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Title: A Defence of Virginia - And Through Her, of the South, in Recent and Pending - Contests Against the Sectional Party
Author: Dabney, Robert L.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Defence of Virginia - And Through Her, of the South, in Recent and Pending - Contests Against the Sectional Party" ***










    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867,

    BY E. J. HALE & SON,

    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
    the Southern District of New York.


    INTRODUCTORY                                                      9

    THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE                                          27


    HISTORY OF EMANCIPATION                                          79

    THE OLD TESTAMENT ARGUMENT                                       94
      The Curse upon Canaan                                         101
      Abraham a Slaveholder                                         104
      Hagar Remanded to Slavery by God                              110
      Slavery in the Laws of Moses                                  114
      Slavery in the Decalogue                                      122
      Objections to the Old Testament Argument                      124

    THE NEW TESTAMENT ARGUMENT                                      146
      Definition of Δουλος                                          146
      Slavery often mentioned; yet not condemned                    149
      Christ Applauds a Slaveholder                                 153
      The Apostles Separate Slavery and its Abuses                  155
      Slavery no Essential Religious Evil                           158
      Slaveholders fully Admitted to Church-membership              161
      Relative Duties of Masters and Slaves Recognized              167
      Philemon and Onesimus                                         176
      St. Paul Reprobates Abolitionists                             185
      The Golden Rule Compatible with Slavery                       192
      Was Christ Afraid to Condemn Slavery?                         198

    THE ETHICAL ARGUMENT                                            209
      Misrepresentations Cleared                                    213
      The Rights of Man and Slavery                                 241
      Abolitionism is Jacobinism                                    262
      Labour of Another may be Property                             271
      The Slave Received due Wages                                  273
      Effects of Slavery on Moral Character                         276
      Slavery and the African Slave Trade                           288
      The Morality of Slavery Vindicated by its Results             293

    ECONOMICAL EFFECTS OF SLAVERY                                   295
      Slavery and Republican Government                             297
      Slavery and Malthusianism                                     303
      Comparative Productiveness of Slave Labour                    317
      Effects of Slavery in the South, compared with those of Free
        Labour in the North                                         331
      Effects of Slavery on Population, Disease, and Crime          340

    CONCLUSION                                                      349


To the conquerors of my native State, and perhaps to some of her sons,
a large part of the following defence will appear wholly unseasonable.
A discussion of a social order totally overthrown, and never to be
restored here, will appear as completely out of date to them as the
ribs of Noah's ark, bleaching amidst the eternal snows of Ararat, to
his posterity, when engaged in building the Tower of Babel. Let me
distinctly premise, that I do not dream of affecting the perverted
judgments of the great anti-slavery party which now rules the hour. Of
course, a set of people who make success the test of truth, as they
avowedly do in this matter, and who have been busily and triumphantly
engaged for so many years in perfecting a plain injustice, to which
they had deliberately made up their minds, are not within the reach of
reasoning. Nothing but the hand of a retributive Providence can avail
to reach them. The few among them who do not pass me by with silent
neglect, I am well aware will content themselves with scolding; they
will not venture a rational reply.

But my purpose in the following pages is, first and chiefly, to lay
this pious and filial defence upon the tomb of my murdered mother,
Virginia. Her detractors, after committing the crime of
destroying a sovereign and co-equal commonwealth, seek also to bury
her memory under a load of obloquy and falsehood. The last and only
office that remains to her sons is to leave their testimony for her
righteous fame--feeble it may be now, amidst the din of passion and
material power, yet inextinguishable as Truth's own torch. History
will some day bring present events before her impartial bar; and then
her ministers will recall my obscure little book, and will recognize
in it the words of truth and righteousness, attested by the signatures
of time and events.

Again: if there is indeed any future for civilized government in what
were the United States, the refutation of the abolitionist postulates
must possess a living interest still. Men ask, "Is not the slavery
question dead? Why discuss it longer?" I reply: Would God it were
dead! Would that its mischievous principles were as completely a thing
of the past as our rights in the Union in this particular are! But in
the Church, abolitionism lives, and is more rampant and mischievous
than ever, as infidelity; for this is its true nature. Therefore the
faithful servants of the Lord Jesus Christ dare not cease to oppose
and unmask it. And in the State, abolitionism still lives in its full
activity, as Jacobinism; a fell spirit which is the destroyer of every
hope of just government and Christian order. Hence, the enlightened
patriot cannot cease to contend with it, until he has accepted, in his
hopelessness, the _nefas de republica desperandi_. Whether wise and
good men deem that this discussion is antiquated, may be judged from
the fact that Bishop Hopkins (one of the most revered divines among
Episcopalians) judged it proper, in 1864, and Dr. Stuart Robinson, of
Louisville, (equally esteemed among Presbyterians,) in 1865, to put
forth new and able arguments upon this question.

It should be added, in explanation, that, as a son of Virginia, I have
naturally taken her, the oldest and greatest of the slaveholding
States, as a representative. I was most familiar with her laws. In
defending her, I have virtually defended the whole South, of which she
was the type; for the differences between her slave institutions and
theirs were in no respect essential.

The most fearful consequence of the despotic government to which the
South is now subjected, is not the plundering of our goods, nor the
abridgment of privileges, nor the death of innocent men, but the
degrading and debauching of the moral sensibilities and principles of
the helpless victims. The weapon of arbitrary rulers is physical
force; the shield of its victims is usually evasion and duplicity.
Again: few minds and consciences have that stable independence which
remains erect and undebauched amidst the disappointments, anguish, and
losses of defeat, and the desertion of numbers, and the obloquy of a
lost cause. Hence it has usually been found, in the history of
subjugated nations, that they receive at the hands of their conquerors
this crowning woe--a depraved, cringing, and cowardly spirit. The
wisest, kindest, most patriotic thing which any man can do for his
country, amidst such calamities, is to aid in preserving and
reinstating the tottering principles of his countrymen; to teach them,
while they give place to inexorable force, to abate nothing of
righteous convictions and of self-respect. And in this work he is as
really a benefactor of the conquerors as of the conquered. For thus
he aids in preserving that precious seed of men, who are men of
principle, and not of expediency; who alone (if any can) are able to
reconstruct society, after the tumult of faction shall have spent its
rage, upon the foundations of truth and justice. The men at the North
who have stood firmly aloof from the errors and crimes of this
revolution, and the men at the South who have not been unmanned and
debauched by defeat--these are the men whom Providence will call forth
from their seclusion, when the fury of fanaticism shall have done its
worst, to repair its mischiefs, and save America from chronic anarchy
and barbarism; if, indeed, any rescue is designed for us. It is this
audience, "few but fit," with which I would chiefly commune. They will
appreciate this humble effort to justify the history of our native
States, and to sustain the hearts of their sons in the hour of cruel

    _Hampden Sidney, Virginia, June, 1867._


       *       *       *       *       *



To the rational historian who, two hundred years hence, shall study
the history of the nineteenth century, it will appear one of the most
curious vagaries of human opinion, that the Christianity and
philanthropy of our day should have given so disproportionate an
attention to the evils of African slavery. Such a dispassionate
observer will perceive that, while many other gigantic evils were
rampant in this age, there prevailed a sort of epidemic fashion of
selecting this one upon which to exhaust the virtuous indignation and
sympathies of the professed friends of human amelioration. And he will
probably see in this a proof that the Christianity and benevolence of
the nineteenth century were not so superior, in wisdom and breadth, to
those of the seventeenth and eighteenth, as the busy actors in them
had persuaded themselves; but were, in fact, conceited, overweening,
and fantastic.

It will appear to him a still stranger fact, that this zeal against
African slavery was so partial in its exhibition. Up to this day, not
only the Southern States of the late American Union, but the
Brazilian, Turkish, and Spanish empires, among civilized nations, and
many barbarous people, have continued the explicit practice of
slavery, in so stern a form, that the institution in the Confederate
States was, by comparison, extremely mild. Yet, throughout the
Northern States of America and Europe, it is upon the devoted heads of
Southern masters almost exclusively that the vials of holy wrath are
poured out. Renascent Spain is quite a pet among Yankees and
Europeans, though tenaciously clinging, in her colonies, to a system
of slavery at whose barbarities the public sentiment of these Southern
States would shudder, and though persistently winking at the African
Slave Trade in addition. Slaveholding Brazil is on most pleasing terms
with the United States and the European governments, which vie in
soliciting her commercial intercourse and friendship with most amiable
suavity. But when the sounding lash of the self-constituted friend of
man is raised to chastise "the wickedness of slavery," all Yankeedom
and all Europe seem to think only of us sinners. And yet here, of all
places where it prevailed, African bondage was most ameliorated and
most justifiable! Indeed, not a few of these consistent reformers have
ten-fold as much patience with that demon of slaveholders, the King of
Dahomey, as with the benignant Christian master in Virginia; and go to
that truculent savage to request him not to cut the throats of another
thousand of his inoffensive slaves in a "grand custom," with far more
of courtesy, forbearance, and amiability, than they can exercise
towards us, when they come to reason with us touching the rights of
our late peaceful and well-fed domestics. We see no reason for this
partiality, but that the King of Dahomey is himself of that colour,
which seems to be the only one acceptable to the tastes of this type
of philanthropists. An Abolitionist poet has sung of our oppressing
our brother man, because he was "guilty of a skin." To give the
contrast, these persons act as though, in their view, the King of
Dahomey's meritorious possession of the skin of approved colour, were
enough to cover his multitude of sins! Now, if the rest of Christendom
have determined to take slaveholders for their pet objects of abuse,
we may justly demand of them, at least, to distribute their hard words
more generally, and give all a share.

This injustice is to be accounted for, in part, by the greater
prominence which the late United States held before the world, making
all their supposed sins more prominent; and in part by the zeal of our
late very amiable and equitable partners, the Yankee people. They
reserved their abuse and venom on this subject for their Southern
fellow-citizens alone. They made it their business to direct the whole
storm of odium, from abroad and at home, on our heads. They, having
the manufacture of American books chiefly in their hands, took pains
to fill Europe and their own country with industrious slanders against
their own brethren: and so occupied the ear of the world with abuse of
us, as to make men almost forget that there were any other
slaveholders. For this they had two motives, one calculated, and the
other passionate and instinctive. The latter was the sectional
animosity which was bred by the very intimacy of their association
under one government, with rival interests. The man who has learned to
hate his brother, hates him, and can abuse him, more heartily than any
more distant enemy. The deliberative motive was, to reduce the South
to a state of colonial dependency upon themselves, and exclude all
other nations from the rich plunder which they were accustomed to draw
from the oppressed section, by means of the odium and misunderstanding
which they created concerning us. The South was their precious gold
mine, from which they had quarried, and hoped yet again to quarry,
hoards of wealth, by the instruments of legislative and commercial
jugglery. From this precious mine, they wished to keep other
adventurers away by the customary expedient of spreading an odious
character for moral _malaria_ and pestilential vices around it. It did
not suit their selfish purposes, that Europe should know, that in this
slaveholding South was the true conservative power of the American
Government, the most solid type of old English character, the greatest
social stability and purity, and above all, the very fountain of
international commerce and wealth; lest Europe should desire to visit
and to trade with this section for itself. And the readiest way to
prevent this, was to paint the South to all the rest of the world, in
the blackest colours of misrepresentation, so as to have us regarded
as a semi-barbarous race of domestic tyrants, whose chief occupations
were chaining or scourging negroes, and stabbing each other with
bowie-knives. The trick was a success. The Yankee almost monopolized
the advantages of Southern trade and intercourse.

But the South should have been impelled by the same facts to defend
its institutions before the public opinion of the civilized world; for
_opinion_ is always omnipotent in the end, whatever prejudices and
physical powers may oppose it. If its current is allowed to flow
unchecked, its silent waters gradually undermine the sternest
obstacles. This great truth men of thought are more apt to recognize
than men of action. While the true statesman is fully awake to it, the
mere politician is unconscious of its power; and when his
expedients--his parties and his statutes--have all been silently swept
away by the diffusion of abstract principles opposed to them, he
cannot understand his overthrow. If the late Confederate States would
have gained that to which they aspired, the position of a respectable
and prosperous people among the nations of the world, it was extremely
important that they should secure from their neighbours a more just
appreciation of their institutions. A respectful and powerful appeal
in defence of those institutions was due to our neighbours' opinions,
unfair and unkind as they have been to us; and due to our own rights
and self-respect.

Our mere politicians committed an error in this particular, while we
were still members of the United States, by which we should now learn.
They failed to meet the Abolitionists with sufficient persistence and
force on the radical question--the righteousness of African servitude
as existing among us. It is true that this fundamental point has
received a discussion at the South, chiefly at the hands of clergymen
and literary men, which has evoked a number of works of the highest
merit and power, constituting almost a literature on the subject. One
valuable effect of this literature was to enlighten and satisfy the
Southern mind, and to produce a settled unanimity of opinion, even
greater than that which existed against us in other States. But such
is the customary and overweening egotism of the Yankee mind, that none
of these works, whatever their merit, could ever obtain general
circulation or reading in the North. People there were satisfied to
read only their own shallow and one-sided arguments, quietly treating
us as though our guilt was too clear to admit of any argument, or we
were too inferior to be capable of it. The consequence was, that
although the North has made the wrongs of the African its own peculiar
cause--its great master-question--it is pitiably ignorant of the facts
and arguments of the case. After twenty-five years of discussion, we
find that the staple of the logic of their writers is still the same
set of miserable and shallow sophisms, which Southern divines and
statesmen have threshed into dust, and driven away as the chaff before
the whirlwind, so long ago, and so often, that any intelligent man
among us is almost ashamed to allude to them as requiring an answer.
When the polemic heat of this quarrel shall have passed away, and the
dispassionate antiquary shall compare the literature of the two
parties, he will be amazed to see that of the popular one so poor,
beggarly, and false, and that of the unpopular one so manly,
philosophic, and powerful. But at present, such is the clamour of
prejudice, our cause has not obtained a hearing from the world.

The North having arrogated to itself the name of chief manufacturer
of literary material, and having chief control of the channels of
foreign intercourse, of course our plea has been less listened to
across the Atlantic than in America. The South has been condemned
unheard. Well-informed men in Great Britain, we presume, are ignorant
of the names and works of the able and dignified advocates to whom the
South confidently and proudly committed her justification; and were
willing to render their verdict upon the mere accusations of our
interested slanderers. But while the United States yet existed
unbroken, there was one _forum_, where we could have demanded a
hearing upon the fundamental question: the Federal Legislature. From
that centre of universal attention, our defence of the righteousness
of the relation of master and slave, as existing among us, might have
been spread before the public mind; and the abstract question having
been decided by triumphant argument, the troubles of our Federal
relations might possibly have been quieted. There were two courses,
either of which might have been followed by our politicians, in
defending our Federal rights against Abolitionism. One plan would have
been, to exclude the whole question of slavery persistently from the
national councils, as extra-constitutional and dangerous, and to
assert this exclusion always, and at every risk, as the essential
condition of the continuance of the South in those councils. The other
plan was, to meet that abstract question from the first, as underlying
and determining the whole subject, and to debate it everywhere, until
it was decided, and the verdict of the national mind was passed upon
it. Unfortunately, the Southern men did neither persistently. After
temporary resistance, they permitted the debate; and then failed to
conduct it on fundamental principles. With the exception of Mr.
Calhoun, (whom events have now shown to have been the most far-seeing
of our statesmen, notwithstanding the fashion of men to depreciate him
as an "abstractionist" while he lived,) Southern politicians usually
satisfied themselves with saying, that the whole matter was, according
to the Constitution, one of State sovereignty; that Congress had no
right to legislate concerning its merits; and that therefore they
would not seem to admit such a right, by condescending to argue the
matter on its merits. The premise was true; but the inference was
practically most mischievous. If the Congress had no right to
legislate about slavery, then it should not have been permitted to
debate it. And Southern men, if they intended to make their stand on
that ground, should have exacted the exclusion of all debate, at every
cost. But this was perhaps impossible. The debate came; and, of
course, the principles agitated ran at once back of the Constitution,
to the abstract ethical question: "Is the holding of an African slave
in the South a moral wrong in itself?" Southern men should have
industriously followed them there; but they did not do it: and soon
the heat and animosity of an aggressive and growing faction hurried
the country beyond the point of calm consideration. A moment's
reflection should have shown that the decisive question was the
abstract righteousness of the relation of master and slave. The
Constitution gave to the Federal Government no power over that
relation in the States. True; but that Constitution was a compact
between sovereign commonwealth: it certainly gave recognition and
protection to the relation of master and slave; and if that relation
is intrinsically unrighteous, then it protected a wrong. Then the
sovereign States of the North were found in the attitude of protecting
a wrong by their voluntary compact; and therefore it would have been
the duty of all citizens of those States to seek, by all righteous
means, the amendment or repeal of that compact. They would not,
indeed, have been justified to claim all the benefits of the compact,
and still agitate under it a matter which the compact excluded. But
they would have been more than justified, they would have been bound
to clear their skirts of the wrong, by surrendering the compact, if
necessary. There was no evasion from the duty, except by proving that
the Constitution did nothing unrighteous by protecting the relation;
in other words, that the relation was not unrighteous. Again, on the
subject of the "Higher Law," our conservative statesmen and divines
threw up a vast amount of pious dust. This partially quieted the
country for a time; but, as might have been foreseen, it was destined
to be inevitably blown away. There _is a higher law_, superior to
constitutions and statutes; not, indeed, the perjured and unprincipled
cant which has no conscience against swearing allegiance to a
Constitution and laws which it declares sinful, in order to grasp
emoluments and advantages, and then pleads "conscience" for disobeying
what it had voluntarily sworn to obey; but the everlasting law of
right in the word of God. Constitutions and laws which contravene
this, ought to be lawfully amended or repealed; and it is the duty of
all citizens to seek it. Let this be applied to the Fugitive Slave
Law. If the bondage was intrinsically unrighteous, then the Federal
law which aided in remanding the fugitive to it, legalized a wrong. It
became, therefore, the duty of all United States officers, who were
required by statute to execute this law--not, indeed, to hold their
offices and emoluments, and swear fidelity, and then plead
conscientious scruples for the neglect of these sworn functions, (for
this is a detestable union of theft and perjury with hypocrisy,)--but
to resign those offices wholly, with their profits and their sinful
functions. It would have become the duty of any private citizen, who
might have been summoned by a United States officer, to act in a
_posse_, guard, or any other way in enforcing this law, to decline
obedience; and then, in accordance with Scripture, to submit meekly to
the legal penalty of such a refusal, until the unrighteous law were
repealed. But, moreover, it would have become the right and duty of
these and all other citizens to seek the repeal of that law, or, if
necessary, the abrogation of that Federal compact which necessitated
it. But on the other hand, when we proved that the relation of master
and slave is not unrighteous, and that therefore the Fugitive Slave
Law required the perpetration of no wrong, and was constitutional, it
became the clear moral duty of every citizen to concur in obeying it.

Once more: the true key of the more commanding question of _free soil_
was in the same abstract ethical point. If the relation of master and
servant was unrighteous, and the institution a standing sin against
God and human rights, then it was not to be extended at the mere
dictate of convenience and gain. Although Northern men might be
compelled to admit that, in the States, it was subject to State
control alone, and expressly exempted from all interference of the
Federal Government by the Constitution; yet, outside of the States,
that Constitution and Government, representative as it was as a
majority of free States, ought not to have been prostituted to the
extension of a great moral wrong. Those free States ought, if their
Southern partners would not consent to relinquish their right by a
peaceable amendment of the Constitution, to have retired from the
odious compact, and to have surrendered the advantages of the Union
for conscience' sake. If, on the contrary, African slavery in America
was no unrighteousness, no sin against human rights, and no
contradiction to the doctrines of the Constitution, then the general
teachings of that instrument concerning the absolute equality of the
States and their several citizens under it, were too clear to leave a
doubt, that the letter and spirit of the document gave the slaveholder
just the same right to carry his slaves into any territory, with that
of the Connecticut man to carry his clock-factory. Hence the ethical
question, when once the slavery agitation became inevitable, should
have been made the great question by us. The halls of Congress should
have rung with the arguments, the newspaper press should have teemed
with them. But little was done to purpose in this discussion, save by
clergymen and literary men; and for reasons already indicated they
were practically unheard. After it was too late to stem the torrent of
passion and sectional ambition pouring against us, politicians did
indeed awake to a tardy perception of these important views; but the
eyes of the Northern people were then obstinately closed against them
by a foregone conclusion.

We have cited these recent and striking illustrations of the
fundamental importance of the ethical discussion, to justify the task
we have undertaken. Some may suppose that, as the United States are no
more as they were, and slaveholding is absolutely and finally ended,
the question is obsolete. This is a great mistake. The status of the
negro is just beginning to develop itself as an agitating and potent
element in the politics of America. It will still continue the great
ground of contrast, and subject of moral strife, between the North and
the South.

We have attempted to indicate the potency of the slow and silent but
irresistible influence of opinion over human affairs. Let our enemies
claim the triumph without question in the field of opinion; let them
continue to persuade mankind successfully that we were a people
stained by a standing social crime; and we shall be continually
worsted by them. In order to be free, we must be respected: and to
this end we must defend our good name. We need not urge that
instinctive desire for the good opinion of our fellow-men, and that
sense of justice, which must ever render it painful to be the objects
of undeserved odium. Instead, therefore, of regarding the discussion
of the rightfulness of African slavery as henceforth antiquated, we
believe that it assumes, at this era, a new and wider importance.
While the swords of our people were fighting the battles of a
necessary self-defence, the pens of our statesmen should have been no
less diligent in defending us against the adverse opinion of a
prejudiced world. Every opening should have been seized to disabuse
the minds of Europeans, a jury to which we have hitherto had no
access, although condemned by it. The discussion should everywhere
have been urged, until public opinion was effectually rectified and
made just to the Confederate States.

At the first glance, it appears an arduous, if not a hopeless
undertaking, to address the minds of such nations as the North and
Great Britain in defence of Southern slavery. We have to contend
against the prescriptive opinions and prejudices of years' growth. We
assert a thesis which our adversaries have taken pains to represent as
an impossible absurdity, of which the very assertion is an insult to
the understanding and heart of a freeman. Ten thousand slanders have
given to the very name of Southern slaveholder a colouring, which
darkens every argument that can be advanced in his favour. Yet the
task of self-defence is not entirely discouraging. Our best hope is in
the fact that the cause of our defence is the cause of God's Word, and
of its supreme authority over the human conscience. For, as we shall
evince, that Word is on our side, and the teachings of Abolitionism
are clearly of rationalistic origin, of infidel tendency, and only
sustained by reckless and licentious perversions of the meaning of the
Sacred text. It will in the end become apparent to the world, not only
that the conviction of the wickedness of slaveholding was drawn wholly
from sources foreign to the Bible, but that it is a legitimate
corollary from that fantastic, atheistic, and radical theory of human
rights, which made the Reign of Terror in France, which has threatened
that country, and which now threatens the United States, with the
horrors of Red-Republicanism. Because we believe that God intends to
vindicate His Divine Word, and to make all nations honour it; because
we confidently rely in the force of truth to explode all dangerous
error; therefore we confidently expect that the world will yet do
justice to Southern slaveholders. The anti-scriptural, infidel, and
radical grounds upon which our assailants have placed themselves, make
our cause practically the cause of truth and order. This is already
understood here by thinking men who have seen Abolitionism bear its
fruit unto perfection: and the world will some day understand it. We
shall possess at this time another advantage in defending our good
name, derived from our late effort for independence. Hitherto we have
been little known to Europeans, save through the very charitable
representations of our fraternal partners, the Yankees. Foreigners
visiting the United States almost always assumed, that when they had
seen the North, they had seen the country, (for Yankeedom always
modestly represented itself as constituting all of America that was
worth looking at.) Hence the character of the South was not known, nor
its importance appreciated. Its books and periodicals were unread by
Europeans. But now the very interest excited by our struggle has
caused other nations to observe for themselves, and to find that we
are not _Troglodytes_ nor _Anthropophagi_.

Another introductory remark which should be made is, that this
discussion, to produce any good result, must distinctly disclaim some
extravagant and erroneous grounds which have sometimes been assumed.
It is not our purpose to rest our defence on an assumption of a
diversity of race, which is contradicted both by natural history and
by the Scripture, declaring that "God hath made of one blood all
nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." Nor does
the Southern cause demand such assertions as that the condition of
master and slave is everywhere the normal condition of human society,
and preferable to all others under all circumstances. The burden of
odium which the cause will then carry, abroad, will be immeasurably
increased by such positions. Nor can a purpose be ever subserved by
arguing the question by a series of comparisons of the relative
advantages of slave and free labour, laudatory to the one part and
invidious to the other. There has been hitherto, on both sides of this
debate, a mischievous forgetfulness of the old adage, "comparisons are
odious!" When Southern men thus argued, they assumed the disadvantage
of appearing as the propagandists, instead of the peaceful defenders,
of an institution which immediately concerned nobody but themselves;
and they arrayed the self-esteem of all opponents against us by making
our defence the necessary disparagement of the other parties. True,
those parties have usually been but too zealous to play at this
invidious game, beginning it in advance. We should not imitate them.
It is time all parties had learned that the lawfulness and policy of
different social systems cannot be decided by painting the special and
exceptional features of hardship, abuse, or mismanagement, which
either of the advocates may imagine he sees in the system of his
opponent. The course of this great discussion has too often been this:
Each party has set up an easel, and spread a canvas upon it, and
drawn the system of its adversary in contrast with its own, in the
blackest colours which a heated and angry fancy could discover amidst
the evils and abuses imputed to the rival institution. The only
possible result was, that each should blacken his adversary more and
more; and consequently that both should grow more and more enraged.
And this result did not argue the entire falsehood of either set of
accusations. For, unfortunately, the human race is a fallen
race--depraved, selfish, unrighteous and oppressive, under all
institutions. Out of the best social order, committed to such hands,
there still proceeds a hideous amount of wrongs and woe; and that, not
because the order is unrighteous, but because it is administered by
depraved man. For this reason, and for another equally conclusive, we
assert that the lawfulness, and even the wisdom or policy of social
institutions affecting a great population, cannot be decided by these
odious contrasts of their special wrong results. That second reason
is, that the field of view is too vast and varied to be brought fairly
under comparison in all its details before the limited eye of man.
First, then, if we attempt to settle the matter by endeavouring to
find how much evil can be discovered in the working of the opposite
system, there will probably be no end at all to the melancholy
discoveries which both parties will make against each other, and so no
end to the debate: for the guilty passions of men are everywhere
perpetual fountains of wrong-doing. And second, the comparison of
results must be deceptive, because no finite mind can take in all the
details of both the wholes. Our wisdom, then, will be to take no
extreme positions, and to make no invidious comparisons
unnecessarily. It is enough for us to place ourselves on this
impregnable stand; that the relation of master and slave is recognized
as lawful in itself by a sound philosophy, and above all, by the Word
of God. It is enough for us to say (what is capable of overwhelming
demonstration) that for the African race, such as Providence has made
it, and where He has placed it in America, slavery was the righteous,
the best, yea, the only tolerable relation. Whether it would be wise
or just for other States to introduce it, we need not argue.

And in conclusion, we would state that it is our purpose to argue this
proposition chiefly on Bible grounds. Our people and our national
neighbours are professedly Christians; the vast majority of them
profess to get their ideas of morality, as all should, from the Sacred
Scriptures. A few speculative minds may reason out moral conclusions
from ethical principles; but the masses derive their ideas of right
and wrong from a "Thus saith the Lord." And it is a homage we owe to
the Bible, from whose principles we have derived so much of social
prosperity and blessing, to appeal to its verdict on every subject
upon which it has spoken. Indeed, when we remember how human reason
and learning have blundered in their philosophizings; how great
parties have held for ages the doctrine of the divine right of kings
as a political axiom; how the whole civilized world held to the
righteousness of persecuting errors in opinion, even for a century
after the Reformation; we shall feel little confidence in mere human
reasonings on political principles; we shall rejoice to follow a
steadier light. The scriptural argument for the righteousness of
slavery gives us, moreover, this great advantage: If we urge it
successfully, we compel the Abolitionists either to submit, or else to
declare their true infidel character. We thrust them fairly to the
wall, by proving that the Bible is against them; and if they declare
themselves against the Bible (as the most of them doubtless will) they
lose the support of all honest believers in God's Word.

This discussion will therefore be, in the main, a series of
expositions. The principles of scriptural exposition are simply those
of common sense; and it will be the writer's aim so to explain them
that they shall commend themselves to every honest mind, and to rid
them of the sophisms of the Abolitionists.

But before we proceed to this discussion we propose to devote a few
pages to the exposition of the historical facts which place the
attitude of Virginia in the proper light.



This iniquitous traffick, beginning with the importation of negroes
into Hispaniola in 1503, was first pursued by the English in 1562,
under Sir John Hawkins, who sold a cargo at the same island that year.
The news of his success reaching Queen Elizabeth, she became a partner
with him in other voyages. Under the Stuart kings, repeated charters
were given to noblemen and merchants, to form companies for this
trade, in one of which, the Duke of York, afterwards James II., was a
partner. The colony of Virginia was planted in 1607. The first cargo
of negroes, only twenty in number, arrived there in a Dutch vessel in
1620, and was bought by the colonists. All the commercial nations of
Europe were implicated in the trade; and all the colonies in America
were supplied, to a greater or less extent, with slave labour from
Africa, whether Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, or Dutch. But
England became, on the whole, the leader in this trade, and was
unrivalled by any, save her daughter, New England.

The happy revolution of 1688, which placed William and Mary on the
throne, arrested for a time the activity of the royal company for
slave trading, by throwing the business open to the whole nation. For
one of the reforms, stipulated with the new government, was the
abolition of all monopolies. But the company did not give up its
operations; and it even succeeded in exacting from Parliament an
indemnity of £10,000 _per annum_ for the loss of its exclusive
privilege. But the most splendid triumph of British enterprise was
that achieved by the treaty of Utrecht, 1712, between Queen Anne and
Spain. By a compact called the _Asiento_ treaty, the Spanish monarch
resigned to the English South Sea Company, the exclusive slave trade
even between Africa and the Spanish colonies. Four thousand eight
hundred slaves were to be furnished to the Spanish colonies annually,
for thirty years, paying to the King of Spain an impost of
thirty-three and a third dollars per head; but the company had the
privilege of introducing as many more as they could sell, paying half
duty upon them. The citizens of every other nation, even Spaniards
themselves, were prohibited from bringing a single slave. The British
Queen and the King of Spain became stockholders in the venture, to the
extent of one-fourth each; the remainder of the stock was left to
British citizens. And Anne, in her speech from the throne, detailing
to her Parliament the provisions of the treaty of Utrecht,
congratulated them on this monopoly of slave trading, as the most
splendid triumph of her arms and diplomacy.[1] Meantime, the African
Company, with private adventurers at a later day, plied the trade with
equal activity, for furnishing the British colonies. Finally, in 1749,
every restriction upon private enterprise was removed; and the slave
trade was thrown open to all Englishmen; for, says the statute: "the
slave trade is very advantageous to Great Britain." But every resource
of legislation, and even of war, was employed during the eighteenth
century to secure the monopoly of the trade to British subjects, and
to enlarge the market for their commodity in all the colonies. To this
end, the royal government of the plantations, which afterwards became
the United States, was perseveringly directed. The complaint of Hugh
Drysdale, Deputy Governor of Virginia, in 1726, that when a tax was
imposed to check the influx of Africans, "the interfering interest of
the African company has obtained the repeal of the law,"[2] was common
to him and all the patriotic rulers of the Southern colonies.

[Footnote 1: Bancroft, Hist. U. S., vol. iii., p. 232. Com. Boutwell,
Slave Trade. Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 414.]

[Footnote 2: Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 415.]

Reynal estimates the whole number of negroes stolen from Africa before
1776 at nine millions; Bancroft at something more than six millions.
Of these, British subjects carried at least half: and to the above
numbers must be added a quarter of a million thrown by Englishmen into
the Atlantic on the voyage.[3] As the traffick continued in full
activity until 1808, it is a safe estimate that the number of victims
to British cupidity taken from Africa was increased to five millions.
The profit made by Englishmen upon the three millions carried to
America before 1776, could not have been less than four hundred
millions of dollars. The negroes cost the traders nothing but
worthless trinkets, damaged fire-arms, and New England rum: they were
usually paid for in hard money at the place of sale. This lucrative
trade laid the foundation, to a great degree, for the commercial
wealth of London, Bristol, and Liverpool. The capital which now makes
England the workshop and _emporium_ of the world, was in large part
born of the African slave trade. Especially was this the chief source
of the riches which founded the British empire in Hindostan. The South
Sea and the African Companies were the prototypes and pioneers of that
wonderful institution, the East India Company; and the money by which
the latter was set on foot was derived mainly from the profitable
slave-catching of the former. When the direct returns of the African
trade in the eighteenth century are remembered; when it is noted how
much colonial trade has contributed to British greatness, and when it
is considered that England's colonial system was wholly built upon
African slavery, the intelligent reader will be convinced that the
slave trade was the corner-stone of the present splendid prosperity of
that Empire.

[Footnote 3: Ibid., vol. iii., pp. 411, 412.]

But after the nineteenth century had arrived, the prospective impolicy
of the trade,[4] the prevalence of democratic and Jacobin opinions
imported from France, the shame inspired by the example of Virginia,
with (we would fain hope) some influences of the Christian religion
upon the better spirits, began to create a powerful party against the
trade. First, Clarkson published in Latin, and then in English, his
work against the slave trade, exposing its unutterable barbarities, as
practised by Englishmen, and arguing its intrinsic unrighteousness.
The powerful parliamentary influence of Wilberforce was added, and
afterwards that of the younger Pitt. The commercial classes made a
tremendous resistance for many years, sustained by many noblemen and
by the royal family; but at length the Parliament, in 1808, declared
the trade illicit, and took measures to suppress it. Since that time,
the British Government, with a tardy zeal, but without disgorging any
of the gross spoils with which it is so plethoric, wrung from the
tears and blood of Africa, has arrogated to itself the special task of
the catchpole of the seas, to "police" the world against the
continuance of its once profitable sin. Its present attitude is in
curious contrast with its recent position, as greedy monopolist, and
queen of slave traders; and especially when the observer adverts to
her activity in the Coolie traffick, that new and more frightful form,
under which the Phariseeism of this age has restored the trade, he
will have little difficulty in deciding, whether the meddlesome
activity of England is prompted by a virtuous repentance, or by a
desire to replace the advantages of the African commerce with other
fruits of commercial supremacy.

[Footnote 4: Speeches of Pitt and Fox, in Clarkson's Hist., pp. 315,

The share of the Colony of Virginia in the African slave trade was
that of an unwilling recipient; never that of an active party. She had
no ships engaged in any foreign trade; for the strict obedience of her
governors and citizens to the colonial laws of the mother country
prevented her trading to foreign ports, and all the carrying trade to
British ports and colonies was in the hands of New Englanders and
Englishmen. In the replies submitted by Sir William Berkeley,
Governor, 1671, to certain written inquiries of the "Lords of
Plantations," we find the following statement: "And this is the cause
why no great or small vessels are built here; for we are most obedient
to all laws, while the men of New England break through, and trade to
any place that their interest leads them."[5] The same facts, and the
sense of grievance which the colonists derived from them, are
curiously attested by the party of Nathaniel Bacon also, who opposed
Sir William Berkeley. When they supposed that they had wrested the
government from his hands, Sarah Drummond, an enthusiastic patriot,
exclaimed: "Now we can build ships, and like New England, trade to any
part of the world."[6] But her hopes were not realized: Virginia
continued without ships. No vessel ever went from her ports, or was
ever manned by her citizens, to engage in the slave trade; and while
her government can claim the high and peculiar honour of having ever
opposed the cruel traffick, her citizens have been precluded by
Providence from the least participation in it.

[Footnote 5: Herring, Stat. at Large, vol. ii., p. 516.]

[Footnote 6: Campbell's Virginia, p. 304.]

The planting of the commercial States of North America began with the
colony of Puritan Independents at Plymouth, in 1620, which was
subsequently enlarged into the State of Massachusetts. The other
trading colonies, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as well as New
Hampshire (which never had an extensive shipping interest), were
offshoots of Massachusetts. They partook of the same characteristics
and pursuits; and hence, the example of the parent colony is taken
here as a fair representation of them. The first ship from America,
which embarked in the African slave trade, was the _Desire_, Captain
Pierce, of Salem; and this was among the first vessels ever built in
the colony. The promptitude with which the "Puritan Fathers" embarked
in this business may be comprehended, when it is stated that the
Desire sailed upon her voyage in June, 1637.[7] The first feeble and
dubious foothold was gained by the white man at Plymouth less than
seventeen years before; and as is well known, many years were expended
by the struggle of the handful of settlers for existence. So that it
may be correctly said, that the commerce of New England was born of
the slave trade; as its subsequent prosperity was largely founded upon
it. The Desire, proceeding to the Bahamas, with a cargo of "dry fish
and strong liquors, the only commodities for those parts," obtained
the negroes from two British men-of-war, which had captured them from
a Spanish slaver.

[Footnote 7: Winthrop's Journal, i., 254. Moore's Slavery in Mass.,
pp. 5, 6.]

To understand the growth of the New England slave trade, two connected
topics must be a little illustrated. The first of these is the
enslaving of Indians. The pious "Puritan Fathers" found it convenient
to assume that they were God's chosen Israel, and the pagans about
them were Amalek and Amorites. They hence deduced their righteous
title to exterminate or enslave the Indians, whenever they became
troublesome. As soon as the Indian wars began, we find the captives
enslaved. The ministers and magistrates solemnly authorized the
enslaving of the wives and posterity of their enemies for the crimes
of the fathers and husbands in daring to defend their own soil. In
1646, the Commissioners of the United Colonies made an order,[8] that
upon complaint of a trespass by Indians, any of that plantation of
Indians that should entertain, protect, or rescue the offender, might
be seized by reprisal, and held as hostages for the delivery of the
culprits; in failure of which, the innocent persons seized should be
slaves, and be exported for sale as such. In 1677, the General Court
of Massachusetts[9] ordered the enslaving of the Indian youths or
girls "of such as had been in hostility with the colony, or had lived
among its enemies in the time of the War." In the winter of 1675-6,
Major Waldron, commissioner of the General Court for that territory
now included in Maine, issued a general warrant for seizing,
enslaving, and exporting every Indian "known to be a manslayer,
traitor, or conspirator."[10] The reader will not be surprised to
hear, that so monstrous an order, committed for execution to any or
every man's irresponsible hands, was employed by many shipmasters for
the vilest purposes of kidnapping and slave hunting. But in addition,
in numerous instances whole companies of peaceable and inoffensive
Indians, submitting to the colonial authorities, were seized and
enslaved by publick order. In one case one hundred and fifty of the
Dartmouth tribe, including their women and children, coming in by a
voluntary submission, and under a general pledge of amnesty, and in
another instance, four hundred of a different tribe, were shamelessly
enslaved. By means of these proceedings, the numbers of Indian
servants became so large, that they were regarded as dangerous to the
Colony. They were, moreover, often untameable in temper, prone to run
away to their kinsmen in the neighbouring wilderness, and much less
docile and effective for labour than the "blackamoors." Hence the
prudent and thrifty saints saw the advantage of exporting them to the
Bermudas, Barbadoes, and other islands, in exchange for negroes and
merchandise; and this traffick, being much encouraged, and finally
enjoined, by the authorities, became so extensive as to substitute
negroes for Indian slaves, almost wholly in the Colony.[11] Among the
slaves thus deported were the favourite wife and little son of the
heroic King Philip. The holy Independent Divines, Cotton, Arnold, and
Increase Mather, inclined to the opinion that he should be slain for
his father's sins, after the example of the children of Achan and
Agag;[12] but the authorities probably concluded that his deportation
would be a more profitable, as well as a harsher punishment. These
shocking incidents will no longer appear incredible to the reader,
when he is informed that the same magistrates sold and transported
into foreign slavery two English children, one of them a girl, for
attending a Quaker meeting;[13] while the adult ladies present were
fined £10 each, and whipped.[14]

[Footnote 8: Moore's Slavery in Mass., p. 32.]

[Footnote 9: Ibid., p. 38.]

[Footnote 10: Ibid., p. 47.]

[Footnote 11: On the whole of above, see Moore, pp. 33-46.]

[Footnote 12: Moore, p. 45.]

[Footnote 13: Ibid., pp. 33, 34.]

[Footnote 14: The following passage, from a late valuable letter of
Thomas P. Devereux, Esq., of Halifax County, North Carolina, to the
Governor of that State, gives us one _item_ of evidence as to the
extent of this abominable usage of the "Pilgrim Fathers." See Raleigh
Daily Sentinel, Dec. 12th, 1866: "It is worthy of note that, amongst
my slaves, there was a large intermixture of Indian blood from the
Pequots, brought from Massachusetts and sold in North Carolina, in the
early part of the 18th century, and, up to the act of emancipation, I
could, with tolerable certainty, detect the mixed race by their
addiction to liquor and its effects upon them."]

In pleasing contrast with these enormities, stands the contemporaneous
legislation of the Colony of Virginia touching its Indian neighbours.
By three acts, 1655 to 1657, the colonists were strictly forbidden to
trespass upon the lands of the Indians, or to dispossess them of their
homes even by purchase. Slaying an Indian for his trespass was
prohibited. The Indians, provided they were not armed, were authorized
to pass freely through the several settlements, for trading, fishing,
and gathering wild fruits. It was forbidden to enslave or deport any
Indian, no matter under what circumstances he was captured; and Indian
apprentices or servants for a term of years could only be held as such
by authority of their parents, or if they had none, of the
magistrates.[15] Their careful training in Christianity was enjoined,
and at the end of their terms, their discharge, with wages, was
secured by law.

[Footnote 15: Herring, Stat. at Large, vol. i., pp. 395, 415, 456.]

The second, and more potent cause of development of the New England
slave trade, was the commerce between those colonies and the West
Indies. Each of the mother countries endeavoured to monopolize to
herself all the trade and transportation of her own colonies. But it
was the perpetual policy of Great Britain to intrude into this
monopoly, which Spain preserved between herself and her colonies,
while she jealously maintained her own intact. This motive prompted
her systematic connivance at every species of illicit navigation and
traffick of her subjects in those seas. The New England colonies were
not slow to imitate their brethren at home; and although their
maritime ventures were as really violations of the colonial laws of
England, as of the rights of Spain, the mother country easily connived
at them for the sake of their direction. The Spanish Main was
consequently the scene of a busy trade during the seventeenth century,
which was as unscrupulous and daring as the operations of the
Buccaneers of the previous age. The only difference was, that the
red-handed plunder was now perpetrated on the African villages instead
of the Spanish, and for the joint advantage of the New England
adventurers and the Spanish and British planters. At length, the
treaty of Utrecht, in 1712, recognized this encroaching trade, and
provided for its extension throughout the Indies.[16] New England
adventure, as well as British, thus received a new _impetus_. The
wine-staves of her forests, the salt fish of her coasts, the tobacco
and flour of Virginia, were exchanged for sugar and molasses. These
were distilled into that famous New England rum, which, as Dr. Jeremy
Belknap, of Massachusetts, declared, was the foundation of the African
slave trade.[17] The slave ships, freighted with this rum, proceeded
to the coast of Guinea, and, by a most gainful traffick, exchanged it
for negroes, leaving the savage communities behind them on fire with
barbarian excess, out of which a new crop of petty wars, murders,
enslavements, and kidnappings grew, to furnish future cargoes of
victims; while they wafted their human freight to the Spanish and
British Indies, Virginia, the Carolinas, and their own colonies. The
larger number of their victims were sold in these markets; the less
saleable remnants of cargoes were brought home, and sold in the New
England ports. But not seldom, whole cargoes were brought thither
directly. Dr. Belknap remembered, among many others, one which
consisted almost wholly of children.[18]

[Footnote 16: Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 231.]

[Footnote 17: Moore's Hist. of Slavery in Mass., p. 6.]

[Footnote 18: Moore, p. 68.]

Thus, the trade of which the good ship Desire, of Salem, was the
harbinger, grew into grand proportions; and for nearly two centuries
poured a flood of wealth into New England, as well as no
inconsiderable number of slaves. The General Court of Massachusetts
recognized the trade as legal, imposing a duty of £4 per head on each
negro sold in the province, with a drawback for those resold out of
it, or dying in twelve months.[19] The weight of this duty is only
evidence of a desire to raise revenue, and to discourage the
settlement of numbers of negroes in Massachusetts; not of any
disapproval of the traffick in itself, as a proper employment of New
England enterprise. The government of the province preferred white
servants, and was already aware of the unprofitable nature of African
labour in their inhospitable climate; but the furnishing of other
colonies with negroes was a favoured branch of commerce. The increase
of negro slaves in Massachusetts during the seventeenth century was
slow. But the following century changed the record.

[Footnote 19: Idem, pp. 59, 60.]

In 1720, Governor Shute states their numbers at two thousand. In 1754,
a census of negroes gave four thousand five hundred; and the first
United States census, in 1790, returned six thousand.[20]

[Footnote 20: Moore, pp. 50, 51.]

Meantime, the other maritime colonies of Rhode Island and Providence
Plantations, and Connecticut, followed the example of their elder
sister emulously; and their commercial history is but a repetition of
that of Massachusetts. The towns of Providence, Newport, and New Haven
became famous slave trading ports. The magnificent harbour of the
second, especially, was the favourite starting-place of the slave
ships; and its commerce rivalled, or even exceeded, that of the
present commercial metropolis, New York. All the four original States,
of course, became slaveholding.[21]

[Footnote 21: Bancroft, vol. iii., ch. 24, does justice to the crimes
of England against the Africans, and against her own colonies; but is
absolutely silent touching the complicity of New England! And, as
though this _suppressio veri_ were not enough, he proceeds to a
studious _suggestio falsi_. Page 405th he says: "Of a direct voyage
from Guinea to the coast of the United States, no journal is known to
exist, though slave ships from Africa entered nearly every
considerable harbour south of Newport." And, p. 410: "The English
continental colonies, in the aggregate, were always opposed to the
African slave trade." We have seen evidence, that Bancroft must have
known that every American slaver which ever entered a port of the
United States, was either from this same Newport, or other ports north
of it. We shall see hereafter, that he must have known also, that
Massachusetts was certainly not among that "aggregate" of the colonies
which opposed the African slave trade. Yet, in this chapter, he
endeavours expressly to produce that impression. See p. 408.]

No records exist, accessible to the historian, by which the numbers of
slaves brought to this country by New England traders can be
ascertained. Their operations were mingled with those of Englishmen
from the mother country. While the total of the operations of the
latter, including their importations into the Spanish colonies, was
greatly larger than that of the New Englanders, the latter probably
sustained at least an equal share of the trade to the thirteen
colonies, up to the time of the Revolution; and thenceforward, to the
year 1808, when the importations were nominally arrested, they carried
on nearly the whole. So that the presence of the major part of the
four millions of Africans now in America, is due to New England. Some
further illustrations will be given of the method and spirit in which
that section conducted the trade. The number of The Boston Post-Boy
and Advertiser for September 12th, 1763, contains the following:

"By a gentleman who arrived here a few days ago from the coast of
Africa, we are informed of the arrivals of Captains Morris, Ferguson,
and Wickham, of this port, who write very discouraging accounts of the
trade upon the coast; and that upwards of two hundred gallons of real
rum had been given for slaves per head, and scarcely to be got at any
rate for that commodity. This must be sensibly felt by this poor and
distressed Government, _the inhabitants whereof being very large
adventurers in the trade, having sent and about sending upwards of
twenty sail of vessels_, computed to carry in the whole about nine
thousand hogsheads of rum, a quantity much too large for the places on
the coast, where that commodity has generally been vended. We hear
that many vessels are also gone and going from the neighbouring
Governments, likewise from Barbadoes, from which place a large cargo
of rum had arrived before our informant left the coast, of which they
gave two hundred and seventy gallons for a prime slave."

When it is remembered that the Massachusetts ports were then small
towns, the fact that they had more than twenty ships simultaneously
engaged in the trade to the Guinea coast alone, clearly reveals that
it was the leading branch of their maritime adventure, and main source
of their wealth. The ingenuous lament of the printer over the
increasing cost of "a prime slave," gives us the correct clue to the
change in their views concerning the propriety of the trade. When the
negro rose in value to two hundred gallons "of real rum" (the sable
slave hunters were becoming as acute as Brother Jonathan himself,
touching the adulterated article), the conscience of the holy
adventurer began to be disturbed about the righteousness of the
traffick. When the slave cost two hundred and fifty gallons, the
scruples became troublesome; and when his price mounted up towards
three hundred, by reason of the imprudence of the naughty man with his
large cargo, from Barbadoes, the stings of conscience became
intolerable. By the principles of that religion which "supposeth that
gain is godliness,"[22] the trade was now become clearly wrong.

[Footnote 22: St. Paul's description of Abolitionists, 1 Tim., vi.,

The following extracts are from the letter of instructions given by a
leading Salem firm to the captain of their ship, upon its clearing for
the African coast:[23]

[Footnote 23: Felt's Salem, ii., 289, 290.]

    "CAPTAIN----: Our brig, of which you have the command, being
    cleared at the office, and being in every other respect complete
    for sea, our orders are, that you embrace the first fair wind, and
    make the best of your way to the coast of Africa, and there invest
    your cargo in slaves. As slaves, when brought to market, like
    other articles, generally appear to the best advantage; therefore
    too critical an inspection cannot be paid to them before purchase,
    to see that no dangerous distemper is lurking about them, to
    attend particularly to their age, to their countenances, to the
    straightness of their limbs, and, as far as possible, to the
    goodness or badness of their constitution, etc., etc., will be
    very considerable objects. Male or female slaves, whether full
    grown or not, we cannot particularly instruct you about; and on
    this head shall only observe that prime male slaves generally sell
    best in any market."

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Upon your return, you will touch at St. Pierre's, Martinico, and
    call on Mr. John Mounreau for your further advice and destination.
    We submit the conducting of the voyage to your good judgment and
    prudent management, not doubting of your best endeavours to serve
    our interest in all cases; and conclude with committing you to the
    almighty Disposer of all events."

The present commercial and manufacturing wealth of New England is to
be traced, even more than that of Old England, to the proceeds of the
slave trade, and slave labour. The capital of the former was derived
mainly from the profits of the Guinea trade. The shipping which first
earned wealth for its owners in carrying the bodies of the slaves, was
next employed in transporting the cotton, tobacco, and rice which
they reared, and the imports purchased therewith. And when the unjust
tariff policy of the United States allured the next generation of New
Englanders to invest the swollen accumulations of their slave trading
fathers in factories, it was still slave grown cotton which kept their
spindles busy. The structure of New England wealth is cemented with
the sweat and blood of Africans.

In bright contrast with its guilty cupidity, stands the consistent
action of Virginia, which, from its very foundation as a colony,
always denounced and endeavoured to resist the trade. It is one of the
strange freaks of history, that this commonwealth, which was guiltless
in this thing, and which always presented a steady protest against the
enormity, should become, in spite of herself, the home of the largest
number of African slaves found within any of the States, and thus,
should be held up by Abolitionists as the representative of the "sin
of slaveholding;" while Massachusetts, which was, next to England, the
pioneer and patroness of the slave trade, and chief criminal, having
gained for her share the wages of iniquity instead of the persons of
the victims, has arrogated to herself the post of chief accuser of
Virginia. It is because the latter colony was made, in this affair,
the helpless victim of the tyranny of Great Britain and the relentless
avarice of New England. The sober evidence of history which will be
presented, will cause the breast of the most deliberate reader to burn
with indignation for the injustice suffered by Virginia, and the
profound hypocrisy of her detractors.

The preamble to the State Constitution of Virginia, drawn up by George
Mason, and adopted by the Convention June 29th, 1776, was written by
Thomas Jefferson. In the recital of grievances against Great Britain,
which had prompted the commonwealth to assume its independence, this
preamble contains the following words: "By prompting our negroes to
rise in arms among us; those very negroes whom, by an inhuman use of
his negative, he had refused us permission to exclude by law."[24] Mr.
Jefferson, long a leading member of the House of Burgesses, and most
learned of all his contemporaries in the legislation of his country,
certainly knew whereof he affirmed. His witness is more than confirmed
by that of Mr. Madison,[25] who says: "The British Government
constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to this
infernal traffick." Mr. Jefferson, in a passage which was expunged
from the Declaration of Independence by New England votes in the
Congress, strongly stated the same charge. And George Mason, perhaps
the greatest and most influential of Virginians, next to Washington,
reiterated the accusation with equal strength, in the speech in the
Federal Convention, 1787, in which he urged the immediate prohibition
of the slave trade by the United States. See Madison Papers, vol.
iii., pp. 1388-1398. A learned Virginian antiquary has found,
notwithstanding the destruction of the appropriate evidences, which
will be explained anon, no less than twenty-eight several attempts
made by the Burgesses to arrest the evil by their legislation, all of
which were either suppressed or negatived by the proprietary or royal
authority. A learned and pious Huguenot divine, having planted his
family in the colony, in the first half of the last century, bears
this testimony: "But our Assembly, foreseeing the ill consequences of
importing such numbers among us, hath often attempted to lay a duty
upon them which would amount to a prohibition, such as ten or twenty
pounds a head; but no governor dare pass such a law, having
instructions to the contrary from the Board of Trade at home. By this
means they are forced upon us, whether we will or not. This plainly
shows the African Company hath the advantage of the colonies, and may
do as it pleases with the ministry."[26] These personal testimonies
are recited the more carefully, because the Vandalism of the British
officers at the Revolution annihilated that regular documentary
evidence, to which the appeal might otherwise be made. Governor
Dunmore first, and afterwards Colonel Tarleton and Earl Cornwallis,
carried off and destroyed all the archives of the colony which they
could seize, and among them the whole of the original journals of the
House of Burgesses, except the volumes containing the proceedings of
1769 and 1772. The only sure knowledge which remains of those precious
records is derived from other documents and fragmentary copies of some
passages, found afterwards in the desks of a few citizens. The
wonderfully complete collection of their laws edited by Hening, under
the title of "Statutes at Large," was drawn from copies and
collections of the acts which, having received the assent of the
governors and kings, were promulgated to the counties as actual law.
Of course the suppressed and negatived motions against the slave trade
are not to be sought among these, but could only have been found in
the lost journals of the House. But enough of the documentary evidence
remains, to substantiate triumphantly the testimony of individuals.

[Footnote 24: Code of Virginia, p. 36.]

[Footnote 25: Madison Papers, iii., 1390.]

[Footnote 26: Rev. P. Fontaine, Huguenot Family, pp. 348, 351.]

The first act touching the importation of slaves, which was allowed by
the royal governor and king, was that of the 11th William III., 1699,
laying an impost of twenty shillings upon each servant or African
slave imported. The motive assigned is the raising of a revenue to
rebuild the Capitol or State House, lately burned down; and the law
was limited to three years.[27] This impost was renewed for two
farther terms of three years, by subsequent Assemblies.[28] Before the
expiration of this period, the Assembly of 1705 laid a permanent duty
of sixpence per head on all passengers and slaves entering the
colony;[29] and this little burthen, the most which the jealousy of
the British slave traders would permit, was the germ of the future
taxes on the importation. This impost was increased by the Assembly of
1732, to a duty of five _per centum ad valorem_, for four years.[30]
Subsequent Assemblies continued this tax until 1740, and then doubled
it, on the plea of the war then existing.[31] During the remainder of
the colonial government, the impost remained at this grade, ten _per
centum_ on the price of the slaves, and twenty _per centum_ upon
those imported from Maryland or Carolina. As the all-powerful African
Company in England was not concerned in maintaining a transit of the
slaves from one colony to another, after they were once off their
hands, they permitted the Burgesses to do as they pleased with the
Maryland and Carolina importations. Here, therefore, we have an
unconfined expression of the sentiments of the Assemblies; and they
showed their fixed opposition to the trade by imposing what was
virtually a prohibitory duty. In 1769, the House of Burgesses passed
an act for raising the duty on all slaves imported, to twenty _per
centum_.[32] The records of the Executive Department show that this
law was vetoed by the king, and declared repealed by a proclamation of
William Nelson, President of the Council, April 3d, 1771. The Assembly
of 1772 passed the same law again, with the substitution of a duty of
£5 per head, instead of the twenty _per centum_, on slaves from
Maryland and Carolina;[33] and it received the signature of Governor
Dunmore. It may well be doubted whether it escaped the royal veto.

[Footnote 27: Hening, Stat. at Large, vol. iii., p. 193.]

[Footnote 28: Idem, pp. 212, 233.]

[Footnote 29: Idem, pp. 346, 492.]

[Footnote 30: Hening, vol. iv., p. 319.]

[Footnote 31: Hening, iv., 394, and v., 29, 92, 160, 318.]

[Footnote 32: Hening, viii., 336.]

[Footnote 33: Idem, 531.]

But the House now proceeded to a more direct effort to extinguish the
nefarious traffick. Friday, March 20th, 1772, it was[34] "Resolved,
that an humble address be prepared to be presented to his Majesty, to
express the high opinion we entertain of his benevolent intentions
towards his subjects in the colonies, and that we are thereby induced
to ask his paternal assistance in averting a calamity of a most
alarming nature; that the importation of negroes from Africa has long
been considered as a trade of great inhumanity, and under its present
encouragement may endanger the existence of his American dominions;
that self-preservation, therefore, urges us to implore him to remove
all restraints on his Governors from passing acts of Assembly which
are intended to check this pernicious commerce; and that we presume to
hope the interests of a few of his subjects in Great Britain will be
disregarded, when such a number of his people look up to him for
protection in a point so essential; that when our duty calls upon us
to make application for his attention to the welfare of this, his
antient colony, we cannot refrain from renewing those professions of
loyalty and affection we have so often, with great sincerity, made, or
from assuring him that we regard his wisdom and virtue as the surest
pledges of the happiness of his people."

[Footnote 34: House Journal.]

"Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to draw up an address to be
presented to his Majesty, upon the said resolution." And a Committee
was appointed of Mr. Harrison, Mr. Carey, Mr. Edmund Pendleton, Mr.
Richard Henry Lee, Mr. Treasurer, and Mr. Bland.

"Wednesday, April 1st, 1772: Mr. Harrison reported from the Committee
appointed upon Friday, the twentieth day of last month, to draw up an
address to be presented to his Majesty, that the Committee had drawn
up an address accordingly, which they had directed him to report to
the House; and he read the same in his place; which is as followeth,"
etc. The address is so nearly in the words of the resolution, that the
reader need not be detained by its repetition. The House agreed,
_nemine contradicente_, to the address, and the same Committee was
appointed to present an address to the Governor, asking him to
transmit the address to his Majesty, "and to support it in such manner
as he shall think most likely to promote the desirable end proposed."
This earnest appeal met the fate of all the previous: Mammon and the
African Company were still paramount at Court, over humanity and
right. But the Revolution was near at hand, bringing a different
redress for the grievance.

On the 15th of May, 1776, Virginia declared her independence of Great
Britain, and the Confederacy, following her example, issued its
declaration on the 4th of July of the same year. The strict blockade
observed by the British navy, of course arrested the foreign slave
trade, as well as all other commerce. But in 1778, the State of
Virginia, determined to provide in good time against the resumption of
the traffick when commerce should be reopened, gave final expression
to her will against it. At the General Assembly held October 5th,
Patrick Henry being Governor of the Commonwealth, the following law
was the first passed:


[Footnote 35: Hening, v. ix., p. 471.]

    "I. For preventing the farther importation of slaves into this
    Commonwealth: _Be it enacted by the General Assembly_, That from
    and after the passing of this act, no slave or slaves shall
    hereafter be imported into this Commonwealth by sea or land, nor
    shall any slaves so imported be bought or sold by any person

    "II. Every person hereafter importing slaves into this
    Commonwealth contrary to this act, shall forfeit and pay the sum
    of one thousand pounds for every slave so imported, and every
    person selling or buying any such slaves, shall in like manner
    forfeit and pay the sum of five hundred pounds for every slave so
    bought or sold, one moiety of which forfeitures shall be to the
    use of the Commonwealth, and the other moiety to him or them that
    will sue for the same, to be recovered by action of debt or
    information in any court of record.

    "III. _And be it further enacted_, That every slave imported into
    this Commonwealth, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this
    act, shall, upon such importation, become free."

The remaining sections of the law only proceed to exempt from the
penalty citizens of the other United States, coming to live as actual
residents with their slaves in the Commonwealth, and citizens of
Virginia bringing in slaves from other States of the Union by actual

Thus Virginia has the honour of being the first Commonwealth on earth
to declare against the African slave trade, and to make it a penal
offence. Her action antedates by thirty years the much bepraised
legislation of the British Parliament, and by ten years the earliest
movement of Massachusetts on the subject; while it has the immense
advantage, besides, of consistency; because she was never stained by
any complicity in the trade, and she exercised her earliest
untrammelled power to stay its evils effectually in her dominions.
Thus, almost before the Clarksons and Wilberforces were born, had
Virginia done that very work for which her slanderers now pretend so
much to laud those philanthropists. All that these reformers needed to
do was to bid the British Government go and imitate the example which
Virginia was the first to set, among the kingdoms of the world. It is
true that the first Congress of 1774, at Philadelphia, had adopted a
resolution that the slave trade ought to cease; but this body had no
powers, either federal or national; it was a mere committee; and its
inspiration upon this subject, as upon most others, came from
Virginia. In 1788, Massachusetts passed an act forbidding her citizens
from importing, transporting, buying, or selling any of the
inhabitants of Africa as slaves, on a penalty of fifty pounds for each
person so misused, and of two hundred pounds for every vessel employed
in this traffick. Vessels which had already sailed were exempted from
all penalty for their present voyages.[36] It is manifest from the
character of the penalties, that this law was not passed to be
enforced; and the evidence soon to be adduced will show, beyond all
doubt, that this is true. The act was one of those cheap tributes
which Pharisaic avarice knows so well how to pay to appearances.
Connecticut passed a very similar law the same year, prohibiting her
citizens to engage in the slave trade, and voiding the policies of
insurance on slave ships. The slave trade of New England continued in
increasing activity for twenty years longer.

[Footnote 36: Moore, Hist. of Slavery in Mass., p. 227.]

It may be said, that if the government of Virginia was opposed to the
African slave trade, her people purchased more of its victims than
those of any other colony; and the aphorism may be quoted against
them, that the receiver is as guilty as the thief. This is rarely true
in the case of individuals, and when applied to communities, it is
notoriously false. All States contain a large number of irresponsible
persons. The character of a free people as a whole should be estimated
by that of its corporate acts, in which the common will is expressed.
The individuals who purchased slaves of the traders were doubtless
actuated by various motives. Many persuaded themselves that, as they
were already enslaved, and without their agency, and as their refusal
to purchase them would have no effect whatever to procure their
restoration to their own country and to liberty, they might become
their owners, without partaking in the wrong of which they were the
victims. Many were prompted by genuine compassion, because they saw
that to buy the miserable creatures was the only practicable way in
their reach to rescue them from their pitiable condition; for
tradition testifies that often when the captives were exposed in long
ranks upon the shore, near their floating prisons, for the inspection
of purchasers, they besought the planters and their wives to buy them,
and testified an extravagant joy and gratitude at the event. All
purchasers were, perhaps, influenced partly by the convenience and
advantage of possessing their labour. Had every individual in Virginia
been as intelligent and virtuous as the patriots who, in the
Burgesses, denounced the inhuman traffick, the colony might perhaps
have remained without a slave, notwithstanding the two centuries of
temptation during which its ports were plied with cargoes seeking
sale. But a commonwealth without a single weak, or selfish, or bad
man, is a Utopia. The proper rulers were forbidden by the mother
country to employ that prohibitory legislation which is, in all
States, the necessary guardian of the publick virtue; and it is
therefore that we place the guilt of the sale where that of the
importation justly belongs. Doubtless many an honourable citizen,
after sincerely sustaining the endeavour of his Burgess to arrest the
whole trade, himself purchased Africans, because he saw that their
general introduction into the country was inevitable, without
legislative interference; and his self-denial would only have
subjected him to the severe inconveniences of being without slaves in
a community of slaveholders, whilst it did not arrest the evil.

The government of Virginia was unquestionably actuated, in prohibiting
the slave trade, by a sincere sense of its intrinsic injustice and
cruelty. Mr. Jefferson, a representative man, in his "Notes on
Virginia," had given indignant expression to this sentiment. And the
reprobation of that national wrong, with regret for the presence of
the African on the soil, was the universal feeling of that generation
which succeeded the Revolution; while they firmly asserted the
rightfulness of that slavery which they had inherited. But human
motives are always complex; and along with the moral disapprobation
for the crime against Africa, the Burgesses felt other motives, which,
although more personal, were right and proper. They were sober, wise
and practical men, who felt that to protect the rights, purity, and
prosperity of their own country and posterity, was more properly
their task, than to plead the wrongs of a distant and alien people,
great although those wrongs might be. They deprecated the slave trade,
because it was peopling their soil so largely with an inferior and
savage race, incapable of union, instead of with civilized Englishmen.
This was precisely their apprehension of the enormous wrong done the
colony by the mother country. They understood also the deep political
motive which combined with the lust of gain to prompt the relentless
policy of the Home Government. With it, the familiar argument was:
"Let us stock the plantations plentifully with Africans, not only that
they may be good customers for our manufactures, and producers for our
commerce; but that they may remain dependent and submissive. An
Englishman who emigrates, becomes the bold assertor of popular and
colonial rights; but the negro is only fit for bondage." For the same
reason, the colonies felt that the forcing of the Africans upon them
was as much a political as a social wrong. But that righteous
Providence, whose glory it is to make the crimes of the designing
their own punishment, employed African slavery in the Southern
colonies as a potent influence in forming the character of the
Southern gentleman, without whose high spirit, independence, and
chivalry, America would never have won her freedom from British rule.

This contrast between the policy and principles of Virginia and of the
New England colonies will be concluded with two evidences. The one is
presented in the history of the Declaration of Independence. Mr.
Jefferson, the author, states that he had inserted in the enumeration
of grievances against the King of Great Britain, a paragraph strongly
reprobating his arbitrary support of the slave trade, against the
remonstrances of some of the colonies. When the Congress discussed the
paper, this paragraph was struck out, "in complaisance," he declares,
"to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain
the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to
continue it. Our Northern brethren also, I believe, felt a little
tender under these censures; for though their people had very few
slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of
them to others."[37] Thus New England assisted to expunge from that
immortal paper a testimony against the slave trade, which Virginia
endeavoured to place there.

[Footnote 37: Jefferson's Correspondence, vol i., p. 15.]

The other evidence is presented by a case much more practical. In the
Convention of 1787, which framed the Constitution of the United
States, two questions concerning African slaves caused dissension.
Upon the supreme right of the States over the whole subject of slavery
within their own dominions, upon the recognition of slaves as property
protected by the federal laws, wherever slavery existed, and upon the
fugitive slave law, not a voice was raised in opposition. But the
Convention presumed (what subsequent history did not confirm,) that
the main expenses of the federal government would be met by direct
taxation; and some principle was to be adopted, for determining how
slaves should rank with freemen, in assessing capitation taxes, and
apportioning representation. The other question of difficulty was the
suppression of the African slave trade, which, upon the return of
peace, had been actively revived by New England, with the connivance
of Carolina and Georgia. The Southern States, who expected to have
nearly the whole tax on slaves to pay, desired to rate them very low;
some members proposed that five slaves should count as equal to only
one white freeman; others, that three slaves should count for one. The
New England colonies generally desired to make a negro count as a
white man, both for representation and taxation! After much
difference, the majority of the Convention agreed to a middle
conclusion proposed by Mr. Madison, that five negroes should count for
three persons.[38] But the other question was not so easily arranged.
The Committee of eleven appointed to draw up a first draught of a
constitution had proposed that in Art. vii., § 4, of their draught,
Congress should be prohibited from laying any import duty on African
slaves brought into the country. The effect of this, so far as the
federal government was concerned, would be to legalize the slave trade
forever, and protect it from all burdens.[39] Maryland (by her
legislature, then sitting,) to her immortal honour, and Pennsylvania
and Virginia, exhibited a determination to change this section, so as
to arrest the trade through the action of the federal government,
either by prohibition or tax. The New England States, South Carolina,
and Georgia, opposed them, and advocated the original section,
assigning various grounds. The difference threatened to make shipwreck
of the whole work of the Convention, when Gouverneur Morris adroitly
proposed to commit the subject, along with that of the proposed
navigation law, in order that disagreeing parties might be induced, by
private conference, to combine mutual concessions into a sort of
bargain. The subjects were accordingly committed to a Committee of one
from each State. This Committee reported, August 24th, "in favour of
not allowing Congress to prohibit the importation of slaves before
1800, but giving them power to impose a duty at a rate not exceeding
the average of other imports." South Carolina (through General
Pinckney) moved to prolong the importation from 1800 to 1808, _and
Massachusetts_ (through Mr. Gorham) _seconded the motion_. It was then
passed, as last proposed, _New Hampshire_, _Massachusetts_,
_Connecticut_, (the only New England States then present,) Maryland,
North Carolina, and South Carolina, voting in the affirmative, and New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia in the negative.[40] The
maritime States soon after gained their point, of authorizing Congress
to pass, by a majority vote, a navigation law for their advantage.

[Footnote 38: Madison Papers, v. i., pp. 422-425.]

[Footnote 39: Ibid., v. ii., p. 1234.]

[Footnote 40: Madison Papers, v. iii., pp. 1398 _et seq._]

Thus, by the assistance of New England, the iniquities of the African
slave trade, and the influx of that alien and savage race into
America, were prolonged from the institution of the federal government
until 1808. Is it said, that New England had at this time no interest
in slavery, did not value it, and was already engaged in removing it
at home? This is true; and it is so much the worse for her historical
position. It only shows that she desired to fix that institution
which she had ascertained to be a curse to her, upon her neighbours,
for the sake of keeping open twenty years longer an infamous but
gainful employment, and of securing a legislative bounty to her
shipping. In other words, her policy was simply mercenary. And these
votes for prolonging the slave trade effectually rob her of credit for
emancipation at home; proving beyond all peradventure, that the latter
measure was wholly prompted by her sense of her own interests, and not
of the rights of the negro. For if the latter motive had governed,
must it not have made her the equal opponent of the increase of
slavery in Carolina and Georgia?

But the agency of New England in that increase was still more active
and direct. As though to "make hay while the sun shone," the people of
that section renewed their activity on the African coast, with a
diligence continually increasing up to 1808. Carey, in his work upon
the slave trade, estimates the importations into the thirteen colonies
between 1771 and 1790, (nineteen years,) at thirty-four thousand; but
that between the institution of the federal government and 1808, he
places at seventy thousand. His estimate here is unquestionably far
too low; because forty thousand were introduced at the port of
Charleston, South Carolina, alone, the last four years;[41] and within
the years 1806 and 1807, there were six hundred arrivals of New
England slavers at that place.[42] The latter fact shows that those
States must have possessed nearly the whole traffick. And the former
bears out Mr. De Bow, in enlarging the total of importations under
the federal government to one hundred and twenty-five thousand, at
least. For the average at one port was ten thousand per year. In 1860,
there were ten-fold as many Africans in the United States as had been
originally brought thither from Africa. But as many of these had been
multiplying for four, or even five generations, this rate of increase
is too large to assume for the importations of 1800, whose descendants
had only come to the third generation. Assuming the half as nearly
correct, which seems a moderate estimate, we find their increase
five-fold. So that there were, in 1860, six hundred and twenty-five
thousand more slaves in the United States than would have been found
here, had not New England's cruelty and avarice assisted to prolong
the slave trade nineteen years after Virginia and the federal
government would otherwise have arrested it.

[Footnote 41: De Bow, Compend. of Census, 1850, pp. 83, 84.]

[Footnote 42: Com. Boutwell.]

After the British, and even after the other governments of Europe, had
abolished the trade in name, it continued with a vast volume. Whereas
at the time of the abolition, in 1808, eighty-five thousand slaves
were taken from Africa annually, nearly fifty thousand annually were
still carried, as late as 1847, to Brazil and the Spanish Indies.[43]
In this illicit trade, no Virginian (and, indeed, no Southern) ship or
shipmaster has ever been in a single case implicated, although our
State had meantime begun no inconsiderable career of maritime
adventure. But adventurers from New England ports and New York were
continually found sharing the lion's portion of the foul spoils. And
to the latest reclamations of the British Government upon the Brazilian,
for violations of the treaties and laws against the slave trade upon the
extended shores of that empire, the answer of its noble Emperor has
still been, that if Britain would find the real culprits, she must go to
the ports of Boston and New York to seek them.[44]

[Footnote 43: De Bow, p. 84.]

[Footnote 44: Journal do Commercio, (Rio,) May 26, 1856.]

But one more fact remains: When the late Confederate Government
adopted a constitution, although it was composed exclusively of
slaveholding States, it voluntarily did what the United States has
never done: it placed an absolute prohibition of the foreign slave
trade in its organic law.



It has been a favourite and persistent assertion of Abolitionists,
that slavery in America was an exceptional institution, and contrary
to the law of nature and nations. They represent it as owing its
existence solely to the _lex loci_ of the States where it was
legalized by their own legislation; and hence they draw the
conclusion, that the moment a slave passed out of one of these States
into a free State, or into the territories of the United States, his
bondage terminated of itself. Hence, also, they argue that
slaveholders had no right to the protection of that species of
property in the territories, which were the common possession of the
citizens of all the States; and that the federal government could not
properly permit the growth of, or recognize, new slave States. Their
party cry was: "Freedom is national; slavery is local." It is plain
that this proposition is the premise necessary to all the above
assumptions. It will now be shown that this proposition is untrue.
Slavery in the United States, instead of being the mere creature of
_lex loci_, was founded on a basis as broad as that of the American
Union, was in full accordance with the law of nature and nations as
then recognized by the States and the federal government, and had
universal recognition by the force of general law. The exclusion of
slavery from any State was legally the exception, owing its validity
purely to the _lex loci_, and to the recognized sovereignty of the
States over their own local affairs. Hence, the rights of slaveholders
stood valid, of course, in all the common territories of the United
States, and everywhere, save where the sovereignty of a
non-slaveholding State arrested them within its own borders. This
representation is established by the following facts:

First. When the federal government was formed, all the family of
European nations was slaveholding; and they all alike held the
Africans as unquestioned and legitimate subjects of bondage. The slave
trade was held by publick law as legitimate as the trade in corn. It
was the subject of treaty stipulations between the several powers; and
slave trading companies were formally chartered and protected by all
the leading powers. Slaves were declared by the English judges to be
merchandise.[45] They were universally held legal prize of war when
taken on the high seas.[46] They were recognized subjects of
reclamation in forming and executing treaties. Thus, not to go outside
of our own history, we find General Washington, in 1783, by order of
Congress, remonstrating with the British commander evacuating New York
city, because certain officers of the retiring forces carried away
with them the fugitive slaves of American citizens; and the latter was
compelled to surrender the attempt, as an unauthorized spoliation of
property.[47] In 1788, the Government of the United States claimed of
Spain the return of fugitive slaves from the Spanish colony of
Florida;[48] and our government promised, in return, the rendition of
Spanish slaves found in the United States. It is well known that the
treaty of the United States with Great Britain, negotiated by Mr. Jay,
and ratified by President Washington, and the treaty of Ghent, in
1815, both secured indemnities for slaves of American citizens
abducted during the two wars; thus treating them as property under the
protection of national law in America, and of the law of nations. In
face of this array of facts, we boldly ask, with what face it can be
asserted that slavery was not recognized by international law? Whether
it is not as consonant with the law of nature as of nations, will
appear at another place.

[Footnote 45: Bancroft, vol. iii., p. 414.]

[Footnote 46: Moore's Hist. of Slavery in Mass., p. 162.]

[Footnote 47: Justice Campbell, in Howard, 19th, Dred Scott Case.]

[Footnote 48: Idem.]

Second. During the whole planting and growth of the British colonies
in America, and at the time when they passed from that government into
the federal Union, the Empire of Great Britain was slaveholding in all
its parts. The obvious consequence is, that the government formed by
the thirteen colonies in a part of the territory of that empire,
inherited the legal condition of their mother, in this particular. In
seceding from that empire, they brought away the slaveholding
_status_; and this subsisted _ipso facto_, except where it was changed
by the _lex loci_. All the original territory of the American Union
was slave territory, as was that subsequently acquired from France.
Hence slave owners of course possessed their rights in all this
territory, unless they were expressly restrained by special
legislation of the States, sovereign each one within its own borders.
The consequence cannot be denied, if the premise be admitted. Let the
reader consider the following evidences of it:

In 1772, only four years before the Declaration of Independence, Lord
Mansfield, in the Court of King's Bench, decided the famous Somersett
case, by which, it has usually been asserted, slavery was forever
terminated in England, and the principle was settled that this
relation was inconsistent with her free laws. Mr. Stewart, a citizen
of Virginia, going to England on business, carried with him a negro
slave, Somersett, whom he had bought in Jamaica. After a time he
indicated a purpose to return home, carrying his slave with him;
whereupon the negro absconded. His master had him seized, and placed
on board a ship in the Thames, to be forcibly carried to Jamaica and
sold. The negro then sued out an application for _habeas corpus_,
which being argued at a previous term, was finally decided by Lord
Mansfield, at the Trinity term, 1772. The true extent of that decision
will hereafter be shown. Our purpose here is to cite the admissions
made by the court, as to the existing state of English laws.[49] It is
noticeable, that this tribunal exhibited a great reluctance to decide
the case, declaring that it was attended with great, and almost
inextricable difficulties, and that Lord Mansfield proposed to evade
a decision by recommending a compromise between Mr. Stewart and the
black. This not being done, the court stated that there were then
fifteen thousand negro slaves in England, worth not less than seven
hundred thousand pounds sterling. It also recognized the decisions of
Sir Philip Yorke, and Lord Chief Justice Talbot, confirmed in 1749, by
that of the chancellor, Lord Hardewicke, that if a slave, brought by
his master to England, should be detained from him, an action of
_trover_ for his recovery would lie; and the decision of Lord Talbot,
that a negro slave brought by his master to England from a colony, or
baptized by the clergy, did not thereby gain his liberty; and the
opinion of the latter that while the Statute of Tenures had abolished
manorial villeinage, a white man might still become a _villein in
gross_, by the laws of England.[50] The court declared farther, that
the slave property of a debtor was undoubtedly liable to action in the
English courts, to recover the sums due a creditor. But after all
these admissions, which clearly amount to a recognition of the fact
that England itself was then by law a slaveholding country, Lord
Mansfield proceeds to settle the principle (the only one, as he
carefully declares, to which his decision extends) that the power of
the writ of _habeas corpus_, not being limited to free persons by
express statute, should, as he thinks, in England be extended to
slaves, when they invoke it, and should be held to override the rights
of the master under the laws; because those rights were now regarded
as odious and excessive by current publick opinion. Such, and no more,
is the extent of this much be praised, and much misunderstood
decision! It is plain to common sense, that if it is not an instance
of the judicial abuse of making, instead of expounding, law, it only
establishes the fact that the laws of slaveholding England were then
in a ridiculously inconsistent state.

[Footnote 49: See, on all the following statements from Lord
Mansfield, Lofft's Reports, 12th Geo. 3d, pp. 1, 8, 17, 18, etc.]

[Footnote 50: What the _villein in gross_ was, may be learned from the
following, of Bracton, Lib. iv., 208:

"Purum villenagium est, a quo præstatur servilium incertum et
indeterminatum; ubi scire non potest vespere, quale servitium fieri
debet mane, viz., ubi quis facere tenetur quicquid ei præceptum fuit."
See also Blackstone, Lib. ii., 93.]

In fact, not only were there then fifteen thousand negro slaves in
England, but they were publickly bought and sold in the markets of
London. The prevalence of slavery is attested by another species of
historical evidence, very different from that of learned judges, but
at least as authentick. The pictures by which Hogarth has fixed the
follies and peculiarities of fashionable life on his immortal canvass,
frequently contain the African valet; showing that the possession of
this species of servants was demanded by high life. From the Normans,
those noted slaveholders, to 1775, no statute had been passed upon the
subject of personal slavery.[51] There then existed, in the northern
part of the kingdom of Great Britain, from thirty thousand to forty
thousand persons, of whom the Parliament said, "Many colliers,
coal-heavers, and salters, are in a state of slavery, or bondage,
bound to the collieries or salt-works where they work, for life,
transferable with the collieries and salt-works, when their original
masters have no use for them."[52] Again in 1799, they declare that
"many colliers and coal-heavers still continue in a state of bondage."

[Footnote 51: Justice Campbell, on Dred Scott case, 19th Howard, 109.]

[Footnote 52: Parliament, 15th Geo. 3d.]

Thus it appears that England was itself slave territory, at the time
the thirteen colonies, declaring their independence, brought away her
laws and institutions. But our argument of this fact is _ex
abundantia_; it may be waived, and still our conclusion holds,
because, by existing laws, all the plantations and colonies of England
in America were then, yet more indisputably, slave territory. No
stronger proof of this proposition can be imagined, than the manner in
which slavery was planted in these communities. Not only were all the
thirteen colonies, and all the West India plantations, slaveholding;
but it required no statute, either of Parliament or of colonial
legislature, to introduce African slavery, or to establish the right
of the owner, because it was already established by imperial law and
usage. The first negroes were bought in Virginia in 1620; the first
act touching their bondage was passed by the Burgesses in 1659; and
this does not enact their slavery, but recognizes it as existing. It
was not until 1670,[53] that any law was passed which expressly
enacted their slavery. But for fifty years they had been unquestioned
slaves, had paid impost duty as such, had been bought and sold, had
been bequeathed, had been subject of suits. By what law? Obviously by
the general law of the British Empire, and of nations. The manner of
the introduction of slavery into Massachusetts was the same. "The
involuntary servitude of Indians and negroes in the several colonies
originated under a law not promulgated by legislation, and rested upon
prevalent views of universal jurisprudence, or the _law of nations_,
supported by the express or implied authority of the Home
Government."[54] But the "canny" Puritans, more careful than the
Virginians to fortify their slave property, enacted slavery of both
classes, in their earliest codes of laws, 1641 and 1660.[55]

[Footnote 53: Hening, Stat. at Large, vol. ii., p. 283.]

[Footnote 54: Hurd, Law of Freedom and Bondage, § 216, i., 225.]

[Footnote 55: Moore, Slavery in Mass., pp. 12, 15.]

That African slavery was the universal law of the British colonial
empire, is equally plain from the facts already given concerning the
legalizing of the slave trade. The treaty of Utrecht secured to
Britain a monopoly of that traffick. The Parliament chartered the
African Company, with the right to trade in slaves to all the
colonies. The Parliament then by statute threw the trade open to all
British subjects. The Parliament, by express law, made the property in
slaves held in the colonies subject of action in English courts. The
Solicitor-General, with Chancellor after Chancellor, decided that
residence in England did not emancipate the slave upon his return to
his colonial home. The General Court of Massachusetts enacted the same
rule, as did the Burgesses of Virginia, again and again; and were
never disallowed therein by the king. Even so late as 1827, fifty-five
years after the Somersett case, Lord Stowell decided, in the case of
the slave Grace, from Antigua, that on her return to the colony, her
condition as a slave for life was fully revived.[56] And in the
correctness of this decision, we find Mr. Justice Story

[Footnote 56: 2d Haggard, p. 94.]

[Footnote 57: Letter to Lord Stowell.]

The argument then is, that at the American Revolution all the
territory claimed by the thirteen colonies was, by the law of the
Empire, and of nations, slaveholding territory. The colonies, in
assuming their independence, brought away the rights and institutions
which they had inherited as colonial parts of that empire; and
whatever prescriptive right was not expressly changed by law, was
universally held to survive, as of course. Hence all the territory of
the American Union was slave territory; and the only mode by which any
part became non-slaveholding, was by the exercise of State sovereignty
enacting a _lex loci_, which was only operative within the bounds of
the State itself.

Third. The chief territory which the United States acquired between
the Revolution and the Mexican war, was Louisiana. This vast region
was gained by treaty from France in 1803. It was then a single
province and government of the French Republick, and was, through all
its extent, a slaveholding country. In the third article of the treaty
for its purchase, between the United States and the First Consul, it
was stipulated that until the ceded territory should be incorporated,
as States, in the Union, all its citizens should be "in the mean time
maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty,
property, and the religion which they profess." The settled doctrine
of the courts of Louisiana has always been, that this guarantee
covered all the citizens emigrating into any part of the territory
before its erection into a State, as fully as those living in
Louisiana in 1803.[58] Thus, the rights of slave owners in the whole
of the Louisiana purchase were guaranteed to them by treaty, until
such time as the part they inhabited became a sovereign State, and
thus assumed plenary power over the subject. But, by Article 6th, §
2d, of the Constitution of the United States, all treaties made by the
authority of the United States are declared to be the supreme law of
the land. Thus the rights of the master in all this region were placed
above the power of the legislature itself.

[Footnote 58: Justice Catron, 19th Howard, p. 131.]

Fourth. The federal constitution recognized and protected property in
slaves, in every way which was competent to a federative compact of
this kind. The slaveholding States had representation for three-fifths
of their slaves. The slaves were made subjects of direct taxation, as
property. The constitution provided expressly for a fugitive slave
law, which was soon passed by the Congress, and continued to be the
law of the land until the termination of the government. By the
constitution, property in slaves was created like any other property;
and no ground can be found for the assertion that its rights were more
restricted than rights in cattle or lands. But the fundamental idea of
that instrument was the impartial equality of all the citizens before
the law. Whatever authority Congress had over the common territories,
was as trustee for all the citizens of the United States equally.
Hence it seems obvious that this body was bound to recognize in all
the citizens equal rights, in going into those territories with any
species of property which they might hold by the laws of any State, or
of Congress, and to protect them in those rights while the country was
in a territorial condition.

Finally, these principles have been expressly decided by the highest
constitutional authority in the land, as well as by the voice of the
most enlightened founders of the government. When the mischievous
contest concerning the admission of Missouri was rising in 1819, Mr.
Madison declared, concerning the article of the constitution which
conferred on Congress its powers over the territories, (Art. 4, § 3,)
that "it cannot be well extended beyond a power over the territories
_as property_, and the power to make provisions really needful or
necessary for the government of settlers, until ripe for admission
into the Union."[59] The Supreme Court of the United States, in the
well-known case of Dred Scott, decided that Africans were not citizens
of the United States in the meaning of the constitution;[60] that
property in African slaves was on the same footing under that
instrument with other legal property;[61] that the residence of a
slave in a territory of the United States did not emancipate him, nor
did his residence in a non-slaveholding State for a time, prevent the
recurrence of his state of bondage, on his return to the State in
which he had been a slave;[62] and that Congress had no power to use
its authority to exclude slavery from any part of the territories.[63]

[Footnote 59: Letter to Robert Walsh, Nov. 27, 1819.]

[Footnote 60: 19th Howard, pp. 12, 33.]

[Footnote 61: 19th Howard, p. 57.]

[Footnote 62: Ibid., p. 38, 58.]

[Footnote 63: 19th Howard, p. 58.]

Thus the main proposition with which we set out is abundantly
sustained by the history and legislation of the country. Three
evasions from this conclusion have been attempted, of which the first
is from the language of the Declaration of Independence, in which
these famous words occur: "We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights; that among them are life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness," etc. The inference is, that the
Declaration intended to imply that the slavery of the Africans was a
natural wrong incapable of being legalized; and it is claimed that
this document is of the organic force of constitutional law to the
confederation which then asserted its independence. Both these
suppositions are erroneous. As to the latter, it may be justly argued,
that the Declaration of Independence was simply what it calls itself:
a _declaration_, a justificatory statement addressed to the world
without, and not an act of organic legislation ascertaining the rights
of the citizens within. The evidence is, that it _enacts nothing_ save
the one point of the independence of the colonies. Neither the
Confederation nor the new Union formed in 1787 ever based any
legislation upon it, save as their acts involved the fact of
independence. The constitution made no reference to it; did not ground
itself upon it, and did not reënact it. Hence, let its meaning be what
it may, it legislates nothing for or against slavery.

But it is too clear to be disputed, that the enslaved African race
were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who
asserted their rights in this Declaration. The evidence is, that if
the men who framed it had intended to refer to African slavery, they
would have completely stultified themselves. For the majority of them,
and of the States which they represented, continued to hold Africans
in bondage just as before. A few years after, the same men met in
federal convention, and framed the late constitution of the United
States; by which property in slaves was protected and perpetuated as
before, and traffick in Africans was prolonged until 1808, and made
subject of taxation like other merchandise. The States which were
emancipating their own Africans, equally with those which retained
them in bondage, retained their laws prohibiting the marriage of
Africans with whites.[64] Connecticut, until 1796, prohibited free
negroes from travelling beyond their township without a pass. New
Hampshire, and Congress itself, precluded negroes from serving in the
militia.[65] The Declaration of Independence was therefore intended by
its framers to assert the liberties of civilized Americans and
Englishmen, and not of African barbarians held in bondage. Whether
their consistency therein can be defended, is a separate question, to
which attention will be given in the proper place. But all publicists
are agreed, that the meaning of a document is the document; and that
this meaning is to be ascertained by the intentions of those who
frame and adopt it.

[Footnote 64: Law of Massachusetts, 1786, reënacted 1836. Rhode
Island, Laws of, 1822 and 1844.]

[Footnote 65: Code of New Hampshire, 1815. Acts of Congress, 1792.]

The second objection to our conclusion is grounded upon the Ordinance
of the Confederation, in 1787, by which slavery was prohibited in the
North-western Territory ceded to the United States by Virginia. This
magnificent domain, including the present States of Ohio, Indiana and
Illinois, was conquered from the public enemy in the years 1778-9, by
the Commonwealth of Virginia. She sent out her own troops, at her own
charges, without either authority or assistance from the
Confederation, then also engaged in a war with Great Britain, under
her own commission to her heroick son, General George Rogers Clarke.
Upon the conquest of the country, she disposed by her own State action
of the prisoners of war captured, and annexed the territory to the
State of Virginia, which then also included Kentucky. The other
States, and the Confederation, uniformly recognized this region as
legitimately a part of Virginia. But during and after the war, the
States which owned no unsettled territory grew exceedingly jealous of
those which possessed such regions, and especially of Virginia. They
feared her ulterior grandeur and power. But their expressed plea was,
that she, and other States possessed of vacant lands, could pay their
share of the common war debt, without taxation, by the sale of these
lands, which, as they claimed, were the fruits of the common exertions
of the States, while the others would be subjected to an onerous
taxation. The North-west Territory had, in fact, been won by Virginia,
with her own bow and spear; but at the request of the Congress of the
Confederation, she magnanimously laid the splendid prize upon the
altar of the common cause, ceding it in 1784 to Congress, for the
common behoof of the United States. The Congress of the Confederation
passed a long enactment, known as the Ordinance of 1787, providing, in
many articles, for its settlement, for its government while a
territory, and for the sale of lands. Among these was a clause
prohibiting slavery in it. But meantime, the Confederation was
superseded by the general government organized under the new
constitution of 1787. The first Congress during the administration of
General Washington, acting under the article of the constitution
already cited for taking and managing the "territory and other
property" of the Confederation, passed an act, (August 7th, 1789,) for
putting in effect the Ordinance of the Congress of the Confederation,
now extinct.

Such is the history of the case. The inference of the objector is,
that because the Congress of 1789, acting under the late constitution,
claimed power to execute the ordinance of 1787, (passed by the
previous and different general government,) with its anti-slavery
clause included, therefore that constitution gave it power to exclude
slavery from any other territory. But the inference is worthless. For,
first, the Congress of the old Confederation had not a particle of
constitutional power to adopt such an anti-slavery clause. So declared
Mr. Madison emphatically:[66] and so has decided the Supreme Court of
the United States.[67] Both these high authorities declare, that if
the clause had any validity, it derived it only from the assent of
Virginia, who had full sovereignty over the territory, and who
accepted and ratified the exclusion by act of her General Assembly, as
well as by the mouths of her representatives in the Confederation. And
the Congress of 1789, in accepting the conditions imposed by the
Ordinance of 1787 on the territory, as valid and abiding, undertook to
change nothing, because it regarded that validity as the result of
treaty stipulations between Virginia and the other twelve States
represented by the old Congress. It conceived itself as having
inherited from a previous and different government powers over this
particular territory, which it could by no means have originated by
its own constitutional authority.[68] Second: The government framed
under the new constitution was one of limited powers; and Congress was
expressly inhibited, by the instrument which created it, from
exercising any authority not granted. But such a power as that to
exclude citizens of any of the United States from the common
territory, because they proposed to carry there property legalized
both by the Constitution of the United States and of their own State,
was not granted to Congress. That a government whose very foundation
was the equality of the States, should thus attempt to disfranchise
some States of a part of their rights, was a solecism too monstrous
for these able and enlightened men. Third: When similar cessions of
territory were afterwards made by North Carolina and Georgia, these
States refused to Congress the privilege of appending to their laws
touching these lands, the exclusion of slavery; and Congress obeyed,
so framing their enactments as to admit and protect slave-owners. This
proves that the exclusion derived its force from the consent of the
Sovereign State, and not from the power of Congress.

[Footnote 66: Federalist, No. 38. Letter to Walsh, 1819.]

[Footnote 67: 19th Howard, pp. 40, 41.]

[Footnote 68: 19th Howard, pp. 44, 45.]

The third ground of objection which has been advanced against our main
proposition, is the doctrine said to have been decided by the Supreme
Court of the United States, (as in the case of Prigg against the State
of Pennsylvania,) that according to recognized international laws, a
nation which does not hold slaves itself is not bound to recognize
property in slaves in neighbouring nations, when those slaves come
into its borders; and that if a rendition is claimed, it must be asked
of comity, or of special stipulation, and not as of international
right. The answer is clear and facile. The States of the American
Union were, initially, as independent nations to each other; and then
they were all slaveholding. Each one of them recognized in its own
citizens the right of property in slaves; and therefore, if the above
doctrine be granted, they could not then, by international law, refuse
to recognize it in nations living at amity with them. Again: When they
passed out of this condition of absolute independence, into that of
federal union, their relations, so far as they ceased to be
international, were regulated exclusively by the constitution; and by
this constitution the property in slaves was expressly recognized, the
rendition of fugitive slaves was expressly required of all the States,
whether themselves holding slaves or not; and all the common territory
of the Union was originally slave territory until it became free
territory by sovereign State action. Plainly, in such a case as this,
the international law of Europe has no application, against historical
facts and actual constitutional enactments. The sophism of this plea
in the mouths of anti-slavery men, the uniform assertors of
consolidation doctrines, would make the States, in the same breath,
independent nations, in order that the international law of a
different hemisphere may be applied against them, and also subject
provinces of an anti-slavery nation, in order that they may be
stripped of that equality of rights, belonging to sovereign
constituent parties in a confederation.



The motive for introducing the historical facts contained in this
chapter is the following: That the credit of Virginia as a
slaveholding State is relatively illustrated by the conduct of her
partners in the confederation touching the same matter. Virginia never
passed a general act of emancipation; on the contrary, she forbade
masters to free their slaves within her borders, unless they also
provided for their removal to new homes. But what was it which the
Northern States actually did? The general answer to this question
cannot be better given than in the words of the Hon. A. H. H. Stuart
of Virginia, in his Report to the General Assembly, as chairman of its
joint committee on the Harper's Ferry outrages. He says:

"At the date of the declaration of our national independence, slavery
existed in every colony of the Confederation....

"Shortly after the Declaration of Independence, the Northern States
adopted prospective measures to relieve themselves of the African
population. But it is a great mistake to suppose that their policy in
this particular was prompted by any spirit of philanthropy or tender
regard for the welfare of the negro race. On the contrary, it was
dictated by an enlightened self-interest, yielding obedience to
overruling laws of social economy. Experience had shown that the
African race were not adapted to high northern latitudes, and that
slave labour could not compete successfully with free white labour in
those pursuits to which the industry of the North was directed. This
discovery having been made, the people of the North, at an early day,
began to dispose of their slaves by sale to citizens of the Southern
States, whose soil, climate, and productions were better adapted to
their habits and capacities; and the legislation of the Northern
States, following the course of publick opinion, was directed, not to
emancipation, but to the removal of the slave population beyond their
limits. To effect this object, they adopted a system of laws which
provided, prospectively, that all slaves born of female slaves, within
their jurisdiction, after certain specified dates, should be held free
when they attained a given age. No law can be found on the
statute-book of any Northern State, which conferred the boon of
freedom on a single slave in being. All who were slaves remained
slaves. Freedom was secured only to the children of slaves, born after
the days designated in the laws; and it was secured to them only in
the contingency that the owner of the female slave should retain her
within the jurisdiction of the State until after the child was born.
To secure freedom to the afterborn child, therefore, it was necessary
that the consent of the master, indicated by his permitting the mother
to remain in the State, should be superadded to the provisions of the
law. Without such consent, the law would have been inoperative,
because the mother, before the birth of the child, might, at the will
of the master, be removed beyond the jurisdiction of the law. There
was no legal prohibition of such removal, for such a prohibition would
have been at war with the policy of the law, which was obviously
removal, and not emancipation. The effect of this legislation was, as
might have readily been foreseen, to induce the owners of female
slaves to sell them to the planters of the South, before the time
arrived when the forfeiture of the offspring would accrue. By these
laws, a wholesale slave trade was inaugurated, under which a large
proportion of the slaves of the Northern States were sold to persons
residing south of Pennsylvania; and it is an unquestionable fact that
a large number of the slaves of the Southern States are the
descendants of those sold by Northern men to citizens of the South,
with covenants of general warranty of title to them and to their

Thus wrote Mr. Stuart, after thorough research. A brief recital of the
enactments of the Northern slaveholding States will show that his
general representation is correct. We begin with Massachusetts. No law
against slavery, (which had been long legally established in the
colony,) was ever passed by her legislature;[69] and in that sense,
the right to hold slaves may be said to have formally existed, until
it was extinguished by her adoption of the "constitutional amendment,"
in 1866! Practically, slavery was gradually removed after 1780, by the
current of the legal decisions against it, grounded upon a clause in
the new bill of rights, adopted by the State in that year. This
clause asserted, nearly in the words of the Declaration of
Independence, the native equality and liberty of men. In 1781 a slave
of N. Jennison, of Worcester County, recovered damages of his master
for beating.[70] This decision, if sustained, of course implied the
cessation of slavery. Although the Legislature of the State was moved
in 1783, by this Jennison and others, to declare that slavery did not
exist legally, so that the doubt might be ended, that body refused to
act; nor did it ever after abolish slavery.[71] But judicial decisions
after the example of the Jennison case were made from time to time,
until, in 1796, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in the case of
Littleton _v._ Tuttle,[72] gave its countenance to the doctrine, that
the bill of rights virtually made slavery illegal. That all this was a
glaring instance of the judicial abuse, _ampliandi jurisdictionem_, is
manifest from many facts: That the Massachusetts statesmen who adopted
the same proposition in the Declaration of Independence, never dreamed
of its possessing any force to abolish slavery in the United States
which set it forth: That the convention which drew up the bill of
rights for Massachusetts did not think of such an application; That
this document declared "no part of any citizen's property could be
taken from him without his own consent:" That slaves continued to be
bought and sold, and advertised as before; And that the abolitionists,
still in the minority, continued after 1780 to remonstrate against
slavery as a sin still legalized. But such a mode of determining the
question was well adapted to the meddlesome and crooked temper of that
people. By this judicial trick the envious non-slaveholders were
enabled to attack their richer slaveholding neighbours, and render
them so uneasy as to insure their disposing of their slaves; while
still there was neither law nor publick opinion prevalent enough to
procure a legal act of emancipation.

[Footnote 69: Moore, Slavery in Mass., p. 242.]

[Footnote 70: Moore, Hist. of Slavery in Mass., p. 212.]

[Footnote 71: Ibid., p. 216, etc.]

[Footnote 72: Chief Justice Parsons, Mass. Rep., 4, Winchedon _v._

New Hampshire and Vermont embodied the principle of prospective
emancipation in their new constitutions. In 1790 there were 158 slaves
in New Hampshire. In 1840 there was still _one_! Rhode Island passed a
law in 1784, that no person born after that year should continue a
slave. Connecticut embodied in the revision of her laws, in 1784, a
law providing that all children born of slave parents after March 1st
of that year, should be free at twenty-five years of age. In 1797 the
term of servitude was reduced to twenty-one years for all born after
August 1st of that year. Slavery was not actually abolished by law
until June 12th, 1848; when the census shows there were no fewer than
seventeen slaves in the State; and how old and worthless they must
have been, appears from the fact that the youngest of them must have
been born before March 1st, 1784.[73]

[Footnote 73: Rep. of C. J. Hoadly, State Librarian of Connecticut.]

In New York, the laws for slaves were more severe than in the Southern
States, and the African slave trade was zealously encouraged during
the whole colonial period. The slave could not testify, even to
exculpate a slave. Three justices, with a sort of jury of five
freeholders, could try capitally, and inflict any sentence, _inclusive
of burning alive_.[74] It was not until 1799 that the State commenced
a system of laws for the gradual abolition of slavery. Every slave
child born after July 4th of that year was to be free, the males after
twenty-eight, and the females after twenty-five years. In 1810, the
benefit of freedom was also extended to those born before July 4th,
1799, to take effect July 4th, 1827, the date at which the earliest
born of those freed by previous law reached their majority of
twenty-eight years.[75] Still the census of 1830 found 75 slaves! The
Revised Statutes of New York, after 1817, provided a penalty for those
carrying them out of the State for sale; showing that the tendency to
do so existed.

[Footnote 74: Chancellor Kent.]

[Footnote 75: Idem.]

In New Jersey, the first act looking towards prospective emancipation
was adopted in 1784. By it all born after 1804 were to be free in
1820. It was not until 1820 that action was taken to give effect to
this promise; and then the nature of the law was such as to postpone
the hopes of the slaves. The first section of the law of February
24th, 1820, says: "Every child born of a slave within this State since
the 4th day of July 1804, or which shall hereafter be born as
aforesaid, shall be free; but shall remain the servant of the owner of
his or her mother, and the executors, administrators and assigns of
such owners, in the same manner as if such child had been bound to
service by the Trustees or Overseers of the poor, and shall continue
in such service, if a male until the age of twenty-five years, and if
a female until the age of twenty-one years." It was within the scope
of possibility that slave women whom this law left slaves for life
might bear children as late as the year 1848: whence bondage would not
have been terminated wholly by it until 1873. New Jersey had 236
slaves for life in 1850. It is stated by one of the best informed of
her old citizens, that the prospective effect of these enactments was
to cause a considerable _exodus_ to Southern markets; and that when a
boy, he heard much talk of the sale of negroes, and the sending of
them to "the Natchez," and was cognizant of the continual apprehension
of the negroes concerning the danger.

In Pennsylvania, emancipation was also prospective and gradual. Her
first act was passed March 1st, 1780. The rate at which it operated
may be seen from these figures: In 1776 she had about 10,000 slaves;
in 1790, (ten years after her first act,) she had 3,737; in 1800,
1,706; in 1810, 795; in 1820, 211; in 1830, 403; and in 1840, 64

Thus, the emancipation legislation of the Northern States has been
reviewed, and the assertions of the Hon. Mr. Stuart substantially
sustained. That Northern emancipation was prompted by no consideration
for the supposed rights of Africans, but by regard to their own
interests, is evinced by many facts. Of these, perhaps the most
general and striking is the persistent neglect of the welfare of their
emancipated slaves; the refusal to give them equal civic rights, until
they found a motive for doing so in malice against the South; and the
shocking decadence, vice and misery to which a nominal liberty,
according to the testimony of Northern writers, has consigned their
wretched free blacks. Another proof is found in the current language
of the men of the generation which effected the change. That language,
as is well remembered by elderly persons still living, was usually
such as this: that now that the population had filled up the country,
the question of emancipation was simply one of choice between their
own children and the negro--whether their sons should emigrate, or the
negro be gotten rid of, as there was no longer room for both. Another
conclusive proof is in the fact that while these States were getting
rid of their own negroes, they were deliberately voting
(Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, in the Convention of
1787,) to prolong the introduction of slaves into the Carolinas
nineteen years more. Still another evidence is found in the repugnance
of those States to the influx of free blacks, and the stringent laws
of some of them to prevent it. Thus, Massachusetts, in March, 1788,
(eight years after the pretended extinction of human bondage,) passed
a law ordering every black, mulatto or Indian who came into the State
and remained two months to be publickly whipped; and this punishment
was to be repeated "if he or she shall not depart _toties
quoties_."[76] _This law remained in force until 1834!_ as is shown by
its appearance in the Revised Laws of Massachusetts, 1823. It is also
to be noted that the scheme of gradual emancipation, upon which the
whole North acted, obviously recognizes the property of the master in
his slave as legitimate in itself. It only touches it, (because
private rights are here required to give place to publick interest,)
in the case of those born after a certain day. The slavery of the
others is left as perpetual and legal as ever. And even as to the
later born, the right of the master receives a certain recognition, in
that he is allowed twenty-five years' service as a partial
compensation for the surrender of the remainder.

[Footnote 76: Moore, Hist. of Slavery in Mass., p. 229.]

But how different is the summary abolition forced upon Virginia and
the South! Here, the general legislation of the State was steadily
multiplying, elevating and blessing the black race, which in the North
was so rapidly dying out under its pretended liberty. And private
beneficence of Virginians, without any legal compulsion, had actually
given the boon of freedom to at least one hundred thousand blacks;
which is more than all the citizens of the New England States, New
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania together, ever did, under the force
of all their laws.[77] In this wise and beneficent career Virginia has
been violently interrupted, against her recognized and guaranteed
rights, by instant and violent abolition. The motive of the North, as
a whole, has manifestly been, not love for the negro, but hatred of
the white man, and lust of domination. This abolition is purely the
result of a supposed military necessity, because the North believed
that otherwise she could not overthrow the South in an unjust war. But
for this single fact, the Africans would still be in bondage, so far
as the Yankee was concerned. The proof is, that the Chicago platform
of the Black Republican party in 1860, expressly repudiated the
purpose ever to meddle with slavery in the States. Mr. Lincoln, the
chosen man of the North, solemnly asserted the same thing in his
letter to A. H. Stephens of Georgia, in his publick inaugural, and in
his messages. The Congress, after the beginning of the war, solemnly
declared to the world by a joint resolution, that the purpose of the
war was only to restore the Union, and not to restrict or change State
institutions. Mr. Lincoln constantly declared to the Abolitionists,
that if the perpetuation of slavery tended to restore the Union, it
should be perpetuated. His standing invitation to the States in arms
against him was: "If you wish to keep your slaves, come back into the
Union." Can the North be believed in her own declarations? Then, the
charge made is true--that abolition in the South was prompted by
ambition and hatred, not by philanthropy.

[Footnote 77: The negroes freed by Virginians, with their increase in
Ohio, Pennsylvania, Liberia, etc., are 100,000 at least. The maximum
number of slaves freed by the above States was, New Hampshire 629,
Massachusetts 6,000, Rhode Island 4,370, Connecticut 6,000, New York
20,000, New Jersey 12,422, Pennsylvania 10,000. Total, 59,421. Such
was the largest number of original freedmen made by those States of
their own slaves. When we remember that the census has proved that in
the Northern States their natural increase has almost ceased for
several decades, and in some there has been an actual diminution, it
appears very plain that they and their progeny do not now number
100,000. Meantime, the votes of the New England States assisted to add
more than 600,000 to the number of slaves in Carolina!]

Nor has this act been less wicked in its effects than in its motive.
To the white race it was the most violent, convulsive, reckless and
mischievous act ever perpetrated by a civilized government. As a war
measure, it was calculated and expected to evoke all the savage
horrors of servile war, neighbourhood massacre and butchery of
non-combatants. Only the kindly relations which the benevolence and
justice of the people of Virginia had established between themselves
and their slaves, and the good character which we had given to these
former savages, disappointed this desired result. As an economic
measure, it was the most violent ever attempted in modern history;
being a sudden confiscation of half, (and in some of the counties
two-thirds) the existing property of the country; and a dislocation of
its whole labour system, just when the people were bowed under the
burden of a gigantic war, and a collapsed currency. That it did not
then again result in a total paralysis of industry, in famine and
anarchy, (which was probably intended), is only to be explained by the
exercise of an energy, versatility, good sense, and industry in the
Southern people, which are almost miraculous. By annihilating at one
blow so much of the property on which the indebtedness of the country
was based, it insured a financial confusion and general bankruptcy
which are destined to plunge hundreds of thousands of innocent persons
(innocent even from Yankee points of view) into destitution and
domestic distress, which three generations will not heal. It
confiscated the property of "loyal Union men," of helpless minors and
lunatics, of venerable and infirm widows, without compensation, just
as it did the possessions of the Confederate leader most obnoxious to
the Yankee wrath. And what was the species of possession? Was it some
foul lucre, like the spoils of an Achan, so unrighteous that it must
be instantly plucked away, regardless of consequences? No; it was a
species of property legalized by Moses and Christ, owned for ages by
the boasted ancestors of the despoilers, now owned by themselves in
the form of its fruits and increase, guaranteed by the Constitution
which alone gave them any right to govern us, legalized by all our
State laws, which were of earlier and superior authority to that
Constitution, and recognized by the sacred pledges of the North
itself, even so late as the beginning of this war.

But the step has been far more mischievous and unjust to the poor
blacks, its pretended beneficiaries. It did not tarry to inquire
whether they were fit for the change. It has resulted in the outbreak
of a flood of vice, before repressed; of drunkenness, of illicit lust,
of infanticide, of theft; and above all, of idleness, the least
flagrant, but most truly mischievous fault of the African. It has
suddenly and greatly diminished their share of the material goods they
before enjoyed. The supplies of clothing and shoes now acquired by
them do not reach a third of what they received before the war.
Immediately on their emancipation, all the rural mill-owners testified
that their grists _fell off one-half_, and have remained at that grade
since. In those neighbourhoods where the blacks did not emigrate,
(which was true of many neighbourhoods,) this showed that the
consumption of bread was reduced one-half; for although the large
proprietors now had no occasion to send their large grists, yet,
unless there were less consumed, the aggregate of the little grists of
the freedmen's families should have made good that decrease. Every
statesman knows that any burden or disaster imposed upon the
industrial pursuits of a country, is transmitted down by the property
classes to the destitute class, and presses there with its whole
force; just as inevitably as the weight of a statue placed upon the
top of a column, is ultimately delivered upon the lowest _stratum_ of
foundation-stones. For the great law of self-preservation prompts each
man, who has any property, to employ it in evading that pressure for
himself and his family. Thus the actual _onus_ is handed down, until
it reaches that class who have no property, and must therefore bear
it, because they have nothing wherewith to pay for the shifting of it.
Thus, all the malice of the conqueror, aimed at the hated white man,
while it crowds us down, also crowds down equally the labourer beneath
us; and the blow alights ultimately on him.

The famine which is now preying upon some parts of the South
illustrates the mischief done by the disorganization of labour, and
the comparative excellence of the old system. Such was its
beneficence, that it carried the Southern country through all the
exhausting trials of the war, without actual dearth in any part of the
Confederacy. Hundreds of thousands of our most vigorous men were
wholly withdrawn from productive pursuits; our own armies were to be
sustained; great hosts of enemies were continually tearing the vitals
of the country; the year 1864 brought a drought so severe that in some
parts of the country the crops of grain were reduced to one-tenth of
the usual harvests; and yet, such was the happiness of our system,
that it endured all these enormous trials, and met the wants of all.
But after the new _régime_ was well established, there came in 1866
such a drought as the South had several times experienced before,
without inconvenience; and although all was peace, there were no
armies to support, and no labouring man was called from the farm to
the unproductive toils of the camp and the intrenchment, famine
immediately resulted. Here is a fair comparison of the system of free
African labour, with the old one. Indolence is the parent of crime.
While the smaller misdemeanours are more frequent, there has been an
alarming increase of felonies. In the orderly little county of Prince
Edward, the criminal convictions of black persons averaged only one
per year before the war. The last year they numbered twelve! An
inquiry into the statistics of crime in our cities would reveal a yet
larger increase.[78]

[Footnote 78: From April 31st, 1860, to May 31st, 1862, two years and
one month, there were _two_ criminal convictions of negroes by Prince
Edward Court. From April 31st, 1865, to April 31st, 1867, a less
period by one month, there were, in the same court, thirty-five
criminal indictments of negroes, and fifteen convictions, leaving
thirteen cases over to be tried at subsequent terms. And this
aggregate of crime has already accumulated in our once peaceful little
community, notwithstanding that the jurisdiction of our courts over
negroes was totally suspended by our conquerors for a number of months
after April 31st, 1865.]

Last, facts already evince, that the doom of ultimate extermination
which Southern philanthropists have ever predicted as the result of
premature emancipation, is already overtaking the negro with giant
strides. About the end of 1866 the officers of the State revenue made
their returns, which showed that there were then about 275,650 negro
males over 21 years within the present limits of Virginia. Repeated
calculations made from previous returns show that there are usually
four and a half times as many souls among the blacks of Virginia as
there are males over 21 years. The entire black population of the
State then, at the end of the last year, was 340,500. The census of
1860 returned 531,000 blacks within the present limits of the State.
The diminution is therefore 190,500; or nearly two-fifths, in less
than two years. Some may suppose that more negro men have left the
State since the war than women and children. If this is true, the
number of males is now relatively smaller, and should be multiplied by
a larger ratio than 4-1/2 to find the correct total. But, on the other
hand, it is certain that the neglect and mortality have been much
larger among the aged and little children than among the robust men.
This fact, therefore, reduces the ratio of the total to the males over
21 years, and renders it certain that 340,500 is a large estimate. The
same officers brought in returns which show that the white population
of Virginia, although decimated by a terrible war, has actually
increased since 1860. But we exposed no negro to the dangers of the
battle. Thus it is made manifest that the philanthropy of Yankees has
been to the poor negro an infinitely more desolating scourge than a
tremendous war has been to the race against which the sword was openly
wielded. And it requires little arithmetic to discover how long it
will be, at this rate, before the monstrous consummation will be
reached of the extinction of a whole nation of people by their
professed friends.



§ 1. Let us appeal, then, to the Bible, to learn the moral character
of Domestic Slavery. It will be well for both writer and readers, if
they recall the reverence and honesty with which such a book should be
approached; if the one is cautious to permit no party zeal, pride of
opinion, or love of hypothesis, to tempt him to warp the sacred text
to any thing inconsistent with its own truth and purity; and if the
others are equally careful to receive its teachings with impartiality
and docility.

That no misunderstanding may attend the discussion, we must define at
the outset, what we mean by that domestic slavery which we defend. By
this relation we understand _the obligations of the slave to labour
for life, without his own consent, for the master_. The thing,
therefore, in which the master has property or ownership, is the
involuntary labour of the slave, and not his personality, or his soul.
A certain right of control over the person of the slave is
incidentally given to the master by his property in the bondsman's
labour; that is, so much control as is necessary to enable him to
secure the labour which belongs to him. But we repeat, it is not the
person, but the labour of the slave, which is the master's property.
This is substantially the definition of Paley, an enemy of slavery;
and it is obviously correct; it expresses the general result of the
laws of all modern nations which have had slaves, touching that

The abolitionists clamorously insist upon a different definition,
which makes the master claim property in the very personality of the
slave, in his soul, in the highest capacities which connect him with
his God, and in his very being. According to this description, slavery
converts the responsible, rational being, into a mere thing, a
chattel, a commodity, by converting him into mere property of another
man. The motive of this preposterous definition is obvious enough. One
of the most astute of American Abolitionists has been candid enough to
avow it, saying that if our definition be adopted, there is an end of
the discussion; for every logician must see that it is absurd to
declare the mere ownership of one man's labour by another, an
essential and necessary moral wrong; which is the character it suits
them to ascribe to slavery. Their object is so to represent it, that
it shall appear a self-evident injustice, and the apologist shall be
overwhelmed and silenced by a foregone prejudice. For, if it gave a
literal ownership in the person and being of the slave, which can
belong to none but the Creator; if it made not only his labour, but
his conscience, the property of the master, destroying his moral
responsibility, it would indeed dehumanize him, and would be an
iniquity indefensible by any fair mind. The trick of securing the
victory before the contest begins, by raising a false issue, is not
very novel. The utter absurdity of applying such a definition to
African slavery in America, appears from this: that it is contrary to
the whole tenour of the legislation which establishes and regulates
the institution among us. These laws, first, legislate for the slave,
as to his own conduct, as a responsible human being, govern him by
precepts sanctioned by rewards and punishments, and require of him
intelligent obedience to the same moral rules which are enforced on
his master. Second, the laws assign to the master precisely that
amount of control over his slave's person which they suppose (whether
correctly or not is no concern to us in this argument) to be
incidental to his property in the servant's labour; and no more.
Third, they protect the person, being, and moral responsibility of the
slave against his own master. If the master kills him, it is murder,
by the law. The slave's Sabbath is secured to him by the law. If the
master force him to commit a crime, the former is held by the law
guilty therefor, as accessory before the fact: and the latter is also
held to his personal responsibility for it. And last, the law treats
the slave so fully as a rational and responsible human, that it even
bestows on him the right of litigation against his own master, in one
case. Any African setting up a plea of unlawful detention in bondage,
against his master, is allowed to sue _in forma pauperis_, in the
courts of law. How could the fact be more clearly defined, that the
institution of slavery treats the slave as a rational human being, and
gives the master property in nothing but his labour?

Yet Senator Sumner points triumphantly to the words of the South
Carolina statute as proving that slavery makes the servant a mere
thing; and all smaller Abolitionists have caught up his special
pleading. The cane of Mr. Brooks having given him, as it seems, a
special taste for things South Carolinian, he hunted up a clause where
the law of that State declares, that slaves and their children shall
be held in every respect as "chattels personal." This proves beyond a
peradventure, he says, that the law reduces the slave to a mere thing,
as though he were an _ox_ or _bureau_. Yet, a hundred other laws of
South Carolina treat him as a responsible man! Any honest mind will
perceive the explanation, at once; which is, that the lawyers of South
Carolina were not aiming, in this law, to settle the question of the
moral nature of slavery; but to decide whether property in a slave
should be regarded as pertaining to the _real_, or to the _personal_
estate of a citizen; and in deciding it, they very properly had more
regard to legal perspicuity than to ethical accuracy of definition.
Let us suppose that among the statutes of the British Parliament,
there should be one (as there very probably is) declaring that when a
master mechanic dies, having an indentured apprentice, the unfinished
term of service of this apprentice should be held as belonging to his
personal effects, and should be so used for the benefit of his heirs
or creditors. And let us suppose, farther, that in defining this fact,
some such words as these should be used: that said apprentice should
be held in every respect, as pertaining unto the personal estate of
the deceased. Then, the same logic would prove that the British laws
reduce an apprentice to a mere chattel! But we have a better
illustration of its folly. God says, Genesis xxvi. 14: "Isaac had
_possessions_ of flocks, and herds, and servants." Leviticus, xxv. 45:
"Of the children of strangers that do sojourn among you, of them
shall you buy: ... and they shall be your _possession_." Exodus, xxi.
20, 21: "And if a man smite his servant or his maid with a rod, and he
die under his hand: he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if
he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: _for he is his
money_." Does God's law dehumanize the slave, and reduce him to a mere
chattel? We repeat, then, that, according to the slave institutions of
the Southern States, it is only the labour of the servant which
belongs to the master, and is treated as property.

Let it be understood, then, from the beginning, that we are not
inquiring into the moral character of that thing which Abolitionists
paint as domestic slavery; a something horrid with the groans of
oppressed innocence and the clang of unrighteous stripes; a something
which aims to reduce a man to a brute, and denies him his natural
right to serve his Creator and save his soul. We begin by asserting
that these things, if they ever exist in fact, are not domestic
slavery, but the abuses of it. We are not the apologists of them: we
no more defend them than do the Abolitionists. In this discussion we
have nothing more to do with them, except to express, once for all,
our strong abhorrence and reprobation of all such unlawful abuses of a
lawful institution. It has been a favourite trick of our opponents, to
represent the abuses of the relation so prominently and odiously, that
the defender of slavery shall be held up to the abhorrence of the
publick as the defender of the abuses. Especially if he is a
clergyman, (and necessity has thrown our side of this discussion very
much into the hands of Southern clergymen,) do they raise a holy
clamour, representing the unnatural wickedness of a desecrating of the
sacred office to apologize for such iniquities. Their object is to
raise a prejudice against us in advance, which will deprive us of a
dispassionate and just hearing. With all dispassionate and just
readers, for whom alone we write, it should be enough for us to repeat
emphatically, that it is only the relation of domestic slavery as
authorized by God, that we defend; and not the abuses it has received
at the hands of wicked men. The parental authority, and civil
government, and the operations of God's own church, are often abused
also. The intelligent reader, and especially the intelligent
Englishman, will remember how triumphantly this shallow sophism of
arguing against a thing from its abuses, is exposed by Burke, in his
reply to Bolingbroke's posthumous assault on Christianity, the
ironical "Defence of Natural Society." Such argument from abuses can
only be just when it is shown that the wrongs pointed out are not
incidental abuses, but legitimate, and necessary, and uniform
consequences of the institution itself. But that the incidental evils
of African slavery among us are not such, is abundantly proved by the
simple fact, that thousands of masters held slaves among us, and yet
perpetrated none of these abuses. About the relative frequency of such
abuses, we shall have something to say at a subsequent place. Enough
now to point to the fact, that by the vast majority of our servants
they were unfelt, so that they cannot be necessary parts of the

We conclude these preliminary definitions by requesting the reader to
note well what is the moral character which we understand the Bible
to assign to slavery. We do not admit that it is a thing in itself
evil, but yet attended with such circumstances, in the eyes of many
merciful and humane masters who have found themselves by inheritance
unwilling slaveholders, that a change would be attended with still
greater mischiefs: so that they are excusable for its continuance for
a time. This is the view of many moderate and kind anti-slavery men;
it is not ours. We do not hold that slaveholding is only justified as
belonging to that class of wrongs, to which the laws of Moses assigned
polygamy, which ought not to have been done, but which, when done,
cannot be undone, except by the perpetrating of a greater wrong. We
assert that _the Bible teaches that the relation of master and slave
is perfectly lawful and right, provided only its duties be lawfully
fulfilled_. When we say this, we shall not be understood as saying
that all men ought to live in this relation, notwithstanding the wide
diversities of their condition and characters, or that it would be
politic, or even right, for all. But we say that the relation is not
sin in itself; but may be perfectly righteous and innocent, and not
merely excusable. And we are free to confess that unless the Bible
taught us this truth, we should be obliged to hold with the decided
Abolitionists. We could never be of the number of those, who attempt
to transmute the essential traits of moral right and wrong, at the
demand of expediency, and to excuse the continuance of a radical
injustice, by the inconvenience of repairing it. Duty belongs to man;
consequences to God.

§ 2. _The Curse upon Canaan._

The student of history perceives that, whatever may be the moral
character of domestic slavery, it is one of the most hoary
institutions of the human race. It has prevailed in every age and
continent, and under patriarchal, monarchical, despotic, aristocratic,
republican and democratic governments; while secular history gives us
no account of its origin. But Sacred Writ informs us, and traces it to
the earlier generations of the human family as refounded after the
flood. In Genesis, ix. 20 to 27, we have the following brief
narrative: "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a
vineyard: and he drank of the wine and was drunken: and he was
uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the
nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem
and Japhet took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and
went backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their
faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And
Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto
him; and he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be
unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and
Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japhet and he shall
dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant."

In explanation of it, the following remarks may be made; on which the
majority of sound expositors are agreed. In this transaction, Noah
acts as an inspired prophet, and also as the divinely chosen,
patriarchal head of church and state, which were then confined to his
one family. God's approbation attended his verdict, as is proved by
the fact that the divine Providence has been executing it for many
ages since Noah's death. Canaan probably concurred in the indecent and
unnatural sin of Ham. As these early men were extremely ambitious of a
numerous and prosperous posterity, Ham's punishment, and Canaan's,
consisted in the mortification of hearing their descendants doomed to
a degraded lot. These descendants were included in the punishment of
their wicked progenitors on that well-known principle of God's
providence, which "visits the sin of the fathers upon the children,"
and this again is explained by the fact, that depraved parents will
naturally rear depraved children, unless God interfere by a grace to
which they have no claim; so that not only punishment, but the
sinfulness, becomes hereditary. Doubtless God's sentence, here
pronounced by Noah, was based on his foresight of the fact, that Ham's
posterity, like their father, would be peculiarly degraded in morals;
as actual history testifies of them, so far as its voice extends.

Some have been weak enough to draw a justification of slavery from the
fact, that the bondage of Canaan's posterity is predicted. This logic
the Abolitionists have, of course, delighted to expose; it was easy to
show, by sundry biblical instances, like that of the Assyrian employed
to chastise Israel, and then punished by God for his own rapacity,
that it is no justification of one's acts to find that God, in his
inscrutable and holy workings, has overruled them to the effectuation
of his own righteous, secret purposes. And our opponents, with a
treachery fully equal to the folly of our unwise advocates, usually
represent this as nearly the whole amount, and the fair exemplar, of
our biblical argument. Such is not the use we design to make of this
important piece of history.

It does in the first place, what all secular history and speculations
fail to do: it gives us the origin of domestic slavery. And we find
that it was appointed by God as the punishment of, and remedy for
(nearly all God's providential chastisements are also remedial) the
peculiar moral degradation of a part of the race. God here ordains
that this depravity shall find its necessary restraints, and the
welfare of the more virtuous its safeguard against the depraved, by
the bondage of the latter. He introduces that feature of political
society, for the justice of which we shall have occasion to contend;
that although men have all this trait of natural equality that they
are children of a common father, and sharers of a common humanity, and
subjects of the same law of love; yet, in practice, they shall be
subject to social inequalities determined by their own characters, and
their fitness or unfitness to use privileges for their own and their
neighbours' good.

But second: this narrative gives us more than a prediction. The words
of Noah are not a mere prophecy; they are a verdict, a moral sentence
pronounced upon conduct, by competent authority; that verdict
sanctioned by God. Now if the verdict is righteous, and the execution
blessed by God, it can hardly be, that the executioners of it are
guilty for putting it in effect. Can one believe that the descendants
of Shem and Japhet, with this sentence in their hands, and the divine
commendation just bestowed on them for acting unlike Ham, could have
reasonably felt guilty for accepting that control over their guilty
fellow-men which God himself had assigned? For the vital difference
between the case of the Assyrians, when their guilty ambition was
permissively employed by God to punish the back-slidings of his own
people, and the case of Shem and Japhet, is this: The Assyrians were
cursed by God for doing their predicted work, in the very sentence;
Shem and Japhet were blessed by Him in the very verdict which assigns
Canaan as their servant.

It may be that we should find little difficulty in tracing the lineage
of the present Africans to Ham. But this inquiry is not essential to
our argument. If one case is found where God has authorized domestic
slavery, the principle is settled, that it cannot necessarily be sin
in itself. It is proper that we should say, in conclusion, that this
passage of Scripture is not regarded, nor advanced, as of prime force
and importance in this argument. Others more decisive will follow.

§ 3. _Abraham a Slaveholder._

The references to the bondsmen of Abraham and his son Isaac are the
following: Genesis xiv., 14, "And when Abram heard that his brother,"
(or relative, viz.: Lot,) "was taken captive, he armed his trained
servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and
pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his
servants, by night," etc. Genesis xvii., 10, etc., "This is my
covenant which ye shall keep, between me and you, and thy seed after
thee; every man-child among you shall be circumcised," ... v. 12, "And
he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every
man-child in your generations; he that is born in the house, or bought
with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born
in thy house and he that is bought with thy money must needs be
circumcised," and v. 26, 27, "In the self-same day was Abraham
circumcised, and Ishmael his son; and all the men of his house, born
in the house and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised
with him." Genesis xviii. 17 to 19, "And the _Lord_ said, Shall I hide
from Abraham that thing which I do: seeing that Abraham shall surely
become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth
shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his
children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of
the _Lord_, to do justice and judgment: that the Lord may bring upon
Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Genesis xx. 14, "And
Abimelech" (seeking reconciliation with Abraham for the wrong intended
to Sarah his wife, at God's command,) "took sheep and oxen, and
men-servants and women-servants, and gave them unto Abraham, and
restored him Sarah his wife." Genesis xxiv. 35, Eliezer, when seeking
a wife for Isaac, says: "And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly,
and he is become great; and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and
silver, and gold, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and camels and
asses." And Genesis, xxvi. 12, 14, it is said of Isaac: "And the LORD
blessed him. And the man waxed great and went forward and grew until
he became very great. For he had possession of flocks, and possession
of herds, and great store of servants."

It appears then, that Abraham, "the friend of God," and Isaac, the
most holy and spotless of the Patriarchs, were great slaveholders. But
before pursuing the argument farther, it may be prudent to remove the
quibble that these servants were not slaves, in the sense of our
African slaves, but only humble clansmen, retainers, or hirelings. At
least one writer would prove this by the fact that Abraham did not
fear to arm three hundred and eighteen of them. For had they been real
slaves, says he, they would not have continued so one day after
getting arms in their hands. The retort most appropriate would be,
that Abraham was not afraid to arm his slaves, though actual slaves,
because there were no saucy, meddling, Yankee Abolitionists in those
days to preach insubordination and make ill blood between masters and
servants. But, more seriously, what shall we say of the professed
reasoning which assumes the very point in debate? viz.: that slavery
is an evil; and thence infers the conclusion that these could not be
slaves, because they did not seize the power to burst the bonds of
such an evil when placed in their reach? If their bondage was not
evil, which is the question _sub judice_ in this debate, then they
would not necessarily desire to burst from it. And that these were
actual slaves is clear, because the words for bondsman and bondsmaid
here used are, in every case, _ebed_ and _shippheh_, which are defined
by every honest lexicon to mean actual slaves, which are used in that
sense alone everywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures, which are
contrasted in the book of Leviticus with the "hired servant," or
_sasir_. A part of these servants were bought from foreigners with
Abraham's money. They are represented along with his very sheep and
oxen as his property.

Abraham and Isaac then, were all their lives literal slaveholders, on
a large scale. Now we do not argue that this fact alone, coupled with
the other, that they were good men, proves that slaveholding is
innocent. The Abolitionists, fond of an easy victory on a false issue,
always hasten to represent this as the amount of the argument; and
then, their reply is obvious--that the example of truly good men is no
rule of ethics for us, unless supported by the expressed or implied
approval of God; for good men are imperfect, and many of their errors
are recorded, by the honesty of the sacred writers, for our
warning--that Abraham himself was guilty of falsehood to Abimelech,
King of Gerar, and especially that he was betrayed into the gross sin
of concubinage. Hence they say, Abraham's example no more proves
slaveholding innocent than concubinage. We reply, that all these
remarks, except the last, are perfectly just; but they have no
application to the case, because God's sanction of Abraham's example
as a slaveholder is expressly found in the narrative. The cases of
slaveholding and concubinage are totally different. First, because the
origin of the latter sin in the accursed lineage of Cain, and the act
of the murderer Lamech, is impliedly stamped with God's condemnation,
(Genesis iv. 19,) whereas the origin of domestic slavery is given us
in the righteous sentence of God for depraved conduct. Second, Abraham
fell into the sins of falsehood and concubinage but once, under
violent temptation. There is no evidence that either he or Isaac ever
practised them again, but both lived and died without one recorded
qualm of conscience, in the practice of slaveholding, and made it one
of their last acts, before passing to the judgment-seat of God, to
bequeath their slaves, as property, to their heirs. Third, in Genesis
xxiv. 35, and xxvi. 12, 14, it is represented that the bestowal of a
multitude of slaves on Abraham and Isaac was a mark of the divine
favour. In the first passage, it is indeed only the pious Eliezer who
states this; but in the second, it is stated of Isaac by the sacred
narrative itself. Now to represent God as blessing a favoured saint by
bestowing providentially gifts which it is a sin to have, implicates
God in the sin. Fourth, in Genesis xviii. 17 to 19, Jehovah expresses
his love for Abraham, approbation for his character, and purpose to
exalt him as a blessing to all nations, because "He knew him that he
would command his children and his household after him, that they
shall keep the way of the _Lord_ to do justice and judgment." What was
this "household," distinct from his children? Hebrew usage and the
context answer with one voice, his slaves. Then, God's high favour to
Abraham was explained by the fact that he foresaw the patriarch would
govern his children and slaves religiously and righteously. Now we ask
emphatically, does a holy God bless a misguided and sinning man for
the manner in which he perseveres in the sinful practice, be that
manner what it may? If the relation of master and slave were sinful,
would not the virtue of terminating the relation at once, so far
transcend the questionable credit of using it to make the wronged and
oppressed victim live piously, that it would be impossible for God to
bestow his peculiar praise on the latter, where the former was
lacking? There is no righteous way to perpetuate an unrighteous
relation. Therefore God's blessing Abraham for his good government of
his slaves, is proof that it is not a sin to have slaves to govern.

But, last and chiefly, we have a still stronger fact to present. When
Abraham was directed in Genesis xvii., 10, etc., to circumcise himself
as a sign of the covenant between God and him, he was also directed to
circumcise all his male children. The parental relationship was made
the ground of their inclusion in the same covenant. And God directed
his slaves also, "born in his house, or bought with his money of any
foreigner," to be circumcised along with him. The parental tie brought
his children under the religious rite of circumcision; the bond of
master and servant brought his servants under it. Here then, we have
the relationship of domestic slavery sanctioned, along with the
parental and filial, by God's own injunction, by a participation in
the holiest sacrament of the ancient church. Would a holy God thus
baptize an unholy relation? Would he make it the ground of admission
to a religious ordinance? To see a feeble illustration of the
absurdity of such a conclusion, consider what would be thought of a
minister of the New Testament, in which our Saviour has forbidden a
plurality of wives, if that minister should desecrate the marriage
ceremonial of his church, knowingly, to sanctify the union of the
felon in the act of bigamy? Such a desecration would surely be not
less shocking in the Author, than in a minister of religion.

And here, the favourite plea of the anti-slavery men fails
entirely--that Abraham lived in the dawn of religious light; that the
revelation given him was only partial, and that while he possessed the
rectitude of conscience which would have made him relinquish all
sinful relations, if enlightened as to their true character, the
customs of his age misled him to commit things which Christians
afterwards taught to be sinful, and that therefore, these things,
excusable in him because of his ignorance, would be wickedness in us.
There is some truth in these statements, but they have nothing on
earth to do with this example; because the circumcision of the slaves
was God's act, and not Abraham's. God knows all things. He is
perfectly holy and unchangeable. If he had seen that slavery is
intrinsically wrong, and had intended at some future day to declare it
so, would he at this time have sanctioned it by making it the ground
of a solemn ordinance of religion? As we shall see, this cry of the
imperfection of the Old Testament revelation is of Socinian origin,
and is essentially false, in the sense in which it is uttered. But be
it as just as any statement could be, it has no application here;
because our whole inference is drawn from the acts of God himself, and
not of an Old Testament Saint.

§ 4. _Hagar remanded to Slavery by God._

Sarah, in a season of desperation at her childless condition, seems to
have been tempted to imitate the corrupt expedient which was prevalent
among the Canaanites around her, and which still prevails in the East.
According to this usage, the chief wife, or wife proper, gives to her
husband a concubine from among her slaves, as a sort of substitute for
herself; and the offspring of the connexion is regarded as her own
child. Abram, misled by evil example, and by the solicitations of his
wife--the person who would have had the best right to complain of his
act--concurred temporarily in the arrangement, and received his
Egyptian slave Hagar as an inferior wife. The favour of her master,
and the prospective honour of being the mother of offspring, which has
always been exceedingly prized by Oriental women, so inflated the
servant with impudence, that she no longer treated her mistress with
decent respect. When Sarah bitterly complained of this, Abram replied
by reminding her that Hagar was still her slave; and that she was
entitled, as a mistress, to compel her to observe a suitable
demeanour. When Sarah proceeded to exert this authority, probably
administering corporal punishment to Hagar for some instance of
impertinence, the latter ran away, and pursued the direction which led
to her native country, Egypt. It was then that the angel of the LORD
found her "by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar,
Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she
said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the
LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under
her hands." Genesis xvi., 7 to 9. He then proceeded to unfold the
future of her unborn son, and Hagar obeyed his commands. From verses
10th and 13th, we learn certainly that this angel was a Divine Person.
For, in the first place, he promises Hagar, "I will multiply thy seed
exceedingly;" but none but the Almighty could truthfully make such a
promise in his own name, as it is here made. In the latter place we
are informed that it was the LORD (in Hebrew, _Jehovah_; the most
characteristic and incommendable name of God) that spake unto her; and
Hagar called his name: "Thou God, seest me." We remark again, that
Hagar was certainly in the relation of domestic slavery, and not of a
hired servant, to Abraham and Sarai. She is called _Shiphheh_, which
is the regular word for female slave in the Old Testament. Had she not
been an actual slave, Sarai would never have presumed, according to
Oriental usage, to dispose of her person in the manner related. Here,
then, we have God, himself, the Angel Jehovah, who can be no other
than the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, commanding this
fugitive to return into the relation of domestic slavery, and submit
to it. Can that relation be in itself sinful? To assert this, would
make our adorable Saviour _particeps criminis_. He cannot have
required a soul to return into a sinful state. He never requires of
his servants more than their duty; so that if Sarai had possessed no
real and just title to Hagar's services as a slave--if the claim had
been a mere imposition and injustice, she would not have been required
to submit to it. Abolitionists attempt to evade this by saying that
Hagar was instructed to return and submit to bondage on the same
principle on which Christ instructs us, when wrongfully smitten on one
cheek to turn the other likewise. This, say they, by no means implies
that the smiting was just. We reply, that the parallel cannot be
drawn. Had Hagar been in the hand of an unjust mistress, it would have
been her duty in Christian forbearance to "take it patiently, though
buffeted wrongfully." But she was not now in Sarai's hand. She had
successfully escaped it, and was far advanced in her' journey to her
native Egypt, where she evidently expected to find friends and
shelter. Under these circumstances, it is preposterous to say that the
grace of Christian forbearance required of her to return voluntarily
whither no claim of right drew her, and subject herself to unjust and
unauthorized persecution again. We ask, Does Christ so press the duty
of peaceableness, as to sacrifice to it the whole personal well-being
and rightful interests of the innocent victim of unjust aggression? Is
his chief object, in these lessons of forbearance, to gratify and
pamper the lust of persecution in the aggressor? Is there no right of
just self-defence left? Surely he teaches us that we owe a duty to our
own life and well-being, as well as to our fellow-men's. When we are
wronged, we are to defend this right only in such ways as become a son
of peace--a man of forgiveness. But the same Saviour who taught his
disciples to render good for evil when injured, also commanded them:
"When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another." When a
peaceable escape can be secured from injustice, it is both the
privilege and duty of the most forgiving Christian on earth to use it.
Now Hagar was in such a condition; had her subjection to Sarai been,
as the Abolitionists say slavery is, a condition of unjust
persecution, the Saviour's instructions to her would doubtless have
been: "Now that you have escaped the injustice of her that wronged
you, flee to another city." His remanding her to Sarai shows that the
subjection was lawful and right.

It has been objected again, that we cannot argue this, unless we are
willing to argue the lawfulness of concubinage; because to send Hagar
back to her bondage was to resign her again to this relation. We
utterly deny it. The LORD only says to her: "Return to thy mistress
and submit thyself under her hands;" not "Return to thy master's bed."
There is not one particle of proof that Abram continued his improper
connexion with her after these transactions. Nor is there more worth
in the remark, that subsequently, the same divine Being met Hagar
wandering in the same wilderness, and did not require her to return,
but assisted her journey. The answer is, that she was then under no
obligation to return; because her master had fully manumitted her, and
bestowed her freedom on her.

§ 5. _Slavery in the Laws of Moses._

God, in accordance with his covenant with Abraham, set apart Israel,
through the ministry of Moses, to be his peculiar and holy people, his
witness in the midst of an apostate world, to keep alive the services
and precepts of true morality and true religion, till, in the fulness
of time, Jesus Christ should come in the flesh, and begin the
Christianizing of all nations. To effect these objects, He renewed his
revelation of the eternal and unchangeable moral law, from Sinai, in
the Decalogue; and he also gave, by the intervention of Moses, various
religious and civil laws, which were peculiar to the Jews, and were
never intended to be observed after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The great object of all this legislation, was to set apart the Jewish
nation as a holy people, peculiarly dedicated to purity of moral
life, and the maintenance of true religion, amidst corrupt and
idolatrous generations. To effect this, God found it necessary to
raise a barrier to familiar social intercourse between the Israelites
and their corrupting heathen neighbours; and sundry of the expedients
by which this barrier was raised, were prohibitions of usages which
would have been, in themselves, neither right nor wrong, but morally
indifferent, as the eating of pork. Some of those laws having the same
object in view, required acts in their original nature indifferent;
such as circumcision and eating the Passover. But it is totally
inconsistent with the holiness of God, and with his purpose of setting
Israel apart to a holy life, that any of those peculiar laws should
require acts in themselves wicked, or forbid things in themselves
morally binding. It would be impiety to represent God as capable of
commanding what is wrong; and to enjoin sin in order to make people
holy, would be a folly and a contradiction. God's revealed will, so
far as it is revealed for a rule of life, either permanent or
temporary, can contain nothing but what is right, and pure, and just.
If it had been a positive moral duty to eat pork, this holy God would
never have made the prohibition to eat it a part even of the
temporary, ceremonial laws of his servants. Had it been morally wrong
to kill, roast, and eat a lamb, God would never have enjoined on them
the institution of the Passover. These conclusions are as plain as the

Now then, if we find any particular thing either sanctioned or
enjoined, in the peculiar ceremonial or civil institutions of Moses,
it does not prove that thing to be morally binding on us, in this
century, or necessarily politic and proper for us; but it does prove
it to be, in its essential moral character, innocent. That thing
cannot be sin in itself. So, Jno. David Michaelis, in his
_Commentaries on the Laws of Moses_, Book 1, Art. 1. This is the
important and just distinction. The fact that animal sacrifices were
required in the ceremonial laws of Moses, does not prove that it is
our duty, under the Christian dispensation, to offer sacrifices, or
that it is appropriate for us to do so; but it does prove that the act
would be in itself innocent (though useless) for us, and for every
one, if it had not been forbidden in subsequent revelation. Otherwise,
a holy God would never have enjoined or sanctioned it at all.

Therefore, the fact that God expressly authorized domestic slavery,
among the peculiar and temporary civil laws of the Jews, while it does
not prove that it is our positive duty to hold slaves, does prove that
it is innocent to hold them, unless it has been subsequently forbidden
by God. Now then, let us see what God authorized by Moses. Exodus xxi.
2 to 6: "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, (Ebed,) six years he shall
serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came
in by himself he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his
wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and
she have borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall
be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant
shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will
not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he
shall also bring him unto the door, or unto the door-post; and his
master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him
forever," (that is, probably, until the year of Jubilee, which came
once in fifty years. See Leviticus xxv. 41.)

This, cries the anti-slavery man, was only temporary servitude. We
reply: but it was involuntary servitude, though temporary. It gave to
the master the right to compel the labour of the servant without his
consent; and this is a sanction of the principle of our institution.
What will be said then to the following? Leviticus xxv. 44 to 46:
"Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids which thou shalt have, shall be of
the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and
bondmaids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn
among you, of them shall ye buy and of their families that are with
you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your
possession," (your property.) "And ye shall take them as an
inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a
possession; they shall be your bondmen forever; but over your
brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule over one another
with rigour."

The antithesis in the position of the two laws shows that these
heathen slaves were not to go free at the year of Jubilee, like Hebrew
slaves. They are to be bondmen forever. They and their children,
slaves by birth, are to descend from father to son, as heritable
property. There was to be "no seventh year freedom here; there is no
Jubilee liberation." So says the learned divine, Moses Stuart, of
Andover, himself an anti-slavery man. And so say all respectable
Hebrew antiquaries. Indeed it would be hard to construct language
defining more strongly and fully all those features of domestic
slavery most contradictory to the theory of Abolitionists. They were
to be bought and sold. They were heritable property: (Mr. Sumner would
prove hence, "mere chattels.") Here is involuntary slavery for life,
expressly authorized to God's own peculiar and holy people, in the
strongest and most careful terms. The relation, then, must be innocent
in itself. With what show of candour can men say, in the face of a
sanction so full, so emphatic, so hearty, that Moses, finding the
hoary institution of domestic slavery so deeply rooted that it would
be impossible then to abolish it, _tolerated_ it, and limited it by
all the restrictions which he could apply, calculated to cut off its
worst horrors? We ask, was Moses the author of these laws, or God?
Does the Almighty, the Unchangeable, the Holy, connive at moral
abuses, like a puny human magistrate, and content himself, where he
dare not denounce a sin, with pruning its growth a little? We ask
again: Is this gloss borne out by the facts? Was Moses, in fact, timid
in assailing old and deeply-rooted vices, and in demanding that they
should be eradicated wholly? Let his uncompromising legislation
against Idolatry and Adultery answer. The truth is, such writers as
use the above language know nothing about the true nature of domestic
slavery, and draw their inferences only from their prejudices. God and
Moses knew it well. They knew that it was an institution which, when
not abused, was suitable to the character of the depraved persons for
whom it was designed, and wholesome and benign. Hence, they prohibit
all inhuman abuses of it; and then they do not tolerate it merely as
an unavoidable wrong; but they expressly legalize it, as right. An
honest mind can make nothing less of their words. But in Numbers xxxi.
25 to 30, and Joshua ix. 20 to 27, we have instances which are, if
possible, still stronger. In the former passage the people of Midian
had been conquered by God's command, and the captives and spoils
brought home; the captives to be slaves for life according to the law
of Leviticus, ch. xxv. The book of Numbers then proceeds: "And the
Lord spake unto Moses saying, Take the sum of prey that was taken both
of man and of beast, thou and Eleazer the priest and the chief fathers
of the congregation; and divide the prey into two parts; between them
that took the war upon them who went out to battle, and between all
the congregation. And levy a tribute unto the Lord of the men of war
which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the
persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses and of the sheep: Take it
of their half, and give it unto Eleazer the priest, for an
heave-offering of the _Lord_. And of the children of Israel's half
thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves,
of the asses and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them
unto the Levites which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the Lord."
In verses 40th and 46th, we read farther that the "_Lord's_ tribute of
the persons" of the first half, "was thirty and two persons," and of
the second half, "three hundred and twenty." Here God commands a
portion of these slaves to be set apart to a sacred use, and dedicated
to himself, that they might become the property of the ministers of
religion. The second instance is not contained in the books of Moses,
but in the history of his successor Joshua: we group it with the
former, for its similarity. In Joshua, ch. ix., we are told that while
he was triumphantly engaged in the destruction of the condemned
heathen tribes of Palestine, according to God's command, the people of
Gibeon, a part of the doomed race, despairing of a successful defence,
adopted this stratagem to save themselves. Under pretence that they
were not of Palestine at all, but from a very distant place, their
ambassadors obtained from the leaders of the Israelites a very
stringent oath of amity. This pledge the elders incautiously gave,
without seeking the divine direction. In a very few days they learned
to their astonishment, that these Gibeonites lived in the very heart
of Palestine, close to the spot where they were encamped, and that
they were of the very race which they were appointed to destroy. But
they had sworn in the name of Jehovah not to destroy them. In this
state of things, the princes and Joshua determined to punish them for
their falsehood, and at the same time substantially observe their
oath, by leaving them unhurt, but reducing them to slavery as the
serfs of the Tabernacle and its ministers. In verses 23d and 27th,
Joshua told them: "Now, therefore, ye are cursed, and there shall none
of you be freed from being bondmen," (Ebed, i. e., slaves,) "and hewers
of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God." "And Joshua
made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the
congregation and for the altar of the _Lord_, even unto this day, in
that place which he should choose." This compact the Gibeonites seem
gladly to have accepted. In 2d Samuel, ch. xxi., we find this same
race of serfs still living among the Israelites, under the same
compact. King Saul, David's predecessor, having broken it by killing
many of them, God himself interposed, and required a satisfaction for
the breach. Here we have evidence that the slaves of heathen origin
were not freed by the Jubilee, for centuries had now elapsed and they
were still slaves. We also see evidence that the contract made by
Joshua was not regarded by God as unlawful. In this case, also, we
find God accepting a religious offering of slaves for the service of
his sanctuary. And these, while real slaves, did not belong each to an
individual master, but were slaves to an institution and a caste, a
form of bondage always justly regarded as less benevolent than the

Yet men say slavery is a wicked relation, which God only tolerated and
curbed in the Old Testament. The _Lord's_ claiming his tythe of slaves
(as of cattle and wheat) seems to the candid man a strange way of
expressing bare tolerance! Was it not enough to leave the laity of the
"holy people" polluted with the sin of slaveholding, without
proceeding by his own express injunction to introduce the "taint" into
the still more sacred caste of the priesthood? Did the God of all
holiness direct a part of the wages of iniquity to be set apart for
his holy uses? Perhaps it may be said that He regarded the holy use as
sanctifying the unholy source of the offering. The surmise is
blasphemous. But see Deuteronomy xxiii. 18: "Thou shalt not bring the
hire of a whore or the price of a dog into the house of the _Lord_ thy
God for any vow: for even both these are abomination to the _Lord_ thy
God." To set apart to God's use property wickedly acquired was an
insult to his holiness: and to offer Him even what was acquired by
the sale of an animal ceremonially unclean, was resented as a type of
the same sin. The consecration of these slaves to sacred uses is
therefore the strongest possible proof that slaves are lawful
property. To sum up: The divine permission and sanction of slavery to
the very people whom God was setting apart to a holy life, the
consecration of slaves as property to a sacred purpose, the regulating
by law of the duties flowing from the relation, all prove that it was
then a lawful and innocent one. Otherwise, we should have the holy God
teaching sin. If it was innocent once in its intrinsic nature, it is
innocent now, unless it has been subsequently prohibited by God. But
no such prohibition can be shown.

§ 6. _Slavery in the Decalogue._

Although the Ten Commandments were given along with the civil and
ceremonial laws of the Hebrews, we do not include them along with the
latter, because the Decalogue was, unlike them, given for all men and
all dispensations. It is a solemn repetition of the sum of those
duties founded on the natures of man and of God, and on their
relations, enjoined on all ages alike. It contains nothing ceremonial,
or of merely temporary obligation; (which is binding merely because it
is commanded;) but all is of perpetual, moral obligation. It claims to
be, rightly explained, a perfect and complete rule. Our Saviour
repeatedly adopts it as the eternal sum of all duty, on which hang all
the law and the prophets, that is, all Scripture. Accordingly, we find
that the mode of its republication gave to this Decalogue a grandeur
and weight shared by no secular or ceremonial precepts. Deuteronomy
v. informs us that it was delivered first, thus receiving the
precedence, that it was spoken by God himself in articulate words,
heard by all the quaking multitude, in tones of thunder, from the
smoking summit of Sinai, with the terrible concomitants of angelic
hosts, devouring fire, lightnings and earthquakes; that God added no
more, thus refusing to all the subsequent precepts the honour of such
a publication, and that He himself then engraved it on stone,
signifying by the imperishable material, the perpetuity of this law.

Hence, all the principles of right stated or implied in this
Decalogue, are valid, not for Hebrews only, but for all men and ages.
They rise wholly above the temporary and positive precepts, which were
only binding while they were expressly enjoined. They have not been,
because they cannot be, repealed or modified; they are as immutable as
God's perfections. In our Saviour's words, "Till heaven and earth
pass, one jot or one tittle of this law shall not pass away."

Now, our argument is, that in this short summary, the relation of
master and slave is mentioned twice; and that in modes which are a
recognition of its lawfulness. It is introduced as a basis of duties
and rights founded upon it, and those rights are defended, and those
duties enjoined. But if it were an unlawful relation, what rights
could grow out of it except the slave's right to have it broken? And
what duties of the master could be founded on it, except the duties of
discontinuing, repenting of, and repairing its wrongs? In the 4th
Commandment, Exod. xx. 10, it is made the master's duty to cause the
slave to observe the Sabbath day. After the 8th Commandment had
forbidden injury to our fellow-man's property in act, by overt theft,
the 10th, (v. 17,) prohibits its injury even in thought by corrupt
coveting. And in the enumeration of possessions thus carefully covered
from assault, are men-servants (_ebed_) and maid-servants, along with
real estate and cattle. If the reader would feel the strength of the
argument implied in these facts, let him ask himself what would have
been his amazement, if, after the description which God's word gives
of the authority, righteousness, purity, and perpetuity of this
Decalogue, he had read in it, that highwaymen and pirates are
commanded to enforce Sabbath observance on their injured victims, and
that we must not covet our neighbour's concubine, or the stolen goods
in his possession? And this, without hint of the guilt of violence,
concubinage, and theft. It would be impossible for either
understanding or conscience to reconcile itself to the anomaly; he
would feel, inevitably, that God was incapable of such implied
sanction of sin.

§ 7. _Objections to the Old Testament Argument._

To state the arguments from the laws of Moses and the Decalogue has
not required a large space, because those conclusions are so plain and
sound, that many words were not needed. But the cavils, objections and
special pleadings of the Abolitionists teem like the frogs of Egypt,
engendered in the mire of ignorance and prejudice, so numerous because
so worthless. And when it is seen that we perhaps expend more space in
their refutation than we did in the direct argument, the heedless
reader may possibly be inclined to say to himself, that there must be
something wrong in an argument to which so much can be objected. We
beg him to observe then, that we pause to explode these objections,
not because they are of any weight, but because we purpose to make
thorough work with our opponents. When we have finished these
rejoinders, we shall take the impartial reader to witness, that not
only the weight, but the least appearance of plausibility in these
cavils has been blown into thin air. And then we shall have the right
to infer that their number indicates, not the questionable character
of our positions, but only a fixed and blind prejudice against the
truth in our adversaries.

It is objected that domestic slavery among the Hebrews was a much
milder institution than in Virginia, and that, therefore, we have no
right to argue from the one to the other. If it were true that Hebrew
slavery was milder, it might show that we were wrong in the way in
which we treated our slaves; but it could not prove that slaveholding
was wrong. The principle would still be established, for the
lawfulness of the relation. But let it be noted that the peculiar
mitigations of slavery affected only slaves of Hebrew blood, not
Gentiles. Whatever may have been the leniency of the system, the state
of the Gentile slaves showed the essential features of slavery among
us, the right to the slave's labour for life without his consent,
property in that labour, the right to buy, sell and bequeath it; the
right to enforce it on the slave by corporal punishments, which might
have any degree of severity short of death. (See Exod. xxi. 20, 21.)
Virginians had no interest to contend for any stricter form of
slavery than this.

Second. It is said that the permission to buy, possess, and bequeath
slaves of heathen origin, which we have cited, related only to the
seven condemned tribes of Canaan, and was part of the divinely
appointed penalty for their wickedness. Even such a man as Dr.
Wayland, of Brown University, Rhode Island, has adopted this plea,
thus justifying in a prominent instance the assertion that
Abolitionism is grounded in a shameful ignorance of facts. The answer
to the plea is, that it is expressly contrary to fact. The Hebrews
were positively prohibited to reserve any of the seven condemned
nations for slaves, and were enjoined to exterminate them all, lest
the contagion of their vile morals should corrupt Israel. On the other
hand, they were told that they might buy them slaves of any of the
other Gentile nations around them, with whom they were to live on
terms of national amity. (See Deuteronomy, xx. 10 to 18.) After
directing the policy of the Hebrews towards conquered enemies from
these nations, and permitting the enslaving of the captives, Moses
proceeds: (v. 15.) "Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are
very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
But of the cities of these people which the Lord thy God doth give
thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save nothing alive that breatheth;
but thou shalt utterly destroy them, namely, the Hittites and the
Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the
Jebusites, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that they teach
you not to do after all their abominations," etc. (See also, Josh. vi.
17 to 21; viii. 26; x. 28 to 32, etc., etc.)

Third. It is objected from these very injunctions, that the examples
of the commands given to the Israelites are no rules for us; that God
commanded them to exterminate the seven nations of Canaan; but if we
should therefore proceed to attack and destroy a neighbouring nation
which had not assailed us, it would be a horrible wickedness. It is
asked: Were the fanatics of the English Commonwealth in the 17th
century correct when they justified their barbarities upon royalists
by the examples of Joshua's slaughter of the Amorites, and Samuel's of
Amalek? And we are told that our argument from Hebrew slavery is of
the same absurd kind.

We reply: We willingly accept the instances. God's command to Joshua
and Samuel to exterminate the Canaanites and Amalek, does prove that
killing is not necessarily murder. This very instance gives us an
unanswerable argument against those who oppose all capital punishments
as wrong. And just so we employ the other instance, which our
assailants say is parallel--Hebrew slavery--to prove that slaveholding
is not necessarily sinful. But the instances are not parallel. The
sanction of domestic slavery was a statute law for all generations of
Hebrews; the command to exterminate the seven tribes imposed a
specific task on certain individuals. It is absurd to confound an
executive command, given to particular men for the once, under
particular circumstances, with the sanctions of a permanent
institution, designed to descend from generation to generation. The
command to exterminate the seven guilty tribes was the former, the
permission to hold slaves the latter. True, the example of Joshua in
blotting these tribes from existence, is no authority for us to do
likewise, unless we also can show a direct divine commission
authorizing us for a special case. But neither was that example
authority to any subsequent generation of Hebrews, after Joshua, to
exterminate any other pagan tribe. Will any one say that the authority
given by Moses to his fellow-citizens to hold slaves was not just as
good to enable subsequent generations of Hebrews to hold slaves?
Prejudice cannot carry sophistry so far. There is, therefore, no
analogy between the two cases, in the point necessary for grounding
the objection to our argument.

Fourth. It is said that Moses himself commanded that a runaway slave
should not be surrendered to his master; thereby plainly teaching that
slaves had a right to their liberty, if they could escape. This, it is
urged, proves that there must be some mistake in our conclusions. Of
course, this passage is quoted triumphantly as settling the question
against the fugitive slave-law, required by the late Constitution of
the United States. It is found in Deuteronomy xxiii. 15, 16: "Thou
shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from
his master unto thee: he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in
that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh
him best; thou shalt not oppress him."

We need no better answer to this citation, than that given by a
Northern divine already named, who is no friend to slavery, Rev. Moses
Stuart. He says: "The first inquiry of course is: Where does his
master live? Among the Hebrews or among foreigners? The language of
the passage fully developes this, and answers the question. He has
'escaped from his master unto the Hebrews.' (The text says, unto
_thee_, i. e., Israel.) 'He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in
one of thy gates.' Of course then, he is an immigrant, and did not
dwell among them before his flight. If he had been a Hebrew servant,
belonging to a Hebrew, the whole face of the thing would be changed.
Restoration or restitution, if we may judge by the tenour of other
property laws among the Hebrews, would have surely been enjoined. But,
be that as it may, the language of the text puts it beyond a doubt,
that the servant is a foreigner and has fled from a heathen master."
Mr. Stuart then proceeds to assign obvious reasons why a foreign
servant escaping from a heathen master was not to be restored: that
the bondage from which he escaped was inordinately cruel, including
the power of murder for any caprice; and that to force him back was to
remand him to the darkness of heathenism, and to rob him of the light
of true religion, which shone in the land of the Hebrews alone. He
adds: "But if we put now the other case, viz.: that of escape from a
Hebrew master, who claimed and enjoyed Hebrew rights, is not the case
greatly changed? Who could take from him the property which the Mosaic
law gave him a right to hold? Neither the bondsman himself, nor the
neighbours of the master to whom the fugitive might come. Reclamation
of him could be lawfully made, and therefore must be enforced." This
explanation forces itself upon our common sense. To suppose that Moses
could so formally authorize and define slavery among the Hebrews, and
then enact that every slave might gain his liberty by merely stepping
over the brook or imaginary line which separated the little cantons
of the tribes from each other, or even by going to the next house of
his master's neighbours, and claiming protection, whenever petulance,
or caprice, or laziness should move him thereto; this is absurd; it is
trivial child's play. It takes away with one hand what it professed to
give with the other. The fact that slavery continued to exist from age
to age, is proof enough that the Hebrews did not put the Abolitionist
construction on the law. To this agree the respectable Hebrew
antiquarians, as Horne, etc.

Fifth. It is urged that Revelation was in its plan progressive, like
the morning twilight; that the Mosaic code was the early dawn; that
God, for wise reasons, left many points in darkness, which the full
daylight of the Gospel has since shown to be sin. And, therefore,
several practices, which we are now taught to be sinful, may have been
ignorantly followed by good men, and tolerated by this imperfect
legislation of God's law. Yet if we, who enjoy a fuller revelation,
should indulge in these practices, we should be guilty and

Grant this, for the present. Grant, for argument's sake, that it may
have been consistent with the plan of revelation to make known at
first only a partial rule of duty, leaving some sins unmentioned. Yet
surely it was not consistent with the truth and holiness of God, to
throw a false light in that partial revelation, on those parts of
man's duty which he professed to reveal! So far as any revelation from
God goes, it must be a true and righteous one. If it undertook to fix
a point of duty, it must fix it correctly, whatever else it might
omit. Otherwise; we should have a holy, true, and good Creator, while
professing to guide man to duty and life, misleading him to sin and
death. Let now the reader note that the lawfulness of slavery was not
one of the points omitted. God spake expressly upon it; and what he
said was to authorize it.

But we do not admit that Moses' was an incomplete revelation in the
sense of the Abolitionists. They are fond of representing the New
Testament revelation as completing, amending, and correcting that of
the Old. Its details the New Testament does complete; but if it were
amended or corrected by any subsequent standard of infallible truth,
this would prove it not truly inspired. Indeed, the history of
theological opinion shows plainly enough that this anti-slavery view
of Old Testament revelation is Socinian and Rationalistic. Modern
Abolitionism in America had, in fact, a Socinian birth, in the great
apostasy of the Puritans of New England to that benumbing heresy, and
in the pharisaism, shallow scholarship, affectation, conceit and
infidelity of the Unitarian clique in the self-styled American Athens,
Boston. It is lamentable to see how men professing to be evangelical
are driven by blind prejudices against Southern men and things, to
adopt this skeptical tone towards God's own word. The ruinous issue
has been seen in the case of a minister of the Gospel, who, after
floundering through a volume of confused and impotent sophisms,
roundly declares that if compelled to admit that the Bible treated
slavery as not a sin in itself, he would repudiate the Bible rather
than his opinions.

But we point these objectors to that Saviour who said, in the full
meridian of revealed light of this Old Testament law: "Whosoever
shall keep these commandments shall enter into eternal life;" and to
the fact that the Decalogue itself twice recognizes the right of the
master. Will they say that this too was an old, partial, and imperfect
revelation? Not so says the sweet Psalmist of Israel: "The law of the
Lord is perfect." Psalms, xix. 7. Whatever Abolitionists may cavil,
Jesus Christ acknowledged no more perfect rule of morals than the Ten
Commandments, as expounded by the "law and the prophets."

Sixth. An objection has been raised against the Old Testament
argument, from the supposed permission of, or connivance at, polygamy
and causeless divorce in the laws of Moses. This objection has been
urged by Dr. Channing, the celebrated Unitarian, and since, in a more
exact form, by Dr. Wayland. In substance it is this: That polygamy was
allowed by the Old Testament law, and divorce for a less cause than
conjugal infidelity was expressly permitted by Moses. But both these
are as expressly forbidden as sinful by our Saviour. Matthew xix. 3 to
9. Therefore the main assertion in defence of slavery, on which the
argument rested, does not hold: for these two instances show that a
thing is not intrinsically innocent because it was permitted for a
time to the Jews.

Our reply is, that both the premises of the objection are absolutely
false. Polygamy and capricious divorce never were authorized by Old
Testament law, in the sense in which domestic slavery was; and,
second, the latter was never prohibited in the New Testament, as
polygamy and such divorces expressly are. Either of these facts,
without the other, makes the objection invalid, as we shall show; but
we shall establish both. Before doing this, however, we would ask:
Suppose these assertions of Drs. Wayland and Channing proved that God
expressly permitted polygamy and causeless divorce to his own chosen
and holy people, and that Jesus Christ yet denounced these things as
sins; what is gained? Not only is this part of our defence of slavery
overthrown, but the holiness of God is also overthrown; or else the
inspiration of the Scriptures. (The latter would be a result evidently
not very repugnant to Socinians and their sympathizers.) For then
these Scriptures would make Him the teacher of sin to the very persons
whom he was setting apart to peculiar holiness. If God did indeed
authorize polygamy and causeless divorce in the Old Testament law,
then the only inference for the devout mind is, that those things were
then innocent, and would still be so, had not Christ afterwards
forbidden them. Now, when we pass into the New Testament, and find
that domestic slavery (which these objectors would make the parallel
of polygamy and divorce without just cause) is not forbidden there, as
the latter two were, but is again permitted, authorized and regulated,
we must conclude that it is still innocent, as it must have been when
a holy God allowed it to his holy people.

But the first part of the objectors' premise is also false; polygamy
and causeless divorce never were sanctioned by Moses as domestic
slavery was. Even admitting the more ignorant rendering of the matter,
how wide is the difference in God's treatment of the two subjects!
Slaves are mentioned as lawful property, not only in the biographies
of God's erring and fallible servants, but in his own legislation;
the acquisition of them is a blessing from him; their connexion with
their masters is made the basis of religious sacraments; property in
slaves is protected by laws of divine enactment; and the rights and
duties of them and their masters defined. But when we pass to the
subjects of plurality and change of wives, while we see the lives of
imperfect, though good men, candidly disclosing these abuses, no
legislative act recognizes them, except in the single case of divorce.
In all God's laws and precepts, He always says _wife_, not _wives_, so
carefully does He avoid a seeming allowance of a plurality. The
Decalogue throws no protection around concubines, against the coveting
of others. The rights and duties of polygamists are never defined by
divine law, save in seeming exceptions which will be explained. How
unlike is all this to the legislation upon slavery!

What has been already said leaves our argument impregnable. But so
much misapprehension exists about the two cases, that the general
interests of truth prompt a little farther separate discussion of
each. The two enactments touching divorce which present the supposed
contradiction in the strongest form, are those of Moses in Deuteronomy
xxiv. 1 to 4, and Matthew xix. 3 to 9. These the reader is requested
to have under his eye. The form of the Pharisees' question to Christ,
("Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife _for every cause_?")
concurs with the testimony of Josephus, in teaching us that a
monstrous perversion of Moses' statute then prevailed. The licentious,
and yet self-righteous Pharisee claimed, as one of his most
unquestioned privileges, the right to repudiate a wife, after the
lapse of years, and birth of children, for any caprice whatsoever.
The trap which they now laid for Christ was designed to compel him
either to incur the _odium_ of attacking this usage, guarded by a
jealous anger, or to connive at their interpretation of the statute.
Manifestly Christ does not concede that they interpreted Moses
rightly; but indignantly clears the legislation of that holy man from
their licentious perversions, and then, because of their abuse of it,
repeals it by his plenary authority. He refers to that constitution of
the marriage tie which was original, which preceded Moses, and was
therefore binding when Moses wrote, to show that it was impossible he
could have enacted what they claimed. What then did Moses enact? Let
us explain it. In the ancient society of the East, females being
reared in comparative seclusion, and marriages negotiated by
intermediaries, the bridegroom had little opportunity for a familiar
acquaintance even with the person of the bride. When she was brought
to him at the nuptials, if he found her disfigured with some personal
deformity or disease, (the undoubted meaning of the phrase "some
uncleanness,") which effectually changed desire into disgust, he was
likely to regard himself as swindled in the treaty, and to send the
rejected bride back with indignity to her father's house. There she
was reluctantly received, and in the anomalous position of one in name
a wife, yet without a husband, she dragged out a wretched existence,
incapable of marriage, and regarded by her parents and brothers as a
disgraceful incumbrance. It was to relieve the wretched fate of such a
woman, that Moses' law was framed. She was empowered to exact of her
proposed husband a formal annulment of the unconsummated contract,
and to resume the _status_ of a single woman, eligible for another
marriage. It is plain that Moses' law contemplates the case, only, in
which no consummation of marriage takes place. She finds _no favour_
in the eyes "of the bridegroom." He is so indignant and disgusted,
that desire is put to flight by repugnance. The same fact appears from
the condition of the law, that she shall in no case return to this
man, "after she is defiled," i. e., after actual cohabitation with
another man had made her unapproachable (without moral defilement) by
the first. Such was the narrow extent of this law. The act for which
it provided was divorce only in name, where that _consensus, qui
matrimonium facit_, (in the words of the law maxim,) had never been
perfected. The state of social usages among the Hebrews, with parental
and fraternal severity towards the unfortunate daughter and sister,
rendered the legislation of Moses necessary, and righteous at the
time; but "a greater than Moses" was now here; and he, after defending
the inspired law-giver from their vile misrepresentation, proceeded to
repeal the law, because it had been so perverted, and because the
social changes of the age had removed its righteous grounds. Let the
Abolitionists show us a similar change in the law of domestic slavery,
made by Christ, and we will admit that the moral conditions of the
relation have changed since Moses' day.

The case of the polygamist is still clearer; for we assert that the
whole legislation of the Pentateuch and of all the Old Testament is
only adverse to polygamy. As some Christian divines have taught
otherwise, we must ask the reader's attention and patience for a
brief statement. Polygamy is recorded of Abraham, Jacob, Gideon,
Elkanah, David, Solomon; but so are other sins of several of these;
and, as every intelligent reader knows, the truthful narrative of holy
writ as often discloses the sins of good men--for our warning, as
their virtues for our imitation. And he who notes how, in every Bible
instance, polygamy appears as the cause of domestic feuds, sin, and
disaster, will have little doubt that the Holy Spirit tacitly holds
all these cases up for our caution, and not our approval. But, then,
God made Adam one wife only, and taught him the great law of the
perpetual unity of the twain, just as it is now expounded by Jesus
Christ. (Genesis ii. 23, 24, with Matthew xix. 4 to 6.) God preserved
but one wife each to Noah and his sons. In every statute and
preceptive word of the Holy Spirit, it is always _wife_, and not
_wives_. The prophets everywhere teach how to treat a _wife_, and not
_wives_. Moses, Leviticus xviii. 18, in the code regulating marriage,
expressly prohibits the marriage of a second wife in the life of the
first, thus enjoining monogamy in terms as clear as Christ's. Our
English version hath it: "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister
to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides the other, in her
lifetime." Some have been preposterous enough to take the word
_sister_ here in its literal sense, and thus to force on the law the
meaning that the man desiring to practise polygamy may do so provided
he does not marry two daughters of the same parents; for if he did
this, the two sisters sharing his bed would, like Rachel and Leah,
quarrel more fiercely than two strangers. But the word "_sister_"
must undoubtedly be taken in the sense of _mates_, _fellows_, (which
it bears in a multitude of places,) and this for two controlling
reasons. The other sense makes Moses talk nonsense and folly, in the
supposed reason for his prohibition; in that it makes him argue that
two sisters sharing one man's bed will quarrel, but two women having
no kindred blood will not. It is false to fact and to nature. Did Leah
and Rachel show more jealousy than Sarah and Hagar, Hannah and
Peninnah? But when we understand the law in its obvious sense, that
the husband shall not divide his bed with a second mate, the first
still living, because such a wrong ever harrows and outrages the great
instincts placed in woman's heart by her Creator, we make Moses talk
truth and logick worthy of a profound legislator. The other reason for
this construction is, that the other sense places the 18th verse in
irreconcilable contradiction to the 16th verse. This forbids the
marriage of a woman to the husband of her deceased sister; while the
18th verse, with this false reading, would authorize it.

Once more: Malachi, (chapter ii. 14, 15.) rebuking the various
corruptions of the Jews, evidently includes polygamy; for he argues in
favour of monogamy, (and also against causeless divorce,) from the
fact that God, "who had the residue of the Spirit," and could as
easily have created a thousand women for each man as a single one,
made the numbers of the sexes equal from the beginning. He states this
as the motive, "that he might seek a godly seed;" that is to say, that
the object of God in the marriage relation was the right rearing of
children, which polygamy notoriously hinders. Now the commission of an
Old Testament prophet was not to legislate a new dispensation; for
the laws of Moses were in full force; the prophets' business was to
expound them. Hence, we infer that the laws of the Mosaic dispensation
on the subject of polygamy had always been such as Malachi declared
them. He was but applying Moses' principles.

To the assertion that the law of the Old Testament discountenanced
polygamy as really as the New Testament, it has been objected that the
practice was maintained by men too pious towards God to be capable of
continuing in it against express precept; as, for instance, by the
"king after God's own heart," David. Did not he also commit murder and
adultery? Surely there is no question whether Moses forbids these! The
history of good men, alas, shows us too plainly the power of general
evil example, custom, temptation, and self-love, in blinding the
honest conscience. It has been objected that polygamy was so
universally practised, and so prized, that Moses would never have
dared to attempt its extinction. When will men learn that the author
of the Old Testament law was not Moses, but God? Is God timid? Does he
fear to deal firmly with his creatures? But it is denied that there is
any evidence that polygamy was greatly prevalent among the Hebrews.
And nothing is easier than to show, that if it had been, Moses was a
legislator bold enough to grapple with it. What more hardy than his
dealing with the sabbatical year, with idolatry? It is objected that
the marriage of the widow who was childless to the brother of the
deceased, to raise up seed to the dead, presents a case of polygamy
actually commanded. We reply, no one can show that the next of kin
was permitted or required to form such marriage when he already had a
wife. The celebrated J. D. Michaelis, a witness learned and not too
favourable, says, in his Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, of this
law, "Nor did it affect a brother having already a wife of his own."
Book III., ch. vi., § 98. It is objected that polygamy is recognized
as a permitted relation in Deuteronomy xxi. 15-17, where the husband
of a polygamous marriage is forbidden to transfer the birthright from
the eldest son to a younger, the child of a more favoured wife; and in
Exodus xxi. 9, 10, where the husband is forbidden to deprive a less
favoured wife of her marital rights and maintenance. Both these cases
are explained by the admitted principle, that there may be relations
which it was sin to form, and which yet it is sinful to break when
formed. No one doubts whether the New Testament makes polygamy
unlawful; yet it seems very clear that the apostles gave the same
instructions to the husbands of a plurality of wives entering the
Christian church. There appears, then, no evidence that polygamy was
allowed in the laws of Moses.

We have thus shown that the objection of Dr. Channing to our Old
Testament argument for the lawfulness of domestic slavery, is false in
both its premises. First, it is not true that Moses sanctioned
polygamy and causeless divorce in the sense in which he sanctioned
slavery. And second, if he did, it would prove that those practices
were lawful until they were prohibited by our Redeemer; but domestic
slavery has met no such prohibition from him, and is therefore lawful
still. If not, why did the divine Reformer strike down the two
"sister sins," and leave the third, the giant evil, untouched? There
is but one answer: He did not regard it as a sin.

If too much space has been devoted to this objection, the apology is,
that it is a subject much misunderstood by Christian divines. The
explanation is, that the study of Hebrew antiquities has, in our day,
been left so much to German rationalists and secret Socinians; the
late essays of British and Yankee scholars being to so great a degree
servile imitations of theirs. But these skeptical _literati_ of
Germany, while wearing the clergyman's frock for the sake of the
emoluments of an established church, have usually been unsanctified
men, harbouring the most contemptuous views of Old Testament
inspiration. The reader will bear in mind that, whether he is
convinced, with us, that Moses actually prohibited polygamy, or not,
the refutation of the Abolitionist objection is still perfectly valid.

The seventh and last objection against our Old Testament argument
consists of various passages from the Hebrew prophets, which denounce
the oppression of the poor, and the withholding of the labouring man's
wages. Every phrase which sounds at all like their purpose is
violently seized by the Abolitionists, and pressed incontinently into
the service of condemning slavery, without regard to the sacred
writer's intention or meaning. Were all the texts thus wrested
discussed here, this section would be swelled into a book. A few
passages which our opponents regard as their strongest will be cited,
therefore; and the reply to these will be an answer to all. One such
is Isaiah, lviii. 6: "Is not this the fast which I have chosen, to
loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let
the oppressed go free; and that ye break every yoke?" Another is
found in Jeremiah xx. 13: "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by
unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's
services without wages, and giveth him not for his work." Another is
in Jeremiah xxxiv. 17: "Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Ye have not
hearkened unto me in proclaiming liberty every man to his brother, and
every man to his neighbour." And to find a scriptural stone to pelt
the fugitive slave-law, they quote Isaiah xvi. 3: "Hide the outcasts;
betray not him that wandereth."

Now, one would think that it should have given some pause to these
perversions of Scripture, to remember that these same prophets were
undoubtedly slaveholders. Witness, for instance, Elisha, who was so
large a slaveholder as to have eleven ploughmen at once, and who,
after he devoted himself exclusively to his prophetic ministry, still
had his servants, Gehazi and others. (2 Kings, v. 20, and vi. 15.) How
could they have aimed such denunciations at slave-owners, and escaped
the sarcasm, "Physician, heal thyself?" It should have been remembered
again, that Moses' laws, in which slaveholding was expressly
sanctioned, were enacted by authority just as divine as that by which
Isaiah and Jeremiah preached; that Moses was more a prophet than even
they--"the greatest of the prophets;" that his laws were still in full
force; that they bore to these prophets' instructions the relation of
text to exposition; and that always the great burden of their
accusations against their guilty countrymen was, that they had
forsaken Moses' statutes. Were the guardians and expounders of the
Constitution armed with power not only to repeal, but to vilify, the
very law which they were appointed to expound? May the sermon
contradict its own text?

Before these rebukes of oppression can be applied, then, as God's
condemnation of domestic slavery, it must be proved that in His view
slavery is oppression. To take this for granted is a begging of the
whole question in debate. But not only is it not proved by any such
texts; it is obvious from the above remarks, that it cannot be proved
by them, unless God can be made to contradict himself. But when we
examine a little the connected words of these prophets themselves, we
learn from them what they do mean; and we see an instance, ludicrous
if it were not too painful, of the heedless folly with which the Word
of God is abused. Thus, in Isaiah, lviii. 6, 7, we proceed to the very
next words, and learn that the duty in hand consists in "bringing to
their homes the poor that are cast out," and being charitable to
"their own flesh." Were the Gentile slaves of the Hebrews "their own
flesh" in the sense of the Old Testament, i. e., their kindred by
blood? Manifestly, the phrase intends their fellow-citizens of Hebrew
blood in distress. Are slaveholders in danger of sinning by driving
away from their houses their domestic slaves; and do they need
objurgation to make them receive them back? Such is the "infinite
nonsense" forced upon Isaiah's words by Abolitionists. There is, then,
no reference here to the emancipation of Gentile slaves; but to the
duties of charity, justice and hospitality towards the oppressed of
their fellow-citizens. And if the passage has any reference to
servants, it is only to the sin of detaining Hebrew servants beyond
the Sabbatical year's release.

When we turn to Jeremiah xxii. 13, a glance at the connexion shows us
that the woe against using a neighbour's services without wages, is
denounced against Shallum, the wicked king of Judah, who built his
palaces, not by his domestic servants, but by unlawfully impressing
his political subjects. Such is the marvellous accuracy of
Abolitionist exposition! So in Jeremiah xxxiv. 17, which rebukes the
Jews for not "proclaiming every man liberty to his brother," one
little question should have staggered our zealous accusers: Were
Gentile slaves "brethren" to Jews, in the sense of the prophet? And we
have only to carry the eye back to verse 14, to see him explaining
himself, that they did not comply with the Mosaic law, "at the end of
seven years to let go every man his brother a Hebrew, which hath been
sold unto thee." From the obligation of that law, the masters of
Gentiles were expressly excepted.

But the illustration of crowning folly is Isaiah xvi. 3, which is so
boldly wrested to countenance the harbouring of runaway slaves. The
words are not the language of the prophet at all! The chapter is a
dramatic picture of the distress of the pagan nations near Judea, and
especially of Moab, one among them, in a time of invasion which Isaiah
denounces upon them in punishment for their sin; and this verse
represents the fugitive Moabites as entreating Jews for concealment
and protection when pursued by their enemies. So that there is no
slave nor slave-owner in the case at all; nor does the prophet's
language contain any thing to imply whether it was righteous or not
for the Jews to grant the request of these affrighted sinners in the
hour of their retribution.

We have now reviewed, perhaps at too much length, the various impotent
attempts made to escape from the meshes of our inexorable Old
Testament argument. It is an argument short, plain, convincing.
Although every thing enjoined on the Hebrews is not necessarily
enjoined on us, (because it may have been of temporary obligation,)
yet every such thing must be innocent in its nature, because a holy
God would not sanction sin to his holy people, in the very act of
separating them to holiness. But slaveholding was expressly sanctioned
as a permanent institution; the duties of masters and slaves are
defined; the rights of masters protected, not only in the civic but
the eternal moral law of God; and He himself became a slave-owner, by
claiming an oblation of slaves for his sanctuary and priests. Hence,
while we do not say that modern Christian nations are bound to hold
slaves, we do assert that no people sin by merely holding slaves,
unless the place can be shown where God has uttered a subsequent
prohibition. But there is no such place, as the next chapter will
show. While we well know that to secret infidels and rationalists, as
all Abolitionists are, this has no weight, to every mind which
reverences the inspiration of the Old Testament it is conclusive. And
let every Christian note, that with the inspiration of the Old
Testament stands or falls that of Christ and the apostles, because
they commit themselves irretrievably to the support of the former.



Inspiration always represents the New Testament as its final teaching.
Revelation is there completed; and all the instruction concerning
right and wrong which man is ever to ask from God, must be sought in
this book. We have done, then, with all sophistical pleas concerning
the twilight of revelation: for we have come now to the meridian
splendour. If slaveholding was allowed to the Old World for the
hardness of its heart, here we may expect to see it repealed. Wherever
the New Testament leaves the moral character of slavery, there it must
stand. What, then, is its position here?

§ 1. _Definition of_ Δουλος.

The word commonly translated servant in the authorized version of the
New Testament is Δουλος, (_doulos_,) which is most probably derived
from the verb δεω, (_deo_,) 'I bind.' Hence the most direct meaning of
the noun is 'bondsman.' Many Abolitionists, with a reckless violence
of criticism which cannot be too sternly reprobated, have endeavoured
to evade the crushing testimony of the New Testament against their
dogma, by denying that this word there means slave. Some of them
would make it mean son, some _hired servant_, and some _subject_, or
dependent citizen. Even Mr. Albert Barnes, in his Commentaries on the
Epistles, denies that the Word carries any evidence that a servile
relation, proper, is intended by the sacred Writers. Every honest and
well-informed biblical scholar feels that it would be an insult to his
intelligence to suppose that a discussion of this preposterous
assertion was needed for him: but as our aim is the general reader, we
will briefly state the evidence that δουλος, when not metaphorical,
means in the mouth of Christ and his apostles a literal, domestic

Judea and the Roman Empire in their day were full of domestic slaves,
so that in many places they were more numerous than the free citizens.
Δουλος is confessedly the Word used for slave by secular writers of
antiquity, in histories, statutes, works on political science, such as
Aristotle's, in the allusions of Greeks to the Roman civil law, where
they make it uniformly their translation for _Servus_, so clearly and
harshly defined in that law as a literal slave. Did apostles and
evangelists use the Greek language of their day correctly and
honestly? And if δουλος in them does not mean slave, there is no
stronger word within the lids of the New Testament that does; (nor in
the Greek language;) so that there is in all the apostolic histories
and epistles, no allusion to this world-wide institution which
surrounded them! Who believes this? Again: The current Greek
translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, whose idioms are
more imitated in the New Testament than any other book, uses δουλος,
as in Leviticus xxv. 44, for translation of the _Ebed_, bought with
money from the Gentiles. The places where the New Testament writers
use δουλος metaphorically imply the meaning of _slave_ as the literal
one, because the aptness of the trope depends on that sense. Thus,
Acts iv. 29, xvi. 17, Romans i. 1, apostles are called God's δουλοι,
servants, to express God's purchase, ownership and authority over
them, and their strict obedience. Make the literal sense any thing
less than slave proper, and the strength and beauty of the trope are
gone. Again, the word is often used in contrast with _son_, and
_political subject_, so as to prove a different meaning. Thus, John
viii. 34, 35: "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (δουλος) of
sin. And the δουλος abideth not in the house forever: but the son
abideth ever." Luke xix. 13, 14: "He called his ten δουλοι, and
delivered them ten pounds, etc.; but his citizens (πολιται =
political subjects) hated him," etc. Galatians iv. 1: "Now the heir, as
long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a δουλος, though he be
lord of all, but is under tutors and governors," etc. In conclusion: all
well-informed and candid expositors tell us, that by δουλος, the New
Testament means slave. We may mention Drs. Bloomfield, Hodge, and
Trench. The classical authorities of the Greek language give this as
the most proper meaning; and the biblical lexicons of the New
Testament Greek testify the same. Of the latter, we may cite Dr.
Edward Robinson, of New York, no friend to slavery. He says:

"Δουλος ου.δ = (subst. fr. δεω,) a bondsman, a slave, servant,
properly by birth, diff. from ανδροποδον, 'one enslaved in war.'
Compare Xen. Anab. iv. 1, 12, αιχμαλωτα αυδραποδα. Hell. i. 6,
15; Thuc. viii. 28, τα ανδραποδα παντα, και δουλα και ελευθερα.
But such a captive is sometimes called δουλος, Xen. Cyr. 3, 1, 11,
19, ib., 4, 4, 12. Different also from ὁ διακονος, see that art. No.
1. In a family, the δουλος was one _bound to serve_, a slave, the
property of his master, a 'living possession,' as Aristotle calls him,
Pol. 1, 4. ὁ δουλος κτημα τι εμψυχον. Compare Gen. xvii. 12, 27;
Exod. xii. 44. According to the same writer, a complete household
consisted of slaves and freemen, Polit. 1, 3. οικια δε τελειος εκ
δουλων και ελευθερον. The δουλος, therefore, was never a _hired_
servant, the latter being called μισθιος, μισθωτος, q. v. Dr.
Robinson then proceeds to define δουλος in detail as meaning, "1,
Properly of involuntary service, a _slave_, servant, as opposed to
ελευθερος. 2, Tropically, of voluntary service, a _servant_, implying
obligation, obedience, devotedness. 3, Tropically, a _minister_,
attendant, spoken of the officers and attendants of an Oriental court,
who are often strictly slaves."

§ 2. _Slavery often mentioned; yet not condemned._

The mere absence of a condemnation of slaveholding in the New
Testament is proof that it is not unlawful. In showing that there is
no such condemnation, we are doing more than we could be held bound to
do by any logical obligation: we might very properly throw the burden
of proof here upon our accusers, and claim to be held innocent until
we can be proved to be guilty by some positive testimony of holy writ.
But our cause is so strong, that we can afford to argue ex
_abundantia_; to assert more than we are bound to show. We claim then
the significant fact, that there is nowhere any rebuke of
slaveholding, in express terms, in the New Testament. Of the truth of
this assertion it is sufficient proof, that Abolitionists, with all
their malignant zeal, have been unable to find a single instance, and
are compelled to assail us only with inferences. The express
permission to hold slaves given by Moses to God's people, is nowhere
repealed by the 'greater than Moses,' the Divine Prophet of the new
dispensation. Let the reader consider how this fact is strengthened by
the attendant circumstances. Christ and his apostles preached in the
midst of slaves and slaveholders. The institution was exceedingly
prevalent in many parts of the world. Potter tells us that in Athens,
(a place where Paul preached,) the freemen citizens, possessed of
franchises, were twenty-one thousand, and the slaves four hundred
thousand. The congregations to which Christ and his apostles preached,
were composed of masters and their slaves. The slavery of that day, as
defined by the Roman civil law, was harsh and oppressive, treating the
slave as a legal nonentity, without property, rights, or legal remedy;
without marriage, subject, even as to his life, to the caprice of his
master, and in every respect a human beast of burden. Again: to this
institution Christ and his apostles make many allusions, for
illustration of other subjects; and upon the institution itself they
often speak didactically. Yet, while often condemning the abuses and
oppressions incident to it, they never condemn the relation. Several
times the apostles give formal enumerations of the prevalent sins of
their times; as in Romans i. 29, 31; Galatians v. 19 to 21; Matthew
xv. 19; Colossians iii. 8, 9; 2 Timothy iii. 2 to 4. These catalogues
of sins are often full and minute; but the owning of slaves never
appears among them.

Now, we are entitled to claim, that this silence of the later and
final revelation leaves the lawfulness of slaveholding in full force,
as expressly established in the earlier. On that allowance we plant
ourselves, and defy our accusers to bring the evidence of its repeal.
On them lies the burden of proof. And we have indicated by the
circumstances detailed above, how crushing that burden will be to

This is the most appropriate place to notice the evasion attempted
from the above demonstration. They plead that slavery is not specially
forbidden in the New Testament, because the plan of the Bible is to
give us a rule of morals, not by special enactments for every case,
but by general principles of right, which we must apply to special
cases as they arise. "Inspiration has not," say they, "specially
condemned every possible sin which may occur in the boundless
varieties of human affairs, because then the whole world would not
contain the books that should be written; and the voluminous character
of the rule of duty would disappoint its whole utility; and if any sin
were omitted in order to abridge it, this would be taken as a
sanction. Hence, God gives us a set of plain general principles, of
obvious application under the law of love." Therefore, it is argued,
we are not to expect that the sin of slaveholding should be singled
out. Enough that general principles given exclude it.

There is a portion of truth in this statement of the matter, and in
the grounds assigned for it. But waiving for the present the exposure
of the groundless assertion that there are any general principles in
the New Testament condemnatory of slaveholding, we deny that this book
teaches morals only by general rules. It also does it, in a multitude
of cases, by special precepts. A multitude of special sins prevalent
in that and all ages are singled out. This being so--the lists of
particular sins being so full and specific as they are--we assert it
would have been an unaccountable anomaly to pass over a thing so
important, open, prevalent, had it been intrinsically wrong. But why
does Revelation omit a number of particulars, and state general
principles? For the lack of room, it is said. The other plan would
have made the Bible too large. Now we ask, as the case actually stands
in the New Testament, would not a good deal of room have been saved as
to slavery, by simply specifying it as wrong? It is a queer way to
economize space, thus to take up a subject, define it at large, limit,
modify it, retrench its abuses, lay down in considerable detail a part
of its duties and relations; and then provide by some general
principle for its utter prohibition! Would not the obvious way have
been, to say in three plain words, what was the only fundamental
thing, after all, which, on this supposition, needed to be taught,
"Slavery is sinful?" This would have settled the matter, and also have
saved space and ambiguity, and made an end of definitions,
limitations, abuses, inferences and all, in the only honest way. But
farther, we admit that the Bible has left a multitude of new
questions, emerging in novel cases, to be settled by the fair
application of general principles, (which are usually illustrated in
Scripture by application to some specific case.) Now must not an
honest mind argue, that since the human understanding is so fallible
in inferential reasonings, especially on social ethics, where the
premises are so numerous and vague, and prejudices and interests so
blinding, a special precept, where one is found applicable, is better
than an inference probably doubtful? Will it not follow a 'thus saith
the Lord,' if it has one, rather than its own deduction which may be a
blunder? Well, then, if God intended us to understand that he had
implicitly condemned slavery in some general principles given, it was
most unlucky that He said any thing specific about it, which was not a
specific condemnation. For what He has specifically said about it must
lead His most honest servants to conclude that He did not intend to
leave it to be settled by general inference, that He exempted it from
that class of subjects. Had God not alluded to it by name, then we
should have been more free to apply general principles to settle its
moral character, as we do to the modern duel, not mentioned in
Scripture, because it is wholly a modern usage. But since God has
particularized so much about slaveholding, therefore, honesty,
humility, piety, require us to study his specific teachings in
preference to our supposed inferences, and even in opposition to them.
Here, then, we stand: Inspiration has once expressly authorized
slaveholding. Until a repeal is found equally express, it must be

§ 3. _Christ applauds a Slaveholder._

Our Lord has thrown at least a probable light upon his estimation of
slaveholders by his treatment of the Centurion of Capernaum, and his
slave. The story may be found in Matthew viii. 5 to 13, and Luke vii.
2 to 10. This person, though a Gentile and an officer of the Roman
army, was, according to the testimony of his Jewish neighbours, a
sincere convert to the religion of the Old Testament, and a truly good
man. He had a valued slave very sick, called in Matthew his "boy,"
(παις,) a common term for slave in New Testament times; but Luke calls
him again and again his "slave," (δουλος.) Hearing of Christ's
approach, he sent some of his Hebrew neighbours, (rulers of the
synagogue,) to beseech our Lord to apply his miraculous power for the
healing of his sick slave. A little later he appears himself, and
explains to Jesus, that it was not arrogance, but humility, which
prevented his meeting him at first, with his full confidence. For as
he, though a poor mortal, was enabled, by the authority of an officer
and master, to make others come and go at his bidding, so he knew that
Christ could yet more easily bid away his servant's disease. And
therefore he had not deemed it necessary to demand (what he was
unworthy to receive) an actual visit to his house. Hereupon Christ
declares with delight, that he "had not found so great faith, no, not
in Israel." This was high praise indeed, after the faith of a
Nathanael, a John, a James, a Mary Magdalene, a Martha, and a Lazarus.
Yet this much-applauded man was a slaveholder! But our Lord comes yet
nearer to the point in dispute. He speaks the word, and heals the
slave, thus restoring him to the master's possession and use. Had the
relation been wrong, here, now, was an excellent opportunity to set
things right, when he had before him a subject so docile, so humble,
so grateful and trustful. Should not Christ have said: "Honest
Centurion, you owe one thing more to your sick fellow-creature: his
liberty. You have humanely sought the preservation of his being, which
I have now granted; but it therefore becomes my duty to tell you, lest
silence in such a case should confirm a sinful error, that your
possession of him as a slave outrages the laws of his being. I cannot
become accomplice to wrong. The life which I have rescued, I claim for
liberty, for righteousness. I expect it of your faith and gratitude,
that instead of begrudging the surrender, you will thank me for
enlightening you as to your error." But no; Christ says nothing like
this, but goes his way and leaves the master and all the people
blinded by his extraordinary commendation of the slave-owner, and his
own act in restoring the slave to him, to blunder on in the belief
that slavery was all right. Certain we are, that had Dr. Channing, or
Dr. Wayland, or the most moderate Abolitionist, been the
miracle-worker, he would have made a very different use of the
occasion. However he might have hesitated as to immediate and
universal emancipation, he would have felt that the opportunity was
too fair to be lost, for setting up a good strong precedent against
slavery. Hence we feel sure that Christ and they are not agreed in the
moral estimate of the relation.

§ 4. _The Apostles separate Slavery and its Abuses._

We find the apostles everywhere treating slavery, in one particular,
as the Abolitionists refuse to treat it; that is to say,
distinguishing between the relation and its incidental abuses. Our
accusers now claim a license from the well-known logical rule, that it
is not fair to argue from the abuses of a thing to the thing itself.
Hence they insist that in estimating slavery, we must take it in the
concrete, as it is in these Southern States, with all that bad men or
bad legislation may at any time have attached to it. And if any
feature attaching to an aggravated case of oppression should be proved
wrong, then the very relation of master and slave must be held wrong
in itself. The bald and insolent sophistry of this claim has been
already alluded to. By this way it could be proved that marriage,
civil government and church government, as well as the parental
relation, are intrinsically immoral; for all have been and are abused,
not only by the illegal license of individual bad men, but by bad
legislation. Just as reasonably might a monk say to all Mohammedans,
that marriage is a sin, for the character of the institution must be
tried in the concrete, with all the accessaries which usually attend
it in Mohammedan lands, and most certainly with such as are
established by law; and among these is polygamy, which is sinful;
wherefore the marriage relation is wrong. And this preposterous logick
has been urged, although it has been proved that, in the vast majority
of cases in these States, masters did preserve the relation to their
slaves, without connecting with it a single one of the incidents,
whether allowed by law or not, which are indefensible in a moral view.
To say that the relation was sinful, in all these virtuous citizens,
because some of the occasional incidents were sinful, is just as
outrageous as to tell the Christian mother that her authority over her
child is a wicked tyranny, because some drunken wretch near by has
been guilty of child-murder. But our chief purpose here is to show,
that the apostles were never guilty of this absurdity; and that, on
the contrary, they separated between the relation and its abuses, just
as Christian masters now claim to do.

Let the reader note then, that the type of slavery prevailing where
the apostles preached, was, compared with ours, barbarous, cruel, and
wicked in many of its customary incidents, as established both by
usage and law. Slaves were regarded as having neither rights nor legal
remedies. No law protected their life itself against the master. There
was no recognized marriage for them, and no established parental or
filial relations. The chastity of the female slave was unprotected by
law against her master. And the temper of society sanctioned the not
infrequent use of these powers, in the ruthless separation of
families, inhuman punishments, hard labour, coarse food, maiming, and
even murder. Such were the iniquities which history assures us
connected themselves only too often with this relation in the
apostles' days, and were sanctioned by human laws.

But did they provoke these inspired law-givers to condemn the whole
institution? By no means. As we have seen, they nowhere pronounce the
relation of master and slave an inherent wrong. They everywhere act as
though it might be, and when not abused, was, perfectly innocent. And
that it might be innocent, they forbade to the members of the
Christian church all these abuses of it. Thus they separated between
the relation and its abuses. Doubtless, the standard which they had
in view, in commanding masters to "render to their servants those
things which are just and equal," _was the Mosaic law_. We have seen
how far this was in advance of the brutalities permitted by pagan
laws, and how it protected the life, limbs, and chastity of servants
among the Hebrews. This law, being founded in righteousness, was in
its general spirit the rule of the New Testament church also. When
this separation is made by the apostles between the relation and its
abuses, we find that the former includes, as its essentials, just
these elements: a right to the slave's labour for life, coupled with
the obligation on the master to use it with justice and clemency, and
to recompense the slave with a suitable maintenance; and on the
slave's part, the obligation to render this labour with all good
fidelity, and with a respectful obedience. Is not this just the
definition of slavery with which we set out?

§ 5. _Slavery no Essential Religious Evil._

The Apostle Paul teaches that the condition of a slave, although not
desirable for its own sake, has no essential bearing on the Christian
life and progress; and therefore, when speaking as a Christian
minister, and with exclusive reference to man's religious interests,
he treats it as unimportant. The proof of this statement may be found
in such passages as the following: 1 Cor. xii. 13, "For by one Spirit
we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free: and have all been made to drink into one
Spirit." Galat. iii. 28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is
neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female; for we are
all one in Jesus Christ." So, substantially, says Colos. iii. 11. But
the most decisive passage is 1 Cor. vii. 20, 21: "Let every man abide
in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a
servant? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it
rather." (Paul had just defined his meaning in the phrase "calling in
which he was called," as being circumcised or uncircumcised, bond or

The drift of all these passages is to teach that a man's reception by
Christ and by the Church does not depend in any manner on his class or
condition in secular life; because Christianity places all classes on
the same footing as to the things of the soul, and offers to all the
same salvation. When, therefore, men come to the throne of grace, the
baptismal water, the communion table, distinctions of class are left
behind them for the time. Hence, these distinctions are not essential,
as to the soul's salvation. The last passage quoted brings out the
latter truth more distinctly. Is any Christian, at his conversion, a
Jew? That circumstance is unimportant to his religious life. Was he a
Gentile? That also is unimportant. Was he a slave when converted to
Christ? Let not this concern him, for it cannot essentially affect his
religious welfare: the road to heaven is as open to him as to the
freeman. But if a convenient and lawful opportunity to acquire his
freedom, with the consent of his master, occurs, then freedom is to be
preferred. Such is the meaning found in the words by all sober
expositors, including those of countries where slavery does not exist.
Who can believe that the apostle would have taught thus, if slavery
had been an iniquitous relation?

But when he tells the Christian servant that freedom is to be
preferred by him to bondage, if it may be rightfully acquired, we must
remember the circumstances of the age, in order to do justice to his
meaning. The same apostle, speaking of marriage, says, "Art thou
loosed from a wife? seek not to be bound." Does he mean to set himself
against the holy estate of matrimony, and to contradict the divine
wisdom which said that "it is not good for man to be alone?" By no
means. He explains himself as advising thus "because of the present
distress." Exposure to persecution, banishment, death, made it a step
of questionable prudence at that time, to assume the responsibilities
of a husband and father. Now the laws and usages of the age as to
slaves were, as we have seen, harsh and oppressive. But worse than
this, many masters among the heathen were accustomed to require of
their slaves offices vile, and even guilty; and scruples of conscience
on the slave's part were treated as an absurdity or rebellion. In such
a state of society, although the relation of servitude was not in
itself adverse to a holy life, the prudent man would prefer to be
secured against the possibility of such a wrong, by securing his
liberty if he lawfully could. Moreover, society offered a grade, and a
career of advancement, to the "freedman" and his children. Master and
slave were of the same colour; and a generation or two would
obliterate by its unions the memory of the servile condition. But in
these States, where the servant's rights were so much better protected
by law and usage, and where the freed servant, being a black, finds
himself only deprived of his master's patronage, and still debarred as
much as ever from social equality by his colour and caste, the case
may be very different. Freedom to the Christian slave here, may prove
a loss.

Now who can believe that the Apostle Paul would have spoken thus of
slavery, if he had thought it an injurious and iniquitous relation, as
hostile to religion, as degrading to the victim's immortal nature, and
as converting him from a rational person into a chattel, a human
brute? He treats the condition of bondage, in its religious aspects,
precisely as he does accidents of birth, being born circumcised or
uncircumcised, a citizen of the Empire or a subject foreigner, male or
female. We have a practical evidence how incompatible such language is
with the Abolitionist first principle, in their very different
conduct. Do they ever say to the Christian slave: "Art thou called
being a servant? care not for it." We trow not. They glory in teaching
every slave they can to break away from his bondage, even at the cost
of robbery and murder. And Mr. Albert Barnes informs his readers, that
in his interviews with runaway slaves, he long ago ceased to instruct
them that it was their duty to return to their masters. It is evident,
therefore, that this abolitionist and St. Paul were not agreed.

§ 6. _Slaveholders fully Admitted to Church-membership._

We now proceed, in the sixth place, to a fact of still greater force:
that slaveholders were admitted by Christ to full communion and good
standing in the Christian church. Let us first establish the fact. In
Acts X. 5-17, we learn that the pious Cornelius had at least two
household servants, (οικετων, one of the Septuagint words for
domestic slave.) There is no hint of his liberating them; but the
Apostle Peter tells his brethren, Acts xi. 15-17, that he was obliged to
admit him by baptism to the church, by the act of God himself. Says he:
"Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us,"
(power of miracles,) "who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was
I, that I could withstand God?" So he baptized him and his servants
together. Again we find the Epistle to the Ephesians addressed in the
first verse, "to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful
brethren in Christ Jesus," with a blessing in the second verse
appropriate to none but God's children. When, therefore, in subsequent
parts of the Epistle, we find any persons addressed in detail with
apostolic precepts, we conclude of course that they are included in
"the saints and faithful." But all expositors say these terms mean
church members in good standing. If we find here any persons commanded
to any duty, we know that they are church members. This thought
confirms it, that St. Paul knew well that his office gave him no
jurisdiction over the external world. He had himself said to the
church authorities at Corinth, "What have I to do, to judge them that
are without?" 1 Cor. v. 12. Now, in the sixth chapter and ninth verse
of Ephesians, we find him, after commanding Christian husbands,
Christian wives, Christian parents, Christian children, and Christian
slaves, how to demean themselves, addressing Christian masters: "And
ye, masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening,
knowing that your Master also is in heaven," &c. Here, therefore, must
have been slaveholders in good standing in this favourite church,
which was organized under St. Paul's own eye. The Epistle to the
Colossians is also addressed "to the saints and faithful brethren in
Christ which are at Colosse:" and in ch. iv. 1, Christian slaveholders
are addressed: "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just
and equal," &c. There were, therefore, slaveholders in full communion
at Colosse. Again: Mr. Albert Barnes (whom we cite here for a
particular reason which will appear in the sequel) says correctly,
that Timothy received his first Epistle from St. Paul at Ephesus,
three or four years after that church was planted, having been left in
charge there. But in Ephes. vi. 2, St. Paul Writes: "And they" (i. e.
these Christian slaves) "that have believing masters, let them not
despise them because they are brethren, but rather do them service
because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit," (i.
e. of the blessings of redemption.) "These things teach and exhort."
There were still slaveholders then, in this church, three or four
years after its organization; and Timothy is commanded to have them
treated as brethren faithful and beloved, partakers of the favour of
God. The Epistle to the Ephesians, according to the same Mr. Barnes,
was written from four to seven years after the founding of the church,
and that to the Colossians from ten to thirteen. So that this
membership of slaveholders had continued for these periods.

But we have a stronger case still. St. Paul, during his imprisonment
at Rome, addresses Philemon of Colosse thus: "Paul, a prisoner of
Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto our dearly beloved and
fellow-labourer, (συνεργος) and to our beloved Apphia and
Archippus, our fellow-soldier, and to the church in thy house."
Philemon, then, was a church member; his house was a place of meeting
for the church; he was beloved of Paul; and last, he was himself a
Christian minister. (Such is the only meaning of συνεργος
here, according to the agreement of all expositors, of whom may be
mentioned Bloomfield, Doddridge, and Dr. Edward Robinson of New York.)
But Philemon was a slaveholder: the very purpose of this affectionate
epistle was to send back to him a runaway slave. Here, then, we have a
slaveholder, not only in the membership, but ministry of the Church.

Now when we consider how jealously the apostles guarded the purity of
the church, it will appear to be incredible that they should receive
slaveholders thus, if the relation were unrighteous. The terms of
admission (for adults) were the renunciation of all known sin, and a
credible repentance leading to reparation, where ever practicable.
Even the Baptist, who was unworthy to loose the shoe-latchet of
Christ, could say: "Bring forth therefore the fruits meet for
repentance." From all the prevalent and popular sins of Pagan society,
the church members were inexorably required to turn away; else
excommunication soon rid the church of their scandal. Thus, 1 Cor. v.
11, says: "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any
man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an
idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an
one no not to eat." Christ separated his church out of the world, to
secure sanctity and holy living. To suppose that he, or his apostles,
could avowedly admit and tolerate the membership of men who persisted
in criminal conduct, betrays the very purpose of the church, and
impugns the purity of the Saviour himself. And here, all the evasions
of Abolitionists are worthless; as when they say that Christ's mission
was not to meddle with secular relations, or to interfere in politics;
for the communion of the church was his own peculiar domain; and to
meddle with every form of sin there was precisely his mission.
Entrance to the church was voluntary. The terms of membership were
candidly published; the penalty for violating them was purely
spiritual, (mere exclusion from the society,) and interfered with no
man's political rights or franchises. So that within this spiritual
society, Christ had things his own way; there was no difficulty from
without that could possibly restrain his action; and if he tolerated
deliberate sin here, his own character is tarnished.

So cogent is this, that Mr. Albert Barnes, in his 'Notes' on 1 Tim.
vi. 2, seeks to evade it thus: "Nor is it fairly to be inferred from
this passage that he (Paul) meant to teach that they (masters) might
continue this (i. e. slaveholding) and be entitled to all the respect
and confidence due to the Christian name, or be regarded as
maintaining a good standing in the church. Whatever may be true on
these points, the passage before us only proves, that Paul considered
that a man who was a slaveholder _might_ be converted, and be spoken
of as a 'believer' or a Christian. Many have been converted in similar
circumstances, as many have in the practice of all other kinds of
iniquity. What was their duty _after_ their conversion was another

That is, as a murderer or adulterer _might_ become a subject of
Almighty grace, so might a slaveholder; but all three alike must cease
these crimes, when converted, in order to continue credible church
members! To him who has weighed the Scripture facts, this statement
will appear (as we shall find sundry others of this writer) so
obviously uncandid, that it is mere affectation to refrain from
calling it by its proper name, dishonesty. The simple refutation is in
the fact, by which Mr. Barnes has convicted himself, that the
slaveholders were still in the churches from three to thirteen years
after they were organized, with no hint from the apostle that they
were living in a criminal relation; that they were still beloved,
approved, yea applauded, by Paul; and that one of them was even
promoted to the ministry. The last case is particularly ruinous to Mr.
Barnes. For when did Philemon first acquire his slave Onesimus? Before
the former first joined the Church? Then Paul permitted him to remain
all these years a member, and promoted him to the ministry, with the
'sin of slavery' unforsaken! Was it after he joined the church? Then a
thing occurred which, on Mr. Barnes' theory, is impossible: because
buying a slave, being criminal, must have terminated his church

We thank God that it is true that some sinners of every class are
converted. But their conversion must be followed by a prompt
repentance and forsaking of their sins. Thus, it is said to the
Corinthians, 1 Cor. vi. 9 to 11: "Be not deceived; neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor
abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor
drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom
of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are
sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by
the Spirit of our God." According to the Abolitionists, another class
of criminals fully deserving to be ranked in the above black
list--slaveholders--enter the church under Paul's administration,
without being washed or sanctified. If slaveholding is wrong, it was
their duty on entering the Church to repent of, forsake and repair
this wrong; to liberate their slaves, and to repay them for past
exactions so far as possible. If this was their duty, it was the duty
of the apostle to teach it to them. But he has not taught it: he has
taken up the subject, and merely taught these masters that they would
discharge their whole duty by treating their slaves, as slaves, with
clemency and equity; and then he has continued them in the Church. It
remains true, therefore, that this allowed membership of slaveholders
in the apostolic churches, proves it no sin to own slaves.

§ 7. _Relative Duties of Masters and Slaves recognized._

Another fact equally decisive is, that the apostles frequently enjoin
on masters and slaves their relative duties, just as they do upon
husbands and wives, parents and children. And these duties they
enforce, both on master and servant, by Christian motives. Pursuing
the same method as under the last head, we will first establish the
fact, and then indicate the use to be made of it.

In Ephesians vi. 5 to 9, having addressed the other classes, the
Apostle Paul says: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your
masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness
of your heart as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers;
but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
with good-will doing service as to the Lord and not unto men; knowing
that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of
the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And ye masters, do the same
things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master
also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."

In Colos. iii. 22 to iv. 1, inclusive, almost the same precepts occur
in the same words, with small exceptions, and standing in the same
connexion with recognized relations. Let the reader compare for
himself. In 1 Tim. vi, 1, 2, we read: "Let as many servants as are
under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the
name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have
believing masters, let them not despise them because they are
brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and
beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort." So,
in the Epistle to Titus, having directed him how to instruct sundry
other classes in their relative duties, he says, ch. ii. 9 to 12:
"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please
them well in all things: not answering again; not purloining, but
showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our
Saviour in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation
hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and
worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this
present world," etc. So, the Apostle Peter, 1 Ep. ii. 18, 19:
"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the
good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if
a man for conscience towards God endure grief, suffering wrongfully."

The word for _servant_ in all these passages is δουλος, except the
last, where the Apostle Peter uses οικετια. But this is also proved
to mean here, domestic slaves proper, by the current Septuagint and New
Testament usage, by its relation to δεσποταις, (masters,) which
always means in this connexion the proprietor of a slave, and by the
reference in the subsequent verse to being buffeted for a fault; an
incident of the slave's condition, rather than of the hired freeman's.
Now the drift of all these precepts is too plain to be mistaken.
Slaves who are church-members are here instructed that it is their
religious duty to obey their masters, to treat them with deferential
respect, and with Christian love where the masters are Christian, and
to render the service due from a servant with fidelity and integrity,
without requiring to be watched or threatened. The motives urged for
all this are not carnal, but evangelical, a sense of duty, love for
Christ and his doctrine, the credit of which was implicated in their
Christian conduct here, and the expectation of a rich reward from
Jesus Christ hereafter.

But the apostles are not partial. In like manner they positively
enjoin on masters who are church-members, the faithful performance of
their reciprocal duties to their slaves. They must avoid a harsh and
minatory government: they must allot to the slave an equitable
maintenance and humane treatment, and in every respect must act
towards him so as to be able to meet that judgment, where master and
slave will stand as equals before the bar of Jesus Christ, at which
social rank has no weight. These precepts imply, of course, that both
master and servant are church-members; otherwise they would not have
been under the ecclesiastical authority of the apostles. They imply
with equal clearness, that the continuance of the relation was
contemplated as legitimate: for if this is terminated as sinful, the
duties of the relation are at an end, and such precepts are so much
breath thrown away. Does any sophist insist that the "rendering of
that which is just and equal" must not be less than emancipation? The
very words refute him; for then he would no longer be his servant, and
the master no longer master; so that he could owe no duties as such.
Further, the same passage proceeds to enjoin on the slave the duties
of a continued state of servitude. We repeat: all these passages
contemplate the continuance of the relation among church-members, as
legitimate. What would men say of the Christian minister who should
instruct the penitent gambler how to continue the stated practice of
his nefarious art in a Christian manner: and the penitent adulterer
how to continue his guilty connexion exemplarily? When such a
law-giver as Christ legislates concerning such a thing, there is but
one thing he can consistently enjoin: and that is its instant
termination. If slaveholding is a moral wrong, the chief guilt, of
course, attaches to the master, because on his side is the power. When
the apostles pass, then, from the duties of servants to those of
masters, it is unavoidable that they must declare the imperative duty
of emancipation. But they say not one word about it: they seek to
continue the relation rightfully. Therefore, either slaveholding is
not wrong, or the apostles were unfaithful. The explanation of these
passages, which we have given, is that of all respectable expositors,
especially the British, no friends of slavery.

The attempt is made to argue, that if this were correct, then the holy
apostles would be implicated in a connivance at the excesses and
barbarities which, the history of the times tells us, often attached
to the servile condition. The answer is: that they condemn and
prohibit all the wrongs, as criminal, and leave the relation itself as
lawful. No other defence can be set up for their treatment of the
conjugal and parental relations. Antiquarians tell us they also were
then deformed by great abuses. The wife and child were no better than
slaves. Over the latter the father had the power of life and death,
and of selling into bondage. From the former he divorced himself at
pleasure, and often visited her with corporal punishment. How do the
apostles treat these facts? They recognize the relation and forbid its
abuses. Shall any one say that because these abuses were current,
therefore they should have denounced the domestic relations, and
invented some new-fangled communism? Or shall it be said that, because
they have not done this, they wink at the wife-beatings, the
child-murders, and the other barbarities so common in Greek and
Oriental families? We trow not. Why then should these absurd
inferences be attached to their treatment of domestic slavery?

But the favourite evasion of these Scriptures is that of Dr. Wayland:
"The scope of these instructions to servants is only to teach
patience, fidelity, meekness, and charity, duties which Christians owe
to all men, even their enemies." In like strain, Mr. Albert Barnes, in
his 'Notes on Ephesians,' vi. 7, writes: "But let not a master think,
because a pious slave shows this spirit, that therefore the slave
feels the master is right in withholding his freedom; nor let him
suppose, because religion requires the slave to be submissive and
obedient, that therefore it approves of what the master does. It does
this no more than it sanctions the conduct of Mary and Nero, because
religion required the martyrs to be unresisting, and to allow
themselves to be led to the stake. A conscientious slave may find
happiness in submitting to God, and doing His will, just as a
conscientious martyr may. But this does not sanction the wrong, either
of the slave-owner or of the persecutor." It is difficult to restrain
the expression of natural indignation at so shameless a sophism as
this, which outrages at once the understanding of the reader and the
honour of Christ. It represents the pure and benign genius of
Christianity as walking abroad, and finding oppressor and oppressed
together, the oppressor avowedly within her reach, as well as his
victim, as a subject of her spiritual jurisdiction and instruction. To
the one she is represented as saying: "Oh, injured slave! glorify thy
meek and lowly Saviour under this unrighteous oppression, by imitating
His patience." Turning then to the other, who is present, and equally
subject to her authority, must she not, of course, give the
correlative injunction: "Oh, master! since thy yoke is wicked, cease
instantly to persecute Christ in the person of his follower." But no:
abolitionism represents her as saying nothing at all on this point;
but merely dismissing his side of the case with the injunction to
oppress equitably! The honest mind meets such a statement, not only
with the '_Incredulus sum_,' but with the '_Incredulus odi_,' of the
Latin satirist. And the suffering victim of oppression could not but
feel, while he recognized the duty of patience, that the counterpart
treatment of his oppressor by Christianity was a foul injustice. The
fact that Christ and apostles admitted these masters, with these
slaves, to the same communion, proves that the comment of Mr. Barnes
is preposterous. The fact that these Christian slaves are commanded to
treat these pretended oppressors as "brethren, faithful and beloved,
partakers of the benefit," proves it. Do the apostles, while enjoining
patience under the persecutions of a bloody Nero, admit that Nero,
with his brutality, to the same Christian communion with the peaceful
and holy victims, address him as "saint and faithful in Christ Jesus,"
and instruct him to burn and tear the Christians for their faith, in a
godly manner? The comment is disproved by Peter, when he says that
there were slave-owners who were "good and gentle," as well as others
who were "froward." Does truth or common sense distinguish "good and
gentle" persecutors? It is disproved farther, by the fact that the
apostles do not enjoin patience only, on these servants, as on
Christians forbearing under an injury; but they enjoin duty,
obedience, and fidelity also, as upon Christians paying reciprocal
obligations. It is not patience under ruthless force, which they
require, as a tribute to Christ's honour; but it is obedience due to
the master's legitimate authority, and that, a tribute due to the
master also. Servants must "show all good fidelity." This implies an
obligation to which to be faithful. Fidelity does not exist where
there is no debt. To unrighteous exaction we may be submissive; but
fidelity has no place. But the crowning refutation is, that St. Paul
sent back an escaped slave to his master Philemon, from Rome to
Colosse, hundreds of miles away. Will any one say that the duty of
Christian submission and patience under wrongs extends so far as to
require an injured Christian to go back several hundred miles, and
hunt up his oppressor in order to be maltreated again, after
Providence had enabled him to escape from his injuries? If Mr. Barnes
is correct, Onesimus should have claimed that he had now availed
himself of Christ's own command: "When they persecute you in one city,
flee ye into another;" and was rightfully concealed in the midst of
the vast metropolis. This was requiring him to "turn the other cheek"
with a vengeance: to waive the right of peaceable escape which his
Divine Lord had given him, and go all the way to Asia to be unjustly
smitten again! There is this farther absurdity: the pious servant is
required to stretch his forbearance to so Quixotic a degree, as to
waive, not only the claim of forcible self-defence, but that of legal
protection. (Oh that the holy Abolitionists had practised towards the
injured South a little tythe of this forbearance which their learned
scribe so consistently inculcates!) Is it Christ's requirement, that
the Christian under oppression must refuse the shield of legal
protection? Did Paul think thus, when, prosecuted at the bar of
Porcius Festus by unscrupulous enemies, he claimed the rights of his
citizenship with so admirable a union of forbearance and courage? Now,
if Messrs. Wayland and Barnes are right, these oppressed slaves
possessed a tribunal in common with their oppressors, to which they
could lawfully, peacefully, forgivingly, yet righteously summon them:
_the church court_. They could have demanded of these authorities,
with the strictest Christian propriety, to use all their spiritual
powers, so far as they went, to induce the masters, their
fellow-members, to give them that liberty which was their due. But, so
exceedingly forbearing are they, that they not only forego forcible
resistance, but the peaceable claim of their ecclesiastical right, for
fear they might be thought to act in an impatient manner! A highwayman
meets me in a wood, and begins to beat me and rob me: I have a weapon,
but I forbear to use violence against him. Meantime, the legal
authorities pass by, and I also forbear to claim their protection
under the law, lest it should scandalize the amiable highwayman, and
make him think less favourably of my religion!

It may be well, in concluding this point, to notice the plea that
Christians were required by the apostles to render not only patience
and submission to the Emperor Nero, but also allegiance and hearty
obedience. Yet none will say that Nero was a righteous ruler. We
reply, the case is precisely in our favour: for it proves the
proposition exactly parallel to ours, that civil government is a
lawful institution, notwithstanding it is abused. The government of
the Cæsars was providentially the _de facto_ one, and Nero, bad as he
was, its recognized head. As such, all his magisterial acts which were
not specifically contrary to God's law, were legitimate, and were the
proper objects of the civic obedience of the Christian subject.
Otherwise, the apostles would never have exacted it for him. The
instance does imply, therefore, that civil government is a lawful
relation; and this is precisely what we infer from the parallel
instances of obedience enjoined on servants to masters. If
Abolitionists are not willing to argue that the relation of ruler and
subject is sin _per se_, notwithstanding the obedience required to
Nero, they cannot argue from their proposed analogy between Nero's
cruelties and slaveholding. But an equally conclusive reply is, that
apostles never admitted a Nero, with his barbarities in full sway, to
the same communion-table with his patient Christian victims,
commanding the latter to forbear as towards a wrongdoer, and yet
failing to give him the correlative command, to cease the wrong-doing.

§ 8. _Philemon and Onesimus._

The Epistle to Philemon is peculiarly instructive and convincing as to
the moral character of slavery. This Abolitionists betray, by the
distressing wrigglings and contortions of logic, to which they resort,
in the vain attempt to evade its inferences. The whole Epistle need
not be recited. The apostle, after saluting Philemon as a brother and
fellow-minister, and commending him in terms of peculiar beauty,
warmth, and affection, for his eminent piety, and his hospitalities
and charities to Christians, proceeds thus, v. 8 to 19: "Though I
might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
yet, for love's sake, I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul
the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for
my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds; which in time past
was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me; whom I
have sent again: thou, therefore, receive him, that is, mine own
bowels: Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might
have ministered unto me in the bonds of the Gospel. But without thy
mind would I do nothing: that thy benefit should not be as it were of
necessity, but willingly. For perhaps he therefore departed for a
season, that thou shouldst receive him forever; not now as a servant,
but above a servant, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much
more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord. If thou count me
therefore, a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee,
or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it
with mine own hand, I will repay it," &c. That it may not be supposed
we give an explanation of these words warped to suit our own views, we
will copy the very words of the judicious Dr. Thomas Scott, one of the
most fair and reasonable of expositors, and a declared enemy of
slavery. In his introduction to the Epistle, he says: "Philemon seems
to have been a Christian of some eminence, residing at Colosse, (Col.
iv. 9, or 17,) who had been converted under St. Paul's ministry, (19,)
perhaps during his abode at Ephesus, (Acts xix. 10.) When the apostle
was imprisoned at Rome, Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, having, as it
is generally thought, been guilty of some dishonesty, left his master
and fled to that city, though at the distance of several hundred
miles. When he came thither, curiosity or some such motive induced him
to attend on St. Paul's ministry, which it pleased God to bless for
his conversion. After he had given satisfactory proof of a real
change, and manifested an excellent disposition, by suitable
behaviour, which had greatly endeared him to Paul, he judged it proper
to send him back to his master, to whom he wrote this epistle, that he
might procure Onesimus a more favourable reception than he could
otherwise have expected." Notes on v. 12 to 16: "Onesimus was
Philemon's legal property, and St. Paul had required, and prevailed
with him, to return to him, having made sufficient trial of his
sincerity: and he requested Philemon to receive him with the same
kindness as he would the aged apostle's own son according to the
flesh, being equally dear to him, as his spiritual child. He would
gladly have kept him at Rome, to minister to him in his confinement,
which Onesimus would willingly have done in the bonds of the Gospel,
being attached to him from Christian love and gratitude; and as he
knew that Philemon would gladly have done him any service in person,
if he had been at Rome, so he would have considered Onesimus as
ministering to him in his master's stead. But he would not do any
thing of this kind without his consent, lest he should seem to extort
the benefit, and Philemon should appear to act from necessity, rather
than from a willing mind. And though he had hopes of deriving benefit
from Onesimus' faithful service, at some future period, by Philemon's
free consent, yet he was not sure that this was the Lord's purpose
concerning him; for perhaps he permitted him to leave his master for
a season in so improper a manner, in order that, being converted, he
might be received on his return with such affection, and might abide
with Philemon with such faithfulness and diligence, that they should
choose to live together the rest of their lives as fellow-heirs of
eternal felicity. In this case he knew that Philemon would no longer
consider Onesimus merely as a slave, but view him as 'above a slave,
even a brother beloved.' This he was become to Paul in an especial
manner, who had before been entirely a stranger to him; how much more,
then, might it be supposed that he would be endeared to Philemon, when
he became well acquainted with his excellency! seeing he would be near
to him both in the flesh as one of his domestics, and in the Lord, as
one with him in Christ by faith."

Thus far Dr. Scott. These are substantially the views given of this
epistle by Calvin, Whitby, Henry, Doddridge, McKnight, Hodge, and
others: none of whom were slaveholders, or friends of the institution.
Now, our purpose is not to vindicate the intrinsic innocence of
slaveholding here, by dwelling again upon the just arguments, which
have been already stated: that a slaveholder here receives from an
inspired apostle the highest Christian commendations; and that he is
addressed as a brother minister in the church. The Epistle presents
still more emphatic evidence: First, if the relation is unrighteous,
and the master's authority unfounded, then the only ground upon which
the duty of the slave's submission rests, is that of Christian
forbearance. When the wicked bonds were once happily evaded, and the
oppressed person in safety, that ground of obligation was wholly at
an end. A captive has been unlawfully detained by a gang of
highwaymen, for the purpose of exacting ransom. He has given them the
slip, and is secure. Is there any obligation to go back, because,
while there, there was an obligation to refrain from useless violence
and bloodshed? Let us even suppose that the means of the captive's
escape were in some point immoral: does this fact make it his duty to
go back and submit himself to the freebooters? By no means. To God he
ought to repent of whatever was immoral in the manner of his escape:
but he is bound to make no reparation for it to the robbers, because
they had no right to detain him at all. But we see St. Paul here
enjoining on the newly-awakened conscience of Onesimus, the duty of
returning to his master. That the apostle sent him, and that he went
back under a sense of moral obligation, is proved by two facts: St.
Paul had a strong desire to retain him, being greatly in need of an
affectionate domestic, in his infirm, aged, and imprisoned condition,
but he felt that he must not. (Verse 13.) Paul had no power, except
moral power, to make Onesimus go back, being himself a helpless
captive; so that the latter must have been carried back by a sense of
duty. Hence this instance proves, beyond a cavil, that the relation of
master and servant was moral; it lies above the level of all those
quibbles which we have been compelled to rebut.

Second: the transaction clearly implies a moral propriety or ownership
in Onesimus' labour, as pertaining to Philemon; of which the latter
could not be rightfully deprived without his consent. For proof, see
the fact that Paul says, (v. 14,) "Without thy mind I would do
nothing, that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but
willingly." The attendance of Onesimus on Paul, _i. e._, the bestowal
of his labour, would have been, if given, Philemon's "benefit" to
Paul. If, as Abolitionists say, Onesimus belonged to himself, how
could it be Philemon's benefit, or benefaction? See also the fact that
St. Paul (v. 18) explicitly recognizes the justice of Philemon's claim
to indemnity for Onesimus' bad conduct. In order to smoothe the way
for his pardon by his justly offended master, he proposes to pay this
himself, whatever it may be, and (v. 19) gives the force of a
pecuniary bond to his promise, by writing and signing it with his own
hand: (the rest of the Epistle, as the most of Paul's, being evidently
written by an amanuensis.) Some expositors, indeed, explain the 18th
verse by supposing that Onesimus, when running away, had stolen
something from Philemon. There is not a particle of evidence for this
in the narrative; and it is a most unsafe method of explaining the
Scriptures, to do it by bringing in gratuitous surmises. But be this
as it may, Paul's language covers both suppositions, of debt for his
delinquent services, and retention of his master's property: ("If he
hath wronged thee, or oweth thee any thing.") Is it objected that St.
Paul suggests, v. 19th, that gratitude ought to cause Philemon to
forego the exaction of such a vicarious payment from him? The reply
is, that the very nature of this plea implies most strongly the legal
completeness of Philemon's title to the compensation. A poor man is
sued for a debt. His only answer is, that he thinks the suitor ought
to be _generous_ enough to remit this debt to him, inasmuch as he had
once saved that suitor's life. Surely this plea is itself an admission
that the debt is legal; and if the claimant chooses to be ungracious
enough to press it under the circumstances, it must be paid. Moreover,
Philemon's debt of gratitude was, thus far, to Paul, and not to
Onesimus. Paul's stepping under the burden of his debt was an act of
voluntary generosity only. The apostle makes no claim of any
obligation, even of courtesy, from Philemon to his delinquent slave.

But if Onesimus' labour was Philemon's property, of which he could not
be rightfully deprived without his own consent, and for the loss of
which he was entitled to an equivalent, slaveholding cannot be in
itself unlawful. We have here a recognition of the very essence of the

This case is so fatal to the theory of all Abolitionists who admit the
canonical authority of the Epistle, that desperate efforts are made to
pervert its meaning. Mr. Albert Barnes, Coryphæus of these expository
sophists, says in one of his comments, that it does not appear from
the Epistle that Paul really sent Onesimus back to his master at all!
"There is not the slightest evidence that he _compelled_, or even
urged him to go. The language is just such as would have been used on
the supposition, either that he _suggested_ to him to go and bear a
letter to Colosse, or that Onesimus desired to go, and that Paul sent
him agreeably to his request. Compare Philip. ii. 25, Col. iv. 7, 8.
But Epaphroditus and Tychicus were not sent against their own will;
nor is there any more reason to think that Onesimus was." Mr. Barnes
then adds the notable reason, that Paul had no sheriff or constable
to send Onesimus by; so that if he did not choose to return, he could
not compel him. But the stubborn fact is, that Onesimus went; and it
must be accounted for. This author's account is, that he probably
found he had not mended his condition by running away, and so, desired
to return to regain his comfortable home; whereupon Paul availed
himself of the occasion to write to his friend. This solution is not
particularly honourable to the religious character of either party: we
shall neither insult the apostle by adopting, nor the understanding of
readers by refuting it. As to Paul's 'sending' of Epaphroditus to
Phillippi, and Tychicus to Colosse, we note that the word is not the
same with the one used of Onesimus. This is ανεπεμψα; and it is
expressly defined by Robinson's Lexicon as an authoritative sending
up, or remitting to a higher tribunal, such as the sending of Paul by
Festus to Cæsar, Acts xxv. 21. Further, Paul did 'send' these two
brethren, not indeed as slaves are sent, but by his apostolic
authority, to which they doubtless cheerfully responded. Paul had no
physical force by which to drive Onesimus all the way from Rome to
Colosse; but there is such a thing as moral power, and the fact that
the conscience of the sent freely seconds the righteous authority of
the sender, surely does not prove this authority to be naught. How
perverse must he be, who can see in the words, "whom I (Paul) have
sent," nothing but that Onesimus sent himself! Is not this the state
of facts, plain to any honest mind: that Paul instructed him it was
his duty to return to his lawful master, and as his spiritual teacher
told him to do so? And this injunction the converted Onesimus
cheerfully obeyed.

Mr. Barnes also says, it is not proved that Onesimus was a literal
slave at all; he may have been a hired servant or apprentice. Here, as
will appear more fully, he expressly contradicts himself. But as to
the assumption, we reply, that Onesimus is called, v. 16, δουλος, a
name never given to the hired servant: that he is sent back to his
rightful owner, a thing which necessarily implies his slavery: that
St. Paul intercedes for him; and that he recognizes his master's
property in his labour. The whole company of expositors, ancient and
modern, until Mr. Barnes, have declared that Onesimus was Philemon's

But others again, following the same notable guide, learn that he was
manumitted by the letter of Paul; so that they find here, not a
justification of the slaveholder, but an implied rebuke of slavery.
Thus contradictory is error! Just now he was not a slave at all: now
he is a slave manumitted; and that by one who had no power to do it.
The ground claimed for the latter position is, v. 16, "Not now as a
servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved." Now, the obvious
sense of these words is, that Philemon should now receive Onesimus
back, not as a slave only, but as both a slave and Christian brother.
For proof: By what law could Paul manumit another man's servant? And
he had admitted Philemon's rightful authority, v. 10, by saying: "I
beseech thee for my son Onesimus." Why beseech, if he might have
commanded? If Paul had a right to emancipate, why did he send him back
at all, when every other motive prompted to keep him? He again
disclaims such right, v. 14, "But without thy mind I would do
nothing." Still another proof appears, v. 18, 19, where St. Paul
fully recognizes Onesimus' continued servitude by undertaking to pay
for his delinquencies. The Epistle then adds, that Philemon was "to
receive him back forever," v. 15, _i. e._, for life. The residence of
a free denizen or dependent could not be defined as for life; because
he would go away whenever he pleased. And last, St. Paul expressly
declares that this life-long relation was to be political as well as
spiritual, both that of a servant and fellow-Christian--"How much more
(beloved) now unto thee both in the flesh and in the Lord."

Such are the wretched quibblings by which abolitionism seeks to
pervert the plain meaning of God's Word, as clearly apprehended by the
great current of Christian expositors, both ancient and modern, Greek,
Latin, and English. We almost feel that an apology is due to the
enlightened reader, for detaining him with the formal exposure of
these miserable follies; but our promise was to display the thorough
emptiness of our opponents.

§ 8. _St. Paul reprobates Abolitionists._

One passage of the New Testament remains to be noticed. It is that
which commands the exclusion of Abolitionist teachers from church
communion, 1 Tim. vi. 3-5. St. Paul had just enjoined on this young
minister the giving of proper moral instruction to servants. The
pulpit was to teach them the duty of subordination to masters, as to
rightful authority; and if those masters were also Christians, then
the obligation was only the stronger. See v. 1, 2. The apostle then
proceeds, v. 3, "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to
wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the
doctrine which is according to godliness," (the opposite teaching of
abolitionism contradicts Christ's own word,) "he is proud, knowing
nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof
cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of
men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain
is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."

The more carefully these words of the Holy Ghost are considered, the
more exceedingly remarkable will they appear. Doubtless, every reader
of previous ages has felt a slight trace of wonder, that the apostle
should have left on record a rebuke of such particularity, sternness,
and emphasis, when there appeared nothing in the opinions or abuses of
the Christian world, of sufficient importance quite to justify it. We
have no evidence that, either in the primitive or mediæval church, any
marked disposition prevailed to assail the rights of masters over
their slaves, to such extent as to threaten the disorganization of
civil society or the dishonouring of Christianity thereby. This
denunciation of the apostle seems to have been sufficient to give the
_quietus_ to the spirit of abolition, so long as any reverence for
inspiration remained. Even while the policy of the Roman Church and
clergy was steadily directed to the extinction of feudal slavery in
Western Europe, it does not appear that the doctors of that church
assailed the master's rights or preached insubordination to the
slaves. Why then did St. Paul judge it necessary to leave on record so
startling a denunciation? The question is answered by the events of
our age: these words were written for us on whom these ends of the
world have come. And we have here a striking proof that his pen was
guided by omniscient foreknowledge. The God who told Paul what to
write, foresaw that though the primitive church stood in comparatively
slight need of such admonitions, the century would come, after the
lapse of eighteen ages, when the church would be invaded and defiled
by the deadly spirit of modern abolitionism, a spirit perverse, blind,
divisive and disorganizing, which would become the giant scourge and
opprobrium of Christianity. Therefore has this stern warning been
recorded here, and left standing until events should make men
understand both its wisdom and the lineaments of the monster which it
foreshadowed. The learned Calvin, and the amiable Henry, in explaining
the Epistle to Philemon, allude to the question: Why should this short
letter, which directly touches no publick concernment of the churches,
written on a personal topick from Paul to his friend, be preserved
among the canonical Scriptures by God's Spirit and providence? They
answer, that it was placed there because, although short and of
private concernment, it teaches us many pleasing lessons of Paul's
condescension and courtesy, and above all, of the adaptation of
Christianity to visit, purify, and elevate the lowest and vilest of
the ranks of men. This is true, so far as it goes; but another part of
God's purpose is now developed. He left this little Epistle among his
authoritative words, because he foresaw that the day would come when
the Church would need just the instructions against insubordination,
which are here presented in a concrete case.

Those who have seen and suffered by modern abolitionism best know,
how astonishingly true is the picture here drawn of it by the Divine
limner. God here declares that the principles of the lawfulness of
slavery, the rights of masters, and the duty of obedience in slaves,
are wholesome, and according to godliness. In addition, the sacred
authority of our Lord Jesus Christ is claimed for them. The
Abolitionist who assails these teachings is described as a man proud,
yet ignorant. This combined arrogance and vindictiveness, with
ignorance of the true facts and merits of the case upon which they
presume to dictate, are proverbial in modern abolitionism, according
to the testimony of neutral parties, and even of some of their own
clique. With a stupid superciliousness, equally ludicrous and
offensive, they revile men wiser and better than themselves, and pass
an oracular verdict upon questions of which they know nothing. They
are doting about questions and strifes of words: that is, as the
original word means, their minds are morbid with logomachies, and idle
debates, and corrupted by prejudice and the spirit of disputation.
("Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds.") Those who have read
thus far in this discussion have seen, in the prejudiced sophisms
which we have been compelled to quote for refutation, sufficient
evidence of the perverse, erroneous, and disputatious spirit of
abolitionism. Their dogmas are not supported by the testimony of
Scripture, nor the lights of practical experience, nor sound political
philosophy; but by vain and Utopian theories of human rights, and
philosophy falsely so called. The fruit of their discussions has been
naught but "envy, strife, railings, and evil surmisings." The fact
betrays itself in a thousand ways, that envy of the slaveholder and
his supposed advantages and power, is the root of much of their zeal.
Hence the epithets of "aristocrat," "lordly slaveholder," "Southern
nabob," as ridiculously false to fact as envious, which form so large
a part of the staple of their abuse. They hate us because they suppose
we possessed a privilege of which they were deprived. The angry and
divisive tendencies of abolitionism have manifested themselves but too
familiarly in the rending of churches, in the awakening of fierce
contention wherever it has appeared, in the destruction of the union
both of law and of love between the American States, and in a gigantic
war which has filled a continent with woe and crime. And the remaining
trait of "railings" is verified by the fact that these professed
friends of humanity have exhausted the most inhuman stores of
vituperation upon a class of Christian people whom none can know
without loving for their purity and benevolence. There is no sect that
knows how to scold so virulently as the Abolitionists. The apostle
adds that they are "men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth."
Now it is notoriously the fact that this sect, although claiming to be
the special advocates of righteousness, have ever prosecuted their
ends by unprincipled and false means. Their party action has been
hypocritical and unscrupulous. Their main weapons have been slanders.
And the tendency to mendacity has since been illustrated on a scale so
grand in the recent War, by falsifications of fact, diplomatic
treacheries, and wholesale breaches of covenant, that the accuracy of
the apostle's description becomes startling. It would seem that when
once a man is swayed by this spirit fully, he is under a fatality to
speak untruth, whether he be prime-minister, historian, official of
government, or divine.

The last trait of abolitionism which the apostle draws, is one which,
at the first glance, strikes the observer with surprise, but which is
fully verified by the reality. This is the intensely mercenary spirit
of the sect. "Supposing that gain is godliness." Without due
reflection, one would suppose that a party animated as much as this is
by an intense and sincere fanaticism, and that, a fanaticism of
pretended humanity, whatever violences it might commit, would at least
be free from the vice of a calculated avarice. But the suppleness of
fanaticism in affiliating with every other vice, is not duly
appreciated; it is a fact, true, if unexpected, that genuine
fanaticism can tolerate any thing except the peculiar object of its
hate, and that it is compatible with supreme selfishness. For what is
fanaticism but selfishness acting under the forms of pride with its
offspring censoriousness, the lust of power, envy, and dogmatism?
Modern events verify the apostle's picture: the religion and
humanitarianism of abolition are only a covert avarice. The people of
the American States are notorious for their worship of wealth, just in
proportion as they are swayed by the anti-slavery furor. No party has
ever appeared on the stage of Federal politics, whose ends were so
avowedly selfish and mercenary. The wrongs of the slave have been the
pretext, sectional and personal aggrandizement the true ends. That
party, under the phase of "free-soil," has thrown off the mask, and
avowed the declaration that the true meaning of their opposition to
the rights of Southern masters in the territories is, that "the soil
of America belongs to the white man;" and the poor negro, though now a
native of it, is begrudged a home and a living upon it. There is no
class of people in America which has expended so little of its money
for the actual advantage of the black race, as the abolitionists.
Usually, the history of the case has been, that they would give of
their money, neither to ransom a slave from bondage, nor to aid the
cause of African colonization, nor to assist a distressed free negro
of their own section: the only use to which they can be induced to
apply it is the printing of vituperations against the masters. It was
the testimony of the fugitive slaves themselves, that the philanthropy
of the Abolitionists extended only to seducing them from their homes;
thenceforth their whole thought was to make gain of their godliness.
The crowning evidence, however, of the mercenary spirit of this party
is in this fact, that their advent to power in the Federal government
of the United States has been, according to the testimony of their
mutual recriminations, the epoch of an unprecedented reign of
peculation and official corruption. Such is the picture of
abolitionism as drawn by the Apostle Paul, and verified in America in
our day. It is our privilege and our wisdom to obey his closing
injunction, "From such withdraw thyself," that we may not become
partakers of their sins. From this stern and just denunciation, it may
be learned how utterly the New Testament is opposed to the whole
doctrine and spirit of the party.

We have now passed in review every passage in the New Testament, in
which domestic slavery is directly treated, and we have seen that
they every one imply the innocency of the institution. We have
discussed many of the evasions by which Abolitionists attempt to
escape these testimonies, and have found them utterly unsound. There
remain two pleas, of more general application to the New Testament
argument, to which the ablest of their advocates seem to attach prime
importance. To these we will now attend.

§ 9. _The Golden Rule Compatible with Slavery._

One of these general objections to our New Testament argument is the
following. They say, Christ could not have intended to authorize
slavery, because the tenour and spirit of His moral teachings are
opposed to it. The temper He currently enjoins is one of fraternity,
equality, love, and disinterestedness. But holding a fellow-being in
bondage is inconsistent with all these. Especially is the great
"Golden Rule" incompatible with slavery. This enjoins us to do unto
our neighbour as we would that he should do unto us. Now, as no
slaveholder would like to be himself enslaved, this is a clear proof
that we should not hold others in slavery. Hence, the interpretations
which seem to find authority for slavery in certain passages of the
New Testament, must be erroneous, and we are entitled to reject them
without examination. Abolitionists usually advance this with a
disdainful confidence, as though he who does not admit its justice
were profoundly stupid. But it is exceedingly easy to show that it is
a bald instance of _petitio principii_, and it is founded on a
preposterous interpretation of the Golden Rule, which every sensible
Sabbath-school boy knows how to explode. Its whole plausibility rests
on the _à priori_ assumption of prejudice, that slaveholding cannot
but be wicked, and on a determination not to see it otherwise. Our
refutation, which is demonstrative, reveals the Socinian origin and
Rationalistic character of these opinions. Socinianism harbours loose
views of the authority of inspiration, and especially of that of the
Old Testament. It scruples not to declare, that these venerable
documents contain many admixtures of human error, and wherever it
finds in them any thing it does not like, it boldly rejects and
repudiates it. Moreover, Socinianism having denied the divinity of our
Redeemer Christ, finds itself compelled to attempt an answer to the
hard question: Wherein, then, is He greater than Moses, David, or
Isaiah? And in what respect does He fulfil those transcendent
representations which the Scriptures correctly give of His superiority
of person and mission? The answer which orthodoxy makes is plain and
good: That it is because He is God as well as man, while they were but
sinful men, redeemed and inspired; and that His mission is to
regenerate and atone, while theirs was only to teach. But the answer
which Socinianism has devised is in part this: Christ was commissioned
to reform the moral system of the Old Testament, and to teach a new
law of far superior beauty, purity, and benevolence. Thus, they have a
corrupt polemical motive to misrepresent and degrade the Old Testament
law, in order to make a _Nodus vindice dignus_, for their imaginary
Christ, who does nothing but teach. To effect this, they seize on all
such passages as those in the "Sermon on the Mount," which refute
Pharisaic glosses, and evolve the true law of love. This is the mint
from which abolitionists have borrowed their objections against our
Old Testament defence of slaveholding; such as this, that however it
may have been allowed to the Hebrews, by their older and ruder law,
"because of the hardness of their hearts," it is condemned by the new
law of love, taught by Jesus. Now, our refutation (and it is perfect)
is, that this law of love was just as fully announced by slaveholding
Moses as it is by Jesus; in terms just as full of sweetness,
benevolence, and universal fraternity. Yea more, the very words of
Jesus cited by them and their Socinian allies, as the most striking
instances of the superior mildness and love of His teachings, are in
most cases quoted from Moses himself! The authority by which Christ
enforced them upon His Jewish auditors was Moses' own! Such is the
shameful ignorance of these fanatics concerning the real contents of
that Old Testament which they depreciate. Thus, Christ's epitome of
the whole law into the two commands to love God and our neighbour, is
_avowedly quoted_ from "the law," _i. e._, the Pentateuch. See Matthew
xxii. 36 to 39, and Mark xii. 28 to 33. It may be found in Deut. vi. 4
and 5, and in Levit. xix. 18. Even the scribe of Mark, xii. 32,
Pharisee as he was, understood better than these modern Pharisees of
abolitionism, that Christ's ethics were but a reproduction of Moses'.
He avows the correctness of Christ's rendering of the Pentateuch law,
and very intelligently adduces additional evidence of it by evident
allusion to 1 Samuel xv. 22, and Hosea vi. 6. Again: does Christ
inculcate forgiveness of injuries, benefactions towards enemies, and
the embracing of aliens in our philanthropy as well as kindred and
fellow-citizens? He does but cite them to the authority of Moses in
Levit. xix. 18, Exod. xxiii. 4, 5, Levit. xxiv. 22, Exod. xxii. 21,
xxxiii. 9. For here their great prophet himself had taught them that
revenge must be left to God, that an embarrassed or distressed enemy
must be kindly assisted, and that the alien must be treated in all
humane respects as a fellow-citizen, under a lively and sympathetic
sense of their own sufferings when they were oppressed aliens in
Egypt. The Golden Rule, as stated by our Saviour, is but a practical
application of the Mosaic precept "to love our neighbours as
ourselves," borrowed from Moses. In Matt. vii. 12, Christ, after
giving the Golden Rule, adds, "for this is the law and the prophets."
That is, the Golden Rule is the summary of the morality of the
Pentateuch and Old Testament prophets. We repeat that there is not one
trait of love, of benevolence, of sweet expansive fraternity, of
amiable equity, contained in any of Christ's precepts or parables,
that is not also found in the Laws of Moses. Their moral teachings are
absolutely at one, in principle; and so they must be, if both are from
the unchangeable God. To say otherwise is a denial of inspiration; it
is infidelity; and indeed abolitionism is infidelity. Our reply, then,
is, _that Christ's giving the law of love cannot be inconsistent with
his authorizing slaveholding; because Moses gave the same law of love,
and yet indisputably authorized slaveholding_. We defy all the
sophisms of the whole crew of the perverse and destitute of the truth,
to obscure, much less to rebut this answer, without denying the
inspiration and even the common truthfulness of Moses. But that they
will not stickle to do: for what do they care for Moses, or Christ
either, in comparison of their fanatical idol?

But a more special word should be devoted to the argument from the
Golden Rule. The sophism is so bald, and the clear evolution of it has
been given so often, even in the humblest manuals of ethics prepared
for school-boys, that it is tiresome to repeat its exposure. But as
leading Abolitionists continue to advance the oft-torn and tattered
folly, the friends of truth must continue to tear it to shreds. The
whole reasoning of the Abolitionists proceeds on the absurd idea, that
any caprice or vain desire we might entertain towards our fellow-man,
if we were in his place, and he in ours, must be the rule of our
conduct towards him, whether the desire would be in itself right or
not. This absurdity has been illustrated by a thousand instances. On
this rule, a parent who, were he a child again, would be wayward and
self-indulgent, commits a clear sin in restraining or punishing the
waywardness of his child, for this is doing the opposite of what he
would wish were he again the child. Judge and sheriff commit a
criminal murder in condemning and executing the most atrocious felon;
for were they on the gallows themselves, the overmastering love of
life would very surely prompt them to desire release. In a word,
whatever ill-regulated desire we are conscious of having, or of being
likely to have, in reversed circumstances, that desire we are bound to
make the rule of our action in granting the parallel caprice of any
other man, be he bore, beggar, highwayman, or what not. On this
understanding, the Golden Rule would become any thing but golden; it
would be a rule of iniquity; for instead of making impartial equity
our regulating principle, it would make the accidents of man's
criminal caprice the law of his acts. It would become every man's duty
to enable all other men to do whatever his own sinful heart, _mutatis
mutandis_, might prompt.

The absurdity of the abolitionist argument may be shown, again, by
"carrying the war into Africa." We prove from it, by a process
precisely as logical as theirs, that emancipation is a sin. Surely the
principle of the Golden Rule binds the slave just as much as the
master. If the desire which one would feel (_mutatis mutandis_) must
govern each man's conduct, then the slave may be very sure that, were
he the master, he would naturally desire to retain the services of the
slaves who were his lawful property. Therefore, according to this
abolition rule, he is morally bound to decline his own liberty;
_i. e._, to act towards his master as he, were he the master, would
desire his slave to act.

It is clear, then, that our Saviour, by His Golden Rule, never
intended to establish so absurd a law. The rule of our conduct to our
neighbour is not any desire which we might have, were we to change
places; but it is _that desire which we should, in that case, be
morally entitled to have_. To whatsoever treatment we should
conscientiously think ourselves morally entitled, were we slaves
instead of masters, all that treatment we as masters are morally bound
to give our servants, so far as ability and a just regard for other
duties enables us. Whether that treatment should include emancipation,
depends on another question, whether the desire which we, if slaves,
should very naturally feel to be emancipated, is a righteous desire
or not; or, in other words, whether the obligation to service is
rightful. Hence, before the Golden Rule can be cited as enjoining
emancipation, it must first be settled whether the master's title is
unrighteous. The Apostle Paul gives precisely the true application of
this rule when he says: "Masters, give unto your servants that which
is just and equal." And this means, not emancipation from servitude,
but good treatment as servants; which is proven by the fact that the
precept contemplates the relation of masters and servants as still
subsisting. All this is so clear, that it would be an insult to the
intelligence of the reader to tarry longer upon the sophism. We only
add, that the obvious meaning above put upon the Golden Rule is that
given to it by all sensible expositors, such as Whitby, Scott, Henry,
before it received an application to this controversy. Yet, though
this obvious answer has been a hundred times offered, abolitionists
still obtrude the miserable cheat, in speeches, in pamphlets, in
tracts, as though it were the all-sufficient demonstration of the
anti-Christian character of slavery. They will doubtless continue a
hundred times more to offer it, to gull none, however, except the
wilfully blind.

§ 10. _Was Christ Afraid to Condemn Slavery?_

The other general evasion of the New Testament argument for the
lawfulness of slavery, is to say: That Jesus Christ and his apostles
did not indeed explicitly condemn slavery; but that they forbore from
doing so for prudential reasons. They saw, say these abolitionists,
that it was a sin universally prevalent, entwined with the whole
fabrick of human society, and sustained by a tremendous weight of
sinful prejudice and self-interest. To denounce it categorically would
have been to plunge the infant church, at its feeble beginning, into
all the oppositions, slanders, and strifes of a great social
revolution, thus jeopardizing all its usefulness to the souls of men.
For this reason, Christ and his apostles wisely refrained from direct
attack, and contented themselves with spreading through the world
principles of love and equity, before which slavery would surely melt
away in due time. So say all the abolitionists. So says Dr. Wayland,
in substance, not only in his discussion of slavery, but in his more
responsible and deliberate work, the "Moral Science." In that essay,
Bk. II., Pt. II., Chap. I., § 1, he says: "The Gospel was designed,
not for one race, or for one time, but for all races, 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 lodgement 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 that, under these
circumstances, 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."

Such is the Jesuitry which is gravely charged, by a professed minister
of the Christian religion, and prominent instructor of youth, upon our
Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles! Such is the cowardly prudence
which it imputes to men who, every one, died martyrs for their moral
courage and unvarying fidelity to truth. And thus is the divine origin
and agency by which, the Bible declares, and by which alone
Christianity is to succeed in a hostile world, quietly left out of
view; and American youth are taught to apprehend it as a creed which
has no Divine king ruling the universe for its propagation, no
Almighty providence engaged for its protection, no Holy Ghost working
irresistibly in the hearts of such as God shall call, to subdue their
enmity to the obedience of Christ: but Christianity is merely a human
system of moral reform, liable to total extinction, unless it is a
little sly in keeping back its unpopular points, until an adroit
occasion offers, (such, for instance, as the power and support of a
resistless Yankee majority in some confederation of slaveholders,) to
make the unpopular doctrine go down, or at least, to choke off those
who dare to make wry faces! Christ and the twelve went out, forsooth,
into a sinful and perishing world, professing to teach men the way of
salvation; and yet, although they knew that any sin persevered in must
damn the soul, they were totally silent as to one great and universal
crime! They came avowedly to "reprove the world of sin, of
righteousness, and of judgment;" and yet uttered no rebuke for this
"sum of all villainies." They went preaching the Gospel of repentance
from all known sin, as the sole condition of eternal life: and yet
never notified their hearers of the sin of one universal practice
prevalent among them, lest, forsooth, they should raise a storm of
prejudice against their system! Nay, far worse than this: they are not
satisfied with a _suppressio veri_, but as though to insure the fatal
misleading of the consciences which they undertook to guide to life,
their policy of pusillanimity leads them to a positive _suggestio
falsi_. Had they been simply and wholly silent about the great sin,
this had been bad enough. But this is not what they did. It is a
glozing deceit to attempt to cover up the case under the pretended
admission that "the Gospel does not forbid slavery," as though this
were the whole of it. Christ and his apostles allude to slavery: they
say a multitude of things about it: they travel all around it: they
limit its rights and define its duties: they retrench its abuses: they
admit the perpetrators of its wrong, (if it be a wrong,) unrepenting,
into the bosom of the church, and to its highest offices. They do
almost every thing which is calculated to justify in masters the
inference that it is lawful. And then they finally dismiss the whole
matter, without one explicit warning of its sinfulness and danger.
According to this theory, the apostles find their trusting pupils on
the brink of the precipice, surrounded with much darkness; and having
added almost every circumstance adapted farther to obfuscate their
consciences, they coolly leave them there, with no other guidance than
a reference to those general principles of equity which, beautifully
taught by Moses, had already signally failed to enlighten them.

Dr. Wayland's hypothesis is also deceitful and erroneous, in
representing Christ as having no alternatives save the one which he
imputes to him, or else of so denouncing slavery as to "teach slaves
to _resist_ the oppression of their masters," and thus lighting the
flames of servile war. Is this so? When a given claim is condemned by
the Bible as not grounded in right, does it necessarily follow on
Gospel principles that those on whom it is made must resist it by
force? Surely not. The uniform teaching of our Saviour to the wronged
individual is, "that he resist not evil." Christ, if he had regarded
slaveholding as sinful, would not indeed have incited slaves to
resistance, any more than he did the victims of polygamy which he
condemned. But he would have taught his disciples the sinfulness of
the relation, and within the pale of his own spiritual commonwealth,
the Church, he would have enforced reformation by refusing to admit or
retain any who persevered in the wrong. Less than this he could not
have done.

The hypothesis is also false to facts and to the actual method of his
mission towards deeply rooted sins, as declared both by his words and
conduct. He expressly repudiates this very theory of action. He
declares that he came "not to send peace on earth, but a sword:" and
announces himself as the grand incendiary of the world. How degrading
to the almighty king of Zion is this imputation of politic cowardice!
And how different from the real picture where we see him boldly
exposing the hypocrisy of the Jewish rulers, and assailing their most
cherished deceptions, though he knew that the price of his
truthfulness would be his blood! And can this paltry theory be true of
that Paul, who took his hearers to record, in full view of his dread
account, that he was "clear from the blood of all men, because he had
not shunned to declare to them all the counsel of God?" (Acts, xx.
27.) This of the man who everywhere assailed and explicitly denounced
the idolatry of Greece and Rome, established by law, entwined with
every feeling, and defended by imperial might? This of men who,
sternly reprobating the universal libertinism of the heathen world,
attacked what every one, countenanced by sages and statesmen, regarded
as a lawful indulgence? This of men who boldly roused every prejudice
of the Jewish heart, by declaring their darling system of rites and
types effete, their ceremonial righteousness a cheat, and the middle
wall of partition between them and the Gentiles, the bulwark of their
proud spiritual aristocracy, broken down? It is slander.

Finally, this hypothesis represents that Saviour who claimed
omniscience, as adopting a policy which was as futile as dishonest. He
forbore the utterance of any express testimony against the sin of
slaveholding, say they, leaving the church to find it out by deduction
from general principles of equity. But in point of fact, the church
never began to make such deduction, until near the close of the 18th
century. Neither primitive, nor reformed, nor Romanist, nor modern
divines taught the doctrine of the intrinsic sinfulness of
slaveholding. The church as a body never dreamed it. Slavery remained
almost universal. It remained for the political agitators of
atheistic, Jacobin France, almost eighteen hundred years after
Christ's birth, to give active currency to this new doctrine, and thus
to infuse energy into the fanaticism of the few erratic Christian
teachers, such as Wesley, who had hitherto asserted this novelty. Now,
did Christ foresee this? If he did not, he is not divine. If he did,
then Dr. Wayland believes that he deliberately chose a plan which
consigned seventeen centuries of Christians to a sin, and as many of
slaves to a wrong, which he all along abhorred. _Credat Judoeus

The book from which we have extracted these words of Dr. Wayland, was
put forth by him as a text-book for the instruction of young persons
in academies and colleges, in the _science of morals_. We are informed
that it is extensively used for this purpose. What can be expected of
that people which suffers the very springs of its morality to be thus
corrupted, by inculcating these ethics of expediency? Not satisfied
with teaching to mortals that species of morality, so called, which
makes convenience the measure of obligation, this scribe of their
Israel imputes the same degrading principle to the Redeemer of men,
and Author of religion, in thus suppressing the truth, and intimating
error to whole generations of his own followers, in order to avoid the
inconveniences of candour. So that unsuspecting youth are thus taught
to approve and imitate this corrupt expediency, in the very person of
the Redeemer God, whom they are commanded to adore. Will the Yankee
give an actual _apotheosis_ to his crooked principles, in the person
of an imaginary New England Christ? We thank God that this is not the
Christ of the Bible, nor our Redeemer, but only the hideous invention
of "men of perverse minds and destitute of the truth." But since we
are taught (Psalm cxv. 8) that they who worship false Gods are like
unto them, that is to say, that idolaters always reproduce in
themselves all the abominations which they adore in their idols, we
need no longer wonder at any thing which the Yankee people may do.
Hence that state of publick morals blazoned to the world by the
effrontery of their own corrupt press, charged upon each other in
their mutual recriminations, and betrayed in their crimes against the
general weal.

In concluding the biblical part of this discussion, it may be expected
that we should indicate more exactly the influence which we suppose
Christianity ought to have exerted upon slavery, and its ultimate
destiny under pure Bible teachings. It may be asked: "When you claim
that slavery is literally and simply a righteous relation, in itself,
if it be not perverted and abused; do you mean that this is the normal
and perfect relation for the labouring man; that this is to be the
fullest and most blessed social development of Christianity: that it
ought to subsist in the best states of Christian society, and will
endure even in the millennium?" We reply, that one uniform effect of
Christianity on slavery, has been to ameliorate it, to remove its
perversions and abuses, just as it does those of the other lawful
relations among men; to make better masters and better servants, and
thus to promote the welfare of both. Domestic slavery has been
violently and mischievously ended in the South; and it is doubtless
ended here in this form, finally. And it has long been manifest that
the radical and anti-Christian tendency of the age is likely speedily
to break up this form of servitude in other places where it still
prevails. But true slavery, that is, the involuntary subjection of one
man to the will of another, is not thereby any more abolished than sin
and death are abolished. And least of all will real bondage of man to
man be abolished in countries governed by radical democracy. The
Scriptural, the milder and more benign form of servitude is swept
away, in the arrogance of false political philosophy, to be replaced
by more pretentious but more grinding forms of society. But, it may be
asked: Will not the diffusion of the pure and blessed principles of
the Gospel ultimately extinguish all forms of slavery? We answer: Yes,
we devoutly trust it will, not by making masters too righteous to hold
slaves, but by so correcting the ignorance, thriftlessness, indolence,
and vice of labouring people, that the institution of slavery will be
no longer needed. Just so, we hope that the spread of Christianity
will some day abolish penitentiaries and jails: but this does not
imply that to put rogues into penitentiaries is not now, and will not
continue, so long as rogues shall continue to deserve imprisonment, an
act which an angel might perform without sullying his morality. So
likewise, we hope that our ransomed world will see the day when
defensive war and military establishments will be superseded:
superseded not because defensive war and the calling of the Christian
soldier are immoral when one's country is wrongfully invaded; but
because there will be none immoral enough to commit the aggressions
which now justify these costly, though righteous expedients of
defence. There appears, in many minds, a strange impotency to
comprehend the truth, that the strict righteousness of the relation
maintained, and the treatment observed towards a person, may depend on
that person's character. They will not see that, as it may be strictly
moral to punish one who is guilty because of his guilt, and yet
suffering is not intrinsic good in itself; so it may be perfectly
righteous to hold a class in bondage, which is incapable of freedom,
and yet it may be true still that bondage is not a good in itself.
Because they cannot accept the extreme dogma, that domestic slavery is
the _beau ideal_ of the proper relation of labour to capital, they
seem to imagine that they are bound in consistency to hold that it is
somehow an evil. Yet they have too much reverence for God's word to
assert, with the abolitionists, in the teeth of its fair meaning, that
slavery is sin _per se_. So, they attempt to stand on an intermediate
ground of invisible and infinitesimal breadth. The plain solution of
the matter is, that slavery may not be the _beau ideal_ of the social
organization; that there is a true evil in the necessity for it, but
that this evil is not slavery, but the ignorance and vice in the
labouring classes, of which slavery is the useful and righteous
remedy; righteous so long as the condition of its utility exists.
Others pass to another extreme, and seeing that the Bible undoubtedly
teaches that slaveholding is righteous, they liken the relation to
those of the husband and father. There is, however, this obvious
difference: These relations were established in paradise before man
fell. Their righteousness and usefulness are not dependent on the
fact that man is a sinner, and they would be appropriately continued
as long as men are in the body, though all were perfectly wise and
holy. But the propriety of slavery, like that of the restraints and
punishments of civil government, rests on the fact that man is
depraved and fallen. Such is his character, that the rights of the
whole, and the greatest welfare of the whole, may, in many cases,
demand the subjection of one part of society to another, even as man's
sinfulness demands the subjection of all to civil government. Slavery
is, indeed, but one form of the institution, _government_. Government
is controul. Some controul over all is necessary, righteous, and
beneficent: the degree of it depends on the character of those to be
controuled. As that character rises in the scale of true virtue, and
self-command, the degree of outward controul may be properly made
lighter. If the lack of those properties in any class is so great as
to demand, for the good and safety of the whole, that extensive
controul which amounts to slavery, then slavery is righteous,
righteous by precisely the same reason that other government is
righteous. And this is the Scriptural account of the origin of
slavery, as justly incurred by the sin and depravity of man.



§ 1. The flimsy character of the arguments based by the abolitionists
on the Scriptures, betrays another than a biblical origin for their
doctrines. They come primarily not from God's word, but from
"philosophy falsely so called;" the abolitionists, having determined
on them in advance, are only concerned with the sacred records, to
thrust them aside by quibbles and evasions. But the only sure and
perfect rule of right is the Bible. This, we have seen, condemns
domestic slavery neither expressly nor by implication. It shows us the
institution in the family of the "Father of the faithful," the "friend
of God," and there recognized by God himself in the solemn sacrament
of the Old Testament circumcision: We have found it expressly
authorized to God's chosen people, Israel, and defended in the
Decalogue itself: We see it existing throughout the ages of that
dispensation, while inspired men, so far from condemning, practised
it: We see that it is not removed by the fuller light of the New
Testament; but on the contrary, its duties are defined, and
slaveholders admitted to all the privileges of the Church: We learn,
in a word, that domestic slavery existed throughout the ages of
revelation, was practised continually by multitudes of God's own
people, was never once rebuked, but often recognized and authorized.
We assert then, that, according to that infallible standard, it is

Yet, it is condemned in unmeasured terms by most of the people of
Christendom, is said to be abhorrent to the political ethicks of the
age, and has been reprobated by some of the fathers of our own
commonwealth. What then? In the emphatic language of the book whose
protection we claim: "Let God be true, but every man a liar." Nor are
we much concerned to explain away this collision between human
speculation and God's word. When we consider the weakness of human
reason, and the mortifying history of its vagaries; when we remember
how many dogmas once held for axioms are now exploded, and what
monstrous crimes and follies have been upheld by the unanimous consent
of philosophers, we are not afraid to adopt the teachings of the
All-Wise, in preference to the deductions of blundering and purblind
mortals. When the political experience of the world shall have matured
and corrected the opinions of men, we have no fear but that all the
truly wise, and good, and philosophical, will justify us, and will
acknowledge that this simple, this decried, this abhorred expedient of
inspired law-givers was, after all, best conformed to the true wants
and welfare of those to whom it was applied, and wiser than any of the
conceited _nostrums_ of political quackery; that, in short, "the
foolishness of God was wiser than men." Here, then, we place our feet;
and our answer to reviling abolitionists and a frowning world is: Your
reproach is not against us, but God. Go and convict the All-Wise of
folly, the Infinite Holiness of injustice. Amidst the cruel
sufferings of the war which was thrust upon us for this institution,
and of the violent and disastrous overthrow of our liberties; amidst
the floods of obloquy which our interested persecutors have belched
forth upon us, and the contemptuous neglect of the nations, our
confidence is in God's countenance. He permits us to be sorely
chastened for our sins; but he will not finally suffer his own honour
to be reproached. He will surely rebuke in the end, the folly and
impiety of our slanderers, and "bring forth our righteousness as the

The Socinian and skeptical type of all the evasions of our Scriptural
argument has been already intimated. If the most profane and reckless
wresting of God's word will not serve their turn, to make it speak
abolitionism, then they not seldom repudiate its authority. One of
their leaders, long a professed minister of the Gospel, declares, at
the close of a train of tortuous sophisms, that if he were compelled
to believe the Bible countenances slavery, he should be compelled to
give up the Bible: thereby virtually confessing that he had never been
convinced of the infallibility of that which, for thirty years, he had
been pretending to preach to men as infallible. Others, more blatant
and blasphemous, when compelled to admit that both the Bible and the
American constitution recognized slavery, exclaimed: "Give me, then,
an anti-slavery constitution, an anti-slavery Bible, and an
anti-slavery God!"

Orthodox Christians have always held it as a rule perfectly settled,
that a revelation which was made to yield to any and every supposed
deduction of reason, would be no authoritative rule of faith at all.
It is only when the express word of Scripture clearly contradicts a
proposition which appears to be a primary intuition of the reason,
that it constitutes any difficulty in the reception of God's word. But
can this prejudice against slavery claim to be such? The tests of such
truths are, that they shall be seen in their own light to be true;
that they shall be necessary; and that all sane human beings shall
inevitably believe them, if they comprehend the terms of the
statements. Obviously, abolitionism can claim none of these traits.
Instead of being self-evident, we shall show that it is a mere
deduction from a deceitful and baseless theory. To the mind of all
former ages, it has failed to commend itself as true. All ancient
nations, and most moderns, have believed the contrary. All ancient
philosophers, and all Bible saints, the latter at least as
conscientious and clear-headed as modern fanatics, believed slavery to
be lawful. The great philosophers of the middle ages, surpassed by
none in acumen, and guided by the uninspired lights of a Plato,
Aristotle and Cicero, thought and wrote without suspecting the
sinfulness of slavery. Thousands of Christians in the Southern States,
of as enlightened and honest consciences as any in the world, lived
and died masters, with no other self-reproach than that they did not
more faithfully fulfil the master's duties. Since it is not a
self-evident, not a necessary, not a universally received truth, that
slavery is sinful, we therefore claim the authority of the Scriptures
as conclusive, and boldly repudiate all logical obligation to
reconcile them with the vain conclusions of human speculation. "He
that reproveth God, let him answer it."

Yet we acknowledge the obligation of those who undertake to expound
God's word, "to commend it to every man's conscience in the sight of
God," so far as the self-confidence and petulance of the depraved
reason will permit. To show, therefore, that we have no fear of any
legitimate human speculation, and to do what in us lies "to justify
the ways of God to men," we propose in this chapter to examine the
ethical argument against slavery with some care.

§ 2. _Misrepresentations Cleared._

But abolitionists, by their audacious assumptions, endeavour to throw
the question out of the pale of discussion: they exclaim that it needs
no wire-drawn inference, it is self-evident, that a system which
dehumanizes a human being, and makes his very person like a brute's
body, the property of another creature; which necessitates the
entailing of ignorance and vice; which ignores the marital and
parental rights; which subjects the chastity of the female to the
brute will of her master, and which fills Southern homes with the
constant outcry of oppression, is an iniquity: and that he who
attempts to cite the testimony of reason and Scripture in defence of
such wrongs, offers an insult to their minds and consciences which
self-respect requires them to repel at once. The malignant industry of
our enemies in propagating these monstrous slanders, compels us,
therefore, to pause at the outset of the discussion, to rebut them,
and disabuse the minds of readers. And it is here asserted, once for
all, that the popular apprehension of the slave's condition and
treatment, spread throughout Europe and the North, _is utterly false_:
that it is the result of nothing less than persistent, wilful, and
almost incredible lying on the part of interested accusers; and that
this is recognized by every intelligent European and Northern man who
has resided among us long enough truly to know the institution of
slavery. The character disclosed by the Yankees in the war lately
closed, has effectually taught the rest of the world to recognize the
probability of our charge.

The reader is first, then, requested to recall the definition of
American slavery admitted by us in the beginning of the fifth chapter.
It is not an ownership of the servant's moral personality, soul,
religious destinies, or conscience; but a property in his involuntary
labour. And this right to his labour implies just so much controul
over his person as enables his master to possess his labour. Our
doctrine "hath this extent, no more." This we established beyond cavil
by a reference to our laws and usages. Now, the abolitionist argues
that the master's claim over the servant, if just, must imply a right
to employ any means necessary to perpetuate it, such as to keep the
mind of his slaves stupid and dark, because this is necessary to
prevent his aspiring to his liberty. We reply that such means are not
necessary in the nature of the case. To assert their necessity
audaciously begs the question. If the master's claim were so
essentially unrighteous, that any intelligent reflection in the slave
would justify his indignation and resistance, then it might be more
convenient for the master to make him an unreflecting animal. But the
very subject in debate is, whether the claim is unrighteous. Suppose
that the relation can be demonstrated to be right, reasonable, and
beneficent for the servant, (which is what we assert,) then the only
effect of intelligent reflection and of knowledge and virtue combined
in the slave's character, will be to render him better satisfied with
his condition. So that to degrade his soul is not a necessary means
for perpetuating the master's authority, and not a part of the rights
of masters. And now, it is emphatically asserted that Southern
masters, as a class, did not seek or desire to repress either the
mental or religious culture of their servants' souls; but the
contrary. It is our solemn and truthful testimony, that the nearly
universal temper of masters was to promote and not to hinder it; and
the intellectual and religious culture of our slaves met no other
general obstacle, save that which operates among the labouring poor of
all countries, their own indifference to it, and the necessities of
nearly constant manual labour. If there was any exception, it was
caused by the mischievous meddling of abolitionists themselves,
obtruding on the servants that false doctrine so sternly condemned by
St. Paul. Southern masters desired the intelligence and morality of
their servants. As a class, masters and their families performed a
large amount of gratuitous labour for that end; and universally met
all judicious efforts for it from others with cordial approval. An
intelligent Christian servant was universally recognized as being, in
a pecuniary view, a better servant. Is it asserted that there is still
much degrading ignorance among Southern negroes? True: but it exists
not because of our system, but in spite of it. There is more besotted
ignorance in the peasantry of all other countries. It is the
dispassionate conviction of intelligent Southerners, that our male
slaves presented a better average of virtue and intelligence than the
rank and file of the Federal armies by which we were overrun: and even
the negro troops of our conquerors, although mostly recruited from the
more idle and vicious slaves, were better than the white! The Africans
of these States, three generations ago, were the most debased among
pagan savages. A nation is not educated in a day. How long have the
British people been in reaching their present civilization under God's
providential tutelage? The South has advanced the Africans, as a
whole, more rapidly than any other low savage race has ever been
educated. Hence we boldly claim, that our system, instead of
necessitating the ignorance and vice of its subjects, deserves the
credit of a most beneficent culture.

We may here refer to the charge, that Virginian slavery condemned the
Africans to mental and religious darkness, by forbidding them all
access to letters; because the laws of the commonwealth forbade the
teaching of them to read. Will not even the intelligent reader, after
the currency of this charge, be surprised to learn that _there has
never been such a law upon the statute books of Virginia_? To assert
that there has been such a law, is an unmitigated falsehood. The only
enactment which touches the subject is the following sentence, in the
statute defining what were "unlawful assemblages" of negroes. "And
every assemblage of negroes for the purpose of instruction in reading
and writing, or in the night time for any purpose, shall be an
unlawful assembly." Stat. 1830-31, p. 107. The previous section,
commencing the definition of these unlawful assemblies, expressly
states that they are unlawful if held _without the master's consent_.
Our courts and lawyers uniformly held that, without this feature, no
assemblage of negroes, to do any thing not criminal _per se_, can be
unlawful; because the whole spirit of Virginian laws recognized the
master's authority. His slaves were subject to his government. His
authorization legalized everything not intrinsically criminal.
Accordingly, the uniform interpretation given to the above words was,
that it was the assembling of slaves for instruction in letters by
others than their master or his authorized agents, which constituted
the unlawful assembly. The whole extent of the law was, to arm masters
with the power to prevent the impertinent interference of others with
his servants, under the pretext of literary instruction; a power which
the meddlesomeness of abolitionists pointed out as most wholesome and
necessary. There was no more law to prevent the master from teaching
his slaves than his children; either by himself, or his authorized
agent; and thousands of slaves in Virginia were taught to read by
their masters, or their children and teachers. As many Virginian
slaves were able to read their Bibles, and had Bibles to read, as
could probably be found among the labouring poor of boasted Britain.
Here let another unmitigated falsehood be exposed. Since the
ill-starred overthrow of our system, the most noted religious
newspaper of the North, mentioning an appropriation of Bibles by the
American Bible Society for gifts to negroes of the South, applauded
the measure, because, as it asserted, "the Southern States had
hitherto forbidden the circulation of the Scriptures among their
slaves." It would be mere puling in us, to affect the belief that this
amazing statement was made in ignorance; when the officials of the
Society whose organ this slanderer professed to be, well know that,
ever since the institution of the Bible Society, they were scarcely
more familiar with any species of applications, than those of
Christian masters and mistresses, and of Southern ministers, for
Scriptures suitable for their servants. There has never been a law in
Virginia preventing the gratuitous circulation of the Bible among
slaves, or the possession or reading of it by slaves: and it is
confidently believed that there has never been a single man in
Virginia who desired such a law, or who would have executed it, had it
defiled our statute book; unless, perchance, it was some infidel of
that French school which invented abolitionism.

It is charged again, that slavery impiously and inhumanly sacrificed
the immortal soul of the slave, to secure the master's pecuniary
interest in him. This slander is already in part answered. We farther
declare that neither our laws, nor the current temper and usage of
masters, interfered with the slave's religious rights. On the
contrary, they all protected and established them. The law protected
the legal right of the slave to his Sabbath, forbidding the master to
employ him on that day in secular labours, other than those of
necessity and mercy. Instances in which slaves were prevented by their
masters from attending the publick worship of God, were fully as rare
among us, and as much reprobated, as similar abuses are in any other
Christian country. On the contrary, the masters were almost
universally more anxious that their servants should attend publick
worship, than the servants were to avail themselves of the privilege.
There was scarcely a Christian church in the South, which had not its
black communicants sitting amicably at the table beside their masters;
and the whole number of these adult communicants was reported by the
statistics of the churches, as not less than a half million. We can
emphatically declare, that we never saw or heard of a house of worship
in the South, where sittings were not provided for the blacks at the
expense of the whites: and it is believed that if there was such a
case, it was in a neighbourhood containing no negro population. And in
nearly every case, these sittings were more ample than the blacks
could be induced to fill. Nor was there any expenditure of money on
ecclesiastical objects, which was more cheerfully and liberally made,
than that for the religious culture of the slaves. Further, with a few
exceptions they enjoyed the fullest religious liberty in the selection
of their religious communions and places of worship. Masters refused
them liberty to join the churches of their choice more rarely than
parents in New England and Old England perpetrated that act of
spiritual tyranny upon their wives and daughters. So punctilious was
this respect for the spiritual liberty of the servants, that masters
universally yielded to it their own denominational preferences and
animosities, allowing their servants to join the sects most repugnant
to their own, even in cases as extreme as that of the Protestant and
Romanist. The white people of the South may consider themselves truly
fortunate, if they preserve, under the despotism which now rules them,
as much religious liberty as our negroes received at our hands.

Our system is represented as oppressive and cruel, appointing
different penalties for crimes to the black man and the white man;
depriving the slave of the privilege of testifying against a white in
a court of justice; subjecting him to frequent and inhuman corporal
punishments, and making it a crime for him to exercise the natural
right of self-defence, when violently assailed by a white man. The
reply is, that the penal code of Virginia was properly made different
in the case of the whites and the blacks, because of the lower moral
tone of the latter. Many things, which are severe penalties to the
white man, would be no punishment to the negro. And the penal code for
the latter was greatly milder, both in its provisions, and in the
temper of its administration, than that which obtained in England over
her white citizens, far into this century. The slave was not permitted
to testify against a white man, and this was a restriction made proper
by his low grade of truthfulness, his difference of race, and the fact
that he was to so great a degree subject to the will of another. But
the seeming severity of this restriction was almost wholly removed,
among us, by the fact that he always had, in his master, an interested
and zealous patron and guardian, in all collisions with other white
men. From oppression by his own master he found his sufficient
protection, usually, in affection and self-interest. But in most of
the abolition States, the wretched free black was equally disqualified
to testify against his white oppressor; and the vast difference
against him was, that he had no white master, the legal equal of his
assailant, eagerly engaged by self-interest, affection, and honourable
pride, to protect him. The black "citizen" was the helpless victim of
the white swindler or bully. And such was usually the hypocrisy of

It is true again, that our law gave the master the power of corporal
punishment, and required the slave to submit. So does the law of
England give it to parents over children, to masters over apprentices,
and to husbands over wives. Now, while we freely admit that there were
in the South, instances of criminal barbarity in corporal punishments,
they were very infrequent, and were sternly reprobated by publick
opinion. So far were Southern plantations from being "lash-resounding
dens," the whipping of adult men and women had become the rare
exception. It was far less frequent and severe than the whipping of
white men was, a few years ago, in the British army and navy, not
probably more frequent than the whipping of wives is in the Northern
States of America, and not nearly so frequent as the whipping of white
young ladies now is in their State schools. The girls and boys of the
plantations received the lash from masters and agents more frequently
than the adults, as was necessary and right for the heedless children
of mothers semi-civilized and neglectful; but universally, this
punishment by their owners was far less frequent and severe than the
black parents themselves inflicted. We may be permitted to state our
own experience as a fair specimen of the average. The writer was for
eighteen years a householder and master of slaves, having the
government of a number of different slaves; and in that time he found
it necessary to administer the lash to adults in four cases; and two
of these were for a flagrant adultery--(resulting in the permanent
reform of at least one of the delinquents.) His government was
regarded by his slaveholding neighbours as by no means relaxed.
Indeed, Europeans and Yankees are always surprised at the leniency and
tolerance of Southern masters. But to the vain modern notion, that
corporal punishments are in any case barbarous and degrading, we give
place not for an instant. God enjoined them, in appropriate cases, on
Hebrew citizens. Solomon inculcates the rod as the most wholesome
correction for children. The degradation is in the offence, and not in
the punishment. This pretended exclusion of whipping is a part of that
Godless humanitarianism, born of conceit and pride, which always shows
itself as full of real ferocity as of affected mildness.

It is also an outrageous misrepresentation to say that our laws
imposed no check upon the master's brutality in punishing, and took
away the slave's natural right of self-defence. The slave whose life
was assailed might exercise the natural right of self-defence, even
against his own master. He did it, of course, under the same
responsibility to the law, and the same risque of guilt, if it should
appear that he had shed blood gratuitously in a moment of
ill-justified passion, under which the white man acts. Cases actually
adjudicated have clearly ascertained this principle. In the county
of----,[79] a slave, in the year 1861, turned upon his master during
harvest, and with his scythe inflicted a mortal wound. He was arrested
by his own fellow-slaves, and when questioned, replied to one, "I
intended to kill him;" and to another, "I tried to cut him in two." It
was proved by the defence, at his trial, (through the exclusive
testimony of blacks,) that his master had, on previous days, and also
on the morning of the same day, two hours previously, harassed him
with barbarous and unusual punishments, by which, although none of
them even in appearance assailed life, a just sense of outrage and
high indignation must have been produced. The grave defect of this
defence was, that the assaults of the master, although barbarous,
never had implicated life, and that two or more hours had intervened,
for the cooling of passion. The only immediate provocation at the time
of killing was the repetition of some words of rebuke, with a
comparatively slight chastisement. Such was the case. The court
decided that, on the one hand, a verdict of justifiable homicide could
not be given in the slave's favour, because the lawful present
provocation was absent; but on the other, that it was not murder,
because the barbarities which had preceded the act justified
resentment. The crime was therefore ascertained as a mitigated
homicide, with a milder punishment.

[Footnote 79: Names and places are suppressed in this publick
statement, for obvious reasons of regard for meritorious survivors.
But the official records are at hand, and will be furnished any

The laws of Virginia protected not only the life, but the limb of the
slave against white persons, and even his own master. The statute
against wounding, stabbing and maiming is in the following words:[80]
"If any free person maliciously shoot, stab, cut or wound _any
person_, or by any means cause him bodily injury with intent to maim,
disfigure, disable or kill, he shall, except where it is otherwise
provided, be punished by confinement in the penitentiary not less
than one, nor more than ten years. If such act be done unlawfully, but
not maliciously, with the intent aforesaid, the offender shall, at the
discretion of the jury if the accused be white, or of the court if he
be a negro, either be confined in the penitentiary not less than one
nor more than five years, or be confined in jail not exceeding twelve
months, and fined not exceeding five hundred dollars." And in the
chapter on trials it is added: [81] "And on any indictment for
maliciously shooting, stabbing, cutting or wounding a person, or by
any means causing him bodily injury with intent to kill him, the jury
may find the accused not guilty of the offence charged, but guilty of
maliciously doing such act with intent to maim, disfigure or disable,
or of unlawfully doing it, with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or
kill, such person." These are but digests of repeated older statutes
of Virginia, of date 1803, 1815, and 1819. Now the General Court, the
highest tribunal of appeal in criminal cases, [82]decided that the
"_any person_," protected by these laws, included the slave; and that
an indictment for the malicious stabbing of a slave could be supported
under these acts. Thus, while the slave was required to accept the
chastisement of his master, his life and limb were as fully protected
as those of the white man.

[Footnote 80: Code of 1849, Ch. 191, § 9. Edit. 1860, p. 784.]

[Footnote 81: Code of 1849, Ch. 208, § 30.]

[Footnote 82: Chapple's case, I. Virginia cases, 184. Carver's case,
5th Randolph's Rep., 660.]

The General Court,[83] in 1851, decided the appeal of Simeon Souther,
convicted in the County of Hanover of murder in the second degree,
because his slave Sam had, according to evidence, died under an
excessive and barbarous whipping, with other punishments, the whole
evidently not intended to kill. Souther's counsel appealed from this
sentence to the General Court, asking that the grade of the offence be
reduced to manslaughter only, because it appeared in evidence that the
punishments were not inflicted with intent to kill. The court, after
reprobating Souther's conduct as a "case of atrocious and wicked
cruelty," instead of reducing the grade of the sentence already
ascertained, decided that it was already too low; and that it should
have been declared murder in the first degree. This tribunal granted
that it is lawful for the master to chastise his slave; and that the
law, as expounded by the same authority, (5th Randolph, 678,) did not
sustain an indictment of the master on the mere allegation of excess
in chastisement, where it was not charged that any unlawful maiming or
other injury ensued. Because "it is the policy of the law in respect
to the relation of master and slave, and for the sake of securing
proper subordination and obedience on the part of the slave, to
protect the master from prosecution in all such cases." ... "But in so
inflicting punishment for the sake of punishment, the owner of the
slave acts at his peril; and if death ensues in consequence of such
punishment, the relation of master and slave affords no ground of
excuse or palliation. The principles of the common law in relation to
homicide apply to his case, without qualification or exception; and
according to those principles, the act of the prisoner, in the case
under consideration, amounted to murder. Upon this point we are
unanimous." And Souther, although a man of property, and supported by
the most active and able counsel, was committed to the penitentiary,
(in pursuance of the original sentence, of murder in the second
degree,) where he died. Such was the law and its administration in

[Footnote 83: 7th Grattan, 673, etc.]

It may further be asserted that the laws were at least as well
administered among us, against the murderers and oppressors of slaves,
as against those who killed their equals. Our people had unfortunately
imbibed, to some degree, the infidel and fanatical notions prevalent
at the North against capital punishments; so that crimes of bloodshed
met with more tolerance from publick sentiment than was proper. But
when a master took the life of his servant, especially if it were done
by cruel punishments, the publick scorn for his meanness and tyranny,
and the general feeling of kindliness for our dependent
fellow-creatures, were apt to secure a far more faithful execution of
the law against him, than if he had slain his white peer for any
insult or wrong.

The laws of Virginia were equally just and careful in protecting the
liberty of every person not justly held to bondage. The stealing or
kidnapping of any human being with the purpose of selling him into
slavery, is a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary
not less than three, nor more than ten years.[84]

[Footnote 84: Code of Va., 1849, Chap. 191, § 17. The same may be
found at its appropriate place in the Code of 1860, which is little
more than a reprint of the Code of 1849.]

Any coloured person whatsoever, conceiving himself to be unlawfully
detained in bondage, may apply to any justice of the peace, or county
or circuit superior court, to enter a suit for his freedom. There is
not, within the lids of the Virginian code, another statute, so
generous, so careful, so tender, so watchful, in protecting every
possible right of a plaintiff, as this law enabling the slave,
unjustly detained, to sue out his freedom. First, it compels every
magistrate, of every grade, and every court, of every grade, to
hearken to the cry of the supposed oppressed man, and to take
effectual steps to secure him release, if just. Next, it instantly
takes the claimant out of the hand of his nominal master, and assigns
him protection and maintenance, during the pendency of his claim.
Next, it provides counsel, and all costs of suit for the oppressed
man, at publick expense. Next, it orders that his case shall have
precedence of all other cases, before whatever court he may select, at
its first sessions, irrespective of its place on the docket. And last,
if the claim to freedom be found just, the court is empowered to give
him damages for his detention pending the suit.[85]

[Footnote 85: Code of Va., 1849, Chap. 106.]

Another charge against us is, that our laws abrogated the rights of
marriage among slaves, authorized their capricious separation by
masters, and thus consigned them to promiscuous concubinage, like that
of beasts. Now, first, admitting defect in our legislation here, let
us ask, how much of the blame of the continuance of this defect is
chargeable upon the frantic attacks of abolitionists upon us? Every
sensible man can understand, that a people so fiercely assailed in
their vital rights should be occupied solely by righteous defence,
and should feel the time unsuited for the discussion of innovations,
however needful. And next, let it be understood what the South has
really done, and has not done, herein, and it will appear that an
amazing misrepresentation is made of the whole case. The form of the
charge usually is, that our laws deprived the slaves of all marital
rights. This is, first, a monstrous perversion of the facts, in that
the Africans never had any marital rights or domestic institutions to
be deprived of. Have men forgotten, that in their native country there
was no marriage, and no marriage law, but the negroes either lived in
vagrant concubinage, or held their plurality of wives as slaves, to be
either sold or slain at will? They have, at least, lost nothing, then;
and the utmost that could be charged upon our legislation is, that it
did not undertake to innovate upon their own native usages; that it
did not force upon them marital restraints, and penalties for their
breach, which the Africans were disqualified either to understand or
value, which they would have regarded as a more cruel burden than
their bondage. Next, our laws did not, as many seem to represent,
prohibit, or delegalize the marriage of slaves; but were simply silent
about them. The meaning of this silence was, to leave the whole matter
to the controul of the master. It appears almost impossible for
anti-slavery men to be made to apprehend the nature of the
institution, as described in the words, '_domestic_ slavery.' Their
minds, perverted with vain dreams of the powers and perfectibility of
the State, cannot be made to apprehend that God has made other parties
than the commonwealth and the civil magistrate, depositories of ruling
power; and that this arrangement is right and benevolent. Now, it is
the genius of slavery, to make the family the slave's commonwealth.
The family is his State. The master is his magistrate and legislator,
in all save certain of the graver criminal relations, in which the
commonwealth deals directly and personally with him. He is a member of
municipal society only through his master, who represents him. The
commonwealth knows him as only a life-long minor under the master's
tutelage. The integers of which the commonwealth aggregate is made up,
are not single human beings, but single families, authoritatively
represented in the father and master. And this is the fundamental
difference between the theory of the Bible, and that of radical
democracy. The silence of our laws, then, concerning the marriage of
slaves, means precisely this: that the whole subject is remitted to
the master, the chief magistrate of the little integral commonwealth,
the family. Obviously, therefore, the question whether our laws were
defective therein, is in no sense a question between the living of the
slaves in marriage or in beastly license; it is only a question
whether, in the distribution of ruling functions, those of the master
were not made too large and responsible, herein. And if error be
admitted in this respect, it cannot be one which makes the relation of
servitude sinful; for then the same crime must be fixed on all the
patriarchs, notwithstanding their care in rightly ordering and
preserving, as family heads, the marital relations of their children
and slaves, because, forsooth, there happened to be no commonwealth
law above them, as patriarchs, regulative of these marriages. This is
nonsense. Where the modern patriarch, the Southern master, rightly
ordered and protected the marriage relations of his slaves, the
silence of the commonwealth no more made their connexions concubinage,
than were those of Isaac, and of Abraham's steward, Eliezer of
Damascus. What magistrate or legislature, other than Abraham, issued
their marriage license? Who else enforced their marriage law or
defined its rights? What civic agent solemnized the ceremonial for
them? And this leads to another remark: that that ceremonial is wholly
unessential to the validity of marriage. Of course, where the laws
enjoin it for any class, every good citizen will observe it. But the
absence of such ordained ceremonial does not make lawful marriage
impossible. In this sense, _consensus facit nuptias_. It was thus that
the holiest wedlock ever seen on earth was instituted, that of Adam
and Eve; thus Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, were united. The
fact that our laws pronounce the unions of Quakers and of Jews,
legitimate marriage, although announced with different forms, and
indeed almost without form, evinces this truth.

Now, then, for the facts. These facts are, that marriage in its
substance was as much recognized among our servants as among any other
peasantry; that the union was uniformly instituted upon a formal
written license of the two masters; that it was almost always
sanctioned by a religious ceremonial conducted by a minister; that the
regularity of the connexion was uniformly recognized by the master's
assigning the husband and wife their own dwelling; that the moral
opinion of both whites and blacks made precisely the same distinction
between this connexion and the illicit ones, and between the fruits
of it as legitimate, and the fruits of concubinage as illegitimate,
which publick opinion establishes for white persons: and that even the
criminal law recognized it as a regular connexion, by extending to the
black man who slew the violator of his bed in heat of blood, the same
forbearance which it extends to the outraged husband. How can it be
said, in the face of these facts, that marriage did not exist among

But, it is asked, did not the master possess power to separate this
union at his will; and was not this power often exercised? They did.
The power, relatively, was not often exercised; and when the
separation was not justified by the crimes of the parties, it met the
steady and increasing reprobation of publick opinion. The instances of
tyrannical separation were, at most, far fewer than the harsh tyranny
of destitution imposes on poor whites in all other countries; and the
pretended philanthropy of the Yankees has, in five years, torn asunder
more families than all the slave dealers of the South did in a
hundred. But the power of separating was sometimes abused by masters;
and the room for this abuse was just the defect in our laws, which
nearly all Southern Christians deplored, and which they desired to
repair. Justice requires the testimony, on the other hand, that the
relaxed morals which prevailed among the Africans was not the result
of their marital relations, as arranged among us, but the heritage of
their paganism; that under our system the evil was decreasing; and
that since their emancipation and nominal subjection to the marriage
law of the whites, a flood of licentiousness, vagrant concubinage,
and infanticide, has broken out again among them. Clear proof this,
that our abused system was better adapted to their character than the

Anti-slavery men often talk as though the right of slave parents to
the controul and education of their children, were so indefeasible and
native, that it is a natural wrong to permit the authority of the
master over them to override that of the parents. This we utterly
deny. We have the authority of Locke himself for saying that the
parental authority is correlative to the parental obligation to
preserve and train the child; that it is, therefore, not indefeasible;
that if the father is clearly incompetent to or unwilling for his
duty, his authority often is, and of right ought to be, transferred by
society to another. When, therefore, the civilized master uses his
authority against and over that of the semi-civilized, or savage
parent, to train the slave child to habits of decency, industry,
intelligence, and virtue, which his degraded natural guardians are
unable or unwilling to inculcate, he does no crime against nature, but
an act just and beneficent.

The most odious part of this charge is, that slavery made the chastity
of the female slave the property of her master. We meet this with an
emphatic denial. It is false. The laws of Virginia protect the virtue
of the female slave by the very same statute which shields that of the
white lady, even against her own master. The law of rape, until 1849,
used these words:[86] "If any man do ravish _a woman_," &c. The act of
1849 used the words:[87] "If any white person do carnally know _a
female_ of the age of twelve years or more, against her will, by
force, or carnally know _a female child_, under that age," &c. (If the
ravisher were a negro the penalty was different.) The question is,
whether the words "_a woman_," and "_a female_," were intended to
include coloured persons and slaves. The answer uniformly given by
Virginian lawyers to this question is affirmative. They say that the
terms are the most general in our statutory vocabulary. The law of
1849, just quoted, clearly implies that the terms "a female," in § 15,
are inclusive of coloured females, by expressly introducing the word
"white," "a white female," in § 16, when its purpose was to enact a
special penalty for the forcible abduction of that class. The General
Court has held that _female_ is synonymous with _woman_,[88] and may
be substituted for it even in an indictment. Is it asked, why the
appeal is not made to judicial decisions, as conclusive authority of
the true intent of the statute? We have caused a thorough search to be
made by the most competent authority in Richmond; and while many
indictments are found against black men for rape of white women, none
exist, in the history of our jurisprudence, against white men for rape
of black women. And this, not because there would have been any
difficulty in making the indictment lie: _but because_, as the most
experienced lawyers testify, _the crime is unheard of on the part of
white men amongst us_.

[Footnote 86: Code, 1819, p. 585, Ch. 158.]

[Footnote 87: Code, 1849, p. 725, Ch. 191, § 15.]

[Footnote 88: Burnett's case, 2 Va. cases, 235. And this was an
indictment for rape.]

It is undoubtedly true, that the moral sense of the Africans on this
subject is low: that many voluntary breaches of chastity occur among
themselves, and some between them and whites. But the latter are far
less frequent than similar sins in Philadelphia, in Boston, in London.
Notwithstanding the sad inheritance of vice drawn by the Africans from
their pagan ancestors, Southern slavery had elevated them so far, that
illegitimate births among them had become far fewer than among the
boasted white peasantry of Protestant Scotland, with all its Bibles
and churches, and parochial schools. This fact can be proved by Scotch
statistics. The odious and filthy charge which the abolitionists make
against the Southern people and against slavery, as a system of lust,
also receives a terrible reply from the returns of the American
census. When illicit cohabitation takes place between the whites and
the blacks, nature tells the secret with infallible accuracy, in the
yellow skin of the offspring. The census of 1850 distinguished the
full blacks from the mulattoes, both among the slave and free. Of the
slaves, one in twelve was mulatto, taking the whole United States
together. Of the slaves in Virginia the ratio of mulattoes to blacks
was about the same. In South Carolina there was only one mulatto to
thirty-one black slaves! The explanation is, that the latter State,
being less commercial and manufacturing than Virginia, and having a
system of more perfect agricultural slavery, exposed her slaves less
to intercourse with immigrant and transient whites. But taking the
United States as a whole, the free mulattoes were more than half as
numerous as the free blacks! In several of the slave States they are
more numerous; and in Ohio, the stronghold of Black Republicanism,
there were fourteen thousand mulattoes to eleven thousand blacks.
Since the regular marriage of free blacks to the whites was as unknown
at the North as at the South, these figures tell a tale as to the
comparative prevalence of this infamous and unnatural form of
uncleanness among the Yankees, which should forever seal their lips
from reproaches of us. They also show that at the South the state of
slavery has been far more favourable to chastity among the coloured
people than that of freedom.

The reader probably feels by this time, that if we speak truth, then
was slavery a very different thing practically from its usual picture
abroad. He will perhaps feel with a shade of skepticism, that it is
strange the world should have been so much mistaken. The chief
explanation we offer of so strange a fact, is that trait of
abolitionists, our interested and unscrupulous accusers, predicted by
St. Paul: ("men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth.") The
world will find them out in due time: the statements made of the
events of the late war have done much to unmask them. Still another
cause is that Europeans, and even Yankees, are so ignorant of Southern
society. Still another explanation is, that slavery in the British
colonies, from which the people of that Empire have chiefly derived
their conceptions, actually was far more harsh and barbarous than in
this country. The reader is emphatically cautioned that he must not
judge slavery in Virginia by slavery in Jamaica or Guiana. Whether the
charge of the great Paley is correct, who accounts for this difference
by the greater harshness of British character,[89] politeness may
forbid us to decide. But the comparative fates of the Africans in the
British colonies, and those in our States, tell the contrast between
the humanity of our system, and the barbarity of theirs, in terms of
indisputable clearness. If political science has ascertained any law,
it is that the well or ill-being of a people powerfully affects their
increase or decrease of numbers. The climate of the British Indies is
salubrious for blacks. Yet, of the one million seven hundred thousand
Africans imported into the British colonies, and their increase, only
six hundred and sixty thousand remained to be emancipated in 1832. The
three hundred and seventy-five thousand (the total) imported into the
Southern States, had multiplied to four millions. Such is the
contrast! How grinding and ruthless must have been that oppression
which in the one case reduced this prolific race, in the most fertile
and genial spots of earth, in the ratio of five to two! And how
generous and beneficent that government which, in the Southern States,
nursed them to a more than ten-fold increase, in a less hospitable and
fruitful clime! Well may we demur to have the world take its
conceptions of our slavery from the British.

[Footnote 89: Moral Philosophy, Bk. 3, p. 2, Ch. 3: "The inordinate
authority which the plantation laws confer upon the slaveholder, is
exercised by the _English_ slaveholder, especially, with rigour and

We trust that we shall proceed, then, to the remaining discussion of
the moral character of slavery, with a just understanding of what is
to be defended. It is simply that system which makes the involuntary
labour of the servant the property of the master, and gives the latter
such controul over the former's person, as will secure his possession
of the labour. We conclude this section with a few words touching the
admitted abuses of the system. That such existed among us, both
legislative and individual, is fully admitted. There were cruel
masters. Slaves were sometimes refused that which the apostle enjoined
masters to give them, as "just and equal." Some cruel punishments were
inflicted. A few slaves have been tortured to death. Some wives and
children were wickedly torn from their husbands and parents. And our
laws in some points failed to secure to the slaves that to which their
humanity entitled them. But we repeat, these things prove only the
sinfulness of the individual agent, and not of the system of which
they are incidents. Fathers have been known to maltreat, scourge, maim
and murder their children; and husbands their wives; but no one dreams
that these things evince the unrighteousness of the family relations.
Wife-murder is doubtless more frequent in the State of New York, than
slave-murder was in Virginia. The laws of the State of Indiana
concerning divorce are, in some particulars, glaring violations of
God's laws. Yet no one dreams of arguing thence, that to have a wife
in those States is a sin. Unless the abuse can be shown to be an
essential part of the system, it proves nothing against the lawfulness
of the system itself. But that none of these crimes against slaves are
essential parts of slavery, is proved by the fact, which we fearlessly
declare, that the vast majority of slaves in our country never
experienced any of them. The unfairness of this mode of arguing cannot
be better stated than in the words of Dr. Van Dyke, of New York:

"Their mode of arguing the question of slaveholding, by a pretended
appeal to facts, is a tissue of misrepresentation from beginning to
end. Let me illustrate my meaning by a parallel case. Suppose I
undertake to prove the wickedness of marriage, as it exists in the
city of New York. In this discussion suppose the Bible is excluded,
or, at least, that it is not recognized as having exclusive
jurisdiction in the decision of the question. My first appeal is to
the statute law of the State.

"I show there enactments which nullify the law of God, and make
divorce a marketable and cheap commodity. I collect the advertisements
of your daily papers, in which lawyers offer to procure the legal
separation of man and wife for a stipulated price, to say nothing, in
this sacred place, of other advertisements which decency forbids me to
quote. Then I turn to the records of our criminal courts, and find
that every day some cruel husband beats his wife, or some unnatural
parent murders his child, or some discontented wife or husband seeks
the dissolution of the marriage bond. In the next place, I turn to the
orphan asylums and hospitals, and show there the miserable wrecks of
domestic tyranny in wives deserted and children maimed by drunken
parents. In the last place, I go through our streets, and into our
tenement houses, and count the thousands of ragged children, who, amid
ignorance and filth, are training for the prison and gallows.

"Summing all these facts together, I put them forth as the fruits of
marriage in the city of New York, and a proof that the relation itself
is sinful. If I were a novelist, and had written a book to illustrate
this same doctrine, I would call this array of facts a 'Key.' In this
key I say nothing about the sweet charities and affections that
flourish in ten thousand homes, not a word about the multitude of
loving-kindnesses that characterize the daily life of honest people,
about the instruction and discipline that are training children at ten
thousand firesides for usefulness here and glory hereafter;--all this
I ignore, and quote only the statute book, the newspapers, the records
of criminal courts, and the miseries of the abodes of poverty. Now,
what have I done? I have not misstated or exaggerated a single fact.
And yet am I not a falsifier and a slanderer of the deepest dye? Is
there a virtuous woman or an honest man in this city whose cheeks
would not burn with indignation at my one-sided and injurious
statements? But this is just what abolitionism has done in regard to
slaveholding. It has undertaken to illustrate its cardinal doctrine in
works of fiction; and then, to sustain the creation of its fancy, has
attempted to underpin it with an accumulation of facts. These facts
are collected in precisely the way I have described. The statute books
of slaveholding States are searched, and every wrong enactment
collated, newspaper reports of cruelty and crime on the part of wicked
masters are treasured up and classified, all the outrages that have
been perpetrated 'by lewd fellows of the baser sort'--of whom there
are plenty, both North and South--are eagerly seized and recorded; and
this mass of vileness and filth, collected from the kennels and sewers
of society, is put forth as a faithful exhibition of slaveholding.
Senators in the forum, and ministers in the pulpit, distil this raw
material into the more reined slander 'that Southern society is
essentially barbarous, and that slaveholding had its origin in hell.'"

Such are the words of one who is himself no advocate of slavery, but
who is moved to utter them solely by his regard for truth. His
reprobation is just. To take the exceptional abuses of any
institution, and exhibit them as giving the ordinary state of society
under it, is the very essence of slander.

But the enemies of the South say, that still the system of slavery is
unrighteous, even though the generosity of a majority of masters
prevents its oppressions from being felt, because it confers a power
which is irresponsible. We reply, that this is true, although to a
vastly less degree than has been charged; but it is also true of every
form of authority under heaven; and it is simply impossible to place
authority in any human hands at all, without some degree of this
risque of irresponsible abuse. The authority of the master is no more
irresponsible than that of the husband, father, or mechanic, over his
wife, child, or apprentice. The father, in order to have authority,
must have discretion: and he may abuse it: for he is imperfect; and
against this abuse the child has no legal remedy. For this
imperfection in the family law there is no help, save by abolishing
all family government; a remedy fraught with ten thousand times the
mischief and misery which all the occasional severities of unnatural
parents have caused. All human government must have this defect, for
man, who administers it, is a sinner. So that the objection of the
abolitionist amounts to this: that the institution of slavery is
unlawful, because it is not perfect; which nothing human can be. It is
so true that any grant of power whatsoever confers some
irresponsibility; that the fact remains even where the rights of free
citizens are most carefully guarded under republican governments. See,
for example, the courts of law, which judge concerning our lives and
property. We attempt to limit the abuse of power of the lower courts,
by passing their decisions in review before a higher; but there must
be some highest, beyond which no appeal can go. Yet the judges of that
highest court are also capable of wrong and error; and if they commit
them, the victim has no human help; he must submit. All that just and
humane legislation can do, then, is so to adjust and limit powers,
that the chances of uncompensated wrong may be as small as possible.
Now we shall see that in this case of employer and labourer, such as
they are in Virginia, the chances of unredressed wrong were reduced to
their _minimum_ by our system of domestic slavery. For we thereby
raised the most efficient motives, those of self-interest and
affection, in the stronger party, to treat the weaker equitably. If
the irresponsibility of a part of the master's power proved the
relation sinful, all government would be wrong.

§ 3. _The Rights of Man and Slavery._

The radical objection to the righteousness of slavery in most minds
is, that it violates the natural liberty and equality of man. To clear
this matter, it is our purpose to test the common theory held as to
the rights of nature, and to show that this ground of opposition to
slavery rests upon a radical and disorganizing scheme of human rights,
is but Jacobinism in disguise, and involves a denial of all authority
whatsoever. The popular theory of man's natural rights, of the origin
of governments, and of the moral obligation of allegiance, is that
which traces them to a _social contract_. The true origin of this
theory may be found with Hobbes of Malmesbury. It owes its
respectability among Englishmen, chiefly to the pious John Locke, a
sort of baptized image of that atheistic philosopher;[90] and it was
ardently held by the infidel democrats of the first French revolution.
According to this scheme, each person is by nature an independent
_integer_, wholly _sui juris_, absolutely equal to every other man,
and naturally entitled, as a "Lord of Creation," to exercise his whole
will. Man's natural liberty was accordingly defined as _privilege to
do whatever he wished_. True, Locke attempts to limit this monstrous
postulate by defining man's native liberty as privilege to do whatever
he wished within the limits of the law of nature. But this virtually
returns to the same; because he teaches that man is by nature
absolutely independent, so that he must be himself the supreme,
original judge, what this law of nature is. According to the doctrine
of the social contract, man's natural rights are confounded with this
so-called natural liberty. Each man's natural right is to protect his
own existence, and to possess himself of whatever will render it more
happy, (Locke again adds, within the limits of natural law.) And this
scheme most essentially ignored the originality of moral distinctions.
Hobbes explains them as the conventional results of the rules which
man's experience and convenience have dictated to him. For, the
experience of the mutual violences and collisions of so many
independent wills, in this supposed "state of nature," induced men, in
time, to consent to the surrender of a part of this native
independence, in order to secure the remainder of their rights. To do
this, they are supposed to have conferred together, and to have formed
a compact with each other, binding themselves to each other to submit
to certain stipulated rules, which restrained a part of their natural
liberty, and to obey certain men selected to govern. The power thus
delegated to these hands was to be used to protect the remaining
rights of all. The terms of this compact form the organic law, or
constitution. Subsequent citizens entering the commonwealth by birth
or immigration, are assumed to have given an assent, express or
implied, to this compact. And if the question be asked, why men are
morally bound to obey magistrates, who naturally are their equals and
fellows, the answer of this school is: because they have voluntarily
bargained to do so in entering the social compact; and they receive a
_quid pro quo_ for their accession to it. Such is the theory of the
origin of government, from which the natural injustice of slavery is
deduced. For, obviously, if man's obligation to civil society
originates in the voluntary social contract of independent integers,
none can be rightfully held to a compulsory obedience, which enters
into all servitude, both domestic and political.

[Footnote 90: Notwithstanding Locke's amiable and pious spirit, the
history of philosophic opinion has shown that he is but a disguised
follower of the philosopher of Malmesbury. His psychology is but a
system of sensationalism, and his ethics lead to the denial of
original moral distinctions. Locke is chargeable with the germs of all
the mischievous and atheistical doctrines developed by Hume in Great
Britain, and Cordillac in France.]

Some liberal writers, as Blackstone, and the great Swiss publicist,
_Burlemaqui_, are too sensible not to see that this scheme is false to
the facts of the case. But they still hold, that although individual
men never, in fact, existed in the independent insulation supposed,
and did not actually pass into a state of society by a formal social
contract, yet such a transaction must be assumed as the implied and
virtual source of political power and civic obligation. To us it
appears, that if the contracting never occurred in fact, but is only a
theoretical fiction, it is no basis for any thing, and no source of
practical rights and duties. Civil society is a universal fact; and
its existence must be grounded in something actual. We object, then,
to this dream of a social contract preceded by a native state of
individual independence, that it is false to the facts of the case.
Human beings never rightfully existed, for one moment, in this state,
out of which they are supposed to have passed by their own option. God
never gave them such independency. Their responsibility to him, and to
the civil society under which He has placed them, is as _native_ as
they are, being ordained by God to exist from the first. Men do not
choose civic obligation, but are born to it, just as the child to his
filial obligation. And the simple, conclusive proof is, that if any
man were to claim this native option to assume or to decline civic
obligations, (in the latter case relinquishing also their advantages,)
there is not a government on earth, not the most liberal, that would
not laugh his claim to scorn, and at once compel his allegiance. The
very assumption of what this theory calls man's normal state, and the
very attempt to exercise the option which, as it babbles, originated
civil society, would constitute a man an outlaw, the radical enemy of
civic society, and would give it a natural right, that of
self-preservation, to destroy him. The scheme is not only fictitious,
but absurd.

Second: We object that it is atheistic, utterly ignoring the existence
of a Creator, and his relations to, and proprietorship in, man. It
affects to treat men as though their existence were underived, and
independent of any Supreme Being. It boldly discards God's right to
determine under what obligations man shall live, and quietly contemns
the great Scriptural fact that He has determined man shall live under
social law.

Third: This scheme is thoroughly unphilosophical, in that whereas the
science of government should be an inductive one, this theory is, and
in its nature must be, purely hypothetical. No body, no history
pretends to relate in a single instance, any such facts as it
professes to rest upon. This Locke admits, and even claims, absurdly
seeking in this mode to evade this vital objection. Hence we assert
that it has no claims to be entertained _in foro scientiæ_, even for

Fourth: If man at first possessed that natural liberty, and passed
from it under the obligation of constitutions and laws by a social
contract, then sundry most inconvenient and preposterous consequences
must logically follow. One of these is, that when once men had
established their constitution, (in other words, their compact,) so
long as its terms were observed by the magistrates and the minority,
the majority could never righteously change it, no matter how
inconvenient, or even ruinous, new circumstances might have made it,
against the will of the minority or of the rulers. For when one has
made a voluntary bargain, subsequent inconveniences of it do not
justify its breach. The just man is one who changeth not, though he
"sweareth to his own hurt." Another consequence would be, that it
could never be settled what were the terms agreed upon in the original
compact, and what part of existing laws were the accretions of
unwarranted power, except in the case of written constitutions. Few
nations have such. But a far worse consequence would be, that if the
duty of allegiance originated in such compact, then any one
unconstitutional act of the rulers or majority would dissolve it. For
it is a covenant; but a covenant broken by one party is broken for
both. Now, who believes that a single unconstitutional act of the
ruler voids the whole allegiance of the aggrieved citizen? Where would
be the government which would not be plunged into anarchy?

Last, all commonwealths have found it necessary to arm the magistrate
with some powers, which individuals could not have conferred by a
social compact, because they never possessed them. One of these is the
power of life and death. No man's life is his own: it belongs to God
alone. One cannot bargain away what is not his own. Besides, it is
absurd to represent men as bargaining away this tremendous power for
some smaller advantages and securities; because life is the most
precious of all. "What shall a man accept in exchange for his life?"
It is of no avail to say that the community is entitled, by the law of
self-preservation, to assume this power; because, on this theory,
there is no community as yet. There is only a number of independent
integers, sovereignly treating with each other. The community cannot
assume powers before it exists! It is, if possible, still more
difficult to explain, on this theory, how political societies came by
the power of capital punishment, against aliens who assail their
members. But all governments hold aliens living among them, and
invading enemies, subject to their capital penalties. How is this? The
foreigner certainly has not assented to the social compact of this
society; for he claims to be alien, and to owe no allegiance. His
consent, the supposed fountain of all right over him, is utterly
lacking. Once more, this theory draws a broad distinction between
man's civil liberty as a subject of government, and his natural
liberty. The latter it defines as _privilege to do whatever the man
pleases_, within the limits of natural law as interpreted by himself.
And his natural rights are just the same. Some of these he voluntarily
surrenders to society, to secure the rest. All government, therefore,
is not only of the nature of restraint; it is essentially _restraint
upon one's rights_. The advocates of the theory distinctly represent
government as of the nature of a natural evil and wrong, but adopted
as an expedient against the worse evil, anarchy; and therefore the
obligation to obey it has no higher source than expediency. But worse
yet; if there is any such thing as intrinsic morality, government is
an immoral restraint, for it is a _restraint upon rights_. Whatever
good government may bring us, it is of that species which St. Paul
reprobates, as "doing evil that good may come." The great Hobbes was
therefore perfectly consistent, in teaching that there is no original
morality in acts, and that there was at first no such thing as right,
distinct from might. Morals are factitious distinctions invented under
civil society for expediency. Let the thoughtful reader consider how
this monstrous conclusion uproots all obligation, and order, and
allegiance. No man can hold the theory of the origin of government in
the social contract, unless he either holds, with Hobbes, this
damnable error, or with some abolitionists, (who are thoroughly
consistent here,) that _all government is immoral_.

But its advocates urge that it does give the correct origin of
government, because they can point to specific rights, which must have
been natural in the individual, but which we now find vested in the
government. The instance they most cite, is that of self-defence. We
accept it, and assert that it confirms our view. For, if the right of
self-defence means privilege of forcible resistance to violence at the
time it is offered, we utterly deny that it has been surrendered by
the individual, or can be justly limited one iota by government. If it
means the savage privilege of retaliation after the collision has
passed away, which claims to make the angry defendant accuser, judge,
jury, and executioner in his own case, we utterly deny that nature
ever gave such right to any man. "Vengeance is mine: I will repay,
saith the Lord." Another instance alleged, is when the citizen is
restrained by society from certain acts, moral _per se_: as selling
his corn out of the country when there is dearth. Yet the good citizen
obeys. The answer is, that if the restriction is not unjust, it is
because there exists among the citizens such danger of suffering for
corn, that the sending it out of the country would be a breach of the
natural law of love and equity. Natural rights may change with
circumstances, a simple truth often strangely forgotten on this

Now, it is from this vicious theory of human rights, that abolitionism
sucks its whole life. The whole argument is but this: no restraint of
government on man's will can be righteous, which is forcible and
involuntary, because the obligation of all just government originates
in the option of the individuals governed, who are by nature
sovereign. Before we indicate the relationship of this conclusion with
its disorganizing brood of kindred, we must pause to meet a question
which arises. It is this: if this pet hypothesis is relinquished, on
what basis shall we defend free government? Let us see if a better
foundation for its blessings cannot be found.

Political and ethical philosophers have been perpetually victims to
the notion, that because theirs are natural sciences, as distinguished
from revealed or theological, therefore they must banish from them all
reference to God, his nature, his acts, and his will, and our
relations to it. The true inference should be, only, that they must
abstain from the introduction of those peculiar revealed facts, which
belong to man as an object of redemption and subject of the Church of
Christ. If we are not atheists, the facts that God is, that our being
proceeds from his act, that we are his property, are as truly
_natural_ as man and his attributes are. They should therefore be
embraced as a part of the facts of the case, to be treated just as
all other natural facts, save that these are the most rudimental of
all. For, how can that treatment be truly scientific, which proceeds
upon a partial induction of the facts of the case, leaving out the
most primary? It is this illusion which has led so many moralists to
attempt the discussion of the nature and origin of moral distinctions,
without introducing a Creator, or a divine will. Whereas, a true
science accepts God as the first fact in ethics; his attributes as the
primary standard of the moral distinction; his will as the fountain of
moral obligation. What wretched impotency and confusion has not this
omission caused in ethical discussions!

In like manner, this impotent and infidel theory of government sets
out, (as was consistent with its atheistic inventors,) without
reference to the fact that man's existence, nature, and rights
originated in the personal will of a Creator, without reference to
original moral distinctions, or to original responsibilities to God,
or to the moral quality of God's will towards man. It quietly ignores
the fact that man's will, if he is the creature of an intelligent and
moral personal Creator, never could, by any possibility, be his proper
rule of acting. It passes over, in the insane pride of human
perfectionism, the great fact that man is also a naturally depraved
creature. It falsely supposes a state of nature, in which man's will
made his right: whereas no being, save an eternal and self-existent
God, has a right to exist in that state for one instant. But all these
are _facts of nature_, belonging to the case, ascertainable by
experience and reason. If, then, we would have a correct theory of
natural rights, all of them must be embraced in our view. And the
proper account of the matter is simply this: Inasmuch as man did not
make himself, _he enters existence the subject of God_. This
subjection is not only of force, but also of moral right. Moral
distinctions are original, being eternally expressed in God's
perfections, and sovereignly revealed to the creature in his
preceptive will; which is, to man, the practical source and rule of
obligation. This moral obligation is therefore as _native_ as man is.
The rudimental relations to his God and his fellows imposed on man are
binding on him _ab initio_; not at all by force of any assent of his
will, but merely by the rightful force of God's will: man's virtue is
to conform his will freely to God's. This will also defines his
rights; by which we mean those things which other creatures are
morally obliged to allow him to have and to do. Man, we repeat, enters
existence with these moral relations resting upon him. And among them,
are his social relations to his fellows; as is shown by the fact that
he has a social nature. Now civil government is nothing more than the
organization of a part of these social relations. God's will and
providence, then, as truly as his word, has placed man naturally under
civil government. It is as natural as man is. Again: the rule of
action imposed by just government is _the moral rule_. That is to say,
an equitable government enjoins on its members or subjects the doing
of those things which are morally right, and the refraining from those
things which are morally wrong.

We trace civil government, then, not to any social contract, or other
human expediency, but to the will and providence of God, and to
original moral obligation. If asked, whence the obligation to obey the
civil magistrate who, personally, is but our fellow, we answer, from
God's will, which is the source and measure of duty. Man's will is
wayward and depraved. Hence practical authority to enforce this rule
of right upon him must be lodged in some hands; and since God does not
rule statedly by miracle, it must be in human hands. Civil government
is God's ordinance, and its obligations are those of original moral
right. The advantage and convenience resulting illustrate and confirm,
but do not originate, the obligation. This is the theory of government
plainly taught by St. Paul (Rom. xiii. 1 to 7) and St. Peter (1 Ep.
ii. 13 to 18.) For we are here told that the civil magistrate is God's
minister, to uphold right and repress wrong; that obedience to him in
this is not only of moral, but religious obligation; and that he who
resists this function disobeys God.

What, then, is man's natural liberty? We answer, that it is only
_privilege to do whatever he has a moral right to do_. Freedom to do
whatever a man wills, is not a liberty, either natural or civil, but
an unnatural license, a natural iniquity; man's will being naturally
depraved. What then is man's civil liberty? We reply, that under an
equitable government, it is the same--the privilege to do whatever he
has a moral right to do. No government is perfectly equitable: none
are wholly unjust. Some withhold more, some fewer, of the citizen's
moral rights. None withhold them all. Hence, under the most despotic
government there are some rights left, and so, some liberty. A
perfectly just government would be one which would allot to each
citizen freedom to do all the things which he had a moral right to do,
and nothing else. Such a government would not restrain the natural
liberty of any citizen in any respect; each man's civil liberty would
be identical with his natural. Government does not originate rights,
neither can it justly take them away. But practically, it confirms,
instead of impairing, our natural liberty; because it secures us in
the exercise of it.

But the friends of liberal government may feel a lurking suspicion of
this plain statement; because it is on a theory of pretended 'divine
right' that the arguments for legitimacy, passive obedience, and
despotism repose. Let us, then, pause to inquire whether the true
scheme looks in that direction. And we ask first: Whether it is not
much more likely that tyrannical conclusions will be drawn from those
principles which ignore God, the great standard of right, and original
moral distinctions, which are the basis of all rights, and so of all
liberty--from principles which make man's might his natural right;
rather than from our principles, which solidly found man's rights in
eternal moral distinctions, and in the will of a just and benevolent
God, the common Father, before whom rulers and ruled are equal? And
when we turn to the history of opinion, we see that while Locke
illogically deduced from this theory of the social contract a scheme
of liberal government, his greater master, Hobbes, inferred that the
most complete despotism was the most consistent. And both the French
and the Yankee Jacobins, deriving from it an impious deification of
the will of the mob which happens to be the larger, as the supreme
law, have reduced their theory to practice in the most violent,
ruthless, and mischievous oppressions ever perpetrated on civilized
communities. Let the tree be judged by its fruits.

We repeat, that the glory and strength of the Christian theory of
human government and liberty is this: that _it founds man's rights on
eternal moral distinctions_. The liberty it grants each man is
privilege of doing all those things which he, with his particular
character and relations, is morally entitled to do. Privilege of doing
all other things it retrenches; for what would this be but sin? Now
the epitome of moral distinctions is, 'Love thy neighbour as thyself.'
It is the same law expressed in the "Golden Rule." The meaning of
this, as we saw, is, not that we must do to our fellow all that our
caprice might desire, if our positions were inverted; but what we
should believe ourselves morally entitled to require of him, in that
case. Here, then, is the true basis of human equality. Men are all
children of a common Father, brethren of the same race, each one
entitled by the same right to his own appropriate share of well-being.
Hence, by a single and conclusive step, as the foundation of civil
government is moral, its proper object is the good of all, governors
and governed. Government is not for the behoof of rulers, but of the
ruled also. Subjects were not made for kings, but kings for subjects.
Indeed, rulers are themselves subjects, owing allegiance to the
universal law of right, and members of the brotherhood for whose
common good this law reigns. In the sublime Words of Samuel
Rutherford, _Rex, Lex_. Neither Scriptures nor providence give to
rulers any of that paternal right over the people, of which the
legitimatists prate. They neither have for their subjects the father's
instinctive love, nor the father's natural superiority in virtue,
experience, or powers. The Scriptural governments over Israel were
none of them legitimatist; and that to which Paul, Peter, and Christ
owned conscientious allegiance, the Empire of the Cæsars, was not
hereditary, and was a recent novelty. Again: while it is God's
ordinance that men shall live under governments, no one form of
government is ordained. "The powers that be are ordained of God." The
one which, in His providence, actually subsists, is the legitimate one
to the individual conscience. Still less has God indicated the
individuals who shall govern as His agents. There is no divine
nomination of the particular person. Hence, as government is for the
common good of all, the selection of these agents belongs to the
common wisdom and rectitude of the whole. And it is in this sense,
(and only this,) that the Christian holds that the power of rulers is
delegated from the ruled. In the higher sense, it is delegated from
God, who is our true, rightful, and literal despot. The despotism of
perfect, infinite rectitude is the most perfect freedom.

Now it is clear, that the several rights of different individuals in
the same society must differ exceedingly, because the persons differ
indefinitely in powers, knowledge, virtue, and natural relations to
each other. From that very law of love and equity, whence the moral
equality of men was inferred, it must also follow, that one man is not
morally entitled to pursue his natural well-being at the expense of
that of other men, or of the society. Each one's right must be so
pursued, as not to infringe others' rights. The well-being of all is
inter-connected. Hence equity, yea, a true equality itself, demands a
varied distribution of social privilege among the members, according
to their different characters and relations. In other words, an equal
government must confer very different degrees of power, and impose
very different degrees of restraint, upon different classes of
members. To attempt an identical and mechanical equality; to confer on
those who are incompetent to use them, the same privileges granted to
others who can and will use them rightfully, would be essential
inequality; for it would clothe the incompetent and undeserving with
power to injure the deserving and capable, without real benefit to
themselves. Hence, the civic liberties of all classes in the same
society ought not to be the same. Thus, of the adult members, half are
females, inexorably separated by sex, strength, social relations, and
natural duties. Hence different civic rights are properly given to the
male, in some respects; not because it is right to empower him to
consume upon the promotion of his natural well-being that of his
sister, but because, on the whole, the well-being of both sexes is
thus most promoted. Whether this result does follow, must be a
question of fact, to be decided by experience, if not settled in
advance by God's Word. There is in the society another class of
members, the children, who are not only different from, but inferior
to, the adults, in knowledge, strength, experience, and self-controul.
Hence, it is equitable to withhold from them still other privileges of
the full citizenship. Again: the amount of privileges properly
conceded to the body of citizens of the first class, should vary in
different commonwealths with their average character. If intelligence
and virtue are, in the average, more developed, the restraints of
government should be fewer; if less cultivated, more numerous.
Different frames of government may be best for different communities.

Once more: If the society contains a class of adult members, so
deficient in virtue and intelligence that they would only abuse the
fuller privileges of other citizens to their own and others'
detriment, it is just to withhold so many of these privileges, and to
impose so much restraint, as may be necessary for the highest equity
to the whole body, inclusive of this subject class. And how much
restraint is just, must be determined by facts and experience. Any
degree of it is righteous, which is necessary to the righteous end.
This is so obvious, that even abolitionists admit it, when they lose
sight for the moment of their hobby. Of this Dr. Francis Wayland, a
prominent abolitionist, gives us a striking instance in his "Moral
Science." (Boston, 1838, p. 351.) He says: "Whatever concessions on
the part of the individual, and whatever powers on the part of
society, are _necessary_ to the existence of society, must, by the
very fact of the existence of society, be taken for granted." On p.
356, he adds: "If it be asked which of these" (hereditary, mixed, or
republican) "is the preferable form of government, the answer, I
think, must be conditional. The best form of government for any
people, _is the best that its present social and moral condition
renders practicable_. A people may be _so entirely surrendered to the
influence of passion_, and so feebly _influenced by moral restraints_,
that a government which relied upon moral restraints could not exist
for a day. In this case a subordinate and inferior principle yet
remains,--_the principle of fear_: and the only resort is to a
government of force, or a military despotism."

If then the necessities of order justify the subjection of a whole
nation, with their labour, property, and lives, to one man, will not
the same reasons justify the far milder and more benevolent authority
of masters over their servants? If it appear that the Africans in
these States were by recent descent pagans and barbarians, men in
bodily strength and appetite, with the reason and morals of children,
constitutionally prone to improvidence, so that their possession of
all the franchises of a free white citizen would make them a nuisance
to society and early victims to their own degradation; and if sound
experience teaches that this ruin cannot be prevented without a degree
of restraint approaching that proper for children; that is, by giving
to a guardian the controul of their involuntary labour, and the
expenditure of the fruits for the joint benefit of the parties; how
can we be condemned for it? And that social welfare and order, and the
happiness of the African himself, do call imperiously for this degree
of controul, is confessed by all who have a practical knowledge of his
character, as it is proved by the disasters resulting from his

Every government in the world acknowledges this necessity, and
applies, in some form, this remedy. The abolition government of the
United States, for instance, imposed compulsory restraints and labour
upon multitudes of fugitive slaves, during the war. The only
difference was, that whereas our system of domestic slavery placed
this power in hands most powerfully interested to employ it humanely
and wisely, the anti-slavery authorities placed it in hands which had
every selfish inducement to abuse it to the misery of the slave, and
the detriment of the publick interest. And the same government is
to-day avouching every word of the above argument, by justifying
itself, from a pretended political necessity, for placing the white
race of the South under a much stricter bondage than that formerly
borne by the negroes; a bondage which places not only labour and
property, but life, at the irresponsible will of the masters. If
slavery is wrong, then the abolitionists are the greatest sinners; for
they have turned their own brethren into a nation of slaves.

Domestic servitude, as we define and defend it, is but civil
government in one of its forms. All government is restraint; and this
is but one form of restraint. As long as man is a sinner, and his will
perverted, restraint is righteous. We are sick of that arrogant and
profane cant, which asserts man's 'capacity for self-government' as a
universal proposition; which represents human nature as so good, and
democratic government as so potent, that it is a sort of miraculous
_panacea_, sufficient to repair all the disorders of man's condition.
All this ignores the great truths, that man is fallen; that his will
is disordered, and therefore ought not to be his rule; that God, his
owner and master, has ordained that he shall live under authority.
What fruit has radical democracy ever borne, except factious
oppression, anarchy, and the stern necessity for despotism?

It has been stated that each man's civil liberty, which, under a just
government, is the same with his natural liberty, consists in the
privilege of doing and having those things to which he is morally
entitled. It has been shown, that as different persons in the same
society differ widely in character, powers, and relations, their
specific natural rights differ also. But under all forms of
government, all still have some liberty. And under a perfectly
equitable form, the different classes of persons would properly have
different grades of liberty. So that, even in the relation of
involuntary servitude for life, if it be not abused, there is an
appropriate liberty. Such a servant has privilege to do those things
which he is morally entitled to do. If there are certain things which
he is restrained by authority from doing, which the superior grades
may do, these things are not rights to him. His inferior character,
ignorance, and moral irresponsibility, have extinguished his right to
do them. And this properly, because his privilege of doing them would
injure others and himself, and thus violate the law of equity. If his
slavery restrains him from doing more things than these, then the laws
do him injustice, and mar his rightful liberty.

This degree of domestic servitude supposes that the end of the
restraints it imposes is, to secure, on the whole, the best well-being
of both parties to the relation, servant as well as master. Here we
may notice a forensic trick practised by Dr. Wayland and the
abolitionists. It is that of giving to the proposition which they wish
to overthrow, such an exposition as makes it absurd in itself. Says
this professed moralist, in his chapter on slavery: "Domestic slavery
proceeds upon the principle that the master has a right to controul
the actions, physical and intellectual, of the slave, for his own,
that is, the master's individual benefit; and of course, that the
happiness of the master, when it comes in competition with the
happiness of the slave, extinguishes in the latter the right to pursue
it." If this were true, it would need no argument to show that slavery
is a natural injustice. But slavery proceeds on no such principles.
All men ought to know that our slave laws proved the contrary, in that
they protected the slave, in many particulars, against the master's
will, when it became unrighteous. All know that the publick sentiment
of our people proved the contrary; in that the vast majority laboured
and gave heartily for the welfare of their servants. And all men who
have informed themselves know, that the grand result stamps the
definition as a misrepresentation; in that domestic slavery here has
conferred on the unfortunate black race more true well-being than any
other form of society has ever given them. But it may be asked: Do not
many masters selfishly use their slaves according to that definition?
We reply: Do not many parents selfishly use their children according
to that definition, neglecting their culture and true well-being,
temporal and eternal, for the sake of gain? And is it not in the
"thrifty" North that most of these instances of greedy, grinding
parents are found? Yet who dreams of accusing the parental relation as
therefore unrighteous and mischievous? This selfish tyranny is not the
parental relation, but the abuse of it. So, every intelligent master
defends his slaveholding, because it was, in the main, as preferable
for the slave's interest as for his own.

§ 4. _Abolitionism is Jacobinism._

The promise was made above, to unmask some of the hideous affinities
of the anti-slavery theory. This is now easy. If men are by nature
sovereign and independent, and mechanically equal in rights, and if
allegiance is founded solely on expressed or implied consent, then not
only slavery, but every involuntary restraint imposed on a person or a
class not convicted of crime, and every difference of franchise among
the members of civil society, is a glaring wrong. Such are the
premises of abolition. Obviously, then, the only just or free
government is one where all franchises are absolutely equal to all
sexes and conditions, where every office is directly elective, and
where no magistrate has any power not expressly assented to by the
popular will. For if inequalities of franchise may be justified by
differences of character and condition, of course a still wider
difference of these might justify so wide an inequality of rights as
that between the master and servant. Your true abolitionist is then,
of course, a Red-Republican, a Jacobin. Is not this strikingly
illustrated by the fact, that the first wholesale abolition in the
World was that enacted for the French colonies by the frantic
democrats of the 'Reign of Terror?' And this hint may serve to explain
to the aristocracy of Great Britain the popularity of the authoress of
'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' and of her slanderous book, among the masses
there. It was not because Britain was so exempt from cases of social
hardship and oppression at home, that its people had all its virtuous
sympathies at leisure and unoccupied, to pour forth upon the
imaginary wrongs of Uncle Tom: but it was because the Jacobinism of
the abolitionist theory awakened an echo in the hearts of the lower
classes, still seething with the recent upheaval of 1848. The
community of agrarian sympathies made itself felt. The noble Lords and
Ladies, who patronized the authoress and her book, were industriously
fanning the very fires which are destined to consume their vested

Again, it follows of course from the premises of abolitionism, that
hereditary monarchy, no matter how limited, is a standing injustice. A
hereditary branch of the legislature is, if possible, still worse. Any
such thing as a privileged class in the State is a fraud upon the
others; for "all men are equal." The limitation of the right of
suffrage, by property or sex, is a crime against human right; for the
non-voting classes are ruled without their own consent; but consent
is, according to them, the source of rightful authority. Thus are
condemned at once the three branches of the hoary and honoured British
constitution, kings, lords, and commons; under which men have enjoyed
regulated liberty longer, and to a greater degree, than under any
government on earth. And here it may be remarked that abolitionist
ideas, so current in Great Britain, should have been as alien to the
prevalent turns of thought of that people, as they certainly are to
their welfare and the genius of their institutions. That a fantastic
sciolist, intoxicated with vanity and dazzled by some glittering
sophisms, should be an abolitionist, is natural. But Englishmen have
ever been esteemed a solid and practical race. Their political
conclusions have usually been, to the credit of their good sense,
historical rather than theoretical. Their temper has been rather to
guard the franchises inherited from their fathers, and approved by the
national experience, than to gape after visionary and abstract rights
of man. But despite all this, Great Britain has also been leavened
with this fell spirit. Her political managers imagined that they found
in abolitionism the convenient 'apple of discord' to destroy the peace
of a great rival, and they therefore fostered it. To this great
injustice they have added the condemnation of the South unheard, upon
the testimony of our interested accusers. And the majority of
Englishmen, with a dogmatism as unjust as senseless, have refused to
permit either explanation or defence, proudly wrapped in impenetrable
prejudice, while an innocent and noble people were condemned and
overwhelmed by baseless obloquy. But it requires no spirit of prophecy
to see that Divine Providence is speedily preparing a retribution by
means of their own sin, which will be tremendous enough to satisfy the
resentment of any injured Southerner. Abolitionized America is
manifestly to be the Nemesis of Britain, through her Jacobin ideas, or
arms, or both. The principles of abolition are, as we have proved,
destructive of the foundations of the British constitution. Her own
statesmen have insanely taught them to her people. The masses do not,
indeed, reason very continuously or consistently; yet principles once
fixed in their minds always work themselves out, in time, to their
logical results. The so-called "Liberal Party" of Great Britain, which
draws its inspirations from the abolition democracy of America, is
unveiling itself more and more, as a party of true Jacobinism; and
other parties have now paltered and dallied so long, that it will
speedily show itself irresistible. And when the policy of England is
swayed by moneyless votes, instead of capital and land, the caution
and forbearance, bred by financial interests, which has thus far
scarcely kept the peace between her and the United States, will
speedily be changed. The two Jacobinisms, now so sweetly fraternizing
over the ruin of the South, will disclose their innate and uniform
aggressiveness, and will rush at each other's throats. This the
immemorial rivalries and opposition of dearest interests will insure.
Then will England feel, in the disintegration of her whole social
fabrick by radical American ideas, and the Yankee invasions of Canada
and Ireland, the folly of her own policy.

But other consequences follow from the abolitionist dogmas. "All
involuntary restraint is a sin against natural rights," therefore laws
which give to husbands more power over the persons and property of
wives than to wives over husbands, are iniquitous, and should be
abolished. The same decision must be made upon the exclusion of women,
whether married or single, from suffrage, office, and the full
franchises of men. There must be an end of the wife's obedience to her
husband. Is it said that these subordinations are consistent, because
women assent to them voluntarily, in consenting to become wives? This
plea is insufficient, because the female sex is impelled to marriage
by irresistible laws of their nature and condition. How tyrannous is
this legislation which shuts woman up to the alternative of foregoing
the satisfaction of the prime instincts of her existence; or else of
submitting to a code of natural injustice! As to the disabilities of
single women, this plea has no pretended application. Thus the
abolitionists will reason, yea, are reasoning. What was the strange
prediction of prophetic wisdom, a few years ago, is now already
familiar fact. Female suffrage is already introduced in one State, and
will doubtless prevail as widely as abolitionism. But when God's
ordinance of the family is thus uprooted, and all the appointed
influences of education thus inverted; when America has had a
generation of women who were _politicians_, instead of _mothers_, how
fundamental must be the destruction of society, and how distant and
difficult must be the remedy!

Once more: The same principles have consistently led some
abolitionists to assail the parental relation itself. For although
none can deny that, in helpless infancy, subjection should be the
correlative of protection and maintenance, when once the young citizen
has passed from the age of childhood, by what reason can the
abolitionist justify his compulsory government by the father? Are not
all men by nature equal?

It has been currently asserted that the premises of the abolitionists
were embraced in the Declaration of Independence; so that the United
States have been committed to them from the beginning. The words
usually referred to are the following: "That all men are created
equal: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights: that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted
among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
governed," etc. If by these celebrated propositions it was meant that
there ever was, or could be, a government where all men enjoyed the
same measure of privilege, then it is false. If it was meant that
there ever was, or could be, a state of society in which all men could
indulge their volitions to the same extent, and that, in every case,
the full extent, it is false; for natural and unavoidable differences
of persons must ever prevent this. If it were meant that all men are
naturally equal, then it would be false; for men are born with
different bodily and mental powers, different moral qualities, and
different inheritances of rights. If it was meant that every person
enters life free from just controul, it is false; for we all begin our
existence rightfully subject, irrespective of our consent, to
authority in family and State. Neither God nor nature makes it
optional with us whether we will be subject to government. But if it
be meant that all men are created equal in this sense, that all are
children of a common heavenly Father, all common subjects of the law
of equity expressed in the "Golden Rule," each one as truly entitled
to possess the set of rights justly appropriate to him, (and by the
same reason,) as any other is entitled to his set of rights; this is
true, and a glorious truth. This is man's moral equality. It means
that, under God, the servant is as much entitled to the rights and
privileges of a justly-treated servant, as the master is to the rights
of a master; that the commoner is as much entitled to the just
privileges of a commoner, as a peer to those of a peer. It is the
truthful boast of Englishmen, that in their land every man is equal
before the law. What does this mean? Does it mean that Lord Derby has
no other franchises and privileges than the day-labourer? By no
means. But the privileges allotted to the day-labourer by the laws are
defended by the same institutions, and adjudicated by the same free
principles, and made legally as inviolable, as the very different and
larger privileges of Earl Derby. It is in this sense that a just and
liberal government holds all men by nature equal. And if, when the
Declaration of Independence says that the right of all men to their
liberty is "inalienable," the proper definition of civil liberty is
accepted, (that it only means privilege to do what each man, in his
peculiar circumstances, has a moral right to do,) this also is
universally true. But all this is perfectly consistent with
differences of social condition, and station, and privilege; where
characters and relations are different. As we have seen, the servant
for life, who as a slave receives "those things which are just and
equal," has his true liberty, though it is different from that of the
free citizen; and the servant can no more be justly stripped of this
his _modicum_ of liberty, than the master of his. Last, when it is
declared that "governments derive their just powers from the consent
of the governed," there is a sense in which it is true, and one in
which it is false. In one sense, they derive their just powers from
God, his law, and providence. In the other sense, that the people are
not for their rulers, but the rulers for their people, the selection
of particular forms of constitution and of the individuals to execute
the functions, belongs to the aggregate rectitude and intelligence of
the commonwealth, expressed in some way practically fair. But by "the
consent of the governed," our wise fathers never intended the consent
of each particular human being, competent and incompetent. They
intended the representative commonwealth as a body, the "_populus_,"
or aggregate corporation of that part of the human beings properly
wielding the franchises of full citizens. Their proposition is
general, and not particular. The men of 1776 were not vain
_Ideologues_; they were sagacious, practical Englishmen. Thus
understood, as every correct thinker does, they teach nothing against
difference of privilege among the subjects of government; and
consequently, nothing inconsistent with the servitude of those who are
found incapable of beneficially possessing a fuller liberty.

Now, the evidence that this only was their meaning is absolutely
complete. Had their proposition been that of the Jacobin abolitionist,
(that just claim on men's obedience to authority is founded on the
individual's consent,) they must have ordered every thing differently
from their actual legislation. They could not have countenanced
limited suffrage, of which nearly all of them were advocates. They
must have taught female suffrage, which the most democratic of them
would have pronounced madness. Not only did they retain the African
race in slavery, in the face of this declaration, but they refused to
adopt full democratic equality, in reconstructing their constitutions.
Were these men fools? Were they ignorant of the plain meaning of their
own propositions? Did they, like modern Radicals, disdain the plainest
obligations of consistency? Some attempt to evade their retention of
slavery, by saying that they did not defend its consistency, nor
contemplate it as a permanent relation; but the other facts are
unanswerable. It may be true that Jefferson, the draughtsman of the
Declaration, did heartily adopt his propositions in the sense of the
advocates of the social contract; for it is well known that he was
properly a Democrat, and not, like the other great Whigs of Virginia,
only a Republican; that he had drank deeply into the spirit of Locke's
political writings; and that he had already contracted a fondness for
the atheistical philosophy of the French political reformers. But who
can believe that George Mason, of Gunston, could fail to see the
glaring inconsistency between these propositions, taken in the
extravagant and radical sense now forced upon them by the
abolitionists, and the constitution which he gave to the State of
Virginia? According to that immortal instrument, our commonwealth was
as distinctly contrasted with a levelling democracy, as any monarchy
regulated by laws could possibly be. It was, indeed, a liberal,
aristocratic republic. None could vote save the owners of land in
fee-simple; and these were permitted to exercise their elective powers
directly, only in one sole instance, the election of the General
Assembly. This Assembly then exercised, without farther reference to
the freeholders, all the powers of the commonwealth. The Assembly
elected the Governor of the State. The Assembly appointed all judges
of law, and executive officers of State. The county courts, to whom
belonged the whole power of police, of local taxation, and of
administration of local justice in cases beneath the grade of a
felony, formed a proper aristocracy, serving for life, appointing
their own clerks and sheriffs, and filling vacancies in their own
numbers by a nomination to the Governor, which was always virtually
imperative. Such was the government which the statesmen of Virginia
deliberately adopted, after signing the Declaration of Independence;
than which none could have been devised by human wit, so well adapted
to the character and wants of their people, and under which they
exhibited the highest political stability and purity which our
commonwealth has ever known. Any one who knows the British
Constitution will see at a glance, that our Virginian frame of
government was not the work of men led by the Utopian dream of
"liberty, fraternity, and equality," but of practical statesmen,
establishing for their posterity the historical rights of British

But were the language of the Declaration of Independence as decisive
as anti-slavery men suppose, it would concern us exceedingly little.
We regard it as no political revelation. When we formed a part of the
United States, it was no article of our constitution; and still less
are we responsible for it now. If it should be even convicted of
embodying some error, this would be neither very surprising, nor very
disgraceful to its authors. For what more probable than that men
inflamed by the spirit of resistance to tyranny, and surrounded by the
excitements of a revolution, in the indiscreet effort to propound a
set of abstract generalities as the basis of their action, should mix
the plausible errors of the advocates of freedom with the precious

§ 5. _Labour of another may be Property._

By confounding the master's right to the slave's labour with a
pretended property in his conscience, soul, and whole personality,
abolitionists have attempted to represent "property in man" as a
self-evident wrong. But we shall show that, in the only sense in which
we hold it, property in man is recognized by the laws of every
commonwealth. The father has property in his child, the master in his
apprentice, the husband in his wife, the wife in her husband, and the
employer in his hireling. In every one of these cases, this property
is recoverable by suits at law, and admits of being transmuted for
money, just as any other possession. When the husband is killed by the
culpable negligence of a railroad company which had engaged to
transport him for hire, the wife sues and recovers money damages. When
the daughter is seduced from her father's house, he may sue for
compensation, and the court will assess the value of her remaining
services until her majority, at such a sum as they judge proper. How
is this to be explained, save by regarding the wife as having lawful
property in the industry of her husband, and the father as having
property in the labour of his daughter? The labour of a minor son is
often sold by the father, and thus becomes the property of the
purchaser. It is of no avail to say that this labour is voluntary, and
that the property originates in the virtual compact between the
parties; for this is not true of the parental relation. Still another
striking instance of lawful property in the involuntary labour of a
fellow-man, appears in the apprenticeship of the children of paupers.
Pauperism is not a crime; yet these children are, with undisputed
moral propriety, indentured to householders, during their minority;
and the labour thus conveyed is hired, sold, bequeathed, just as any
other property. Dr. Wayland argues that there cannot be ownership in
man, because ownership as he defines it, consists in our "_right to
use the property as we please!_" This definition was made to suit
abolitionism, and is not the truth. May we, because we have property
in our horses, use them living as we would our logs of wood, for fuel?
The ethics of common sense, as that of all true science, (what Dr. W.
should have known, if he had been fit to do what he assumed, teach
science,) define ownership to be _a right to use our property
according to its nature_. Thus defined, property in man presents no
solecism whatever, inconsistent with righteousness.

§ 6. _The Slave Received due Wages._

But it is charged that the injustice of our system is apparent in
this, that it takes the slave's labour without compensation. It is
simply untrue. Southern slaves received, on the average, better and
more certain compensation than any labouring people of their capacity
in the world. It came to them in the form of that maintenance, which
the master was bound by the laws,[91] as well as his own interests, to
bestow upon them. During childhood, they were reared at his expense;
in sickness they received maintenance, nursing, and the same medical
advice which he provided for his own children; all at his expense.
When they married and had children, (which all did, single-blessedness
was unknown among them,) their families were provided for by the
masters without one additional toil or anxiety on their part. When
they died, their orphans had, in the master's estate, an unfailing
provision against destitution; and if old age overtook them, they
received, without labour, the same supplies and comforts which were
allotted to them in their prime. How many of the sons of toil in
nominally free countries would seize with rapture the offer of such
wages for their labour, if the name of slavery were detached from
them? To be able to secure, by the moderate labours of their active
years, a certain and liberal provision for their daily wants, for
their families, however large, and for sickness and old age, would be
a contract so advantageous, in comparison with the hardships and
uncertainties of the peasant's usual life, that few thoughtful persons
of that class would hesitate, from love of novelty or dim hope of a
more lucky career, to embrace it. But this is just what our laws and
customs gave to our slaves, as wages of their easy labour.

[Footnote 91: See Code of Va., 1849, Chap. 10 § 6.]

But the anti-slavery man objects, that the adjustment of this
compensation is made at the will of the master alone, while the slave
has no power to influence it. This is precisely the same objection, in
effect, with the one that the labour is involuntary. We have already
shown that this circumstance alone does not make the claim on the
labour unjust. And if the system makes for the slave, on the average,
a better bargain than he could make for himself, where is his
hardship? Is he injured by being restrained of the liberty of injuring
himself? Surely, the fairness of any system should be judged by the
fairness of its average results. If some masters withhold a part of
the due wages, by failing to "render to their servants that which is
just and equal," this is their individual fault, not that of the
system. St. Paul, in the passage quoted, manifestly thought that we
might hold the involuntary labour of our slaves, and yet be no

But our enemies return to the charge, urging that we robbed our
slaves, because we engrossed to ourselves the lion's share of the
bondsman's labour. The master and his family, say they, who did no
work, rolled in luxury, while the poor slaves, who did all, got only
such a pittance as was needed to preserve their capacity for toil.
This is false in every part. Masters and their families were not
idlers. Their life was not relatively luxurious. The slave's share was
not a pittance, but much more like the lion's share. But, they
exclaim: "Let the masters stand aside and allow the slaves to enjoy
the whole fruits of the estates they cultivate: then only will the
former cease to be robbers." This astonishing folly is exposed by
simply asking, whether capital and superintending skill are not
entitled to wages, as well as labour? The crops of the Southern
plantation were the joint fruit of the master's capital, the master's
labour and skill of oversight, and the slaves' labour. If capital be
denied all remuneration, the wheels of productive industry would stop
everywhere, to the especial ruin of the labouring classes. Does the
anti-slavery manufacturer of Lowell or Manchester think it fair, after
investing his thousands in fixtures and material, and bestowing his
anxious superintendence, that his operatives should claim the whole
profits of the factory, leaving him not a penny, because, forsooth, he
never spun or wove a thread? Away with the nonsense! Southern slaves
enjoyed a larger share of the proceeds of conjoined capital,
superintending skill, and labour, than any operatives in the world.
This is not only allowed, but virtually asserted, by anti-slavery men,
when they reason that slavery is an economical evil, because the
maintenance of slaves is more costly, in proportion to the value of
their labour, than that of free labourers. Thus, in one place, they
object that slaves receive too much compensation, and in another, that
they receive too little. Nor is it true that Southern masters usually
make no contribution of labour to the products of their farms. There
is nowhere a population of equal wealth, more industrious than
slaveholders. The master usually contributes far more to the common
production than the strongest labourer on his estate; and the mistress
more than the most industrious female servant, partly in the labours
of superintendence, but also in actual toil.

§ 7. _Effects of Slavery on Moral Character._

It is argued by abolitionists, that slavery regularly exerts many
influences tending to degrade the moral character of both masters and
servants. Their charge cannot be better stated than in the Words of
Dr. Wayland. ["Moral Science," Personal Liberty, Ch. I., § 2.]

"Its effects must be disastrous upon the morals of both parties. By
presenting objects on whom passion may be satiated without resistance,
and without redress, it tends to cultivate in the master, pride,
anger, cruelty, selfishness, and licentiousness. By accustoming the
slave to subject his moral principles to the will of another, it
tends to abolish in him all moral distinctions, and thus fosters in
him, lying, deceit, hypocrisy, dishonesty, and a willingness to yield
himself up to minister to the appetites of his master. That in all
slaveholding countries there are exceptions to this remark, and that
there are principles in human nature which, in many cases, limit the
effect of these tendencies, may be gladly admitted. Yet that such is
the tendency of slavery as slavery, we think no reflecting person can
for a moment hesitate to allow."

This is a flattering picture of us, truly! By good fortune, it is
drawn by one who knows nothing of us. Just such are the current
representations which Yankees have made of Southern morals, down to
the notable instance of Senator Sumner's speech on the "Barbarism of
Slavery." The question whether the system of slave labour deteriorates
the morals of master and servant, as compared with that of free
labour, may be treated as one of deduction and reasoning, or one of
fact. The latter is the more trustworthy way to decide it. Dr. Wayland
undertakes to settle it solely by the former. And it is manifest to
the first glance, that his whole reasoning begs the question. If the
very relation is wicked, if every act of authority on the master's
part is a wrong, and of submission on the servant's part is a
surrender of his right, then the reasoning is plausible. But let us
suppose, for argument's sake, (what may be true, as it is the very
point undecided,) that the relation may be right, the authority
exercised lawful, and the things our servants are usually enjoined to
do, innocent acts. Then, the fact that there is authority on one side
and obedience on the other, cannot tend, of itself, to degrade ruler
and ruled: for if this were so, the parental relation itself (ordained
by God as His school of morals for young human beings) would be a
school of vice. But the argument is a sophism, in a yet more audacious
and insulting sense. Its author argues the degradation of the slave,
chiefly because his wicked master compels him by fear to do so many
wicked things. But suppose the master to be a gentleman, and not a
brute, so that the things he customarily compels the slave to do, are
right things; where, then, is the argument? Which of the two
characters masters usually bear, is the question to be solved at the
conclusion of the reasoning, and, yet more, to be decided by the surer
testimony of fact. But Dr. Wayland chooses to begin by presuming, _à
priori_, that masters are generally rascals.

Wisdom would infer, on the contrary, that the habitual exercise of
authority, approved as righteous by the ruler's conscience, tends to
elevate his character. He who would govern others must first govern
himself. Hence, we should expect to find him who is compelled to
exercise a hereditary and rightful authority, a man more
self-governed, thoughtful, considerate, firm, and dignified, than
other men. The habit of providing constantly for a number of persons,
whom he is impelled by the strongest self-interest to care for
efficiently, should render a man considerate of others, and
benevolent. Experience will soon teach the head of such an estate,
that his relation with his dependents must be any thing else than a
carnival of self-indulgence, violence, and tyranny; for such a life
will speedily leave him no servants to abuse. On the contrary, the
very necessities of his position compel him to be, to a certain
extent, provident, methodical, and equitable. Without these virtues,
his estate slips rapidly away. And who, that knows human nature, can
fail to see the powerful effects of the institution in developing, in
the ruling caste, a higher sentiment of personal honour, chivalry, and
love of liberty? This was asserted of the slaveholders of Virginia and
the Carolinas by the sagacious Burke. It is very true, that if every
man in the country were under the vital influence of Christian
sanctification, he would not need these more human influences to
elevate his character. But the wise statesman takes men as they are,
not as they should be. Until the _millennium_, the elevating
influences of social position will continue to be of great practical
value. Yankeedom, at least, continues thus far to exhibit a great want
of them.

But now, in considering the actual influences of slavery on the morals
of the Africans, let the reader remember what they actually were
before they were placed under this tutelage. He may be sure they were
not what abolitionism loves to picture them, a sort of Ebony
Arcadians, full of simple, pastoral purity, and of what infidels
vainly prate as the dignity of native virtue. It is not slavery which
has degraded them from that imaginary elevation. On the contrary, they
were what God's word declares human depravity to be under the
degrading effects of paganism. Let the reader see the actual and true
picture, in the first chapter of Romans, and in authentic descriptions
of the negro in his own jungles, such as the invaluable work of Dr.
John Leighton Wilson, on the tribes of the Guinea coast. And here,
moreover, he will find proof, that the type of savage life brought to
America originally by the slave trade, was far below that witnessed in
Africa among the more noticeable tribes; because the great bulk of the
slaves were either the Pariahs of that barbarous society, or the
kidnapped members of the feeble fragments of bush tribes, who had
nearly perished before the comparative civilization of the Mandingoes
and Greboes, living but one remove above the apes around them. Now
cannot common sense see the moral advantage to such a people, of
subjection to the will of a race elevated above them, in morals and
intelligence, to an almost measureless degree? Is it no moral
advantage to be compelled to wear decent clothing, and to observe at
least the outward proprieties which should obtain between the sexes?
None to be taught industry, in place of pagan laziness; and methodical
habits, in place of childish waste and unthrift? The destructive
effects of the savage's common vices, lying, theft, drunkenness,
laziness, waste, upon business and pecuniary interests, will of course
prompt masters to repress those vices, if no higher motive does. Is
this no gain for the poor pagan? Especially does the matter of
drunkenness illustrate, in a splendid manner, the benign effects of
our system on African character and happiness. Place any savage race
beside a civilized and commercial people, and leave them free; and the
speedy result is, that the "fire-water" consumes and depopulates them.
Witness the North American Indians. But here was just such a race, in
the midst of the temptation and opportunity, and yet preserved from
all appreciable evil from this source, and advancing in physical
comfort, manners, and numbers, more rapidly than any white race in
Christendom. While numbers of Africans exhibited just that weakness
for ardent spirits, which is to be expected in people lately
barbarians, yet so wholesome were the restraints of that regular and
constant occupation enforced upon them, it was the rarest thing in the
world that a farm-servant filled a drunkard's grave among us. But now
the flood-gates are opened. Was not Dr. Wayland a temperance man?
Southern slavery was the most efficient temperance society in the

Once more, was it nothing, that this race, morally inferior, should be
brought into close relations to a nobler race, so that the propensity
to imitation should be stimulated by constant and intimate
observation, by domestic affection, by the powerful sentiment of
allegiance and dependence? And above all, was it nothing that they
should be brought, by the relation of servitude, under the consciences
and Christian zeal of a Christian people, in circumstances which most
powerfully enlisted their sense of responsibility, and gave free scope
to their labour of love? Let the blessed results answer, of a nation
of four millions lifted, in four generations, out of idolatrous
debasement, "sitting clothed, and in their right mind;" of more than
half a million adult communicants in Christian churches! And all this
glorious work has been done exclusively by Southern masters; for never
did foreign or Yankee abolitionist find leisure from the more
congenial work of slandering the white, to teach or bless the black
man in any practical way. This much-abused system has thus
accomplished for the Africans, amidst universal opposition and
obloquy, more than all the rest of the Christian world together has
accomplished for the rest of the heathen.

It is the delight of abolitionists to impute to slavery a result
peculiarly corrupting as to sins of unchastity. Witness the
repetitions charges by Dr. Wayland, of these sins, as contaminating
both masters and slaves, in consequence of slavery. The evidence of
facts has been already given as to the comparative justice of this
charge. But reason itself would suggest to the least reflection, that
Southern households are not the only ones where young men and female
domestics are thrown together, amidst all the temptations and
opportunities of privacy and domestic intimacy; that the power of
corporal punishment, unlawful here for this end, is not the only power
which a superior may apply to an inferior to overcome her chastity,
nor the most effective. But, on the other hand, reason would suggest
that the employment of free persons of the same colour and race would
greatly enhance the force of those temptations; while among us, the
differences of colour, race, and personal attractions, would greatly
diminish them; while the very sentiment of superior caste would render
the intercourse more repulsive and unnatural.

The testimony of facts, however, is the conclusive evidence on the
question, whether our system is relatively more corrupting than that
of free labour. In this department of the discussion, Providence has
given us a refutation against the Yankees so terribly biting, as fully
to satisfy any indignation which their arrogant railings may have
excited in our bosoms. We were placed together at the beginning of
our national existence, under the same Federal government, and under
similar religious and State institutions. Our union presented a common
field for constant meeting and comparison. And what were the results
disclosed? It has been shown that while the South, as a great section
of the Union, never, in one single instance, made any general or
united movement to pervert Federal laws and powers for unfair local
purposes; while the South ever manifested a chivalrous patriotism
against any assaults upon the common rights; the North has never
failed, from the first year of the government, to use it as a machine
for legislative extortion and local advantage; and the North has
usually played the traitor to the common cause when assailed from
without, even when, as in the second war with England, the interests
assailed by the foreign enemy, and generously defended by the South,
were more peculiarly her own. It has appeared that when at last
legislative peculation grew so foul that the publick demanded inquiry,
every member of the Congress convicted of that disgraceful iniquity,
was from the North, and not one from the South. If we pass to personal
comparisons, the publick men of the South have shown themselves, on
the federal _arena_, superior, in general, in the talent of command,
in personal honour, in dignity, in the amenities of life, in
forbearance and self-controul; while that very petulance, wilfulness,
and love of arbitrary power, which, abolition philosophers infer, must
be the peculiar fruits of slaveholding, were exhibited in marked
contrast, by the few Northern Presidents who had the fortune to reach
that high position. Compare, for instance, the benign Washington, a
great slaveholder, with that petty tyrant, the elder Adams; or
Jefferson, Madison and Monroe with his son, (worthy son of such a
sire,) John Quincy Adams; or Jefferson Davis with Abraham Lincoln; or
our Lee, Johnstons, Jackson and Beauregard, with a McNeill and a
Butler! So well proved are the superior courtesy, liberality, and
humanity of the Southern gentleman, that the very porters on the
wharves, and waiters in the hotels, of Northern cities, recognize them
by these traits. It has been the fashion of a certain type of
poltroons among the Yankees, who wish to indulge the anger and
malignity of the bully, along with the safety and impunity of the
Quaker, to represent the resort of Southerners to the code of honour,
as a peculiar proof of their uncivilized condition. They exclaim
triumphantly that we fight duels, while Yankees do not. Now the code
of honour is certainly irrational, unchristian, and wicked. But there
is another thing that is greatly more wicked; and this is the
disposition to inflict upon a fellow-man the injuries and insults
which that code proposes to prevent; and then cloak one's self under
the cowardly pretence of a conscience which forbids to fight. The
duellist sins by anger and revenge: these sneaking hypocrites sin by
anger and revenge, and cowardice and lying, at once. The truly good
man is forbidden by his conscience from seeking retaliation; but the
same conscience equally forbids him to inflict on others the injuries
which provoke retaliation. The man who wilfully injures his fellow,
has therefore no right to plead conscience, for refusing satisfaction.
It is not conscience, but cowardice. While, then, we mourn the crimes
of violent retaliation which sometimes occur at the South, the
citizens of the North have occasion for a deeper blush, at the crimes
of malignant slander and vituperation which their people are
accustomed to launch at us from the vile hiding-place of their
hypocritical puritanism.

It will be seen by every one, that the females of the ruling class
must be very intimately concerned in the duties of the relation of
master and servant. It is properly termed _domestic_ slavery; and
woman's functions are wholly domestic. If then, slavery is morally
corrupting, Southern ladies should show the sad result very plainly.
But what says fact? Its testimony is one which fills the heart of
every Southern man with grateful pride; that the Southern lady is
proverbially eminent for all that adorns female character, for grace,
for purity and refinement, for benevolence, for generous charity, for
dignified kindness and forbearance to inferiours, for chivalrous moral
courage, and for devout piety.

We might safely submit the comparative soundness of Southern society
to this test: that it has never generated any of those loathsome
_isms_, which Northern soil breeds, as rankly as the slime of Egypt
its spawn of frogs. While the North has her Mormons, her various sects
of Communists, her Free Lovers, her Spiritualists, and a multitude of
corrupt visionaries whose names and crimes are not even known among
us, our soil has never proved congenial to the birth or introduction
of a single one of these inventions.

But the crowning refutation of this slander against Southern morals,
is presented by the great war lately concluded--a refutation whose
glory repays us for long years of reproach. Dispassionate spectators
abroad have passed their verdict of disgust upon the combination of
feebleness in the field, boasting and falsehood at home, venality and
peculation towards their own treasury and the property of private
citizens, with ruthless violation of all the laws of humanity.
Dispassionate spectators! No; there were none such: but from ignorant
and prejudiced minds stuffed with misconceptions by our interested
assailants, the splendid disclosure of civic and military genius,
bravery, fortitude under incredible hardships, magnanimity under
unspeakable provocations, and dignity under defeat, which appeared at
the South, drew a general acclaim of admiration from the whole
civilized world. This war, among its many evils, has done us this
good, that it has settled for this century the charge of the
"barbarism of Southern slavery."

But it may not be amiss to reveal those vices which are peculiarly
opposed to the Yankees' own boasts, as the inhabitants of "the land of
steady habits." Our soldiers who have been prisoners of war among
them, all report that their camps were _Pandemoniums_, for their
resounding blasphemies and profanities. Nothing was more common than
the capture from them of prisoners of war, too drunk to walk steadily.
The mass of the letters found upon their slain, and about their
captured camps, disclosed a shocking prevalence of prurient and
licentious thought, both in their armies and at home. And our
unfortunate servants seduced away by their armies, usually found, to
their bitter cost, that lust for the African women was a far more
prevalent motive, than their pretended humanity, for their liberating
zeal. Such was the monstrous abuse to which these poor creatures were
subjected, that decent slave fathers often hid their daughters in the
woods, from their pretended liberators, as from beasts of prey.

We freely avow that the line of argument which occupies this section
is not to our taste; nor, as was intimated in the introduction, do we
regard it as the safest means of ascertaining the moral influences of
the two systems. But it has not been by our choice that it has been
introduced. The slanders of our accusers have thrust it upon us. We
now gladly dismiss it with this general concluding remark; that the
comparative general virtue of Southern masters, and the purity of
Southern Christianity, are a strong evidence that we were not living
in a criminal relation, as to the African race. For sins are always
gregarious. One sin, permanently established in the heart and life,
always introduces its foul kindred. Sin is contagious. An unsound spot
in the character ultimately taints the whole. The misguided gentleman
who first yields to the passion of gaming, solely for its amusement
and excitement, cannot continue a habitual gamester and a gentleman.
The ingenuous youth who harbours the habit of intoxication, in due
time ceases to be even ingenuous. These unhallowed passions, once
established, introduce fraud, selfishness, meanness, falsehood. So, we
argue, if slaveholding were a sin, its practice would surely tell upon
the honour and integrity of those who continue in it. But Southern
character exhibits no such general effect.

§ 8. _Slavery and the African Slave Trade._

It is a plausible ground of opposition to slavery, to charge it with
the guilt of the slave trade. It is argued that unless we are willing
to justify the capture of free and innocent men, on their own soil,
and their reduction from freedom to slavery, with all the enormous
injustice and cruelty of the African slave trade, we must acknowledge
that the title of the Southern master to his slave at this day is
unrighteous; that a system which had its origin in wrong cannot become
right by the lapse of time; that, if the title of the piratical slave
catcher on the coast of Africa was unrighteous, he cannot sell to the
purchaser any better title than he has; and that an unsound title
cannot become sound by the passage of time. It need hardly be said
that we abhor the injustice, cruelty, and guilt of the African slave
trade. It is justly condemned by the public law of Christendom--a law
which not Wilberforce, nor the British Parliament, nor British, nor
Yankee Abolitionists, have the honour of originating, but the
slaveholding Commonwealth of Virginia. It is condemned by the law of
God. Moses placed this among the judicial statutes of the Jews: "And
he that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand,
he shall surely be put to death." We fully admit, then, that the title
of the original slave catcher to the captured African was most
unrighteous. But few can be ignorant of the principle, that a title,
originally bad, may be replaced by a good one, by transmission from
hand to hand, and by lapse of time. When the property has been
acquired, by the latest holder, fairly and honestly; when, in the
later transfers, a fair equivalent was paid for it, and the last
possessor is innocent of fraud in intention and in the actual mode of
his acquisition of it, more wrong would be effected by destroying his
title, than by leaving the original wrong unredressed. Common sense
says, that whatever may have been the original title, a new and valid
one has arisen out of the circumstances of the case. If this principle
be denied, half the property of the civilized world will be divorced
from its present owners. All now agree that the pretext which gave
ground for the conquest of William of Normandy was wicked; and however
just it might have been, by the laws of nations, the conquest of the
government of a country ought not to disturb the rights of individuals
in private property. The Norman Conquest resulted in a complete
transfer of almost all the land in England to the hands of new
proprietors; and nearly all the land titles of England, at the present
day, are the legal progeny of that iniquitous robbery, which
transferred the territory of the kingdom from the Saxon to the Norman
barons. If lapse of time, and change of hands, cannot make a bad title
good, then few of the present landlords of England have any right to
their estates. Upon the same principles, the tenants leasing from them
have no right to their leases, and consequently they have no right to
the productions of the farms they hold. If they have no right to those
productions, then they cannot communicate any right to those who
purchase from them; so that no man eating a loaf of English bread, or
wearing a coat of English wool, could be certain that he was not
consuming what was not his own. Thus extravagant and absurd are the
results of such a principle. Let us apply to the abolitionists their
own argument, and we shall unseat the most of them from the snug homes
whence they hurl denunciations at us. It is well known that their
forefathers obtained the most of that territory from the poor Indians,
either by fraud or violence. If lapse of time and subsequent transfers
cannot make a sound title in place of an unsound one, then few of the
people of the North have any right to the lands they hold; and, as
honest men, they are bound to vacate them. To this even as great a man
as Dr. Wayland, the philosopher of abolitionism, has attempted an
answer, by saying that this right, arising from possession, only holds
so long as the true, original owner, or the inheritor of his right,
does not appear; and that, when he appears, the right of possession
perishes at once. But he argues, the original and true claimant to the
ownership of the slave is always present, in the person of the slave
himself; so that the right originating in possession cannot exist for
a moment. Without staying to inquire whether the presence of the
inheritor of the original right necessarily puts an end to this right
of possession--a proposition worse than questionable--I would simply
remark, that, to represent the slave himself as the possessor of the
original right, is a complete begging of the question. It assumes the
very point in dispute, whether the right of the master is sound or
not. And we would add, what would the courts of New England, what
would Dr. Wayland say, should the feeble remnants of the New England
Indians, who are yet lingering in those States, claim all the fair
domains of their tribe? And what would be said in England, if the
people of Saxon descent should rise upon all those noble houses who
boast a Norman origin, and claim their princely estates?

But we carry this just _argumentum ad hominem_ nearer home. If the
Virginian slaveholder derived from the New England or British
slave-trader, no valid title to the African, then the trader had no
valid title to the planter's money. What can be clearer than this? And
if continued possession, with lapse of time, and transmission from
hand to hand, cannot convert an unsound title into a sound one, all
the wealth acquired by the African slave trade, together with all its
increase, is wrongfully held by the heirs of those slave dealers: it
belongs to the heirs of the planters from whom it was unjustly taken.
Now it is well known that the New England States, and especially the
little State of Dr. Wayland, Rhode Island, drew immense sums from the
slave trade; and it was said of the merchants of Liverpool and
Bristol, that the very bricks of their houses were cemented with the
blood of the slave. Who can tell how much of the wealth which now
freights the ships, and drives the looms of these anti-slavery marts,
is the fruit of slave profits? Let the pretended owners disgorge their
spoils, and restore them to the Virginian planters, to indemnify them
for the worthless and fictitious title to the slaves whom they have
been called upon to emancipate; in order that means may be provided to
make their new liberty a real blessing to them. Thus we should have a
scheme for emancipation, or colonization, which would be just in both
its aspects. But will abolitionism assent to this? About as soon as
death will surrender its prey. Let them cease, then, for shame's sake,
to urge this sophism.

If this principle of a right originated by possession can be sound
anywhere, it is sound in its application to our slaves. The title by
which the original slave catchers held them may have been iniquitous.
But these slave catchers were not citizens of the Southern colonies;
these slaves were not brought to our shores by our ships. They were
presented by the inhuman captors, dragged in chains from the filthy
holds of the slave ships; and the alternative before the planter was,
either to purchase them from him who possibly had no right to sell
them, or re-consign them to fetters, disease, and death. The slaves
themselves hailed the conclusion of a sale with joy, and begged the
planters to become their masters, as a means of rescue from their
floating prison. The planters, so far as they were concerned, paid a
fair commercial equivalent for the labour of the slaves; and the right
so acquired passed legally through generations from father to son, or
seller to purchaser. The relation, so iniquitously begun in those
cases where the persons imported were not slaves already in Africa,
has been fairly and justly transferred to subsequent owners, and has
resulted in blessings to the slaves. Its dissolution is more
mischievous to them than to the masters. Must it not be admitted that
the injustice in which the relation originated no longer attaches to
it? The difference between the title of the original slave catcher,
and that of the late Virginian slave owner, is as great as between the
ruffian Norman freebooter, who conquered his fief at Hastings, and his
law-abiding descendant, the Christian gentleman of England.

§ 9. _The Morality of Slavery Vindicated by its Results._

To deny the mischievous effects of emancipation upon the Africans
themselves, requires an amount of impudence which even abolitionists
seldom possess. The experience of Britain has demonstrated, to the
satisfaction of all her practical statesmen, that freedom among the
whites is ruinous to the blacks. They tell us of the vast decline in
the productiveness of their finest colonies, of the lapsing of
fruitful plantations into the bush, of the return of the slaves,
lately an industrious and useful peasantry, to savage life, and of the
imperative necessity for Asiatic labour, to rescue their lands from a
return to the wilderness. A comparison between the slaves of the
South, and the freed negroes of the North, gives the same results.
While the former were cheerful, healthy, progressive, industrious, and
multiplying rapidly in numbers, the latter are declared by their white
neighbours to be a social nuisance, depressed by indolence and
poverty, decimated by hereditary diseases, and tending rapidly to

We argue hereupon, that it cannot be a moral duty to bestow upon the
slave that which is nothing but an injury. It cannot be a sin to do to
him that which uniformly and generally is found essential to his
well-being in his present condition. We certainly are not required by
a benevolent God to ruin him in order to do him justice! No sober and
practical mind can hold such an absurdity. Hence we may know, even in
advance of examination, that the ethical premises, the theory of human
rights, which lead to such preposterous conclusions, must be false.
To illustrate this argument, the humane effects of slavery upon the
slave should be more fully exhibited. This we propose to attempt in
another chapter.



We are not propagandists of slavery. The highest wish of Virginia with
reference to it was, that now it had been fastened on her against her
remonstrances by others, she should be let alone to manage it as she
judged the best: a right which had been solemnly pledged to her by her
present aggressors. We had no desire to force it on others, or to
predict its universal prevalence, as the best organization of society.
But having claimed that the Word of God and publick justice authorize
it, we admit that it is reasonable we should meet those who assert
economical and social results of it so evil, as to render it in
credible that a wise and benevolent God should sanction such a
mischief. We hope to show that slavery, instead of being wasteful,
impoverishing, and mischievous, is so far useful and benevolent as to
vindicate the divine wisdom in ordaining it, and to show that we were
wisely content with our condition so far as this relation of labour
and capital was concerned.

We would also urge this preliminary remark: that the economical
effects of American slavery have usually been argued from an amazingly
unreasonable point of view. Our enemies persist in discussing it as an
election to be made between a system of labour by christianized,
enlightened, free yeomen of the same race, on one hand; and a system
of labour by African slaves on the other; as though the South had any
such election in its power! It was not a thing for us to decide,
whether we should have these Africans, or civilized, free, white
labour; the former were here; here, not by the choice of our
forefathers, but forced upon us by the unprincipled cupidity of the
slave-trading ancestors of the Abolitionists of Old and New England
who now revile us; forced upon us against the earnest protest of
Virginia. Did Abolitionists ever propose a practical mode of removing
them, and supplying their places, which would not inflict on both
parties more mischief than slavery occasion? They should have showed
us some way to charm the four millions of Africans among us, away to
some happy Utopia, where they might be more comfortable than we made
them; and to repair the shock caused by the abstraction of all this
productive labour. Until they did this, the question was not whether
it would be wisest for a legislator creating a totally new community,
to form it like Scotland or New England; or like Virginia. The true
question was, these Africans being here, and there being no humane or
practicable way to remove them, what shall be done with them? If the
social condition of Virginia exhibited points of inferiority in its
system of labour, to that of its rivals, the true cause of the evil
was to be sought in the _presence_ of the Africans among us, not in
his _enslavement_. We shall indeed assert, and prove, that these
points of inferiority were vastly fewer and smaller than our enemies
represent. But, we emphatically repeat, the source of the evils
apparent in our industrial system was the presence among us of four
millions of heterogeneous pagan, uncivilized, indolent, and immoral
people; and for that gigantic evil, slavery was, in part at least, the
lawful, the potent, the beneficent remedy. Without this, who cannot
see that such an _incubus_ must have oppressed and blighted every
interest of the country? Such an infusion must have tainted the
sources of our prosperity. It would have been a curse sufficient to
paralyze the industry, to corrupt the morals, and to crush the
development of any people on earth, to have such a race spread abroad
among them like the frogs of Egypt. And that the South not only
delivered itself from this fate, but civilized and christianized this
people, making them the most prosperous and comfortable peasantry in
the world, developed a magnificent agriculture, and kept pace with the
progress of its gigantic rival, attests at once the energy of our
people, and the wisdom and righteousness of the expedient by which all
this has been accomplished.

§ 1. _Slavery and Republican Government._

Intelligent men at the South found something to reconcile them to
their condition, in the wholesome influence of their form of labour,
upon their republican institutions. The effect of slavery to make the
temper of the ruling caste more honourable, self-governed, reflective,
courteous, and chivalrous, and to foster in them an intense love of,
and pride in, their free institutions, has been already asserted, and
substantiated by resistless facts. The testimony of these facts is
concurrent with that of all history. But those qualities are just the
ones which fit a people for beneficent self-government. Again: our
system disposed, at one potent touch, of that great difficulty which
has beset all free governments: the difficulty of either entrusting
the full franchises of the ruling caste to, or refusing them to, the
moneyless class. The Word of God tells us that the poor shall always
be with us. Natural differences of capacity, energy, and thrift, will
always cause one part to distance the other part of the society, in
the race of acquisition; and the older and denser any population
becomes, the larger will be the penniless class, and the more complete
their destitution as compared with the moneyed class. Shall they be
refused all participation in the suffrage and powers of government?
Then, by what means shall the constitution make them secure against
the iniquities of class-legislation, which wickedly and selfishly
sacrifices their interests and rights to the ruling class? And yet
more: by what argument can they be rendered content in their political
disfranchisement, when they are of the same race, colour, and class,
with their unauthorized oppressors, save as money makes an artificial
distinction? The perpetual throes and reluctations of the oppressed
class against the oppressors, will agitate and endanger any free
government; as witness the strifes of the conservative and radical
parties in England, and the slumbering eruptions which the ideas of
the democrats of 1848 have kindled under every throne in Western
Europe. But on the other hand, if the full franchises of the ruling
class be conceded to the moneyless citizens, they seize the balance of
power, and virtually hold the reins over the rights, property, and
lives of the moneyed classes. But the qualities which have made them
continue penniless in a liberal government, together with the pressure
of immediate hardship, destitution, ignorance and passion, will ever
render them most unsafe hands to hold this power. The man who has "the
wolf at his door," who knows not where to-morrow's dinner for his wife
and babes is to be obtained, is no safe man to be entrusted with power
over others' property, and submitted to all the arts and fiery
passions of the demagogue. The inevitable result will be, that his
passions will drive him, under the pressure of his destitution, to
some of those forms of agrarianism or legislative plunder, by which
order and economical prosperity are blighted; and society is
compelled, like democratic France and New England, to take refuge from
returning anarchy and barbarism, in the despotism of a single will.
This truth cannot be more justly stated than in the language of Lord
Macaulay, himself once an ardent advocate of British Reform. If the
democratic States of America seemed, for a time, to offer an exception
to these tendencies, it proves nothing; for in those States, the
intense demand for labour, the cheapness of a virgin soil, and the
rapid growth of a new and sparse population, rendered the working of
the law, for a time, imperceptible. But even there, it had begun to
work with a portentous power. Witness the violence and frightful
mutations of their parties, the loathsome prevalence of demagogueism,
and the great party of free-soil, which is but a form of agrarianism
reaching out its plundering hand against the property class across
Mason's and Dixon's lines, instead of the property class at home. So
completely had the danger we have described been verified, even in
these new and prosperous communities, that the moment a serious strain
came upon their institutions, the will of the mob burst over
constitutions and publick ethics like a deluge, and the pretended
republicks rushed into a centralized despotism, with a speed and force
which astounded the world. All the pleas of _universal suffrage_ have
received a damning and final refutation, from the events of this

But the solution which Southern institutions gave to this great
_dilemma_ of republicks was happy and potent. The moneyless labouring
class was wholly disfranchised of political powers, and thus disarmed
of its powers of mischief. Yet this was effected without injustice to
them, or cruelty; because they were at the same time made _parts of
the families_ of the ruling class; and ensured an active protection
and competent maintenance, by law, and by motives of affection and
self-interest in the masters; which experience proved to be more
beneficent in practice to the labouring class, than any political
expedient of free countries. The tendency of our African slavery was
to diminish, at the same time, the numbers and destitution of the
class of white moneyless men, so as to render them a harmless element
in the State. It did this by making for them a wider variety of
lucrative industrial pursuits; by making acquisition easier for white
people; by increasing the total of property, that is to say, of values
held as property, vastly, through the addition of the labour of the
Africans, and by diffusing a general plenty and prosperity. We very
well know that anti-slavery men are accustomed to assert the contrary
of all this: but we know also, that they affirm that whereof they
know nothing. The census returns of the anti-slavery government of the
United States itself stubbornly refute them; showing that the number
and average wealth of the property classes at the South were
relatively larger, and that white pauperism and destitution were
relatively vastly smaller, than at the North. But the violent
abolition of slavery here has exploded into thin air every sophism by
which it has been argued that it was adverse to the interests of the
non-slaveholding whites. The latter have been taught by a hard
experience, to know, with a painful completeness of conviction before
which the old anti-slavery arguments appear insolent and mocking
madness, that they are more injured than the slaveholders. They see,
that while the late masters are reduced from country gentlemen to
yeomen landholders, they are reduced from a thrifty, reputable middle
class, to starving competitors for day labour with still more starving
free negroes. The honest abolitionist (if there is such a thing) needs
only to take the bitter testimony of the non-slaveholding whites of
the South, to unlearn forever this part of his theory. Thus did
African slavery among us solve this hard problem; and place before us
a hopeful prospect of a long career of freedom and stability.

The comparative history of the free and slaveholding commonwealths of
the late United States substantiates every word of the above. The
South, as a section, has never, from the foundation of the government,
committed itself to any project of unrighteous class legislation, such
as tariffs, sectional bounties, or agrarian plunderings of the public
domain. The North has been perpetually studying such attempts. The
South has ever been remarked, (and strange to say, often twitted,)
for the stability and consistency of its political parties. The
Northern States have been "all things by turns, and nothing long,"
save that they have been ever steady in their devotion to their plans
of legislative plunder. The South has been a stranger to mobs,
rebellions, and fanaticism. When, for instance, the wicked crotchet of
Know-nothingism was invented, it seized the brains of the North like
an infection. It carried all before it until it came to Virginia, the
first of the Southern States which it essayed to enter, when the old
Commonwealth quietly arose and placed her foot upon its neck, and the
monster expired at once. From the day Virginia cast her vote against
it, it never gained another victory, either North or South. But the
crowning evidence of the superior stability of our freedom was
presented during the recent war. While its stress upon Northern
institutions crushed them at once into a pure despotism, the South
sustained the tremendous ordeal with the combined energy of a monarchy
and the equity of a liberal republick. There was no mob law; no
terrorizing of dissentients, no intimidations at elections, nor
meddling with their purity and freedom, no infringement of rights by
class legislation, no riots nor mobs, save one or two small essays
generated by foreigners, and no general suspension of the _Habeas
Corpus_, until the pressure of the war had virtually converted the
whole country into a camp: and this, even then, was only enacted by
the constitutional authority of the Congress. The liberty of the press
and of religion was untouched during the whole struggle. Let the
contrast be now drawn. Shall the tree be known by its fruits?

We believe, therefore, that we have no cause, in this respect, to
lament the condition which Providence had assigned us, in placing this
African Race among us. We do not envy the political condition of our
detractors, Yankee and British radicals; of the former with their
_colluvies gentium_, the off-scouring of all the ignorance and
discontent of Europe, and their frantic agrarianism, which will turn,
so soon as it has exhausted its expected prey from the homesteads of
Southern planters, to ravage at home; and of the latter, with their
disorganizing theories of human right, subversive of every bulwark of
the time-honored British Constitution, and their increasing mass of
turbulent pauperism.

§ 2. _Slavery and Malthusianism._

Taking mankind as they are, and not as we may desire them to be,
domestic slavery offered the best relation which has yet been found,
between labour and capital. It is not asserted that it would be best
for a _Utopia_, where we might imagine the humblest citizen virtuous,
intelligent, and provident. But there are no such societies on earth.
The business of the legislator, whether human or divine, is with
mankind as they are; and while he adapts his institutions to their
defects, so as to avoid making them impracticable or mischievous, he
should also shape them to elevate and reform as far as possible. The
legislator, therefore, in devising a frame of society, should adapt it
to a state in which the rich are selfish and the poor indolent and
improvident. For, after all that has been boasted of human
improvement, this is usually man's condition. Now, in adjusting social
institutions, it is all-important to secure physical comfort; because
in a state of physical misery and degradation, moral and intellectual
improvement are hopeless; and the business of the legislator is more
especially to take care of the weak: the strong will take care of
themselves. Property is the chief element of political strength; it is
this which gives to individuals power in society; for "money answereth
all things;" it commands for its possessor whatever he needs for his
physical comfort and safety. The great _desideratum_ in all benign
legislation is to sustain the class which has no property, against the
social depression and physical suffering to which they always tend.
That there will always be such a class, at least till the
_millennium_, is certain, for reasons already stated. Now all
civilized communities exhibit a natural law which tends to depress the
physical condition of those who have no property, who are, usually,
the laboring classes. That law is the tendency of population to
increase. The area of a country grows no larger, while the number of
people in it is perpetually increasing, unless that tendency is
already arrested by extreme physical evils. The same acres have,
therefore, more and more mouths to feed, and backs to clothe.
Consequently, each person must receive a smaller and smaller share of
the total proceeds of the earth. The demand perpetually increases in
proportion to the supply; and therefore the price of those productions
rises, as compared with the price of labour. Hence in every
flourishing community, the relative proportion between the price of
land, its rents, and the food and clothing which it produces, on the
one hand, and the price of manual labour on the other, is perpetually,
though slowly, changing. The former rises, the latter sinks.
Improvements in agriculture and the arts, extensive conquests,
emigrations, or some other cause, may for a time arrest, or even
reverse, this process; but such is the general law, and the constant
tendency. The very prosperity and growth of the community work this
result. The owners of land become richer: those who live by labour
become poorer. Physical depression works moral depression, and these
overcrowded and under-fed labourers, becoming more reckless, are
familiarized with a lower standard of comfort, and continue to
increase. This law has wrought in every growing nation on the globe
which is without domestic slavery. It is felt in Great Britain, in
spite of her vast colonies, where she has disgorged her superfluous
mouths and hands, to occupy and feed them on virgin soils: in spite of
her conquests, which have centred in her lap the wealth of continents.
It has begun to work in the Northern States of America,
notwithstanding the development of the arts, and the proximity of the
Great West. Every where it reduces the quantity or quality of food and
raiment which a day's labour will earn, and perpetually tends to
approximate that lowest grade at which the labouring classes can
vegetate, multiply, and toil.

What, now, is the remedy? Not agrarianism: this could only aggravate
the evil by taking away the incentive to effort, in making its rewards
insecure. Not conquest of new territory: the world is now all
occupied; and conquest from our neighbours is unjust. We found the
remedy in the much-abused institution of domestic slavery. It simply
ended this natural, this universal strife between capital and labour,
by making labour the property of capital, and thus investing it with
an unfailing claim upon its fair share in the joint products of the
two. The manner in which slavery effects this is plain. Where labour
is free, competition reduces its price to whatever grade the laws of
trade may fix; for labour is then a mere commodity in the market,
unprotected, and subject to all the laws of demand and supply. The
owner of land or capital pays for the labour he needs, in the shape of
wages, just the price fixed by the relation of supply and demand; and
if that price implies the severest privation for the labourer or his
family, it is no concern of his. Should they perish by the inadequacy
of the remuneration, it is not his loss: he has but to hire others
from the anxious and competing multitude. Moreover, the ties of
compassion and charity are vastly weaker than under our system; for
that suffering labourer and his family are no more to that capitalist,
than any other among the sons of want. But when we make the labour the
property of the same persons to whom the land and capital belong,
self-interest inevitably impels them to share with the labourer
liberally enough to preserve his life and efficiency, because the
labour is also, in the language of Moses, "their money," and if it
suffers, they are the losers. By this arrangement also, a special tie
and bond of sympathy are established between the capitalist and his
labourers. They are members of his family. They not only work, but
live, on his premises. A disregard of their wants and destitution is
ten-fold more glaring, more difficult to perpetrate, and more promptly
avenged by his own conscience and public opinion. The bond of
domestic affection ensures to the labourer a comfortable share of the
fruits of that capital which his labour fecundates. And the law is
enabled to make the employer directly responsible for the welfare of
the employed. Thus, by this simple and potent expedient, slavery
solved the difficulty, and answered the question raised by the gloomy
speculations of Malthus, at whom all anti-slavery philosophers have
only been able to rail, while equally impotent to overthrow his
premises, or to arrest the evils he predicts.

Slavery also presented us with a simple and perfectly efficient
preventive of pauperism. The law, public opinion, and natural
affection, all joined in compelling each master to support his own
sick and superannuated. And the elevation of the free white labourers,
which results from slavery, by placing another labouring class below
them, by assigning to them higher and more remunerative kinds of
labour, and by diffusing a more general prosperity, reduced white
pauperism to the smallest possible amount amongst us. In a Virginian
slaveholding county, the financial burden of white pauperism was
almost inappreciable. Thus, at one touch, our system solved happily,
mercifully, justly, the Gordian knot of pauperism, a subject which has
completely baffled British wisdom.

The attempt may be made to evade these considerations, by saying that
the same law of increase in population will at length operate, in
spite of slavery; and that its depressing effects will reveal
themselves in this form: that the labouring class will become so
numerous, the same alteration between demand and supply of labour will
appear, and the slave's labour will be worth no more than his
maintenance, when he will cease to sell for any thing. At this stage,
it may be urged, self-interest will surely prompt emancipation, and
the whole slave system will fall before the evil which it was expected
to counteract.

To this there are several answers. The argument implies that the
slaves will be, at that stage, relatively very numerous. Then, the
political difficulties of emancipation would be proportionably great.
The political necessity would overrule the economical tendency, and
compel the continuance of the beneficent institution. And while it
subsisted, the tie of domestic affection, and the force of law and
public opinion, would still secure for slaves a better share in the
joint profits of labour and capital, than would be granted to
depressed free labour. This was the case in the Roman Empire, where
the population of Italy and Sicily was for several centuries as dense
as in those modern States where the Malthusian law has worked most
deplorably: and yet slavery did not yield, and emancipation did not

But the more complete answer is as follows. We will attempt now to
point out an influence which enabled domestic slavery to resist and
repair the evils of over-population, vastly better than any other form
of labour. As population increases, the size of fortunes which are
accumulated increases. Instances of accumulation are more numerous and
far more excessive. Density of population, facility of large
industrial operations, concentration of number of labourers, with
other causes, ensure that rich men will be vastly richer than while
population was sparse; and that there will be many more rich men.
While a few of these will be misers, as a general rule they will seek
to expend their overflowing incomes. But as man's real wants lie
within very narrow limits, and the actual necessaries and comforts of
life are cheap, the larger part of these overgrown incomes must be
spent in superfluities. The money of the many excessively rich men is
profusely spent in expensive jewelry, clothing, equipage, ostentatious
architecture, useless menials, fine arts, and a thousand similar
luxuries. Now the production of all these superfluities absorbs a vast
amount of the national labour, and thus diminishes greatly the
production of those values which satisfy real wants. A multitude of
the labourers are seduced from the production of those more essential
values, by the higher prices which luxury and pride are enabled to pay
for their objects. Now, although the manufacturers of these
superfluities may, individually, secure a better livelihood than those
laborers who produce the necessaries of life, yet the result of the
withdrawal of so many producing hands is, that the total amount of
necessaries produced in the nation is much smaller. There is, then, a
less mass of the necessaries of life to divide among the whole number
of the citizens; and some people must draw a smaller share from the
common stock. Every sensible man knows that these will be the
landless, labouring men. The wealth of the rich will, of course,
enable them to engross a liberal supply for their own wants, however
scant may be that left for the poor. The ability to expend in
superfluities is, therefore, a _misdirection_ of just so much of the
productive labour of the country, from the creation of essential
values, to the producing of that which fills no hungry stomach,
clothes no naked back, and relieves no actual, bodily want. And here,
after all, is the chief cause why the Malthusian law is found a true
and efficient one in civilized communities. For, were the increasing
labour of a growing nation wisely and beneficiently directed to draw
from the soil and from nature all that they can be made to yield,
their fecundity would be found to be practically so unlimited, that
the means of existence would keep pace with the increase of
population, to almost any extent. The operative cause of the growing
depression of the poor is, not that the same acres are compelled to
feed more mouths, and clothe more backs, so much as this: that the
inducements which excessive wealth gives to the production of
superfluities, misdirects so much precious labour, that the
fruitfulness of those acres is not made to increase with the increase
of mouths. This is proved by the simple fact, that in all the old
countries the misery of the lowest classes tends to keep pace with the
luxury of the highest. It is proved emphatically by the industrial
condition of Great Britain. There is no country in which production is
so active; none in which agriculture and the arts are more stimulated
by science and intelligence; and yet there is a growing mass of
destitution, yearly approaching more frightful dimensions, and testing
the endurance of human nature by lower grades of physical discomfort.
The reason is not to be sought in her limited territory or crowded
population; for if the British Islands have not acres enough to grow
their own bread for so many, why is it that so productive a people are
not able to pay for abundance of imported bread? It is to be found in
the existence of their vast incomes, and the excessive luxury
practised by the numerous rich. True, these magnates excuse their vast
expenditures in superfluities by the plea, that one of the motives is
the "encouragement of industry." But they effect, as we have seen, not
an encouragement, but a misdirection of industry. The reason why so
many British poor have a scanty share of physical comforts is, that
there are so many British rich men who, by their lavish expenditure,
tempt and seduce so large a multitude of producing hands from the
creation of actual comforts to the creation of superfluities.

What safe remedy can the legislator propose for this evil? Not a
violent, agrarian leveling of the larger estates. That, as we have
shown, would be wicked and foolish. Nor can it be found in sumptuary
laws. The world has tried them to its heart's content, and found them
impracticable. It is true, that their adoption showed how clear a
perception the ancients had of one truth, which modern political
science pretends to ignore. That truth is, that luxury is a social
evil. We have shown that it is as wasteful of social wealth as it is
of morals. The ancients thought thus, and they were right. Legislators
now-a-days, in exploding their remedy as no remedy, seem to desire to
cheat themselves into the belief that the disease is no disease. But
the ancients were not as stupid as men imagine.

Now, we do not boast that we can offer a perfect remedy. But our
system of labour certainly gave us a partial one of inestimable value.
Where the rich man is a citizen of a hireling State, his accumulated
wealth and profuse income are all spent in superfluities, except the
small portion needed for the comforts of life for his own family. But
when he is a citizen of a slave State, they are first taxed with the
comfortable support of his slaves. The law, public opinion, affection
for them, and self-interest, all compel him to make the first
appropriation out of that profuse income, to feeding and clothing his
slaves, before he proceeds to superfluities. Thus, the proceeds of the
accumulations which dense population and social prosperity cause, are
rescued from a useless and mischievous expenditure in those luxuries,
the purchase of which misdirects public industry, and tempts to a
deficient production of the necessaries of life; and are directed
where benevolence, mercy, and the public good indicate, to the
comfortable maintenance of the labouring people. That this is the
effect of domestic slavery on the incomes of the rich, is proved by
one familiar fact. It is well known at the South how slaveholders
usually murmured when comparing their style of living with that of
capitalists in the hireling States of equal nominal wealth. The
planter who owned fifty thousand dollars worth of fertile lands, and a
hundred slaves, while he lived in far more substantial comfort and
plenty, displayed in Virginia far less ostentation and luxury than the
merchant or manufacturer of the North who owns the same amount of
capital. His house was plainly furnished with the old-fashioned goods
of his fathers; his family rode in a plain carriage, drawn by a pair
of stout nags which, probably, either did a fair share of ploughing
also, or drew a large part of the fuel for the household. He himself
was dressed partly in "jeans," woven under the superintendence of his
wife; and his boys were at school in a log house, with homespun
clothing, and, in summer, bare feet. It was not unusual to hear the
slaveholder, when he considered this contrast, complain of slavery as
a bad institution for the master. But this was its merciful feature,
that it in some measure arrested superfluous luxury, and taxed
superfluous income with the more comfortable support of the labourers.
In a hireling State, these might be left half-starved on the
inadequate compensation which the hard law of supply and demand in the
labour-market would compel them to accept, while the capitalist was
rioting in a mischievous waste of the overgrown profits of his

The question of the productiveness of slave labour may be anticipated,
so far as to point out the fact, that this benevolent diversion of the
large incomes from luxurious expenditures to the comfortable
maintenance of the slaves, was a diversion from unproductive to
productive consumption. The slaves were a productive class; and the
increased comfort of their living added greatly to their increase, and
their ability to labour. No student of political economy need be told
how powerfully national wealth is promoted by any cause which
substitutes productive consumption for unproductive.

The truth of these views is confirmed by this fact, which is attested
by all experienced slaveholders: that the slaves throughout the South
lived in far more comfort than they did a generation ago. And this is
truest of those Southern communities where population is densest, and
the price and rents of land are highest. As these influences,
elsewhere so depressing to the poor, advanced, the standard of comfort
for our slaves rose rapidly, instead of falling. How can a more
splendid vindication of the benevolence of our system be imagined? Our
slaves generally ate more meat, wore more and better clothing, and
lived in better houses, than their fathers did.

That a palpable view may be given, to those who are not personally
acquainted with our system, of its true working, the reader's
indulgence will be asked for the statement of a few homely details. In
Virginia, all slaves, without exception, had their own private funds,
derived from their poultry, gardens, "patches," or the prosecution of
some mechanic art, in what is termed "their own time." These funds
they expended as they pleased, in Sunday-clothing, or in such
additions to their diet and comfort as they liked. The allowances
which we proceed to state, are strictly those which the master usually
made out of his funds. The allowances fixed by usage in this State
were generally these: for clothing of adults, one complete suit of
stout woolens, two pair pantaloons of cotton or flax, two shirts, two
pair of worsted half-hose, and a hat and a blanket, each year. For
shoes, the old rule was, one pair each winter, of the quality of best
army shoes or boots, to be replaced at harvest with new ones, in the
case of ploughmen and reapers, while the "less able-bodied hands" only
got their old shoes repaired. But in latter years, the prevalent
custom had come to be, to issue shoes to all adults, as often as is
required, to keep them shod throughout the year; while the children
were universally shod during the winter only.

For diet, the slaves shared jointly the garden-stuff, fruits and milk
of the master's plantation and garden. But their essential and
preferred food was a certain daily or weekly allowance of corn meal
and bacon, issued in addition to the above. The common rule in
Virginia, where these were given in the form of rations, was to allow
each adult a half-pound of bacon, and two quarts of meal per day. The
meal of Indian corn, when uninjured by the mustiness of a sea-voyage,
and properly baked at a bright wood-fire, is an excellent and
nutritious food, as is shown by the fact that it fills more than an
equal place with bread of wheat, on the tables of the richest
planters. In many other families, the allowance of meal was unlimited;
and the bacon was not issued in formal rations, the servants living at
a common board. The supply laid in was then usually according to the
following rule: one hundred and fifty pounds of pork per year, for
every soul, white and black. When it is remembered that the sucklings
and the white females used almost none of this supply, a simple
calculation will show that it is equivalent to at least a half-pound
per day for each adult. Such were the customary usages in Virginia.
There were probably as many cases where the above rules were exceeded,
as where the allowances fell below them. In the new States of the
South West, where agriculture is still more profitable, it is said
that the allowances were more liberal than in the old slave States.

It happens that the census returns of the United States for 1860,
published by our enemies themselves, more than confirm this view of
the abundant and comfortable living of our labouring population.
According to those returns the free States had in 1860, not quite
nineteen millions of people, and the slave States twelve and a
quarter millions. Of the cereals used by Americans for human food, the
free States raised five hundred and sixty-one millions bushels; and
the slave States four hundred and ninety-four millions bushels. That
is, while the people of the free States had about _thirty_ bushels
each of these cereals, those of the slave States had _forty-one_
bushels per head. Moreover, the North boasts that breadstuffs are her
great export crops, while cotton and tobacco were ours. Our people,
including our slaves, must therefore have used more than four bushels
each, to their three. In neither country does each person eat either
thirty or forty-one bushels per year; because horses and other live
stock eat a part, which it is impossible accurately to estimate.
Again: of the animals used for human food, (horned cattle, sheep, and
swine,) then free States had about _forty_ millions, or a little more
than _two_ per head to each inhabitant; while the slave States had
forty and a half millions, or about _three and a half_ to each
inhabitant. But as bacon or pork is the flesh most commonly consumed
by Americans, and especially by farm labourers, the proportion of
swine is still more significant. The free States had not quite twelve
millions of swine, and the slave States twenty millions six hundred
thousand. This gives a little more than _six-tenths of one_ swine to
each inhabitant of the North, and _one and seven-tenths_ to each
inhabitant of the South. But this is not all,--for the North
(especially the prairie States) exported vast quantities of the flesh
of swine to the South, while the slave States exported none to the
North. It should in justice be said, that the disparity is not so
enormous as would thus appear, because the swine reared in the South
are usually smaller than those of the North.

§ 3. _Comparative productiveness of Slave Labour._

From the days of Adam Smith, anti-slavery men have been pleased to
consider it as a point perfectly settled, that slave labour is
comparatively unfavourable to production, and thus, to publick wealth.
So settled is this conviction among the enemies, and so often has it
been admitted by the apologists of our system, it will probably be
hard to secure even a hearing, while we review the grounds on which
the common opinion is based. One would think that the fact that those
grounds have usually been urged by men who, like Adam Smith, knew
nothing of slavery themselves, should bespeak for us at least a little
patience and candour.

One of those grounds is, that slavery, by making manual labour the
peculiar lot of a servile class, renders it disreputable. This, they
suppose, together with the exemption from the law of necessity,
fosters indolence in the masters. But, we reply, is manual labour the
peculiar lot of the servile class alone, in slave States? Is not this
the very question to be settled? Yet it is assumed as the premise from
which to settle it. So that the reasoning amounts to no more than this
ridiculous _petitio principii_: "Because the slaves do all the work,
therefore the masters do none of the work." This should be made a
question of fact. And we emphatically deny that Southern masters were
an indolent class, as compared with the moneyed classes elsewhere. In
fact, the general rule is that rich men do not work, the world over.
It was less true, probably, in Virginia, than in any other
commonwealth. The wealthy man of the North, with his grown sons, is
more indolent, and more a fine gentleman, than the wealthy
slaveholder. If it be said that, in free States, a multitude of small
farmers cultivate their lands with their own hands, it is equally true
that a multitude of small planters in the South, who owned one, three
or five slaves, laboured along with them. That the land shall be owned
by the very persons who cultivate it, is an exceptional condition of
things, resulting, to some extent in New England, from a very peculiar
history, origin and condition of society, and not destined to continue
general even there. It is as true of hireling as of slave States, that
the tendency of civilized institutions is, and ever has been, and ever
will be, generally, to collect the lands in larger properties, in the
hands of a richer class than that which actually tills them. Nor is
there one syllable of truth in the idea, that labour was among us more
disreputable, because usually done by slaves. In all countries, there
is foolish pride, and importance is attached, by the silly, to empty
badges of station. But it was less so among slaveholders than among
the rich, or the would-be rich, of other countries. The reason is
obvious. In free States there is just as truly a servile class,
bearing the servile inferiority of social station, as among us. That
class being white, and nominally free, its addiction to manual labour
is the only badge of its social condition. Hence whites of the
superior class have a far stronger motive, in their pride, to shun
labour. But the white master could freely labour among his black
servants, without danger of being mistaken by the transient observer
for one of the class, because his skin distinguished him: just as the
man of unquestioned wealth and fashion can wear a plain coat, which
would be shunned as the plague, by the doubtful aspirant to _ton_. We
repeat: the planters of Virginia were more often seen performing, not
only the labours of superintendence, but actual manual labour, than
any wealthy class in America. They were proverbial for perseverance
and energy. There is a fact which bears a peculiar testimony to this.
While Yankee adventurers and immigrants have intruded themselves into
every other calling among us, like the frogs into the Egyptian houses
and their very chambers and kneading-troughs, those of them who have
attempted to act the tobacco planter have, in almost every case,
failed utterly. They lack the requisite energy for the calling.

Another reason of the anti-slavery man is, that the free labourer,
stimulated by personal interest in his own success, must be more
thrifty, industrious, and economical than the slave, who is stimulated
only by fear. We reply: both the premises are absolutely false. Slaves
were not stimulated only by fear. They felt at least as much affection
as the Red Republican or Chartist hireling. They comprehended their
own interest in their master's prosperity as fully as hired labourers
do. But, in the second place, the labour of free States is not usually
performed by men who have a personal interest in their own success: it
is performed, in the main, by a landless class, who are as very
hirelings as our slaves were slaves; who need just as much the eye of
an overseer, and who must be pricked on in their labour, at least as
often, by the threat, not of the birch, but of the more cruel penalty
of discharge; which they know is their dismissal to starvation or the
work-house. This delusive reasoning proceeds by comparing the yeoman
landholder in fee-simple, tilling his own soil with his own hands,
with the slave tilling the land of his wealthy master. But are the
lands of hireling States prevalently tilled by their yeomen owners? Is
this the system to which free society tends? The Englishman will not
dare to say so, when he looks around him, and sees how rapidly the
small holdings have been swallowed up into larger farms, which are now
worked by capitalists with organized gangs of hirelings; nor the
Scotchman, with the sight of an old tenant peasantry swept away before
the ruthless Bothy-system of his country. And, as we have asserted,
the class of yeomen landholders, labouring personally among their few
slaves, was at least as large, and as permanent in the South, as in
any civilized country.

Here again, the actual experiment of abolition has ridiculously
exploded all these baseless reasonings for the superior zeal of the
white free labourer, and the thriftless eye-service of the slave. All
intelligent men knew before that they were precisely contrary to fact;
for they saw all hireling labour at the North obviously required a
supervision much more constant and stringent, to prevent the hirelings
from bringing the employers to bankruptcy by their worthless
eye-service, than the labour of our own merry and affectionate
servants. If the white hireling labour was aggregated in masses, we
uniformly saw it distributed in gangs, to sturdy "bosses," who stood
with their formidable bludgeons in their hands, from morning to night,
with just fourfold the persistency of any Southern "head-man" or
"overseer," and actually indicted blows on his free white
fellow-citizens, as frequently as our overseers on the servant
children. If the white hireling labour was employed on their little
farms, in small numbers, then the proprietors always informed us, that
they must be present in the field all the time, to shame and encourage
them by their example, or else their "help" would cheat them to their
ruin. But in the South, nothing was more common than to see estates
farmed by the faithful slaves, for widows, orphans, professional men,
or non-resident proprietors, without any other superintendence than an
occasional visit. Now, all this is at an end. The labourers are free
hirelings, who, according to the anti-slavery argument, should be so
superior in enlightened zeal and fidelity. But lo, the Southern people
have found that eye-service has thereby increased ten-fold; and if
there is any lesson which the South has effectually learned in these
two years, it is, that perpetual and jealous supervision is the sole
condition on which a meagre profit can be extracted from this wretched
and grinding system; and that else, the impositions of the hired
labourers inevitably result in speedy bankruptcy. Hard fact has
demonstrated that the truth is precisely opposite to the pretty
postulates of the anti-slavery philosophers, so called.

It was currently asserted that one free white labourer did as much
work as two or three slaves; and Southern gentlemen used often to be
heard assenting to it. But here the reader should be reminded of what
has been already shown; that if this industrial evil existed among us,
that evil was not slavery, but the presence among us of four millions
of recent pagans, characterized by all the listlessness, laziness, and
unthrift of savages. Slavery did not make the intelligent and
industrious worthless; nor does freedom turn the lazy barbarian into a
civilized and diligent citizen. If there ever was any truth in this
comparison of the efficiency of the African labourer with the free
white, it doubtless existed when the former were newly brought into
our country. The estimate then formed became traditionary, and
prevailed after the partial training and civilization of the blacks
had wholly removed its grounds. Several facts prove that no white
agricultural labour was so efficient (especially under our ardent sun)
as the Africans, had become. Of this, the crowning proof is, again,
given us by the unfortunate experiences of actual abolition. Many
Virginian proprietors, having still retained the old, but false
prejudice, that the negro slave was a less efficient labourer than the
white hireling, and being well assured that the labour of the slaves
would be deteriorated by emancipation, procured white labour from the
North. What was the result? An almost universal conviction that the
freed negro, deteriorated as he was, proved still a better labourer
than the white hireling! Consequently, the importation of white labour
is totally relinquished. Another of these facts is, that in Middle
Virginia, where the best free labour in America exists, and was once
almost exclusively used, the slave population was, up to the war,
steadily supplanting it in agriculture; and was more and more
preferred by the most enlightened agriculturists. Another is, that the
great contractors on our public works, many of them Northern men, who
came to us provided with white labour, gradually convinced themselves
that their works could be executed more cheaply, quickly, and quietly,
by slaves. The third fact is, that along the line which separates
Virginia and Pennsylvania, or Kentucky and Ohio, the lands immediately
south of the line were more valuable than those immediately north of
it. This is so well known that Senator Sumner, in his notorious libel
on the South, admits its existence, and endeavours to evade its force
by the following preposterous solution. He says: freedom, by its
proximity, infuses something of its own vigour, virtue, and life, into
the adjoining Southern community; so as to stimulate its prosperity;
whereas, the blighting slave-power contaminates and palsies freedom
along the line of its contact, so as to make it exhibit less than its
usual happy effects. That is, we are invited to believe that the
indirect influence of free labour is so potent that it can go across
Mason's and Dixon's line, or the Ohio River, into the midst of the
very blight and curse of slavery, and act so happily as to raise the
price of slave-tilled lands to eighty dollars per acre; while its
direct influences at home, on a soil uncursed with slavery, cannot
sustain the price of exactly similar land at sixty dollars! And we are
required to believe that while the mere shadow of slavery, falling
across the border, sinks the price of land, otherwise blessed with the
most profitable system, to sixty dollars, the actual incubus of the
horrid monster on a soil unredeemed by the better system, raises it to
eighty dollars! Common sense shows us the true solution. Two farms
divided only by the imaginary line of the surveyor, of course differ
nothing in the natural advantages of soil, climate and productions.
Why, then, did the Virginian farm sell for twenty dollars more per
acre? Because the owner could combine all the economy and efficiency
of a system of slave labour, with the partial advantages of the system
of free labour near him; and thus make his farm more profitable than
his Pennsylvanian neighbour.

But we are told that actual inspection showed the labour of the South
to be wasteful, shiftless, and expensive, as compared with the free
labour of the North. We reply, if it seemed so in any case, it is
because the comparison is unfairly made. On the Northern side, the
specimen is selected near some great city, in some "crack farming
district," where the labour is stimulated by abundant capital,
supplied with costly implements, and directed by the best skill of
that section. On the Southern side, the specimen was taken from some
ill-informed population, or some soil originally thin, and in a
community depressed and depleted by the iniquitous taxation of Yankee
tariffs. But let the best of each be compared; or the _medium_
specimens of each; or the worst of each; and we fearlessly abide the
test. Where slave labour was directed by equal skill and capital, it
is shown to be as efficient as any in America. There was nowhere on
our continent, more beautiful, more economical, or more remunerative
farming, than in our densest slaveholding communities.

A third argument against the economy of slave labour, is thus stated
by Dr. Wayland: "It removes from both parties, the disposition and the
motives to _frugality_. Neither the master learns frugality from the
necessity of labour, nor the slave from the benefits which it
confers," etc.

Now we emphatically and proudly admit that Southern society has not
learned the frugality of New England; which is, among the middle
classes, a mean, inhospitable, grinding penuriousness, sacrificing the
very comfort of children, and the kindly cheer of the domestic board,
to the Yankee _penates_, Mammon and Lucre; and among the upper classes
a union of domestic scantiness and stinginess with external
ostentation and profusion; a frugality which is "_rich in the parlour,
and poor in the kitchen_." The idea of the Southern planter is the
rational and prudent use of wealth to procure the solid comfort of
himself, his children, and his servants at home, coupled with a simple
and unostentatious equipage abroad, and a generous hospitality to rich
and poor. But we fearlessly assert, and will easily prove to every
sensible reader, that slavery was peculiarly favourable to the
economical application of labour, and of domestic supplies and income.
The attempt to carry the freehold tenure of land down to the yeomanry,
subdivides land too much for economical farming. The holdings are too
small, and the means of the proprietors too scanty, to enable them to
use labour-saving machines, or to avail themselves of the vast
advantages of combined labour. How can the present proprietor of a
farm of five or ten acres in France or Belgium, afford a reaper, a
threshing-machine, a three-horse plough, or even any plough at all?
The spade, the wheel-barrow, the donkey, and the flail, must do his
work, at a wasteful cost of time and toil. But the Southern system, by
placing the labour of many at the direction of one more cultivated
mind, and that furnished with more abundant capital, secured the most
liberal and enlightened employment of machines, and the most
convenient "division of labour." Moreover, the administration of the
means of living for the whole plantation, by the master and mistress,
secured a great economy of supplies. The mistress of Southern
households learns far more providence, judgment and method in
administering her stores, than are possessed by free labourers or by
blacks. The world over, those who have property are more provident
than those who have none. For, this providence is the chief reason why
they have property; and the improvidence of the poor is the cause of
their being poor. But even if the slaveholders had no more of these
qualities, all can see that an immense saving is made by having one
housekeeper for ten families, with one kitchen, store-house, and
laundry, instead of ten kitchens, ten store-houses, and ten varying
administrations of stores. A smaller supply of provisions secures a
greater amount of comfort to all, and a great saving of labour is
effected in preparation of food, and housekeeping cares. A system of
slave labour is, therefore, more productive, because it is more

In all this argument, the anti-slavery men keep out of view a simple
fact which is decisive of the absurdity of their position. They shall
now be made to look it in the face. That fact is, that in free States,
a large portion of all those who, from their moneyless condition,
ought to pursue manual labour, are too lazy to do so voluntarily. But
they must live, and they do it by some expedient which is a virtual
preying on the means of the more industrious, by stealing, by begging,
by some form of swindling, by perambulating the streets with a
barrel-organ and monkey, or by vending toys or superfluities. Their
labour is lost to the community; and their maintenance, together with
their dishonest arts and crimes, is a perpetual drain from the public
wealth. But slavery made the lazy do their part with the industrious,
by the wholesome fear of the birch. Slavery allowed no loafers, no
swindlers, no "b'hoys," no "plug-uglies," no grinders of
hurdy-gurdies, among her labouring class. Who does not see that, even
if the average slave in Virginia did only two-thirds of the day's work
accomplished by the industrious free labourer in New York, yet, if all
the idle classes in that great commonwealth, together with those now
industrious, were compelled to do just the tasks of the average
Virginia slave, there would be, on the whole, a vast and manifold gain
to the public?

Another potent source of the economy of the slave system in its
influences upon publick wealth, is found in a fact which Northern men
not only admit, but assert with a foolish pride. It is the far greater
development of the local traffic of merchants among them. When your
down-East commercial traveller, whose only conception of productive
industry was of some arts of "living by his wits," saw this contrast
between Northern and Southern villages and country neighbourhoods, he
pointed to it with undoubting elation, as proof of the vastly superior
wealth and productive activity of the North. But in fact, he was a
fool; he mistook what was a villainous, eating ulcer upon the public
wealth of the North, and on the true prosperity of the people, for a
spring of profits. In a farming neighbourhood of the hireling States,
he saw at every hamlet and cross-road, pretentious shingle-palaces,
occupied as large stores, where great accumulations of farm produce
were paraded; sacks of meal, barrels of flour, bins of corn, packs of
wool, garners of wheat, tubs of eggs, cans of butter, hogsheads of
bacon, and even kegs of home-made soap, together with no little show
of cheap finery. In the farming districts of the South, he rode along
a quiet, shady road, with the country-seats of the planters reposing
at a distance, in the bosoms of their estates; and found at long
intervals a little country store, where a few groceries, medicines,
and cloths were exposed for sale to sparse customers. Now this narrow
trafficker, whose only heaven was buying and selling, very naturally
jumped to the conclusion, that the South was so much poorer than the
North, as she exhibited less local trade. Whereas in fact, she was
just so much richer. And this unpopular assertion is, still, perfectly
easy to demonstrate. The necessary labour of distributing commodities
from producers to consumers, is a legitimate element of that fair
market value, which they have when they finally reach the hand which
consumes them. But political economists well know, and uniformly
teach, that if any unnecessary middle-men interpose themselves between
first producer and ultimate consumer, whose labour is not truly
promotive of the economical distribution of commodities, then their
industry is misdirected, the wages they draw for it in the shape of
increased price of commodities passed through their hands is
unproductive consumption, and they are a useless, a mischievous drain
upon the common wealth. For instance, if a class of middle-men,
retailers, or forwarding merchants, juggle themselves unnecessarily
into the importing dry-goods trade of the country; if they place
themselves between the manufacturer in England, and the consumer in
rural New York, grasping wages for their intervention, in the shape of
an additional profit which falls ultimately upon the retail purchaser;
while yet they really contribute nothing to the economical
distribution of the dry-goods; every one sees that they are a
nuisance; they grasp something for nothing; and are preying upon the
publick wealth, instead of promoting it like the legitimate merchant.
Honest men will speedily require legislation, to expel them and abate
the nuisance. Apply now this well-known principle to the case in hand.
The simple system of slaveholding distributed that part of the
products of farms, which properly went to the labourers' subsistence,
direct to the consumers, without taxing it unnecessarily with the
profits of the local merchant. The master was himself the retail
merchant; and he distributed his commodities to the proper consumers,
at wholesale prices, without profit. The consumers were his own
servants. He remarked, in the language of the country, that, for this
part of his products, he "had his market at home." Now, is it not
obvious that the consumer, the slave, got more for his labour, and
that the system of hireling labour, by invoking this local
storekeeper, instead of the master, to do this work of distribution to
consumers, which the master did better without him, and without
charge, has brought in a useless middle-man? And his industry being
useless and unproductive, its wages are a dead loss to the publick
wealth. This coarse fellow behind the counter, retailing the meal and
bacon and soap, at extortionate retail prices, to labourers, should
be compelled to labour himself, at some really productive task; and
the labourers should have gotten these supplies, untaxed with his
extortion, on the farms where their own labour produced them, and at
the farmer's prices. Is not this true science, and true common sense?
But this is just the old Virginian system.

The justice of this view may be seen by a familiar case. A given
landholder was, under our beneficent system, a slaveholder. He
employed ten labourers; and for them and their families he reserved
four hundred bushels of grain in his garners, which their labour and
his capital jointly had produced. This grain is worth to him wholesale
prices; and it is distributed by him to his servants, throughout the
year, without charge. It is, in fact, a part of the virtual wages of
their labour; and they get it at the wholesale price. But now,
abolition comes: these ten labourers become freemen and householders.
They now work the same lands, for the same proprietor; and instead of
drawing their wages in the form of a generous subsistence at wholesale
prices, they draw money. Out of that money they and their families
must be maintained. One result is, that the landholder now has a
surplus of four hundred bushels more than before. Of course it goes to
the corn-merchant. And there must these labourers go, with their money
wages, to buy this same corn, at the enhanced retail price. They get
less for their labour. The local merchant, thus unnecessarily invited
in, sucks a greedy profit; a vain show of trading activity is made in
the community; and all the really producing classes are made actually
poorer; while this unproductive consumer, the unnecessary retail
trader, congratulates himself on his mischievous prosperity. It is
most obvious, that when the advocate of the hireling system attempts
to reply to this, by saying that his system has opened a place for an
additional branch of industry, that of enlarged traffic, he is
preposterous. The answer is, that the additional industry is a loss:
it is unproductive. As reasonably might one argue that crime is
promotive of publick prosperity, by opening up a new branch of
remunerative industry,--that of police and jailors, (a well-paid

But sensible men ever prefer facts to speculations--the language of
experience to that of theoretical assertion. Let us then appeal to the
fact, as revealed by the statistics furnished of us, by the
anti-slavery government of the United States. By the census of 1860,
while the population of the Free States was not quite nineteen
millions, their total of assessed values, real and personal, was
$6,541,000,000: being three hundred and forty-six ($346) dollars to
each soul. The free white population of the South was a little more
than eight and a quarter millions, and our total of assessed values
was $5,465,808,000: being six hundred and sixty ($660) dollars to each
soul; nearly double the wealth of the North. But if the four millions
of Africans in the South be added, our people still have four hundred
and forty-seven ($447) dollars of value for each soul, black and

§ 4. _Effects of Slavery in the South, compared with those of Free
Labour in the North._

The citations just made introduce a topic upon which anti-slavery men
have usually abounded in sweeping assertion; the actual effects of our
system on our industrial concerns. A fair example of these assertions
may be seen in Dr. Wayland, Moral Science, p. 210, (Boston, 1838:) "No
country, not of great fertility, can long sustain a large slave
population. Soils of more than ordinary fertility cannot sustain it
long, after the first richness of the soils has been exhausted. Hence,
slavery in this country is acknowledged to have impoverished many
valuable districts; and hence it is continually migrating from the
older settlements to those new and untilled regions, where the
accumulated manure of centuries of vegetation has formed a soil, whose
productiveness may, for a while, sustain a system at variance with the
laws of nature. Many of our free, and of our slaveholding States, were
peopled about the same time. The slaveholding States had every
advantage, both in soil and climate, over their neighbours; and yet
the accumulation of capital has been greatly in favour of the latter,"

The points asserted here are, that Northern men have grown rich faster
than Southern men; that slavery has so starved itself out by its
wasteful nature, as to be compelled to migrate from "many valuable
districts," to virgin soils; and that it is slavery which exhausts
those virgin soils. Each of these statements is absolutely false. That
the first and most important of the three is so, we have just shown,
by the overwhelming testimony of fact. Southern citizens have
accumulated capital faster than Northern, in the ratio of six hundred
and sixty to three hundred and forty-six. And the manner in which
these thrice refuted lies are obtruded, may fairly illustrate the
morality with which anti-slavery men have usually conducted their
argument against us That a conceited, pragmatical Yankee parson
should be misled by rancourous prejudice around him, and by the
concessions of foolish Southerners, to publish such statements thirty
years ago, on a subject of which he knew nothing, is not very
surprising. But surely Dr. Wayland, President of Brown University,
Christian Divine, Instructor of youth, and _Teacher of Ethicks_,(_!_)
would hardly have been expected to continue to print the falsehoods in
successive editions of his work, after three successive _census
returns_ had utterly exploded them.

The second statement we contradict by the _census_ as categorically as
the first. It is not true that slavery was compelled to emigrate, by
its own exhaustion, to virgin soils in the South West. For, in fact,
slavery has not emigrated at all. Slaves have emigrated, in large
numbers; [as we presume, Yankees have.] But the institution has not
receded, and, at the beginning of our war, was not receding from its
old ground in Virginia and the Carolinas. The slave population of the
old States has shown a steady increase at each decennial period, and
except where the _penchant_ of the Yankees for stealing them had
rendered them insecure, they occupied substantially all the old
counties, and spread into new ones, as they were settled.

But we shall be asked: can it be possible that the representations so
uniformly made by travellers, of the ragged, impoverished, and forlorn
appearance of many districts of Eastern Virginia and the Carolinas,
and of their poor and slovenly agriculture, are all mistaken? That
there is much exhausted, and still more poor land, in these sections;
that through extensive districts the soil and crops are now very thin,
and the tillage rude, we explicitly admit. But this is by no means
the same as admitting that it is slavery which has impoverished those
regions. In the first place, of the larger part it is utterly false to
say that they have ever been _impoverished_, by any cause; for they
never had any fertility to lose. The statement usually made, as to the
most of these old lands, is monstrously false. It has been usually
represented that the Atlantic slope of Virginia was originally
excessively rich, and has been brought to its present condition by
slavery and tobacco. But in truth, this region, with the exception of
limited spots, was naturally poor and thin; as every sensible person
who has examined it knows. A vast proportion of it would scarcely have
been judged susceptible of settlement at all, but for the attraction
of its healthy climate, and the one or two crops of tobacco which its
thin mould would produce. And it is only the thrifty industry of its
inhabitants, together with the value of their staple, tobacco, which
enabled them to live as plentifully as they did on so poor a soil.

In the next place, the exhaustion is really far less than it appears
to the Englishman or New Englander, and the tillage far more judicious
and thorough. The agriculture of planting regions is, necessarily,
very different from that of farming regions; and especially is the
culture of the grasses to a very large extent precluded by the nature
of the crops, the soil, and the climate. Hence, excellent lands in the
South, especially during fall and winter, often lack that appearance
of verdancy, which to the English eye is the chief measure of
fertility. But to suppose those lands as exhausted as fields equally
bare or brown would be correctly judged in grass regions, would be an
amazing mistake. Nor is the management always indolent where it seems
slovenly. The Southern planter is proverbially disinclined to consult
mere appearances at the cost of substantial advantage. Though the
fencing seem rough, and the farm ill kept in many respects, the
accurate observer will find his cultivation of the valuable staples,
cotton and tobacco, thorough and skillful. There is no neater culture
than that of the tobacco fields of Virginia.

Again: wherever the soil was originally fertile, in the Atlantic
slope, as in the red lands of the Piedmont region, and the alluvial
valleys of the great rivers, there the supposed decline of agriculture
is unknown. All those lands which by nature were really fine, are now
finer. The tillage was better, the yield per acre larger, the culture
more remunerative, at the opening of the war, than at any date since
the virgin forests were cleared away.

But so far as there has been an actual exhaustion of Southern soil,
[and that there has been is admitted,] it can be proved to be due to
other causes than slavery. For an exhaustion precisely similar can be
pointed out in many of the free States. In both regions, it has arisen
from two causes: the proximity of new and cheap lands, to which the
exhausting farmer could easily resort, and the possession of a
valuable staple crop, whose profits powerfully stimulated large
operations. Those free States which lay under the same circumstances,
have undergone the same exhaustion, except in so far as a natural
depth of soil has made the process slower. If any parts of our country
have escaped the "skinning process" after their first settlement, it
has been simply because they were not so fortunate as to possess any
valuable staple, or else were too remote from a market. Western
Vermont, sixty years ago, was resorted to as a fertile wheat growing
district. Long ago it was so exhausted that the culture of wheat was
nearly relinquished, and its inhabitants emigrated to the new lands of
Western New York to raise wheat; while the wheat fields of Vermont are
now sheep-walks, and her farmers buy their flour. But Western New
York, in its turn, has declined, till its average crop per acre is
only one-half the original; and its farmers have sought the fertile
plains of Illinois and Michigan, to subject them in turn to the same
exhaustion. Even Ohio, fertile Ohio, the boast of abolitionists, whose
black loam seemed able to defy human mismanagement, is proved by the
stubborn census tables to have declined one-half, already, in its
yield per acre. And her own children acknowledge, that if the
appearance of the older parts be compared with that of twenty years
ago, the signs of exhaustion are manifest. This vicious system, then,
is not traceable to slave labour, seeing it prevails just as often
where no slave labour exists; but to the cheapness of new lands, and
facility of emigration.

Virginia presents other facts demonstrating the economy and efficiency
of slave labour. The great Valley of Virginia (between the Blue Ridge
and North Mountain Ranges,) is a farming and grazing region, of
fertile soil and prosperous agriculture. In its great extent, some
counties are occupied almost exclusively by free labour, and some have
a large slave population. Now it is perfectly well known to all
intelligent persons here, that precisely in those counties of this
beautiful valley where there are most slaves, is the land highest in
price, the agriculture most profitable and skillful, the farm
buildings most elegant, and the community most prosperous and wealthy.
Virginia east of the Blue Ridge is partly a farming and partly a
planting region, having a mixed agriculture. Its soil is exceedingly
different from that of the great valley, even where as fertile; and
consequently the tillage is unlike. But there too, the neatest, most
thorough and most profitable agriculture, and the highest priced
lands, the finest farm stock, and the most prosperous landholders, are
to be found precisely where the slave labour is most prevalent. And
there is no agriculture in America superior to that of these favoured

But, in conclusion, even if the industrial pursuits of the South were
in the unfavourable condition which the Yankees love to assert, the
sufficient cause would be found, not in slavery, but in the exactions
and swindlings of their own section, through sectional federal
legislation. Let a sober statement of these exactions be weighed, and
the wonder will be, not that the South should be depleted, but that
she is not bled to death. In the first place, the Federal Government,
at its foundation, adopted the policy of giving a fishing bounty, (to
encourage, as it said, a school of sailors for the national marine,)
which went wholly into the pockets of New Englanders. It is said that
the bounties paid are yearly about one and a half millions. Supposing
that half only of the sum thus taken from the Federal Treasury was
paid in by the South, (which we shall see is less than the truth,)
this bounty, with that part of its increase which has accrued by
simple interest alone, amounts now to one hundred and seventy-one
millions, transferred by this unfair legislation from the South to the
North. Next are to be mentioned the tonnage duties on foreign ships
carrying between American ports, which, as the South had few ships,
constituted a perpetual tax on us for the benefit of the North. Its
amount cannot possibly be estimated with exactness, but it must have
amounted to millions annually. Next came the oppression of a
protective tariff, raising upon imports as high a revenue as sixty or
seventy millions annually, in the last years of the government. As the
South had few manufactures, and the North many, and as these duties,
even where laid for revenue, were discriminating against the cheaper
and better foreign manufactures which the South desired, in every case
where discrimination was possible; it is manifest that the system
constituted a simple robbery of the South of annual millions, for the
benefit of the North. But we lost far more than the actual tariff on
that portion of the national imports which were consumed at the South;
because the restrictive policy, by throwing the balance of trade
against the nations which took our grand staples of tobacco and
cotton, deprived them of the ability to buy so freely, and at so large
prices, as they would have done under a policy of free trade. Thus,
the Southern planter not only paid the Northern manufacturer a profit
on his goods equal to the protective tariff, but in the process of
that robbery, lost several times as much more, in the prices which he
should have received for his cotton or tobacco, had he been permitted
to go with it to a free European market. This method of legislative
plunder was so wasteful, that the Yankee, in stealing one dollar from
us, annihilated several other dollars of our values. Next may be
mentioned the advantage which the North gained in the funding of the
Federal debt incurred at the Revolutionary war. This was so juggled by
the Hamilton party, as to give the avails of it chiefly to the North.
The enjoyment of that fund, with its increase since, has made a
difference of untold millions in favour of the North. Last: the North
twice enjoyed the advantage of having the National Bank situated in
its midst, and wielding for purposes of traffic a large part of the
funds of the Government. This superior command of ready money,
acquired in these various ways, enabled the North to develope
commercial centres, and to fix the great markets in her territory,
thus ensuring to her the countless profits of commissions, freights,
etc., on Southern trade.

Is it wonderful that the industry of a people thus swindled and
plundered should languish? Who does not know the power of abundant
capital, and especially of ready money, in stimulating enterprise and
facilitating industry? Yet, under all this _incubus_ the South has
more than kept pace with its rapacious partner. When, therefore, the
Yankee abolitionist points to any unfavourable contrasts in our
condition, as evidence of the evil of slavery, he adds insult to
falsehood: his own injustice has created the misfortune with which he
taunts us, so far as that misfortune exists at all.

§ 5. _Effects of Slavery on Population, Disease, and Crime._

But our enemies argue that slavery must be an obstacle to national
growth and strength; for this is evinced by the very fact that they
are nearly nineteen millions, and we only twelve and a quarter; when,
at the beginning, the two sections were nearly equal in strength. Let
us, therefore, look into this question. The increase of population is
usually a sure test of the physical well-being of a people. Hardship
and destitution repress population, by obstructing marriages, by
breeding diseases, and by increasing the mortality of infants. If the
population of the South be found to have a rapid natural increase, it
will prove, therefore, the general prosperity of the people; and if
the black race be found to multiply rapidly, it will be an evidence
that their physical condition is happy, or in other words, that the
institution of slavery is a humane one for them. Sufficient access
being denied us to the statistics collected in 1860, our remarks must
be based in part on the returns of 1850, and previous periods. These
returns show that between 1840 and 1850, the whites of the free States
increased thirty-nine and a half _per cent._, (39.42,) and the whites
of the slave States increased thirty-four and a fourth _per cent._,
(34.26.) The climate, the occupations, and the African labour of the
South, repel almost the whole of that teeming immigration from Europe
which has been rushing to our shores; so that making allowance for
this source of population, it will be seen that the natural increase
of Southern whites is as rapid as that of Northern.

In 1860, the whites in the free States had increased to about eighteen
and a half millions; and in the slave States, to about eight and a
quarter millions. The increase for the free States was, therefore,
forty-two (42) _per cent._, and for the slave States thirty-three _per
cent._, (33.) The census showed that in the decade between 1840 and
1850, four-fifths of the foreign immigration, for the reasons
mentioned, went into the free States. If we suppose the same ratio to
have prevailed in the last decade, then the fact that the North has
received four-fifths of the immense rush of Europeans who resorted to
our shores in the last ten years, will abundantly account for this
difference of increase. The South has grown as fast in white
population, as the North would have done, left to itself.

But the increase of the slave population of the South is obscured by
no such disturbing cause. The South having magnanimously concurred,
and even gone before, in suppressing the foreign slave trade, from a
conviction of its immorality, the African race has received no
accession whatever, in our day, from immigration. Between 1840 and
1850, the increase of the slave population solely from the excess of
births over deaths, was twenty-eight and eight-tenths _per cent._,
(28.8,) and between 1850 and 1860, it was twenty-three and
three-tenths (23.3) _per cent._ One cause for the diminished rate of
increase in the latter decade, was doubtless the growing passion of
the Yankees for the abduction of our slaves; which, towards the last,
carried off thousands annually. But either rate of increase is more
rapid than the whites, either North or South, ever attained without
the aid of immigration. The _native increase_ of the free States in
ten years has probably been between eleven and fifteen _per cent._ So
that tried by this well-established test, the physical well-being of
the slaves is higher than of any race in the world. Meantime, the
miserable free blacks of New England, in the midst of the boasted
philanthropy of abolitionism, only increase at the rate of _one and
seven-tenths_ of one _per cent._ in ten years! Such is the stern and
impartial testimony of fact. How calamitous must be that load of
social oppression, of disease and destitution, which thus nearly
annihilates the increase of this fruitful race! Yet this is the
condition to which the benevolent abolitionist would reduce the
prosperous servants of the South.

This seems the suitable place to notice the most insulting and
preposterous of the abolitionists' slanders. It is that expressed by
calling Virginia the "slave-breeding commonwealth." What do these
insolent asses mean? Do they intend to revile Virginia, because she
did not suppress the natural increase of this peaceful and happy class
of her people, by wholesale infanticide? Or because she did not, like
the North, subject them to social evils so cruel and murderous, as to
kill off that increase by the slow torture of vice, oppression, and
destitution? It was the honour of Virginia, that she _was a
man-breeding commonwealth_; that her benignant government made
existence a blessing, both to the black man and the white, and,
consequently, conferred it on many of both. If it has been proved,
which we claim, that servitude was the best condition for the blacks,
and that it promoted their multiplication, then this is a praise and
not a reproach to Virginia. How perverse and absurd is the charge,
that Virginia was actuated by a motive beastly and avaricious, in
bestowing existence on many black men, and making it a blessing to
them; because, forsooth, her wise government of them made them useful
to the State and to themselves! By the same reason, the Christian
parents who rejoice in children as a gift of the Lord, and a blessing
to him "who hath his quiver full of them," are "slave-breeders,"
because they make their children useful, and hope to find them
supports to their old age.

But medical statistics have revealed the fact, that another sure test
of the physical well-being and progress of a people may be found, in
the _per-centage_ of hereditary disease, idiocy, and lunacy among
them. The hardships, destitution, and immoralities of a bad state of
society have a powerful influence to propagate blindness, deafness,
idiocy, scrofula, _cretinism_, and to harass the feebler minds into
derangement; while the blessings of good government, abundant food and
raiment, and social happiness, strengthen and elevate the "human
breed." The returns of the census of 1850 were collected by authority
of Congress, on these points, and they show that of whites, North and
South, about _one person in every thousand_ is either deaf, dumb,
blind, insane, or idiotic. Of free blacks in the North, _one person in
every five hundred and six_ was in one or the other of these sad
conditions! Of the black people of the South, _one person among every
one thousand four hundred and forty-six_, was thus afflicted. So that,
by this test, Southern slaves are three times as prosperous,
contented, happy, and moral as Northern free blacks, and once and a
half times as much so as the whites themselves. The frightful
proportion which these elemental maladies have reached among the
wretched free blacks of abolitiondom, does more to reveal the misery
of their condition there, than volumes of description.

The statistics of crime and pauperism reveal results yet more
astounding for our enemies, and triumphant for us. While the free
States had, in 1850, about thirteen and a half millions, including a
few hundreds of thousands of free blacks, and the South about nine and
a half millions of whites and blacks, there were, in that year
(23,664) twenty-three thousand six hundred and sixty-four criminal
convictions in the North, and (2,921) two thousand nine hundred and
twenty-one in the South. The same year, the North was supporting
(114,704) one hundred and fourteen thousand seven hundred and four
paupers; and the South (20,563) twenty thousand five hundred and
sixty-three. One of the most remarkable things is the great excess of
both crime and pauperism in the New England States, "the land of
steady habits," not only as compared with the South, but as compared
with the remainder of the North, except New York. In Boston and its
adjacent county, in Massachusetts, the persons in jails, houses of
correction or refuge, and alms-houses, bore, among the blacks, the
ratio of _one to every sixteen_: and among the whites, of _one to
every thirty-four_. In Richmond, Virginia, the same unhappy classes
bore, among the blacks, the ratio of _one to every forty-six_, and
among the whites, of _one to every one hundred and twelve_. By this
test, then, the white people of Richmond are three times as happy and
moral as the white people of Boston, and the negroes of Richmond have
proportionably one-third less crime than the white people of Boston,
and are nearly three times as moral as the free blacks of that city.

We have thus examined the testimony of facts, as given to us under the
unwilling authority of the Congress of the United States. They show
that, by all the tests recognized among statesmen, slavery has not
made the South less populous, less rich, less moral, less healthy, or
less abundant in the resources of living than its boastful rival, in
proportion to its opportunities. On this evidence of experience we
rest ourselves.

In dismissing this head of our discussion, we would briefly touch two
points. One is the annual production of the industry of the North and
the South. Without burdening the reader with statistical details, it
is sufficient to sum up the annual results of the three great
branches, of agriculture, mining, and manufactures. The North exceeds
the South in proportion to population, in wheat, hay, dairy products,
and manufactures; while the South greatly exceeds the North in the
great staples of Indian corn and tobacco, and surpasses it almost
immeasurably in rice, cotton, and naval stores. Summing up the varied
productions of each section, we find that the industry of the South
is, on the whole, more productive than that of the North, relatively
to its numbers. And of the great commodities which constitute the
basis of foreign commerce, the South yields more than the North, in
about the ratio of four to one!

The other point is the relative improvement of the soil. According to
the census of 1860, there were _four_ acres of improved land to each
inhabitant of the North, appraised, with their rateable proportion of
stock and implements, at $223. This gives about $56 for each acre and
its stock. In the South, on the other hand, each inhabitant claims
_nine_ acres of improved land, valued, with their stock and
implements, at $322. This allows about $36 for each acre and its
stock. It has been argued that this evinces the slovenly and imperfect
agriculture of the slaveholding States, and the comparative exhaustion
of their soils. It is said, their rude tillage is spread over a far
wider surface, and conducted with inferiour appointments. And this
depreciating result slavery has brought about, they assert, in spite
of superiour natural advantages. We remark that, contrary to the usual
assertion, the natural fertility was superiour in the free States. The
soil of the Middle States had a better natural average than that of
the old Atlantic slave States, and the North-western States had a
vastly larger proportion of fertile lands than the South-western. In
the next place, the agriculture of the South is of such a character
that it requires a wider area; and yet this requirement argues nothing
of its greater imperfection. It may require more space to fly a kite
than to spin a top, and yet it does not follow that the kite-flying is
less skillful sport than the top-spinning. An iron manufactory must
necessarily cover more ground than a chemical laboratory; but no one
argues thence, that the ironmonger is less a master of his trade than
the manufacturer of drugs, of his. Last: the fact that the Southern
planter accounts the labour of his farm as property, and so, as a
part of his invested capital, causes a lower nominal valuation of his
lands, though there be no inferiority of actual production. Grain and
grass lands in the county of Rockingham have always sold higher than
grain and grass lands in the county of Albemarle, which were actually
yielding the same products annually. The former were tilled by free
labour, and the latter by slave; but the Albemarle farming was
confessedly as skillful, as economical, and as profitable, as the
Rockingham. The explanation is the following: The Rockingham farmer,
hiring his free labour, needed no more capital for this purpose than
was sufficient to pay the wages of a few months in advance of the
realization of his crop. The Albemarle farmer expended a large portion
of his farming capital in the purchase of slaves, and afterwards paid
no money in hire. The former, investing twenty thousand dollars in
agriculture, could expend the whole sum in land, except what was
required to stock it and pay wages for a few months. Thus he would
begin by buying three hundred acres of land for eighteen thousand
dollars. But the slaveholding farmer began by expending eight thousand
dollars in the purchase of servants, leaving him but ten thousand to
pay for the three hundred acres of land. For this reason land of the
same actual value must be rated at a smaller nominal price among
slaveholders than among farmers employing free labour. But the true
profits of the farming are not reduced thereby, in the proportion of
eighteen thousand to ten thousand. For the slaveholder no longer has
to tax his crops, (equal in gross amount to those of the Rockingham
farmer,) with the hire of labourers. That tax he pays in the shape of
the annual interest on the eight thousand dollars, which, in the first
instance, he paid for his servants. Hence the facts do not argue that
the land is intrinsically less productive or less profitable; they
only argue a different distribution of capital between the two sources
of production, land and labour. In consequence of that difference, the
land must be represented by less money. This obvious explanation
explodes much that has been taught concerning the comparative
barrenness of Southern farming.



These facts, then, have been established beyond question: That slavery
was forced upon Virginia against her protests, by the cupidity of New
England, and the tyranny and cupidity of Old England: That the African
race being thus placed in the State without her agency, she adopted
the remedy of domestic slavery, which is proved by the law of God in
the Old and New Testaments to be innocent, and shown by events to be
beneficent to the Africans: That, according to history, the laws of
nations, and the laws of the British Empire inherited by the American
States, slaveholding was lawful throughout the territories of the
United States, save where it was restrained by State sovereignty: That
it was expressly recognized and protected by the Constitution; such
recognition having been an essential condition, without which the
Southern States would never have accepted the Union: That every
department of the government, and all political parties, habitually
recognized the political equality of the slaveholding States, and of
slaveholding citizens: That the Supreme Court, the authorized
expounder of the Constitution, also recognized the equal rights of
slaveholders in all the common territories: And that slavery proved
itself at once, not only lawful, but eminently promotive of the
well-being of the Africans, of the interests of the whole government,
and of the publick wealth. Then the North, having ceased to find its
own interest in the slave trade and slavery, changed its ground, and
began to cast about, merely from a desire of sectional power in the
confederacy, for means to destroy the institution. It is unnecessary
to argue that the whole free-soil controversy, and the war which grew
out of it, were really designed by them to destroy slavery in the
States: for they themselves, in the pride of success, have long ceased
to conceal that fact.

Now, had slavery been intrinsically a moral and social evil, yet its
protection was in the compact between the States; and to the honest
mind, there was but one course for the North to adopt when she
concluded that she could no longer endure her connexion with slavery.
This was, to restore to the South the pledges, the fulfilment of which
had become irksome; and to dissolve the Union peacefully and fairly,
as it had been formed, leaving us in possession of our own country and
rights, to bear our own sin, and pursue our own destiny. It was the
federal compact alone, which gave the North any right to govern the
South. If they repudiated that contract, it was annihilated equally
for both parties. Thenceforward their claim to legislate for the
South, or exercise any power over her, was baseless and iniquitous. No
fair mind will dispute, that even though slavery had been an
indefensible wrong, the South ought not to have permitted herself to
be assailed for it, in an equal Union which she had sovereignly
entered with this institution expressly recognized. But that basis of
argument we utterly repudiate. We will not defend ourselves from such
premises. We claim to have been justified, not only by the
Constitution of the United States, but by God and the right, in our
rights to slaves. Our _status_ in the Federal Union was, so far, as
equal, as honourable, as legal, as free from ethical taint, as that of
any other States with their property in horses, ships, land, and

We have, in another place, (the Life of Jackson,) stated with
sufficient fulness, the admitted facts and doctrines of the
Constitution, which justified the Southern States in resuming their
independence, when the compact, to which they had partially yielded
it, was destroyed. The indisputable proofs (now fully admitted by
anti-slavery men) might be cited, which showed that their election of
a sectional President, with other aggressions, were intended to
destroy the most acknowledged and vital rights of the States. Had
Virginia assumed her attitude of resistance upon that event, she might
have defended it by that maxim, so obvious to every just mind, that it
is righteous and wise to meet the first clear aggression, even though
its practical mischiefs be unimportant: that "a people should rather
contend for their rights upon their threshold than upon their
hearthstone." But we had stronger justification still. The aggression
intended was practically vast and ruinous in its results. It has been
shown in previous chapters, that the destruction of African slavery
among us was vital to us, because emancipation by such means would be
destructive of the very framework of society, and of our most
fundamental rights and interests. All our statesmen, of all parties,
had taught us, not only that the reserved rights of the States were
the bulwarks of the liberties of the people, but that emancipation by
federal aggression would lead to the destruction of all other rights.
A Clay, as much as a Calhoun, proclaimed that when abolition overthrew
slavery in the South, it also would equally overthrow the
Constitution. Calhoun, and other Southern statesmen, with a sagacity
which every day confirms, had forewarned us, that when once abolition
by federal aggression came, these other sure results would follow:
that the same greedy lust of power which had meddled between masters
and slaves, would assuredly, and for the stronger reason, desire to
use the political weight of the late slaves against their late
masters: that having enforced a violent emancipation, they would
enforce, of course, negro suffrage, negro eligibility to office, and a
full negro equality: that negro equality thus theoretically
established would be practical negro superiority: that the tyrant
section, as it gave to its victims, the white men of the South, more
and more causes of just resentment, would find more and more violent
inducements to bribe the negroes, with additional privileges and
gifts, to assist them in their domination: that this miserable career
must result in one of two things, either a war of races, in which the
whites or the blacks would be, one or the other, exterminated; or
amalgamation. But while we believe that "God made of one blood all
nations of men to dwell under the whole heavens," we know that the
African has become, according to a well-known law of natural history,
by the manifold influences of the ages, a different, fixed _species_
of the race, separated from the white man by traits bodily, mental and
moral, almost as rigid and permanent as those of _genus_. Hence the
offspring of an amalgamation must be a hybrid race, stamped with all
the feebleness of the hybrid, and incapable of the career of
civilization and glory as an independent race. And this apparently is
the destiny which our conquerors have in view. If indeed they can mix
the blood of the heroes of Manassas with this vile stream from the
fens of Africa, then they will never again have occasion to tremble
before the righteous resistance of Virginian freemen; but will have a
race supple and vile enough to fill that position of political
subjection, which they desire to fix on the South.

But although Virginia well knew that the very existence of society was
assailed by these aggressions, so strict was her loyalty to the
Constitution, she refused to make the election of a sectional
President the immediate occasion of resistance, because, outrage as it
was, it was nominally effected by the forms of the Constitution. When
her sisters, more advanced than herself in the spirit of resistance,
resumed their independence, she refused to follow them. When, warned
by thickening events, she assembled her Convention, immediate
embodiment of her own sovereignty, it was not a convention of
secessionists. Only twenty-five, out of the hundreds of members,
advocated that extreme remedy. But she did by this Convention, what
she had already done by her General Assembly: she repeated the
assertion of the great principles on which the government was
founded; that it was built on the free consent of States originally
sovereign, and not on force; that however wrongfully any State might
resume its independence without just cause, the only remedy was
conciliation, and not force; that therefore the coercion of a
sovereign State was unlawful, mischievous, and must be resisted. There
Virginia took her stand--on this foundation right, as essential to the
well-being of assailant as of assailed. It was not for slavery that
she deliberately resolved to draw the sword, cardinal as she knew
circumstances rendered slavery at this time; but for this corner-stone
of all constitutional liberty, North and South. And this, too, was a
principle which she had always held against all assailants, in all
ages of the Republick. She had asserted it firmly against her own
favourite, Andrew Jackson, in the case of South Carolina,
notwithstanding her disapproval of the nullifying doctrine then held
by that State. She only asserted her time-honoured creed now. It was
not until the claim to subjugate sovereign States was practically
applied, that Virginia drew the sword; and then, not for slavery, but
for the Constitution, and the liberties of a continent, which it had

It is therefore a great and an odious perversion of the truth, to say
that the defensive movement of the South was a war to extend and
perpetuate slavery. African slavery was not the _cause_, but the
_occasion_ of the strife, on either side. On the Northern side it was
merely the pretext, employed by that aggressive section to carry out
ambitious projects of domination. To the South, it was merely the
circumstance of the controversy, that the right assailed was our right
to the labour of our servants. It was not the circumstance for which
we contended, but the principle--the great cause of moral right,
justice, and regulated liberty. It was therefore a gross injustice to
burden our cause, in the minds of the rest of the world, with the
_odium_ which the prejudices of Christendom have attached to the name
of slaveholder. Even those who are unable to overcome those
prejudices, would, if just and magnanimous, approve our attempt to
defend ourselves.

Finally: the means by which this defence has been overpowered were as
iniquitous as the attack. A war was waged, precipitated by treachery,
aggravated by every measure of barbarity condemned by the laws of
nations, by the agency of multitudinous hordes of foreign mercenaries,
and semi-civilized slaves seduced from their owners; against captives,
women, children, and private property; with the attempt to let loose
upon our little community (which they found otherwise unconquerable) a
servile insurrection and all the horrors of domestic assassination--an
attempt disappointed only by the good feeling and good character which
the servants themselves had learned from the humanity of their
masters. The impartial and magnanimous mind which weighs these facts
cannot but feel itself swelling with an unutterable sense of
indignation. The Southern people feel little impulse to give
expression to their sense of the enormous wrongs, in reproaches or
vituperations of those who have thus destroyed them. When resistance
was practicable, they gave a more expressive and seemly utterance to
this sentiment, in the energy of their blows. Let the heroick spirit
in which the soldiers of Virginia and the South struck for their
liberties, and suffered, and died, represent our appreciation of this
injustice. A righteous God, for our sins towards Him, has permitted us
to be overthrown by our enemies and His. It is vain to complain in the
ear of a maddening tempest. Although our people are now oppressed with
present sufferings and a prospective destiny more cruel and disastrous
than has been visited on any civilized people of modern ages, they
suffer silently, disdaining to complain, and only raising to the
chastening heavens, the cry, "How long, O Lord?" Their appeal is to
history, and to Him. They well know, that in due time, they, although
powerless themselves, will be avenged through the same disorganizing
heresies under which they now suffer, and through the anarchy and woes
which they will bring upon the North. Meantime, let the arrogant and
successful wrongdoers flout our defence with disdain: we will meet
them with it again, when it will be heard; in the day of their
calamity, in the pages of impartial history, and in the Day of



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Transcriber's Notes:

Words surrounded by _ are italicized.

Words surrounded by = are bold.

Apparent printer's errors and inconsistent spellings have been kept,
including inconsistent use of hyphen (e. g. "church-members" and
"church members").

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Defence of Virginia - And Through Her, of the South, in Recent and Pending - Contests Against the Sectional Party" ***

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