Images de page

ate or annul their own institutions; and that, therefore, they live under laws of their own creation and adoption. If, then, Slavery is to be the inheritance of their heirs and successors, it must be, and it can be, only by the suffrages and free voluntary choice of the present citizen voters of Kentucky.

That the present existing slave population of Kentucky is perfectly disposable on the part of Kentucky, is proved to a demonstration in Mr. Clay's letter. It requires no inspired prophet to predict, that in some twenty-five years, on the project submitted, Kentucky would be as free from Slavery as Pennsylvania or Ohio. And that she would be much enriched by the loss of every slave she possesses, is as demonstrable as that a straight line is the shortest possible distance between any two given points.

But, in a moral, or rather in an evangelical point of view, "Is it desirable that it should be removed?To answer this question discreetly, we must first look into the oracles of Jehovah.

Paul once said to a Christian slave,"If thou mayest be made free, use it rather.” And to a Christian master the same spirit of wisdom saith, "If thou, too, desirest to be made free, use it rather.” The law that binds the slave binds the master, as the law that binds the husband binds the wife. The Christian master has duties to perform to his slave for which he is held bound to the State; but higher duties than these, for the performance of which, he is held more firmly bound to him who sits upon the throne of eternal judgment; before, whom the master and the slave stand upon a perfect level.

Now, the great question is, what are those duties which Christianity enjoins? Good and comfortable food and raiment, and necessary medicine! This is due to your ox and your ass,—and if you defraud them God will hear their cry and punish you. But is this all? Does the law of Christ demand no more from a Christian master, for his slave, than food, raiment and medicine, comfortable lodgings, reasonable labor,—no more?- -! Yes. He is “to render to him whatever is just and equal.He is to teach, instruct and evangelize him by all the means in his power. He is just to do for him as his slave what he would have his slave do for him, were he himself to become the slave and his servant the master.

Such a change would open his eyes more than a volume. He would now no longer "see visions and dream dreams.” He would commune with realities. He would think ten times about the soul and once about the body. He would now no longer look upon the slave and his mule as consubstantial, co-equal and co-eternal. He would ask more than green corn and dry-in their season. He would ask more than a blanket and a bed, a cabin and a fire. He would ask for more than calomel, a lancet and a skillful doctor, when sick. He would ask for the bread and water of life, and for the physician of souls, and not to give him these he would regard as an unpardonable sin. But this is not all. His mind must be cultivated and elevated to the conception of things spiritual, divine and eternal. This calls for much teaching, either on the part of the masters or some one else. And the law, wherever it exists, that inhibits the slave from going to a common school, only obliges his Christian master to open for him a private school in his own house, or on his own premises. He must then become school master himself or find a substitute on the peril of renounced allegiance to Jesus Christ. It was such reasoning as this, and not the absolute ascriptural unlawfulness of Slavery, that constrained ine to emancipate and set free from Slavery, not my slaves only, but myself. I hesitate not to add that emancipation was much more enjoyed by me than by them; and hence, from that day till now the emancipation of masters is full as much an object near to my heart as the emancipation of slaves. But, alas! masters sometimes, as well as slaves, hug the chains that enslave them.

But half the story is yet to be told, and consequently, half the arguments for emancipation are yet to be considered. Masters and mistresses generally, have children themselves, and Christian masters and mistresses have, not unfrequently, a larger number of these blessings than others. And hence arises a new world of troubles.

Man being wisely and benevolently constituted an imitative creature, constrains Christian parents of much discernment and sensibility to place their own children in circumstances the most favorable for their intellectual and moral development. This susceptibility on the part of children to take upon them the habits of those amongst whom they are reared, even to the very tones and inflexions of the voice, the gait and muscular movements of the body, ard set phrases of speech, constrain every conscientious parent to be supremely sensitive on the subject of early, nay, of infant associations; sensible, as he ought to be, that no after training or edncation can ever fully efface or eradicate these, especially in the more sensitive and moral departmemt of his nature; he will not rashly and for a very paltry consideration, encounter these risks and consequences. Who subscribes not the common adage,—"As the twig is bent the tree's inclined?" And is this not more true of the inward and moral man than of the outward and physical?— It is an axiometic truth, known and acknowledged by all.

Earth's noblemen, well knowing this great fact, will not permit their sons and daughters to take their first lessons outside the paterto give way to a free exposition of our views on the premises,

As a philanthropist and a Christian, I therefore tender to my friends and brethren in Kentucky, and I am pleased to be assured that there are several ten thousands of them, a few thoughts and conclusions on one subject which, more than any other that can come before them at this time, demands their most profound and religious consideration and regard.

My views of Slavery, as permitted amongst a Christian people in Asia, Europe or America, in times ancient or modern, so far as the Bible arguments, pro and con, have been canvassed, have never when called for at home or abroad, been disguised or withholden from the people. These are now what they have always been.

They were avowed by me when the people obliged me to be a candidate for a seat in the Virginia Convention, and while a member of that body. They were also avowed to the first deputation of New England abolitionists that I met with while in Philadelphia, a year or two after that convention was dissolved, and again avowed to leading abolitionists in Ohio during their first meeting at Mount Pleasant. What they were may be fully inferred from an incident which occurred in Philadelphia in 1831.

While lecturing there on the Christian religion, three friends, (Quakers, I believe,) a deputation from the first organized society of abolitionists in New England I had heard of, waited upon me one evening for my views of the probable success of their mission to Eastern Virginia. I requ

them to open to me the designs of it if they desired a candid expression of my views.

They gave me a candid expose of its objects and ends. On hearing them to the close, I responded in the following manner:

"Friends, I sympathize with you in the benevolent views for the African race which you have so happily expressed, and would wish that they were full as intelligent, free and elevated as ourselves. But I very

much doubt the propriety and the policy of your mission. I have just returned from a tour through Eastern Virginia, and came here from Norfolk a few days since. I know their views and their feelings well, and were I to give you my very best advice it would be, Return to Boston and allow the Virginians to manage their own affairs as they think best.

“The people of Virginia understand Slavery and Slave-holding better than you do. They practically know and feel the blessings and curses of Anglo-American Slavery. They are a people, too, of good common sense, and at least as intelligent and consciencious, on the whole premises, as the same number of people in New England, or any where else. That your object is benevolent, I do not doubt; and I, like yourselves, desire to see every human being intel, ligent, virtuous and free. But be assured, friends, (as yon asked my 'candid opinion,' I will give it,) the moment you moot the question in Virginia, you will meet with a repulse.

“I attended one caucus held in the capital of Virginia, on the question of general emancipation, while the Convention was in ses. sien, and heard several gentlemen from eastern Virginia, men own. ing hundreds of slaves, say that,'if Virginia would agree to fix upon some reasonable time, after which all should be born free, they would cheerfully not only vote for it, but would set all their slaves free,' for they believed Slavery to be “the greatest curse, the most unendurable incubus on the prosperity of Virginia that could be imposed upon it,-a burthen, from which, neither they nor their futhers could rid themselves, but which they could not and would not much longer endure.'

“But, gentlemen,” I continued, “should you present yourselves in Virginia as missionaries from a New England Abolition Society, in such a cause, you will only provoke the indignation of a high minded and honorable people, who understand this subject better than you can possibly do, and who are just as sensitive of right and wrong as you are; and thus, instead of accelerating, you will greatly retard a consnmmation which you so fondly anticipate and desire.” So passed off our interview, and eighteen years' experience and observation have only confirmed the justness of the opinions which I then, for the first time, expressed.

The institution of Slavery is, indeed, contemplated in very different attitudes and bearing by the citizens of every State in which it is constitutionally ordained and established. To some it appears a public blessing and pre-eminently conducive to political liberty and to the national aggrandizment of a great and mighty people. In this view of the subject, it is a most fortunate circumstance that one portion of the people is black and another white; else those of the same color would be obliged to serve one another as bondmen and bondwomen, wkich would, in some points of view, be a a very great inconvenience, but especially in preserving and rendering distinct and evident the two grand çastes of masters and slaves, without which, it is strongly affirmed, no people can long maintain natural liberty and independence.

On this account, mental inferiority of one class to another is a great disideratum And in as much as the African people are greatly inferior in intellectual endowment compared in the aggregate with the Caucassian race, especially with the Anglo-Saxon; they are providentially fitted and predestined to be bondmen and bondwomen, and are so happily marked out by complexion and form as to prevent the necessity of the more intellectual and better educated portion of the white community taking upon themselves the trouble of possessing and enslaving the inferior and less cultivated portion of the whites, which, according to the philosophy of some great men, is essential to the prosperity and perpetuity of Republican institutions.

But, waiving the discussion of such delicate questions as these, we will briefly notice other points of view in which this institution is contemplated by other classes of the community.

There are those who are known, if not technically, in fact and in truth, to be political economists. These judge favorably or unfavorably of all institutions and usages as they tend to increase or diminish the wealth of a people or of a State. These all, without a respectable exception, are opposed to Slavery in general, but especially to African Slavery, as legalized in America. They univer. sally allege that American Slavery is, both in theory and practice, essentially and powerfully adverse to national wealth and respecta. bility. I have studied the subject in former years and made myself tolerably conversant with the arguments on both sides; but in the absence of either leisure or interest to pursue such inquiries, 1 I have, for at least more than twenty years confined

my attention merely to the comparative progress of the slave and free States in all the elements of national greatness and national wealth.— These for the three last censuses of the United States, leave not the shadow of a doubt as to the tendency of the institution of Slavery to diminish the wealth, and consequently, the political power and respectability of every State that admits it.

And what test can we have of the value and utility of political institutions more conclusive and satisfactory than their practical tendency to increase and augment the means of personal and social comfort. And of their actual practical tendency, the products of human industry, the daily and annual avails of human labor are the only infallabie criteria by which we can judge. Hence, the policies of States, the wisdom of human legislation, the comparative advantages of divers social systems are to be tested, not by abstract and a priori reasonings, not by solitary cases, not by individual success; but by grand, general results. Of these great and extensive actual results, statistical tables, setting forth, at proper intervals, accurate

« PrécédentContinuer »