HumanitiesWeb.org - The Conflict with Slavery (Justice and Expediency) by John Greenleaf Whittier
HumanitiesWeb HumanitiesWeb
WelcomeHistoryLiteratureArtMusicPhilosophyResourcesHelp
Periods Alphabetically Nationality Topics Themes Genres Glossary
pixel

Whittier
Index
Biography
Selected Works
According To...
Chronology
Related Materials

Search

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

& etc
FEEDBACK

(C)1998-2012
All Rights Reserved.

Site last updated
28 October, 2012
Real Time Analytics

The Conflict with Slavery
Justice and Expediency

by John Greenleaf Whittier

Or, Slavery Considered with a View to its Rightful and Effectual Remedy, Abolition.

                                 [1833.]

     "There is a law above all the enactments of human codes, the same
     throughout the world, the same in all time,--such as it was before
     the daring genius of Columbus pierced the night of ages, and opened
     to one world the sources of wealth and power and knowledge, to
     another all unutterable woes; such as it is at this day: it is the
     law written by the finger of God upon the heart of man; and by that
     law, unchangeable and eternal while men despise fraud, and loathe
     rapine, and abhor blood, they shall reject with indignation the wild
     and guilty fantasy that man can hold property in man."
     --LORD BROUGHAM.


It may be inquired of me why I seek to agitate the subject of Slavery in New England, where we all acknowledge it to be an evil. Because such an acknowledgment is not enough on our part. It is doing no more than the slave-master and the slave-trader. "We have found," says James Monroe, in his speech on the subject before the Virginia Convention, "that this evil has preyed upon the very vitals of the Union; and has been prejudicial to all the states in which it has existed." All the states in their several Constitutions and declarations of rights have made a similar statement. And what has been the consequence of this general belief in the evil of human servitude? Has it sapped the foundations of the infamous system? No. Has it decreased the number of its victims? Quite the contrary. Unaccompanied by philanthropic action, it has been in a moral point of view worthless, a thing without vitality, sightless, soulless, dead.

But it may be said that the miserable victims of the system have our sympathies. Sympathy the sympathy of the Priest and the Levite, looking on, and acknowledging, but holding itself aloof from mortal suffering. Can such hollow sympathy reach the broken of heart, and does the blessing of those who are ready to perish answer it? Does it hold back the lash from the slave, or sweeten his bitter bread? One's heart and soul are becoming weary of this sympathy, this heartless mockery of feeling; sick of the common cant of hypocrisy, wreathing the artificial flowers of sentiment over unutterable pollution and unimaginable wrong. It is white-washing the sepulchre to make us forget its horrible deposit. It is scattering flowers around the charnel-house and over the yet festering grave to turn away our thoughts "from the dead men's bones and all uncleanness," the pollution and loathsomeness below.

No! let the truth on this subject, undisguised, naked, terrible as it is, stand out before us. Let us no longer seek to cover it; let us no longer strive to forget it; let us no more dare to palliate it. It is better to meet it here with repentance than at the bar of God. The cry of the oppressed, of the millions who have perished among us as the brute perisheth, shut out from the glad tidings of salvation, has gone there before us, to Him who as a father pitieth all His children. Their blood is upon us as a nation; woe unto us, if we repent not, as a nation, in dust and ashes. Woe unto us if we say in our hearts, "The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. He that planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see?"

But it may be urged that New England has no participation in slavery, and is not responsible for its wickedness.

Why are we thus willing to believe a lie? New England not responsible! Bound by the United States constitution to protect the slave-holder in his sins, and yet not responsible! Joining hands with crime, covenanting with oppression, leaguing with pollution, and yet not responsible! Palliating the evil, hiding the evil, voting for the evil, do we not participate in it?

     [Messrs.  Harvey of New Hampshire, Mallary of Vermont, and Ripley of
     Maine, voted in the Congress of 1829 against the consideration of a
     Resolution for inquiring into the expediency of abolishing slavery
     in the District of Columbia.]


Members of one confederacy, children of one family, the curse and the shame, the sin against our brother, and the sin against our God, all the iniquity of slavery which is revealed to man, and all which crieth in the ear, or is manifested to the eye of Jehovah, will assuredly be visited upon all our people. Why, then, should we stretch out our hands towards our Southern brethren, and like the Pharisee thank God we are not like them? For so long as we practically recognize the infernal principle that "man can hold property in man," God will not hold us guiltless. So long as we take counsel of the world's policy instead of the justice of heaven, so long as we follow a mistaken political expediency in opposition to the express commands of God, so long will the wrongs of the slaves rise like a cloud of witnesses against us at the inevitable bar.

Slavery is protected by the constitutional compact, by the standing army, by the militia of the free states.

     [J. Q. Adams is the only member of Congress who has ventured to
     speak plainly of this protection.  See also his very able Report
     from the minority of the Committee on Manufactures.  In his speech
     during the last session, upon the bill of the Committee of Ways and
     Means, after discussing the constitutional protection of slavery, he
     says: "But that same interest is further protected by the Laws of
     the United States.  It was protected by the existence of a standing
     army.  If the States of this Union were all free republican States,
     and none of them possessed any of the machinery of which he had
     spoken, and if another portion of the Union were not exposed to
     another danger, from their vicinity to the tribes of Indian savages,
     he believed it would be difficult to prove to the House any such
     thing as the necessity of a standing army.  What in fact was the
     occupation of the army?  It had been protecting this very same
     interest.  It had been doing so ever since the army existed.  Of
     what use to the district of Plymouth (which he there represented)
     was the standing army of the United States?  Of not one dollar's
     use, and never had been."]


Let us not forget that should the slaves, goaded by wrongs unendurable, rise in desperation, and pour the torrent of their brutal revenge over the beautiful Carolinas, or the consecrated soil of Virginia, New England would be called upon to arrest the progress of rebellion,--to tread out with the armed heel of her soldiery that spirit of freedom, which knows no distinction of cast or color; which has been kindled in the heart of the black as well as in that of the white.

And what is this system which we are thus protecting and upholding? A system which holds two millions of God's creatures in bondage, which leaves one million females without any protection save their own feeble strength, and which makes even the exercise of that strength in resistance to outrage punishable with death! which considers rational, immortal beings as articles of traffic, vendible commodities, merchantable property,--which recognizes no social obligations, no natural relations,--which tears without scruple the infant from the mother, the wife from the husband, the parent from the child. In the strong but just language of another: "It is the full measure of pure, unmixed, unsophisticated wickedness; and scorning all competition or comparison, it stands without a rival in the secure, undisputed possession of its detestable preeminence."

So fearful an evil should have its remedies. The following are among the many which have been from time to time proposed:--

1. Placing the slaves in the condition of the serfs of Poland and Russia, fixed to the soil, and without the right on the part of the master to sell or remove them. This was intended as a preliminary to complete emancipation at some remote period, but it is impossible to perceive either its justice or expediency.

2. Gradual abolition, an indefinite term, but which is understood to imply the draining away drop by drop, of the great ocean of wrong; plucking off at long intervals some, straggling branches of the moral Upas; holding out to unborn generations the shadow of a hope which the present may never feel gradually ceasing to do evil; gradually refraining from robbery, lust, and murder: in brief, obeying a short-sighted and criminal policy rather than the commands of God.

3. Abstinence on the part of the people of the free states from the use of the known products of slave labor, in order to render that labor profitless. Beyond a doubt the example of conscientious individuals may have a salutary effect upon the minds of some of the slave-holders; I but so long as our confederacy exists, a commercial intercourse with slave states and a consumption of their products cannot be avoided.

     [The following is a recorded statement of the venerated Sir William
     Jones: "Let sugar be as cheap as it may, it is better to eat none,
     better to eat aloes and colloquintida, than violate a primary law
     impressed on every heart not imbruted with avarice; than rob one
     human creature of those eternal rights of which no law on earth can
     justly deprive him."]


4. Colonization. The exclusive object of the American Colonization Society, according to the second article of its constitution, is to colonize the free people of color residing among us, in Africa or such other place as Congress may direct. Steadily adhering to this object it has nothing to do with slavery; and I allude to it as a remedy only because some of its friends have in view an eventual abolition or an amelioration of the evil.

Let facts speak. The Colonization Society was organized in 1817. It has two hundred and eighteen auxiliary societies. The legislatures of fourteen states have recommended it. Contributions have poured into its treasury from every quarter of the United States. Addresses in its favor have been heard from all our pulpits. It has been in operation sixteen years. During this period nearly one million human beings have died in slavery: and the number of slaves has increased more than half a million, or in round numbers, 550,000

The Colonization Society has been busily engaged all this while in conveying the slaves to Africa; in other words, abolishing slavery. In this very charitable occupation it has carried away of manumitted slaves 613

Balance against the society . . . . 549,387!

But enough of its abolition tendency. What has it done for amelioration? Witness the newly enacted laws of some of the slave states, laws bloody as the code of Draco, violating the laws of Cod and the unalienable rights of His children?--[It will be seen that the society approves of these laws.]--But why talk of amelioration? Amelioration of what? of sin, of crime unutterable, of a system of wrong and outrage horrible in the eye of God Why seek to mark the line of a selfish policy, a carnal expediency between the criminality of hell and that repentance and its fruits enjoined of heaven?

For the principles and views of the society we must look to its own statements and admissions; to its Annual Reports; to those of its auxiliaries; to the speeches and writings of its advocates; and to its organ, the African Repository.

1. It excuses slavery and apologizes for slaveholders.

Proof. "Slavery is an evil entailed upon the present generation of slave-holders, which they must suffer, whether they will or not!" "The existence of slavery among us, though not at all to be objected to our Southern brethren as a fault," etc? "It (the society) condemns no man because he is a slave-holder." "Recognizing the constitutional and legitimate existence of slavery, it seeks not to interfere, either directly or indirectly, with the rights it creates. Acknowledging the necessity by which its present continuance and the rigorous provisions for its maintenance are justified," etc. "They (the Abolitionists) confound the misfortunes of one generation with the crimes of another, and would sacrifice both individual and public good to an unsubstantial theory of the rights of man."

2. It pledges itself not to oppose the system of slavery.

Proof. "Our society and the friends of colonization wish to be distinctly understood upon this point. From the beginning they have disavowed, and they do yet disavow, that their object is the emancipation of slaves."--[Speech of James S. Green, Esq., First Annual Report of the New Jersey Colonization Society.]

"This institution proposes to do good by a single specific course of measures. Its direct and specific purpose is not the abolition of slavery, or the relief of pauperism, or the extension of commerce and civilization, or the enlargement of science, or the conversion of the heathen. The single object which its constitution prescribes, and to which all its efforts are necessarily directed, is African colonization from America. It proposes only to afford facilities for the voluntary emigration of free people of color from this country to the country of their fathers."

"It is no abolition society; it addresses as yet arguments to no master, and disavows with horror the idea of offering temptations to any slave. It denies the design of attempting emancipation, either partial or general."

"The Colonization Society, as such, have renounced wholly the name and the characteristics of abolitionists. On this point they have been unjustly and injuriously slandered. Into their accounts the subject of emancipation does not enter at all."

"From its origin, and throughout the whole period of its existence, it has constantly disclaimed all intention of interfering, in the smallest degree, with the rights of property, or the object of emancipation, gradual or immediate." . . . "The society presents to the American public no project of emancipation."--[ Mr. Clay's Speech, Idem, vol. vi. pp. 13, 17.]

"The emancipation of slaves or the amelioration of their condition, with the moral, intellectual, and political improvement of people of color within the United States, are subjects foreign to the powers of this society."

"The society, as a society, recognizes no principles in reference to the slave system. It says nothing, and proposes to do nothing, respecting it." . . . "So far as we can ascertain, the supporters of the colonization policy generally believe that slavery is in this country a constitptional and legitimate system, which they have no inclination, interest, nor ability to disturb."

3. It regards God's rational creatures as property.

Proof. "We hold their slaves, as we hold their other property, sacred."

"It is equally plain and undeniable that the society, in the prosecution of this work, has never interfered or evinced even a disposition to interfere in any way with the rights of proprietors of slaves."

"To the slave-holder, who has charged upon them the wicked design of interfering with the rights of property under the specious pretext of removing a vicious and dangerous free population, they address themselves in a tone of conciliation and sympathy. We know your rights, say they, and we respect them."

4. It boasts that its measures are calculated to perpetuate the detested system of slavery, to remove the fears of the slave-holder, and increase the value of his stock of human beings.

Proof. "They (the Southern slave-holders) will contribute more effectually to the continuance and strength of this system (slavery) by removing those now free than by any or all other methods which can possibly be devised."

"So far from being connected with the abolition of slavery, the measure proposed would be one of the greatest securities to enable the master to keep in possession his own property."--[Speech of John Randolph at the first meeting of the Colonization Society.]

"The tendency of the scheme, and one of its objects, is to secure slave- holders, and the whole Southern country, against certain evil consequences growing out of the present threefold mixture of our population."

"There was but one way (to avert danger), but that might be made effectual, fortunately. It was to provide and keep open a drain for the excess beyond the occasions of profitable employment. Mr. Archer had been stating the case in the supposition, that after the present class of free blacks had been exhausted, by the operation of the plan he was recommending, others would be supplied for its action, in the proportion of the excess of colored population it would be necessary to throw off, by the process of voluntary manumission or sale. This effect must result inevitably from the depreciating value of the slaves, ensuing their disproportionate multiplication. The depreciation would be relieved and retarded at the same time by the process. The two operations would aid reciprocally, and sustain each other, and both be in the highest degree beneficial. It was on the ground of interest, therefore, the most indisputable pecuniary interest, that he addressed himself to the people and legislatures of the slave-holding states."

"The slave-holder, who is in danger of having his slaves contaminated by their free friends of color, will not only be relieved from this danger, but the value of his slave will be enhanced."

5. It denies the power of Christian love to overcome an unholy prejudice against a portion of our fellow-creatures.

Proof. "The managers consider it clear that causes exist and are operating to prevent their (the blacks) improvement and elevation to any considerable extent as a class, in this country, which are fixed, not only beyond the control of the friends of humanity, but of any human power. Christianity will not do for them here what it will do for them in Africa. This is not the fault of the colored man, nor Christianity; but an ordination of Providence, and no more to be changed than the laws of Nature!"--[Last Annual Report of the American Colonization Society.]

"The habits, the feelings, all the prejudices of society--prejudices which neither refinement, nor argument, nor education, nor religion itself, can subdue--mark the people of color, whether bond or free, as the subjects of a degradation inevitable and incurable. The African in this country belongs by birth to the very lowest station in society, and from that station he can never rise, be his talents, his enterprise, his virtues what they may. . . . They constitute a class by themselves, a class out of which no individual can be elevated, and below which none can be depressed."

"Is it not wise, then, for the free people of color and their friends to admit, what cannot reasonably be doubted, that the people of color must, in this country, remain for ages, probably forever, a separate and inferior caste, weighed down by causes, powerful, universal, inevitable; which neither legislation nor Christianity can remove?"

6. It opposes strenuously the education of the blacks in this country as useless as well as dangerous.

Proof. "If the free colored people were generally taught to read it might be an inducement to them to remain in this country (that is, in their native country). We would offer then no such inducement."-- [Southern Religious Telegraph, February 19, 1831.]

"The public safety of our brethren at the South requires them (the slaves) to be kept ignorant and uninstructed."

"It is the business of the free (their safety requires it) to keep the slaves in ignorance. But a few days ago a proposition was made in the legislature of Georgia to allow them so much instruction as to enable them to read the Bible; which was promptly rejected by a large majority."--[Proceedings of New York State Colonization Society at its second anniversary.]

E. B. Caldwell, the first Secretary of the American Colonization Society, in his speech at its formation, recommended them to be kept "in the lowest state of ignorance and degradation, for (says he) the nearer you bring them to the condition of brutes, the better chance do you give them of possessing their apathy."

My limits will not admit of a more extended examination. To the documents from whence the above extracts have been made I would call the attention of every real friend of humanity. I seek to do the Colonization Society no injustice, but I wish the public generally to understand its character.

The tendency of the society to abolish the slave-trade by means of its African colony has been strenuously urged by its friends. But the fallacy of this is now admitted by all: witness the following from the reports of the society itself:--

"Some appalling facts in regard to the slave-trade have come to the knowledge of the Board of Managers during the last year. With undiminished atrocity and activity is this odious traffic now carried on all along the African coast. Slave factories are established in the immediate vicinity of the colony; and at the Gallinas (between Liberia and Sierra Leone) not less than nine hundred slaves were shipped during the last summer, in the space of three weeks."

April 6, 1832, the House of Commons of England ordered the printing of a document entitled "Slave-Trade, Sierra Leone," containing official evidence of the fact that the pirates engaged in the African slave-trade are supplied from the stores of Sierra Leone and Liberia with such articles as the infernal traffic demands! An able English writer on the subject of Colonization thus notices this astounding fact:--

"And here it may be well to observe, that as long as negro slavery lasts, all colonies on the African coast, of whatever description, must tend to support it, because, in all commerce, the supply is more or less proportioned to the demand. The demand exists in negro slavery; the supply arises from the African slave-trade. And what greater convenience could the African slave-traders desire than shops well stored along the coast with the very articles which their trade demands. That the African slave-traders do get thus supplied at Sierra Leone and Liberia is matter of official evidence; and we know, from the nature of human things, that they will get so supplied, in defiance of all law or precaution, as long as the demand calls for the supply, and there are free shops stored with all they want at hand. The shopkeeper, however honest, would find it impossible always to distinguish between the African slave-trader or his agents and other dealers. And how many shopkeepers are there anywhere that would be over scrupulous in questioning a customer with a full purse?"

But we are told that the Colonization Society is to civilize and evangelize Africa.

"Each emigrant," says Henry Clay, the ablest advocate which the society has yet found, "is a missionary, carrying with him credentials in the holy cause of civilization, religion, and free institutions."

Beautiful and heart-cheering idea! But stay who are these emigrants, these missionaries?

The free people of color. "They, and they only," says the African Repository, the society's organ, "are qualified for colonizing Africa."

What are their qualifications? Let the society answer in its own words:-- Free blacks are a greater nuisance than even slaves themselves."-- [African Repository, vol. ii. p. 328.]

"A horde of miserable people--the objects of universal suspicion-- subsisting by plunder."

"An anomalous race of beings the most debased upon earth."--[African Repository, vol. vii. p. 230.]

"Of all classes of our population the most vicious is that of the free colored."--[Tenth Annual Report of the Colonization Society.]

I might go on to quote still further from the "credentials" which the free people of color are to carry with them to Liberia. But I forbear.

I come now to the only practicable, the only just scheme of emancipation: Immediate abolition of slavery; an immediate acknowledgment of the great truth, that man cannot hold property in man; an immediate surrender of baneful prejudice to Christian love; an immediate practical obedience to the command of Jesus Christ: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them."

A correct understanding of what is meant by immediate abolition must convince every candid mind that it is neither visionary nor dangerous; that it involves no disastrous consequences of bloodshed and desolation; but, on the, contrary, that it is a safe, practicable, efficient remedy for the evils of the slave system.

The term immediate is used in contrast with that of gradual. Earnestly as I wish it, I do not expect, no one expects, that the tremendous system of oppression can be instantaneously overthrown. The terrible and unrebukable indignation of a free people has not yet been sufficiently concentrated against it. The friends of abolition have not forgotten the peculiar organization of our confederacy, the delicate division of power between the states and the general government. They see the many obstacles in their pathway; but they know that public opinion can overcome them all. They ask no aid of physical coercion. They seek to obtain their object not with the weapons of violence and blood, but with those of reason and truth, prayer to God, and entreaty to man.

They seek to impress indelibly upon every human heart the true doctrines of the rights of man; to establish now and forever this great and fundamental truth of human liberty, that man cannot hold property in his brother; for they believe that the general admission of this truth will utterly destroy the system of slavery, based as that system is upon a denial or disregard of it. To make use of the clear exposition of an eminent advocate of immediate abolition, our plan of emancipation is simply this: "To promulgate the true doctrine of human rights in high places and low places, and all places where there are human beings; to whisper it in chimney corners, and to proclaim it from the house-tops, yea, from the mountain-tops; to pour it out like water from the pulpit and the press; to raise it up with all the food of the inner man, from infancy to gray hairs; to give 'line upon line, and precept upon precept,' till it forms one of the foundation principles and parts indestructible of the public soul. Let those who contemn this plan renounce, if they have not done it already, the gospel plan of converting the world; let them renounce every plan of moral reformation, and every plan whatsoever, which does not terminate in the gratification of their own animal natures."

The friends of emancipation would urge in the first instance an immediate abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and in the Territories of Florida and Arkansas.

The number of slaves in these portions of the country, coming under the direct jurisdiction of the general government, is as follows:--

District of Columbia ..... 6,119
Territory of Arkansas .... 4,576
Territory of Florida .... 15,501
 
                  Total   26,196


Here, then, are twenty-six thousand human beings, fashioned in the image of God, the fitted temples of His Holy Spirit, held by the government in the abhorrent chains of slavery. The power to emancipate them is clear. It is indisputable. It does not depend upon the twenty-five slave votes in Congress. It lies with the free states. Their duty is before them: in the fear of God, and not of man let them perform it.

Let them at once strike off the grievous fetters. Let them declare that man shall no longer hold his fellow-man in bondage, a beast of burden, an article of traffic, within the governmental domain. God and truth and eternal justice demand this. The very reputation of our fathers, the honor of our land, every principle of liberty, humanity, expediency, demand it. A sacred regard to free principles originated our independence, not the paltry amount of practical evil complained of. And although our fathers left their great work unfinished, it is our duty to follow out their principles. Short of liberty and equality we cannot stop without doing injustice to their memories. If our fathers intended that slavery should be perpetual, that our practice should forever give the lie to our professions, why is the great constitutional compact so guardedly silent on the subject of human servitude? If state necessity demanded this perpetual violation of the laws of God and the rights of man, this continual solecism in a government of freedom, why is it not met as a necessity, incurable and inevitable, and formally and distinctly recognized as a settled part of our social system? State necessity, that imperial tyrant, seeks no disguise. In the language of Sheridan, "What he does, he dares avow, and avowing, scorns any other justification than the great motives which placed the iron sceptre in his grasp."

Can it be possible that our fathers felt this state necessity strong upon them? No; for they left open the door for emancipation, they left us the light of their pure principles of liberty, they framed the great charter of American rights, without employing a term in its structure to which in aftertimes of universal freedom the enemies of our country could point with accusation or reproach.

What, then, is our duty?

To give effect to the spirit of our Constitution; to plant ourselves upon the great declaration and declare in the face of all the world that political, religious, and legal hypocrisy shall no longer cover as with loathsome leprosy the features of American freedom; to loose at once the bands of wickedness; to undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free.

We have indeed been authoritatively told in Congress and elsewhere that our brethren of the South and West will brook no further agitation of the subject of slavery. What then! shall we heed the unrighteous prohibition? No; by our duty as Christians, as politicians, by our duty to ourselves, to our neighbor, and to God, we are called upon to agitate this subject; to give slavery no resting-place under the hallowed aegis of a government of freedom; to tear it root and branch, with all its fruits of abomination, at least from the soil of the national domain. The slave-holder may mock us; the representatives of property, merchandise, vendible commodities, may threaten us; still our duty is imperative; the spirit of the Constitution should be maintained within the exclusive jurisdiction of the government. If we cannot "provide for the general welfare," if we cannot "guarantee to each of the states a republican form of government," let us at least no longer legislate for a free nation within view of the falling whip, and within hearing of the execrations of the task-master and the prayer of his slave!

I deny the right of the slave-holder to impose silence on his brother of the North in reference to slavery. What! compelled to maintain the system, to keep up the standing army which protects it, and yet be denied the poor privilege of remonstrance! Ready, at the summons of the master to put down the insurrections of his slaves, the outbreaking of that revenge which is now, and has been, in all nations, and all times, the inevitable consequence of oppression and wrong, and yet like automata to act but not speak! Are we to be denied even the right of a slave, the right to murmur?

I am not unaware that my remarks may be regarded by many as dangerous and exceptionable; that I may be regarded as a fanatic for quoting the language of eternal truth, and denounced as an incendiary for maintaining, in the spirit as well as the letter, the doctrines of American Independence. But if such are the consequences of a simple performance of duty, I shall not regard them. If my feeble appeal but reaches the hearts of any who are now slumbering in iniquity; if it shall have power given it to shake down one stone from that foul temple where the blood of human victims is offered to the Moloch of slavery; if under Providence it can break one fetter from off the image of God, and enable one suffering African

"To feel
The weight of human misery less, and glide
Ungroaning to the tomb,"


I shall not have written in vain; my conscience will be satisfied.

Far be it from me to cast new bitterness into the gall and wormwood waters of sectional prejudice. No; I desire peace, the peace of universal love, of catholic sympathy, the peace of a common interest, a common feeling, a common humanity. But so long as slavery is tolerated, no such peace can exist. Liberty and slavery cannot dwell in harmony together. There will be a perpetual "war in the members" of the political Mezentius between the living and the dead. God and man have placed between them an everlasting barrier, an eternal separation. No matter under what name or law or compact their union is attempted, the ordination of Providence has forbidden it, and it cannot stand. Peace! there can be no peace between justice and oppression, between robbery and righteousness, truth and falsehood, freedom and slavery.

The slave-holding states are not free. The name of liberty is there, but the spirit is wanting. They do not partake of its invaluable blessings. Wherever slavery exists to any considerable extent, with the exception of some recently settled portions of the country, and which have not yet felt in a great degree the baneful and deteriorating influences of slave labor, we hear at this moment the cry of suffering. We are told of grass-grown streets, of crumbling mansions, of beggared planters and barren plantations, of fear from without, of terror within. The once fertile fields are wasted and tenantless, for the curse of slavery, the improvidence of that labor whose hire has been kept back by fraud, has been there, poisoning the very earth beyond the reviving influence of the early and the latter rain. A moral mildew mingles with and blasts the economy of nature. It is as if the finger of the everlasting God had written upon the soil of the slave-holder the language of His displeasure.

Let, then, the slave-holding states consult their present interest by beginning without delay the work of emancipation. If they fear not, and mock at the fiery indignation of Him, to whom vengeance belongeth, let temporal interest persuade them. They know, they must know, that the present state of things cannot long continue. Mind is the same everywhere, no matter what may be the complexion of the frame which it animates: there is a love of liberty which the scourge cannot eradicate, a hatred of oppression which centuries of degradation cannot extinguish. The slave will become conscious sooner or later of his brute strength, his physical superiority, and will exert it. His torch will be at the threshold and his knife at the throat of the planter. Horrible and indiscriminate will be his vengeance. Where, then, will be the pride, the beauty, and the chivalry of the South? The smoke of her torment will rise upward like a thick cloud visible over the whole earth.

     "Belie the negro's powers: in headlong will,
     Christian, thy brother thou shalt find him still.
     Belie his virtues: since his wrongs began,
     His follies and his crimes have stamped him man."


Let the cause of insurrection be removed, then, as speedily as possible. Cease to oppress. "Let him that stole steal no more." Let the laborer have his hire. Bind him no longer by the cords of slavery, but with those of kindness and brotherly love. Watch over him for his good. Pray for him; instruct him; pour light into the darkness of his mind.

Let this be done, and the horrible fears which now haunt the slumbers of the slave-holder will depart. Conscience will take down its racks and gibbets, and his soul will be at peace. His lands will no longer disappoint his hopes. Free labor will renovate them.

Historical facts; the nature of the human mind; the demonstrated truths of political economy; the analysis of cause and effect, all concur in establishing:

1. That immediate abolition is a safe and just and peaceful remedy for the evils of the slave system.

2. That free labor, its necessary consequence, is more productive, and more advantageous to the planter than slave labor.

In proof of the first proposition it is only necessary to state the undeniable fact that immediate emancipation, whether by an individual or a community, has in no instance been attended with violence and disorder on the part of the emancipated; but that on the contrary it has promoted cheerfulness, industry, and laudable ambition in the place of sullen discontent, indolence, and despair.

The case of St. Domingo is in point. Blood was indeed shed on that island like water, but it was not in consequence of emancipation. It was shed in the civil war which preceded it, and in the iniquitous attempt to restore the slave system in 1801. It flowed on the sanguine altar of slavery, not on the pure and peaceful one of emancipation. No; there, as in all the world and in all time, the violence of oppression engendered violence on the part of the oppressed, and vengeance followed only upon the iron footsteps of wrong. When, where, did justice to the injured waken their hate and vengeance? When, where, did love and kindness and sympathy irritate and madden the persecuted, the broken-hearted, the foully wronged?

In September, 1793, the Commissioner of the French National Convention issued his proclamation giving immediate freedom to all the slaves of St. Domingo. Did the slaves baptize their freedom in blood? Did they fight like unchained desperadoes because they had been made free? Did they murder their emancipators? No; they acted, as human beings must act, under similar circumstances, by a law as irresistible as those of the universe: kindness disarmed them, justice conciliated them, freedom ennobled them. No tumult followed this wide and instantaneous emancipation. It cost not one drop of blood; it abated not one tittle of the wealth or the industry of the island. Colonel Malenfant, a slave proprietor residing at the time on the island, states that after the public act of abolition, the negroes remained perfectly quiet; they had obtained all they asked for, liberty, and they continued to work upon all the plantations.--[Malenfant in Memoirs for a History of St. Domingo by General Lecroix, 1819.]

"There were estates," he says, "which had neither owners nor managers resident upon them, yet upon these estates, though abandoned, the negroes continued their labors where there were any, even inferior, agents to guide them; and on those estates where no white men were left to direct them, they betook themselves to the planting of provisions; but upon all the plantations where the whites resided the blacks continued to labor as quietly as before." Colonel Malenfant says that when many of his neighbors, proprietors or managers, were in prison, the negroes of their plantations came to him to beg him to direct them in their work. "If you will take care not to talk to them of the restoration of slavery, but talk to them of freedom, you may with this word chain them down to their labor. How did Toussaint succeed? How did I succeed before his time in the plain of the Cul-de-Sac on the plantation of Gouraud, during more than eight months after liberty had been granted to the slaves? Let those who knew me at that time, let the blacks themselves be asked. They will all reply that not a single negro upon that plantation, consisting of more than four hundred and fifty laborers, refused to work; and yet this plantation was thought to be under the worst discipline and the slaves the most idle of any in the plain. I inspired the same activity into three other plantations of which I had the management. If all the negroes had come from Africa within six months, if they had the love of independence that the Indians have, I should own that force must be employed; but ninety-nine out of a hundred of the blacks are aware that without labor they cannot procure the things that are necessary for them; that there is no other method of satisfying their wants and their tastes. They know that they must work, they wish to do so, and they will do so."

This is strong testimony. In 1796, three years after the act of emancipation, we are told that the colony was flourishing under Toussaint, that the whites lived happily and peaceably on their estates, and the blacks continued to work for them. Up to 1801 the same happy state of things continued. The colony went on as by enchantment; cultivation made day by day a perceptible progress, under the recuperative energies of free labor.

In 1801 General Vincent, a proprietor of estates in the island, was sent by Toussaint to Paris for the purpose of laying before the Directory the new Constitution which had been adopted at St. Domingo. He reached France just after the peace of Amiens, when Napoleon was fitting out his ill-starred armament for the insane purpose of restoring slavery in the island. General Vincent remonstrated solemnly and earnestly against an expedition so preposterous, so cruel and unnecessary; undertaken at a moment when all was peace and quietness in the colony, when the proprietors were in peaceful possession of their estates, when cultivation was making a rapid progress, and the blacks were industrious and happy beyond example. He begged that this beautiful state of things might not be reversed. The remonstrance was not regarded, and the expedition proceeded. Its issue is well known. Threatened once more with the horrors of slavery, the peaceful and quiet laborer became transformed into a demon of ferocity. The plough-share and the pruning- hook gave way to the pike and the dagger. The white invaders were driven back by the sword and the pestilence; and then, and not till then, was the property of the planters seized upon by the excited and infuriated blacks.

In 1804 Dessalines was proclaimed Emperor of Hayti. The black troops were in a great measure disbanded, and they immediately returned to the cultivation of the plantations. From that period up to the present there has been no want of industry among the inhabitants.

Mr. Harvey, who during the reign of Christophe resided at Cape Francois, in describing the character and condition of the inhabitants, says "It was an interesting sight to behold this class of the Haytiens, now in possession of their freedom, coming in groups to the market nearest which they resided, bringing the produce of their industry there for sale; and afterwards returning, carrying back the necessary articles of living which the disposal of their commodities had enabled them to purchase; all evidently cheerful and happy. Nor could it fail to occur to the mind that their present condition furnished the most satisfactory answer to that objection to the general emancipation of slaves founded on their alleged unfitness to value and improve the benefits of liberty. . . . As they would not suffer, so they do not require, the attendance of one acting in the capacity of a driver with the instrument of punishment in his hand. As far as I had an opportunity of ascertaining from what fell under my own observation, and from what I gathered from other European residents, I am persuaded of one general fact, which on account of its importance I shall state in the most explicit terms, namely, that the Haytiens employed in cultivating the plantations, as well as the rest of the population, perform as much work in a given time as they were accustomed to do during their subjection to the French. And if we may judge of their future improvement by the change which has been already effected, it may be reasonably anticipated that Hayti will erelong contain a population not inferior in their industry to that of any civilized nation in the world. . . . Every man had some calling to occupy his attention; instances of idleness or intemperance were of rare occurrence; the most perfect subordination prevailed, and all appeared contented and happy. A foreigner would have found it difficult to persuade himself, on his first entering the place, that the people he now beheld so submissive, industrious, and contented, were the same people who a few years before had escaped from the shackles of slavery."

The present condition of Hayti may be judged of from the following well- authenticated facts its population is more than 700,000, its resources ample, its prosperity and happiness general, its crimes few, its labor crowned with abundance, with no paupers save the decrepit and aged, its people hospitable, respectful, orderly, and contented.

The manumitted slaves, who to the number of two thousand were settled in Nova Scotia by the British Government at the close of the Revolutionary War, "led a harmless life, and gained the character of an honest, industrious people from their white neighbors." Of the free laborers of Trinidad we have the same report. At the Cape of Good Hope, three thousand negroes received their freedom, and with scarce a single exception betook themselves to laborious employments.

But we have yet stronger evidence. The total abolishment of slavery in the southern republics has proved beyond dispute the safety and utility of immediate abolition. The departed Bolivar indeed deserves his glorious title of Liberator, for he began his career of freedom by striking off the fetters of his own slaves, seven hundred in number.

In an official letter from the Mexican Envoy of the British Government, dated Mexico, March, 1826, and addressed 'to the Right Hon. George Canning, the superiority of free over slave labor is clearly demonstrated by the following facts:--

2. It is now carried on exclusively by the labor of free blacks.

3. It was formerly wholly sustained by the forced labor of slaves, purchased at Vera Cruz at $300 to $400 each.

4. Abolition in this section was effected not by governmental interference, not even from motives of humanity, but from an irresistible conviction on the part of the planters that their pecuniary interest demanded it.

5. The result has proved the entire correctness of this conviction; and the planters would now be as unwilling as the blacks themselves to return to the old system.

Let our Southern brethren imitate this example. It is in vain, in the face of facts like these, to talk of the necessity of maintaining the abominable system, operating as it does like a double curse upon planters and slaves. Heaven and earth deny its necessity. It is as necessary as other robberies, and no more.

Yes, putting aside altogether the righteous law of the living God--the same yesterday, to-day, and forever--and shutting out the clearest political truths ever taught by man, still, in human policy selfish expediency would demand of the planter the immediate emancipation of his slaves.

Because slave labor is the labor of mere machines; a mechanical impulse of body and limb, with which the mind of the laborer has no sympathy, and from which it constantly and loathingly revolts.

Because slave labor deprives the master altogether of the incalculable benefit of the negro's will. That does not cooperate with the forced toil of the body. This is but the necessary consequence of all labor which does not benefit the laborer. It is a just remark of that profound political economist, Adam Smith, that "a slave can have no other interest than to eat and waste as much, and work as little, as he can."

To my mind, in the wasteful and blighting influences of slave labor there is a solemn and warning moral.

They seem the evidence of the displeasure of Him who created man after His own image, at the unnatural attempt to govern the bones and sinews, the bodies and souls, of one portion of His children by the caprice, the avarice, the lusts of another; at that utter violation of the design of His merciful Providence, whereby the entire dependence of millions of His rational creatures is made to centre upon the will, the existence, the ability, of their fellow-mortals, instead of resting under the shadow of His own Infinite Power and exceeding love.

I shall offer a few more facts and observations on this point.

1. A distinguished scientific gentleman, Mr. Coulomb, the superintendent of several military works in the French West Indies, gives it as his opinion, that the slaves do not perform more than one third of the labor which they would do, provided they were urged by their own interests and inclinations instead of brute force.

2. A plantation in Barbadoes in 1780 was cultivated by two hundred and eighty-eight slaves ninety men, eighty-two women, fifty-six boys, and sixty girls. In three years and three months there were on this plantation fifty-seven deaths, and only fifteen births. A change was then made in the government of the slaves. The use of the whip was denied; all severe and arbitrary punishments were abolished; the laborers received wages, and their offences were all tried by a sort of negro court established among themselves: in short, they were practically free. Under this system, in four years and three months there were forty-four births, and but forty-one deaths; and the annual net produce of the plantation was more than three times what it had been before.--[English Quarterly Magazine and Review, April, 1832.]

3. The following evidence was adduced by Pitt in the British Parliament, April, 1792. The assembly of Grenada had themselves stated, "that though the negroes were allowed only the afternoon of one day in a week, they would do as much work in that afternoon, when employed for their own benefit, as in the whole day when employed in their master's service." "Now after this confession," said Mr. Pitt, "the house might burn all its calculations relative to the negro population. A negro, if he worked for himself, could no doubt do double work. By an improvement, then, in the mode of labor, the work in the islands could be doubled."

4. "In coffee districts it is usual for the master to hire his people after they have done the regular task for the day, at a rate varying from 10d. to 15.8d. for every extra bushel which they pluck from the trees; and many, almost all, are found eager to earn their wages."

5. In a report made by the commandant of Castries for the government of St. Lucia, in 1822, it is stated, in proof of the intimacy between the slaves and the free blacks, that "many small plantations of the latter, and occupied by only one man and his wife, are better cultivated and have more land in cultivation than those of the proprietors of many slaves, and that the labor on them is performed by runaway slaves;" thus clearly proving that even runaway slaves, under the all-depressing fears of discovery and oppression, labor well, because the fruits of their labor are immediately their own.

Let us look at this subject from another point of view. The large sum of money necessary for stocking a plantation with slaves has an inevitable tendency to place the agriculture of a slave-holding community exclusively in the hands of the wealthy, a tendency at war with practical republicanism and conflicting with the best maxims of political economy.

Two hundred slaves at $200 per head would cost in the outset $40,000. Compare this enormous outlay for the labor of a single plantation with the beautiful system of free labor as exhibited in New England, where every young laborer, with health and ordinary prudence, may acquire by his labor on the farms of others, in a few years, a farm of his own, and the stock necessary for its proper cultivation; where on a hard and unthankful soil independence and competence may be attained by all.

Free labor is perfectly in accordance with the spirit of our institutions; slave labor is a relic of a barbarous, despotic age. The one, like the firmament of heaven, is the equal diffusion of similar lights, manifest, harmonious, regular; the other is the fiery predominance of some disastrous star, hiding all lesser luminaries around it in one consuming glare.

Emancipation would reform this evil. The planter would no longer be under the necessity of a heavy expenditure for slaves. He would only pay a very moderate price for his labor; a price, indeed, far less than the cost of the maintenance of a promiscuous gang of slaves, which the present system requires.

In an old plantation of three hundred slaves, not more than one hundred effective laborers will be found. Children, the old and superannuated, the sick and decrepit, the idle and incorrigibly vicious, will be found to constitute two thirds of the whole number. The remaining third perform only about one third as much work as the same number of free laborers.

Now disburden the master of this heavy load of maintenance; let him employ free able, industrious laborers only, those who feel conscious of a personal interest in the fruits of their labor, and who does not see that such a system would be vastly more safe and economical than the present?

The slave states are learning this truth by fatal experience. Most of them are silently writhing under the great curse. Virginia has uttered her complaints aloud. As yet, however, nothing has been done even there, save a small annual appropriation for the purpose of colonizing the free colored inhabitants of the state. Is this a remedy?

But it may be said that Virginia will ultimately liberate her slaves on condition of their colonization in Africa, peacefully if possible, forcibly if necessary.

Well, admitting that Virginia may be able and willing at some remote period to rid herself of the evil by commuting the punishment of her unoffending colored people from slavery to exile, will her fearful remedy apply to some of the other slaveholding states?

It is a fact, strongly insisted upon by our Southern brethren as a reason for the perpetuation of slavery, that their climate and peculiar agriculture will not admit of hard labor on the part of the whites; that amidst the fatal malaria of the rice plantations the white man is almost annually visited by the country fever; that few of the white overseers of these plantations reach the middle period of ordinary life; that the owners are compelled to fly from their estates as the hot season approaches, without being able to return until the first frosts have fallen. But we are told that the slaves remain there, at their work, mid-leg in putrid water, breathing the noisome atmosphere, loaded with contagion, and underneath the scorching fervor of a terrible sun; that they indeed suffer; but, that their habits, constitutions, and their long practice enable them to labor, surrounded by such destructive influences, with comparative safety.

The conclusive answer, therefore, to those who in reality cherish the visionary hope of colonizing all the colored people of the United States in Africa or elsewhere, is this single, all-important fact: The labor of the blacks will not and cannot be dispensed with by the planter of the South.

To what remedy, then, can the friends of humanity betake themselves but to that of emancipation?

And nothing but a strong, unequivocal expression of public sentiment is needed to carry into effect this remedy, so far as the general government is concerned.

And when the voice of all the non-slave-holding states shall be heard on this question, a voice of expostulation, rebuke, entreaty--when the full light of truth shall break through the night of prejudice, and reveal all the foul abominations of slavery, will Delaware still cling to the curse which is wasting her moral strength, and still rivet the fetters upon her three or four thousand slaves? Let Delaware begin the work, and Maryland and Virginia must follow; the example will be contagious; and the great object of universal emancipation will be attained. Freemen, Christians, lovers of truth and justice Why stand ye idle? Ours is a government of opinion, and slavery is interwoven with it. Change the current of opinion, and slavery will be swept away. Let the awful sovereignty of the people, a power which is limited only by the sovereignty of Heaven, arise and pronounce judgment against the crying iniquity. Let each individual remember that upon himself rests a portion of that sovereignty; a part of the tremendous responsibility of its exercise. The burning, withering concentration of public opinion upon the slave system is alone needed for its total annihilation. God has given us the power to overthrow it; a power peaceful, yet mighty, benevolent, yet effectual, "awful without severity," a moral strength equal to the emergency.

"How does it happen," inquires an able writer, "that whenever duty is named we begin to hear of the weakness of human nature? That same nature which outruns the whirlwind in the chase of gain, which rages like a maniac at the trumpet call of glory, which laughs danger and death to scorn when its least passion is awakened, becomes weak as childhood when reminded of the claims of duty." But let no one hope to find an excuse in hypocrisy. The humblest individual of the community in one way or another possesses influence; and upon him as well as upon the proudest rests the responsibility of its rightful exercise and proper direction. The overthrow of a great national evil like that of slavery can only be effected by the united energies of the great body of the people. Shoulder must be put to shoulder and hand linked with hand, the whole mass must be put in motion and its entire strength applied, until the fabric of oppression is shaken to its dark foundations and not one stone is left upon another.

Let the Christian remember that the God of his worship hateth oppression; that the mystery of faith can only be held by a pure conscience; and that in vain is the tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, if the weihtier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and truth, are forgotten. Let him remember that all along the clouded region of slavery the truths of the everlasting gospel are not spoken, that the ear of iniquity is lulled, that those who minister between the "porch and the altar" dare not speak out the language of eternal justice: "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?" (Isa. viii. 6.) "He that stealeth a man and selleth him; or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." (Exod. xxi. 16.1) Yet a little while and the voice of impartial prayer for humanity will be heard no more in the abiding place of slavery. The truths of the gospel, its voice of warning and exhortation, will be denounced as incendiary? The night of that infidelity, which denies God in the abuse and degradation of man, will settle over the land, to be broken only by the upheaving earthquake of eternal retribution.

To the members of the religious Society of Friends, I would earnestly appeal. They have already done much to put away the evil of slavery in this country and Great Britain. The blessings of many who were ready to perish have rested upon them. But their faithful testimony must be still steadily upborne, for the great work is but begun. Let them not relax their exertions, nor be contented with a lifeless testimony, a formal protestation against the evil. Active, prayerful, unwearied exertion is needed for its overthrow. But above all, let them not aid in excusing and palliating it. Slavery has no redeeming qualities, no feature of benevolence, nothing pure, nothing peaceful, nothing just. Let them carefully keep themselves aloof from all societies and all schemes which have a tendency to excuse or overlook its crying iniquity. True to a doctrine founded on love and mercy, "peace on earth and good will to men," they should regard the suffering slave as their brother, and endeavor to "put their souls in his soul's stead." They may earnestly desire the civilization of Africa, but they cannot aid in building up the colony of Liberia so long as that colony leans for support upon the arm of military power; so long as it proselytes to Christianity under the muzzles of its cannon; and preaches the doctrines of Christ while practising those of Mahomet. When the Sierra Leone Company was formed in England, not a member of the Society of Friends could be prevailed upon to engage in it, because the colony was to be supplied with cannon and other military stores. Yet the Foreign Agent of the Liberia Colony Society, to which the same insurmountable objection exists, is a member of the Society of Friends, and I understand has been recently employed in providing gunpowder, etc., for the use of the colony. There must be an awakening on this subject; other Woolmans and other Benezets must arise and speak the truth with the meek love of James and the fervent sincerity of Paul.

To the women of America, whose sympathies know no distinction of cline, or sect, or color, the suffering slave is making a strong appeal. Oh, let it not be unheeded! for of those to whom much is given much will be required at the last dread tribunal; and never in the strongest terms of human eulogy was woman's influence overrated. Sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers, your influence is felt everywhere, at the fireside, and in the halls of legislation, surrounding, like the all-encircling atmosphere, brother and father, husband and son! And by your love of them, by every holy sympathy of your bosoms, by every mournful appeal which comes up to you from hearts whose sanctuary of affections has been made waste and desolate, you are called upon to exert it in the cause of redemption from wrong and outrage.

Let the patriot, the friend of liberty and the Union of the States, no longer shut his eyes to the great danger, the master-evil before which all others dwindle into insignificance. Our Union is tottering to its foundation, and slavery is the cause. Remove the evil. Dry up at their source the bitter waters. In vain you enact and abrogate your tariffs; in vain is individual sacrifice, or sectional concession. The accursed thing is with us, the stone of stumbling and the rock of offence remains. Drag, then, the Achan into light; and let national repentance atone for national sin.

The conflicting interests of free and slave labor furnish the only ground for fear in relation to the permanency of the Union. The line of separation between them is day by day growing broader and deeper; geographically and politically united, we are already, in a moral point of view, a divided people. But a few months ago we were on the very verge of civil war, a war of brothers, a war between the North and the South, between the slave-holder and the free laborer. The danger has been delayed for a time; this bolt has fallen without mortal injury to the Union, but the cloud from whence it came still hangs above us, reddening with the elements of destruction.

Recent events have furnished ample proof that the slave-holding interest is prepared to resist any legislation on the part of the general government which is supposed to have a tendency, directly or indirectly, to encourage and invigorate free labor; and that it is determined to charge upon its opposite interest the infliction of all those evils which necessarily attend its own operation, "the primeval curse of Omnipotence upon slavery."

We have already felt in too many instances the extreme difficulty of cherishing in one common course of national legislation the opposite interests of republican equality and feudal aristocracy and servitude. The truth is, we have undertaken a moral impossibility. These interests are from their nature irreconcilable. The one is based upon the pure principles of rational liberty; the other, under the name of freedom, revives the ancient European system of barons and villains, nobles and serfs. Indeed, the state of society which existed among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors was far more tolerable than that of many portions of our republican confederacy. For the Anglo-Saxon slaves had it in their power to purchase their freedom; and the laws of the realm recognized their liberation and placed them under legal protection.

     [The diffusion of Christianity in Great Britain was moreover
     followed by a general manumission; for it would seem that the
     priests and missionaries of religion in that early and benighted age
     were more faithful in the performance of their duties than those of
     the present.  "The holy fathers, monks, and friars," says Sir T.
     Smith, "had in their confessions, and specially in their extreme and
     deadly sickness, convinced the laity how dangerous a thing it was
     for one Christian to hold another in bondage; so that temporal men,
     by reason of the terror in their consciences, were glad to manumit
     all their villains."--Hilt.  Commonwealth, Blackstone, p.  52.]


To counteract the dangers resulting from a state of society so utterly at variance with the great Declaration of American freedom should be the earnest endeavor of every patriotic statesman. Nothing unconstitutional, nothing violent, should be attempted; but the true doctrine of the rights of man should be steadily kept in view; and the opposition to slavery should be inflexible and constantly maintained. The almost daily violations of the Constitution in consequence of the laws of some of the slave states, subjecting free colored citizens of New England and elsewhere, who may happen to be on board of our coasting vessels, to imprisonment immediately on their arrival in a Southern port should be provided against. Nor should the imprisonment of the free colored citizens of the Northern and Middle states, on suspicion of being runaways, subjecting them, even after being pronounced free, to the costs of their confinement and trial, be longer tolerated; for if we continue to yield to innovations like these upon the Constitution of our fathers, we shall erelong have the name only of a free government left us.

Dissemble as we may, it is impossible for us to believe, after fully considering the nature of slavery, that it can much longer maintain a peaceable existence among us. A day of revolution must come, and it is our duty to prepare for it. Its threatened evil may be changed into a national blessing. The establishment of schools for the instruction of the slave children, a general diffusion of the lights of Christianity, and the introduction of a sacred respect for the social obligations of marriage and for the relations between parents and children, among our black population, would render emancipation not only perfectly safe, but also of the highest advantage to the country. Two millions of freemen would be added to our population, upon whom in the hour of danger we could safely depend; "the domestic foe" would be changed into a firm friend, faithful, generous, and ready to encounter all dangers in our defence. It is well known that during the last war with Great Britain, wherever the enemy touched upon our Southern coast, the slaves in multitudes hastened to join them. On the other hand, the free blacks were highly serviceable in repelling them. So warm was the zeal of the latter, so manifest their courage in the defence of Louisiana, that the present Chief Magistrate of the United States publicly bestowed upon them one of the highest eulogiums ever offered by a commander to his soldiers.

Let no one seek an apology for silence on the subject of slavery because the laws of the land tolerate and sanction it. But a short time ago the slave-trade was protected by laws and treaties, and sanctioned by the example of men eminent for the reputation of piety and integrity. Yet public opinion broke over these barriers; it lifted the curtain and revealed the horrors of that most abominable traffic; and unrighteous law and ancient custom and avarice and luxury gave way before its irresistible authority. It should never be forgotten that human law cannot change the nature of human action in the pure eye of infinite justice; and that the ordinances of man cannot annul those of God. The slave system, as existing in this country, can be considered in no other light than as the cause of which the foul traffic in human flesh is the legitimate consequence. It is the parent, the fosterer, the sole supporter of the slave-trade. It creates the demand for slaves, and the foreign supply will always be equal to the demand of consumption. It keeps the market open. It offers inducements to the slave-trader which no severity of law against his traffic can overcome. By our laws his trade is piracy; while slavery, to which alone it owes its existence, is protected and cherished, and those engaged in it are rewarded by an increase of political power proportioned to the increase of their stock of human beings! To steal the natives of Africa is a crime worthy of an ignominious death; but to steal and enslave annually nearly one hundred thousand of the descendants of these stolen natives, born in this country, is considered altogether excusable and proper! For my own part, I know no difference between robbery in Africa and robbery at home. I could with as quiet a conscience engage in the one as the other.

"There is not one general principle," justly remarks Lord Nugent, "on which the slave-trade is to be stigmatized which does not impeach slavery itself." Kindred in iniquity, both must fall speedily, fall together, and be consigned to the same dishonorable grave. The spirit which is thrilling through every nerve of England is awakening America from her sleep of death. Who, among our statesmen, would not shrink from the baneful reputation of having supported by his legislative influence the slave-trade, the traffic in human flesh? Let them then beware; for the time is near at hand when the present defenders of slavery will sink under the same fatal reputation, and leave to posterity a memory which will blacken through all future time, a legacy of infamy.

"Let us not betake us to the common arts and stratagems of nations, but fear God, and put away the evil which provokes Him; and trust not in man, but in the living God; and it shall go well for England!" This counsel, given by the purehearted William Penn, in a former age, is about to be followed in the present. An intense and powerful feeling is working in the mighty heart of England; it is speaking through the lips of Brougham and Buxton and O'Connell, and demanding justice in the name of humanity and according to the righteous law of God. The immediate emancipation of eight hundred thousand slaves is demanded with an authority which cannot much longer be disputed or trifled with. That demand will be obeyed; justice will be done; the heavy burdens will be unloosed; the oppressed set free. It shall go well for England.

And when the stain on our own escutcheon shall be seen no more; when the Declaration of our Independence and the practice of our people shall agree; when truth shall be exalted among us; when love shall take the place of wrong; when all the baneful pride and prejudice of caste and color shall fall forever; when under one common sun of political liberty the slave-holding portions of our republic shall no longer sit, like the Egyptians of old, themselves mantled in thick darkness, while all around them is glowing with the blessed light of freedom and equality, then, and not till then, shall it go well for America!
Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works