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´╗┐Title: Slaveholding - Weighed in the Balance of Truth
Author: Fitch, Charles
Language: English
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SLAVEHOLDING

WEIGHED IN THE

BALANCE OF TRUTH,

AND ITS COMPARATIVE GUILT ILLUSTRATED.

BY CHARLES FITCH.
Pastor of First Free Congregational Church, Boston.

BOSTON:
PUBLISHED BY ISAAC KNAPP,
No. 25, Cornhill.

1837.



SLAVEHOLDING, & c.


In order that we may understand the duties, which we owe to God and our
fellow men, relative to the subject of slavery, it is necessary that we
examine the institution, in all its bearings upon the temporal and
eternal interests of the enslaved; and ascertain, as far as we are able
to do so, the extent of the injuries which it inflicts. To aid my
readers in doing this is now my object.

I do not propose however, to gauge this mammoth evil, and show you its
exact dimensions; I fully confess to you in the outset, that I am not
able so to do. That it is greater, in some of its bearings at least,
than any other evil that ever existed among men, and involves more guilt
than any other crime ever committed by men, I fully believe, and shall
endeavor to show; still the evil has a magnitude which my powers cannot
describe; and the guilt a blackness which can never be painted, except
by a pencil dipped in the midnight of the bottomless pit.

I am aware, that great complaint has often been made, of those, who
have endeavored to rouse the indignation of their fellow men against the
wrongs inflicted on the poor slave, that they deal in unjust severity of
language. That they have at any time spoken more than the truth, I do
not believe--nor can I admit that they have dealt out severity and
painted rebuke, in more unmeasured terms, than they have received them
from their opponents.

When I remember, too, the long and profound slumberings, even of
Christians on this subject, while their brethren were groaning under all
the injuries, and cruelties, of iron-handed and steel-hearted
oppression; I cannot suppress the feeling, that it was necessary, that
that those who would arouse them, should break forth as in thunder
tones, and gird up all their energies, to shake off the sloth in which
their fellow men were bound. They had themselves but just awoke as from
a dream, and found that they had long been sleeping, as on the
overhanging brink of a burning crater; and when they saw the whole
multitude of their fellow countrymen, still asleep in the same situation
of fearful peril; who can wonder that they should cry out at the top of
their voice, and resort to every possible expedient, to awaken those
around them before it was too late? They heard the suppressed and
terrific mutterings of the incipient earthquake below, and felt the
ground beneath them already giving way, what less could they do, than to
lay about them with all their strength, in the use of the first
expedient, that seemed calculated to awaken and save? They had no time
to devise a multitude of measures, and then choose from among them,
such as would be most likely to satisfy those who were unwilling to be
awaked. They must do something, and do it then. Previous measures,
though entered upon ostensibly for the purpose of arousing men from
sleep, had only served as a lull-a-by. The oppressors of their fellow
men, were but becoming more secure in their claims of property in God's
image--the chains of the slave were getting more and more firmly
rivetted, and the whole nation were fast binding themselves in a willing
bondage to those, who found it conducive to their ease, and interest,
and shameful indulgence, to be permitted to inflict all the wrongs they
pleased on their fellow men, with none to utter a single note of
remonstrance or rebuke. It was seen that the press was bribed, and the
pulpit gagged, and the lips of the multitude padlocked, and nearly the
whole population of the free States bound, by chains either of
prejudice, or interest, or ignorance, to the tremendous car of Slavery;
and those who loved to have it so, had mounted the engine and were
driving at rail-road speed, withersoever they would; and when a few
awoke, and saw the nation thus hastening to the precipice of ruin, to be
dashed in the abyss below--what less could they do, than to cry
STOP--and that too, even at a pitch of remonstrance, which should
subject them to the imputation of fanaticism or madness.

It is not unlikely that some of my readers, may regard the language
which I shall use as unreasonably severe; and yet I do not believe, nor
can I think that any man, after looking candidly at the subject, will
believe that it expresses more than the truth.

My design is to draw a parallel between slavery and the evils which
stand connected with it, and some of the worst evils and vices and
crimes, which are ever found among men, that we may see where slavery
ought to be placed in the catalogue of sins.

1. Let us look at the Roman Catholic Church. Much has been said during
the last few years, of the efforts which were being made, to bring this
country under subjection to the Pope of Rome. Now it is enough to make a
man shudder from head to foot, though his nerves were iron, and his
sinews brass, to think of the most distant possibility that such a thing
may ever take place.

But what are the evils which the Romish Church inflicts, upon such as
are brought under her control?

She takes away the Bible from them, and gives them no opportunity, to
learn for themselves, the way to heaven. All the religious instruction,
which the people can receive, must come orally, from the lips of the
priest. Slavery does the same thing precisely, to all who come under its
control. They may not read the Bible, nor possess it--and can receive no
religious instruction, but what comes orally from the lips of the
priest. The Roman Catholic Church depends for its perpetuity, upon the
ignorance of the common people. Slavery depends for its perpetuity upon
the ignorance, of the enslaved. Hence the great effort to shut out all
_knowledge_. The Romish Church robs the laboring classes of large sums
of money, to support its pope, and its cardinals, its bishops, and its
priests, in idleness and luxury and profligacy. Slavery robs the
laboring class of their earnings, to support another set of men in the
same mode of life. The Romish Church confiscates the property, and
confines, and tortures, and puts to death, such as will not submit to
her rule, whenever she has the power of doing so. Slavery does the same
things. Not only the property, the whole earnings, but the wife and
children, the hands and feet and head, the whole body and soul of the
enslaved, are confiscated, and appropriated to the use of men in power.
Slavery also has tortures for its victims. It applies the scourge, until
the blood runs down their lacerated bodies in streams, and in a
multitude of ways inflicts its cruelties, upon such as will not yield an
entire submission to its rule. If any refuse to submit longer to their
sufferings, and flee, they are followed into their hiding places, and
put to death. Others are whipped until death ensues; others are driven
to hard labor without proper food or rest, until they sink down and die.

But the Romish Church does not, ordinarily, strip the whole multitude of
its victims, of everything that bears the name of property, and take the
ownership of themselves out of their hands, and drive them by the
scourge to hard labor from the beginning to the end of the year. She
does not measure out to them their scanty pittance of food, nor name
every rag of clothing which they are permitted to put on, nor mock at
all the relations of social life--stealing the child out of the father's
arms, or off the mother's breast; and the wife out of the bosom of her
husband; and separating them for life, depriving them of all the
protection of law, and subjecting them daily to every injury and
suffering, which avarice and passion and lust can load upon them. Nor
are men, women and children under her influence, like cattle, raised to
sell. Such enormities as these are left to be practiced by slavery; and
to be legalized in the statute books of a people, who have boastingly
regarded themselves, as the most thoroughly christianized nation on
which the sun ever shines. I say then, there are points, in which
slavery far outdoes the Romish Church in cruelty and guilt; binds
heavier burdens, and more grievous to be borne, and lays them on men's
shoulders, and will not touch them with a finger. Slavery also like
Romanism, cries out against free discussion, and the liberty of the
press, and does not hesitate to silence both, so far as she has the
power; and to make every possible advance toward it where the power is
not possessed. Hence the outrages committed on peaceful citizens,
travelling in slaveholding States; and the efforts to put down
discussion, in almost all the States which call themselves free. Hence
the destruction of Birney's press in Cincinnati, and the stones cast in
the streets of Troy, at the hero Weld, who, like his Master, goes about
doing good. Hence all the shameful outrages by which that place has been
disgraced, and the still more shameful neglect of the proper authorities
to protect peaceful, respectable, high-minded, and pious men, in the
exercise of the most noble of all their rights, that of publicly
expressing and defending their own opinions. Hence all the excesses
practiced in this and several adjoining States, to lay the heaven-born
spirit of liberty asleep, even among her own New-England hills. Hence
the long, loud, and repeated threats of dissolving the Union, which
Southern men have sent up on our ears, and which even some of our
Governors have echoed back, in declarations that it is felony for a man
to speak what he thinks on a particular subject. Who doubts, that
slavery if she could, would go so far in locking up the opinions of men
within their own breasts, as ever popery went in the height of her
power. She had already, well nigh, taken away the power of free
discussion, from those who dare to assert the rights of their fellow
men, and would soon have completed the _work_.

2. Let us look at Infidelity. The evil arising from this source is, that
it blinds men respecting their duty to God and their own souls, and thus
leads them down to hell. It urges itself, however, on no man by force. A
spark of honest desire to know the truth and walk in its light, is at
all times, abundantly sufficient, to show a man the sophistry and wilful
unbelief by which such doctrines are supported; and to warn him of all
their snares, and to guide his feet into the path of life. A spark of
honesty in the admission of the plainest principles of common sense,
will show a man that there is a God, that the Bible is a revelation of
his will, and that he will not let the wicked go unpunished, who refuse
to repent. He, therefore, who suffers himself to be borne upon the
shoals and rocks, and down the cataracts, or into the whirlpools of
wilful unbelief, goes there warned of his danger, and with abundant
means and opportunities for escape. But slavery wrests the Bible out of
the hands of immortal men by force. In the midst of a Christian land,
with the clear light of heaven shining all around them, they are shut
out from this light, and left to grope their way in darkness down to
hell. That I may not be suspected of declaring more than the truth on
this point, I will just give a specimen of the laws of slave States
touching this point.

'A law of South Carolina, passed in 1800, authorizes the infliction of
twenty lashes, on every slave, found in an assembly, convened for mental
instruction, held in a confined or secret place, although in presence of
a white.' That this cuts them off, and was designed to cut them off from
all means of mental instruction, nobody doubts; for who in that State is
permitted to give slaves mental instruction in a public place? 'Another
law, imposes a fine of a hundred pounds, on any person who may teach a
slave to write.' 'In North Carolina, to teach a slave to read or write,
or to sell or give him any book, [the Bible not excepted,] or pamphlet,
is punished with thirty-nine lashes, or imprisonment if the offender be
a free negro, but if a white, then with a fine of three hundred dollars.
In Georgia, if a white teach a free negro or a slave to read or write,
he is fined five hundred dollars, and imprisoned at the discretion of
the Court. If the offender be a colored man, bond or free, he may be
fined, or whipped, at the discretion of the Court. A father therefore,
may not teach his own children, on penalty of being flogged.' 'This was
enacted in 1829.' 'In Louisiana, the penalty for teaching slaves to read
or write, is one year's imprisonment. In Georgia also, any justice may,
at his discretion, break up any religious assembly of slaves, and may
order each slave present to be corrected, without trial, by receiving on
the bare back, twenty-five stripes with a whip, switch, or cowskin.' 'In
South Carolina, slaves may not meet together, before sunrise or after
sunset, for the purpose of religious instruction, unless a majority of
the meeting be of whites, on penalty of twenty lashes well laid on. In
Virginia, all _evening_ meetings of slaves, at any meeting-house, are
unequivocally forbidden.' Of course they may not meet in the day time,
for then they must labor. Possibly they may on the Sabbath, but their
opportunities of doing it even then, are few and far between.

You see, therefore, the strenuous efforts which are made by legislative
enactments, to shut out all light from the mind of the slave, and
surround him with a thick impenetrable darkness, in the midst of which
he must live and die; and from which his eye never can open, till death
frees him from the grasp of his oppressor. I am aware, that the
privilege of giving oral religious instruction to slaves is, to some
extent, granted, and that some slave masters do pretend to teach their
slaves the truths of religion. But what is the amount of all this? A
writer for the New York Evangelist has, some months since, given us what
he terms 'sketches of slavery from a year's residence in Florida,' in
one number of which, he speaks on this very point. He had conversed with
slaveholders on the subject. One man thought it a very fine thing to
give slaves religious instruction. 'I called my slaves together,' said
he, 'one Sabbath day, _the only time which I have been able to get this
season!!!_ and read to them the account of Abraham's servant going to
seek a wife for Isaac. I took occasion from this, to speak to them of
the integrity of this servant--what an amount of property was committed
to his care, how faithfully he watched over it, how careful not to
purloin any of the rich jewels to himself, how anxious to return at the
appointed time.' 'I think,' said this slaveholder, 'that religious
instruction must be decidedly beneficial.' Another master with whom I
conversed, continues the writer, believed nothing about giving religious
instruction to slaves. He regarded it as all a farce. 'There is no man,'
said this slaveholder, 'who will read the whole Bible to his slaves. If
I recollect right, there is something in the Bible which speaks of
_breaking every yoke, and letting the oppressed go free_; and there is
no master,' continued he, 'who will read _that_ to his slaves, not even
your good Methodists; and if we must not read the whole Bible, we may as
well read none at all.' Such were the views of slaveholders.

I have somewhere read the following. Whether authentic, or not, it
illustrates my point, and expresses, I am fully persuaded, very much of
truth. It was the remark of a slave, after the master had been reading
the Bible to him and his companion. 'Massa bery _good_ Christian; him
bery _good_ Christian _indeed_. Read de Bible to us; but him always read
de same chapter, what says, servants, obey your massas in all tings.'

Here, unquestionably, we have just about the truth, on the subject of
giving religious instruction to slaves. Multitudes never attempt it, and
those who do, are sure to do it for their own interest, rather than for
the good of the slave. That there are exceptions, I am willing to admit;
but all that I have said, exists unquestionably, to a wide extent, and
to an extent provided for by law. I am aware that the gospel is preached
to some extent, and that some truly embrace it; but these are the
exceptions, and not the general rule. My claim is, that slavery destroys
more souls among the slaves by keeping the Bible away from them, than
infidelity could do in its place, if they were permitted to have the
Bible and read for themselves; and it seems to me that this is a
position which no honest man will dispute.--Slavery also destroys souls
by force, when infidelity could only decoy, and therefore leave an
opportunity for escape.

3. Let us compare slavery with the making and vending of ardent spirits.
Do not suspect me of a wish to palliate, or extenuate the evils, or the
guilt of this abominable business. I have often dwelt on these, until my
soul has been pained within me, and until I am well persuaded that all,
and far more than all which has ever been said or _dreamed_ on that
subject, is strictly true. I am aware too, that a highly gifted mind,
has, some years since, drawn a parallel between intemperance and the
slave-trade, in which he has endeavored to show, that the latter is an
evil of the least magnitude. But I am comparing now the business of
making and vending ardent spirits, with slavery as it exists at this
time in our country.

It has often been said with unquestionable truth, that from three to
five hundred thousand miserable men in our nation, are confirmed
drunkards, and that from thirty to fifty thousand go down every year to
a drunkard's grave; and inasmuch, as the drunkard cannot inherit the
kingdom of God, they must go down to the depths of hell. A most fearful
destruction this indeed. But instead of five hundred thousand, there are
not less than two millions two hundred forty-five thousand in our
country, held in the darkness of slavery. How many of these, think you,
have sufficient light to guide their feet to heaven? Shall we say one
half? Who can believe it? But if this be admitted, there are still more
than twice the number shut up by slavery, in a state of darkness that
leads to hell, than have ever, by any man, been estimated in the ranks
of intemperance. Is it not most clearly a truth, then, that slavery
destroys more souls, than the making and vending of ardent spirit? When
we consider, too, that slavery seizes its victims by force, and binds
and rivets chains upon them which they cannot throw off, and thus leaves
their souls unprovided with any of the means of grace, to die without
hope; and that strong drink leaves men abundant opportunities to escape
if they will; who will not say that slavery is unspeakably more to be
dreaded: that it is an evil of far greater magnitude than the other? The
intemperate man may at any time, break away from his bondage, give up
his cups, enjoy the means of grace, embrace the truth and live. But the
victim of slavery, shut out from all true knowledge of God, deprived by
law of all opportunity of learning his Maker's will, or of studying the
way of salvation by Christ; what can he do, but remain in his darkness
and sin, until the darkness of eternal night closes in upon his
benighted soul, and he is left for eternity to suffer the consequences
of unpardoned sin. True, the guilt of him who dies the willing victim of
intempesance, must be greater than that of the poor benighted slave, and
his future punishment consequently more severe, but if slavery holds
twice the number of victims exposed to hopeless reprobation, then it
destroys twice the number of souls, and is therefore the greatest evil.

4. Let us compare slavery with theft and robbery. Let me give a case for
illustration. You are a husband and a father. You commenced the world a
poor man, but by hard labor and economy, you have collected together a
sum of money, which, you believe, if well invested, will place you and
your family in circumstances of respectability and comfort. From
statements made to you, or from your own observation, by going upon the
ground, you come to the conclusion that your money can be more
profitably appropriated, by removing to the West. Accordingly you
convert every thing you possess into cash, and make all the necessary
arrangements for a removal with your family. On the night previous to
your intended departure, a thief enters your house, takes possession of
all you have, and makes off, and you never hear of it more. Or suppose
you are already on your journey, and after many days of fatiguing
travel, find yourself near the place of your destination; when you are
met by the highwayman, who, with a pistol at your breast, robs you of
your last farthing.--Now I suppose this would be a case, where theft and
robbery would stand out in their worst features. It would be a trying
case indeed. After years of toil, to gain something for yourself and
household, you are in a moment pennyless, with your destitute, needy
family upon your hands. All you can do, is again to betake yourself to
hard labor, to provide for those you love.

But suppose after all this, you were doomed to see your children torn
from you, one after another, and sold under the hammer, to go you know
not where; to be subjected to the cruelty, and abuse, and outrage, of
any monster into whose hands they might chance to fall; where you could
never see or hear from them more; and you left with no means of redress,
to sit down beside your broken hearted wife, and mingle your tears and
sighs and sobs with hers, with no prospect of relief until death. But in
the midst of it all, even the wife of your bosom, dear as your own
heart's blood, is sundered from you, and sold forever from your embrace,
and you at last go off under the hammer, to the highest bidder, and are
driven by the lash, to groan, and sweat, under long, long days of
unrequited toil, with no relief till you die. This is slavery. It robs a
man of all his earnings during his whole life. Labor as he may, sweat as
he may, he can never have a farthing to call his own. Just hear the laws
on this subject. 'In South Carolina a slave is not permitted to keep a
boat, or raise and breed for his own benefit, any horses, cattle, sheep
or hogs, under pain of forfeiture, and _any person may take them from
him_.' I ask, what is that but robbery--except it is unspeakably worse,
because it is legalized--and the poor man has no means of redress? It is
made lawful for _any person_ to rob him, by the letter of the statute.

'In Georgia, the master is fined thirty dollars for suffering a slave to
hire himself to another, for his own benefit. In Maryland, the master
forfeits thirteen dollars for each month that his slave is permitted to
receive wages on his own account. In Virginia, every master is finable,
who permits a slave to work for himself at wages. In North Carolina, all
horses, cattle, hogs, or sheep, that shall belong to any slave, or be of
any slave's mark in this State, shall be seized and sold by the county
Wardens. In Mississippi, the master is forbidden under the penalty of
fifty dollars, to let a slave raise cotton for himself, or to keep stock
of any description.' Now where is the man under heaven, who would not
say, that such a system of legalized oppression, was infinitely worse
than theft or robbery, when practiced toward himself? And what, I ask,
makes the crime any less heinous, when practiced toward a colored man,
than it would be if practiced toward either of us? The poor slave feels
such wrongs as deeply as we could, and groans under them as loudly, and
sheds tears as profusely as we would do; but there he is, without means
of redress. And in addition to all this robbery of everything in the
shape of property; the poor slave is robbed of his children, and his
wife, and robbed of himself--and has nothing left him, but a miserable
existence, subjected to the most cruel, heart-withering tyranny, that
was ever practiced by man on his fellow man, since this world has borne
the curse of its God. When the thief, or the robber, takes your
property, you can repossess it whenever you can find it; or if not, you
can acquire more, and your wife, and children, and yourself, are still
your own. Theft and robbery are nothing compared with the wickedness of
slavery. Make them as bad as you please, and they do not deserve to be
named the same week. The difference between them is too great to be
described, too wide to be measured, too deep to be fathomed. The
slaveholder who goes impenitent to hell, will find himself loaded down
with a weight of guilt and damnation, that will sink him out of sight of
the worst high-way robber that ever walked the earth. But you will say
the high-way robber is often guilty of murder. Well, and so is the
slaveholder often guilty of murder--and this brings me to my next point.

5. Let us now compare slavery with murder. Who does not know, that
oftentimes, when the poor slave can no longer endure the outrages
practiced upon him, and flies, and takes to the woods, he is hunted down
by dogs, and guns, and thus put to death, just for trying to escape.
Every body knows, that it is a thing of frequent occurrence. Put to
death--just for trying to escape from his sufferings and his wrongs.
Again, it is a maxim with them, that at particular seasons, they can
afford to work a set of hands to death, for the purpose of getting their
crops early to market, and thereby securing a much greater price. The
writer of sketches of slavery, from a year's residence in Florida,
speaks of this particularly, as coming under his observation while
there; and I have seen this fact referred to by other writers in public
print. They do not hesitate to sacrifice the lives of their slaves to
hard labor, when it will increase their profits. Besides, the poor slave
is often whipped until the result is death. Is not my point made clear,
abundantly clear, that slavery is worse than murder? Would you not
prefer to be met by a highwayman, and shot dead, rather than have your
life worn out on a slave plantation, toiling to enrich the hard-hearted
wretch who had stripped you of all your rights? Would you not prefer
this to being whipped, and then laid away to die under the effect? And
is not the wretch who inflicts death by such means, to enrich himself,
more guilty, than he who blows out the traveller's brains and seizes his
money to enrich himself? Surely, my point needs no more illustration.
Slavery _is worse_ than murder. But there is still this point to be
taken into the account. If a man shoots you dead by the way side, it is
your own fault if you do not go to heaven. You have the Bible, and the
gospel. You know that there is a Saviour, and if you have not repented
of your sins, and believed in him for salvation, you are without excuse.
If you lose your soul, the fault is your own. Though murdered--you might
if you would, have been saved. But the poor slave is prevented from
learning the way of salvation while he lives, and then worn out with
toil, he dies and is lost forever. Surely I need not say more--what
honest man is not prepared to say that slavery is worse than murder?

6. I come now, to a point, which, in the estimation of some, perhaps,
ought to be suppressed. But I am a servant of the Most High God, and to
him accountable; and as such, placed under solemn obligation to cry
aloud and spare not, and show this guilty nation its sins. This, with
the Lord's help, I will do. It is high time also, that our mothers, and
our wives, our sisters, and our daughters, knew the sufferings and the
wrongs of the poor defenceless female slave, that they may lift up their
strong cries to Heaven in her behalf.

I wish, therefore, to compare slavery with fornication and adultery, and
the violation of female purity by force. And, my hearers, I do not ask
you to believe my naked assertion on this point, I will show you proof,
as it has been my endeavor to do on every point previously considered.

Look again at the laws. In Kentucky--'any negro, mulatto, or Indian,
_bond or free, who shall at any time, lift his hand in opposition to any
white person_, (mark the language) shall receive thirty lashes, on his
or her bare back, _well laid on_, by order of the justice.'

This regulation, or something very much like it, is believed to be in
force in all the slaveholding States. Look now at the condition in which
this places the poor female. She is at the uncontrolled will of the
master. He may order her, by fear of the lash, into any secret place
where he pleases; the same fear of the lash, enables him to accomplish
all the hellish purposes of his heart, and then, by the same means, he
can seal her lips in silence, that the crime be never divulged. During
all this time, if she lift a hand against him, he can procure thirty
lashes for her, to be well laid on, by order of the justice, in addition
to all he pleases to inflict himself. Let us now just remember, that in
addition to such a regulation, no person of color can be a witness
against a white man in a court of justice, and you see the exact
condition of the poor female slave. There is nothing, so foul in
pollution, nothing so horrid in crime, but she may be driven by the
lash, to be the victim of it, and she must not lift a hand in
self-defence--and then she dare not divulge her wrongs, or if she does,
there is no power on earth, from whom she can gain any redress; or even
protection, against a repeated infliction of the same evils.

If slaveholders had framed laws for the express purpose, of placing the
purity and virtue of their females entirely in their own power, they
could not have done it _more_ effectually, than it is now done. It would
seem to be a system, framed for the very purpose, of giving them full
power, to pollute by force, just as many as they pleased. At any rate,
they know the power is in their hands, and there are developements
enough which show that they are not slow to use it.[1] There are a
multitude of facts on this subject, and I will just relate one or two,
because I know them to be authentic.

A particular friend of mine, who spent several years in a slave State,
gave me the following as an occurrence, which transpired in the place
where he resided, and at the very time of his residence there. A man,--I
will not say gentleman, and in truth I ought to say monster,--who had a
wife and a family of grown up daughters, residing with him, had also in
his house a young female slave. This slave became the mother of a child,
and it was a matter of public notoriety, that the head of the family was
the father of it. So barefaced had the thing become, that the man found
it necessary to take some measures to get his shame, and the extreme
mortification of his wife and daughters out of his mind.[2] He
accordingly sold her for the southern market, and though it was with
some difficulty that he could persuade the purchaser to take the infant,
he at length did so, and the wretched mother, the victim of the master's
beastliness and abominable crime, was taken, or rather torn from the
house, and borne away, literally uttering cries and shrieks of distress.
Now I would like to know whether there is any language under heaven,
that will sufficiently set forth the guilt of such a wretch?

The following fact was related by a pious physician who resides in the
city of Washington. It came to me in such a way that I know it to be a
fact.

'There is,' said this physician, 'residing in this city, a young female
slave, who is pious, and a member of the same church to which I belong.
She is a mulatto, and her complexion nearly white. One day, she came to
me in great trouble and distress, and wished me to tell her what she
could do. She stated to me, that her master's son, was in the practice
of compelling her whenever he pleased, to go with him to his bed. She
had been obliged to submit to it, and she knew of no way to obtain any
relief. She could not appeal to her master for protection, for he was
guilty of like practices himself. She wished to know what she could do?
Poor girl, what could she do? She could not lift a hand in self defence.
She could not flee, for she was a slave. She would be brought back and
beaten, and be placed perhaps in a worse condition than before. And
there she was, a pious girl, with all the feelings of her heart alive to
the woes of her condition, the victim of the brutal lusts of a dissolute
young man; with no means of defence or escape, and no prospect before
her, but that of being again and again polluted, whenever his unbridled
passions should chance to dictate.

Perhaps there is a mother here, who has a pious daughter, and I would
like to come into her heart, and ask what would be her feelings, if that
daughter were placed in such circumstances as these; or what would be
the feelings of that daughter, if she were thus bound down, to a
condition so much worse than death. I do solemnly believe that there is
no adulterer under heaven, no fornicator, covered with a guilt so deep
and damning, as the wretch that will pursue such a course of conduct as
that. Even the victim of seduction is but decoyed from the paths of
virtue, but here is a disciple of Christ, bound, and that too, by the
laws of the land, and laid, a helpless victim, on the altar of
prostitution.

Here then, is a crime punishable, under most Governments, with death,
and the victim has power of redress, and certainly of escape from a
repetition of the outrage; but slavery places its victims where there is
no redress, and no deliverance; and gives the slaveholder full power, to
roll, and riot, upon the virtue and innocence of as many defenceless
females as he pleases, with no power under heaven to call him to
account. I say again, if they had made their laws for the express
purpose, of securing to themselves this power, they could not have done
the thing more effectually; and no man, who has ever seen or heard much
of southern practices, is ignorant of the truth, that such things as I
have been relating, are the common occurrences of every day. O, when I
reflect on this subject, I could almost pray for a voice like a volcano;
and for words that would scorch and burn like drops of melted lava, that
I might thunder the guilt of the slaveholder in his ears, and talk to
him in language which he _would_ feel. Who will say, that this system of
slavery, under which no female, who has a drop of African blood in her
veins, has any defence for her virtue, against any white man, even for
an hour, and no possibility of escaping from pollution, is not
unspeakably worse than fornication and adultery, or even the violation
of purity by force, where there are laws to apprehend and punish for
such a crime? Do not suspect me of a wish to palliate these vices. They
were never painted, in colorings too foul and loathsome; nor was their
guilt ever portrayed in a blackness deeper than the reality--but I say,
the system of slavery is a thing fouler, blacker, guiltier still.

7. But let us look again, and compare slavery with treason. Benedict
Arnold was a traitor. At a time, when his country was in great distress
and difficulties, he formed the mad purpose, of delivering her over to
the will of her enemies; and did what he could, to accomplish his end.
Every breast in the land, burned with indignation against him--and, but
for his flight, he would have ended his days on a gallows.

But suppose he had accomplished his end, and the unjust laws against
which our fathers fought and bled, had remained in full force upon us
until now? I am bold to say, that we should not have suffered wrongs,
that ought to be mentioned, in comparison with the wrongs of the slave.
There was a heavy and unjust taxation, but it was not stripping us of
all our earnings for life. There was a refusal, to give us a just
representation, in framing the laws, by which we were to be governed;
but it was not stripping us from all protection of law, and reducing us
in that respect, to the condition of cattle or swine. It was not
stripping us of all our rights, and robbing us of our children, and
subjecting our wives, our sisters and our daughters, to wanton and
promiscuous violation, with no power to lift a hand in self defence, and
depriving us of the power of giving them protection. The husband or
father, if he be a slave, may look on, and see his wife or daughter
polluted before his eyes, and all the laws of the land, are against his
lifting a finger for their deliverance. He may toil ever so hard, during
his whole life, and he cannot be worth a farthing. The treason of
Arnold, had it prospered, would never have subjected us to such evils as
these. Besides, had we remained until this time British Colonies, other
things being as they now _are_, this evil of slavery would now have been
done away, and perhaps years ago. When I think of this, if I had not
confidence in the overruling Providence of God, I could almost weep,
that it did not seem best to the God of armies, to leave us under the
control of a power, that would have uprooted this destructive Bohon
Upas, which is still throwing its broad branches of death and
desolation, over such wide spreading portions of our otherwise happy
land. Sure I am, that Arnold's treason would never have made our land
groan under such woes, and send up to heaven such cries of distress, as
are wrung daily from the breasts of the helpless millions whom our
nation now enslaves. I say again, therefore, that the system of slavery,
is unspeakably worse than treason. But I cannot pursue this parallel
farther. I have glanced at what men regard as the worst of evils and
crimes; but when weighing the guilt of slavery, we find that everything
which we can place in the opposite scale, at once kicks the beam. It has
a weight of guilt attached to it, that can be balanced by the guilt of
no other _crime_.

There is one more point to the thing, which I wish to name, as giving
blackness and aggravation to its guilt, and then I have done. It is,
that multitudes of the professed disciples of Christ, come forward to
justify the system of slavery, and to claim for it the sanctions of the
word of God. Yes, this system of slavery, red as it is with crime, black
as it is with guilt, and foul as it is with impurity, is called, even by
professed Christians and Ministers, an institution of the Bible. Oh, it
seems to me, that if the long suffering patience of a forbearing God,
was ever insulted beyond endurance, it must be, when the protection of
his authority is claimed, for the perpetuity of such a system as this.
There is no crime which it does not legalize--no sin which it does not
protect--no depth of impurity which it does not dig, and in which it
does not permit vile men to wallow. And yet there are not wanting men,
Christian men, and ministers who wait at the altar of God, who call this
an institution of Heaven, and claim for it the authority of the Most
High. I know that they would plead for slavery, without the abominations
which I have named, and claim to look upon such crimes, and vices, with
as deep an abhorrence as we.

But who cannot see, that slavery is the common mother of all this brood
of hellish ills; in whose frightfully prolific womb they are conceived,
and by whom they are brought forth. Slavery _itself_ is the thing to be
reprobated? You must put the odious dam to death, or she will continue
to multiply her infernal progeny, and send them abroad among us,
prolific in woes. You cannot have slavery without its concomitant evils.
I know men may be found, whose hearts have felt the power of the
religion of Christ, but whose moral sensibilities are not sufficiently
awake, to lead them to obey God on this subject, to break every yoke and
let the oppressed go free, who claim that _they_ treat their slaves
kindly, and that under such circumstances, slavery is justifiable; and
that moreover, they are not accountable for the crimes which other men
commit among their slaves, or for the wrongs which they practice upon
them. Kindness to an enslaved man! It is a contradiction in terms. You
might as well rob him of his all on earth, cut off his hands and feet,
and bore out his eyes, and then take him into your house, and treat him
kindly to make up for the wrong.

The slave, under the best circumstances, is the victim of robbery every
day. Day by day, all his life, he is robbed of the fruits of his labor,
that it may go to enrich another. He has hands indeed, but he may not
use them for his own benefit. Feet he has, but they may not bear him
where _he_ would go. They must go and come at the master's bidding, and
not his. He has eyes, but he may not look on the light of science, or on
the clearer, purer light of God's revealed truth. Even the sun shines
not for him, as it only serves to light him to his unwilling and
unrequited toil. Of what use then, are hands, and feet, and eyes, to
him? He can no more use them for his own benefit, than if he had
none--and yet you think to make up to him by kindness what you have
taken away; and call yourself a disciple of Christ, and think that
Heaven will reward you for being so kind to your poor oppressed, down
trodden victim, whom you compel to labor unrewarded, for your good. Is
that the religion of Christ? Is that loving your neighbor as yourself?

But, the most kind hearted, and upright, and pious slaveholder in the
land, so far as he approves of the system of slavery, and pleads for its
perpetuity, is at best, accessory to all the evils to which the system
gives rise. He is therefore a partaker in its guilt, and will hereafter
find his hands stained and polluted with its vices and its crimes. He
who has said in his Bible, Be not partaker of other men's sins, has
also said, Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not
the unclean thing, _and no man can be guiltless who refuses to do this_.

But perhaps it will be asked; admitting that slavery is everything that
you claim it to be, what right have you to interfere? I claim no right
of interference, based on the existing laws of our country, for these,
as we have seen, are so abominably wicked and oppressive, as fully to
sanction all the evils and crimes which we have been considering. Still,
I claim, that I have a right to interfere,[3] and to do all in my power,
by every possible means, for the extinction of slavery. Do any ask, on
what that right is based? I answer, on the statute book of Almighty
God--on the pillars of heaven's eternal throne, and better authority
than this, to sanction my interference, I do not ask. 'Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself.' 'Who is my neighbor?' Let Jesus Christ answer.
'A certain man, no matter who, went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and
fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounding him,
departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance, there came down a
certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other
side.' How exactly like the conduct of many ministers of the gospel,
toward the slave. They just look on his sufferings, and pass by, making
no effort to give him relief. 'And likewise a Levite, when he was at the
place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.' Just so
multitudes of professing Christians conduct toward the slave. They look
on him, pass on, and leave him alone in his woes. 'But, a certain
Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was, and when _he_ saw him, he
had compassion on him, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring
in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an
inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took
out two pence and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of
him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay
thee.' Here our Saviour has shown us what it is to act the part of a
neighbor. This Samaritan found a fellow being in distress. He stopped
not to inquire who he was, but proceeded at once to do as he would like
to have others do to him in like circumstances. And now the command of
Christ is, 'Go thou and do likewise.' Wherever, therefore, we find a
fellow being in distress, we find in him a neighbor, one whom we are
bound to love as we love ourselves. We are to identify ourselves with
him, and feel for his wrongs and his woes, as we would for our own in
like circumstances, and are to do for him, so far as lies in our power,
everything, which, in like circumstances, we could wish others to do for
us. Tell me not then, that I have no right to interfere, when I see more
than two millions of my neighbors, yes, of my brethren, my own fellow
countrymen, groaning and toiling, and dying, under the unparalleled
wrongs of slavery. I have no right not to interfere. I am a traitor to
my neighbor, and a rebel against my God, if I forbear to interfere; if I
fail to use the last power which my Maker has given me, in pleading for
the immediate deliverance of my fellow men from their sufferings and
their chains. I trample on the universal law of the infinite Jehovah, if
I leave undone anything in my power, which I would wish to have done for
me, if all the miseries of slavery were mine.

But it is not merely by looking at the general principles of God's
government, that I learn my duty toward the toil-worn, agonized,
suffering slave. I find positive direction for this specific case. Jer.
21 : 12.--'Thus saith the Lord--Execute judgment in the morning, and
deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my
fury go forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of
the evil of your doings.' Who is spoiled, if it be not the slave? Is he
not spoiled of everything? Spoiled of all his earnings--spoiled of the
child whom he loves--spoiled of the wife that is bone of his bone, and
flesh of his flesh--spoiled even of the ownership of himself, and
spoiled of his immortal soul, by being robbed of the light that would
guide his feet to heaven? And the poor suffering female slave--of what
is she not spoiled? Spoiled of all that protection, which the innocent
and helpless, have a right to claim, even of the savage. Spoiled of all
the affectionate tenderness, which woman everywhere, has a right to
expect; spoiled even of her virtue, and that by law, for we have seen,
that the laws have placed her, where she cannot preserve it, if she
would.

Who then, I ask again, is spoiled, if it be not the slave? And who is an
oppressor, if it be not the man who holds him in bondage, and inflicts
all these wrongs upon him? While, therefore, I hear the God of heaven
saying, 'Deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor,
lest my fury go forth like fire, and burn, that none can quench it,' can
I expect to escape the fury of that fire, if I shut my ears against the
mandate, which thunders upon me from the presence chamber, and from the
lips of Him, who declares himself King of kings, and Lord of lords? Tell
me not, that I have no right to interfere--no right to plead for the
deliverance 'of the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor.' I may not
fail to do it--lest the fire of God's fury kindle upon me, for my
disregard of his high command. And the same, is true of all my readers.
Unless you have a right to disobey Almighty God, you have no right to
leave anything undone, which you might do, for the deliverance of the
slave.

But who is the slave? He is a man--made in the image of God--and bears
as much of God's image, remember, as though he had the complexion, and
the features, and the limbs, of the white man. Where is the man with a
pale face, even among slaveholders, who will stand up, before the face
of heaven, and claim that he bears more of God's image than his slave?
He would show the image of the devil, large as life, had he the pride,
and effrontery, to do such a deed of daring impiety. The slave is made
in the image of his God, and to him God gave dominion over the works of
his hand, as much as to the white man. For him God lighted up the sun
and moon, and made the heavens resplendent with stars, as much as for
us. For him God made the breath of morning, and the calm stillness of
the summer eve--for him the deep blue sky was spread a canopy, and for
him puts on alternate tints of purple and of gold. For him the
landscape smiles in green, and flowers spring up to beautify his path,
and trees hang out their foliage, and bend beneath their burdens of
delicious fruit. For him the fields wave with their ripening grain--for
him the valleys yield their corn--for him the flocks and herds lay down
their treasures, and the sea sends up its inexhaustible supplies. For
him the limpid stream, the clear pure fountain were provided, and for
him the balmy air, echoing with melody of birds. Ah, and for him,
remember it ye who dare withhold it from him--for him the Bible was
given. Who dare say, that God provided these things for the master, more
than for the man whom he enslaves.

But what is more than all, for him the Son of God came down and died.
The blood gushed from his heart as freely, and in streams as pure, for
the oppressed and broken hearted slave, as for us, or for the man who
dares enslave God's image--for him the river of water of life,
proceedeth clear as crystal from the throne of God and the Lamb--for him
the streets of the New Jerusalem are paved with gold, and for him, the
glory of God and the Lamb, shall pour forth its light, in beams that
shall forever hide the brightness of the noonday sun--and for him are
made ready the joys of an eternal heaven. Yes, this is the being whom
slavery binds in chains, and robs of all the richest gifts of heaven,
and sinks in ignorance and pollution down to hell. Oh, if the whole arch
of heaven above us, ever echoed with the loud threatenings of an
indignant God--it may now be heard to echo with the fearful
interrogation--'Shall I not visit for these things saith the Lord? Shall
not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?'

And now will you look on, and seal your lips in silence, and say that
you have no right to interfere for the deliverance of the slave? Do you
not hear the God of heaven saying, 'Deliver him that is spoiled out of
the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go forth like fire and burn that
none can quench it;' and dare you disobey? Do you ask what shall be done
for his deliverance? I answer, let every pulpit thunder forth this
mandate of the most high God--let every minister at the altar cry aloud
and spare not and lift up his voice like a trumpet--and show this people
their transgressions; this guilty people their sins. Let every press
groan to be delivered of its obligation, to make known the Almighty's
will--and let such as can pray, pray _now_, that God will break every
yoke, and let the oppressed go free. Especially, let woman--woman, the
last to linger around the cross, and the first to find the sepulchre of
God's crucified Son; linger long at the altar of prayer, and be found
early upon her knees, wrestling at the throne of grace; and let all who
fear God or love man, resolve before high Heaven, that they will not
rest, till every chain is broken, every yoke buried, every scourge and
fetter burned.

But I seem to hear some one ask--must we think only of the slave--must
we not regard the master's rights? Rights! What rights? Right to hold
his fellow man in bondage for one hour? He might as well claim a right
to sit on the throne of God. He has no such right. But must he
relinquish all the property he now holds in slaves? He has no such
property. He has no more right to call them his property, than he has to
call the angels in heaven his property. God gave man dominion over the
beasts of the field--but over God's own image he never gave him
dominion. The wicked, heaven-daring laws of men, confer the _power_ of
enslaving man--but the _right_ they never gave, for it was never theirs
to give. There is no such thing as property in man--there never can be.
We do not ask the slaveholder to relinquish any right. We call upon him,
on the authority of God, to break every yoke and let the oppressed go
free. We do not ask them to give up their property. We tell them that
God declares them to be 'like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood
and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain; and that the prophets have
daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity and divining lies unto
them, saying thus saith the Lord, when the Lord hath not spoken. That
the people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and
have vexed the poor and needy, and have oppressed the stranger
wrongfully--and that God now threatens to pour out his indignation upon
them, and to consume them with the fire of his wrath, and to recompense
their way upon their own heads.' No--we do not ask the slaveholder to
give up his property--we ask them 'to cease beating God's people to
pieces--to cease grinding the face of the poor;' and when the
slaveholder has done that, the lost slave will have his freedom.

But you say it would make great changes in society, to free every slave
at once, and many a man, who now lives in affluence, would instantly
become poor. We doubt it not. We doubt not that many a wretch, who has
rolled in profusion, by robbing his fellow men of their earnings, would
be obliged to go to work with his own hands to earn his bread; and this
is just what he ought to have done long ago. He is made of no better
clay than the lowliest of all God's creatures whom he enslaves; and
there is no more reason why he should be exempted from eating his bread
in the sweat of his brow. Let us arise then with one heart, and with
united voice, and with ready hands, do our utmost, to deliver the
oppressed from their wrongs.

But it may still be asked, what do you expect to accomplish? We expect
to make the slaveholder feel, that when he crushes an immortal soul down
to the depths of hell, to gratify his own abominable selfishness, God
will hold him accountable for that soul at the judgment day. We expect
to make him see, that the short-lived gratification, which he can have
derived from enslaving his fellow man, will but poorly compensate him,
for the eternal damnation which he must hereafter endure, if he does not
repent of his abominable sin. We expect to open to him the broad claims
of the infinite God, and to make him see that in his present course of
conduct, he is holding himself in open exposure to the Almighty's wrath;
and having thus bared his conscience to the arrows of truth, we expect
to call down the Holy Spirit by our prayers, to fix these arrows deep in
his heart; to reprove him of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, and
thus to bring him to unfeigned repentance before God. We expect not to
accomplish what we aim at with our unaided strength--but we believe that
the Lord of hosts is with us, and trusting in his strength we cannot
fail. Christians of every name, shall we not have your aid? Lovers of
your fellow men, look at the wrongs of the slave, and weep and toil for
him, that he may go free. Open your hearts and your hands to him, and
remember that 'He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth to the Lord, and
that which he hath given he will pay him again.'

Let no one think to rid himself of obligation, on this momentous
subject. Every man has a tongue, and he can use it; he has influence,
and he can exert it; he has moral power, and he can put it forth; and
this is all the power we need. Our efforts are aimed, not at the life of
the slaveholder, but at his conscience--his moral feelings, and with the
help of God, we do expect them to prevail. But, perhaps you will say,
that slaveholders have no conscience on this subject. Doubtless their
conscience may be dead and buried; it may have been sleeping these fifty
years in its grave; but come on, one and all, let us raise the trump of
truth, and blow a resurrection blast above it, that shall call it forth
from its dust, to take up its whip of scorpions, and scourge the guilty
men into obedience to the commands of God. Slavery cannot long live
among them. 'Behold, the hire of the laborers, who have reaped down
their fields, which is of them kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries
of them which have reaped, are entered into the ears of the Lord of
Sabaoth.' The Lord of armies, is the fearful signification of that term;
and if they cease not from their oppression, they may well expect, that
the Lord of armies will not long withhold his hand. Up, my friends, and
do your duty, to deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor,
lest the fire of God's fury kindle ere long upon you.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Read Bourne's Picture of Slavery.

[2] This occurrence was not very far South, otherwise, there would have
been no shame.

[3] The author disapproves of interference at the expense of human life,
but believes that all possible means short of the shedding of blood, are
justifiable.





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