Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

spire to smother all discussion, is alarming and ominous to the republic.

5. The reader will bear with me, while I mention finally, one peculiar feature of American Slavery, which, while it operates equally with the things already specified, to lull suspicion and smother discussion, also tends to reconcile the nation to all the horrid deformities of the system. I refer to that prevailing prejudice which is felt toward the enslaved. This prejudice, which regards both the color and the condition of the slave, is as strong as it is extensive. It is considered by the great mass of the community, both North and South, to be natural, and it is declared to be utterly invincible. With this question I have nothing to do here. My object is to show how the prevalence of this prejudice enhances the danger to which our country is exposed from slavery. Our feelings with regard to any evil, will depend almost entirely upon our feelings towards those who suffer the evil. If we admire the sufferer, we abhor the occasion of the suffering, if it be in its nature blameworthy. If we despise the victim of wrong, we shall be disposed to tolerate, if not to approve, the wrong. In this way oppression itself, and that too, of the most atrocious character, may change grounds in our estimation. For example, when the Greeks contended for freedom, why did every American bosom burn with indignation against their Turkish oppressors ? Because we remembered the glory of the Grecian name, admired the descendants of Homer, Demosthenes, and Leonidas, and sympathized with them in their sufferings. Had the case been reversed, and had the barbarous Turk been struggling against the oppressions of the classic Greek, American feeling, would, in all probability, have been wholly different. All our associations would have led us to sympathize with the oppressor, and connive at the oppression. Now observe the common feeling in this country towards the slaves. We hate their persons, both for their own degradation, and that of their ancestry, and still more because of their color. Of course we disregard their rights and their interests, and we not unfrequently doubt whether they were not made to be slaves. Our sympathies are with the master--none flow for the slave. We feel more concern for the purse of the former, than we do for the body and soul of the latter. With such feelings as these, what will be our judgment concerning the

oppression itself under which the slave lives? How great is the liability--nay how certain are we to love that oppression, though it be the very principle against which all our institutions and prejudices are arrayed ! Such is our attitude now, and such our iminent danger of becoming friendly to the principle of oppression !

What an admirable maneuvre ! that despotism, in meditating an assault opon our republic, should make his first attack upon a despised class ! In no other way could he have eluded the vigilance of republicans, so as to effect an entrance, and to establish himself amongst them. Now he has time and opportunity to lay out all his plans, and perfect his infernal machinery for the destruction of our liberties, without being once suspected, or incurring the slightest investigation into his designs. He comes, too, openly, and enlists every prejudice in his favor ; for he comes to take the management of a class, who never can be admitted to the immunities of free government. He brings with him all the insignia of his power-whips, auction hammers, chains, bolts and bars—and he is not afraid to hang them up to the public gaze, for they are only for the benefit of the black population. Behind him conies his sooty train of attendants—starvation, nakedness, ignorance, woe, licentiousness and heathenism ; but no matter, so long as their dispensation is confined to the black population. Meanwhile the American mind is becoming familiarized with the features of the monster, and this is the very thing which he wishes ! To this end he makes his operations as public as possible. He selects the capitol of the nation as the seat of his principal markets. There he builds his factories and dungeons, and if possible he secures the use of the United States Pris

For the same purpose of publicity, he marches his victims, by hundreds, chained and handcuffed, over the whole breadth of the land, from Maryland to Georgia. With the same end in view, he repeatedly transports his freight by steam-boats, taking care to select the most crowded vessel with its full share of northern passengers, and embarking if possible, from the most public point. All this is done in the broad glare of daylight, to habituate the American eye to the machinery of despotism. In the mean time there are no counteracting influences-no general outcry against these abominations-no summoning of the energies of truth to

on.

repel them. The necessary result is, the public mind is becoming more and more reconciled to the principles of despotism. American hostility is moderating, and the prejudices and habits of the community are conforming-gradually indeed, and almost imperceptibly, save to the practiced eye of the monster himself. The grand maneuvre is working wonderfully. A little more familiarity with Despotism will lead to friendship for him. A little longer toleration, will terminate in admirationand Then, white American citizens will be ready to have the yoke placed upon their necks, and the fetters fastened on their limbs. Then the catastrophe will have come—the consummation of the monster's plansand a slavery more atrocious than Turkish Despotism will reign over the countrymen of Washington !

Let no one who is convinced of the correctness of this representation, persuade himself, nevertheless, that the day of so awful a catastrophe is remote. Rather let us examine the signs of the times, and see whether destruction be not even at our door! Let us look into past events, and see if the steps detailed above, all save the last, have not already been taken. What are some of the facts of every day. occurrence ?

1st. The populace are set above the law. By what authority? Their own ? Nay, verily, but by the deliberately expressed opinion of Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and Judges. Who does not know that this is a monstrous departure from long established principles of government ? Here is one step !

2d. The prominent feature of republicanism is obscured. What is that ? Protection of human rights. This principle has fallen into the back ground, and protection of domestic slavery has taken its place. About this centre, the politics, patriotism, morality and religion of the country revolve. Another step !

3d. True devotion to liberty has been exchanged for miserable pratingabout it. Time was when liberty was a good in itself, for the securing of which no sacrifice was too great. Now it is a good only as connected with slavery. Formerly it was a something which could be felt and enjoyed, far better than it could be talked of. Now it dwells on the lip, rather than in the heart. Fulsome adulation and hollow hearted flattery compose the devotions which are paid to liberty.

Instance, Fourth of July speeches, Liberty meetings, pro-Texas, and anti-abolition meetings in concert.* Another step!

4th. The right of petition is legislated away, and the Press is silent. Proof-Pinckney's resolutions in Congress : Another step!

5th. Our nation has deserted the cause of Human Liberty—a cause which sprung into being with her, and was borne widely abroad by her sympathies and prayers. With the eyes of the world upon her, our nation has backed out from this cause, and given herself up to the prosecution of selfish purposes, and to idle gasconading about her superiority to other nations. Another step!

6th. Free discussion and the liberty of the Press-the foundation of the Republic—are virtually annihilated by being surrendered to the control of mobocratic caprice. Ano ther step!

7th. The practicability of Republicanism is extensively questioned by the high and low. Sure indication that they are becoming tired of the present form of government, and wish to try some form more in unison with their favorite system of slavery. Another step!

8th. The Union is no longer the common object of political veneration, upon whose altar local interests, sectional feelings, and state jealousies, are to be laid. Slavery is the idol, and union the appointed sacrifice to be offered up whenever demanded. The sentiment is no longer "Liberty and Union,” but “Slavery first and Union afterwards.” Another step!

9th. And last. The first truth that all men should be free, is boldly denied.

# I quote the following from the Cincinnati Journal and Luminary, together with the comments of the Editor, as a striking illustration of the mouthing, inconsistent, hypocritical republicanism of the present day:

“ At a meeting held in this city last month, in favor of Texas, the following resolutions, moved by N. C. Read Esq., were adopted :

" That we regard every war designed for the subversion of tyranny, and the establishment of liberty, as a holy war, entitled to the strong sympathy and ardent support of every freeman,

* That all laws, international or domestic, having a tendency to enslave mankind, or any portion of the human family, are unnatural, a libel upon heaven, and being instruments enacted 'by tyrants' for their own benefit, ought not to be recognized by freemen, as an obstacle preventing them from lending their assistance to the Texians, or any other people struggling for liberty."

The above resolutions were sustained by an address from the Hon. R. T. Lytle, who made an address at the anti-abolition meeting in this city. We hardly know how to reconcile principles so widely variant.

[ocr errors]

What shameless assertions—what shocking doctrines what monstrous theories, have not appreared within the last one or two years! The Declaration of Independence has been called a “Rhetorical Flourish." Slavery has been styled “ The corner stone of the Republican Edifice"_"an essential element in a free Government.” The laboring classes “ bleached and unbleached," have been doomed to slavery for the public good. The poor it is said must be governed by a system of force. Even prophecy has been essayed, and it is gravely augured that so soon as the institutions of the northern states become settled on their permanent basis, they will be slaveholding states, and this, it is said will most probably take place“ before a quarter of a century."

The very pillars of liberty have been violently assailed! The old basis of equal rights, which our fathers layed beneath the Republic, is now to be removed, in order that domestic slavery may be substituted. And by whom has this been done? By our most prominent statesmen. Such doctrines have issued from the halls of Congress. And how have they been received ? Let the silence of the Press answer—let the insensibility of the people answer. Another

step!

And here pause, my countrymen, ere you take another step, for that may be your last.

I speak to those who still love the cause of human liberty, be they few or many, and many they are even yet I trust. To all such, who love to anticipate the disenthralment of mankind, and expect their country to move forward in this glorious enterprise-to all such I say, let us array our moral forces, and rally about the falling standard of freedom in our own country. Let us proclaim a war against despotism, every where, but especially in our own republic. Let us drag out the monster from his refuge in our holy temple of Liberty. Let us expose his horrid deformities. Let us raise the note of alarm in the ears of our slumbering nation, and reason, remonstrate, beseech and startle them, until they come up to our help, and expel the spirit of despotism from our shores. Then, and not till then, shall we spread the rapid victories of human liberty over distant nations, and conquer the world.

« ZurückWeiter »