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hood and their youth, they may have suffered much, or they may have wandered, through ignorance, or otherwise, from the path which leads to that liberty for which they all appeared to be anxiously striving. They may have made many mistakes and many blunders; but the object which they meant to obtain was kept constantly in view : and now the question is fairly placed before us, will we pursue that object, and secure now, in our greater strength and our advancing light, that liberty which each is anxious to obtain for himself, and which our fathers have given us for our inheritance 2 or shall we turn around and say we will no longer follow the instructions of our fathers, but, on the contrary, pursue a course that will reduce a good portion of our people to a state of bondage, and, instead of that equality which they introduced in all their public proceedings, have orders and classes in society where a part, whether they will or no, shall do the bidding of the other ? These, we think, are the questions now before the American people; and on that decision our future destiny hangs. Not only our political and civil relations will be affected by it, but Christianity is involved. It will be idle for us to pretend to carry out the command to “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” when slavery shall be the established law of the land, when we shall have determined to make brutes of all persons we can get within our power. We may say, even, we give up our hopes of immortality, and deny our responsibility to our God, when such shall be our settled determinations. For what must be the thoughts and satisfaction of that man, when, in a future state, he meets with those he has abused and shamefully entreated while on earth, if he believes his God has commanded him to do otherwise ? Will he continue to act in opposition to those commands 2 We think not ; and, if we are correct, the conclusion must be, that the settled determination to continue slavery involves not only the destruction of our liberties, both civil and religious, but our Christianity, and our hopes of an immortality. We are infidels; we are reduced to the level with the brute; we are superior to them only as we have greater reasoning powers; our hopes and expectations of a future life are laid prostrate in the dust; slaveholding is atheism carried into practice. These thoughts may be considered somewhat out of place, as an introduction to the quotations that follow; and yet we do not think them wholly so. The reader, however, will be able to judge. But, without keeping him in further suspense, we will make the following extracts from the resolutions of the Virginia assembly in 1765, concerning the stamp act, a copy of which was found among the papers of Patrick Henry, sealed, to be opened, after his death, by his executor:
“That, by two royal charters, granted by king James the First, the colonies aforesaid are declared entitled to all the privileges, and liberties, and immunities of denizens and natural born subjects, to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the realm of England.”"
There were three other resolutions, which referred to taxation, — one declaring where the power laid, viz. that the “taxation of the people by themselves” “is the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom; ” another, that it was invested in the people; and another, that the colonies had enjoyed the right of taxing themselves, and that they had not forfeited that right, and that to invest it in any other would destroy “British as well as American freedom.” After stating the causes which induced him to offer these resolutions, and the effect they had on the universal resistance of British taxation, and the separation of the two countries, he concludes his remarks by saying, —
“Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed upon us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. Reader whoever thou art, practise virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. P. HENRY.”
Immediately after the promulgation of what was called the Boston port bill, the house of burgess in Virginia recommended, on the 29th of May, 1774, that a convention of the States should be called, to take into consideration the general interest that the colonies should from time to time require; and,
' Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, p. 74.
to give effect to this recommendation, delegates were shortly after chosen, to meet at Williamsburg; among other purposes, to appoint deputies to the general congress. John Symmes and Patrick Henry were chosen; and in the instructions given them by the assembly, what subjects they wished them to deliberate upon, the following Was One : “The African trade for slaves we consider the most
dangerous to the virtue and welfare of this country. We therefore wish to see it totally discouraged.”
After the war, the question arose, as to the propriety of allowing the return of the British refugees. Mr. Henry favored their return, in opposition to the views then generally held, and was successful in convincing the house of delegates,of its propriety. He spoke of the vastness of the country, its prospects, and the need there was for inhabitants, and the necessity there was for encouraging emigration, and of making “this country the home of the skilful, the industrious, the fortunate and happy, as well as the asylum of the distressed,” so that, finally, the country may be able “to take care of itself.”
“Do you ask how you are to get them 2 Open your doors, sir, and they will come in. The population of the old world is full to overflowing. That population is ground, too, by the oppression of the governments under which they live. Sir, they are already standing on tip-. toe upon their native shores, and looking to your coasts
* Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, p. 118.
with a wishful and longing eye; they see here a land blessed with natural and political advantages which are not equaled by those of any other country upon earth, —a land on which a gracious Providence hath emptied the horn of abundance,—a land on which peace hath now stretched her white wings, and where content and plenty lie down at every door | Sir, they see something still more attractive than all this ; they see a land in which LIBERTY hath taken up her abode, – that liberty whom they had considered as a fabled goddess, existing only in the fancies of poets, – they see her here as a real divinity, her altars rising on every hand throughout these happy States, her glories chanted by three millions of tongues, and the whole region smiling under her blessed influence. Sir, let but this celestial goddess, LIBERTY, stretch forth her fair hand towards the people of the old world, tell them to come, and bid them welcome, and you will see them pouring in from the north, from the south, from the east, and from the west; your wildernesses will be cleared and settled, your deserts will smile, your ranks will be filled, and you will soon be in a condition to defy the powers of any adversary.” "
He felt no fears of any danger arising from the return of the British refugees. But do these people of the old world now go to the Southern States, when they find that slavery is there 2 or do they not, as has been observed in the house of delegates of Virginia within a few years, avoid them as they would a pestilence And how can it be otherwise 2 They come, as Mr. Henry said they would, in search of liberty, and they are not to be mocked when they get here, by going
* Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, p. 252.