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of liberty and knowledge. And there is between the two countries the strong bond of similarity of institutions. Russia and the Southern States of the American Union are the only civilised-or, at least, not confessedly barbarian-slave holders left in the world. Slavery in Russia is indeed far milder, and far less diffused, and it is gradually wearing out. But while it lasts Southern America has the countenance of one companion.
As an illustration of the prevalent feeling, we copy from a New Orleans paper, of the 15th January, 1855, the following extract from a speech addressed by the Rev. Ch. R. Marshall, chairman of the Committee of Education, to a Convention of Delegates from the Southern States.
The speaker reprobated the practice of educating Southern children in the North. Our sons and daughters,' he said, ' return to us with their minds poisoned by fanatical teachings ' and influences against the institution of slavery.'
The reverend speaker,' continues the reporter, then con'sidered slavery as an institution, and passed upon it a glowing eulogium, as contributing to the glory in arts and science, in 'religion, and national prosperity, in all countries wherein it has 'ever existed. He described it as forming a part of the patri'archal system of government established by God himself, as 'having been countenanced by Christ, and argumentatively 'sustained, and practically supported by the chief of Christ's 'Apostles, St. Paul. He (the speaker) had proclaimed these opinions in the streets of New York, and of Boston. He believed slavery to be right, and that within fifty years, instead ' of decreasing, it would be double in extent to what it now is. 'He believed that the colonies now gathering on the coast of 'Africa would all be slave States.'
In the course of his speech,' adds the reporter, Mr. Mar'shall, commenting on the hostility of England towards our 'institutions, drew forth loud demonstrations of applause by expressing the hope, very earnestly, that the Czar would 'triumph in the pending war in the East.'
We return from this digression to the most striking, though perhaps not the most important, of the recent triumphs of the Southern party,-the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
We have seen that little effect was given to the clause in the Constitution directing that persons held to service in one State and escaping to another shall be delivered up to the party to 'whom such service was due.' The disinclination of the local authorities in the free States to enforce the law against a fugitive, the evidence as to the claimant's title, as to the servi
tude of the person claimed, and as to his identity, which they vexatiously required-the protection and concealment, and often the active assistance, which he received from the religious and the humane, and the expense of the legal proceedings, and of the escort which was sometimes necessary to prevent a rescue on the road, and to detain the fugitive at night, were the chief obstacles to the efficiency of the Act of 1793. The Act of 1850 endeavours to remove them. It directs the circuit Courts of the United States to appoint Commissioners, with a view 'to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from labour.' It enacts that the owner of a fugitive or his agent may pursue and reclaim him, either by obtaining a warrant, or by himself seizing and arresting him, and may then take him before a commissioner, whose duty it shall be to determine the case summarily, and, on proof by deposition or affidavit of the title of the claimant, and the identity of the fugitive, to grant to the claimant a certificate, which shall authorise the claimant or his agent to remove such fugitive back to the State whence he or she escaped. 'IN NO TRIAL OR HEARING, UNDER THIS 'ACT' it continues, 'SHALL THE TESTIMONY OF SUCH ALLEGED FUGITIVE BE ADMITTED IN EVIDENCE.' On affidavit of the claimant, or of his agent, that he fears a rescue, an officer of the court is bound to undertake the removal of the fugitive to the State whence he escaped, and to require such assistance as he may think necessary, and is to be repaid all his expenses out of the treasury of the United States. The marshals and deputy marshals of the United States are bound to assist under a penalty of 1000 dollars, and are liable in the full value of the fugitive if he escapes from them. The persons executing the Act are directed to call in aid all bystanders and the posse comitatus, and all good citizens are commanded to assist them. The commissioner is paid by fees, and receives 10 dollars if he grants his certificate, but only 5 if he refuses it. Every person obstructing a claimant, or attempting to rescue a fugitive, or harbouring, or concealing, or assisting him or her, directly or indirectly, to escape is, for each such offence, to pay to the United States a fine of 1000 dollars, and to be imprisoned for six months, and moreover is to pay by way of civil damages to the owner 1000 dollars for each slave thereby lost to him. Lastly, any owner of a fugitive slave may apply to any Court of Record in his State, whereupon the judge, on being satisfied as to the ownership, and the slave's escape, is to make a record of the facts, and a description of the fugitive, and to deliver to the applicant a transcript of such record. Which 'transcript,' says the Act, shall be held and taken to be full
' and conclusive evidence of the fact of the escape, and that the 'service or labour of the person escaping is due to the party 'therein mentioned.' The production of this transcript, together with other evidence, if necessary, of the identity of the person claimed, to a commissioner in any other State, entitles the claimant to a certificate, authorising him to seize or arrest and transport the person claimed to the State from whence he escaped.
No time is a bar. A man who has been settled for thirty years in a northern city, who has a family and a profession, who has forgotten that he ever was in bondage, or perhaps who never was in bondage, may be dragged before a commissioner bribed by a double fee to condemn him, and on affidavit that A. B. is a slave, and that he is A. B., may, without being heard in his defence, for the Act expressly declares that he shall not be heard, be, summarily sent into slavery for life. Even this mockery of a trial is not necessary. Under the last clause in the Act, A. B. living in Charleston, hearing that there is in Philadelphia one C. D., whom he would like to appropriate, has only to go to the Charleston Court, and obtain a transcript of a record describing C. D., and stating that he is A. B.'s fugitive slave. On showing this transcript in Philadelphia, and making oath as to C. D.'s identity, he is entitled to a Philadelphian certificate, with which he may proceed to C. D.'s house, and, without warning, summons, or trial, seize him, bind him, gag him, and carry him back as a slave to Charleston.
America calls herself free, but such oppression is not to be found in Naples or in Russia. What security has any coloured / person, what security indeed has any white person, under such a law as this? Under a law by which he can be declared a slave in his absence, on an ex parte application, and receive the first notice that his freedom has been questioned from those who handcuff him as a slave?
It is said that the Southern States frightened the Northern States into acquiescence, by threatening, if their monstrous bill were rejected, to renounce the Union. We cannot understand how such a threat should have been effectual. Had we been Northerns, we should have acted on it, instead of submitting to it. We should have said, Rather than be the accomplices and the victims of such a tyranny, we separate.
already a great nation, in a few years we shall be a great empire, free from a stain which debases us at home and dis' graces us abroad.'
We say the victims, as well as the accomplices, for under the provisions of this law on what tenure does an American hold
his freedom? What stands between him and slavery? Not a trial, not a regularly constituted court, not the verdict of a jury, not an appeal, not even a writ of habeas corpus. He may be torn from his home, from his friends, and from his family, and subjected to a punishment far worse than the scaffold of Robespierre or the knout of Nicholas, by a procedure, and on evidence, which in England, we should not think sufficient to decide the title to a dog, or to warrant the stopping up of a footpath.
The penalties on aiding or concealing a fugitive, or directly or indirectly obstructing a slave hunter, must render anxious the life of every man of common humanity who lives near the line of a fugitive's escape. Those penalties are, to men of the moderate fortunes common in America, absolutely ruinous; Yet who when he rises in the morning can say, that he shall not render himself liable to them in the course of the day, or of the night? Few Englishmen, we hope few Americans,-who had to choose between the incurring those penalties and the turning out a fugitive helpless before his pursuers, would hesitate. But what can be said of the freedom of a country which has submitted to a law which exposes all its citizens to the alternative of imprisonment and ruin, or of eternal unavailing remorse?
We have said that Uncle Tom' is, in fact, under the disguise of a novel, a pamphlet against the Fugitive Slave Law. Such is Mrs. Stowe's account of it.
For many years of her life,' she says, the author avoided all reading upon, or allusion to, the subject of slavery, considering it too painful to be inquired into, and one which advancing light and civilization would certainly live down. But, since the Act of 1850, when she heard with consternation Christian and humane people actually recommending the remanding escaped fugitives into slavery as a duty binding on good citizens; when she heard on all sides from kind, compassionate, and estimable people in the free States of the North, deliberations and discussions as to what Christian duty 'could be on this head, she could only think, these men and Christians do not know what slavery is; if they did, such 'a question could never be open for discussion. And from this arose a desire to exhibit it in a living dramatic reality. She has endeavoured to show it fairly in its best and in its worst phases. In its best aspect she has perhaps been successful: but oh, who shall say what yet remains untold in that valley and shadow of death that lies on the other side?' (Ch. 45.) Its political influence has been little less remarkable than its
literary success. Though the Fugitive Slave Law excited the indignation of many persons belonging to the higher classes in the free States, it was not unpopular among the people. The contempt, the loathing, with which the coloured race is avoided in those States, deprives of all public sympathy every one that is suspected of being stained by the least drop of black blood. No one, who has not been raised by a better education far above ordinary prejudices, looks on a negro, or on the descendant of a negro, as a fellow creature. For the first two years after the passing of the Act, the lower classes in New York and Boston enjoyed the excitement of a negro hunt as much as our rustics enjoy following a fox hunt. Nor is it likely that the mere reading of the novel would have much affected them. But it was dramatised and acted in the Bowery Theatre in New York. The hero and heroine of the piece were Eliza and George. The great scene was Eliza's passage of the Ohio. It was well got up and well acted. When she leapt the turbid torrent, and dashed over the cracking ice, leaving her amazed pursuers on the bank, the theatre rung and rung with applause. For 150 successful nights this scene was acted in New York, and we have no doubt that it was repeated in the other free States. The sovereign people was converted; public sympathy turned in favour of the slave. A few months ago a fugitive was claimed in Boston and remanded to slavery. Such was the fear of a rescue, that all the national army that could be collected, a tenth, we believe, of the whole military force of the Union, was called out. Files of infantry with loaded muskets surrounded the court house, and lined the streets that lead from it to the wharf where the vessel that was to carry him off lay. Cannon were placed to command the cross streets, all business was suspended, the balconies were covered with black cloth, and the bells of the city tolled, as the steamer with its captive left the shore. The attempt will not be repeated. As far as the Northern States are concerned, Uncle Tom' has. repealed the Fugitive Slave Law.
Having related the strange story of Uncle Tom's success, it is now our duty to endeavour to account for it,-to ascertain and explain the causes, intrinsic and external, which have given to it a popularity which this generation cannot deny, because it has witnessed it, but which our posterity will be tempted to treat as fabulous.
The first of these causes we believe to be the subject.
It describes the state in which millions of persons speaking our language, professing our religion, and, in many cases, not