« FöregåendeFortsätt »
KENTUCKY, TENNESSEE, INDIANA, LOUISIANA, AND ILLINOIS.
The printing presses shall be free to every person who undertakes to examine the proceedings of the legislature, or any branch of government; and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof, The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man; and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that
There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Nor shall any indenture of any. negro or mulatto, hereafter made and executed out of the bounds of this state, be of any validity within this state.-Constitution of Indiana.-[Those of Ohio and Illinois are similar. ]
OHIO. The printing presses shall be open and free to every citizen who wishes to examine the proceedings of any branch of government, or the conduct of any public officer; and no law shall ever restrain the right thereof. Every citizen has an indisputable right to speak, write, or print upon any subject, as he thinks proper, being liable for the abuse of that liberty.
MISSISSIPPI. Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the use of that liberty.
No law shall ever be passed to curtail or restrain the liberty of speech or of the press.
ALABAMA. Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.
MISSOURI. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man; and every person may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.
THE SLAVE-TRADE DECLARED TO BE PIRACY BY
THE LAW OF THE UNITED STATES.
citizen of the United States, being of the crew or ship's company of any foreign ship or vessel engaged in the slave-trade, or any person whatever, being of the crew or ship's company of any ship or vessel owned in the whole or part, or navigated for, or in behalf of, any citizen or citizens of the United States, shall land, from any such ship or vessel, and on any foreign shore seize any negro or mulatto, not held to service or labor by the laws of either
of the states or territories of the United States, with intent to make such negro or mulatto a slave, or shall decoy, or forcibly bring or carry, or shall receive such negro or mulatto on board any such ship or vessel, with intent as aforesaid, such citizen or person shall be adjudged a PIRATE, and on conviction thereof, before the circuit court of the United States, for the district wherein he may be brought or found, shall suffer DEATH.
I hope it will not be conceived from these observations, that it is my wish to hold the unhappy people who are the subject of this letter, in slavery. I can only say, that there is not man living, who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it; but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is, by the legislative authority; and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall not be wanting.–Letter to Robert Morris.
The benevolence of your heart, my dear Marquis, is so conspicuous on all occasions, that I never wonder at fresh proofs of it; but your late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view of emancipating the slaves, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God, a like spirit might diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country! But I despair of seeing it. Some petitions were presented to the Assembly at its last session, for the abolition of slavery; but they could scarcely obtain a hearing.–Letter to Lafayette.
I never mean, unless some particular circumstance should compel me to it, to possess another slave by purchase ; it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country may be abolished by law.-Letter to John F. Mercer.
Because there are, in Pennsylvania, laws for the gradual abolition of slavery, which neither Maryland nor Virginia have at present; but which nothing is more certain than that they must have, and at a period not remote.--[Reasons for depreciation of southern lands, in a letter to Sir John Sinclair.]
CAMBRIDGE, February 28, 1776. Miss Phillis,–Your favor of the 26th of October did not reach my
hands till the middle of December. Time enough, you will say, to have given an answer ere this. Granted. But a variety of important occurrences, continually interposing to distract the mind and withdraw the attention, I hope will apologize for the delay, and plead my excuse for the seeming, but not real neglect. I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me, in the elegant lines you enclosed ; and however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyric, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your
poetical talents; in honor of which, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the poem, had I not been apprehensive, that, while I only meant to give the world this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the imputation of vanity. This, and nothing else, determined me not to give it place in the public prints.
If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near head-quarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses, and to whoni nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations. I am, with great respect, your obedient humble servant.--Letter to Phillis Wheatley (An African].
Observe good faith and justice towards all nations, cultivate peace and harmony with all; religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has 1 not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?
In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is, in some degree, a slave. It is a slave to its animosity, or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.
Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests.-Fare. well Address, 1796. Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all my
I slaves, which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom. To emancipate them during her life, would, though earnestly wished, be attended with such insuperable difficulties, on account of their intermixture by marriages with the dower negroes, as to create the most fearful sensation, if not disagreeable consequences from the latter, while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same proprietor; it not being in my power, under the tenure by which the dower negroes are held, to manumit them. And, whereas, among those who will receive their freedom according to this clause, there may be some, who, from old age, or bodily intirmities, and others, who, on account of their infancy, will be unable to support themselves, it is my will and desire that all who come under the first and second
descriptions, shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live ; and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living, are unable or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the Court until they shall arrive at the age of twenty-five years : : and in case where no record can be produced whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgment of the Court upon its own view of the subject, shall be adequate and final. The negroes thus bound, are by their masters and mistresses to be taught to read and write, and to be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeably to the laws of the commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of orphans and other poor children. And I do hereby expressly forbid the sale or transportation out of the said commonwealth, of any slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence whatever. And I do, moreover, most pointedly and most solemnly enjoin it upon my executors, hereafter named, or the survivor of them, to see that this clause respecting slaves, and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled, at the epoch at which it is directed to take place, without evasion, neglect, or delay, after the crops which may then be on the ground I are harvested.
Particularly as it respects the aged and infirm, seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support, as long as there are subjects requiring it, not trusting to the uncertain provisions to be made by individuals. And to my mulatto man, William, (calling himself William Lee,) I give immediate freedom, or if he should prefer it on account of the accidents which have befallen him, and which have rendered him incapable of walking, or of any active employment, to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so-in either case, however, I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life, which shall be independent of the victuals and clothes he has been accustomed to receive if he chooses the last alternative, but in full with his freedom if he prefers the first. And this I give him as a testimony of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the revolutionary war.
[By another item of Washington's will, the negroes, (then thirtythree in number) belonging to the estate of B. Dandridge, (his wife's brother, and taken in execution, sold, and purchased in on Washington's account, he left, with their increase, to the widow of B. Dandridge during her life ;] “ at the expiration of which, I direct that all of them, who are forty years of age and upwards, shall receive their freedom; all under forty and over sixteen, shall serve seven years and no longer; and all under sixteen years, shall serve until they are twenty-five years old, and then be free.”—George Washington's Will, July 9, 1790.
You and I may not live to the time when this declaration shall be made good; we may die ; die colonists—die slaves; die, it
be, ignominiously, and on the scaffold; be it so—be it so ; if it be the pleasure of heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may; but while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country. But whatever may be our fate, be assured that this declaration will stand.-Speech at the passage of the Declaration of Independence.
Great is Truth-great is Liberty-great is Humanity; and they must and will prevail.—Letter to a friend.
While I am indulging in my views of American prospects, and American liberty, it is mortifying to be told that in that very country, a large portion of the people are slaves! It is a dark spot on the face of the nation. Such a state of things cannot always exist.
I see in the papers, that there is a plan of gradual abolition of slavery in the district of Columbia. I would be doubly happy of it, for the measure in itself, and because a sense of American pride makes me recoil at the observations of the diplomatists, and other foreigners, who gladly improve the unfortunate existing circumstances into a general objection to our republican, and (saving that deplorable evil) our matchless system.*
Lafayette was consistent. Having bravely and disinterestedly aided in vindicating our rights, he did not incur the reproach of hypocrisy, by turning and tranpling on the rights of others.
For the purpose of applying his principles to men of color, he purchased a plantation in French Guiana. His first step was to collect all the whips and other instruments of torture and punishment, and make a bonfire with them, in presence of the assembled slaves. He then instituted a plan of giving a portion of his in to each slave every week, with a promise that as soon as any one had earned m enough to purchase an additional day of the week, he should be entitled to it when with this increased time to work for himself, he could purchase another he should have that, and so on, until he was master of his whole time. In then state of Anti-Slavery science, this gradual and sitting process was deemed necessary to form the character of slaves, and to secure the safety of the masters. Abolitionists would not elect this mode now. They would turn slaves at once into free laborers or leaseholders, on the same estate, if possible, where they have been as slaves. Still there is not an American abolitionist who would not rejoice to see a single southern planter copy the plan of Lafayette, or take any other step tending to emancipation, however remote. Before Lafayette's views were fully executed, the French revolution occurred, which interrupted his operations, and made the slaves free at once. But mark the conduct of the ungrateful and blood-thirsty blacks. While other slaves in the colony availed themselves of the first moment of freedom to quit the plantations of their masters, Lafayette's remained, desiring to work for their humane and generous friend.-D. L. Child's Oration.