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to hear my brother say, “I have known Christian adulterers who have devoted themselves through life to the welfare, temporal and spiritual, of their paramours, with the spirit of the most self-denying missionaries; and who, I confidently believe, if they could do it with a reasonable prospect of improving the condition of their paramours, would gladly leave them, and discontinue the guilty inter
Such adulterers do honor to human nature. They are the true friends of their race" !! In fact, a single glance at the definition of slavery will convince anybody, that the argument advanced is precisely like that which proves murder of the most aggravated sort to be criminal, when the only issue is, whether in any case it be justifiable to take human life. Of all the rights enumerated by you, slaveholding necessarily interferes only with personal freedom ; for we have before
1 seen, what is perfectly manifest, that a man may be held in bondage, and yet be treated in every respect as an immortal, intelligent, moral, fallen, ransomed being, yea and a Christian brother, and his conjugal and parental relations be sacredly respected ; which I take to be the exact precept of the gospel. The question then is simply this-is it necessarily a crime in the sight of God, to restrict or control that personal liberty which every man is supposed to have in a state of nature ? Most affectionately, dear brother, Yours,
TO THE REV. FRANCIS WAYLAND, D. D.
MY DEAR BROTHER
I trust I have shown that slavery is not essentially the comprehensive wrong you make it; that a right to the services of a man without his contract or consent, does not confer any such rights as you suppose ; and that slavery does not interfere necessarily with any of those rights called primary, except personal freedom. The discussion is then pruned to this, -Is it necessarily a crime in the sight of God to control or curtail the natural personal liberty of a human being ? A question admitting no debate at all.
It will not be disputed that government is the ordinance of God. But government is restraint the very idea of government includes an abridgment of that personal freedom which a savage has in the forest, and a modification of it into political freedom, or civil rights and privileges.
Is it, then, necessarily a crime for a government to discriminate between those whom it controls, in the distribution of civil privileges and political liberty? It would surely be preposterous to affirm this. Every government has necessarily a right to pass laws indispensable to its existence ;* and it has a right, also, to establish those regulations which shall best promote the good of the whole population. Whether any particular enactments be necessary, and whether they do secure the greatest good, are points as to which error may be committed, but as to which each government is the judge; and if it acts uprightly, with all the lights possessed, there is no crime. We boast of our liberties, and are forever quoting the words of the Declaration of Independence; yet in this country it has been deemed most for the good of the whole, that one half of the citizens (and I believe by far the noblest, purest, and best half) should be disfranchised of a great many civil rights. This is true, also, of all citizens until they reach an age wholly conventional,-viz. twenty-one. Is this a sin ? Will it be urged that all are born free and equal, and that it is wicked to violate the indefea. sible rights of women and minors ? The day is coming, I venture to predict, when our regenerators will utter such frantic arguments; for they drive on, unrecking and unheeding alike the plainest dictates of reason and experience, and the stern lessons of the French Revolution, and the warning voice which spoke in such fearful accents amid the havoc and butchery and desolation of St. Domingo. But no good citizen considers the inequalities existing in these States criminal.
* “ Whatever concessions on the part of the individual, and whatever powers on the part of society, are necessary
When we pass to England and France, we find these social distinctions far more numerous, and marked, and exclusive. Multitudes there are deto the existence of society, must, by the very fact of the existence of society, be taken for granted.”—Moral Science, p. 391.
prived of all right of suffrage in reference to laws which affect their property and lives ;* and Parliament and the Chambers think this most conducive to the great end of social organization, the general good. In Russia civil power is vested in one
The liberty of the noble is restricted ; that of the plebeian is still less; and that of the serf scarcely more than is enjoyed by the African in this State. And in Russia this is believed.to be best for the good of the empire. Now what political organization is most desirable for a particular people depends on circumstances;t but whatever be that adopted, whether democracy or despotism, the rights of man, as a human being, are trenched upon; and visionary have proved, and will prove, all projects of constructing and fashioning society according to philosophical notions and theories of abstract "inalienable rights.” That slavery, or any civil institution, interferes with the liberty of a man or a class of men, does not, then, make it necessarily and amid all circumstances a crime. Το
put this in a plain light, let me suppose that one of these Southern republics should be inspired with the truest philanthropy; that her constituency should, for the first time, regard piety as important in a representative; that the benignant spirit of Jesus should penetrate her halls of legislation, and
* In France there are thirty-four millions of people, and only one hundred thousand are electors of Deputies to the Chambers.
† “ If it be asked, Which of these is the preferable form of government ? the answer, I think, must be conditional The best form of government for any people is the best that its present moral condition renders practicable."-Ibid
pervade all her councils; and that the present government-finding the African race under its control-satisfied that even if their removal were practicable, it is not desirable for their own good -should address itself with paternal assiduity to their welfare and happiness. All obnoxious laws are abrogated. The slaves are educated, their rights as immortal, intellectual, moral, and social beings are protected, and their religious instruction secured. If you choose, we will say that their labor is regulated, and instead of the compensation resting with the master, it is fixed by statute. Suppose, however, this government, using the lights of wisdom and experience, is convinced that the black population cannot be admitted to the privileges of free citizens, but that the good of the whole community, the safety and existence of the republic, and the negroes' own best interests, require that their personal liberty be restrained, Will it be pretended that such conduct would be criminal ?" Nor is there any thing impossible in the hypothesis. It might become fact to-morrow; and no doubt among the Christian masters addressed by the apostles, and in the patriarchs' families, such a picture had many originals, as far as it portrays the fostering and parental character of the relation. Onesimus might have been men. tally, and morally, and religiously cultivated, and yet have been a slave ; and his very piety' would have caused him to “ be obedient unto his master." Among the Romans it was not unusual for slaves to be men of much learning.
As soon as slavery is mentioned at the North, there is conjured up, in the minds of many per