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of the late Convention at Philadelphia might be imitated by all their brethren.

But I am protracting this letter to an unreason. able length, and will conclude by subscribing my. self with the highest personal esteem and Christian affection,



last letter I took notice of some inci. dental topics alluded to in your letter on domestic slavery. My object was to show that while the North had erred in its manner of treating this subject, this error had been by no means peculiar to the North; and also that the sensi. tiveness in regard to it, which has of late become so universal at the South, had no existence in the early periods of the history of this country. It seems to me desirable that the position of both parties should be changed; that the North should treat this subject by calm yet earnest appeal to the understanding and conscience of their fellow-citizens at the South, and that the South should invite the freest possible discussion of it, from what quarter soever it may proceed, so long as it confine itself within these limits.

In your letter it is stated that “the thing affirmed and denied is, that slavery is a moral evil,” “ that slavery is, in itself, a sin; a sin amid any circum

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stances.” You also, with great truth and frank. ness, add, “if slavery be a sin, it is the immediate duty of masters to abolish it, whatever be the result; this you urge and this I grant.


I believe that in these latter expressions you give utterance to the real sentiments of your heart. I believe that

you have submitted yourself without reserve to the whole will of God, in so far as He shall re. veal it to you. I well know the flattering prospects which you abandoned in order to become a preacher of the gospel of Christ. I believe that the same principles would govern you in this case ; and that as soon as you shall be convinced that the rule of Christian duty requires of you any other course of conduct than that which you now adopt, you will, at any sacrifice whatever, act in accordance with your convictions. It is in this confidence that I address you on this subject with peculiar pleasure. I hope that if I am convinced of error, I shall be enabled to act from the same principles.

It may perhaps be proper to state that I have never expressed my views of slavery in the form to which

you have alluded. The assertion is am. biguous in its meaning, and may admit of several very

different answers. I could not pretend either to affirm or deny it, in this indefinite and indeterminate shape. It will be necessary therefore to fix its different meanings, and then offer my views upon each of them.

You remark, it is affirmed that “slavery is a moral evil.” This you deny ; and you assert, as I suppose, on the contrary, that slavery is not, in itself, a moral evil.

You define slavery to be "an obligation to labor for the benefit of the master, without the contract or consent of the slave.” I understand you, then, to assert, that the master has a right to oblige the slave to labor for his (the master's) benefit, without the contract or consent of the slave. Now if the master enjoy this right, he enjoys also the right to use all the means necessary both to enforce and to render it permanent.

He has a right to protect himself against every thing that would interfere with the exercise of this right. If the intellectual or moral cultivation of the slave would interfere with the master's power to enforce this right, he has the right to arrest this cultivation at any point he chooses, or to abolish it altogether. If this right exist, therefore, I do not perceive that any exception can be taken to the sternest laws which have ever been enacted in any of the Southern States, even though they prohibit, under the severest penalties, the education of negroes, and forbid them to assemble for the worship of God, except under the strictest surveillance.

I do not really see how these two rights can be separated. Either the right of the master to oblige the slave to labor without his consent, confers the right over his intellectual and moral nature, or it does not. If it does, then it may be rightfully exercised. It is a right given ne by fod, over another, and I may use it innocently, at my own discretion; that is, I may control his intellectual and moral nature just in so far as is necessary in order to secure to myself the exercise of the origi. nal right which God has given me.

If, on the other hand, it does not exist, then the slave in

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these respects stands to me in precisely the same relation as any other man. I have no more right to interfere with his intellectual or moral improvement than with that of any other man. He is in these respects as free as I am myself; and to interfere with him is both cruel and unjust. Nay more, I am bound to use all the means in my power to elevate and improve him, just as I am bound to do good to all other men, as I have oppor. tunity.

Or to state the matter in another form. The right of the master over the slave, and the right of the slave freely to enjoy the blessings of moral and intellectual cultivation, and the privileges of do. mestic society, are manifestly conflicting rights. One or the other must overrule. If the right of the master be the predominant right, it innocently controls the other. If the right of the slave be the predominant right, it abolishes the right of the master wherever this right interferes with it.

Were I, therefore, to define the right of slavery, I should go somewhat further than you have gone. I suppose it to be the right to oblige another to labor for me, without his contract or consent, with the additional right to use all the means necessary to insure the exercise of the original right.

But it is asserted that “ slavery is not a moral evil.” Here I think a most important distinction is to be taken. The terms moral evil may be used to designate two ideas widely dissimilar from each other, and depending upon entirely different prin. ciples. In the one sense it means wrong, the vio. lation of the relations which exist between the parties, the transgression of a moral law of God.

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In the other sense it signifies the personal guilt he sa

which attaches to the being who does the wrong, rem violates the obligation, or transgresses the law.

In the first sense, moral evil depends upon the im

mutable relations which God has established bei

tween his moral creatures. In the second sense, meaning personal guilt, it depends upon light, knowledge of duty, means of obtaining informa

tion on the subject, and may be different in differpp ent persons

and at different times. It is manifest that we can take no proper view of the question before us, without considering these two meanings separately.

It has seemed to me that much of the misunder

standing which has existed on this subject has his

arisen from the want of attention to this obvious td

distinction. We, at the North have considered too exclusively the first, and you, at the South as exclusively the second, of these meanings of the terms moral evil. The one party has shown that slavery is always a violation of right, and has inferred that therefore it always involves equal guilt. The other party has urged the circumstances in which they and their slaves are placed, and has aimed to show that in their present condition they are not necessarily chargeable with guilt, and hence have inferred that slavery is not a wrong, or the violation of any moral law.

Let us endeavor calmly to consider both of these meanings of the phrase “ moral evil.

In the first sense, when we affirm that slavery is not a moral evil, we affirm that to hold a man in slavery as it has been above explained is right, that it violates no law of God, and is at variance with

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