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quoted in which slavery is represented as the corner-stone of republican freedom, and the only means by which the introduction of royalty and a hereditary nobility can be prevented in non-slaveholding states. The amount is, that those who hold property in men, would persuade all those who hold property in things, that all attacks upon slavery are virtually assaults upon property; and that instead of trying to convert the slaves of the South into free laborers, the men of property should combine to convert all laborers into slaves.
We would trust that there is among the men of property in the non-slaveholding states too much respect for what is worth more than wealth, to make them overlook the difference between men and things, and to think themselves more closely united with slave-owners than with those who own nothing but their own souls and bodies. Still, it cannot be denied that at the North as well as at the South, slavery has been defended on the ground of its being a species of property. Nay more, the anti-abolition mobs which have disgraced many of our towns, and particularly our cities, have not been excited and promoted by those whose personal rights are their all, but by "men of property and standing," as they called themselves or were called by the newspapers and journals devoted to their interests. Many men of property, indeed, have disapproved of these criminal proceedings; but if the object of the mobs had been an attack upon a bank, or other depository of money, would our monied men have confined themselves to a mere expression of disapprobation?
Under such circumstances, it becomes those who have not lost all sense of the dignity of human nature, to declare that they consider the personal rights of man as the foundation of every other; and that they cannot recognize any property which is inconsistent with that which every human being holds in his own soul and body. If there ever is to be in this country a party that shall take its character and name not from particular liberal measures, or popular men, but from its uncompromising and consistent adherence to Freedom-a truly liberal, and thoroughly republican party—it must direct its first decided effort against
* Gov. M'Duffie's Message to the Legislature of South Carolina; Mr. Calhoun's Report; and the speeches of Mr. Pickens, and other advocates of Slavery.
the grossest form, the most complete manifestation of Oppression; and having taken anti-slavery ground, it must carry out the principle of Liberty in all its consequences. It must support every measure conducive to the greatest possible individual, and social, moral, intellectual, religious, and political freedom, whether that measure be brought forward by inconsistent slaveholders, or consistent freemen. It must embrace the whole sphere of human action, watching and opposing the slightest illiberal, anti-republican tendency; and concentrating its whole force and influence against Slavery itself, in comparison with which, every other species of tyranny is tolerable, by which every other is strengthened and justified.
SLAVERY AND THE CONSTITUTION.
BY REV. SAMUEL J. MAY.
WHEREVER the Abolitionist goes to plead the cause of our enslaved countrymen, he is met with the objection very confidently urged in bar of his proceeding, that an arrangement was made in the Constitution of this confederacy, by which the people of the non-slaveholding States are bound not to attempt in any way the overthrow of Slavery. The alleged compact, it is urged, obliged our predecessors, who were the first parties to it, and obliges us, who have succeeded to the blessings of the "glorious union" they effected on this condition, silently to acquiesce in the continuance of that accursed system of physical oppression, civil degradation and soul-murder; nay more, to co-operate actively to enforce it, if at any time our Southern brethren may need our assistance. This objection is met with every where. It is flippantly iterated by thousands, who never read the Constitution of the United States. It has been passionately insisted on by some of the members of Congress-resounded furiously in the public meetings of citizens that have been held in every city and almost every considerable town at the South; echoed with equal emphasis from the pro-slavery meetings at the North; and even re-echoed from the desecrated walls of Faneuil Hall.
It has been gravely urged by the professed ministers of the everlasting Gospel of peace and righteousness; and set forth even in the annual speeches or messages of the governors of the northern not less than of the southern states. This objection has been made the pretext of all the pro-slavery mobs which have rioted the past year through the land, led on by "gentlemen of property and standing" who have gone unpunished by the ministers of justice, and half excused by the guardians of the public weal. It has been given by many as the reason why they have withheld themselves from the cause of those who are pining in our country under the most abject bondage; and has even led some, who have put their hands to the plough, to faulter and look back. In one word, we may say of this objection, that it is made "the stone of stumbling and the rock in the way" of that reformation which alone can avert ruin from our country. Several of the advocates of our holy cause have exposed with great clearness the futility of this objection, but we have thought it deserves a still more complete refutation. This we propose to attempt in the following pages.
We owe it to the memory of those venerated men whose names are conspicuous in the early history of our Repubpublic, and who are accused of having entered into such an iniquitous agreement, to exonerate them, if we can, from the tremendous responsibility that is laid upon them by our opposers. If this cannot be fairly done, we owe it to the cause of justice and humanity to let them be despoiled of the high reputation they have hitherto enjoyed, and ge down to posterity covered with the infamy they will deserve. What heavier charge could be alleged against them? It is claimed that those very men who had roused the people of the American Colonies to a sense of their wrongs, by clear expositions of the natural and civil rights of man-who had proclaimed to an oppressed world the soul-stirring doctrines of the Declaration-had encouraged their fellow subjects to rise in the confidence of right principles, and attempt their own deliverance from colonial subjeci on had stimulated them to persevere in the unequal contest by thrilling appeals to the love of liberty-had guided them by their wisdom in counsel, and animated them by their courage in the field;—it is claimed that those men who had solemnly pledged "their lives, their fortunes and
their sacred honor" "to the cause of Freedom and of Human Rights," did afterwards guaranty to the Southern States the unquestioned exercise of their assumed right to enforce the enslavement of one sixth part of the population of the land, many of whom had shared with them in all the hardships and perils of their struggle for independence. A heavier accusation of inconsistency, treachery and base ingratitude could not be sustained against the leading men of any nation in any age. We long to prove them not guilty; and shall therefore incline to such a construction of all their acts as will be consistent with the high principles they professed, and for which they dared and suffered so much. But we purpose not to force their deeds into an accordance with their words. If their conduct will not endure a fair investigation-if they were not truly upright and honorable men, lovers of liberty and friends of human rights-we shall leave them to their fate-leave them to be abhorred as hypocrites, false friends, and the worst enemies of their race. But after much consideration of the Constitution which they framed, we enter upon an exposition of it, in full confidence that we shall be able fairly to acquit them of the charge brought against them, and rescue their names from the infamy to which our opposers would consign them-an infamy which could not be too deep, if they did indeed pledge the integrity of the Union, and the good faith of the non-slaveholding states in particular, that the oppressors of our colored population should be undisturbed in their wickedness, even by the voice of remonstrance; and be sustained and protected by the physical force of the nation.
In order to judge fairly of what the framers of the Constitution actually did with respect to slavery, or to draw any correct inferences as to what they intended to do, we must know what they had it in their power to do; what the circumstances under which they were appointed to act, permitted them to do. They were not convened to form the Union of the American States, nor to propose the principles upon which that Union should be formed. That Union had already subsisted twelve years, when the delegates who formed our present Constitution were assembled. This Republic was originally composed of what were thirteen Colonies of Great Britain, independent of each other,
and more or less subject to the mother country under charter, proprietary or royal governments. The union of those colonies was a result to which they were impelled by the urgency of similar grievances, and the solicitation of obvious mutual advantages. It was a result, at which they arrived by successive approaches. Repeatedly had they been required to act in concert to repel a common danger, or to promote the general good. And as long ago as 1754, seven of them sent commissioners, who met at Albany, and unanimously resolved that a union of the colonies was absolutely necessary for their preservation, and proposed a plan of general government. In October 1768, a congress of delegates from nine colonies assembled at New-York, and digested a Bill of Rights on the subject of taxation.In September 1774 an association of twelve colonies was formed, and delegates authorized to meet and consult for the common welfare. In 1775 the first congress of the thirteen colonies assembled at Philadelphia; and in July 1776, issued the Declaration of Independence. In November 1777 congress agreed upon the celebrated articles of confederation, under which the then United States successfully terminated the Revolution. This was the first formation of a general govemment, and it continued until the present Constitution was substituted for it in 1788.
It would be seen by a glance at the history of these successive steps, that they were taken to avert some evils threatening the colonies, or to secure some benefits to be obtained only by united effort. And from the beginning to the consummation of the union, we should observe the utmost jealousy of any unnecessary encroachment upon the power of the states. The thought of an independent general government, probably, did not enter into the public mind, until the revolutionary war had actually commenced. And to suppose that this republic took its rise in a desire of the people generally throughout the country, to establish a government, based upon the equal rights of man, would betray great ignorance of our national history. No doubt the true principles of a republic were as imperfectly appreciated, and as little relished by some of those who became members of our confederacy, as they are now, or were then, by the privileged classes under the monarchies or aristocracies of Europe. In New England where, under their charters, the people