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"to this subject; but it is still to us a question as difficult "as it is distressing. It is not now with us a question "whether a man may innocently hold property in his fel"low man, nor whether slavery is a sin; whether the in"terest and happiness of the white man are in any way pro"moted by enslaving and oppressing the black-reason, religion, humanity and the intelligence of the people of this "country, with united voice, have long since decided these "questions, and there is but one feeling and one opinion "among all who fear God and love their country, and en"tertain intelligent views of its true interest. "The whole country, and more especially the southern "states, as certainly groan under the pressure of their slave "population, as the colored man groans under his bondage."
It is evident that Dr. Welch sacrifices no time to the periodical literature of the day. He reads no abolition journals, he knows nothing of congressional debates and gubernatorial messages; nor does he trouble himself with the proceedings of Presbyteries, General Assemblies, and Methodist Conferences. It is, however, a little extraordinary, that he should be so wholly engrossed by the immediate duties of his profession, as not to have leisure to peruse the official documents issued by his own denomination. Possibly his admiration for "the decision of character" manifested by his English friend, may induce him to cast his eye over these pages, and in that case we would take the liberty of informing him, that the Baptist Register states the number of Baptist churches in the slave states at 3007, and the number of communicants at 217,513. We would farther inform him, that the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, in a letter dated "Baptist Missionary Rooms, Boston, Sept. 1, 1834," and addressed to "the Board of Baptist Ministers in and near London," expressly and unequivocally assert that the Baptist brethren in the southern states ARE GENERALLY BOTH MINISTERS AND PEOPLE, SLAVEHOLDERS." We hope this intelligence, strange, unexpected, and grievous as it must be to the Doctor, will not lead him to do injustice to the southern Baptists by supposing for a moment that they are sinners above all men; for we can assure him, however incredulous he may be, that they have the countenance and example of "Statesmen," and "Legislators," and "Scribes," and "Churches," and "Divines," of almost every
religious and political faith. Whether all these "fear God and love their country" we cannot inform him; but we will furnish him with a single fact out of an abundant stock in our possession, which we hope will enlighten him a little. as to the position occupied by his own church in relation to slavery. "The Charleston Baptist Association" presented a memorial to the Legislature of South Carolina at its last session, apparently with the view of forming an alliance. between church and state for the protection and perpetuation of slavery. From this memorial we extract the following:
"The undersigned would further represent that the said "association does not consider that the Holy Scriptures have "made the fact of slavery a question of morals at all. * The question it is believed, is purely one of "political economy. It amounts in effect to this—WHETHER "THE OPERATIVES OF A COUNTRY SHALL BE BOUGHT AND (6 SOLD, AND THEMSELVES BECOME PROPERTY, AS IN THIS "STATE; OR WHETHER THEY SHALL BECOME HIRELINGS, (C AND THEIR LABOR ONLY BECOME PROPERTY, AS IN SOME "OTHER STATES. In other words, whether an employer
may buy the whole time of the laborers at once, of those "who have a right to dispose of it, with a permanent rela"tion of protection and care over them, or whether he shall "be restricted to buy it in certain portions only, and subject "to their control, and with no such permanent relation of "care and protection. THE RIGHT OF MASTERS TO DIS"POSE OF THE TIME OF THEIR SLAVES HAS BEEN DIS(6 TINCTLY RECOGNIZED BY THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS, "WHO IS SURELY AT LIBERTY TO VEST THE RIGHT OF "PROPERTY OVER ANY OBJECT, IN WHOMSOEVER HE
* As it is a question purely of politi"cal economy, and one which in this country, is reserved "to the cognizance of the state governments severally, it is "further believed, that the state of South Carolina alone, "has the right to regulate the existence and condition of "slavery within her territorial limits; and should resist to "the utmost every invasion of this right, come from what "quarter and under whatever pretence it may."
BY THE EDITOR.
The History of VIRGIL A. STEWART and his adventure in capturing and exposing the great" Western Land Pirate" and his gang, in connection with the evidence, &c. Compiled by H. R. Howard. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1836. 12 mo. pp. 273.
It is a very common mistake to suppose that slavery verges towards a violent catastrophe just in proportion as the black preponderates over the white population. It may fairly be questioned whether a relative increase of the whites would not hasten such a catastrophe, rather than the reverse. The revolution of St. Domingo was not occasioned by the great disproportion of blacks; on the other hand, so far as this disproportion operated to give each and all of the whites a strong interest in the maintenance of slavery, it was favorable to its continuance. Where the two classes, as in our own slaveholding states, are about evenly divided, there must of necessity be a large proportion of whites who are not directly interested in the continuance of slavery. As it is of the nature of slavery to make free labor disreputable, the class of non-slaveholding whites within the atmosphere of slavery, must live by preying, in some form or other, upon the profits of the slaveholders.Slaves more than any other property tend to accumulate in The holder of a dozen negroes, even with his own industry, would find himself poorly prepared to compete in the market with the holder of a hundred, but he must be a nabob too. His dozen negroes have annihilated his industry, and the consequence will be that when their idle master has eaten up more than their profits, they must go to increase the hundred. The master of course will be added to the ever increasing number of gentlemen whose appetite for the common plunder greatly exceeds their means of getting at it. To this class belong the horse-racers, cockfighters, gamblers and speculators in general, who swarm throughout the South and contrive to relieve the great slaveholding planters of any inconvenient plethora. The more numerous this class, the more needy, and the more needy the less scrupulous about the morality of its mode of preying upon the great "domestic institution" of its coun-
try. It is by no means difficult to conceive, that it may ere long become sufficiently hungry and audacious to give serious trouble to the security of slave property itself.Hence perhaps some part of the anxiety of the planters to open Texas; it will relieve them for the present of these leeches. It is in the opening of a wilderness by slavelabor that they find the most abundant opportunities to fill themselves.
The work whose title we have placed at the head of these remarks, will amply serve to illustrate their meaning.Whatever may be thought of the truth of Virgil A. Stewart's story, the credit it has gained in the region where its scene is laid, is abundant proof that causes are at work in southern society, which if they have not produced this, must of necessity produce similar conspiracies. It is absolutely incredible that a disclosure so disgraceful to the South should be there believed, and the work in which it is embodied should there be tolerated, unless a foundation for it existed in the elements of southern society. The volume just got up by the Harpers goes chiefly we are informed to the southern market.
Virgil A. Stewart, the hero of this story, boasts to have entrapped the leader and master-spirit of a conspiracy among the class to which we have referred, extending throughout all the slave States, and which has been ripening the last eight years. The object of these conspirators has been to prey upon slave property, and they have adopted the following ingenious mode. Slaves are enticed away from their masters by the promise of their liberty, and are instructed how to act their part. They are passed through the clan to a distant place and then sold, but immediately afterwards re-stolen, carried further, and sold again. After playing at this game as long as they think safe, the conspirators destroy the principal evidence of their theft by murdering the negro! On the loss of two negroes by the Rev. John Henning, of Madison co. Tennessee, suspicion rested upon one of his neighbors by the name of Murrell. Virgil A. Stewart volunteered to pursue Murrell, who had started towards the Mississippi river, in order to discover whether he would take the negroes into his possession. Overtaking Murrell, to whom he professes to have been a stranger, he passed with him for the hunter of a
stray horse, got directly into his confidence, and agreed to accompany him into Arkansas. Murrell soon communicated, not only the theft of parson Henning's negroes, but an extended system of negro stealing which had been going on for years, and a plan for exciting a general insurrection of the slaves throughout the south-west, which was to be consummated on the 25th of December, 1835. Stewart, professing great admiration of the plan, accompanied Murrell to the general council of his confederates on an island in the Mississippi, and there made a speech greatly in commedation of their enterprise, which was well received. On his return Murrell gave him a list of the leading conspirators, which for the want of sufficient paper to write the names on, extended only to four hundred and fifty persons, from 16 to 60 being given in each slave state. It is worthy of remark that no names were given except in the slave sates.
Stewart lost no time, after his return, in having Murrell arrested on the charge of negro-stealing. On this charge he was condemned to ten years confinement in the penitentiary of Tennessee, upon the testimony of Stewart. According to the statements of the latter, the moment he was known to have betrayed Murrell, he became the object of the murderous hatred of the whole clan, of whom Murrell was the principal leader. They set all manner of traps for his life; they hired the people with whom he boarded to poison him; they waylaid him and beset him, three to one, with rifles and pistols. After finding that there was no safety for him in the southern country, being sorely wounded in an encounter with some of the clan, he resolved to flee to a foreign land, having committed his papers relative to the great conspiracy to the hands of a friend for publication. On his arriving at New Orleans, however, his friends persuaded him to turn back, on account of his health, to Cincinnati. In that city, during the winter of 1834-5 they jointly prepared and published "The Western Land Pirate." This pamphlet did not receive full faith at the North --and according to the present work, its credit was vigorously if not successfully opposed at the south. To show into what a state it threw the elements of southern society, we refer to the following passage on page 205:
"During this suspense of public opinion, the friends of