« FöregåendeFortsätt »
have an effect on the minds of men, we should think this work would have put an end to agitation on the subject. The author has rendered inappreciable service to the South in enlightening them on the subject of their own institutions, and turning back that monstrous tide of folly and madness which, if it had rolled on, would have involved his own great State along with the rest of the slaveholding States in a common ruin. But beyond these, he seems to have produced no effect whatever. The denouncers of Slavery, with whose productions the press groans, seems to be unaware of his existenceunaware that there is reason to be encountered or argument to be answered. They assume that the truth is known and settled, and only requires to be enforced by denunciation,
Another vindicator of the South has appeared in an individual who is among those that have done honor to American literature.* With conclusive argument, and great force of expression, he has defended Slavery from the charge of injustice or immorality, and shewn clearly the unspeakable cruelty and mischief which must result from any scheme of abolition. He does not live among slaveholders, and it cannot be said of him, as of others, that his mind is warped by interest, or his moral sense blunted by habit and familiarity with abuse. These circumstances, it might be supposed, would have secured him hearing and consideration. He seems to be equally unheeded, and the work of denunciation disdaining argument, still goes on.
President Dew has shewn that the institution of Slavery is a principal cause of civilization. Perhaps nothing can be more evident than that it is the sole cause. If anything can be predicated as universally true of uncultivated man, it is that he will not labor beyond what is absolutely necessary to maintain his existence. Labor is pain to those who are unac
* Paulding on Slavery.
customed to it, and the nature of man is averse to pain. Even with all the training, the helps and motives of civilization, we find that this aversion cannot be overcome in many individuals of the most cultivated societies. The coercion of Slavery alone is adequate to form man to habits of labor. Without it, there can be no accumulation of property, no providence for the future, no tastes for comfort or elegancies, which are the characteristics and essentials of civilization. He who has obtained the command of another's labor, first begins to accumulate and provide for the future, and the foundations of civilization are laid. We find confirmed by experience that which is so evident in theory. Since the existence of man upon the earth, with no exception whatever, cither of ancient or modern times, every society which has attained civilization, has advanced to it through this process.
Will those who regard Slavery as immoral, or crime in itself, tell us that man was not intended for civilization, but to roam the earth as a biped brute? That he was not to raise his eyes to heaven, or be conformed in his nobler faculties to the image of his Maker? Or will they say that the Judge of all the earth has done wrong in ordaining the means by which alone that end can be obtained ? It is true that the Creator can make the wickedness as well as the wrath of man to praise him, and bring forth the most benevolent results from the most atrocious actions. But in such cases, it is the motive of the actor alone which condemns the action. The act itself is good, if it promotes the good purposes of God, and would be approved by him, if that result only were intended. Do they not blaspheme the providence of God who denounce as wickedness and outrage, that which is rendered indispensable to his purposes in the government of the world ? Or at what stage of the progress of society will they say that Slavery ceases to be necessary, and its very existence becomes
sin and crime? I am aware that such argument would have little effect on those with whom it would be degrading to contend—who pervert the inspired writings-which in some parts expressly sanction Slavery, and throughout indicate most clearly that it is a civil institution, with which religion has no concern—with a shallowness and presumption not less flagrant and shameless than his, who would justify murder from the text, “and Phineas arose and executed judgment.”
There seems to be something in this subject which blunts the perceptions, and darkens and confuses the understandings and moral feelings of men.
Tell them that, of necessity, in every civilized society, there must be an infinite variety of conditions and employments, from the most eminent and intellectual, to the most servile and laborious ; that the negro race, from their temperament and capacity, are peculiarly suited to the situation which they occupy, and not less happy in it than any corresponding class to be found in the world prove incontestibly that no scheme of emancipation could be carried into effect without the most intolerable mischiefs and calamities to both master and slave, or without probably throwing a large and fertile portion of the earth's surface out of the pale of civilization—and you have done nothing. They reply, that whatever may be the consequence, you are bound to do right ; that man has a right to himself
, and man cannot have property in man; that if the negro race be naturally inferior in mind and character, they are not less entitled to the rights of humanity; that if they are happy in their condition, it affords but the stronger evidence of their degradation, and renders them still more objects of commiseration.
They repeat, as the fundamental maxim of our civil policy, that all men are born free and equal, and quote from our Declaration of Independence, “that men are endowed by
their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among
which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
It is not the first time that I have had occasion to observe that men may repeat with the utmost confidence, some maxim or sentimental phrase, as self-evident or admitted truth, which is either palpably false, or to which, upon examination, it will be found that they attach no definite idea. Notwithstanding our respect for the important document which declared our independence, yet if any thing be found in it, and especially in what may be regarded rather as its ornament than its substance-false, sophistical or unmeaning, that respect should not screen it from the freest examination.
All men are born free and equal. Is it not palpably nearer the truth to say that no man was ever born free, and that no two men were ever born equal ? Man is born in a state of the most helpless dependence on others. He continues subject to the absolute control of others, and remains without many of the civil and all of the political privileges of his society, until the period which the laws have fixed as that at which he is supposed to have attained the maturity of his faculties. Then inequality is further developed, and becomes infinite in every society, and under whatever form of government. Wealth and poverty, fame or obscurity, strength or weakness, knowledge or ignorance, ease or labor, power or subjection, mark the endless diversity in the condition of men.
But we have not arrived at the profundity of the maxim. This inequality is, in a great measure, the result of abuses in the institutions of society. They do not speak of what exists, but of what ought to exist. Every one should be left at liberty to obtain all the advantages of society which he can compass, by the free exertion of his faculties, unimpeded by civil restraints. It may be said that this would not remedy the
evils of society which are complained of. The inequalities to
have been lost forever. But he can exercise no political privilege, or aspire to any political distinction. It is said that, of necessity, society must exclude from some civil and political privileges those who are unfitted to exercise them, by infirmity, unsuitableness of character, or defect of discretion ; that of necessity there must be some general rule on the subject, and that any rule which can be devised will operate with hardship and injustice on individuals. This is all that can be said, and all that need be said. It is saying, in other words, that the privileges in question are no matter of natural right, but to be settled by convention, as the good