« ZurückWeiter »
citizens to the public square, and shamefully scourge their naked bodies. If this will not do, we demolish the press, and rifle the sanctuary of God. If all these sacrifices will not appease his wrath, we threaten to dissolve the union. Here then is our greatest enemy in our midst, possessing every advantage of position, confidence and affection, and incessantly infusing his poison into our free institutions. If my countrymen any longer allow their suspicions to sleep on this subject, while they keep up the show of vigilance towards foreign despotisms—if, I say, they suffer the serpent to lie coiled in their very bosom, while they start at a reptile's hiss coming from beyond the ocean—then indeed is there reason to fear that they are smitten with that infatuation which precedes destruction. If suspicion is not awakened speedily, our liberties are lost forever. · But 3. It is an appalling fact, that the circumstances which surround American slavery are calculated to disarm us of all suspicion ! Several of these circumstances I will beg leave to mention.
1st. This system of slavery exists in a free government, and is itself one of the institutions of a free people. Why then should we suspect it ? every one might exclaim. It is intimately associated with the genius of liberty-how can it be “a monster of such horrid mien ?" It is sanctioned by our laws and protected by our constitution-can it be the nullifier of all law and constitutions? It is the very cement of our union, insomuch, that if it be removed, it is said the union will be at once dissolved-can it be the enemy of our government ? Incredible! If it were, it would not be harbored for a moment, much less would it be elevated to a conspicuous rank among the institutions of our land. Such is the conclusion to which the mass of minds would readily come. To this conclusion the whole station have come, and now they cry with one acclaim, “Away with suspicion -away with suspicion”—while the monster is silently sapping the foundation of our government !
2nd. This same system of slavery existed at the time when our government was formed; and yet the formers of our government, those wise and patriotic republicans, did not denounce it; nay, they were, many of them, slaveholders themselves! The very men who declared, at the peril of “ their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors,” that
“all men were born equal, and were endowed by nature with inalienable right to liberty”—were slaveholders! And the same men transmitted slavery, a joint inheritance with liberty, to their children! Now is there any thing in all this which proves slavery to be the enemy of our republic? Rather does not every thing conspire to make even the suspicion of such a thing sacrilegious ? The reader will see at once how powerful must be the operation of this reflection. It is by no means confined to the unthinking, but affects the most intelligent. It seizes directly upon that veneration for the Revolutionary heroes, which is one of the strongest feelings in the American bosom, and in this manner sways m ny minds which would otherwise detect its shallow sophistry
3rd. This system of slavery has been ever since the Revolution, and is now practised by the very men who manifest the greatest devotion to liberty. Look at the facts. Who are best qualified to be Presidents ?-Slaveholders. Who talk the loudest in Congress about our mighty republic ?--Slaveholders. Who write the most eloquently about our glorious institutions ?-Slaveholders. Who celebrate the 4th of July with the greatest patriotism and parade ?-Slaveholders. Who devote most of their time to eulogizing liberty in our bar-rooms and other temples of freedom ?--Slavehold
And what inference are we to draw from all these facts? What, but that slaveholding fosters republican feelings, and consequently that domestic slavery is “an essential element in a free government ?" It is true that Dr. Johnson, with keenest irony, exclaims, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes!" It is true also that the celebrated Burke declared, “that masters would, even more than other men, be attached to freedom, because with them it was not merely a right and a blessing, but a privilege and a distinction.” . But then it is known that Johnson was a monarchist, and Burke also, and what motive could they have had for assailing our favorite system, unless it was the malicious desire to stab our free institutions.
But here the question returns, shall we be alarmed about the tendencies of slavery, when our wisest politicians, and statesmen, and editors, are slaveholders? When in addition to this, those who stand next below the slaveholders in
the scale of patriotism, viz.: our northern politicians; statesmen and editors, et id omne genus, are the staunch defenders of domestic slavery? Would it not appear from such facts that actual slaveholding, where it is practicable, and at least, the pro-slavery spirit, is indispensable to the perfection of the republican spirit? Then, when we cast our eye upon the opposers of slavery, the alarmists, who are endeavoring to draw public odium upon the system-why, they are a mere handful of weak, pious fanatics, run mad about abstract rights, headed by a little knot of knavish christian conspirators, whose aim is to unite church and state, or to transform our glorious republic into an absolute despotism. This is evidence enough. “ Down with the incendiaries, away with suspicion-liberty and slavery forever!” and the thundering plaudit reverberates through all the land. The South cries “all is peace”-and the North responds “all is peace”—and though the gathering wrath of God replies, á no peace," yet the nation hears it not. Such is a picture of our country. The enemy is wide awake, but we are asleep. His dark and covert ruin steals rapidly on, yet we have no suspicions ! Soon the foundation will be gonesoon the pillars will tremble—and the republic- my countrymen, take the alarm!
I have now stated a few circumstances which tend to disarm the American people of all suspicion respecting their own system of slavery; and I have reiterated what the inevitable consequences must be. . .
4. I proceed to notice the fact, that free discussion in the non-slaveholding states on the subject of slavery, is in the same manner discouraged and smothered. I allude here, not to those direct obstacles which slaveholders and violent pro-slavery men, throw in the way of discussion; but to certain opinions, erroneous in fact, yet honestly entertained by northern mind, and by which, more than by all the anathemas of slaveholders and their apologists, the free states are deterred from the discussion of the slavery question. It needs only to be mentioned that discussion is necessary discussion among northern communities, and must precede the full developement of the anti-republican tendencies of slavery. Whatever therefore discourages the public mind from the discussion of this subject, tends to perpetuate slavery, and all the consequent evils which have been already
pointed out. I shall be better understood by mentioning some of the false opinions alluded to above, as deterring the people of the free states from discussing, or in any way interesting themselves, in the question of slavery.
1st. The northern states originally formed a compact with the South, by which they obligated themselves to refrain from all interference with slavery. It will be perceived that it does not enter into my plan at present, to refute these sentiments. I am to show how their existence will tend to smother free discussion. I shall therefore assume them to be erroneous. If it be believed that the North has made such a compact, then in order to observe good faith it would seem that they should say nothing about slavery, but leave it wholly to the South. If the North is debarred from all action in the case, then of course discussion is useless, and the Yankees had better spend their breath in some more profitable way. Many from this simple consideration, make a matter of conscience of it to "touch not, handle not,” nor even so much as think gravely of the subject, for fear they should become excited and break their covenant with the slaveholders.
2nd. Slavery is a very intricate subject. A thousand interests are at stake. The master's safety, and the security of his family, the quiet of community, commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural interests, in a word, all the interests of all the country, and the welfare of the slave besides --are involved in the slavery question. The profoundest minds of our nation have been turned to this subject; but they have not been able to solve the difficulty. Hence every one recoils from the slavery question. The South love to have their system invested with mystery, and they assure the country that no one can know any thing about slavery but the slaveholders. The people of the North acquiesce and say, “better leave the whole matter with our brethren of the South.” Vast numbers are deterred from discussione on this ground.
3d. Slavery is a very delicate matter. It is more dangerous than a thousand powder magazines. Hands off. It must not be touched, lest it should explode and blow the Union into atoms. Many there are who would as soon carry a blazing torch through a powder mill, as to discuss the slavery question.
4th. If slavery is discussed and written about, the agitation will reach the slaves and cause insurrections. Love therefore for the generous people of the South, constrains the North to abstain from discussion.
5th. Slavery is a domestic institution, just as family government or household management. It is none of our business therefore, the North concludes, and common courtesy requires that we should be silent about it, however much we may dislike the system. We should at least refrain from any interference, until our aid is solicited. In this way the soundest statesmen, and the greatest divines reason. The same sentiment will be found every where through the North, and it serves as an effectual quietus to discussion.
6th. Slavery is a political question. What then? Why of course ministers must not discuss it; the church too must steer clear of it, lest forsooth she lose her spirituality. As for females, they must not even so much as think of slavery, seeing it is wholly unbecoming their sex to know any thing about political questions. Furthermore northern politicians must not intermeddle with slavery, for it belongs exclusively to southern politics. Of course the common people, both North and South, should avoid the question, for they are not versed in the subtleties of political controversy. So then it is reduced to this—that Southern politicians are the only persons in the world who have any right to discuss the merits of American slavery! And yet, ridiculous as this is, it is extensively believed ! Ministers excuse themselves on this principle, and the church overlooks unparalleled wrong and steels her heart against the Lord's poor, on the same flimsy pretext. Such are the difficulties which stare the mass of northern men in the face, and compel them to refrain from discussion, just as they would shrink from treason. Honest mistakes on these points have doubtless in many cases been the remote cause of that bitter opposition to discussion, which has manifested itself in mob violence.
It must be evident that, if slavery be a dangerous element in a free government, its danger is increased an hundred fold, from the obstacles which lie in the way of the free discussion and fair understanding of its tendencies. If American slavery were only discussed fully by northern communities, our country would have nothing to fear; but that a most wonderful combination of circumstances should con