Images de page
PDF
ePub

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 moet 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 fathers 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 consommation 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.

Their.stitution 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, which 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 great. ly 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 die minish 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 universally allege that American Slavery is, both in theory and practice, essentially and powerfully adverse to national wealth and respectability. 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, I I have, for at least more than twenty years

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 fortb, at proper intervals, accurate

confined my

statements of what has been accomplished, are the only proper evidence. Our political economists, our State and Federal Governments, aware of this, are annually laying up, in the Patent Office, these results, computed with as much general accuracy as the case will admit. In quest of such evidence from our College Librarian the other day, he put into my hands volumes of these reports, and also a statement made ready to my hand, which I will here insert as enough for my present purpose. It is a comparative view of the last harvest in the conterminus States of Ohio and Kentucky:TABLE FOR Ohio.

Aggregate Productions, bush. ton, and lbs.

value. Wheat, 20,000,000 bushels at 70 cents $14,000,000 Barley, 300,000 do at 40 do

120,000 Oats, 30,000,000 do at 20 do

6,000,000 Rye, 1,250,000 do

at 50 do

625,000 Buckwheat, 1,500,000 at 40 do

600,000 Corn, 70,000,000 do at 20 do

14,000,000 Potatoes, 5,000,000 do at 20 do

1,000,000 Hay, 1,600,000 tons at $8 per ton 12,800,000 Hemp,

500
do at 80 do

40,000 Tobacco, 9,000,000 lbs. at 3 cts lb.

270,000

Prices per

do

Total amount,

$49,455,000 TABLE FOR KENTUCKY. Productions.

Prices.

Aggregate value. Wheat, 1,500,000 bus. at 70 cents

$1,050,000 Barley, 29,000 do at 40 do

11,600 Oats, 15,000,000 do at 20 do

3,000,000 Rye, 2,800,000 do at 50 do

1,400,000 Buckwheat, 18,000 do at 40 do

7,200 Corn, 65,000,000 do at 20 do

13,000,000 Potatoes, 2,200,000 do at 20 do

440,000 Hay, 140,000 tons at $8 per ton

1,120,000 Hemp, 11,000 do at 80 do

880,000 Tobacco, 68,000,000 lbs. at 3 cents per lb. 2,040,000 Cotton, 2,200,000 do do 8 do

176,000 Total amount,

$23,174,000

do

Balance in favor of Ohio in yearly Agricultural products,

$26,280,000 The above prices were taken as a fair average price for each product one year with another.—Maysville Weekly Eagle.

Here, then, the harvest of a single year gives to the free State of Ohio a clear advance of more than twenty-six millions of dol. lars! SERIES III.- VOL. VI.

21*

But it will, of course, be asked, What is the relative territory of these two States, as to extent and quality? In favor of Ohio, or Kentucky! In both respects Kentucky has the advantage. Her territory is somewhat larger than Ohio's, and generally regarded much more fruitful aud productive. We may at least safely say, that she has a decided advantage as respects her soil, territory, and perhaps in her climate too.

But it will be asked, and to a sound conclusion, must be answered, to0,-) say, it will be asked, — Which of these had the prior and better start as to the means of settlement and of acquiring wealth? Kentucky has the advantage here. She was admitted into the United States ten years before Ohio;—and at her admission had full five-times the population of Ohio! And to speak within the limits of reputed wealth, Kentucky had four times the means or wealth of Ohio when admitted into the Confederacy. And better still, the most profitable period of Slave-labor is in the commencement of a State, when her forests are to be subdued, and her buildings to be reared. In this respect, Kentucky was very rich and Ohio very poor, during their first settlement.

With this fearful odds they start; and in a race of six and forty years, what has been the result? The aggregate statistic wealth of Olio excels that of Kentucky!-By how much? One hundred and forty-eight millions!

These are golden arguments; and, without note or comment, every one of reflection can understand them. But this is not my argument on the present occasion. I write not as a political economist, nor do I write as a patriot. I will not, therefore, enhance the val. ue of this great political argument, by a farther comparative view of slave and free States. I will institute no invidious comparisons between the cities of Kentucky and those of Ohio;-between Cincinnati and Louisville; between Columbus and Frankfort; between Cleveland and Maysville.-Nor will I place in contrast New York and Virginia; Pennsylvania and Georgia; Massachusetts and either or both of the Carolinas; or Delaware and Rhode Island. Slave labor and free labor, in all the contrasts of profit and loss, of pleasure and pain, are no longer litigated questions. It is most satisfactori. ly decided, to my mind, that slave-labor is the dearest and most painful labor which a State can employ. If the one-fourth of the population of Kentucky were German, Irish or Scotch laborers instead of being African slaves, not only would her soil rise in value to the full amount of the present value of her slaves, were they to be sold next year at the highest price;- but her annual increase of wealth ar net gain, would be greater than in any of the most prosperous years she has ever seen. This is a mere question of arithmetical calculation upon the premises, which I shall not be at pains to detail.

It is almost a proverb that, “In grain-growing and grass-growing States, slave labor is the dearest in the world.” In cotton, sugar. and rice plantations it is not quite so oppressive; yet I have heard from New Orleans and Louisiana, from the most knowing and practical men that, with all the draw-backs of climate, German and other European laborers, are, at usual wages, much more profitable than slave laborers, whose sole wages are food raiment and medicine.

But, to state, illustrate or argue these points, or even lo rely upon them, in pressing upon the attention of those whom I specially have in my eye, the importance of seizing the present opportunity of ridding Kentucky of this great political misfortune, I have already signified is not my purpose. The citizens of Kentucky are, very learnedly and in their usual eloquence, discussing these questions. I have read with much pleasure a recent letter of her most distinguished citizen, one of the most enlightened and eloquent states. men of the country and age in which we live, setting forth his reasons and his proje, for ultimately ridding the Commonwealth of this great draw-back upon her prosperity and happiness. Mr. Clay treats this question with the hand of a master--as a sage politician, and on all the points to which he has called the attention of his fellow-citizens, they need no other or more competent adviser.

But, what is the duty of a Christian citizen of Kentucky, on the present occasion, is the question which every conscientious man will propound to himself.. A time has come when no citizen of that State can say ,-“I can neither prevent nor perpetuate the indefinite continuance of Slavery in Kentucky. I did not put it upon the State nor can I take it off.”

By a single clause in a new Constitution you may put an end to it beyond a given day. The Ruler of nations, in his providence, is now conferring this power on every voter in the State, by proposing a convention for new modeling the Constitution.

By his vote, every citizen may, from and after a given day, be regarded as, in very dsed, an instituter or annuller of Slavery in Kentucky. This is the only point which, in the present paper, I intend to commend to the consideration of every voter to whom these presents may

come.

It is, indeed, the boast of the American people, that they can cre

« PrécédentContinuer »