Page images

Because they are produced by slave labor-that is, by forced and unrequited toil: because from the poor, by whose labor they are obtained, their bodies are stolen-their time is stolen; their wages are stolen; their liberty is stolen; their right to their wives and children, is stolen; their right to cultivate their minds, and to worship God as they please, is stolen; their reputation is stolen; hope is stolen, and all virtuous motives are taken away, by a legalized system of most merciless and consummate iniquity. Such is the expense at which articles produced by slave labor, are obtainedthey are always heavy with the groans, and often wet with the blood, of the guiltless and suffering poor.

It will be perceived, that by slave produce, articles, obtained, viciously by free and hired labor, are not meant. A merchant may impose upon you, in the quality, &c., of his goods; a farmer of his produce; a shoe-maker of his leather ; a tailor, of his work; a lawyer may flatter or betray youand a minister may leave you at peace in your sins-and all these are abomniable things-but they are not slave produce! If you deal fairly with the merchant, and the farmer, and the shoe-maker, and the tailor, and the lawyer, and the minister, &c., their guilt is on their own heads; you do not compel it; you do not sustain others in compelling it; it is all their own. "You must needs go out of the world," 1. Cor. v. 10, if you would avoid all commingling with such things. The occupations themselves, together with the articles which they supply, are lawful and right. But it is not so, with slave-produce. The business of holding slaves, is, in itself, eminently felonious; and sugar, molasses, rum, &c. &c., wrung by force out of the unrequited toil of the outraged poor, are stolen goods, obtained by the worst species of fraud. The occupation is the most criminal on earth; and the articles which it supplies, are, of all others the most loaded with robbery and wrong.

I affirm, that it is a transgression of the divine law, to purchase or consume such articles, without a strict necessity: and my reasons are the following.

Slaveholders generally hold slaves, in order to make money by their labor. Some, I know, hold slaves, especially domestic slaves, for purposes baser still; and some, I am willing to suppose, hold slaves temporarily, for better purposes; but generally, and so far only, my argument goes

slaveholders hold slaves, in order to make money by their labor. For this purpose, the slaves are put to cultivate the cane, cotton, rice, tobacco, indigo, &c., and sugar, molasses, rum, cotton, rice, tobacco and indigo are brought by these nefarious means into the market.

Yonder then are the hogsheads of sugar and molasses; yonder are the puncheons of rum; yonder are the bales of cotton; and yonder, the rice and the tobacco and the indigo! Now suppose that no one would buy them, because obtained by robbery. Suppose that the cry of our brothers wrongs, going up to heaven against their oppresors were to turn our hearts within us; we, feeling for the down-trodden sufferers as we would wish them to feel for us, were our situations exchanged, what would become of the sugar molasses, rum, &c. &c.!! No one buys them. No one consumes them--not because they are not wanted; for they are wanted; but because the curse of the suffering and outraged poor is upon them; there they lie, mouldering, putrefying! Will the masters go on to raise another crop, by the same nefarious means; the former still mouldering and putrefying on their hands. Certainly not, if the principle stand firm against their tear-bedewed, their groan-burthened, their curse-commingled, their blood-polluted produce! and as certainly, all men wanting these things, and being eager to purchase them as soon as they can be honestly obtained, would not these same slaveholders, idolizing money and its accommodations as they do, procure these same things for us, by honest and manly means, as they may do, whenever they please, rather than ruin themselves, out of their love for fruitless tyranny? They indeed love tyranny, as all men love power, no doubt for its own sake-but they love it ten times as much for the sake of its golden fruit. Throw its golden fruit into the opposite scale, and the fair rights of men, instead of the nefarious rights of tyrants, would quickly become their choice.

What prevents this result?

It is not power, nor the love of power-for neither of these could be sustained in civilized society, without money! It is not exclusively the wickedness of the slaveholder, or of the slave trader, for as both of these are too lazy to work, and too proud to beg, they would soon perish with their putrid and unsaleable goods, unless they would so far relax their wickedness as to bring to us honestly-gotten, instead

of atrociously stolen goods! goods in obtaining which the laborer had been treated like a man, instead of being plundered of all that is most dear to man, of all that most powerfully conduces to make man, man!

But what is it that prevents the result above mentioned? What is it, which causes the slaveholder still to hug to his bosom, the nefarious system, and to rave like a goaded bull, whenever it is assailed?

[ocr errors]

It is simply and eminently the purchase and consumption of slave produce! The purchasers and consumers of slave produce, have slavery completely and despotically in their hands. They can crush it, lawfully, peaceably and effectually whenever they please, without a petition-without a remonstrance-without a lecture-without a paper a pamphlet or a pen, they can themselves abolish it. Let them refuse the purchase and consumption of its productions, and it is gone and the slave converted into a free laborer, will pour into the market, in return for his wages duly received, the articles which they covet, into the employer's pocket, the money which he worships, then obtained by him by honest enterprise.

The whole matter is comprised in this. The slaveholder for some reason or other (and his reasons are various) wants money and finds or thinks he finds his most convenient way to be, buying and driving to labor like beasts, his guiltless fellow men. The abolitionist, for some reason or other (and his reasons too, are various,) wants sugar, molasses, rum, cotton, tobacco, rice, &c., and finds that he can most conveniently supply himself by buying from the slaveholder, either directly or indirectly, the sugar, molasses, &c. &c., of which the slaveholder has become proprietor by the most deliberate, atrocious and complicated villainy. Both are satisfied-and both equally at the expense of the outraged and guiltless poor. The slaveholder is the hireling. The abolitionist, is the hirer. If there were no slaveholders (no hirelings of this description) there would be no slaves. And if there were no purchasers and consumers of slave produce, there would be no slaveholders. Human wants call for these articles. "I will supply you" cries free labor. "But I," cries slave labor, "will more cheaply and conveniently supply you," love and equity interfere, and exclaim, "yes, slave labor will supply you; but it will be at the expense of a system of iniquity, at

"which human nature shudders; which is essentially un"der the divine curse-and against which truth is lifting up "her holy and trumpet voice." "Yes, slave labor will sup"ply you," groans the slave, "but it will be at the expense of "my tears and of my blood; it will be at the expense of blot"ting me as far as possible out of being as a man, and of con"signing me to ignorance, pollution, disgrace, bondage, suf"fering and despair." "Who will supply me most conve"niently and cheaply," cries human want. "I," vociferates "slave labor. "Then from you will I buy," replies the other, "I indeed pity the slave, condemn the slaveholder, and "abhor slavery; but sugar, &c., I want-and sugar I will "have; and who don't see that it would be a greater evil for (C me to pay two or three cents a pound more for it, than it "is for the slave to suffer the loss of all things in being driven. "like a beast to procure it for me."

But plain and solemn as these things undeniably are-and imperative as is the soul trying duty which they involve, still difficulties are made. I proceed to notice some of them from a person, whose general principles and conduct, I admire and love, as much as I detest and lament the opinions which he asserts on this subject. I mean the editor of the Quarterly Anti-Slavery Magazine, Vol. I, No. 4, page 393. "On abstinence from the products of slave labor." I cordially yield him the credit of sincerely intending right-so, I should, as cordially, to many a slaveholder! but the sincere delusion of neither one nor the other, could sanction in my eyes, the pernicious principles or practices which they sustained.

"To help to a right decision," says my friend," we sometimes meet with an argument which may be comprised in the following syllogism. If slave-holding is a heinous crime in the sight of God, all participation in it, must be also criminal. But using the products of slave labor, is a participation in slaveholding. Therefore using the products of slave labor, must be criminal." To the minor proposition of this syllogism, viz:-"that using the products of slave-labor, is a participation in slaveholding," ing," my friend demurs. Yet what can be a more self-evident fact? the fact the same, whether we do it, consciously or unconsciously. Ignorantly I may poison a man-ignorantly I may abet another in a thousand crimes; but my

ignorance, neither renders poison heathful, nor crime innocent, nor does it at all alter the fact of my participation. If my ignorance was fairly excusable, then am I innocent-this is a fundamental difference, in the morality of the act, if my ignorance was not fairly excusable, then am I guilty; the participation as a matter of fact being the same in both cases; but differing in its morality-in the one case being innocent, in the other, criminal! I fully agree with my friend that very little sugar or cotton, &c., is consumed with the intention of thereby maintaining the bondage of the slave and whenever excusable ignorance exists of the fact, that such consumption does actually and powerfully maintain the bondage, I entirely believe that there is no crime. But I as decidedly, aver, that that consumption does maintain that bondage, and that it is criminal, whenever the fact might have been known. Nothing can be more undeniable, than that if the products of slave labor were not consumed, they would not be bought, if they were not bought, they would not be raised, if they were not raised, slaves would not be wanted--and if slaves were not wanted, there would be no slaves-but we should have the same articles, by honest enterprise, and by willing and requited labor, free from the tears and the blood of the innocent and outraged poor!

But, says my friend-" In order to show that our use of "these or other products does actually have the effect, to aid "and encourage the slaveholder to continue his sin, it must "be shown that our abstinence will prevent, or at least tend to "prevent his continuance. And this cannot be done, without "showing a reasonable probability, that our abstinence will "produce a sensible effect upon the market."

Surely my friend, when he penned the above, must have forgotten Mark xii. 41. 44. How much did the two mites of our blessed sister of old tend to the preservation of the temple? And what probability was there, that if she had kept her two mites in her own pocket, her parsimony, would have produced any sensible effect upon its magnificence? Her two mites were in value, about one cent. Estimate the temple and its revenue at $500,000, and her share would be 1-50,000,000 (one fifty millionth part.) Her two mites then tended one fifty millionth part, towards the preservation of the temple; if she had withheld them, 1-50,000,000 part would have been withheld; but how difficult it would

« PreviousContinue »