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nature of His relations to mankind, of course they were not more merciful to infidels. The Roman Catholic, who condemned a Protestant to be burnt alive here, and to be tormented for never ending millions of years hereafter, had nothing worse in store for the follower of Mahomet and of Menu. The difference seems to have been that they hated most the heretics, and despised most the heathens. The former they treated as rebels, the latter as enemies. They believed the deities of Paganism to be real existencies, to be devils in a state of permanent war with our Creator and Saviour, and their worshippers, therefore, to be the allies and auxiliaries of the enemies of God and of his people. They felt for them no more sympathy than we do for wolves or tigers; in fact, they felt less, for, though we delight in killing a tiger, we have no pleasure in torturing one.
When it occurred, therefore, to the Spaniards, that the tropical regions of the new hemisphere, which were then mortal to the white labourer, might perhaps be profitably cultivated by seizing negroes in Africa, and transporting them to America, the cruelty or the injustice of thus treating the negro was not an element in the deliberation. He was a heathen, a worshipper of devils, a vessel of wrath, created for the purpose of enduring eternal misery, and to give him a foretaste in this world of what was to be his fate in the next, was only carrying out the decrees of Providence. The experiment was tried and succeeded. The English and the Dutch followed in this respect, as in her other colonial follies and enormities, the example of Spain. They were at that time the wisest and the most religious nations of the world. One of them had just conquered her independence and her freedom, the other was preparing for the long contest which ended in the British Constitution; but they had no more scruples about enslaving heathens than they had about enslaving horses.
These opinions, however, though they enabled the British settler to kidnap or purchase, and work to death, without compunction, the natives of Africa, did not justify retaining in servitude their children born in Barbadoes or Virginia, whom it was obviously his duty to educate as Christians, and, therefore, as equals in the sight of God to himself.
Another prejudice came to the aid of the planter's cupidity, and enabled him, as he thought, to reconcile his interests and his religion. The Bible was at that time considered by all, as it is now by many, as a single book, every word of which had been dictated by God. Little distinction was made between what Moses was forced, by the hardness of his countrymen's hearts, to tolerate, and what was a moral rule of general and eternal obli
gation. The laws, which we now perceive to have been temporarily laid down for the guidance of semi-barbarians living under a theocracy, were then supposed to be also addressed to the fellow-countrymen and contemporaries of Bacon and Milton. Some of the New England States extracted from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy their municipal code, and fancied that they thus obtained institutions wiser than any that man could invent.* Among these institutions was domestic slavery; palliated indeed in some respects when the slave was a Hebrew, but in others carried to its worst abuses.
• If thou buy an Hebrew servant,' says the Book of Exodus, • six years shall he serve, and the seventh he shall go free for • nothing. If his master have given him a wife, and she have
borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall • be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if a man * sell his daughter to be a maid servant, she shall not go out as • the men servants do. If a man smite his servant or his maid • with a rod, and he die under his hand, he shall be surely
punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he • shall not be punished : for he is his money.' †
• Of the heathen that are round about you,' says the Book of Leviticus, . shall ye buy bond men and bond maids. Moreover,
of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families which they •begat in your land, and they shall be your possession. And
ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after 'you, to inherit them for a possession ; they shall be your bond men for ever.' 1
* This error has been admirably illustrated by Archbishop Whately :-Christians acknowledge that the Mosaic Dispensation came from God. And that that, and also the Christian Dispensation, are contained in the volume which we call the Bible. Now any one who regards the Bible (as many Christians do) as one book, * containing divine instructions, without having formed any clear • notions of what does and does not belong to each Dispensation, will, • of course, fall into the greatest confusion of thought. He will be like a man who should have received from his father, at various times, a great number of letters containing directions as to his conduct, from the time when he was a little child just able to read, till he was a grown man; and who should lay by these letters with care • and reverence, but in a confused heap, and should take up any one
of them at random, and read it without any reference to its date, • whenever he needed his father's instructions how to act.' (Third Dissertation prefixed to Encyclopædia Brit., pp. 509, 510.) † Exodus, xxi. 2, 3. 7.
| Leviticus, xxv. 44-46...
It is impossible to deny that the law of Moses tolerated domestic slavery, that it tolerated the separation of families, and that it punished beating a slave to death only if he or she died under the infliction, or within a day or two after it.
Defoe was a man of eminent piety. He carries his hero, Colonel Jack, to Virginia, and leads him through all the gradations of colonial life from the state of a servant to that of an owner of slaves and plantations. He dwells on the wickedness of ill-treating slaves, but does not seem to have suspected that there could be anything wrong in buying, or keeping, or selling them.
One hundred and fifty years of peace and good government humanised and enlightened the stern bigoted Puritans and Catholics of our Western empire. The children of its aristocracy came to England for education; they came to a country which boasted that its air could be breathed only by freemen. When they travelled on the Continent, they found slavery confined to its semi-barbarous districts, to its Sclavonic and Asiatic populations,—to Russia, Poland, and Turkey. They were told everywhere, and they must have felt it to be true, that the relation of master and slave was mischievous to both parties, hardening the heart, worrying the temper, and weakening the self-control of the one, and degrading the other into a brute, with all the vices of a man, and few virtues except the abject submission and unreasoning attachment of a dog.
The opinion grew that such an institution, though it might be Judaic, could scarcely be Christian, and by the time that the American colonies had achieved their independence, nearly all their great men had become earnest abolitionists. When, on the 14th of May, 1787, the Federal Convention met in Philadelphia to form a Constitution, the State of Massachusetts had already abolished slavery, and New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island had provided for its gradual extinction by giving freedom to all future-born persons. Washington, though a slave-holder, declared that his suffrage in favour of the
abolition of slavery should not be wanted. Franklin was president of an Abolition Society. Jefferson proposed, that by the Constitution slavery should be excluded from any territory to be subsequently acquired by the Union ; a proposal which, if it had been carried, as it was within a single vote, would probably by this time have extinguished it: and Madison succeeded in excluding from the Constitution the word “slave,' lest it should be supposed that the idea of property in man was sanctioned by the American nation.
Two interests, however, united in favour of slavery. The agriculturists of the South threatened to secede from the Union if they were deprived of the population which afforded them the only means of cultivating their rice and indigo. The maritime towns of New England believed that their prosperity depended on their retaining the American slave trade and the American carrying trade. A coalition between the South and a part of the North was formed, with slavery, slave trade, and a navigation law on its banner, which the delegates from the remaining States thought it dangerous to resist.
But it was supposed that the evil, though it must be submitted to for a time, might be rendered temporary. It was believed, at that time, that slavery depended on the slave trade. The laws which regulate the increase of mankind were then little understood : the fear of depopulation was general, and it was plausibly maintained that a race transplanted from another hemisphere and a different soil and climate, engaged in unhealthy occupations, and subjected to the depressing influence of slavery, would gradually die out, if it received no reinforcements. A clause was introduced into the Constitution, forbidding Congress to abolish the slave trade within twenty years, and thereby impliedly giving it power to do so at the end of that period. This satisfied the Northern capitalists, to whom twenty years seemed an eternity. It pleased the South, as it enabled them to extend their cultivation and increase their gangs of negrocs for nearly a quarter of a century, at the end of which time, if the slave trade were abolished, their estates and their slaves would enjoy a monopoly, since no fresh negroes could be introduced, and therefore, as they believed, no additional lands reclaimed.
The abolitionists felt that they were prolonging a national disgrace and a national crime; but they were convinced (as every one else was convinced) that at the end of the twenty years the slave trade must cease, and that slavery would not long survive it.
We have said that Madison succeeded in excluding from the Constitution the word “slavery;' but it was thought necessary, with respect to three matters, to notice the thing. Two of these subjects were connected. They were, direct taxation and representation in the House of Representatives. It was agreed that these should both depend on population — that is to say, that each State should be taxed and represented according to its population.
The South maintained that, for the purpose of taxation, slaves should be unnoticed - being not persons but chattels; but that for the purpose of representation they should be counted,
being, though chattels, chattels human. As a compromise, it was decided that, for both purposes, three slaves should be equivalent to two freemen. A compromise which now gives to the owners of three millions of slaves a representation equal to that to which two millions of freemen would have been entitled.
The third matter respected fugitive slaves. Every person,' says the Constitution, · held to service or labour in one State by the laws thereof' (the euphemism for a slave), escaping to another, shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service is due.'
It does not appear that either this enactment, or an Act of Congress passed in the year 1793, which attempted to define the procedure by which it was to be enforced, produced much effect. The surrender was to be made through the instrumentality of the State in which the fugitive was found. Such a duty is a disgusting one. It is difficult to obtain its performance even as respects criminals. Though several years ago England engaged, by a solemn treaty, to deliver up to the French authorities Frenchmen accused of serious crimes, the French have not been able up to this time to obtain from us, in a single instance, the performance of the engagement. Every one admits that the stipulations of the treaty are wise, indeed necessary; but the case for the time being before the Court is never within them. Some States declined to pay any expenses incurred by their officers in the execution of the law. In others, the magistrates neglected to put it in force. A judge of the Supreme Court of
Vermont refused to admit any evidence of ownership, unless the master could show a bill of sale from the Al"mighty.'
In the mean time the slave trade was abolished. Indigo and rice, the great staples of the slave States, were produced more cheaply in India; and it seemed probable that the Southern States would follow the example of their northern brethren, and emancipate their slaves, and thus fulfil the prophecy that the extinction of slavery would follow that of the slave trade.
Whitney, an obscure mechanic of Massachusetts, falsified these expectations, by inventing, in 1793, the saw-gin.
The long-fibred, or, in commercial language, long-staple cotton, of which the Sea Island is the best known variety, is cultivated with difficulty, and only on comparatively few soils
. Much more than nine-tenths of the whole annual crop consists of the short-staple varieties. In these varieties the seed adheres 80 closely to the wool that, if they were to be separated by the hand, a man could not clean more than a pound a day. And even with the assistance of the rollers and the bow, which are now