Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

always be found manfully struggling against the consolidation of this government as the worst of evils.”

The State of North Carolina was settled for the most part by Quakers, and the people of that State have been, from the beginning, less attached to slavery, if we can judge from the proceedings of their public bodies, than most of the Southern States. At the time of the formation of the Constitution their delegates received no instructions on the subject of slavery, while those from South Carolina and Georgia did. The delegates from this State were left to act according to their own judgment on the subject, and it may be it was through the influence of the Quakers they were so left.

Now while it may not be questioned that many came to this country as needy adventurers, and for the simple purpose of making money, let the mode of making it be what it might, yet there can be no question but that a great proportion came here, though they may have wished to have bettered their condition, for the purpose of avoiding the tyranny practised in the old world. It was uncomfortable to them, and they wanted to live in a situation where they should not be under so much restraint; and, considering the smallness of the island of Great Britain, it may be presumed -that those who came from thence in a great maasure sympathized with one another in this thirsting after a greater civil liberty than they where enjoyed; and though they separated far and wide when they arrived on these shores, yet the same spirit animated them, and the same thoughts filled their breasts. In all their controversies with the mother country, this spirit was ever uppermost : it manifested itself at the time of William and Mary, of Chromwell; and finally it broke out, in its distinctive character, at the time of the revolution. At this time it had gained, if we may so speak, a form and substance. The repeated discussions on the subject throughout the colonies, for a series of years, had matured and brought out the idea in prominent relief. The idea this land should be the land of the free, that this great continent should and ought to be governed by impartial laws, and not by that system of favoritism, tyranny, and misrule, that was so general throughout the kingdoms of Europe, was fully developed. They meant to establish a government of peace and good-will to all men, and where every one might “sit under his own vine and fig-tree without any to molest or make afraid.” We find them in all of their proceedings, however much they may have been opposed by individuals, or however often they may have been prevented in so doing, laboring to carry out this idea to its fullest extent; and it is evident that one of the obstacles in the way of obtaining this universal liberty was the trade and traffic in slaves. They felt its injurious effects; and Mr. Jefferson made it one of the grounds of complaint in the draft of the Declaration of Independence—and it was approved by the committee who were appointed to make this draft— that Great Britain should have forced these people upon them in the manner she did, against the remonstrances and wishes of the colonies. But as certain individuals in this country had entered into the traffic, and many had what they considered their property in these people, interest was made to have that clause in the Declaration struck out, and it was done. But the great principles that animated them still remained embodied in the instrument; and, the moment it was adopted by this country, every slave was free; and such undoubtedly must have been the understanding of the men who promulgated it, unless they should be accused of the want of understanding the meaning of the words they had used. Could the men of that age use the language “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” without being aware, if the negro was a man, he must be included ? We think not. No exception was made to him, and his situation was fully understood by the man who wrote these words, and by the people who adopted them as their own; and the only cause why the negro did not receive at that time universal freedom throughout the States was, as we believe, because they had no champion among their own number to assert and make known their rights, and bring their cause before the mind of the public. Certain it was, the men of that age expressed themselves openly and unequivocally, and we humbly think it was owing to their not being seconded by our colored friends, they did not succeed in their wishes.” But a supposed interest, joined with a real or pretended claim of others, of the consequence of freeing so many in their midst who had just come from a heathen land, ignorant, as they supposed, or pretended they were, of the ideas of civil liberty, and hearing nothing from this race to the contrary, they were prevailed upon to pass over the subject in silence, though they did not and would not give up the principle which, if carried out, would cause the freedom of every man in our land. As an evidence of this, we find that slavery, in those States where the whites greatly overbalanced the colored people, was immediately or prospectively abolished, and the most prominent men of those days took an active part in having it done.

General Warren, in his address on the 6th of March, 1775, only one hundred and nine days before his death on Bunker Hill, delivered in the Old South Church, on the anniversary of the celebrated Boston Massacre, gave utterance to the following sentiments: “That personal freedom is the natural right of every man, and that property, or an exclusive right to dispose of what he has honestly acquired by his own labor, necessarily arises therefrom, are truths that common sense has placed beyond the reach of contradiction. And no man, or body of men, can, without being guilty of flagrant injustice, claim a right to dispose of the persons or acquisitions of any other man, or body of men, unless it can be proved that such a right has arisen from some compact between

the parties, in which it has been explicitly and freely granted.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

OBSERVATIONS MADE BY THOSE ENGAGED IN THE - REvolutionARY war, ETC.

As an evidence of the fact of the desire our fathers entertained for universal liberty, and that this country should be the land of the free, we shall quote from some of the state papers put forth by congress, and from the observations made by distinguished men of that day. We shall begin by taking an extract from “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North America, setting forth the causes and necessity of their taking up arms. Directed to be published by General Washington, upon his arrival at the camp before Boston, July 6, 1775.” Let it be noted that this was in the first document put forth to the American army, through the first general that had been appointed by the congress of the United States ; and that it must have been observed, at the time, with a great deal of interest, as marking out, in a manner, the principles which actuated them. It says,

“If it was possible for men who examine their reason to believe that the divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over, others, marked out,

« AnteriorContinuar »