall have
dissolved the Government of this country. The Abolitionists have all
the native and long cherished feeling of the North on their side, as
being opposed to slavery in principle; they have all the advantage of
the sympathies of our nature, when we consider the _manner_ in which
they represent the case; they have the common and prevailing popular
ignorance of the nature of our political fabric to aid them--for it is
not to be supposed, that the people generally will have clear and
uniform views on a question upon which Statesmen differ; and to the
effect of all these natural and social auxiliaries, they superadd the
power of their immense, combined, and variously ramified machinery,
which steals every where upon the public, catching every man, woman,
and child, whose benevolent sympathies are naturally open to their
appeals, and when once they are indoctrinated after the manner and in
the school of the Abolitionists, and become possessed of their spirit,
there is little chance for the sway of those principles on which our
political society is based. It is not the fair argument of the cause,
but the power of this political combination, that bears such sway.
There is no chance for a candid hearing before the public, and for the
due influence of all the considerations which appertain to this
momentous and complicated question, because the constitutional
balance of power, designed for such exigences, has been prostrated by
an usurpation, and every thing is made to give way to isolated and
abstract opinions, and to the dictations of political quackery.
Fanaticism rules, and not reason; and the natural and inevitable
consequence will be, that the gradual accumulation of this moral
power, thus acquired, will swell to a magnitude, and urge on a
momentum, before the pressure of which the Union will be compelled to
yield and break down. The people of the South will be annoyed and
vexed, till they can be annoyed and vexed no longer. Then will be the
beginning of the end.

Are we understood? Is it not clear, that it is this political
usurpation of an unlawful power, that puts the country in peril? Let
this irregularity, this transcending of law, be reduced again to the
Constitutional basis, and all this excitement, alarm, and danger, will
die away, because the healthful Constitutional balance of influence
would be restored. Opinion would then encounter opinion on common
ground, with no undue advantage of one party over another.

“But, then,” say the Abolitionists, “we must give up our cause.” It
will have an equal chance with any other. “But,” they add, “we have
nine points of the law against the Constitution: actual possession of
the field, and do not choose to give it up.” We are quite aware, that
usurpation will always hold on to its unlawfully acquired power, as
long as it can; and it is not to be expected, that the Abolitionists
will readily concede, that they have been guilty of such a fault. It
is a novel experiment in the history of our country; and as to its
form, novel in the history of political society. Religion has often
usurped political power, and the Constitutional frame of our
Government has taken great pains to guard against it; but, we will
venture to say, that no human foresight ever anticipated a trespass of
this kind: that, by an independent organization of its own devising,
religion should come armed into the field, to eject the previous
occupants by force--not to divide power and the spoils, but to take
sole possession, and set up a new order of things to its own will.

We shall be as stout an advocate for the political rights of
religionists of all persuasions, as any body; at the same time we are
not prepared to concede to them the right of an independent political
organization, in violation of the law, to disturb the peace, endanger
the Government, and overthrow the institutions of the country. That
the Abolitionists have been guilty of this trespass, we are sorry,
because the country is the sufferer; that they should be compelled to
tread back, and resign their ill gotten power, we shall be glad,
because we believe, that law, propriety, and the good of the country,
require it. We believe, too, that the good of the slaves, and the
welfare of the free colored people, require it.



If the main argument of this work is sound--and we are unable to see
why it is not--the tables are fairly turned on the Abolitionists, who
have been crying out for freedom, and the freedom of the Constitution.
Enough, we trust, has been said, in the progress of these discussions,
to show, that the action of the American Anti-Slavery Society, as a
grand and permanent political organization, destroys that balance of
individual and popular influence, which the Constitutional law of this
land was intended to establish, fortify, and secure; and which is, in
truth, the grand palladium of our liberties. The chapter immediately
preceding brings this matter to a point.

The freedom of speech and of the press, and the rights of popular
action, as guaranteed by the Constitution, or Constitutions, are not
worth a penny, so long as the agency of such an institution as the
American Anti-Slavery society is permitted to be brought into the
field against them. For it is overwhelming by the force of its polity.
No matter what may be the prevailing feeling of the public, at any
given time in regard to it; no matter how many single voices may be
raised in remonstrance against the Abolition movement; no matter how
many newspapers may blaze away at the common enemy; no matter how many
resolutions of rebuke may be passed by the Senate of the Nation; no
matter what other forms of action, by whom soever or where soever, may
be instituted, within the prescribed forms of the Constitution, to
encounter this foe; yet, so long as the Government, which is the only
agency that can treat with such an unconstitutional usurpation on
equal terms, remains inactive, they will avail nothing. They are all
crippled and rendered nugatory by the moral power and irresistible
momentum of this regular system of means, under a State machinery,
that is brought into the field. The Abolitionists know their power,
under such an advantage, and laugh their enemies to scorn. By the
influence of their organization, by its constant, systematic, and all
pervading action, they expect, and not without reason, to carry all
before them in the free States.

All the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution to their opponents is
worth nothing in the scale against such a power; it is annihilated.
There is no equality of privilege between the parties.

The reason why the public generally have not understood the character
of this enemy, is because it came by a sudden leap, by a sort of
somerset, from the religious world, with the operations of which the
public, as a body, have not concerned themselves. It is in fact a
foreign organized power, that has stolen a march on the territories of
the Republic, obtained a footing, and gained an alarming ascendancy,
before the public were apprized of the fact, or had any true knowledge
of the character of the invaders; and such is their overpowering
influence, by virtue of a political polity, that the privileges
secured by the Constitution and laws, as a means of opposing them, are
rendered utterly valueless, in any thing short of the interposition of

How can the private action of individuals, how can the press in its
customary forms, how can the resolutions of popular assemblies, of
legislative bodies, of Congress itself, counteract the movements of
such on organization? They are utterly impotent. Their influence
expires with their acts; while that of this Society, on account of its
systematic and efficient organization is untiring, assiduous, is every
where, lives forever, and is forever augmenting its forces. The
American Anti-Slavery Society can command all the money it wants, and
money will command agencies of every description; money is the
animating soul of every political body.

It is of no use, therefore, that the Constitutional law of this land
has secured these sacred privileges, so long and so highly valued,
while the same law is transcended and trampled under foot by this
antagonist power. All the imagined advantages of this boasted freedom
are annihilated by the sweeping claims and prerogatives of this
usurpation. All our liberties are but a name, if such an organization
may come in, expunge them from the Charter, and abolish their sway, by
setting up a power which the Constitution itself cannot contend with,
without calling to its aid the arm of authority, because the rules of
the Constitution are violated.

Having discharged this duty--a sincere and conscientious duty, as we
profess--to the country, to the cause of humanity, and above all, to
that God whom we desire to worship and serve, we are content to submit
the question to the public, and await their decision, whether, a new
be permitted to take the field; or whether, the OLD AND CONSTITUTIONAL
GOVERNMENT shall stand?


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