Page images
PDF
EPUB

slave himself imperatively demands it. The interest of the master, of the United States, of the world, nay, of humanity itself, says, keep the slave in his bondage; treat him humanely, teach him Christianity, care for him in sickness and old age, and make his bondage light as may be; but above all, keep him a slave and in strict subordination; for that is his normal condition; the one in which alone he can promote the interest of himself or of his fellows.

If this is not the language of political philosophy and true philanthropy, if this is not right, then are my most ardent convictions and the most generous impulses of my heart but shallow and false delusions; and I pray to be enlightened, as one who would, if possible, rise above all the surroundings of prejudice and section to view this great question solely by the pure and unflickering light of truth.

Such being our circumstances, and such our convictions, it is time for the opponents of slavery to know, and to be warned, that it is something more than pecuniary interest that binds us to that nstitution. It is not, as we are often tauntingly told, a desire for gain, or an aversion to physical labor, that makes us jealous of any interference with slavery.

The principle is more deeply seated than this. The general welfare and prosperity of our country, the very foundation of our society, of our fortunes, and, to a greater or less extent, the personal safety of our people, combine to make us defend it to the last extremity. And neither considerations of the Federal Union, nor any other good, will allow us to permit any direct interference with our rights in this respect.

But we are to be lulled to sleep, and our fear quieted, as to the purposes of the Republican party, by the oft-repeated assertions of your leaders, that you do not intend to interfere with it in the States. You say, again and again, that you

only intend to prevent its extension into the Territories; and you complain that southern men will unjustly continue to charge you with interference with it inside the States. Mr. Seward, in his recent opiate, says:

“3. That the capital States [by which he is supposed to mean slave States] do not practically distinguish between legitimate and constitutional resistance to the extension of slavery in the common Territories of the Union, and unconstitutional aggression against slavery established by local laws in the capital States."

And Mr. Wade has laid it down recently, as one of the grand principles of the Republican party, that there shall be no interference with slavery inside the States. I contend, sir, that to prohibit slavery in all the Territories, by an act of Congress, or to refuse to admit a new State because she recognizes slavery, would be a direct and unequivocal interference, about which common sense will admit of no sort of doubt.

In the first place, because it materially impairs the value of my property to restrain my power to remove it; and especially to make it no longer my property when I take it into what Mr. Seward himself acknowledges to be “the common territory.” If your shoes and cotton fabrics were prohibited by Congress from entering the south, you would find their value impaired most woefully, and would justly regard it as an interference with the rights of trade.

In the second place, by surrounding the slave States with free territory, and building us in with an impassable wall, you would eventually force the abolition of slavery. Our population would become so dense, and our slaves so numerous, that we could not live; their value would depreciate to nothing, and we would not be able to keep them.

Do you not call this interference? If not, then what is it? A general desires to take a certain city; thinking it too strong. to be won by storm, he sits down with his army before it, draws his lines of circumvallation, cuts off its supplies, and, shutting off all communication, waits patiently for famine and domestic insurrection to do their work. True, he says, “Don't be alarmed in there; I am not going to interfere with your internal affairs; I have no right to do that; in fact, one of the rules of war in my camp is, no interference with the internal affairs of this city; my only intention is that you shall not spread, as you are a very sinful people.”

Yet that city, in spite of these protestations, would soon find itself subjugated and ruined. You are interfering with our rights in the most dangerous manner by thus seeking to violate one of the oldest and plainest principles of justice and

that you cannot do indirectly that which you are forbidden to do directly. The voice of the nation speaking through its representatives by a majority of four to one, North and South, affirmed this in 1838. In the twenty-fifth. Congress, Mr. Atherton, of New Hampshire, moved a series of resolutions on this subject, the third of which sets forth —

reason

[ocr errors]

“That Congress has no right to do that indirectly which it cannot do directly; and that the agitation of the subject of slavery in the District of Columbia or the Territories, as a means, and with the view of disturbing or overthrowing that institution in the several States is against the true spirit and meaning of the constitution, an infringement of the rights of the States affected, and a breach of the public faith upon which they entered into the Confederacy.”

Upon this resolution the yeas were one hundred and sixtyfour, and the nays forty. Well may you complain that the South will not distinguish between your resistance to the

extension of slavery into the Territories and a direct interference with its existence in the States. The acutest minds can only see a different means of attaining the same result.

In the third place, your agitation and eternal harangues have a direct and inevitable tendency to excite our slaves to insurrection. I know that you deny not only an intention to do so, but the effect also.

But you speak in ignorance or disregard of history. It is unnatural to suppose that the noise of this great conflict will not reach the negro's ear, and that your violent professions of regard for his rights will not make him believe that those who shelter him when he runs away, will not also help him to cut his master's throat. The constant denunciation of his owners by your crazy fanatics will make him regard them as monsters, and will cause him to cherish the coals of rebellion until they burst forth into a consuming fire.

Wilberforce and Macaulay did not even intend to abolish slavery in the West Indies when they began their struggle for the rights of the negro -- so they said — and they scouted the idea with horror that their agitation would lead to servile

And yet, when the shrieks of murdered men and outraged women went up through the hot roar of conflagration throughout those lovely islands, the raging demons of lust and brutality bore upon

their standards the name of Wilberforce, the philanthropist, beneath the effigy of a white woman kneeling at the feet of a negro, and on which was inscribed, “Liberty and white wives!

And so strongly do these facts press upon you, as the legal result of your abolition teachings, that we have witnessed the mortifying spectacle of gentlemen rising on this floor and solemnly declaring that they were not in favor of servile insurrection !

war

But all this injustice will you do, and all these dangers to our wives and children will you incur, rather than permit slavery to enter another Territory, or permit it to come into the Union as a slave State, even though the unanimous voice of the people thereof so desired it. And this Territory, which you mock us by calling

common, ” what do you intend to do with it?

Sir, there are some districts in the south, in which the widows of slain Mexican volunteers will outnumber the whole forces which some of your northern States had in the field during that war. And yet these widows and their orphans are not permitted to enter, with their property, upon these fair lands which their husbands purchased with their blood. They have not even the satisfaction of seeing them sold for the use of the public treasury. You thrust them aside; and, by what you call a “homestead bill,” propose to give them away to those among you who cannot pay one shilling per acre for homes.

The advocates of this agrarian iniquity unblushingly avow that it will enable them to ship off the refuse scum and redundant villainy of the cities of the north. Your highsounding catchwords of "homes for the homeless” and “lands for the landless” can deceive no one. Why not give also money to the moneyless, and shoes to the barefoot ? Why not imitate Rome, when growing corrupt, and distribute largesses of money and provisions among the people ?

It would be the same, with the difference that Rome robbed her provinces to feed her citizens, whilst you would rob your citizens to feed the provinces. Nay, you would feed the world; for every jail, workhouse, and penitentiary in Europe would be emptied in our Territories. The Atlantic Ocean would be bridged, and swarms would pour across to enter

« PreviousContinue »