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cannot perpetuate itself in the universe but by the same means."1 Almost contemporaneously, Montesquieu, in his “Spirit of Laws,” exposed with admirable irony the wrongs of the African. “It is impossible," says the philosopher, “that we should suppose that these people are men; because, if we supposed them men, people would begin to think that we ourselves were not Christians."
No Abolitionist of our day has denounced Slavery with more power, or vindicated the rights of the African with more sympathy, than Condorcet. In his notes to the “ Pensées” of Pascal, which appeared in 1776, and gave such satisfaction to Voltaire, he steps aside to declare:
“And let it not be said, that, in suppressing Slavery, Government would violate the property of the colonists. How could usage, or even a positive law, ever give a man a true right of property in the labor, in the liberty, in the entire being of another innocent man who had never consented to it? In declaring the negroes free, we should not take from the colonist his property, we should prevent him from committing a crime; and the money paid for a crime has never given the right to commit it."
Then, in reply to those who charge the negroes with vices, he says indignantly:
“Make them free, and nearer Nature than yourselves, they will be superior to you.”8
So does the French philosopher testify against the Chief Justice.
1 Encyclopédie (Paris, 1751 – 72), art. Esclavage, Tom. V. p. 939. 2 De l'Esprit des Lois, Liv. XV. ch. 5.
8 Remarques sur les Pensées de Pascal: Euvres de Condorcet, par O'Connor et Arago, Tom. III. p. 650.
Strange that the Chief Justice, forgetting the jurisprudence and literature of France, forgot also the brilliant testimony of Lafayette, who, communicating to Congress at Philadelphia the great news that the Treaty with England acknowledging our Independence was signed, wrote by the same packet, and under the same date, February 5, 1783,1 to Washington, calling upon the commander of our armies to unite with him in the purchase of a small property, where they might make the experiment of emancipating the negroes, and of employing them simply as farm laborers. Although Washington failed to unite with his French friend, the appeal exists as testimony against the Chief Justice. There is also the letter of Lafayette to Hamilton, April 13, 1785, asking to be enrolled in what he calls the " Association against the Slavery of Negroes,” in New York, and declaring that he has ever been "partial to his brethren of that color."2 This should have been remembered by the Chief Justice.
From France I pass to Holland, including Belgium. Here an authority so familiar as Bynkershoek tells us that the Belgians, capturing Algerines, Tunisians, and Tripolitans, on the ocean or in the Mediterranean, are accustomed to sell them into Slavery in Spain ; " for the Belgians themselves have no slaves except in Asia, Africa, and America."3 Like France, the country at home was free, and Slavery was exiled to the colonies. The efficacy of this rule is curiously attested by an incident recorded by Diderot, the Frenchman
1 See, ante, Lecture on Lafayette, Vol. V. pp. 392, 398. 2 Ibid., p. 398.
3 “Nam ipsi Belgæ servos non habent, nisi in Asia, Africa, et America." - Quaestiones Juris Publici, Lib. I. cap. 3.
so eminent in science and literature, and of universal knowledge. It is in his Tour in Holland, made in 1773. It is well known that Peter of Russia, called the Great, served as a shipwright in the docks of Holland. Afterwards visiting the country as Czar, he was attracted by the apparatus for execution, but, not comprehending its operation clearly, he said, “It is only necessary to take one of my slaves, and try it on him.” It was represented, that, besides the revolting atrocity of this act, it would not be possible to allow it. "Ah! why not?” said the Czar. “Am I not master of my slave, and can I not dispose of him at my will ?” “In your own country, perhaps," replied the burgomaster, “but not here. Every slave who sets foot in Holland becomes free there, and belongs only to himself."1 This visit of the Czar was early in the last century, though recorded by Diderot later, and then Holland was already ranged with countries that would not tolerate Slavery; but the Chief Justice remembers not the testimony.
Spain also cries out against the Chief Justice. Her favorite monarch, Isabella, was aroused against the discoverer of the New World at the report that slaves from the Indies had been introduced into Spain with his sanction, and she exclaimed, “By what authority does Columbus venture thus to dispose of my subjects ?” Instant proclamation was made by her order, that all who had Indian slaves in their possession, granted by the Admiral, should forthwith provide for their return to their own country, while the few held by the Crown
i Voyage de Hollande, 1773: Euvres de Diderot (Paris, 1821), Tom. XXI. p. 294
were restored to freedom in like manner. Las Casas records, that, “so great was the Queen's indignation at the Admiral's misconduct in this particular, that nothing but the consideration of his great public services saved him from immediate disgrace.”1 Whatever the legislation and jurisprudence of Spain, this historic incident must not be forgotten. It was the voice of the sovereign, and therefore, for the time, the voice of the nation.
There are other eminent Spaniards to be included in the cloud of witnesses, especially Las Casas, whose story I give on the authority of our own historian, just quoted, whose works were in every library of the country when the Chief Justice launched his decree: I mean my much valued friend, the late William H. Prescott. In his “History of the Conquest of Mexico” is a description of the good Bishop, who, to relieve the Indian natives from slavery in the islands of the West Indies, proposed the introduction of Africans, and in an evil hour his advice was followed. At a later period he regretted keenly the wrong he had done, since, to use his own words, “the same law applies equally to the Negro and the Indian.” Afterwards, at a hearing before the Emperor, Charles the Fifth, he denounced Slavery in words of fervid eloquence, worthy of any Abolitionist, saying: “The Christian religion is equal in its operation, and is accommodated to every nation on the globe. It robs no one of his freedom, violates none of his inherent rights, on the ground that he is a slave by nature, as pretended; and it well becomes your Majesty to banish
1 Prescott, History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, Vol. II. pp. 471,
so monstrous an oppression from your kingdoms in the beginning of your reign, that the Almighty may make it long and glorious.”? In an elaborate memorial prepared in 1542, the same upright churchman denounces Slavery, saying, “God forbids us to do evil that good inay come of it"; and the historian adds, "The whole argument, which comprehends the sum of what has been since said more diffusely in defence of Abolition, is singularly acute and cogent.”2 But the Chief Justice forgot all these things.
And he forgot also the dying testimony of Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico, who, in his testament, revealed his anxieties as a slave-master, in the following direction to his son: “It has long been a question, whether one can conscientiously hold property in Indian slaves. Since this point has not yet been determined, I enjoin it on my son Martin and his heirs, that they spare no pains to come to an exact knowledge of the truth, as a matter which deeply concerns the conscience of each of them, no less than mine." The historian from whom I copy this passage adds: “The state of opinion in respect to the great question of Slavery in the sixteenth century, at the commencement of the system, bears some resemblance to that which exists in our time, when we may hope it is approaching its conclusion. Las Casas and the Dominicans of the former age, the Abolitionists of their day, thundered out their uncompromising invectives against the system, on the broad ground of natural equity and the rights of man." 3
1 Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico, Vol. I. p. 379.
2 Ibid., History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, Vol. III. p. 476, note.
3 Ibid., History of the Conquest of Mexico, Vol. III. pp. 345, 346.