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Title: Slavery
Author: Channing, William E.
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 "Slavery" ***

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SLAVERY.

BY

WILLIAM E. CHANNING.


BOSTON:

JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY.

M DCCC XXXV.


     Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835, by JAMES
     MUNROE & CO., in the Clerk's office of the District Court of
     Massachusetts.


CAMBRIDGE PRESS:
METCALF, TORRY, AND BALLOU.



CONTENTS.

                              Page
INTRODUCTION                     1

CHAPTER I.
Property                        13

CHAPTER II.
Rights                          30

CHAPTER III.
Explanations                    54

CHAPTER IV.
The Evils of Slavery            65

CHAPTER V.
Scripture                      108

CHAPTER VI.
Means of Removing Slavery      116

CHAPTER VII.
Abolitionism                   130

CHAPTER VIII.
Duties                         149

NOTES                          161



INTRODUCTION.


The first question to be proposed by a rational being is, not what is
profitable, but what is Right. Duty must be primary, prominent, most
conspicuous, among the objects of human thought and pursuit. If we cast
it down from its supremacy, if we inquire first for our interests and
then for our duties, we shall certainly err. We can never see the Right
clearly and fully, but by making it our first concern. No judgment can
be just or wise, but that which is built on the conviction of the
paramount worth and importance of Duty. This is the fundamental truth,
the supreme law of reason; and the mind, which does not start from this
in its inquiries into human affairs, is doomed to great, perhaps fatal
error.

The Right is the supreme good, and includes all other goods. In seeking
and adhering to it, we secure our true and only happiness. All
prosperity, not founded on it, is built on sand. If human affairs are
controlled, as we believe, by Almighty Rectitude and Impartial Goodness,
then to hope for happiness from wrong doing is as insane as to seek
health and prosperity by rebelling against the laws of nature, by sowing
our seed on the ocean, or making poison our common food. There is but
one unfailing good; and that is, fidelity to the Everlasting Law written
on the heart, and rewritten and republished in God's Word.

Whoever places this faith in the everlasting law of rectitude must of
course regard the question of slavery first and chiefly as a moral
question. All other considerations will weigh little with him, compared
with its moral character and moral influences. The following remarks,
therefore, are designed to aid the reader in forming a just moral
judgment of slavery. Great truths, inalienable rights, everlasting
duties, these will form the chief subjects of this discussion. There are
times when the assertion of great principles is the best service a man
can render society. The present is a moment of bewildering excitement,
when men's minds are stormed and darkened by strong passions and fierce
conflicts; and also a moment of absorbing worldliness, when the moral
law is made to bow to expediency, and its high and strict requirements
are decried or dismissed as metaphysical abstractions, or impracticable
theories. At such a season, to utter great principles without passion,
and in the spirit of unfeigned and universal good-will, and to engrave
them deeply and durably on men's minds, is to do more for the world,
than to open mines of wealth, or to frame the most successful schemes of
policy.

Of late our country has been convulsed by the question of slavery; and
the people, in proportion as they have felt vehemently, have thought
superficially, or hardly thought at all; and we see the results in a
singular want of well defined principles, in a strange vagueness and
inconsistency of opinion, and in the proneness to excess which belongs
to unsettled minds. The multitude have been called, now to contemplate
the horrors of slavery, and now to shudder at the ruin and bloodshed
which must follow emancipation. The word Massacre has resounded through
the land, striking terror into strong as well as tender hearts, and
awakening indignation against whatever may seem to threaten such a
consummation. The consequence is, that not a few dread all discussion of
the subject, and if not reconciled to the continuance of slavery, at
least believe that they have no duty to perform, no testimony to bear,
no influence to exert, no sentiments to cherish and spread, in relation
to this evil. What is still worse, opinions either favoring or
extenuating it are heard with little or no disapprobation. Concessions
are made to it which would once have shocked the community; whilst to
assail it is pronounced unwise and perilous. No stronger reason for a
calm exposition of its true character can be given, than this very
state of the public mind. A community can suffer no greater calamity
than the loss of its principles. Lofty and pure sentiment is the life
and hope of a people. There was never such an obligation to discuss
slavery as at this moment, when recent events have done much to unsettle
and obscure men's minds in regard to it. This result is to be ascribed
in part to the injudicious vehemence of those who have taken into their
hands the care of the slave. Such ought to remember that to espouse a
good cause is not enough. We must maintain it in a spirit answering to
its dignity. Let no man touch the great interests of humanity, who does
not strive to sanctify himself for the work by cleansing his heart of
all wrath and uncharitableness, who cannot hope that he is in a measure
baptized unto the spirit of universal love. Even sympathy with the
injured and oppressed may do harm, by being partial, exclusive, and
bitterly indignant. How far the declension of the spirit of freedom is
to be ascribed to the cause now suggested I do not say. The effect is
plain, and whoever sees and laments the evil should strive to arrest it.

Slavery ought to be discussed. We ought to think, feel, speak, and write
about it. But whatever we do in regard to it should be done with a deep
feeling of responsibility, and so done as not to put in jeopardy the
peace of the slave-holding States. On this point public opinion has not
been and cannot be too strongly pronounced. Slavery, indeed, from its
very nature, must be a ground of alarm wherever it exists. Slavery and
security can by no device be joined together. But we may not, must not,
by rashness and passion increase the peril. To instigate the slave to
insurrection is a crime for which no rebuke and no punishment can be too
severe. This would be to involve slave and master in common ruin. It is
not enough to say, that the Constitution is violated by any action
endangering the slave-holding portion of our country. A higher law than
the Constitution forbids this unholy interference. Were our national
union dissolved, we ought to reprobate, as sternly as we now do, the
slightest manifestation of a disposition to stir up a servile war. Still
more, were the free and the slave-holding States not only separated, but
engaged in the fiercest hostilities, the former would deserve the
abhorrence of the world, and the indignation of Heaven, were they to
resort to insurrection and massacre as means of victory. Better were it
for us to bare our own breasts to the knife of the slave, than to arm
him with it against his master.

It is not by personal, direct action on the mind of the slave that we
can do him good. Our concern is with the free. With the free we are to
plead his cause. And this is peculiarly our duty, because we have bound
ourselves to resist his efforts for his own emancipation. We suffer him
to do nothing for himself. The more, then, should be done for him. Our
physical power is pledged against him in case of revolt. Then our moral
power should be exerted for his relief. His weakness, which we increase,
gives him a claim to the only aid we can afford, to our moral sympathy,
to the free and faithful exposition of his wrongs. As men, as
Christians, as citizens, we have duties to the slave, as well as to
every other member of the community. On this point we have no liberty.
The Eternal Law binds us to take the side of the injured; and this law
is peculiarly obligatory, when we forbid him to lift an arm in his own
defence.

Let it not be said we can do nothing for the slave. We can do much. We
have a power mightier than armies, the power of truth, of principle, of
virtue, of right, of religion, of love. We have a power, which is
growing with every advance of civilization, before which the slave-trade
has fallen, which is mitigating the sternest despotisms, which is
spreading education through all ranks of society, which is bearing
Christianity to the ends of the earth, which carries in itself the
pledge of destruction to every institution which debases humanity. Who
can measure the power of Christian philanthropy, of enlightened
goodness, pouring itself forth in prayers and persuasions, from the
press and pulpit, from the lips and hearts of devoted men, and more and
more binding together the wise and good in the cause of their race? All
other powers may fail. This must triumph. It is leagued with God's
omnipotence. It is God himself acting in the hearts of his children. It
has an ally in every conscience, in every human breast, in the wrong
doer himself. This spirit has but begun its work on earth. It is
breathing itself more and more through literature, education,
institutions, and opinion. Slavery cannot stand before it. Great moral
principles, pure and generous sentiments, cannot be confined to this or
that spot. They cannot be shut out by territorial lines, or local
legislation. They are divine inspirations, and partake of the
omnipresence of their Author. The deliberate, solemn conviction of good
men through the world, that slavery is a grievous wrong to human nature,
will make itself felt. To increase this moral power is every man's duty.
To embody and express this great truth is in every man's power; and thus
every man can do something to break the chain of the slave.

There are not a few persons, who, from vulgar modes of thinking, cannot
be interested in this subject. Because the slave is a degraded being,
they think slavery a low topic, and wonder how it can excite the
attention and sympathy of those who can discuss or feel for any thing
else. Now the truth is, that slavery, regarded only in a philosophical
light, is a theme worthy of the highest minds. It involves the gravest
questions about human nature and society. It carries us into the
problems which have exercised for ages the highest understandings. It
calls us to inquire into the foundation, nature, and extent of human
rights, into the distinction between a person and a thing, into the true
relations of man and man, into the obligations of the community to each
of its members, into the ground and laws of property, and above all into
the true dignity and indestructible claims of a moral being. I venture
to say, there is no subject, now agitated by the community, which can
compare in philosophical dignity with slavery; and yet to multitudes the
question falls under the same contempt with the slave himself. To many,
a writer seems to lower himself who touches it. The falsely refined, who
want intellectual force to grasp it, pronounce it unworthy of their
notice.

But this subject has more than philosophical dignity. It has an
important bearing on character. Our interest in it is one test by which
our comprehension of the distinctive spirit of Christianity must be
judged. Christianity is the manifestation and inculcation of Universal
Love. The great teaching of Christianity is, that we must recognise and
respect human nature in all its forms, in the poorest, most ignorant,
most fallen. We must look beneath "the flesh," to "the spirit." The
Spiritual principle in man is what entitles him to our brotherly regard.
To be just to this is the great injunction of our religion. To overlook
this, on account of condition or color, is to violate the great
Christian law. We have reason to think that it is one design of God, in
appointing the vast diversities of human condition, to put to the test
and to bring out most distinctly the principle of love. It is wisely
ordered, that human nature is not set before us in a few forms of
beauty, magnificence, and outward glory. To be dazzled and attracted by
these would be no sign of reverence for what is interior and spiritual
in human nature. To lead us to discern and love this, we are brought
into connexion with fellow-creatures, whose outward circumstances are
repulsive. To recognise our own spiritual nature and God's image in
these humble forms, to recognise as brethren those who want all outward
distinctions, is the chief way in which we are to manifest the spirit of
Him, who came to raise the fallen and to save the lost. We see, then,
the moral importance of the question of slavery; according to our
decision of it, we determine our comprehension of the Christian law. He
who cannot see a brother, a child of God, a man possessing all the
rights of humanity under a skin darker than his own, wants the vision
of a Christian. He worships the Outward. The Spirit is not yet revealed
to him. To look unmoved on the degradation and wrongs of a
fellow-creature, because burned by a fiercer sun, proves us strangers to
justice and love, in those universal forms which characterize
Christianity. The greatest of all distinctions, the only enduring one,
is moral goodness, virtue, religion. Outward distinctions cannot add to
the dignity of this. The wealth of worlds is "not sufficient for a
burnt-offering" on its altar. A being capable of this is invested by God
with solemn claims on his fellow-creatures. To exclude millions of such
beings from our sympathy, because of outward disadvantages, proves,
that, in whatever else we surpass them, we are not their superiors in
Christian virtue.

The spirit of Christianity, I have said, is distinguished by
Universality. It is universal justice. It respects all the rights of all
beings. It suffers no being, however obscure, to be wronged, without
condemning the wrong doer. Impartial, uncompromising, fearless, it
screens no favorites, is dazzled by no power, spreads its shield over
the weakest, summons the mightiest to its bar, and speaks to the
conscience in tones, under which the mightiest have quailed. It is also
universal love, comprehending those that are near and those that are far
off, the high and the low, the rich and poor, descending to the fallen,
and especially binding itself to those in whom human nature is trampled
under foot. Such is the spirit of Christianity; and nothing but the
illumination of this spirit can prepare us to pass judgment on slavery.

These remarks are intended to show the spirit in which slavery ought to
be approached, and the point of view from which it will be regarded in
the present discussion. My plan may be briefly sketched.

1. I shall show that man cannot be justly held and used as Property.

2. I shall show that man has sacred and infallible rights, of which
slavery is the infraction.

3. I shall offer some explanations to prevent misapplication of these
principles.

4. I shall unfold the evils of slavery.

5. I shall consider the argument which the Scriptures are thought to
furnish in favor of slavery.

6. I shall offer some remarks on the means of removing it.

7. I shall offer some remarks on abolitionism.

8. I shall conclude with a few reflections on the duties belonging to
the times.

In the first two sections I propose to show that slavery is a great
wrong, but I do not intend to pass sentence on the character of the
slave-holder. These two subjects are distinct. Men are not always to be
interpreted by their acts or institutions. The same acts in different
circumstances admit and even require very different constructions. I
offer this remark, that the subject may be approached without prejudice
or personal reference. The single object is to settle great principles.
Their bearing on individuals will be a subject of distinct
consideration.



CHAPTER I.

PROPERTY.


The slave-holder claims the slave as his Property. The very idea of a
slave is, that he belongs to another, that he is bound to live and labor
for another, to be another's instrument, and to make another's will his
habitual law, however adverse to his own. Another owns him, and of
course has a right to his time and strength, a right to the fruits of
his labor, a right to task him without his consent, and to determine the
kind and duration of his toil, a right to confine him to any bounds, a
right to extort the required work by stripes, a right, in a word, to use
him as a tool, without contract, against his will, and in denial of his
right to dispose of himself or to use his power for his own good. "A
slave," says the Louisiana Code, "is in the power of the master to whom
he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his
industry, his labor; he can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire any
thing, but which must belong to his master." "Slaves shall be deemed,
taken, reputed, and adjudged," say the South Carolina laws, "to be
chattels personal in the hands of their masters, and possessions to all
intents and purposes whatsoever." Such is slavery, a claim to man as
property.

Now this claim of property in a human being is altogether false,
groundless. No such right of man in man can exist. A human being cannot
be justly owned. To hold and treat him as property is to inflict a great
wrong, to incur the guilt of oppression.

This position there is a difficulty in maintaining on account of its
exceeding obviousness. It is too plain for proof. To defend it is like
trying to confirm a self-evident truth. To find arguments is not easy,
because an argument is something clearer than the proposition to be
sustained. The man, who, on hearing the claim to property in man, does
not see and feel distinctly that it is a cruel usurpation, is hardly to
be reached by reasoning, for it is hard to find any plainer principles
than what he begins with denying. I will endeavour, however, to
illustrate the truth which I have stated.


1. It is plain, that, if one man may be held as property, then every
other man may be so held. If there be nothing in human nature, in our
common nature, which excludes and forbids the conversion of him who
possesses it into an article of property; if the right of the free to
liberty is founded, not on their essential attributes as rational and
moral beings, but on certain adventitious, accidental circumstances,
into which they have been thrown; then every human being, by a change of
circumstances, may justly be held and treated by another as property. If
one man may be rightfully reduced to slavery, then there is not a human
being on whom the same chain may not be imposed. Now let every reader
ask himself this plain question: Could I, can I, be rightfully seized,
and made an article of property; be made a passive instrument of
another's will and pleasure; be subjected to another's irresponsible
power; be subjected to stripes at another's will; be denied the control
and use of my own limbs and faculties for my own good? Does any man, so
questioned, doubt, waver, look about him for an answer? Is not the reply
given immediately, intuitively, by his whole inward being? Does not an
unhesitating, unerring conviction spring up in my breast, that no other
man can acquire such a right in myself? Do we not repel indignantly and
with horror the thought of being reduced to the condition of tools and
chattels to a fellow-creature? Is there any moral truth more deeply
rooted in us, than that such a degradation would be an infinite wrong?
And if this impression be a delusion, on what single moral conviction
can we rely? This deep assurance, that we cannot be rightfully made
another's property, does not rest on the hue of our skins, or the place
of our birth, or our strength, or wealth. These things do not enter our
thoughts. The consciousness of indestructible rights is a part of our
moral being. The consciousness of our humanity involves the persuasion,
that we cannot be owned as a tree or a brute. As men we cannot justly be
made slaves. Then no man can be rightfully enslaved. In casting the yoke
from ourselves as an unspeakable wrong, we condemn ourselves as wrong
doers and oppressors in laying it on any who share our nature. It is not
necessary to inquire whether a man, by extreme guilt, may not forfeit
the right of his nature, and be justly punished with slavery. On this
point crude notions prevail. But the discussion would be foreign to the
present subject. We are now not speaking of criminals. We speak of
innocent men, who have given us no hold on them by guilt; and our own
consciousness is a proof, that such cannot rightfully be seized as
property by a fellow-creature.


2. A man cannot be seized and held as property, because he has Rights.
What these rights are, whether few or many, or whether all men have the
same, are questions for future discussion. All that is assumed now is,
that every human being has _some_ rights. This truth cannot be denied,
but by denying to a portion of the race that moral nature which is the
sure and only foundation of rights. This truth has never, I believe,
been disputed. It is even recognised in the very codes of
slave-legislation, which, while they strip a man of liberty, affirm his
right to life, and threaten his murderer with punishment. Now, I say a
being having rights cannot justly be made property; for this claim over
him virtually annuls all his rights. It strips him of all power to
assert them. It makes it a crime to assert them. The very essence of
slavery is, to put a man defenceless into the hands of another. The
right claimed by the master, to task, to force, to imprison, to whip,
and to punish the slave, at discretion, and especially to prevent the
least resistance to his will, is a virtual denial and subversion of all
the rights of the victim of his power. The two cannot stand together.
Can we doubt which of them ought to fall?


3. Another argument against property is to be found in the Essential
Equality of men. I know that this doctrine, so venerable in the eyes of
our fathers, has lately been denied. Verbal logicians have told us that
men are "born equal," only in the sense of being equally born. They have
asked whether all are equally tall, strong, or beautiful; or whether
nature, Procrustes-like, reduces all her children to one standard of
intellect and virtue. By such arguments it is attempted to set aside the
principle of equality, on which the soundest moralists have reared the
structure of social duty; and in these ways the old foundations of
despotic power, which our fathers in their simplicity thought they had
subverted, are laid again by their sons.

It is freely granted, that there are innumerable diversities among men;
but be it remembered, they are ordained to bind men together, and not to
subdue one to the other; ordained to give means and occasions of mutual
aid, and to carry forward each and all, so that the good of all is
equally intended in this distribution of various gifts. Be it also
remembered, that these diversities among men are as nothing in
comparison with the attributes in which they agree, and it is this which
constitutes their essential equality. All men have the same rational
nature, and the same power of conscience, and all are equally made for
indefinite improvement of these divine faculties, and for the happiness
to be found in their virtuous use. Who, that comprehends these gifts,
does not see that the diversities of the race vanish before them? Let it
be added, that the natural advantages, which distinguish one man from
another, are so bestowed as to counterbalance one another, and bestowed
without regard to rank or condition in life. Whoever surpasses in one
endowment is inferior in others. Even genius, the greatest gift, is
found in union with strange infirmities, and often places its possessors
below ordinary men in the conduct of life. Great learning is often put
to shame by the mother-wit and keen good sense of uneducated men.
Nature, indeed, pays no heed to birth or condition in bestowing her
favors. The noblest spirits sometimes grow up in the obscurest spheres.
Thus equal are men; and among these equals, who can substantiate his
claim to make others his property, his tools, the mere instruments of
his private interest and gratification? Let this claim begin, and where
will it stop? If one may assert it, why not all? Among these partakers
of the same rational and moral nature, who can make good a right over
others, which others may not establish over himself? Does he insist on
superior strength of body or mind? Who of us has no superior in one or
the other of these endowments: Is it sure that the slave or the slave's
child may not surpass his master in intellectual energy or in moral
worth? Has nature conferred distinctions which tell us plainly, who
shall be owner? and who be owned? Who of us can unblushingly lift his
head and say that God has written "Master" there? or who can show the
word "Slave" engraven on his brother's brow? The equality of nature
makes slavery a wrong, Nature's seal is affixed to no instrument, by
which property in a single human being is conveyed.


4. That a human being cannot be justly held and used as property is
apparent from the very nature of property. Property is an exclusive,
single right. It shuts out all claim but that of the possessor, What one
man owns cannot belong to another. What, then, is the consequence of
holding a human being as property? Plainly this. He can have no right to
himself. His limbs are, in truth, not morally his own. He has not a
right to his own strength. It belongs to another. His will, intellect,
and muscles, all the powers of body and mind which are exercised in
labor, he is bound to regard as another's. Now, if there be property in
any thing, it is that of a man in his own person, mind, and strength.
All other rights are weak, unmeaning, compared with this, and in denying
this all right is denied. It is true that an individual may forfeit by
crime his right to the use of his limbs, perhaps to his limbs, and even
to life. But the very idea of forfeiture implies that the right was
originally possessed. It is true that a man may by contract give to
another a limited right to his strength. But he gives only because he
possesses it, and gives it for considerations which he deems beneficial
to himself; and the right conferred ceases at once on violation of the
conditions on which it was bestowed. To deny the right of a human being
to himself, to his own limbs and faculties, to his energy of body and
mind, is an absurdity too gross to be confuted by any thing but a simple
statement. Yet this absurdity is involved in the idea of his belonging
to another.


5. We have a plain recognition of the principle now laid down, in the
universal indignation excited towards a man who makes another his slave.
Our laws know no higher crime than that of reducing a man to slavery. To
steal or to buy an African on his own shores is piracy. In this act the
greatest wrong is inflicted, the most sacred right violated. But if a
human being cannot without infinite injustice be seized as property,
then he cannot without equal wrong be held and used as such. The wrong
in the first seizure lies in the destination of a human being to future
bondage, to the criminal use of him as a chattel or brute. Can that very
use, which makes the original seizure an enormous wrong, become
gradually innocent? If the slave receive injury without measure at the
first moment of the outrage, is he less injured by being held fast the
second or the third? Does the duration of wrong, the increase of it by
continuance, convert it into right? It is true, in many cases, that
length of possession is considered as giving a right, where the goods
were acquired by unlawful means. But in these cases the goods were such
as might justly be appropriated to individual use. They were intended by
the Creator to be owned. They fulfil their purpose by passing into the
hands of an exclusive possessor. It is essential to rightful property in
a thing, that the thing from its nature may be rightfully appropriated.
If it cannot originally be made one's own without crime, it certainly
cannot be continued as such without guilt. Now, the ground, on which the
seizure of the African on his own shore is condemned, is, that he is a
Man, who has by his nature a right to be free. Ought not, then, the same
condemnation to light on the continuance of his yoke? Still more. Whence
is it that length of possession is considered by the laws as conferring
a right? I answer, from the difficulty of determining the original
proprietor, and from the apprehension of unsettling all property by
carrying back inquiry beyond a certain time. Suppose, however, an
article of property to be of such a nature that it could bear the name
of the true original owner, stamped on it in bright and indelible
characters. In this case, the whole ground, on which length of
possession bars other claims, would fail. The proprietor would not be
concealed or rendered doubtful by the lapse of time. Would not he, who
should receive such an article from a robber or a succession of robbers,
be involved in their guilt? Now, the true owner of a human being is made
manifest to all. It is Himself. No brand on the slave was ever so
conspicuous as the mark of property which God has set on him. God, in
making him a rational and moral being, has put a glorious stamp on him,
which all the slave-legislation and slave-markets of worlds cannot
efface. Hence no right accrues to the master from the length of the
wrong which has been done to the slave.


6. Another argument against the right of property in man may be drawn
from a very obvious principle of moral science. It is a plain truth,
universally received, that every right supposes or involves a
corresponding Obligation. If, then, a man has a right to another's
person or powers, the latter is under obligation to give himself up as a
chattel to the former. This is his Duty. He is bound to be a slave; and
bound not merely by the Christian law which enjoins submission to
injury, not merely by prudential considerations, or by the claims of
public order and peace; but bound because another has a right of
Ownership, has a Moral claim to him, so that he would be guilty of
dishonesty, of robbery, in withdrawing himself from this other's
service. It is his Duty to work for his master, though all compulsion
were withdrawn; and in deserting him he would commit the crime of taking
away another man's property, as truly as if he were to carry off his
owner's purse. Now, do we not instantly feel, can we help feeling, that
this is false? Is the slave thus morally bound? When the African was
first brought to these shores, would he have violated a solemn
obligation, by slipping his chain, and flying back to his native home?
Would he not have been bound to seize the precious opportunity of
escape? Is the slave under a moral obligation to confine himself, his
wife, and children, to a spot where their union in a moment may be
forcibly dissolved? Ought he not, if he can, to place himself and his
family under the guardianship of equal laws? Should we blame him for
leaving his yoke? Do we not feel, that, in the same condition, a sense
of duty would quicken our flying steps? Where, then, is the obligation
which would necessarily be imposed, if the right existed which the
master claims? The absence of obligation proves the want of the right.
The claim is groundless. It is a cruel wrong.


7. I come now to what is to my own mind the great argument against
seizing and using a man as property. He cannot be property in the sight
of God and justice, because he is a Rational, Moral, Immortal Being;
because created in God's image, and therefore in the highest sense his
child; because created to unfold Godlike faculties, and to govern
himself by a Divine Law written on his heart, and republished in God's
Word. His whole nature forbids that he should be seized as property.
From his very nature it follows, that so to seize him is to offer an
insult to his Maker, and to inflict aggravated social wrong. Into every
human being God has breathed an immortal spirit more precious than the
whole outward creation. No earthly or celestial language can exaggerate
the worth of a human being. No matter how obscure his condition.
Thought, Reason, Conscience, the capacity of Virtue, the capacity of
Christian Love, an Immortal Destiny, an intimate moral connexion with
God,--here are attributes of our common humanity which reduce to
insignificance all outward distinctions, and make every human being
unspeakably dear to his Maker. No matter how ignorant he may be. The
capacity of Improvement allies him to the more instructed of his race,
and places within his reach the knowledge and happiness of higher
worlds. Every human being has in him the germ of the greatest Idea in
the universe, the Idea of God; and to unfold this is the end of his
existence. Every human being has in his breast the elements of that
Divine, Everlasting Law, which the highest orders of the creation obey.
He has the Idea of Duty; and to unfold, revere, obey this is the very
purpose for which life was given. Every human being has the Idea of what
is meant by that word, Truth; that is, he sees, however dimly, the great
object of Divine and created intelligence, and is capable of
ever-enlarging perceptions of Truth. Every human being has affections,
which may be purified and expanded into a Sublime Love. He has, too, the
Idea of Happiness, and a thirst for it which cannot be appeased. Such is
our nature. Wherever we see a man, we see the possessor of these great
capacities. Did God make such a being to be owned as a tree or a brute?
How plainly was he made to exercise, unfold, improve his highest powers,
made for a moral, spiritual good! and how is he wronged, and his Creator
opposed, when he is forced and broken into a tool to another's physical
enjoyment!

Such a being was plainly made for an End in Himself. He is a Person, not
a Thing. He is an End, not a mere Instrument or Means. He was made for
his own virtue and happiness. Is this end reconcilable with his being
held and used as a chattel? The sacrifice of such a being to another's
will, to another's present, outward, ill-comprehended good, is the
greatest violence which can be offered to any creature of God. It is to
degrade him from his rank in the universe, to make him a means, not an
end, to cast him out from God's spiritual family into the brutal herd.

Such a being was plainly made to obey a Law within Himself. This is the
essence of a moral being. He possesses, as a part of his nature, and the
most essential part, a sense of Duty, which he is to reverence and
follow, in opposition to all pleasure or pain, to all interfering human
wills. The great purpose of all good education and discipline is, to
make a man Master of Himself, to excite him to act from a principle in
his own mind, to lead him to propose his own perfection as his supreme
law and end. And is this highest purpose of man's nature to be
reconciled with entire subjection to a foreign will, to an outward,
overwhelming force, which is satisfied with nothing but complete
submission?

The end of such a being as we have described is manifestly Improvement.
Now, it is the fundamental law of our nature, that all our powers are to
improve by free exertion. Action is the indispensable condition of
progress to the intellect, conscience, and heart. Is it not plain, then,
that a human being cannot, without wrong, be owned by another, who
claims, as proprietor, the right to repress the powers of his slaves, to
withhold from them the means of development, to keep them within the
limits which are necessary to contentment in chains, to shut out every
ray of light and every generous sentiment, which may interfere with
entire subjection to his will?

No man, who seriously considers what human nature is, and what it was
made for, can think of setting up a claim to a fellow-creature. What!
own a spiritual being, a being made to know and adore God, and who is to
outlive the sun and stars! What! chain to our lowest uses a being made
for truth and virtue! Convert into a brute instrument that intelligent
nature on which the Idea of Duty has dawned, and which is a nobler type
of God than all outward creation! Should we not deem it a wrong which no
punishment could expiate, were one of our children seized as property,
and driven by the whip to toil? And shall God's child, dearer to him
than an only son to a human parent, be thus degraded? Every thing else
may be owned in the universe; but a moral, rational being cannot be
property. Suns and stars may be owned, but not the lowest spirit. Touch
any thing but this. Lay not your hand on God's rational offspring. The
whole spiritual world cries out, Forbear! The highest intelligences
recognise their own nature, their own rights, in the humblest human
being. By that priceless, immortal spirit which dwells in him, by that
likeness of God which he wears, tread him not in the dust, confound him
not with the brute.

We have thus seen that a human being cannot rightfully be held and used
as property. No legislation, not that of all countries or worlds, could
make him so. Let this be laid down, as a first, fundamental truth. Let
us hold it fast, as a most sacred, precious truth. Let us hold it fast
against all customs, all laws, all rank, wealth, and power. Let it be
armed with the whole authority of the civilized and Christian world.

I have taken it for granted that no reader would be so wanting in moral
discrimination and moral feeling, as to urge that men may rightfully be
seized and held as property, because various governments have so
ordained. What! is human legislation the measure of right? Are God's
laws to be repealed by man's? Can government do no wrong? What is the
history of human governments but a record of wrongs? How much does the
progress of civilization consist in the substitution of just and humane,
for barbarous and oppressive laws? Government, indeed, has ordained
slavery, and to government the individual is in no case to offer
resistance. But criminal legislation ought to be freely and earnestly
exposed. Injustice is never so terrible, and never so corrupting, as
when armed with the sanctions of law. The authority of government,
instead of being a reason for silence under wrongs, is a reason for
protesting against wrong with the undivided energy of argument,
entreaty, and solemn admonition.



CHAPTER II.

RIGHTS.


I now proceed to the second division of the subject. I am to show, that
man has by nature received sacred, inalienable Rights, which are
violated by slavery. Some important principles, which belong to this
head, were necessarily anticipated under the preceding; but they need a
fuller exposition. The whole subject of Rights needs to be reconsidered.
Speculations and reasonings about it have lately been given to the
public, not only false, but dangerous to freedom, and there is a strong
tendency to injurious views. Rights are made to depend on circumstances,
so that pretences may easily be made or created for violating them
successively, till none shall remain. Human rights have been represented
as so modified and circumscribed by men's entrance into the social
state, that only the shadows of them are left. They have been spoken of
as absorbed in the public good; so that a man may be innocently
enslaved, if the public good shall so require. To meet fully all these
errors, for such I hold them, a larger work than the present is
required. The nature of man, his relations to the state, the limits of
civil government, the elements of the public good, and the degree to
which the individual must be surrendered to this good,--these are the
topics which the present subject involves. I cannot enter into them
particularly, but shall lay down what seem to me the great and true
principles in regard to them. I shall show that man has rights from his
very nature, not the gifts of society, but of God; that they are not
surrendered on entering the social state; that they must not be taken
away under the plea of public good; that the Individual is never to be
sacrificed to the Community; that the Idea of Rights is to prevail above
all the interests of the State.

Man has rights by nature. The disposition of some to deride abstract
rights, as if all rights were uncertain, mutable, and conceded by
society, shows a lamentable ignorance of human nature. Whoever
understands this must see in it an immovable foundation of rights. These
are gifts of the Creator, not grants of society. In the order of things,
they precede society, lie at its foundation, constitute man's capacity
for it, and are the great objects of social institutions. The
consciousness of rights is not a creation of human art, a conventional
sentiment, but essential to and inseparable from the human soul.

Man's rights belong to him as a Moral Being, as capable of perceiving
moral distinctions, as a subject of moral obligation. As soon as he
becomes conscious of Duty, a kindred consciousness springs up, that he
has a Right to do what the sense of duty enjoins, and that no foreign
will or power can obstruct his moral action without crime. He feels that
the sense of duty was given to him as a Law, that it makes him
responsible for himself, that to exercise, unfold, and obey it is the
end of his being, and that he has a right to exercise and obey it
without hindrance or opposition. A consciousness of dignity, however
obscure, belongs also to this divine principle; and though he may want
words to do justice to his thoughts, he feels that he has that within
him which makes him essentially equal to all around him.

The sense of duty is the fountain of human rights. In other words, the
same inward principle, which teaches the former, bears witness to the
latter. Duties and Rights must stand or fall together. It has been too
common to oppose them to one another; but they are indissolubly joined
together. That same inward principle, which teaches a man what he is
bound to do to others, teaches equally, and at the same instant, what
others are bound to do to _him_. That same voice, which forbids him to
injure a single fellow-creature, forbids every fellow-creature to do
_him_ harm. His conscience, in revealing the moral law, does not reveal
a law for himself only, but speaks as an Universal Legislator. He has an
intuitive conviction, that the obligations of this divine code press on
others as truly as on himself. That principle, which teaches him that he
sustains the relation of brotherhood to all human beings, teaches him
that this relation is reciprocal, that it gives indestructible claims as
well as imposes solemn duties, and that what he owes to the members of
this vast family, they owe to him in return. Thus the moral nature
involves rights. These enter into its very essence. They are taught by
the very voice which enjoins duty. Accordingly there is no deeper
principle in human nature than the consciousness of rights. So profound,
so ineradicable is this sentiment, that the oppressions of ages have no
where wholly stifled it.

Having shown the foundation of human rights in human nature, it may be
asked what they are. Perhaps they do not admit very accurate definition
any more than human duties; for the Spiritual cannot be weighed and
measured like the Material. Perhaps a minute criticism may find fault
with the most guarded exposition of them; but they may easily be stated
in language which the unsophisticated mind will recognise as the truth.
Volumes could not do justice to them; and yet perhaps they may be
comprehended in one sentence. They may all be comprised in the Right,
which belongs to every rational being, to exercise his powers for the
promotion of his own and others' Happiness and Virtue. These are the
great purposes of his existence. For these his powers were given, and to
these he is bound to devote them. He is bound to make himself and others
better and happier, according to his ability. His ability for this work
is a sacred trust from God, the greatest of all trusts. He must answer
for the waste or abuse of it. He consequently suffers an unspeakable
wrong, when stripped of it by others, or forbidden to employ it for the
ends for which it is given; when the powers which God has given for such
generous uses are impaired or destroyed by others, or the means for
their action and growth are forcibly withheld. As every human being is
bound to employ his faculties for his own and others' good, there is an
obligation on each to leave all free for the accomplishment of this end;
and whoever respects this obligation, whoever uses his own, without
invading others' powers, or obstructing others' duties, has a sacred,
indefeasible right to be unassailed, unobstructed, unharmed by all with
whom he may be connected. Here is the grand, all-comprehending right of
human nature. Every man should revere it, should assert it for himself
and for all, and should bear solemn testimony against every infraction
of it, by whomsoever made or endured.

Having considered the great fundamental right of human nature,
particular rights may easily be deduced. Every man has a right to
exercise and invigorate his intellect or the power of knowledge, for
knowledge is the essential condition of successful effort for every
good; and whoever obstructs or quenches the intellectual life in another
inflicts a grievous and irreparable wrong. Every man has a right to
inquire into his duty, and to conform himself to what he learns of it.
Every man has a right to use the means, given by God and sanctioned by
virtue, for bettering his condition. He has a right to be respected
according to his moral worth; a right to be regarded as a member of the
community to which he belongs, and to be protected by impartial laws;
and a right to be exempted from coercion, stripes, and punishment, as
long as he respects the rights of others. He has a right to an
equivalent for his labor. He has a right to sustain domestic relations,
to discharge their duties, and to enjoy the happiness which flows from
fidelity in these and other domestic relations. Such are a few of human
rights; and if so, what a grievous wrong is slavery!

Perhaps nothing has done more to impair the sense of the reality and
sacredness of human rights, and to sanction oppression, than loose
ideas as to the change made in man's natural rights by his entrance
into civil society. It is commonly said that men part with a portion of
these by becoming a community, a body politic; that government consists
of powers surrendered by the individual; and it is said, "If certain
rights and powers may be surrendered, why not others? why not all? What
limit is to be set? The good of the community, to which a part is given
up, may demand the whole; and in this good, all private rights are
merged." This is the logic of despotism. We are grieved, that it finds
its way into republics, and that it sets down the great principles of
freedom as abstractions and metaphysical theories, good enough for the
cloister, but too refined for practical and real life.

Human rights, however, are not to be so reasoned away. They belong, as
we have seen, to man as a moral being, and nothing can divest him of
them but the destruction of his nature. They are not to be given up to
society as a prey. On the contrary, the great end of civil society is to
secure them. The great end of government is to repress _all wrong_. Its
highest function is to protect the weak against the powerful, so that
the obscurest human being may enjoy his rights in peace. Strange that an
institution, built on the idea of Rights, should be used to unsettle
this idea, to confuse our moral perceptions, to sanctify wrongs as means
of general good.

It is said that in forming civil society the individual surrenders a
part of his rights. It would be more proper to say that he adopts new
modes of securing them. He consents, for example, to desist from
self-defence, that he and all may be more effectually defended by the
public force. He consents to submit his cause to an umpire or tribunal,
that justice may be more impartially awarded, and that he and all may
more certainly receive their due. He consents to part with a portion of
his property in taxation, that his own and others' property may be the
more secure. He submits to certain restraints, that he and others may
enjoy more enduring freedom. He expects an equivalent for what he
relinquishes, and insists on it as his right. He is wronged by partial
laws, which compel him to contribute to the state beyond his proportion,
his ability, and the measure of benefits which he receives. How absurd
is it to suppose, that by consenting to be protected by the state, and
by yielding it the means, he surrenders the very rights which were the
objects of his accession to the social compact!

The authority of the state to impose laws on its members I cheerfully
allow; but this has limits, which are found to be more and more narrow
in proportion to the progress of moral science. The state is equally
restrained with individuals by the moral law. For example, it may not,
must not on any account, put an innocent man to death, or require of
him a dishonorable or criminal service. It may demand allegiance, but
only on the ground of the protection it affords. It may levy taxes, but
only because it takes all property and all interests under its shield.
It may pass laws, but only impartial ones, framed for the whole and not
for the few. It must not seize by a special act the property of the
humblest individual, without making him an equivalent. It must regard
every man, over whom it extends its authority, as a vital part of
itself, as entitled to its care and to its provisions for liberty and
happiness. If, in an emergency, its safety, which is the interest of
each and all, may demand the imposition of peculiar restraints on one or
many, it is bound to limit these restrictions to the precise point which
its safety prescribes, to remove the necessity of them as far and as
fast as possible, to compensate by peculiar protection such as it
deprives of the ordinary means of protecting themselves, and, in
general, to respect and provide for liberty in the very acts which for a
time restrain it. The idea of Rights, I repeat it, should be fundamental
and supreme in civil institutions. Government becomes a nuisance and
scourge, in proportion as it sacrifices these to the many or the few.
Government, I repeat it, is equally bound with the individual by the
moral law. The ideas of Justice and Rectitude, of what is due to man
from his fellow-creatures, of the claims of every moral being, are far
deeper and more primitive than Civil Polity. Government, far from
originating them, owes to them its strength. Right is older than human
law. Law ought to be its voice. It should be built on and should
correspond to the principle of justice in the human breast, and its
weakness is owing to nothing more than to its clashing with our
indestructible moral convictions.

That government is most perfect, in which Policy is most entirely
subjected to Justice, or in which the supreme and constant aim is to
secure the rights of every human being. This is the beautiful idea of a
free government, and no government is free but in proportion as it
realizes this. Liberty must not be confounded with popular institutions.
A representative government may be as despotic as an absolute monarchy.
In as far as it tramples on the rights, whether of many or one, it is a
despotism. The sovereign power, whether wielded by a single hand or
several hands, by a king or a congress, which spoils one human being of
the immunities and privileges bestowed on him by God, is so far a
tyranny. The great argument in favor of representative institutions is,
that a people's rights are safest in their own hands, and should never
be surrendered to an irresponsible power. Rights, Rights, lie at the
foundation of a popular government; and when this betrays them, the
wrong is more aggravated than when they are crushed by despotism.

Still the question will be asked, "Is not the General Good the supreme
law of the state? Are not all restraints on the individual just, which
this demands? When the rights of the individual clash with this, must
they not yield? Do they not, indeed, cease to be rights? Must not every
thing give place to the General Good?" I have started this question in
various forms, because I deem it worthy of particular examination.
Public and private morality, the freedom and safety of our national
institutions, are greatly concerned in settling the claims of the
"General Good." In monarchies, the Divine Right of kings swallowed up
all others. In republics the General Good threatens the same evil. It is
a shelter for the abuses and usurpations of government, for the
profligacies of statesmen, for the vices of parties, for the wrongs of
slavery. In considering this subject, I take the hazard of repeating
principles already laid down; but this will be justified by the
importance of reaching and determining the truth. Is the General Good,
then, the supreme law to which every thing must bow?

This question may be settled at once by proposing another. Suppose the
Public Good to require that a number of the members of a state, no
matter how few, should perjure themselves, or should disclaim their
faith in God and virtue. Would their right to follow conscience and God
be annulled? Would they be bound to sin? Suppose a conqueror to menace a
state with ruin, unless its members should insult their parents, and
stain themselves with crimes at which nature revolts? Must the Public
Good prevail over purity and our holiest affections? Do we not all feel,
that there are higher goods than even the safety of the state? That
there is a higher law than that of mightiest empires? That the idea of
Rectitude is deeper in human nature than that of private or public
interest? And that this is to bear sway over all private and public
acts?

The supreme law of a state is not its safety, its power, its prosperity,
its affluence, the flourishing state of agriculture, commerce, and the
arts. These objects, constituting what is commonly called the Public
Good, are, indeed, proposed, and ought to be proposed, in the
constitution and administration of states. But there is a higher law,
even Virtue, Rectitude, the Voice of Conscience, the Will of God.
Justice is a greater good than property, not greater in degree, but in
kind. Universal benevolence is infinitely superior to prosperity.
Religion, the love of God, is worth incomparably more than all his
outward gifts. A community, to secure or aggrandize itself, must never
forsake the Right, the Holy, the Just.

Moral Good, Rectitude in all its branches, is the Supreme Good; by
which I do not intend that it is the surest means to the security and
prosperity of the state. Such, indeed, it is, but this is too low a
view. It must not be looked upon as a Means, an Instrument. It is the
Supreme End, and states are bound to subject to it all their
legislation, be the apparent loss of prosperity ever so great. National
wealth is not the End. It derives all its worth from national virtue. If
accumulated by rapacity, conquest, or any degrading means, or if
concentrated in the hands of the few, whom it strengthens to crush the
many, it is a curse. National wealth is a blessing, only when it springs
from and represents the intelligence and virtue of the community, when
it is a fruit and expression of good habits, of respect for the rights
of all, of impartial and beneficent legislation, when it gives impulse
to the higher faculties, and occasion and incitement to justice and
beneficence. No greater calamity can befall a people than to prosper by
crime. No success can be a compensation for the wound inflicted on a
nation's mind by renouncing Right as its Supreme Law.

Let a people exalt Prosperity above Rectitude, and a more dangerous end
cannot be proposed. Public Prosperity, General Good, regarded by itself,
or apart from the moral law, is something vague, unsettled, and
uncertain, and will infallibly be so construed by the selfish and
grasping as to secure their own aggrandizement. It may be made to wear a
thousand forms according to men's interests and passions. This is
illustrated by every day's history. Not a party springs up, which does
not sanctify all its projects for monopolizing power by the plea of
General Good. Not a measure, however ruinous, can be proposed, which
cannot be shown to favor one or another national interest. The truth is,
that, in the uncertainty of human affairs, an uncertainty growing out of
the infinite and very subtile causes which are acting on communities,
the consequences of no measure can be foretold with certainty. The best
concerted schemes of policy often fail; whilst a rash and profligate
administration may, by unexpected concurrences of events, seem to
advance a nation's glory. In regard to the means of national prosperity
the wisest are weak judges. For example, the present rapid growth of
this country, carrying, as it does, vast multitudes beyond the
institutions of religion and education, may be working ruin, whilst the
people exult in it as a pledge of greatness. We are too short-sighted to
find our law in outward interests. To states, as to individuals,
Rectitude is the Supreme Law. It was never designed that the Public
Good, as disjoined from this, as distinct from justice and reverence for
all rights, should be comprehended and made our end. Statesmen work in
the dark, until the idea of Right towers above expediency or wealth. Wo
to that people which would found its prosperity in wrong! It is time
that the low maxims of policy, which have ruled for ages, should fall.
It is time that Public Interest should no longer hallow injustice, and
fortify government in making the weak their prey.

In this discussion, I have used the phrase, Public or General Good, in
its common acceptation, as signifying the safety and prosperity of a
state. Why can it not be used in a larger sense? Why can it not be made
to comprehend inward and moral, as well as outward good? And why cannot
the former be understood to be incomparably the most important element
of the public weal? Then, indeed, I should assent to the proposition,
that the General Good is the supreme law. So construed, it would support
the great truths which I have maintained. It would condemn the
infliction of wrong on the humblest individual, as a national calamity.
It would plead with us to extend to every individual the means of
improving his character and lot.

If the remarks under this head be just, it will follow that the good of
the Individual is more important than the outward prosperity of the
State. The former is not vague and unsettled, like the latter, and it
belongs to a higher order of interests. It consists of the free
exertion and expansion of the individual's powers, especially of his
higher faculties; in the energy of his intellect, conscience, and good
affections; in sound judgment; in the acquisition of truth; in laboring
honestly for himself and his family; in loving his Creator, and
subjecting his own will to the Divine; in loving his fellow-creatures,
and making cheerful sacrifices to their happiness; in friendship; in
sensibility to the beautiful, whether in nature or art; in loyalty to
his principles; in moral courage; in self-respect; in understanding and
asserting his rights; and in the Christian hope of immortality. Such is
the good of the Individual; a more sacred, exalted, enduring interest,
than any accessions of wealth or power to the State. Let it not be
sacrificed to these. He should find, in his connexions with the
community, aids to the accomplishment of these purposes of his being,
and not be chained and subdued by it to the inferior interests of any
fellow-creature.

In all ages the Individual has in one form or another been trodden in
the dust. In monarchies and aristocracies he has been sacrificed to One
or to the Few; who, regarding government as an heirloom in their
families, and thinking of the people as made only to live and die for
their glory, have not dreamed that the sovereign power was designed to
shield every man, without exception, from wrong. In the ancient
Republics, the Glory of the State, especially Conquest, was the end to
which the individual was expected to offer himself a victim, and in
promoting which no cruelty was to be declined, no human right revered.
He was merged in a great whole, called the Commonwealth, to which his
whole nature was to be immolated. It was the glory of the American
people, that in their Declaration of Independence they took the ground
of the indestructible rights of every human being. They declared all men
to be essentially equal, and each born to be free. They did not, like
the Greek or Roman, assert for themselves a liberty, which they burned
to wrest from other states. They spoke in the name of humanity, as the
representatives of the rights of the feeblest, as well as mightiest, of
their race. They published universal, everlasting principles, which are
to work out the deliverance of every human being. Such was their glory.
Let not the idea of Rights be erased from their children's minds by
false ideas of public good. Let not the sacredness of individual man be
forgotten in the feverish pursuit of property. It is more important that
the Individual should respect himself, and be respected by others, than
that the wealth of both worlds should be accumulated on our shores.
National wealth is not the end of society. It may exist where large
classes are depressed and wronged. It may undermine a nation's spirit,
institutions, and independence. It can have no value and no sure
foundation, until the Supremacy of the Rights of the Individual is the
first article of a nation's faith, and until reverence for them becomes
the spirit of public men.

Perhaps it will be replied to all which has now been said, that there is
an argument from experience, which invalidates the doctrines of this
section. It may be said, that human rights, notwithstanding what has
been said of their sacredness, do and must yield to the exigencies of
real life, that there is often a stern necessity in human affairs to
which they bow. I may be asked, whether, in the history of nations,
circumstances do not occur, in which the rigor of the principles, now
laid down, must be relaxed? Whether, in seasons of imminent peril to the
state, private rights must not give way? I may be asked, whether the
establishment of martial law and a dictator has not sometimes been
justified and demanded by public danger, and whether, of course, the
rights and liberties of the individual are not held at the discretion of
the state. I admit, in reply, that extreme cases may occur, in which the
exercise of rights and freedom may be suspended; but suspended only for
their ultimate and permanent security. At such times, when the frantic
fury of the many, or the usurpations of the few interrupt the
administration of law, and menace property and life, society, threatened
with ruin, puts forth instinctively spasmodic efforts for its own
preservation. It flies to an irresponsible dictator for its protection.
But in these cases, the great idea of Rights predominates amidst their
apparent subversion. A power above all laws is conferred, only that the
empire of law may be restored. Despotic restraints are imposed only that
liberty may be rescued from ruin. All rights are involved in the safety
of the state; and hence, in the cases referred to, the safety of the
state becomes the supreme law. The individual is bound for a time to
forego his freedom for the salvation of institutions, without which
liberty is but a name. To argue from such sacrifices that he may be
permanently made a slave, is as great an insult to reason as to
humanity. It may be added, that sacrifices, which may be demanded for
the safety, are not due from the individual to the prosperity of the
state. The great end of civil society is to secure rights, not
accumulate wealth; and to merge the former in the latter is to turn
political union into degradation and a scourge. The community is bound
to take the rights of each and all under its guardianship. It must
substantiate its claim to universal obedience by redeeming its pledge of
universal protection. It must immolate no man to the prosperity of the
rest. Its laws should be made for all, its tribunals opened to all. It
cannot without guilt abandon any of its members to private oppression,
to irresponsible power.

We have thus established the reality and sacredness of human rights;
and that slavery is an infraction of these is too plain to need any
labored proof. Slavery violates not one, but all; and violates them not
incidentally, but necessarily, systematically, from its very nature. In
starting with the assumption that the slave is property, it sweeps away
every defence of human rights and lays them in the dust. Were it
necessary I might enumerate them, and show how all fall before this
terrible usurpation; but a few remarks will suffice.

Slavery strips man of the fundamental right to inquire into, consult,
and seek his own happiness. His powers belong to another, and for
another they must be used. He must form no plans, engage in no
enterprises, for bettering his condition. Whatever be his capacities,
however equal to great improvements of his lot, he is chained for life
by another's will to the same unvaried toil. He is forbidden to do for
himself or others the work, for which God stamped him with his own
image, and endowed him with his own best gifts.--Again, the slave is
stripped of the right to acquire property. Being himself owned, his
earnings belong to another. He can possess nothing but by favor. That
right on which the development of men's powers so much depends, the
right to make accumulations, to gain exclusive possessions by honest
industry, is withheld. "The slave can acquire nothing," says one of the
slave-codes, "but what must belong to his master;" and however this
definition, which moves the indignation of the free, may be mitigated by
favor, the spirit of it enters into the very essence of slavery.--Again,
the slave is stripped of his right to his wife and children. They belong
to another, and may be torn from him, one and all, at any moment, at his
master's pleasure.--Again, the slave is stripped of the right to the
culture of his rational powers. He is in some cases deprived by law of
instruction, which is placed within his reach by the improvements of
society and the philanthropy of the age. He is not allowed to toil, that
his children may enjoy a better education than himself. The most sacred
right of human nature, that of developing his best faculties, is denied.
Even should it be granted, it would be conceded as a favor, and might at
any moment be withheld by the capricious will of another.--Again, the
slave is deprived of the right of self-defence. No injury from a white
man is he suffered to repel, nor can he seek redress from the laws of
his country. If accumulated insult and wrong provoke him to the
slightest retaliation, this effort for self-protection, allowed and
commended to others, is a crime for which he must pay a fearful
penalty.--Again, the slave is stripped of the right to be exempted from
all harm except for wrong doing. He is subjected to the lash, by those
whom he has never consented to serve, and whose claim to him as property
we have seen to be a usurpation; and this power of punishment, which, if
justly claimed, should be exercised with a fearful care, is often
delegated to men in whose hands there is a moral certainty of its abuse.

I will add but one more example of the violation of human rights by
slavery. The slave virtually suffers the wrong of robbery, though with
utter unconsciousness on the part of those who inflict it. It may,
indeed, be generally thought, that, as he is suffered to own nothing, he
cannot fall, at least, under this kind of violence. But it is not true
that he owns nothing. Whatever he may be denied by man, he holds from
nature the most valuable property, and that from which all other is
derived, I mean his strength. His labor is his own, by the gift of that
God who nerved his arm, and gave him intelligence and conscience to
direct the use of it for his own and others' happiness. No possession is
so precious as a man's force of body and mind. The exertion of this in
labor is the great foundation and source of property in outward things.
The worth of articles of traffic is measured by the labor expended in
their production. To the great mass of men, in all countries, their
strength or labor is their whole fortune. To seize on this would be to
rob them of their all. In truth, no robbery is so great as that to which
the slave is habitually subjected. To take by force a man's whole
estate, the fruit of years of toil, would by universal consent be
denounced as a great wrong; but what is this, compared with seizing the
man himself, and appropriating to our use the limbs, faculties,
strength, and labor, by which all property is won and held fast? The
right of property in outward things is as nothing, compared with our
right to ourselves. Were the slave-holder stript of his fortune, he
would count the violence slight, compared with what he would suffer,
were his person seized and devoted as a chattel to another's use. Let it
not be said that the slave receives an equivalent, that he is fed and
clothed, and is not, therefore, robbed. Suppose another to wrest from us
a valued possession, and to pay us his own price. Should we not think
ourselves robbed? Would not the laws pronounce the invader a robber? Is
it consistent with the right of property, that a man should determine
the equivalent for what he takes from his neighbour? Especially is it to
be hoped, that the equivalent due to the laborer will be scrupulously
weighed, when he himself is held as property, and all his earnings are
declared to be his master's? So great an infraction of human right is
slavery!

In reply to these remarks, it may be said that the theory and practice
of slavery differ; that the rights of the slave are not as wantonly
sported with as the claims of the master might lead us to infer; that
some of his possessions are sacred; that not a few slave-holders refuse
to divorce husband and wife, to sever parent and child; and that in many
cases the power of punishment is used so reluctantly, as to encourage
insolence and insubordination. All this I have no disposition to deny.
Indeed it must be so. It is not in human nature to wink wholly out of
sight the rights of a fellow-creature. Degrade him as we may, we cannot
altogether forget his claims. In every slave-country, there are,
undoubtedly, masters who desire and purpose to respect these, to the
full extent which the nature of the relation will allow. Still, human
rights are denied. They lie wholly at another's mercy; and we must have
studied history in vain, if we need be told that they will be
continually the prey of this absolute power.--The Evils involved in and
flowing from the denial and infraction of the rights of the slave will
form the subject of a subsequent chapter.



CHAPTER III.

EXPLANATIONS.


I have endeavoured to show in the preceding sections that slavery is a
violation of sacred rights, the infliction of a great wrong. And here a
question arises. It may be asked, whether, by this language, I intend to
fasten on the slave-holder the charge of peculiar guilt. On this point
great explicitness is a duty. Sympathy with the slave has often
degenerated into injustice towards the master. I wish it, then, to be
understood, that, in ranking slavery among the greatest wrongs, I speak
of the injury endured by the slave, and not of the character of the
master. These are distinct points. The former does not determine the
latter. The wrong is the same to the slave, from whatever motive or
spirit it may be inflicted. But this motive or spirit determines wholly
the character of him who inflicts it. Because a great injury is done to
another, it does not follow that he who does it is a depraved man; for
he may do it unconsciously, and, still more, may do it in the belief
that he confers a good. We have learned little of moral science and of
human nature, if we do not know that guilt is to be measured, not by the
outward act, but by unfaithfulness to conscience; and that the
consciences of men are often darkened by education, and other
inauspicious influences. All men have partial consciences, or want
comprehension of some duties. All partake, in a measure, of the errors
of the community in which they live. Some are betrayed into moral
mistakes by the very force with which conscience acts in regard to some
particular duty. As the intellect, in grasping one truth, often loses
its hold of others, and by giving itself up to one idea, falls into
exaggeration; so the moral sense, in seizing on a particular exercise of
philanthropy, forgets other duties, and will even violate many important
precepts in its passionate eagerness to carry one to perfection.
Innumerable illustrations may be given of the liableness of men to moral
error. The practice, which strikes one man with horror, may seem to
another, who was born and brought up in the midst of it, not only
innocent, but meritorious. We must judge others, not by our light, but
by their own. We must take their place, and consider what allowance we
in their position might justly expect. Our ancestors at the North were
concerned in the slave-trade. Some of us can recollect individuals of
the colored race, who were torn from Africa, and grew old under our
parental roofs. Our ancestors committed a deed now branded as piracy.
Were they, therefore, the offscouring of the earth? Were not some of
them among the best of their times? The administration of religion in
almost all past ages has been a violation of the sacred rights of
conscience. How many sects have persecuted and shed blood! Were their
members, therefore, monsters of depravity? The history of our race is
made up of wrongs, many of which were committed without a suspicion of
their true character, and many from an urgent sense of duty. A man born
among slaves, accustomed to this relation from his birth, taught its
necessity by venerated parents, associating it with all whom he reveres,
and too familiar with its evils to see and feel their magnitude, can
hardly he expected to look on slavery as it appears to more impartial
and distant observers? Let it not be said that when new light is offered
him he is criminal in rejecting it. Are we all willing to receive new
light? Can we wonder that such a man should be slow to be convinced of
the criminality of an abuse sanctioned by prescription, and which has so
interwoven itself with all the habits, employments, and economy of life,
that he can hardly conceive of the existence of society without this
all-pervading element? May he not be true to his convictions of duty in
other relations, though he grievously err in this? If, indeed, through
cupidity and selfishness, he stifle the monitions of conscience, warp
his judgment, and repel the light, he incurs great guilt. If he want
virtue to resolve on doing right, though at the loss of every slave, he
incurs great guilt. But who of us can look into his heart? To whom are
the secret workings there revealed?

Still more. There are masters who have thrown off the natural prejudices
of their position, who see slavery as it is, and who hold the slave
chiefly, if not wholly, from disinterested considerations; and these
deserve great praise. They deplore and abhor the institution; but
believing that partial emancipation, in the present condition of
society, would bring unmixed evil on bond and free, they think
themselves bound to continue the relation, until it shall be dissolved
by comprehensive and systematic measures of the state. There are many of
them who would shudder as much as we at reducing a freeman to bondage,
but who are appalled by what seem to them the perils and difficulties of
liberating multitudes, born and brought up to that condition. There are
many, who, nominally holding the slave as property, still hold him for
his own good and for the public order, and would blush to retain him on
other grounds. Are such men to be set down among the unprincipled? Am I
told that by these remarks I extenuate slavery? I reply, slavery is
still a heavy yoke, and strips man of his dearest rights, be the
master's character what it may. Slavery is not less a curse, because
long use may have blinded most, who support it, to its evils. Its
influence is still blighting, though conscientiously upheld. Absolute
monarchy is still a scourge, though among despots there have been good
men. It is possible to abhor and oppose bad institutions, and yet to
abstain from indiscriminate condemnation of those who cling to them, and
even to see in their ranks greater virtue than in ourselves. It is true,
and ought to be cheerfully acknowledged, that in the slave-holding
States may be found some of the greatest names of our history, and, what
is still more important, bright examples of private virtue and Christian
love.

There is, however, there must be, in slaveholding communities a large
class which cannot be too severely condemned. There are many, we fear,
very many, who hold their fellow-creatures in bondage, from selfish,
base motives. They hold the slave for gain, whether justly or unjustly
they neither ask nor care. They cling to him as property, and have no
faith in the principles which will diminish a man's wealth. They hold
him, not for his own good or the safety of the state, but with precisely
the same views with which they hold a laboring horse, that is, for the
profit which they can wring from him. They will not hear a word of his
wrongs; for, wronged or not, they will not let him go. He is their
property, and they mean not to be poor for righteousness' sake. Such a
class there undoubtedly is among slaveholders; how large their own
consciences must determine. We are sure of it; for under such
circumstances human nature will and must come to this mournful result.
Now, to men of this spirit, the explanations we have made do in no
degree apply. Such men ought to tremble before the rebukes of outraged
humanity and indignant virtue. Slavery, upheld for gain, is a great
crime. He, who has nothing to urge against emancipation, but that it
will make him poorer, is bound to Immediate Emancipation. He has no
excuse for wresting from his brethren their rights. The plea of benefit
to the slave and the state avails him nothing. He extorts, by the lash,
that labor to which he has no claim, through a base selfishness. Every
morsel of food, thus forced from the injured, ought to be bitterer than
gall. His gold is cankered. The sweat of the slave taints the luxuries
for which it streams. Better were it for the selfish wrong doer of whom
I speak, to live as the slave, to clothe himself in the slave's raiment,
to eat the slave's coarse food, to till his fields with his own hands,
than to pamper himself by day, and pillow his head on down at night, at
the cost of a wantonly injured fellow-creature. No fellow-creature can
be so injured without taking terrible vengeance. He is terribly avenged
even now. The blight which falls on the soul of the wrong doer, the
desolation of his moral nature, is a more terrible calamity than he
inflicts. In deadening his moral feelings, he dies to the proper
happiness of a man. In hardening his heart against his fellow-creatures,
he sears it to all true joy. In shutting his ear against the voice of
justice, he shuts out all the harmonies of the universe, and turns the
voice of God within him into rebuke. He may prosper, indeed, and hold
faster the slave by whom he prospers; but he rivets heavier and more
ignominious chains on his own soul than he lays on others. No punishment
is so terrible as prosperous guilt. No fiend, exhausting on us all his
power of torture, is so terrible as an oppressed fellow-creature. The
cry of the oppressed, unheard on earth, is heard in heaven. God is just,
and if justice reign, then the unjust must terribly suffer. Then no
being can profit by evil doing. Then all the laws of the universe are
ordinances against guilt. Then every enjoyment, gained by wrong doing,
will be turned into a curse. No laws of nature are so irrepealable as
that law which binds guilt and misery. God is just. Then all the
defences, which the oppressor rears against the consequences of wrong
doing, are vain, as vain as would be his strivings to arrest by his
single arm the ocean or whirlwind. He may disarm the slave. Can he
disarm that slave's Creator? He can crush the spirit of insurrection in
a fellow-being. Can he crush the awful spirit of justice and retribution
in the Almighty? He can still the murmur of discontent in his victim.
Can he silence that voice which speaks in thunder, and is to break the
sleep of the grave? Can he always still the reproving, avenging voice in
his own breast?

I know it will be said, "You would make us poor." Be poor, then, and
thank God for your honest poverty. Better be poor than unjust. Better
beg than steal. Better live in an almshouse, better die, than trample on
a fellow-creature and reduce him to a brute, for selfish gratification.
What! Have we yet to learn that "it profits us nothing to gain the whole
world, and lose our souls?"

Let it not be replied, in scorn, that we of the North, notorious for
love of money, and given to selfish calculations, are not the people to
call others to resign their wealth. I have no desire to shield the
North. We have, without doubt, a great multitude, who, were they
slave-holders, would sooner die than relax their iron grasp, than yield
their property in men to justice and the commands of God. We have those
who would fight against abolition, if by this measure the profit of
their intercourse with the South should be materially impaired. The
present excitement among us is, in part, the working of mercenary
principles. But because the North joins hands with the South, shall
iniquity go unpunished or unrebuked? Can the league of the wicked, the
revolt of worlds, repeal the everlasting law of heaven and earth? Has
God's throne fallen before Mammon's? Must duty find no voice, no organ,
because corruption is universally diffused? Is not this a fresh motive
to solemn warning, that, every where, Northward and Southward, the
rights of human beings are held so cheap, in comparison with worldly
gain?



CHAPTER IV.

THE EVILS OF SLAVERY.


The subject of this section is painful and repulsive. We must not,
however, turn away from the contemplation of human sufferings and guilt.
Evil is permitted by the Creator, that we should strive against it in
faith, and hope, and charity. We must never quail before it because of
its extent and duration, never feel as if its power were greater than
that of goodness. It is meant to call forth deep sympathy with human
nature, and unwearied sacrifices for human redemption. One great part of
the mission of every man on earth is to contend with evil in some of its
forms; and there are some evils so dependent on opinion, that every man,
in judging and reproving them faithfully, does something towards their
removal. Let us not, then, shrink from the contemplation of human
sufferings. Even sympathy, if we have nothing more to offer, is a
tribute acceptable to the Universal Father.--On this topic exaggeration
should be conscientiously shunned; and, at the same time, humanity
requires that the whole truth should be honestly spoken.

In treating of the evils of slavery, I, of course, speak of its general,
not universal effects, of its natural tendencies, not unfailing results.
There are the same natural differences among the bond as the free, and
there is a great diversity in the circumstances in which they are
placed. The house-slave, selected for ability and faithfulness, placed
amidst the habits, accommodations, and improvements of civilized life,
admitted to a degree of confidence and familiarity, and requiting these
privileges with attachment, is almost necessarily more enlightened and
respectable than the field-slave, who is confined to monotonous toils,
and to the society and influences of beings as degraded as himself. The
mechanics in this class are sensibly benefited by occupations which give
a higher action to the mind. Among the bond, as the free, will be found
those to whom nature seems partial, and who are carried almost
instinctively towards what is good. I speak of the natural, general
influences of slavery. Here, as every where else, there are exceptions
to the rule, and exceptions which multiply with the moral improvements
of the community in which the slave is found. But these do not determine
the general character of the institution. It has general tendencies
founded in its very nature, and which predominate vastly wherever it
exists. These tendencies it is my present purpose to unfold.


1. The first rank among the evils of slavery must be given to its Moral
influence. This is throughout debasing. Common language teaches this. We
can say nothing more insulting of another, than that he is Slavish. To
possess the spirit of a slave is to have sunk to the lowest depths. We
can apply to slavery no worse name than its own. Men have always shrunk
instinctively from this state, as the most degraded. No punishment, save
death, has been more dreaded, and to avoid it death has often been
endured.

In expressing the moral influence of slavery the first and most obvious
remark is, that it destroys the proper consciousness and spirit of a
Man. The slave regarded and treated as property, bought and sold like a
brute, denied the rights of humanity, unprotected against insult, made a
tool, and systematically subdued, that lie may be a manageable, useful
tool, how can he help regarding himself as fallen below his race? How
must his spirit be crushed! How can he respect himself? He becomes bound
to Servility. This word, borrowed from his condition, expresses the ruin
wrought by slavery within him. The idea, that he was made for his own
virtue and happiness, scarcely dawns on his mind. To be an instrument of
the physical, material good of another, whose will is his highest law,
he is taught to regard as the great purpose of his being. Here lies the
evil of slavery. Its whips, imprisonments, and even the horrors of the
middle passage from Africa to America, these are not to be named, in
comparison with this extinction of the proper consciousness of a human
being, with the degradation of a man into a brute.

It may be said, that the slave is used to his yoke; that his
sensibilities are blunted; that he receives, without a pang or a
thought, the treatment which would sting other men to madness. And to
what does this apology amount? It virtually declares, that slavery has
done its perfect work, has quenched the spirit of humanity, that the Man
is dead within the Slave. Is slavery, therefore, no wrong? It is not,
however, true, that this work of debasement is ever so effectually done
as to extinguish all feeling. Man is too great a creature to be wholly
ruined by man. When he seems dead he only sleeps. There are occasionally
some sullen murmurs in the calm of slavery, showing that life still
beats in the soul, that the idea of Rights cannot be wholly effaced from
the human being.

It would be too painful, and it is not needed, to detail the processes
by which the spirit is broken in slavery. I refer to one only, the
selling of slaves. The practice of exposing fellow-creatures for sale,
of having markets for men as for cattle, of examining the limbs and
muscles of a man and a woman as of a brute, of putting human beings
under the hammer of an auctioneer, and delivering them, like any other
articles of merchandise, to the highest bidder, all this is such an
insult to our common nature, and so infinitely degrading to the poor
victim, that it is hard to conceive of its existence, except in a
barbarous country.

That slavery should be most unpropitious to the slave as a moral being
will be farther apparent, if we consider that his condition is
throughout a Wrong, and that consequently it must tend to unsettle all
his notions of duty. The violation of his own rights, to which he is
inured from birth, must throw confusion over his ideas of all human
rights. He cannot comprehend them; or, if he does, how can he respect
them, seeing them, as he does, perpetually trampled on in his own
person? The injury to the character from living in an atmosphere of
wrong, we can all understand. To live in a state of society, of which
injustice is the chief and all-pervading element, is too severe a trial
for human nature, especially when no means are used to counteract its
influence.

Accordingly the most common distinctions of morality are faintly
apprehended by the slave. Respect for property, that fundamental law of
civil society, can hardly be instilled into him. His dishonesty is
proverbial. Theft from his master passes with him for no crime. A system
of force is generally found to drive to fraud. How necessarily will this
be the result of a relation, in which force is used to extort from a man
his labor, his natural property, without an attempt to win his consent!
Can we wonder that the uneducated conscience of the man who is daily
wronged should allow him in reprisals to the extent of his power? Thus
the primary social virtue, justice, is undermined in the slave.

That the slave should yield himself to intemperance, licentiousness,
and, in general, to sensual excess, we must also expect. Doomed to live
for the physical indulgences of others, unused to any pleasures but
those of sense, stripped of self-respect, and having nothing to gain in
life, how can he be expected to govern himself? How naturally, I had
almost said necessarily, does he become the creature of sensation, of
passion, of the present moment! What aid does the future give him in
withstanding desire? That better condition, for which other men postpone
the cravings of appetite, never opens before him. The sense of
character, the power of opinion, another restraint on the free, can do
little or nothing to rescue so abject a class from excess and
debasement. In truth, power over himself is the last virtue we should
expect in the slave, when we think of him as subjected to absolute
power, and made to move passively from the impulse of a foreign will. He
is trained to cowardice, and cowardice links itself naturally with low
vices. Idleness to his apprehension is paradise, for he works without
hope of reward. Thus slavery robs him of moral force, and prepares him
to fall a prey to appetite and passion.

That the slave finds in his condition little nutriment for the social
virtues we shall easily understand, if we consider that his chief
relations are to an absolute master, and to the companions of his
degrading bondage, that is, to a being who wrongs him, and to associates
whom he cannot honor, whom he sees debased. His dependence on his owner
loosens his ties to all other beings. He has no country to love, no
family to call his own, no objects of public utility to espouse, no
impulse to generous exertion. The relations, dependencies, and
responsibilities, by which Providence forms the soul to a deep,
disinterested love, are almost struck out of his lot. An arbitrary rule,
a foreign, irresistible will, taking him out of his own hands, and
placing him beyond the natural influences of society, extinguishes in a
great degree the sense of what is due to himself, and to the human
family around him.

The effects of slavery on the character are so various, that this part
of the discussion might be greatly extended; but I will touch only on
one topic. Let us turn, for a moment, to the great Motive by which the
slave is made to labor. Labor, in one form or another, is appointed by
God for man's improvement and happiness, and absorbs the chief part of
human life, so that the Motive which excites to it has immense influence
on character. It determines very much, whether life shall serve or fail
of its end. The man, who works from honorable motives, from domestic
affections, from desire of a condition which will open to him greater
happiness and usefulness, finds in labor an exercise and invigoration of
virtue. The day-laborer, who earns, with horny hand and the sweat of his
face, coarse food for a wife and children whom he loves, is raised, by
this generous motive, to true dignity; and, though wanting the
refinements of life, is a nobler being than those who think themselves
absolved by wealth from serving others. Now the slave's labor brings no
dignity, is an exercise of no virtue, but throughout a degradation; so
that one of God's chief provisions for human improvement becomes a
curse. The motive from which he acts debases him. It is the Whip. It is
corporal punishment. It is physical pain inflicted by a fellow-creature.
Undoubtedly labor is mitigated to the slave, as to all men, by habit.
But this is not the motive. Take away the Whip, and he would be idle.
His labor brings no new comforts to wife or child. The motive which
spurs him is one by which it is base to be swayed. Stripes are, indeed,
resorted to by civil government, when no other consideration will deter
from crime; but he, who is deterred from wrong doing by the
whipping-post, is among the most fallen of his race. To work in sight of
the whip, under menace of blows, is to be exposed to perpetual insult
and degrading influences. Every motion of the limbs, which such a menace
urges is a wound to the soul. How hard must it be for a man who lives
under the lash to respect himself! When this motive is substituted for
all the nobler ones which God ordains, is it not almost necessarily
death to the better and higher sentiments of our nature? It is the part
of a man to despise pain, in comparison with disgrace, to meet it
fearlessly in well doing, to perform the work of life from other
impulses. It is the part of a brute to be governed by the whip. Even the
brute is seen to act from more generous incitements. The horse of a
noble breed will not endure the lash. Shall we sink man below the horse?

Let it not be said that blows are seldom inflicted. Be it so. We are
glad to know it. But this is not the point. The complaint now urged is
not of the amount of the pain inflicted, but of its influence on the
character when made the great motive to human labor. It is not the
endurance, but the dread of the whip, it is the substitution of this for
natural and honorable motives to action, which we abhor and condemn. It
matters not whether few or many are whipped. A blow given to a single
slave is a stripe on the souls of all who see or hear it. It makes all
abject, servile. It is not of the wound given to the flesh of which we
now complain. Scar the back, and you have done nothing, compared with
the wrong done to the soul. You have either stung that soul with
infernal passions, with thirst for revenge; or, what perhaps is more
discouraging, you have broken and brutalized it. The human spirit has
perished under your hands, as far as it can be destroyed by human force.

I know it is sometimes said, in reply to these remarks, that all men, as
well as slaves, act from necessity; that we have masters in hunger and
thirst; that no man loves labor for itself; that the pains, which are
inflicted on us by the laws of nature, the elements, and seasons, are so
many lashes driving us to our daily task. Be it so. Still the two cases
are essentially different. The necessity laid on us by natural wants is
most kindly in its purpose. It is meant to awaken all our faculties, to
give a full play to body and mind, and thus to give us a new
consciousness of the powers derived to us from God. We are, indeed,
subjected to a stern nature; we are placed amidst warring elements,
scorching heat, withering cold, storms, blights, sickness, death. And
what is the design? To call forth our powers, to lay on us great duties,
to make us nobler beings. We are placed in the midst of a warring
nature, not to yield to it, not to be its slaves, but to conquer it, to
make it the monument of our skill and strength, to arm ourselves with
its elements, its heat, winds, vapors, and mineral treasures, to find,
in its painful changes, occasions and incitements to invention, courage,
endurance, mutual and endearing dependencies, and religious trust. The
development of human nature, in all its powers and affections, is the
end of that hard necessity which is laid on us by nature. Is this one
and the same thing with the whip laid on the slave? Still more; it is
the design of nature that by energy, skill, and self-denial we should so
far anticipate our wants or accumulate supplies, as to be able to
diminish the toil of the hands, and to mix with it more intellectual and
liberal occupations. Nature does not lay on us an unchangeable task, but
one which we may all lighten by honest, self-denying industry. Thus she
invites us to throw off her yoke, and to make her our servant. Is this
the invitation which the master gives his slaves? Is it his aim to
awaken the powers of those on whom he lays his burdens, and to give them
increasing mastery over himself? Is it not his aim to curb their will,
break their spirits, and shut them up for ever in the same narrow and
degrading work? Oh, let not nature be profaned, let not her parental
rule be blasphemed, by comparing with her the slaveholder!


2. Having considered the moral influence of slavery, I proceed to
consider its Intellectual influence, another great topic. God gave us
intellectual power, that it should be cultivated; and a system which
degrades it, and can only be upheld by its depression, opposes one of
his most benevolent designs. Reason is God's image in man, and the
capacity of acquiring truth is among his best inspirations. To call
forth the intellect is a principal purpose of the circumstances in which
we are placed, of the child's connexion with the parent, and of the
necessity laid on him in maturer life to provide for himself and others.
The education of the intellect is not confined to youth; but the various
experience of later years does vastly more than books and colleges to
ripen and invigorate the faculties.

Now, the whole lot of the slave is fitted to keep his mind in childhood
and bondage. Though living in a land of light, few beams find their way
to his benighted understanding. No parent feels the duty of instructing
him. No teacher is provided for him, but the Driver, who breaks him,
almost in childhood, to the servile tasks which are to fill up his life.
No book is opened to his youthful curiosity. As he advances in years, no
new excitements supply the place of teachers. He is not cast on himself,
made to depend on his own energies. No stirring prizes in life awaken
his dormant faculties. Fed and clothed by others like a child, directed
in every step, doomed for life to a monotonous round of labor, he lives
and dies without a spring to his powers, often brutally unconscious of
his spiritual nature. Nor is this all. When benevolence would approach
him with instruction, it is repelled. He is not allowed to be taught.
The light is jealously barred out. The voice, which would speak to him
as a man, is put to silence. He must not even be enabled to read the
Word of God. His immortal spirit is systematically crushed.

It is said, I know, that the ignorance of the slave is necessary to the
security of the master, and the quiet of the state; and this is said
truly. Slavery and knowledge cannot live together. To enlighten the
slave is to break his chain. To make him harmless, he must be kept
blind. He cannot be left to read in an enlightened age, without
endangering his master; for what can he read which will not give, at
least, some hint of his wrongs? Should his eye chance to fall on "the
Declaration of Independence," how would the truth glare on him, "that
all men are born free and equal"! All knowledge furnishes arguments
against slavery. From every subject light would break forth to reveal
his inalienable and outraged rights. The very exercise of his intellect
would give him the consciousness of being made for something more than a
slave. I agree to the necessity laid on his master to keep him in
darkness. And what stronger argument against slavery can be conceived?
It compels the master to degrade, systematically, the mind of the slave;
to war against human intelligence; to resist that improvement which is
the end of the Creator. "Wo to him that taketh away the key of
knowledge!" To kill the body is a great crime. The Spirit we cannot
kill, but we can bury it in deathlike lethargy; and is this a light
crime in the sight of its Maker?

Let it not be said, that almost every where the laboring classes are
doomed to ignorance, deprived of the means of instruction. The
intellectual advantages of the laboring freeman, who is entrusted with
the care of himself, raise him far above the slave; and, accordingly,
superior minds are constantly seen to issue from the less educated
classes. Besides, in free communities, philanthropy is not forbidden to
labor for the improvement of the ignorant. The obligation of the
prosperous and instructed to elevate their less favored brethren is
taught, and not taught in vain. Benevolence is making perpetual
encroachments on the domain of ignorance and crime. In communities, on
the other hand, cursed with slavery, half the population, sometimes
more, are given up, intentionally and systematically, to hopeless
ignorance. To raise this mass to intelligence and self-government is a
crime. The sentence of perpetual degradation is passed on a large
portion of the human race. In this view, how great the ill desert of
slavery!


3. I proceed, now, to the Domestic influences of slavery; and here we
must look for a dark picture. Slavery virtually dissolves the domestic
relations. It ruptures the most sacred ties on earth. It violates home.
It lacerates the best affections. The domestic relations precede, and,
in our present existence, are worth more than all our other social ties.
They give the first throb to the heart, and unseal the deep fountains of
its love. Home is the chief school of human virtue. Its
responsibilities, joys, sorrows, smiles, tears, hopes, and solicitudes,
form the chief interests of human life. Go where a man may, home is the
centre to which his heart turns. The thought of his home nerves his arm
and lightens his toil. For that his heart yearns, when he is far off.
There he garners up his best treasures. God has ordained for all men
alike the highest earthly happiness, in providing for all the sanctuary
of home. But the slave's home does not merit the name. To him it is no
sanctuary. It is open to violation, insult, outrage. His children belong
to another, are provided for by another, are disposed of by another. The
most precious burden with which the heart can be charged, the happiness
of his child, he must not bear. He lives not for his family, but for a
stranger. He cannot improve their lot. His wife and daughter he cannot
shield from insult. They may be torn from him at another's pleasure,
sold as beasts of burden, sent he knows not whither, sent where he
cannot reach them, or even interchange inquiries and messages of love.
To the slave marriage has no sanctity. It may be dissolved in a moment
at another's will. His wife, son, and daughter may be lashed before his
eyes, and not a finger must be lifted in their defence. He sees the scar
of the lash on his wife and child. Thus the slave's home is desecrated.
Thus the tenderest relations, intended by God equally for all, and
intended to be the chief springs of happiness and virtue, are sported
with wantonly and cruelly. What outrage so great as to enter a man's
house, and tear from his side the beings whom God has bound to him by
the holiest ties? Every man can make the case his own. Every mother can
bring it home to her own heart.

And let it not be said that the slave has not the sensibilities of other
men. Nature is too strong even for slavery to conquer. Even the brute
has the yearnings of parental love. But suppose that the conjugal and
parental ties of the slave may be severed without a pang. What a curse
must be slavery, if it can so blight the heart with more than brutal
insensibility, if it can sink the human mother below the polar she-bear,
which "howls and dies for her sundered cub!" But it does not and cannot
turn the slave to stone. It leaves, at least, feeling enough to make
these domestic wrongs occasions of frequent and deep suffering. Still it
must do much to quench the natural affections. Can the wife, who has
been brought under influences most unfriendly to female purity and
honor, who is exposed to the whip, who may be torn away at her master's
will, and whose support and protection are not committed to a husband's
faithfulness, can such a wife, if the name may be given her, be loved
and honored as a woman should be? Or can the love, which should bind
together man and his offspring, be expected, under an institution, which
subverts, in a great degree, filial dependence and parental authority
and care? Slavery withers the affections and happiness of home at their
very root, by tainting female purity. Woman, brought up in degradation,
placed under another's power and at another's disposal, and never taught
to look forward to the happiness of an inviolate, honorable marriage,
can hardly possess the feelings and virtues of her sex. A blight falls
on her in her early years. Those who have daughters can comprehend her
lot. In truth, licentiousness among bond and free is the natural issue
of all-polluting slavery. Domestic happiness perishes under its touch,
both among bond and free.

How wonderful is it, that in civilized countries men can be so steeled
by habit as to invade without remorse the peace, purity, and sacred
relations of domestic life, as to put asunder those whom God has joined
together, as to break up households by processes more painful than
death! And this is done for pecuniary profit! What! Can men, having
human feeling, grow rich by the desolation of families? We hear of some
of the Southern States enriching themselves by breeding slaves for sale.
Of all the licensed occupations of society this is the most detestable.
What! Grow men, like cattle! Rear human families, like herds of swine,
and then scatter them to the four winds for gain! Among the imprecations
uttered by man on man, is there one more fearful, more ominous, than the
sighing of the mother bereft of her child by unfeeling cupidity? If
blood cry to God, surely that sigh will be heard in heaven.

Let it not be said that members of families are often separated in all
conditions of life. Yes, but separated under the influence of love. The
husband leaves wife and children, that he may provide for their support,
and carries them with him in his heart and hopes. The sailor, in his
lonely night-watch, looks homeward, and well known voices come to him
amidst the roar of the waves. The parent sends away his children, but
sends them to prosper, and to press them again to his heart with a joy
enhanced by separation. Are such the separations which slavery makes?
And can he, who has scattered other families, ask God to bless his own?


4. I proceed to another important view of the evils of slavery. Slavery
produces and gives license to Cruelty. By this it is not meant that
cruelty is the universal, habitual, unfailing result. Thanks to God,
Christianity has not entered the world in vain. Where it has not cast
down, it has mitigated bad institutions. Slavery in this country differs
widely from that of ancient times, and from that which the Spaniards
imposed on the aboriginals of South America. There is here an increasing
disposition to multiply the comforts of the slaves, and in this let us
rejoice. At the same time, we must remember, that, under the light of
the present day, and in a country where Christianity and the rights of
men are understood, a diminished severity may contain more guilt than
the ferocity of darker ages. Cruelty in its lighter forms is now a
greater crime than the atrocious usages of antiquity at which we
shudder. "The times of that ignorance God winked at, but _now_ he
calleth men every where to repent." It should also be considered that
the slightest cruelty to the slave is an aggravated wrong, because he is
unjustly held in bondage, unjustly held as property. We condemn the man
who enforces harshly a righteous claim. What, then, ought we to think of
lashing and scarring fellow-creatures, for the purpose of upholding an
unrighteous, usurped power, of extorting labor which is not our due?

I have said that cruelty is not the habit of the slave States of this
country. Still, that it is frequent we cannot doubt. Reports, which
harrow up our souls, come to us from that quarter; and we know that they
must be essentially correct, because it is impossible that a large part,
perhaps the majority, of the population of a country can be broken to
passive, unlimited submission, without examples of terrible severity.

Let it not be said, as is sometimes done, that cruel deeds are
perpetrated every where else, as well as in slave-countries. Be it so;
but in all civilized nations unscourged by slavery, a principal object
of legislation is to protect every man from cruelty, and to bring every
man to punishment, who wantonly tortures or wounds another; whilst
slavery plucks off restraint from the ferocious, or leaves them to
satiate their rage with impunity.--Let it not be said that these
barbarities are regarded no where with more horror than at the South. Be
it so. They are abhorred, but allowed. The power of individuals to
lacerate their fellow-creatures is given to them by the community. The
community abhors the abuse, but confers the power which will certainly
be abused, and thus strips itself of all defence before the bar of
Almighty Justice. It must answer for the crimes which are shielded by
its laws.--Let it not be said, that these cruelties are checked by the
private interest of the slaveholder. Does regard to private interest
save from brutal treatment the draught-horse in our streets? And may not
a vast amount of suffering be inflicted, which will not put in peril the
life or strength of the slave?

To substantiate the charge of cruelty, I shall not, as I have said, have
recourse to current reports, however well established. I am willing to
dismiss them all as false. I stand on other ground. Reports may lie, but
our daily experience of human nature cannot lie. I summon no witnesses,
or rather I appeal to a witness every where present, a witness in every
heart. Who that has watched his own heart, or observed others, does not
feel that man is not fit to be trusted with absolute, irresponsible
power over men? It must be abused. The selfish passions and pride of our
nature will as surely abuse it, as the storm will ravage, or the ocean
swell and roar under the whirlwind. A being, so ignorant, so headstrong,
so passionate, as man, ought not to be trusted with this terrible
dominion. He ought not to desire it. He ought to dread it. He ought to
cast it from him, as most perilous to himself and others.

Absolute power was not meant for man. There is, indeed, an exception to
this rule. There is one case, in which God puts a human being wholly
defenceless into another's hands. I refer to the child, who is wholly
subjected to the parent's will. But observe how carefully, I might
almost say anxiously, God has provided against the abuse of this power.
He has raised up in the heart of the parent a friend, a guardian, whom
the mightiest on earth cannot resist. He has fitted the parent for this
trust, by teaching him to love his child better than himself. No
eloquence on earth is so subduing as the moaning of the infant when in
pain. No reward is sweeter than that infant's smile. We say, God has put
the infant into the parent's hands. Might we not more truly say, that he
has put the parent into the child's power? That little being sends
forth his father to toil, and makes the mother watch over him by day,
and fix on him her sleepless eyes by night. No tyrant lays such a yoke.
Thus God has fenced and secured from abuse the power of the parent; and
yet even the parent has been known, in a moment of passion, to be cruel
to his child. Is man, then, to be trusted with absolute power over a
fellow-creature, who, instead of being commended by nature to his
tenderest love, belongs to a despised race, is regarded as property, is
made the passive instrument of his gratification and gain? I ask no
documents to prove the abuses of this power, nor do I care what is said
to disprove them. Millions may rise up and tell me that the slave
suffers little from cruelty. I know too much of human nature, human
history, human passion to believe them. I acquit slaveholders of all
peculiar depravity. I judge them by myself. I say, that absolute power
always corrupts human nature more or less. I say, that extraordinary,
almost miraculous self-control is necessary to secure the slaveholder
from provocation and passion; and is self-control the virtue which above
all others grows up amidst the possession of irresponsible dominion?
Even when the slaveholder honestly acquits himself of cruelty, he may be
criminal. His own consciousness is to be distrusted. Having begun with
wronging the slave, with wresting from him sacred rights, he may be
expected to multiply wrongs, without thought. The degraded state of the
slave may induce in the master a mode of treatment essentially inhuman
and insulting, but which he never dreams to be cruel. The influence of
slavery in indurating the moral feeling and blinding men to wrongs is
one of its worst evils.

But suppose the master to be ever so humane. Still, he is not always
watching over his slave. He has his pleasures to attend to. He is often
absent. His terrible power must be delegated. And to whom is it
delegated? To men prepared to govern others, by having learned to govern
themselves? To men having a deep interest in the slaves? To wise men,
instructed in human nature? To Christians, trained to purity and love?
Who does not know, that the office of Overseer is among the last, which
an enlightened, philanthropic, self-respecting man would choose? Who
does not know, how often the overseer pollutes the plantation by his
licentiousness, as well as scourges it by his severity? In the hands of
such a man the lash is placed. To such a man is committed the most
fearful trust on earth! For his cruelties the master must answer, as
truly as if they were his own. Nor is this all. The master does more
than delegate his power to the overseer. How often does he part with it
wholly to the slave-dealer! And has he weighed the responsibility of
such a transfer? Does he not know, that, in selling his slaves into
merciless hands, he is merciless himself, and must give an account to
God for every barbarity of which they become the victims? The notorious
cruelty of the slave-dealers can be no false report, for it belongs to
their vocation. These are the men, who throng and defile our Seat of
Government, whose slave-markets and slave-dungeons turn to mockery the
language of freedom in the halls of Congress, and who make us justly the
by-word and the scorn of the nations. Is there no cruelty in putting
slaves under the bloody lash of the slave-dealer, to be driven like
herds of cattle to distant regions, and there to pass into the hands of
strangers, without a pledge of their finding justice or mercy? What
heart, not seared by custom, would not recoil from such barbarity?

It has been seen that I do not ground my argument at all on cases of
excessive cruelty. I should attach less importance to these than do most
persons, even were they more frequent. They form a very, very small
amount of suffering, compared with what is inflicted by abuses of power
too minute for notice. Blows, insults, privations, which make no noise,
and leave no scar, are incomparably more destructive of happiness than a
few brutal violences which move general indignation. A weak, despised
being, having no means of defence or redress, living in a community
armed against his rights, regarded as property, and as bound to entire,
unresisting compliance with another's will, if not subjected to
inflictions of ferocious cruelty, is yet exposed to less striking and
shocking forms of cruelty, the amount of which must be a fearful mass of
suffering.

But could it be proved that there are no cruelties in slave-countries,
we ought not then to be more reconciled to slavery than we now are. For
what would this show? That cruelty is not needed. And why not needed?
Because the slave is entirely subdued to his lot. No man will be wholly
unresisting in bondage, but he who is thoroughly imbued with the spirit
of a slave. If the colored race never need punishment, it is because the
feelings of men are dead within them, because they have no consciousness
of rights, because they are cowards, without respect for themselves, and
without confidence in the sharers of their degraded lot. The quiet of
slavery is like that which the Roman legions left in ancient Britain,
the stillness of death. Why were the Romans accustomed to work their
slaves in chains by day, and confine them in dungeons by night? Not
because they loved cruelty for its own sake; but because their slaves
were stung with a consciousness of degradation, because they brought
from the forests of Dacia some rude ideas of human dignity, or from
civilized countries some experience of social improvements, which
naturally issued in violence and exasperation. They needed cruelty, for
their own wills were not broken to another's, and the spirit of freemen
was not wholly gone. The slave _must_ meet cruel treatment either
inwardly or outwardly. Either the soul or the body must receive the
blow. Either the flesh must be tortured or the spirit be struck down.
Dreadful alternative to which slavery is reduced!


5. I proceed to one more view of the evils of slavery. I refer to its
influence on the Master. This topic cannot, perhaps, be so handled as to
avoid giving offence; but without it an imperfect view of the subject
would be given. I will pass over many views. I will say nothing of the
tendency of slavery to unsettle the ideas of Right in the slaveholder,
to impair his convictions of Justice and Benevolence; or of its tendency
to associate with labor ideas of degradation, and to recommend idleness
as an honorable exemption. I will confine myself to two considerations.

The first is, that slavery, above all other influences, nourishes the
passion for power and its kindred vices. There is no passion which needs
a stronger curb. Men's worst crimes have sprung from the desire of being
masters, of bending others to their yoke. And the natural tendency of
bringing others into subjection to our absolute will is to quicken into
fearful activity the imperious, haughty, proud, self-seeking
propensities of our nature. Man cannot, without imminent peril to his
virtue, own a fellow-creature, or use the word of absolute command to
his brethren. God never delegated this power. It is an usurpation of the
Divine dominion, and its natural influence is to produce a spirit of
superiority to divine as well as to human laws.

Undoubtedly this tendency is in a measure counteracted by the spirit of
the age and the genius of Christianity, and in conscientious individuals
it may be wholly overcome; but we see its fruits in the corruptions of
moral sentiment which prevail among slaveholders. A quick resentment of
whatever is thought to encroach on personal dignity, a trembling
jealousy of reputation, vehemence of the vindictive passions, and
contempt of all laws, human and divine, in retaliating injury,--these
take rank among the virtues of men whose self-estimation has been fed by
the possession of absolute power.

Of consequence the direct tendency of slavery is to annihilate the
control of Christianity. Humility is by eminence the spirit of
Christianity. No vice was so severely rebuked by our Lord, as the
passion for ruling over others. A deference towards all human beings as
our brethren, a benevolence which disposes us to serve rather than to
reign, to concede our own rather than to encroach on others' rights, to
forgive, not avenge wrongs, to govern our own spirits instead of
breaking the spirit of an inferior or foe,--this is Christianity; a
religion too high and pure to be understood and obeyed any where as it
should be, but which meets singular hostility in the habits of mind
generated by slavery.

The slaveholder, indeed, values himself on his loftiness of spirit. He
has a consciousness of dignity, which imposes on himself and others. But
truth cannot stoop to this lofty mien. Truth, moral, Christian truth,
condemns it, and condemns those who bow to it. Self-respect, founded on
a consciousness of our moral nature and immortal destiny, is, indeed, a
noble principle; but this sentiment includes, as a part of itself,
respect for all who partake our nature. A consciousness of dignity,
founded on the subjection of others to our absolute will, is inhuman and
unjust. It is time that the teachings of Christ were understood. In
proportion as a man acquires a lofty bearing from the habit of command
over wronged and depressed fellow-creatures, so far he casts away true
honor, so far he has fallen in the sight of God and Virtue.

I approach a more delicate subject, and one on which I shall not
enlarge. To own the persons of others, to hold females in slavery, is
necessarily fatal to the purity of a people. That unprotected females,
stripped by their degraded condition of woman's self-respect, should be
used to minister to other passions in men than the love of gain, is next
to inevitable. Accordingly, in such a community the reins are given to
youthful licentiousness. Youth, every where in perils, is in these
circumstances urged to vice with a terrible power. And the evil cannot
stop at youth. Early licentiousness is fruitful of crime in mature life.
How far the obligation to conjugal fidelity, the sacredness of domestic
ties, will be revered amidst such habits, such temptations, such
facilities to vice, as are involved in slavery, needs no exposition. So
terrible is the connexion of crimes! They, who invade the domestic
rights of others, suffer in their own homes. The household of the slave
may be broken up arbitrarily by the master; but he finds his revenge, if
revenge he asks, in the blight which the master's unfaithfulness sheds
over his own domestic joys. A slave-country reeks with licentiousness.
It is tainted with a deadlier pestilence than the plague.

But the worst is not told. As a consequence of criminal connexions, many
a master has children born into slavery. Of these, most, I presume,
receive protection, perhaps indulgence, during the life of the fathers;
but at their death not a few are left to the chances of a cruel bondage.
These cases must have increased, since the difficulties of emancipation
have even multiplied. Still more, it is to be feared, that there are
cases, in which the master puts his own children under the whip of the
overseer, or else sells them to undergo the miseries of bondage among
strangers. I should rejoice to learn that my impressions on this point
are false. If they be true, then our own country, calling itself
enlightened and Christian, is defiled with one of the greatest
enormities on earth. We send missionaries to heathen lands. Among the
pollutions of heathenism I know nothing worse than this. The heathen,
who feasts on his country's foe, may hold up his head by the side of the
Christian who sells his child for gain, sells him to be a slave. God
forbid that I should charge this crime on a people! But however rarely
it may occur, it is a fruit of slavery, an exercise of power belonging
to slavery, and no laws restrain or punish it. Such are the evils which
spring naturally from the licentiousness generated by slavery.


I have now placed before the reader the chief evils of slavery. We are
told, however, that these are not without mitigation, that slavery has
advantages which do much to counterbalance its wrongs and pains. Not a
few are partially reconciled to the institution by the language of
confidence in which its benefits are sometimes announced. I shall
therefore close this chapter with a very brief consideration of what are
thought to be the advantages of slavery.

It is often said, that the slave does less work than the free laborer.
He bears a lighter burden than liberty would lay on him. Perhaps this is
generally true; yet when circumstances promise profit to the master from
the imposition of excessive labor, the slave is not spared. In the West
Indies, the terrible waste of life among the overworked cultivators
required large supplies from Africa to keep up the failing population.
In this country it is probably true that the slave works less than the
free laborer; but it does not therefore follow that his work is lighter.
For what is it that lightens toil? It is Hope; it is Love; it is Strong
Motive. That labor is light, which we do from the heart; to which a
great good quickens us; which is to better our lot. That labor is light,
which is to comfort, adorn, and cheer our homes, to give instruction to
our children, to solace the declining years of a parent, to give to our
grateful and generous sentiments the means of exertion. Great effort
from great motives is the best definition of a happy life. The easiest
labor is a burden to him who has no motive for performing it. How
wearisome is the task imposed by another, and wrongfully imposed? The
slave cannot easily be made to do a freeman's work; and why? because he
wants a freeman's spirit, because the spring of labor is impaired within
him, because he works as a machine, not a free agent. The compulsion,
under which he toils for another, takes from labor its sweetness, makes
the daily round of life arid and dull, makes escape from toil the chief
interest of life.

We are farther told that the slave is freed from all care, that he is
sure of future support, that when old he is not dismissed to the
poor-house, but fed and sheltered in his own hut. This is true; but it
is also true that nothing can be gained by violating the great laws and
essential rights of our nature. The slave, we are told, has no care, his
future is provided for. Yet God created him to provide for the future,
to take care of his own happiness; and he cannot be freed from this care
without injury to his moral and intellectual life. Why has God given
foresight and power over the future, but to be used? Is it a blessing to
a rational creature, to be placed in a condition which chains his
faculties to the present moment, which leaves nothing before him to
rouse the intellect or touch the heart? Be it also remembered, that the
same provision, which relieves the slave from anxiety, cuts him off from
hope. The future is not, indeed, haunted by spectres of poverty, nor is
it brightened by images of joy. It stretches before him sterile,
monotonous, expanding into no refreshing verdure, and sending no
cheering whisper of a better lot.

It is true that the free laborer may become a pauper; and so may the
free rich man, both of the North and the South. Still, our capitalists
never dream of flying to slavery as a security against the almshouse.
Freedom undoubtedly has its perils. It offers nothing to the slothful
and dissolute. Among a people left to seek their own good in their own
way, some of all classes fail from vice, some from incapacity, some from
misfortune. All classes will furnish members to the body of the poor.
But in this country the number is small, and ought constantly to
decrease. The evil, however lamentable, is not so remediless and
spreading as to furnish a motive for reducing half the population to
chains. Benevolence does much to mitigate it. The best minds are
inquiring how it may be prevented, diminished, removed. It is giving
excitement to a philanthropy which creates out of misfortune new bonds
of union between man and man.

Our slave-holding brethren, who tell us that the condition of the slave
is better than that of the free laborer at the North, talk ignorantly
and rashly. They do not, cannot know, what to us is matter of daily
observation, that from the families of our farmers and mechanics have
sprung our most distinguished men, men who have done most for science,
arts, letters, religion, and freedom; and that the noblest spirits among
us would have been lost to their country and mankind, had the laboring
class here been doomed to slavery. They do not know, what we rejoice to
tell them, that this class partakes largely of the impulse given to the
whole community; that the means of intellectual improvement are
multiplying to the laborious as fast as to the opulent; that our most
distinguished citizens meet them as brethren, and communicate to them in
public discourses their own most important acquisitions. Undoubtedly,
the Christian, republican spirit is not working, even here, as it
should. The more improved and prosperous classes have not yet learned
that it is their great mission to elevate morally and intellectually the
less advanced classes of the community; but the great truth is more and
more recognised, and accordingly a new era may be said to be opening on
society.

It is said, however, that the slave, if not to be compared to the free
laborer at the North, is in a happier condition than the Irish
peasantry. Let this be granted. Let the security of the peasant's
domestic relations, let his church, and his schoolhouse, and his faint
hope of a better lot pass for nothing. Because Ireland is suffering from
the misgovernment and oppression of ages, does it follow that a less
grinding oppression is a good? Besides, are not the wrongs of Ireland
acknowledged? Is not British legislation laboring to restore her
prosperity? Is it not true, that, whilst the slave's lot admits no
important change, the most enlightened minds are at work to confer on
the Irish peasant the blessings of education, of equal laws, of new
springs to exertion, of new sources of wealth? Other men, however
fallen, may be lifted up. An immovable weight presses on the slave.

But still we are told the slave is gay. He is not as wretched as our
theories teach. After his toil, he sings, he dances, he gives no signs
of an exhausted frame or gloomy spirit. The slave happy! Why, then,
contend for Rights? Why follow with beating hearts the struggles of the
patriot for freedom? Why canonize the martyr to freedom? The slave
happy! Then happiness is to be found in giving up the distinctive
attributes of a man; in darkening intellect and conscience; in quenching
generous sentiments; in servility of spirit; in living under a whip; in
having neither property nor rights; in holding wife and child at
another's pleasure; in toiling without hope; in living without an end!
The slave, indeed, has his pleasures. His animal nature survives the
injury to his rational and moral powers; and every animal has its
enjoyments. The kindness of Providence allows no human being to be
wholly divorced from good. The lamb frolics; the dog leaps for joy; the
bird fills the air with cheerful harmony; and the slave spends his
holiday in laughter and the dance. Thanks to Him who never leaves
himself without witness; who cheers even the desert with spots of
verdure; and opens a fountain of joy in the most withered heart! It is
not possible, however, to contemplate the occasional gayety of the slave
without some mixture of painful thought. He is gay, because he has not
learned to think; because he is too fallen to feel his wrongs; because
he wants just self-respect. We are grieved by the gayety of the insane.
There is a sadness in the gayety of him, whose lightness of heart would
be turned to bitterness and indignation, were one ray of light to awaken
in him the spirit of a man.

That there are those among the free, who are more wretched than slaves,
is undoubtedly true; just as there is incomparably greater misery among
men than among brutes. The brute never knew the agony of a human spirit
torn by remorse or wounded in its love. But would we cease to be human,
because our capacity for suffering increases with the elevation of our
nature? All blessings may be perverted, and the greatest perverted most.
Were we to visit a slave-country, undoubtedly the most miserable human
beings would be found among the free; for among them the passions have
wider sweep, and the power they possess may be used to their own ruin.
Liberty is not a necessity of happiness. It is only a means of good. It
is a trust which may be abused. Are all such trusts to be cast away? Are
they not the greatest gifts of Heaven?

But the slave, we are told, often manifests affection to his master,
grieves at his departure, and welcomes his return. I will not endeavour
to explain this, by saying that the master's absence places the slave
under the overseer. Nor will I object, that the slave's propensity to
steal from his master, his need of the whip to urge him to toil, and the
dread of insurrection which he inspires, are signs of any thing but
love. There is, undoubtedly, much more affection in this relation than
could be expected. Of all races of men, the African is the mildest and
most susceptible of attachment. He loves, where the European would hate.
He watches the life of a master, whom the North-American Indian, in like
circumstances, would stab to the heart. The African is affectionate. Is
this a reason for holding him in chains? We cannot, however, think of
this most interesting feature of slavery with unmixed pleasure. It is
the curse of slavery, that it can touch nothing which it does not
debase. Even love, that sentiment given us by God to be the germ of a
divine virtue, becomes in the slave a weakness, almost a degradation.
His affections lose much of their beauty and dignity. He ought, indeed,
to feel benevolence towards his master; but to attach himself to a man
who keeps him in the dust and denies him the rights of a man; to be
grateful and devoted to one who extorts his toil and debases him into a
chattel; this has a taint of servility, which makes us grieve whilst we
admire. However, we would not diminish the attachment of the slave. He
is the happier for his generosity. Let him love his master, and let the
master win love by kindness. We only say, let not this manifestation of
a generous nature in the slave be turned against him. Let it not be made
an answer to an exposition of his wrongs. Let it not be used as a weapon
for his perpetual degradation.

But the slave, we are told, is taught Religion. This is the most
cheering sound which comes to us from the land of bondage. We are
rejoiced to learn that any portion of the slaves are instructed in that
truth, which gives inward freedom. They hear at least one voice of deep,
genuine love, the voice of Christ; and read in his cross what all other
things hide from them, the unutterable worth of their spiritual nature.
This portion, however, is small. The greater part are still buried in
heathen ignorance. Besides, Religion, though a great good, can hardly
exert its full power on the slave. Will it not be taught to make him
obedient to his master, rather than to raise him to the dignity of a
man? Is slavery, which tends so proverbially to debase the mind, the
preparation for spiritual truth? Can the slave comprehend the principle
of Love, the essential principle of Christianity, when he hears it from
the lips of those whose relations to him express injustice and
selfishness? But suppose him to receive Christianity in its purity, and
to feel all its power. Is this to reconcile us to slavery? Is a being,
who can understand the sublimest truth which has ever entered the human
mind, who can love and adore God, who can conform himself to the
celestial virtue of the Saviour, for whom that Saviour died, to whom
heaven is opened, whose repentance now gives joy in heaven,--is such a
being to be held as property, driven by force as the brute, and denied
the rights of man by a fellow-creature, by a professed disciple of the
just and merciful Saviour? Has he a religious nature, and dares any one
hold him as a slave?


I have now completed my views of the evils of slavery, and have shown
how little they are mitigated by what are thought its advantages. In
this whole discussion I have cautiously avoided quoting particular
examples of its baneful influences. I have not brought together
accounts of horrible cruelty which come to us from the South. I have
confined myself to the natural tendencies of slavery, to evils bound up
in its very nature, which, as long as man is man, cannot be separated
from it. That these evils are unmixed or universal, I do not say. There
are and must be exceptions to them, and more or less of good may often
be found in connexion with them. No institution, be it what it may, can
make the life of a human being wholly evil, or cut off every means of
improvement. God's benevolence triumphs over all the perverseness and
folly of man's devices. He sends a cheering beam into the darkest abode.
The slave has his hours of exhilaration. His hut occasionally rings with
thoughtless mirth. Among this class, too, there are and must be,
occasionally, higher pleasures. God is no respecter of persons; and in
some slaves there is a happy nature which no condition can destroy, just
as among children we find some whom the worst education cannot spoil.
The African is so affectionate, imitative, and docile, that in favorable
circumstances he catches much that is good; and accordingly the
influence of a wise and kind master will be seen in the very countenance
and bearing of his slaves. Among this degraded people, there are,
occasionally, examples of superior intelligence and virtue, showing the
groundlessness of the opinion that they are incapable of filling a
higher rank than slavery, and showing that human nature is too generous
and hardy to be wholly destroyed in the most unpropitious state. We also
witness in this class, and very often, a superior physical development,
a grace of form and motion, which almost extorts a feeling approaching
respect. I mean not to affirm that slavery excludes all good, for human
life cannot long endure under the privation of every thing happy and
improving. I have spoken of its natural tendencies and results. These
are wholly and only evil.

I am aware that it will be replied to the views now given of slavery,
that persons living at a distance from it cannot comprehend it, that its
true character can be learned only from those, who, know it practically,
and are familiar with its operations. To this I will not reply, that I
have seen it near at hand. It is sufficient to reply, that men may lose
the power of seeing an object fairly, by being too near as well as by
being too remote. The slaveholder is too familiar with slavery to
understand it. To be educated in injustice, is almost necessarily to be
blinded by it more or less. To exercise usurped power from birth, is the
surest way to look upon it as a right and a good. The slaveholder tells
us that he only can instruct us about slavery. But suppose that we
wished to learn the true character of despotism; should we go to the
palace and take the despot as our teacher? Should we pay much heed to
his assurance, that he alone could understand the character of absolute
power, and that we in a republic could know nothing of the condition of
men subjected to irresponsible will? The sad influence of slavery, in
darkening the mind which is perpetually conversant with it, is disclosed
to us in the recent attempts made at the South to represent this
institution as a good. Freemen, who would sooner die than resign their
rights, talk of the happiness of those from whom every right is wrested.
They talk of the slave as "property," with the same confidence as if
this were the holiest claim. This is one of the mournful effects of
slavery. It darkens the moral sense of the master. And can men, whose
position is so unfavorable to just, impartial judgment, expect us to
acquiesce in their views?

There is another reply. If the slave-holding States expect us to admit
their views of this institution, they must allow it to be freely
discussed among themselves. Of what avail is their testimony in favor of
slavery, when not a tongue is allowed to say a word in its condemnation?
Of what use is the press, when it can publish only on one side? In the
slave-holding States freedom of speech is at an end. Whoever should
express among them the sentiments respecting slavery which are
universally adopted through the civilized world, would put his life in
jeopardy, would probably be flayed or hung. On this great subject, which
affects vitally their peace and prosperity, their moral and political
interests, no philanthropist, who has come to the truth, can speak his
mind. Even the minister of religion, who feels the hostility between
slavery and Christianity, dares not speak. His calling might not save
him from popular rage. Thus slavery avenges itself. It brings the
masters under despotism. It takes away that liberty which a freeman
prizes as life,--liberty of speech. All this, we are told, is necessary,
and so it may be; but an institution imposing such a necessity cannot be
a good; and one thing is plain; the testimony of men placed under such
restraints cannot be too cautiously received. We have better sources of
knowledge. We have the testimony of ages, and the testimony of the
unchangeable principles of human nature. These assure us that slavery is
"evil, and evil continually."

I ought not to close this head, without acknowledging, (what I
cheerfully do,) that in many cases the kindness of masters does much for
the mitigation of slavery. Could it be rendered harmless, the efforts of
many would not be spared to make it so. It is evil, not through any
singular corruption in the slaveholder, but from its own nature, and in
spite of all efforts to make it a good. It is evil, not because it
exists on this or that spot. Were it planted at the North, it would
become a greater curse, more hardening and depraving, than it now proves
under a milder sky. It is not of the particular form of slavery in this
country that I complain. I am willing to allow that it is here
comparatively mild; that on many plantations no abuses exist but such as
are inseparable from its very nature. The mischief lies in its very
nature. "Men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles." An
institution so founded in wrong, so imbued with injustice, cannot be
made a good. It cannot like other institutions be perpetuated by being
improved. To improve it, is to prepare the way for its subversion. Every
melioration of the slave's lot is a step toward freedom. Slavery is thus
radically, essentially evil. Every good man should earnestly pray and
use every virtuous influence, that an institution so blighting to human
nature may be brought to an end.



CHAPTER V.

SCRIPTURE.


Attempts are often made to support slavery by the authority of
Revelation. "Slavery," it is said, "is allowed in the Old Testament, and
not condemned in the New. Paul commands slaves to obey. He commands
masters, not to release their slaves, but to treat them justly.
Therefore slavery is right, is sanctified by God's Word." In this age of
the world, and amidst the light which has been thrown on the true
interpretation of the Scriptures, such reasoning hardly deserves notice.
A few words only will be offered in reply.

This reasoning proves too much. If usages sanctioned in the Old
Testament and not forbidden in the New are right, then our moral code
will undergo a sad deterioration. Polygamy was allowed to the
Israelites, was the practice of the holiest men, and was common and
licensed in the age of the Apostles. But the Apostles no where condemn
it, nor was the renunciation of it made an essential condition of
admission into the Christian church. It is true that in one passage
Christ has condemned it by implication. But is not slavery condemned by
stronger implication in the many passages, which make the new religion
to consist in serving one another, and in doing to others what we would
that they should do to ourselves? Why may not Scripture be used to stock
our houses with wives as well as with slaves?

Again. Paul is said to sanction slavery. Let us now ask. What was
slavery in the age of Paul? It was the slavery, not so much of black as
of white men, not merely of barbarians but of Greeks, not merely of the
ignorant and debased, but of the virtuous, educated, and refined. Piracy
and conquest were the chief means of supplying the slave-market, and
they heeded neither character nor condition. Sometimes the greater part
of the population of a captured city was sold into bondage, sometimes
the whole, as in the case of Jerusalem. Noble and royal families, the
rich and great, the learned and powerful, the philosopher and poet, the
wisest and best men, were condemned to the chain. Such was ancient
slavery. And this we are told is allowed and confirmed by the Word of
God! Had Napoleon, on capturing Berlin or Vienna, doomed most or the
whole of their inhabitants to bondage; had he seized on venerable
matrons, the mothers of illustrious men, who were reposing after
virtuous lives in the bosom of grateful families; had he seized on the
delicate, refined, beautiful young woman, whose education had prepared
her to grace the sphere in which God had placed her, whose plighted love
had opened before her visions of bliss, and over all whose prospects the
freshest hopes and most glowing imaginations of early life were
breathed; had he seized on the minister of religion, the man of science,
the man of genius, the sage, the guides of the world; had he scattered
these through the slave-markets of the world, and transferred them to
the highest bidders at public auction, the men to be converted into
instruments of slavish toil, the women into instruments of lust, and
both to endure whatever indignities and tortures absolute power can
inflict; we should then have had a picture in the present age of slavery
as it existed in the time of Paul. Such slavery we are told was
sanctioned by the Apostle! Such we are told he pronounced to be morally
right! Had Napoleon sent some cargoes of these victims to these shores,
we might have bought them, and degraded the noblest beings to our lowest
uses, and might have cited Paul to testify to our innocence! Were an
infidel to bring this charge against the Apostle, we should say that he
was laboring in his vocation; but that a professed Christian should so
insult this sainted philanthropist, this martyr to truth and
benevolence, is a sad proof of the power of slavery to blind its
supporters to the plainest truth.

Slavery, in the age of the Apostle, had so penetrated society, was so
intimately interwoven with it, and the materials of servile war were so
abundant, that a religion, preaching freedom to its victims, would have
shaken the social fabric to its foundation, and would have armed against
itself the whole power of the State. Of consequence Paul did not assail
it. He satisfied himself with spreading principles, which, however
slowly, could not but work its destruction. He commanded Philemon to
receive his fugitive slave, Onesimus, "not as a slave, but above a
slave, as a brother beloved;" and he commanded masters to give to their
slaves that which was "_just_ and _equal_;" thus asserting for the slave
the rights of a Christian and a Man; and how, in his circumstances, he
could have done more for the subversion of slavery, I do not see.

Let me offer another remark. The perversion of Scripture to the support
of slavery is singularly inexcusable in this country. Paul not only
commanded slaves to obey their masters. He delivered these precepts:
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power
but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever,
therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they
that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." This passage was
written in the time of Nero. It teaches passive obedience to despotism
more strongly than any text teaches the lawfulness of slavery.
Accordingly, it has been quoted for ages by the supporters of arbitrary
power, and made the stronghold of tyranny. Did our fathers acquiesce in
the most obvious interpretation of this text? Because the first
Christians were taught to obey despotic rule, did our fathers feel as if
Christianity had stript men of their rights? Did they argue that tyranny
was to be excused, because forcible opposition to it is in most cases
wrong? Did they argue that absolute power ceases to be unjust, because,
as a general rule, it is the duty of subjects to obey? Did they infer
that bad institutions ought to be perpetual, because the subversion of
them by force will almost always inflict greater evil than it removes?
No; they were wiser interpreters of God's Word. They believed that
despotism was a wrong, notwithstanding the general obligation upon its
subjects to obey; and that whenever a whole people should so feel the
wrong as to demand its removal, the time for removing it had fully come.
Such is the school in which we here have been brought up. To us, it is
no mean proof of the divine original of Christianity, that it teaches
human brotherhood and favors human rights; and yet, on the ground of two
or three passages, which admit different constructions, we make
Christianity the minister of slavery, the forger of chains for those
whom it came to make free.

It is a plain rule of scriptural criticism, that particular texts
should be interpreted according to the general tenor and spirit of
Christianity. And what is the general, the perpetual teaching of
Christianity in regard to social duty? "All things whatsoever ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law
and the prophets." Now does not every man feel that nothing, nothing,
could induce him to consent to be a slave? Does he not feel, that, if
reduced to this abject lot, his whole nature, his reason, conscience,
affections, would cry out against it as the greatest of calamities and
wrongs? Can he pretend, then, that in holding others in bondage he does
to his neighbour what he would that his neighbour should do to him? Of
what avail are a few texts, which were designed for local and temporary
use, when urged against the vital, essential spirit, and the plainest
precepts of our religion?

I close this section with a few extracts from a recent work of one of
our most distinguished writers; not that I think additional arguments
necessary, but because the authority of Scripture is more successfully
used than any thing else to reconcile good minds to slavery.

"The very course, which the Gospel takes on this subject, seems to have
been the only one that could have been taken in order to effect the
universal abolition of slavery. The gospel was designed, not for one
race or for one time, but for all men and for all times. It looked not
at the abolition of this form of evil for that age alone, but for its
universal abolition. Hence the important object of its author was to
gain it a lodgment in every part of the known world; so that, by its
universal diffusion among all classes of society, it might quietly and
peacefully modify and subdue the evil passions of men; and thus, without
violence work a revolution in the whole mass of mankind. In this manner
alone could its object, a universal moral revolution, have been
accomplished. For if it had forbidden the _evil_ instead of subverting
the _principle_, if it had proclaimed the unlawfulness of slavery, and
taught slaves to _resist_ the oppression of their masters, it would
instantly have arrayed the two parties in deadly hostility throughout
the civilized world; its announcement would have been the signal of
servile war; and the very name of the Christian religion would have been
forgotten amidst the agitations of universal bloodshed. The fact, under
these circumstances, that the Gospel does not forbid slavery, affords no
reason to suppose that it does not mean to prohibit it; much less does
it afford ground for belief that Jesus Christ intended to authorize it."

"It is important to remember that two grounds of moral obligation are
distinctly recognised in the Gospel. The first is our duty to man as
man; that is, on the ground of the relation which men sustain to each
other; the second is our duty to man as a creature of God; that is, on
the relation which we all sustain to God.--Now, it is to be observed,
that it is precisely upon this latter ground that the slave is commanded
to obey his master. It is never urged like the duty to obedience to
parents, because it is right, but because the cultivation of meekness
and forbearance under injury will be well pleasing unto God.--The manner
in which the duty of servants or slaves is inculcated, therefore,
affords no ground for the assertion that the Gospel authorizes one man
to hold another in bondage, any more than the command to honor the king,
when that king was Nero, authorized the tyranny of the emperor; or than
the command to turn the other cheek, when one is smitten, justifies the
infliction of violence by an injurious man."[1]

FOOTNOTE:

[1] Wayland's Elements of Moral Science, pages 225-6. The
discussion of Slavery, in the chapter from which these extracts are
made, is well worthy attention.



CHAPTER VI.

MEANS OF REMOVING SLAVERY.


How slavery shall be removed, is a question for the slaveholder, and one
which he alone can fully answer. He alone has an intimate knowledge of
the character and habits of the slaves, to which the means of
emancipation should be carefully adapted. General views and principles
may and should be suggested at a distance; but the mode of applying them
can be understood only by those who dwell on the spot where the evil
exists. To the slaveholder belongs the duty of settling and employing
the best methods of liberation, and to no other. We have no right of
interference, nor do we desire it. We hold that the dangers of
emancipation, if such there are, would be indefinitely increased, were
the boon to come to the slave from a foreign hand, were he to see it
forced on the master by a foreign power. It is of the highest
importance, that slavery should be succeeded by a friendly relation
between master and slave; and to produce this, the latter must see in
the former his benefactor and deliverer. His liberty must seem to him
an expression of benevolence and regard for his rights. He must put
confidence in his superiors, and look to them cheerfully and gratefully
for counsel and aid. Let him feel, that liberty has been wrung from an
unwilling master, who would willingly replace the chain, and jealousy,
vindictiveness, and hatred would spring up, to blight the innocence and
happiness of his new freedom, and to make it a peril to himself and all
around him. I believe, indeed, that emancipation, though so bestowed,
would be better than everlasting bondage; but the responsibility of so
conferring it is one that none of us are anxious to assume.

We cannot but fear much from the experiment now in progress in the West
Indies, on account of its being the work of a foreign hand. The
planters, especially of Jamaica, have opposed the mother-country with a
pertinaciousness bordering on insanity; have done much to exasperate the
slaves, whose freedom they could not prevent; have done nothing to
prepare them for liberty; have met them with gloom on their
countenances, and with evil auguries on their lips; have taught them to
look abroad for relief, and to see in their masters only obstructions to
the amelioration of their lot. It is possible that under all these
obstacles emancipation may succeed. God grant it success! If it fail,
the planter will have brought the ruin very much on himself. Policy, as
well as duty, so plainly taught him to take into his own hands the work
which a superior power had begun, to spare no effort, no expense, for
binding to him by new ties those who were to throw off their former
chains, that we know not how to account for his conduct, but by
supposing that his unhappy position as a slaveholder had robbed him of
his reason, as well as blunted his moral sense.

In this country no power but that of the slaveholding States can remove
the evil, and none of us are anxious to take the office from their
hands. They alone can do it safely. They alone can determine and apply
the true and sure means of emancipation. That such means exist I cannot
doubt; for emancipation has already been carried through successfully in
other countries; and even were there no precedent, I should be sure,
that, under God's benevolent and righteous government, there could not
be a necessity for holding human beings in perpetual bondage. This
faith, however, is not universal. Many, when they hear of the evils of
slavery, say, "It is bad, but remediless. There are no means of relief."
They say, in a despairing tone, "Give us your plan;" and justify their
indifference to emancipation, by what they call its hopelessness. This
state of mind has induced me to offer a few remarks on the means of
removing slavery; not that I suppose, that an individual so distant can
do the work to which the whole intellect and benevolence of the South
should be summoned, but that I may suggest a few principles, which I
think would insure a happy result to the benevolent enterprise, and that
I may remove the incredulity of which I have complained.

What, then, is to be done for the removal of slavery? In the first
place, the slaveholders should solemnly disclaim the right of property
in human beings. The great principle, that man cannot belong to man,
should be distinctly, solemnly recognised. The slave should be
acknowledged as a partaker of a common nature, as having the essential
rights of humanity. This great truth lies at the foundation of every
wise plan for his relief. The cordial admission of it would give a
consciousness of dignity, of grandeur, to efforts for emancipation.
There is, indeed, a grandeur in the idea of raising more than two
millions of human beings to the enjoyment of human rights, to the
blessings of Christian civilization, to the means of indefinite
improvement. The slaveholding States are called to a nobler work of
benevolence than is committed to any other communities. They should
comprehend its dignity. This they cannot do, till the slave is truly,
sincerely, with the mind and heart, recognised as a Man, till be ceases
to be regarded as Property.

It may be asked, whether, in calling the slaveholding States to abolish
property in the slave, I intend that he should be immediately set free
from all his present restraints. By no means. Nothing is farther from my
thoughts. The slave cannot rightfully and should not be owned by the
Individual. But, like every other citizen, he belongs to the Community,
he is subject to the community, and the community has a right and is
bound to continue all such restraints, as its own safety and the
well-being of the slave demand. It would be cruelty, not kindness, to
the latter to give him a freedom, which he is unprepared to understand
or enjoy. It would be cruelty to strike the fetters from a man, whose
first steps would infallibly lead him to a precipice. The slave should
not have an owner, but he should have a guardian. He needs authority, to
supply the lack of that discretion which he has not yet attained; but it
should be the authority of a friend; an official authority, conferred by
the state, and for which there should be responsibleness to the state,
an authority especially designed to prepare its subjects for personal
freedom. The slave should not, in the first instance, be allowed to
wander at his will beyond the plantation on which he toils; and if he
cannot be induced to work by rational and natural motives, he should be
obliged to labor; on the same principles on which the vagrant in other
communities is confined and compelled to earn his bread. The gift of
liberty would be a mere name, and worse than nominal, were he to be let
loose on society under circumstances driving him to crimes, for which he
would be condemned to severer bondage than he had escaped. Many
restraints must be continued; but continued, not because the colored
race are property, not because they are bound to live and toil for an
owner, but solely and wholly because their own innocence, security, and
education, and the public order and peace, require them, during the
present incapacity, to be restrained. It should be remembered, that this
incapacity is not their fault, but their misfortune; that not they, but
the community, are responsible for it; and that the community cannot
without crime profit by its own wrong. If the government should make any
distinctions among the citizens, it should be in behalf of the injured.
Instead of urging the past existence of slavery, and the incapacity
which it has induced, as apologies or reasons for continuing the yoke,
the community should find in these very circumstances new obligations to
effort for the wronged.

There is but one weighty argument against immediate emancipation,
namely, that the slave would not support himself and his children by
honest industry; that, having always worked on compulsion, he will not
work without it; that, having always labored from another's will, he
will not labor from his own; that there is no spring of exertion in his
own mind; that he is unused to forethought, providence, and self-denial,
and the responsibilities of domestic life; that freedom would produce
idleness; idleness, want; want, crime; and that crime, when it should
become the habit of numbers, would bring misery, perhaps ruin, not only
on the offenders, but the state. Here lies the strength of the argument
for continuing present restraint. Give the slaves disposition and power
to support themselves and their families by honest industry, and
complete emancipation should not be delayed one hour.

The great step, then, towards the removal of slavery is to prepare the
slaves for self-support. And this work seems attended with no peculiar
difficulty. The colored man is not a savage, to whom toil is torture,
who has centred every idea of happiness and dignity in a wild freedom,
who must exchange the boundless forest for a narrow plantation, and bend
his proud neck to an unknown yoke. Labor was his first lesson, and he
has been repeating it all his life. Can it be a hard task to teach him
to labor for himself, to work from impulses in his own breast?

Much may be done at once to throw the slave on himself, to accustom him
to work for his own and his family's support, to awaken forethought, and
strengthen the habit of providing for the future. On every plantation
there are slaves, who would do more for wages than from fear of
punishment. There are those, who, if entrusted with a piece of ground,
would support themselves and pay a rent in kind. There are those, who,
if moderate task-work were given them, would gain their whole
subsistence in their own time. Now every such man ought to be committed
very much to himself. It is a crime to subject to the whip a man who can
be made to toil from rational and honorable motives. This partial
introduction of freedom would form a superior class among the slaves,
whose example would have immense moral power on those who needed
compulsion. The industrious and thriving would give an impulse to the
whole race. It is important that the property, thus earned by the slave,
should be made as sacred as that of any other member of the community,
and for this end he should be enabled to obtain redress of wrongs. In
case of being injured by his master in this or in any respect, he should
either be set free, or, if unprepared for liberty, should be transferred
to another guardian.

As another means of raising the slave and fitting him to act from higher
motives than compulsion, a system of bounties and rewards should be
introduced. New privileges, increased indulgences, honorable
distinctions, expressions of respect, should be awarded to the honest
and industrious. No people are more alive to commendation and honorable
distinction than the colored race. Prizes for good conduct, adapted to
their tastes and character, might in a good degree supersede the lash.
Their love of ornament might be turned to a good account. The object is
to bring the slave to labor from other motives than brutal compulsion.
Such motives may easily be found, if the end be conscientiously
proposed.

One of the great means of elevating the slave, and calling forth his
energies, is to place his domestic relations on new ground. This is
essential. We wish him to labor for his family. Then he must have a
family to labor for. Then his wife and children must be truly his own.
Then his home must be inviolate. Then the responsibilities of a husband
and father must be laid on him. It is agreed that he will be fit for
freedom, as soon as the support of his family shall become his habit and
his happiness; and how can he be brought to this condition, as long as
he shall see no sanctity in the marriage-bond, as long as he shall see
his wife and his children exposed to indignity and to sale, as long as
their support shall not be entrusted to his care? No measure for
preparing the slave for liberty can be so effectual as the improvement
of his domestic lot. The whole power of religion should be employed to
impress him with the sacredness and duties of marriage. The chaste and
the faithful in this connexion should receive open and strong marks of
respect. They should be treated as at the head of their race. The
husband and wife, who prove false to each other, and who will not labor
for their children, should be visited with the severest rebuke. To
create a sense of domestic obligation, to awaken domestic affections, to
give the means of domestic happiness, to fix deeply a conviction of the
indissolubleness of marriage, and of the solemnity of the parental
relation, these are the essential means of raising the slave to a
virtuous and happy freedom. All other men labor for their families; and
so will the slave, if the sentiments of a man be cherished in his
breast. We keep him in bondage, because, if free, he will leave his wife
and children to want; and this bondage break down all the feelings and
habits which would incite him to toil for their support. Not a step will
be taken towards the preparation of the slave for voluntary labor, till
his domestic rights be respected. The violation of these cries to God,
more than any other evil of his lot.

To carry this and all other means of improvement into effect, it is
essential that the slave should no longer be bought and sold. As long as
he is made an article of merchandise, he cannot be fitted for the
offices of a man. He will have little motive to accumulate comforts and
ornaments in his hut, if at any moment he may be torn from it. While
treated as property, he will have little encouragement to accumulate
property, for it cannot be secure. While his wife and children may be
exposed at auction, and carried, he knows not where, can he be expected
to feel and act as a husband and father? It is time, that this Christian
and civilized country should no longer be dishonored by one of the worst
usages of barbarism. Break up the slave-market, and one of the chief
obstructions to emancipation will be removed.

Let me only add, that religious instruction should go hand in hand with
all other means for preparing the slave for freedom. The colored race
are said to be peculiarly susceptible of the religious sentiment. If
this be addressed wisely and powerfully, if the slave be brought to feel
his relation and accountableness to God, and to comprehend the spirit of
Christianity, he is fit for freedom. To accomplish this work, perhaps
preaching should not be the only or chief instrument. Were the whole
colored population to be assembled into Sunday-schools, and were the
whites to become their teachers, a new and interesting relation would be
formed between the races, and an influence be exerted which would do
much to insure safety to the gift of freedom.

In these remarks I have not intended to say that emancipation is an easy
work, the work of a day, a good to be accomplished without sacrifices
and toil. The colored man is, indeed, singularly susceptible of
improvement, in consequence of the strength of his propensities to
imitation and sympathy. But all great changes in society have their
difficulties and inconveniences, and demand patient labor. I ask for no
precipitate measures, no violent changes. I ask only that the
slaveholding States would resolve conscientiously and in good faith to
remove this greatest of moral evils and wrongs, and would bring
immediately to the work all their intelligence, virtue, and power. That
its difficulties would yield before such energies, who can doubt? Our
weakness for holy enterprises lies generally in our own reluctant wills.
Breathe into men a fervent purpose, and you awaken powers before
unknown. How soon would slavery disappear, were the obligation to remove
it thoroughly understood and deeply felt! We are told that the
slaveholding States have recently prospered beyond all precedent. This
accession to their wealth should be consecrated to the work of
liberating their fellow-creatures. Not one indulgence should be added to
their modes of life, until the cry of the oppressed has ceased from
their fields, until the rights of every human being are restored.
Government should devote itself to this as its great object.
Legislatures should meet to free the slave. The church should rest not,
day or night, till this stain be wiped away. Let the deliberation of
the wise, the energies of the active, the wealth of the prosperous, the
prayers and toils of the good, have Emancipation for their great end.
Let this be discussed habitually in the family circle, in the conference
of Christians, in the halls of legislation. Let it mingle with the first
thoughts of the slaveholder in the morning and the last at night. Who
can doubt that to such a spirit God would reveal the means of wise and
powerful action? There is but one obstacle to emancipation, and that is,
the want of that spirit in which Christians and freemen should resolve
to exterminate slavery.

I have said nothing of colonization among the means of removing slavery,
because I believe that to rely on it for this object would be equivalent
to a resolution to perpetuate the evil without end. Whatever good it may
do abroad, and I trust it will do much, it promises little at home. If
the slaveholding States, however, should engage in colonization, with a
firm faith in its practicableness, with an energy proportionate to its
greatness, and with a sincere regard to the welfare of the colored race,
I am confident it will not fail from want of sympathy and aid on the
part of the other States. In truth, these States will not withhold their
hearts or hands from any well considered plan for the removal of
slavery.

I have said nothing of the inconveniences and sufferings, which, it is
urged, will follow emancipation, be it ever so safe; for these, if real,
weigh nothing against the claims of justice. The most common objection
is, that a mixture of the two races will be the result. Can this
objection be urged in good faith? Can this mixture go on faster or more
criminally than at the present moment? Can the slaveholder use the word
"amalgamation" without a blush? Nothing, nothing, can arrest this evil
but the raising of the colored woman to a new sense of character, to a
new self-respect; and this she cannot gain but by being made free. That
emancipation will have its evils we know; for all great changes, however
beneficial, in the social condition of a people, must interfere with
some interests, must bring loss or hardship to one class or another; but
the evils of slavery exceed beyond measure the greatest which can attend
its removal. Let the slaveholder desire earnestly, and in the spirit of
self-sacrifice, to restore freedom, to secure the rights and the
happiness of the slave, and a new light will break upon his path. "Every
mountain of difficulty will be brought low, and the rough places be made
smooth;" the means of duty will become clear. But without this spirit,
no eloquence of man or angel can persuade the slaveholder of the safety
of emancipation.



CHAPTER VII.

ABOLITIONISM.


The word ABOLITIONIST in its true meaning comprehends every man who
feels himself bound to exert his influence for removing slavery. It is a
name of honorable import, and was worn, not long ago, by such men as
Franklin and Jay. Events, however, continually modify terms; and, of
late, the word ABOLITIONIST has been narrowed from its original import,
and restricted to the members of associations formed among us to promote
Immediate Emancipation. It is not without reluctance that I give up to a
small body a name which every good man ought to bear. But to make myself
intelligible and to avoid circumlocution, I shall use the word in what
is now its common acceptation.

I approach this subject unwillingly, because it will be my duty to
censure those whom at this moment I would on no account hold up to
public displeasure. The persecutions, which the abolitionists have
suffered and still suffer, awaken only my grief and indignation, and
incline me to defend them to the full extent which truth and justice
will admit. To the persecuted of whatever name my sympathies are
pledged, and especially to those who are persecuted in a cause
substantially good. I would not for worlds utter a word to justify the
violence recently offered to a party, composed very much of men
blameless in life, and holding the doctrine of nonresistance to
injuries; and of women, exemplary in their various relations, and
acting, however mistakenly, from benevolent and pious impulses.

Of the abolitionists I know very few; but I am bound to say of these,
that I honor them for their strength of principle, their sympathy with
their fellow-creatures, and their active goodness. As a party, they are
singularly free from political and religious sectarianism, and have been
distinguished by the absence of management, calculation, and worldly
wisdom. That they have ever proposed or desired insurrection or violence
among the slaves there is no reason to believe. All their principles
repel the supposition. It is a remarkable fact, that, though the South
and the North have been leagued to crush them, though they have been
watched by a million of eyes, and though prejudice has been prepared to
detect the slightest sign of corrupt communication with the slave, yet
this crime has not been fastened on a single member of this body. A few
individuals at the South have, indeed, been tortured or murdered by
enraged multitudes, on the charge of stirring up revolt; but their guilt
and their connexion with the abolitionists were not, and from the
circumstances and the nature of the case could not be, established by
those deliberate and regular modes of investigation, which are necessary
to an impartial judgment. Crimes, detected and hastily punished by the
multitude in a moment of feverish suspicion and wild alarm, are
generally creatures of fear and passion. The act which caused the
present explosion of popular feeling was the sending of pamphlets by the
Abolitionists into the slave-holding States. In so doing, they acted
weakly and without decorum; but they must have been insane, had they
intended to stir up a servile war; for the pamphlets were sent, not by
stealth, but by the public mail; and not to the slaves, but to the
masters; to men in public life, to men of the greatest influence and
distinction. Strange incendiaries these! They flourished their
firebrands about at noon-day; and, still more, put them into the hands
of the very men whom it is said they wished to destroy. They are
accused, indeed, of having sent some of the pamphlets to the free
colored people, and if so, they acted with great and culpable rashness.
But the publicity of the whole transaction absolves them of corrupt
design.

The charge of corrupt design, so vehemently brought against the
abolitionists, is groundless. The charge of fanaticism I have no desire
to repel. But in the present age it will not do to deal harshly with the
characters of fanatics. They form the mass of the people. Religion and
Politics, Philanthropy and Temperance, Nullification and Antimasonry,
the Levelling Spirit of the working man, and the Speculating Spirit of
the man of business, all run into fanaticism. This is the type of all
our epidemics. A sober man who can find? The abolitionists have but
caught the fever of the day. That they should have escaped it would have
been a moral miracle.--I offer these remarks simply from a sense of
justice. Had not a persecution, without parallel in our country, broken
forth against this society, I should not have spoken a word in their
defence. But whilst I have power I owe it to the Persecuted. If they
have laid themselves open to the laws, let them suffer. For all their
errors and sins let the tribunal of public opinion inflict the full
measure of rebuke which they deserve. I ask no favor for them. But they
shall not be stripped of the rights of man, of rights guaranteed by the
laws and Constitution, without one voice, at least, being raised in
their defence.

The abolitionists have done wrong, I believe; nor is their wrong to be
winked at, because done fanatically or with good intention; for how
much mischief may be wrought with good design! They have fallen into the
common error of enthusiasts, that of exaggerating their object, of
feeling as if no evil existed but that which they opposed, and as if no
guilt could be compared with that of countenancing or upholding it. The
tone of their newspapers, as far as I have seen them, has often been
fierce, bitter, and abusive. Their imaginations have fed on pictures of
the cruelty to which the slave is exposed, till they have seemed to
think that his abode was perpetually resounding with the lash, and
ringing with shrieks of agony; and accordingly, the slaveholder has been
held up to execration, as a monster of cruelty. I know that many of
their publications have been calm, well considered, and abounding in
strong reasoning. But those, which have been most widely scattered and
are most adapted to act on the common mind, have had a tone unfriendly
both to manners and to the spirit of our religion. I doubt not that the
majority of the abolitionists condemn the coarseness and violence of
which I complain. But in this, as in most associations, the many are
represented and controlled by the few, and are made to sanction and
become responsible for what they disapprove.

One of their errors has been the adoption of "Immediate Emancipation" as
their motto. To this they owe not a little of their unpopularity. This
phrase has contributed much to spread far and wide the belief, that they
wished immediately to free the slave from all his restraints. They made
explanations; but thousands heard the motto who never saw the
explanation; and it is certainly unwise for a party to choose a
watchword, which can be rescued from misapprehension only by labored
explication. It may also be doubted, whether they ever removed the
objection which their language so universally raised, whether they have
not always recommended a precipitate action, inconsistent with the
well-being of the slave and the order of the state.

Another objection to their movements is, that they have sought to
accomplish their objects by a system of Agitation; that is, by a system
of affiliated societies, gathered, and held together, and extended, by
passionate eloquence. This, in truth, is the common mode by which all
projects are now accomplished. The age of individual action is gone.
Truth cannot be heard unless shouted by a crowd. The weightiest argument
for a doctrine is the number which adopts it. Accordingly, to gather and
organize multitudes is the first care of him who would remove an abuse
or spread a reform. That the expedient is in some cases useful is not
denied. But generally it is a showy, noisy mode of action, appealing to
the passions, and driving men into exaggeration; and there are special
reasons why such a mode should not be employed in regard to slavery; for
slavery is so to be opposed as not to exasperate the slave, or endanger
the community in which he lives. The abolitionists might have formed an
association; but it should have been an elective one. Men of strong
principles, judiciousness, sobriety, should have been carefully sought
as members. Much good might have been accomplished by the coöperation of
such philanthropists. Instead of this, the abolitionists sent forth
their orators, some of them transported with fiery zeal, to sound the
alarm against slavery through the land, to gather together young and
old, pupils from schools, females hardly arrived at years of discretion,
the ignorant, the excitable, the impetuous, and to organize these into
associations for the battle against oppression. Very unhappily they
preached their doctrine to the colored people, and collected these into
their societies. To this mixed and excitable multitude, minute,
heartrending descriptions of slavery were given in the piercing tones of
passion; and slaveholders were held up as monsters of cruelty and crime.
Now to this procedure I must object as unwise, as unfriendly to the
spirit of Christianity, and as increasing, in a degree, the perils of
the slaveholding States. Among the unenlightened, whom they so
powerfully addressed, was there not reason to fear that some might feel
themselves called to subvert this system of wrong, by whatever means?
From the free colored people this danger was particularly to be
apprehended. It is easy for us to place ourselves in their situation.
Suppose that millions of white men were enslaved, robbed of all their
rights, in a neighbouring country, and enslaved by a black race, who had
torn their ancestors from the shores on which our fathers had lived. How
deeply should we feel their wrongs! And would it be wonderful, if, in a
moment of passionate excitement, some enthusiast should think it his
duty to use his communication with his injured brethren for stirring
them up to revolt?

Such is the danger from abolitionism to the slaveholding States. I know
no other. It is but justice to add, that the principle of nonresistance,
which the abolitionists have connected with their passionate appeals,
seems to have counteracted the peril. I know not a case in which a
member of an anti-slavery society has been proved by legal investigation
to have tampered with the slaves; and after the strongly pronounced and
unanimous opinion of the free States on the subject, this danger may be
considered as having passed away. Still a mode of action, requiring
these checks, is open to strong objections, and ought to be abandoned.
Happy will it be, if the disapprobation of friends, as well as of foes,
should give to abolitionists a caution and moderation, which would
secure the acquiescence of the judicious, and the sympathies of the
friends of mankind! Let not a good cause find its chief obstruction in
its defenders. Let the truth, and the whole truth, be spoken without
paltering or fear; but so spoken as to convince, not inflame, as to give
no alarm to the wise, and no needless exasperation to the selfish and
passionate.

I know it is said, that nothing can be done but by excitement and
vehemence; that the zeal which dares every thing is the only power to
oppose to long rooted abuses. But it is not true that God has committed
the great work of reforming the world to passion. Love is a minister of
good only when it gives energy to the intellect, and allies itself with
wisdom. The abolitionists often speak of Luther's vehemence as a model
to future reformers. But who, that has read history, does not know that
Luther's reformation was accompanied by tremendous miseries and crimes,
and that its progress was soon arrested? and is there not reason to
fear, that the fierce, bitter, persecuting spirit, which he breathed
into the work, not only tarnished its glory, but limited its power? One
great principle, which we should lay down as immovably true, is, that if
a good work cannot be carried on by the calm, self-controlled,
benevolent spirit of Christianity, then the time for doing it has not
come. God asks not the aid of our vices. He can overrule them for good,
but they are not the chosen instruments of human happiness.

We, indeed, need zeal, fervent zeal, such as will fear no man's power,
and shrink before no man's frown, such as will sacrifice life to truth
and freedom. But this energy of will ought to be joined with deliberate
wisdom and universal charity. It ought to regard the whole, in its
strenuous efforts for a part. Above all, it ought to ask first, not what
means are most effectual, but what means are sanctioned by the Moral Law
and by Christian Love. We ought to think much more of walking in the
right path than of reaching our end. We should desire virtue more than
success. If by one wrong deed we could accomplish the liberation of
millions, and in no other way, we ought to feel that this good, for
which, perhaps, we had prayed with an agony of desire, was denied us by
God, was reserved for other times and other hands. The first object of a
true zeal is, not that we may prosper, but that we may do right, that we
may keep ourselves unspotted from every evil thought, word, and deed.
Under the inspiration of such a zeal, we shall not find in the greatness
of an enterprise an apology for intrigue or for violence. We shall not
need immediate success to spur us to exertion. We shall not distrust
God, because he does not yield to the cry of human impatience. We shall
not forsake a good work, because it does not advance with a rapid step.
Faith in truth, virtue, and Almighty Goodness, will save us alike from
rashness and despair.

In lamenting the adoption by the abolitionists of the system of
agitation or extensive excitement, I do not mean to condemn this mode of
action as only evil. There are cases to which it is adapted; and, in
general, the impulse which it gives is better than the selfish, sluggish
indifference to good objects, into which the multitude so generally
fall. But it must not supersede or be compared with Individual action.
The enthusiasm of the Individual in a good cause is a mighty power. The
forced, artificially excited enthusiasm of a multitude, kept together by
an organization which makes them the instruments of a few leading minds,
works superficially, and often injuriously. I fear that the native,
noble-minded enthusiast often loses that single-heartedness which is his
greatest power, when once he strives to avail himself of the machinery
of associations. The true power of a Reformer lies in speaking truth
purely from his own soul, without changing one tone for the purpose of
managing or enlarging a party. Truth, to be powerful, must speak in her
own words, and in no other's, must come forth with the authority and
spontaneous energy of inspiration from the depths of the soul. It is the
voice of the Individual giving utterance to the irrepressible
conviction of his own thoroughly moved spirit, and not the shout of a
crowd, which carries truth far into other souls, and insures it a stable
empire on earth. For want of this, most which is now done is done
superficially. The progress of society depends chiefly on the honest
inquiry of the Individual into the particular work ordained him by God,
and on his simplicity in following out his convictions. This moral
independence is mightier, as well as holier, than the practice of
getting warm in crowds, and of waiting for an impulse from multitudes.
The moment a man parts with moral independence; the moment he judges of
duty, not from the inward voice, but from the interests and will of a
party; the moment he commits himself to a leader or a body, and winks at
evil, because division would hurt the cause; the moment he shakes off
his particular responsibility, because he is but one of a thousand or
million by whom the evil is done; that moment he parts with his moral
power. He is shorn of the energy of singlehearted faith in the Right and
the True. He hopes from man's policy what nothing but loyalty to God can
accomplish. He substitutes coarse weapons forged by man's wisdom for
celestial power.

The adoption of the common system of agitation by the abolitionists has
proved signally unsuccessful. From the beginning it created alarm in the
considerate, and strengthened the sympathies of the free States with
the slaveholder. It made converts of a few individuals, but alienated
multitudes. Its influence at the South has been evil without mixture. It
has stirred up bitter passions and a fierce fanaticism, which have shut
every ear and every heart against its arguments and persuasions. These
effects are the more to be deplored, because the hope of freedom to the
slave lies chiefly in the dispositions of his master. The abolitionist
proposed, indeed, to convert the slaveholders; and for this end he
approached them with vituperation, and exhausted on them the vocabulary
of abuse! And he has reaped as he sowed. His vehement pleadings for the
slaves have been answered by wilder ones from the slaveholder; and, what
is worse, deliberate defences of slavery have been sent forth, in the
spirit of the dark ages, and in defiance of the moral convictions and
feelings of the Christian and civilized world. Thus, with good purposes,
nothing seems to have been gained. Perhaps (though I am anxious to repel
the thought) something has been lost to the cause of freedom and
humanity.

I earnestly desire that abolitionism may lay aside the form of public
agitation, and seek its end by wiser and milder means. I desire as
earnestly, and more earnestly, that it may not be put down by lawless
force. There is a worse evil than abolitionism, and that is the
suppression of it by lawless force. No evil greater than this can exist
in the State, and this is never needed. Be it granted, that it is the
design, or direct, palpable, tendency of abolitionism, to stir up
insurrection at the South, and that no existing laws can meet the
exigency. It is the solemn duty of the Chief Magistrate of the State to
assemble immediately the legislative bodies, and their duty immediately
to apply the remedy of Law. Let every friend of freedom, let every good
man lift up his voice against mobs. Through these lies our road to
tyranny. It is these which have spread the opinion, so common at the
South, that the free States cannot long sustain republican institutions.
No man seems awake to their inconsistency with liberty. Our whole
phraseology is in fault. Mobs call themselves, and are called, the
People, when in truth they assail immediately the sovereignty of the
People, involve the guilt of usurpation and rebellion against the
People. It is the fundamental principle of our institutions, that the
People is Sovereign. But by the People we mean not an individual here
and there, not a knot of twenty or a hundred or a thousand individuals
in this or that spot, but the Community formed into a body politic, and
expressing and executing its will through regularly appointed organs.
There is but one expression of the will or Sovereignty of the People,
and this is Law. Law is the voice, the living act of the People. It has
no other. When an individual suspends the operation of Law, resists its
established ministers, and forcibly substitutes for it his own will, he
is a usurper and rebel. The same guilt attaches to a combination of
individuals. These, whether many or few, in forcibly superseding public
law and establishing their own, rise up against the People, as truly as
a single usurper. The People should assert its insulted majesty, its
menaced sovereignty, in one case as decidedly as in the other. The
difference between the mob and the individual is, that the usurpation of
the latter has a permanence not easily given to the tumultuary movements
of the former. The distinction is a weighty one. Little importance is
due to sudden bursts of the populace, because they so soon pass away.
But when mobs are organized, as in the French Revolution, or when they
are deliberately resolved on and systematically resorted to, as the
means of putting down an odious party, they lose this apology. A
conspiracy exists against the Sovereignty of the People, and ought to be
suppressed, as among the chief evils of the state.

In this part of the country our abhorrence of mobs is lessened by the
fact, that they were thought to do good service in the beginning of the
Revolution. They probably were useful then; and why? The work of that
day was Revolution. To subvert a government was the fearful task to
which our fathers thought themselves summoned. Their duty they believed
was Insurrection. In such a work mobs had their place. The government of
the State was in the hands of its foes. The People could not use the
regular organs of administration, for these were held and employed by
the power which they wished to crush. Violent, irregular efforts
belonged to that day of convulsion. To resist and subvert institutions
is the very work of mobs; and when these institutions are popular, when
their sole end is to express and execute the will of the People, then
mobs are rebellion against the People, and as such should be understood
and suppressed. A people is never more insulted than when a mob takes
its name. Abolition must not be put down by lawless force. The attempt
so to destroy it ought to fail. Such attempts place abolitionism on a
new ground. They make it, not the cause of a few enthusiasts, but the
cause of freedom. They identify it with all our rights and popular
institutions. If the Constitution and the laws cannot put it down, it
must stand; and he who attempts its overthrow by lawless force is a
rebel and usurper. The Supremacy of Law and the Sovereignty of the
People are one and indivisible. To touch the one is to violate the
other. This should be laid down as a first principle, an axiom, a
fundamental article of faith which it must be heresy to question. A
newspaper, which openly or by inuendoes excites a mob, should be
regarded as sounding the tocsin of insurrection. On this subject the
public mind slumbers, and needs to be awakened, lest it sleep the sleep
of death.

How obvious is it, that pretexts for mobs will never be wanting, if this
disorganizing mode of redressing evils be in any case allowed! We all
recollect, that when a recent attempt was made on the life of the
President of the United States, the cry broke forth from his friends,
"that the assassin was instigated by the continual abuse poured forth on
this distinguished man, and especially by the violent speeches uttered
daily in the Senate of the United States." Suppose, now, that his
adherents, to save the Chief Magistrate from murder, and to guard his
constitutional advisers, had formed themselves into mobs, to scatter the
meetings of his opponents. And suppose that they had resolved to put to
silence the legislators, who, it was said, had abused their freedom of
speech to blacken the character and put in peril the life of the Chief
Magistrate. Would they not have had a better pretext than mobs against
abolition? Was not assassination attempted? Had not the President
received letters threatening his life unless he would change his
measures? Can a year or a month pass, which will not afford equally
grave reasons for insurrections of the populace? A system of mobs and a
free government cannot stand together. The men who incite the former,
and especially those who organize them, are among the worst enemies of
the state. Of their motives I do not speak. They may think themselves
doing service to their country, for there is no limit to the delusions
of the times. I speak only of the nature and tendency of their actions.
They should be suppressed at once by law, and by the moral sentiment of
an insulted people.

In addition to all other reasons, the honor of our nation, and the cause
of free institutions should plead with us to defend the laws from
insult, and social order from subversion. The moral influence and
reputation of our country are fast declining abroad. A letter, recently
received from one of the most distinguished men of the continent of
Europe, expresses the universal feeling on the other side of the ocean.
After speaking of the late encroachments on liberty in France, he says,
"On your side of the Atlantic, you contribute, also, to put in peril the
cause of liberty. We did take pleasure in thinking that there was at
least in the New World a country, where liberty was well understood,
where all rights were guarantied, where the people was proving itself
wise and virtuous. For some time past, the news we receive from America
is discouraging. In all your large cities we see mobs after mobs, and
all directed to an odious purpose. When we speak of liberty, its enemies
reply to us by _pointing to America_." The persecuted abolitionists have
the sympathies of the civilized world. The country which persecutes them
is covering itself with disgrace, and filling the hearts of the friends
of freedom with fear and gloom. Already despotism is beginning to
rejoice in the fulfilment of its prophecies, in our prostrated laws and
dying liberties. Liberty is, indeed, threatened with death in a country,
where any class of men are stripped with impunity of their
constitutional rights. All rights feel the blow. A community, giving up
any of its citizens to oppression and violence, invites the chains which
it suffers others to wear.



CHAPTER VIII.

DUTIES.


A few words remain to be spoken in relation to the duties of the Free
States. These need to feel the responsibilities and dangers of their
present position. The country is approaching a crisis on the greatest
question which can be proposed to it, a question not of profit or loss,
of tariffs or banks, or any temporary interests, but a question
involving the First Principles of freedom, morals, and religion. Yet who
seems to be awake to the solemnity of the present moment? Who seems to
be settling for himself the great fundamental truths, by which private
efforts and public measures are to be determined?

The North has duties to perform towards the South and towards itself.
Let it resolve to perform them faithfully, impartially; asking first for
the Right, and putting entire confidence in Well-doing. The North is
bound to suppress all attempts of its citizens, should such be
threatened, to excite insurrection at the South, all attempts to tamper
with and to dispose to violence the minds of the slaves. The severest
laws which consist with civilization may justly be resorted to for this
end, and they should be strictly enforced. I believe, indeed, that there
is no special need for new legislation on the subject. I believe that
there was never a moment, when the slaveholding States had so little to
apprehend from the free, when the moral feeling of the community in
regard to the crime of instigating revolt was so universal, thorough,
and inflexible, as at the present moment. Still, if the South needs
other demonstrations than it now has of the moral and friendly spirit
which in this respect pervades the North, let them be given. Still more,
it is the duty of the free States to act by opinion, where they cannot
act by law, to discountenance a system of agitation, on the subject of
slavery, to frown on passionate appeals to the ignorant, and on
indiscriminate and inflammatory vituperation of the slaveholder. This
obligation, also, has been and will be fulfilled. There was never a
stronger feeling of responsibility in this particular than at the
present moment.

There are, however, other duties of the free States, to which they _may_
prove false, and which they are too willing to forget. They are bound,
not in their public, but individual capacities, to use every virtuous
influence for the abolition of slavery. They are bound to encourage that
manly, moral, religious discussion of it, through which strength will
be given to the continually increasing opinion of the civilized and
Christian world in favor of personal freedom. They are bound to seek and
hold the truth in regard to human rights, to be faithful to their
principles in conversation and conduct, never, never to surrender them
to private interest, convenience, flattery, or fear.

The duty of being true to our principles is not easily to be performed.
At this moment an immense pressure is driving the North from its true
ground. God save it from imbecility, from treachery to freedom and
virtue! I have certainly no feelings but those of good-will towards the
South; but I speak the universal sentiment of this part of the country,
when I say, that the tone which the South has often assumed towards the
North has been that of a superior, a tone unconsciously borrowed from
the habit of command, to which it is unhappily accustomed by the form of
its society. I must add, that this high bearing of the South has not
always been met by a just consciousness of equality, a just self-respect
at the North. The causes I will not try to explain. The effect I fear is
not to be denied. It is said, that those, who have represented the North
in Congress, have not always represented its dignity, its honor; that
they have not always stood erect before the lofty bearing of the South.
Here lies our danger. The North will undoubtedly be just to the South.
It must also be just to itself. This is not the time for sycophancy, for
servility, for compromise of principle, for forgetfulness of our rights.
It is the time to manifest the spirit of Men, a spirit which prizes,
more than life, the principles of liberty, of justice, of humanity, of
pure morals, of pure religion.

Let it not be thought that I would recommend to the North, what in some
parts of our country is called "Chivalry," a spirit of which the
duelling pistol is the best emblem, and which settles controversies with
blood. A Christian and civilized man cannot but be struck with the
approach to barbarism, with the insensibility to true greatness, with
the incapacity of comprehending the divine virtues of Jesus Christ,
which mark what is called "chivalry." I ask not the man of the North to
borrow it from any part of the country. But I do ask him to stand in the
presence of this "chivalry" with the dignity of moral courage and moral
independence. Let him, at the same moment, remember the courtesy and
deference due to the differing opinions of others, and the sincerity and
firmness due to his own. Let him understand the lofty position which he
holds on the subject of slavery, and never descend from it for the
purpose of soothing prejudice or disarming passion. Let him respect the
safety of the South, and still manifest his inflexible adherence to the
cause of human rights and personal freedom.

On this point I must insist, because I see the North giving way to the
vehemence of the South. In some, perhaps many, of our recent
"Resolutions," a spirit has been manifested, at which, if not we, our
children will blush. Not long ago there were rumors, that some of our
citizens wished to suppress by law all discussion, all expression of
opinion on slavery, and to send to the South such members of our
community as might be claimed as instigators of insurrection. Such
encroachments on rights could not, of course, be endured. We are not yet
so fallen. Some echoes of the old eloquence of liberty still come down
to us from our fathers. Some inspirations of heroism and freedom still
issue from the consecrated walls of Faneuil Hall. Were we to yield to
such encroachments, would not the soil of New England, so long trodden
by freemen, heave and quake under the steps of her degenerate sons? We
are not prepared for these. But a weak, yielding tone, for which we seem
to be prepared, may be the beginning of concessions which we shall one
day bitterly rue.

The means used at the South to bring the North to compliance seem to
demand particular attention. I will not record the contemptuous language
which has been thrown on the frugal and money-getting habits of New
England, or the menaces which have been addressed to our cupidity, for
the purpose of putting us to silence on the subject of slavery. Such
language does in no degree move me. I only ask that we may give no
ground for its application. We can easily bear it, if we do not deserve
it. Our mother-country has been called a nation of shopkeepers, and New
England ought not to be provoked by the name. Only let us give no
sanction to the opinion that our spirit is narrowed to our shops; that
we place the art of bargaining above all arts, all sciences,
accomplishments, and virtues; that rather than lose the fruits of the
slave's labor we would rivet his chains; that sooner than lose a market
we would make shipwreck of honor; that sooner than sacrifice present
gain we would break our faith to our fathers and our children, to our
principles and our God. To resent or retaliate reproaches would be
unwise and unchristian. The only revenge worthy of a good man is, to
turn reproaches into admonitions against baseness, into incitements to a
more generous virtue. New England has long suffered the imputation of a
sordid, calculating spirit, of supreme devotion to gain. Let us show
that we have principles, compared with which the wealth of the world is
light as air. It is a common remark here, that there is not a community
under heaven, through which there is so general a diffusion of
intelligence and healthful moral sentiment as in New England. Let not
the just influence of such a society be impaired by any act which would
give to prejudice the aspect of truth.

The free States, it is to be feared, must pass through a struggle. May
they sustain it as becomes their freedom! The present excitement at the
South can hardly be expected to pass away, without attempts to wrest
from them unworthy concessions. The tone in regard to slavery in that
part of our country is changed. It is not only more vehement, but more
false than formerly. Once slavery was acknowledged as an evil. Now it is
proclaimed to be a good. We have even been told, not by a handful of
enthusiasts in private life, but by men in the highest station and of
widest influence at the South, that slavery is the soil into which
political freedom strikes its deepest roots, and that republican
institutions are never so secure as when the laboring class is reduced
to servitude. Certainly, no assertion of the wildest abolitionist could
give such a shock to the slaveholder, as this new doctrine is fitted to
give to the people of the North. Liberty, with a slave for her pedestal,
and with a chain in her hand, differs so entirely from that lovely
vision, that benignant Divinity, to which we, like our fathers, have
paid homage, that we cannot endure that both should be called by the
same name. A doctrine, more wounding or insulting to the mechanics,
farmers, laborers of the North than this strange heresy, cannot well be
conceived. A doctrine more irreverent, more fatal to republican
institutions, was never fabricated in the councils of despotism. It does
not, however, provoke us. I recall it only to show the spirit in which
slavery is upheld, and to remind the free States of the calm energy
which they will need, to keep themselves true to their own principles of
liberty.

There is a great dread in this part of the country, that the union of
the States may be dissolved by the conflict about slavery. To avert this
evil, every sacrifice should be made but that of honor, freedom, and
principle. No one prizes the Union more than myself. Perhaps I may be
allowed to say, that I am attached to it by no common love. Most men
value the Union as a Means; to me it is an End. Most would preserve it
for the prosperity of which it is the instrument; I love and would
preserve it for its own sake. Some value it as favoring public
improvements, facilities of commercial exchange, &c.; I value these
improvements and exchanges chiefly as favoring union. I ask of the
General Government to unite us, to hold us together as brethren in
peace; and I care little whether it does any thing else. So dear to me
is union. It is our highest national interest. All the pecuniary
sacrifices which it can possibly demand should be made for it. The
politicians in some parts of our country, who are calculating its value,
and are willing to surrender it, because they may grow richer by
separation, seem to me bereft of reason. Still, if the Union can be
preserved only by the imposition of chains on speech and the press, by
prohibition of discussion on a subject involving the most sacred rights
and dearest interests of humanity, then union would be bought at too
dear a rate; then it would be changed from a virtuous bond into a league
of crime and shame. Language cannot easily do justice to our attachment
to the Union. We will yield every thing to it but Truth, Honor, and
Liberty. These we can never yield.

Let the free States be firm, but also patient, forbearing, and calm.
From the slaveholder they cannot look for perfect self-control. From his
position he would be more than man, were he to observe the bounds of
moderation. The consciousness which tranquillizes the mind can hardly be
his. On this subject he has always been sensitive to excess. Much
exasperation is to be expected. Much should be borne. Every thing may be
surrendered but our principles and our rights.

       *       *       *       *       *

My work is done. I ask and hope for it the Divine blessing, as far as it
expresses Truth, and breathes the spirit of Justice and Humanity. If I
have written any thing under the influence of prejudice, passion, or
unkindness to any human being, I ask forgiveness of God and man. I have
spoken strongly, not to offend or give pain, but to produce in others
deep convictions corresponding to my own. Nothing but a feeling, which I
could not escape, of the need of such a work at this very moment, has
induced me to fix my thoughts on so painful a subject. The few last
months have increased my solicitude for the country. Public sentiment
has seemed to me to be losing its healthfulness and vigor. I have seen
symptoms of the decline of the old spirit of liberty. Servile opinions
have seemed to gain ground among us. The faith of our fathers in free
institutions has waxed faint, and is giving place to despair of human
improvements. I have perceived a disposition to deride abstract rights,
to speak of freedom as a dream, and of republican governments as built
on sand. I have perceived a faint-heartedness in the cause of human
rights. The condemnation, which has been passed on abolitionists, has
seemed to be settling into acquiescence in slavery. The sympathies of
the community have been turned from the slave to the master. The impious
doctrine, that human laws can repeal the Divine, can convert unjust and
oppressive power into a moral right, has more and more tinctured the
style of conversation and the press. With these sad and solemn views of
society, I could not be silent; and I thank God, amidst the
consciousness of great weakness and imperfection, that I have been able
to offer this humble tribute, this sincere, though feeble, testimony,
this expression of heartfelt allegiance, to the cause of Freedom,
Justice, and Humanity.

Having stated the circumstances which have moved me to write, I ought to
say, that they do not discourage me. Were darker omens to gather round
us, I should not despair. With a faith like his, who came to prepare the
way for the Great Deliverer, I feel and can say, "The Kingdom of
Heaven," the Reign of Justice and Disinterested Love, "is at hand, and
All Flesh shall see the Salvation of God." I know, and rejoice to know,
that a power, mightier than the prejudices and oppression of ages, is
working on earth for the world's redemption, the power of Christian
Truth and Goodness. It descended from Heaven in the person of Christ. It
was manifest in his life and death. From his cross it went forth
conquering and to conquer. Its mission is "to preach deliverance to the
captive, and to set at liberty them that are bound." It has opened many
a prison-door. It is ordained to break every chain. I have faith in its
triumphs. I do not, cannot despair.



NOTES.


NOTE I.

I wish to add a few statements to show how little reliance can be placed
on what seem to a superficial observer mitigations or advantages of
slavery, and how much safer it is to argue from the experience of all
times and from the principles of human nature, than from insulated
facts.

I once passed a colored woman at work on a plantation, who was singing
apparently with animation, and whose general manners would have led me
to set her down as the happiest of the gang. I said to her, "Your work
seems pleasant to you." She replied, "No, Massa." Supposing that she
referred to something particularly disagreeable in her immediate
occupation, I said to her, "Tell me, then, what part of your work is
most pleasant." She answered, with much emphasis, "_No part_ pleasant.
We _forced_ to do it." These few words let me into the heart of the
slave. I saw under its apparent lightness a human heart.

On this plantation, the most favored woman, whose life was the easiest,
earnestly besought a friend of mine to buy her and put her in the way to
earn her freedom. A daughter of this woman, very young, had fallen a
victim to the manager of the estate. How far this cause influenced the
exasperated mother, I did not learn.

I heard of an estate managed by an individual who was considered as
singularly successful, and who was able to govern the slaves without the
use of the whip. I was anxious to see him, and trusted that some
discovery had been made favorable to humanity. I asked him how he was
able to dispense with corporal punishment. He replied to me, with a very
determined look, "The slaves know that the work _must_ be done, and that
it is better to do it without punishment than with it." In other words,
the certainty and dread of chastisement were so impressed on them that
they never incurred it.

I then found that the slaves on this well managed estate decreased in
number. I asked the cause. He replied, with perfect frankness and ease,
"The gang is not large enough for the estate." In other words, they were
not equal to the work of the plantation and yet were made to do it,
though with the certainty of abridging life.

On this plantation the huts were uncommonly convenient. There was an
unusual air of neatness. A superficial observer would have called the
slaves happy. Yet they were living under a severe, subduing discipline,
and were overworked to a degree that shortened life.

I cannot forget my feelings on visiting a hospital belonging to the
plantation of a gentleman highly esteemed for his virtues, and whose
manners and conversation expressed much benevolence and
conscientiousness. When I entered with him the hospital, the first
object on which my eye fell was a young woman, very ill, probably
approaching death. She was stretched on the floor. Her head rested on
something like a pillow; but her body and limbs were extended on the
hard boards. The owner, I doubt not, had, at least, as much kindness as
myself; but he was so used to see the slaves living without common
comforts, that the idea of unkindness in the present instance did not
enter his mind.

The severest blow I ever saw given to a slave was inflicted by a colored
driver on a young girl, who, on removing a load of wood from a horse,
had let a stick fall against the animal's leg. I remonstrated with the
man, as soon as an opportunity offered, against his inhumanity. He said,
"Massa, I have the care of the horse, and the manager _lick me_ if it
get hurt." This answer explained to me the common remark, that the black
drivers are more cruel than the whites. I saw where the cruelty _began_.

I once heard some slaves, who had been taken by law from their master,
singing a song of their own composition, and at the end of every stanza
they joined with a complaining tone in a chorus, of which the burden
was, "We got no Massa." Here seemed a striking proof of attachment to
the master; but on inquiry into the rest of the song, I found it was an
angry repetition of the severities which they were suffering from the
new superintendent. They wanted their master as an escape from cruelty.

Facts of this kind, which make no noise, which escape or mislead a
casual observer, help to show the character of slavery more than
occasional excesses of cruelty though these must be frequent. They show
how deceptive are the appearances of good connected with it; and how
much may be suffered under the manifestation of much kindness. It is,
in fact, next to impossible to estimate precisely the evils of slavery.
The slave writes no books, and the slaveholder is too inured to the
system, and too much interested in it, to be able to comprehend it.
Perhaps the Laws of the slave States are the most unexceptionable
witnesses which we can obtain from that quarter; and the barbarity of
these is decisive testimony against an institution which requires such
means for its support.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE II.

I think it right to state, that my views of abolitionism have been
founded in part, perhaps chiefly, on the testimony of others. I have
attended no abolition-meetings, and never heard an abolition-address.
But the strong, and next to universal impression, in regard to the
tendency of the operations of this party to inflame common minds,
confirmed, as it is, by what I have seen of their newspapers, must be
essentially true. The orator, who was chiefly employed in addressing
their meetings and forming societies, was distinguished by his vehemence
and passionate invectives. On one occasion, there is strong proof of his
having given an opinion in favor of cruel vengeance on the part of the
slaves. This seems to contradict what I have said of the steady
inculcation of forbearance and non-resistance by the abolitionists. But
this case, if correctly reported, was an exception, an ebullition of
uncontrollable passion in an individual, for which the rest were not
responsible. I have thought it my duty to state the kind of evidence on
which my views of abolitionism are founded, that others may better
judge what confidence is due to them. In times of great excitement, it
is not easy to arrive at the precise truth.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE III.

It was my purpose to address a chapter to the South, but the failure of
strength compelled me to pause; and when I considered, that the
circulation of my book in that part of the country might be a crime, I
had no encouragement to proceed. I beg, however, to say, that nothing
which I have written can have proceeded from unkind feeling towards the
South; for in no other part of the country have my writings found a more
gratifying reception; from no other part have I received stronger
expressions of sympathy. To these I am certainly not insensible. My own
feelings, had I consulted them, would have led me to stifle every
expression, which could give pain to those from whom I have received
nothing but good-will.

I wished to suggest to the slaveholders, that the excitement now
prevalent among themselves, was incomparably more perilous, more fitted
to stir up insurrection, than all the efforts of abolitionists, allowing
these to be ever so corrupt. I also wished to remind the men of
principle and influence in that part of the country, of the necessity of
laying a check on lawless procedures, in regard to the citizens of the
North. We have heard of large subscriptions at the South for the
apprehension of some of the abolitionists in the free States, and for
the transportation of them to parts of the country where they would meet
the fate, which, it is said, they deserve. Undoubtedly the respectable
portion of the slaveholding communities are not answerable for these
measures. But does not policy, as well as principle, require such men
steadily to discountenance them? At present, the free States have
stronger sympathies with the South than ever before. But can it be
supposed that they will suffer their citizens to be stolen, exposed to
violence, and murdered, by other States? Would not such an outrage rouse
them to feel and act as one man? Would it not identify the abolitionists
with our most sacred rights? One kidnapped, murdered abolitionist would
do more for the violent destruction of slavery than a thousand
societies. His name would be sainted. The day of his death would be set
apart for solemn heart-stirring commemoration. His blood would cry
through the land with a thrilling voice, would pierce every dwelling,
and find a response in every heart. Do men, under the light of the
present day, need to be told, that enthusiasm is not a flame to be
quenched with blood? On this point, good and wise men, and the friends
of the country at the North and South, can hold but one opinion; and if
the press, which, I grieve to say, has kept an ominous silence amidst
the violations of law and rights, would but speak plainly and strongly,
the danger would be past.

Since writing the preceding chapters, I have seen in a Newspaper some
notice of a meeting of ministers in one of the Southern States, in which
slavery was spoken of as sinful. If the account was correct, the liberty
of speech is not every where denied to the degree which I had supposed.

I have only to add, that I alone am responsible for what I have now
written. I represent no society, no body of men, no part of the
country. I have written by no one's instigation, and with no one's
encouragement, but solely from my own convictions. If offence is given,
I alone ought to bear it.





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