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seemed disposed to take them. They evidently must have considered such a system as one of the greatest wrongs, and directly opposed to the first principles of justice. The next object was to insure the “domestic tranquillity.” The question here arises, how can this be secure ? evidently by “establishing justice ; ” and any thing that is at war with justice is at war with peace; and, consequently, no lasting tranquillity can be maintained so long as injustice prevails. - Man seems as if he could not be at ease under oppression, as if his whole nature revolted at it, and wars have ever been the consequence of it. History of wars, both public and private, portrays a series of attempts to throw off the yoke of the oppressor; and can the United States hope to secure peace in any other way than by acting uprightly If so, her hope must be vain. The only sure course is, not only in her foreign, but in her private, relations, to act towards all with that impartiality and good faith that will secure respect, and give no occasion of offence. No other course can possibly secure tranquillity but such a course of action. Is slavery, then, treating the colored man in good faith ? does this give no occasion for offence in treating him as she does 2 has he, under this system, all the rights of the white man? can he come and go like him does he not perceive how widely different he is treated, and does he not take note of it? Let the South Hampton insurrection answer; let the Florida war answer; let all the various insurrections and attempts at such be
written in a book, and sum up their number, and see if he has been satisfied with his treatment, and if we can hope, by the continuance of such treatment, he will be likely to learn to acquiesce in it. No the facts are, no domestic tranquillity can be maintained under a system of slavery; and even if our fathers thought it could, though we do not believe they did, yet, as it has since been ascertained there can be none, it would be our bounden duty, both as their decendants, and as Americans, in order to fulfil their object, to do away not only with slavery, but every other practice, so far as in our power, that should interrupt this tranquillity. And we must be false to our trust if we do not. We should be jealous of every practice, whatever it might be, that would have a tendency to bring into collision the different sections of this great family, and no one part of it can have the right to introduce such practices as would have such a tendency, without making itself liable to have its conduct scanned and questioned by the other part; and if it can be proved that such would be the case, then the whole would have a right to interfere, and cause such proceedings to cease, and bring about a different order of things. Let it not
be here said each part has a right to regulate their
own affairs. None have a right to do wrong; and, if slavery is a wrong, then have not the South the right to continue it; and, viewing it in this light, has not the South been changing her mind on the subject of its guilt, in part, because the Constitution will not uphold her in her course ? There are
many reasons to suppose it is so, and the cause of her sensitiveness is owing to the consciousness of her dereliction from duty, and the opposition of her practices from the first principles of right, and the object for which the Constitution was formed. The next object was to provide for the common defence. Even in this purpose, although it might more particularly be applied to foes without, and the securing ourselves from external attacks, the common defence cannot be so well provided for when it is necessary that a good portion of our troops have to be employed in keeping in subjection a portion of our own people; and therefore, in providing for the common defence, as wise legislatures, and a wise people, we should take into consideration all the circumstances that would interfere with the facility of defending the country in the best possible manner. If, then, slavery, or any other circumstances, arise to prevent its defence, and these domestic relations come in to thwart, and to prevent the security of the country from external foes, then the congress of the United States would not be fulfilling its duty, did it not do away, so far as in them laid, the obstruction, and prepare the country for the defence, one of the objects for which the Constitution was formed. We see not how we, can get rid of such a conclusion; and that slavery does lay the country open to the facility of external attacks, and that slaves, as a body, might be easily worked upon to join a foreign standard, might be easily conceived; and that the Hon. John Q. Adams was correct, when he asserted the whole system might come under the action of congress, by the way of the war powers. The next object was to “promote the general welfare.” How is this to be done Certainly not by fostering and maintaining within our borders what is, and what has heretofore been, considered and acknowledged a moral and political evil; because such a proceeding could not be for the general welfare. And here, again, we think, may be seen one of the causes why our southern politicians are so anxious to have the character of slavery changed, and that it should be considered a blessing rather than a curse, and the reason of their anxiety to show that it was an institution of the Bible." For none of them could hope, for a moment, now at this late day, to maintain that the slaves of this country had not been in the land a sufficient length of time to learn the plan of civilized society, if they had been properly instructed. They cannot now complain of the want of time, because they have, in many cases, made it penal to teach a slave to read. Hence they would change the ideas of the civilized world on the character of its guilt, and would denounce every one who would not agree with them upon the subject as “being worthy of death without benefit of clergy.” Fatal mistake 1 to suppose mankind will ever consent that wrong is right, and right wrong. The public mind need or needed but to be enlightened on the subject, to cause
them to express a universal execration of the foulness of its nature. Our fathers may in some measure be excused for not taking more summary measures for cutting off so unseemly an excrescence, from the opposition they had to encounter, and the trials and troubles they had already gone through ; and, no doubt, the argument that they would receive within their civil privileges a body of comparatively heathen and ignorant people, who would not appreciate their situation, and might endanger, through their want of knowledge, in that part of the country where they were the most numerous, the free institutions which they had been so long laboring to establish; and it was mainly for this reason that they passed over the subject with the silence they did, with the expectation that what they had accomplished would soon extirpate the evil. But, as has been before remarked, it was a sad mistake; and, since a sufficient time has elapsed to have instructed these men, so that that excuse can have now no weight, we should exert all our powers to do away an evil so monstrous, and relieve our land from a disgrace under which it is laboring, and from the necessary evils slavery must and does bring in its course, such as ignorance, dissipation, vice, immorality, and the consequent degradation and death to which these lead, and which are utterly opposed, not only to the general welfare of this country, but to a large portion of mankind in different quarters of the globe. The arts, sciences, manufactures, even agriculture, declines under its withering influences.