Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE

AMERICAN REVIEW.

No. LXXVI

FOR MAY, 1851.

THE FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW.

NOTWITHSTANDING the entire freedom of discussion for deep thinking. The stimulus thought and speech which in this Republic to declamation is sympathy; and the staple we theoretically possess ; notwithstanding of declamation is appeals to feelings, to the varieties of forms and opportunities ex- prejudices, to interests. Wise thought and isting for the discussion of the great and the consistent logic visit genius in other spheres. small questions that arise among us; the The daily press is too incessant in its denumerous halls of legislation that are dotted mands for well-considered thinking, and too over the entire surface of the nation, as well | local in its very nature, and all its attachas the great central Congress of the whole ; ments, for unbiased consideration. That the newspapers " thick as the leaves in Val- form of periodical literature which is the lambrosa ;" primary meetings and political best for such modes of presenting subjects assemblages of the people; pulpits, lecture- as we are lamenting the want of, and which rooms, and unrestricted book publication; we have endeavored to contribute to, in the and notwithstanding a certain general in- establishment of this Review, is interfered telligence, and aptitude for thinking, speak- with too much by the flood of foreign rival 3 ing, and writing, a calm observer must be to assume as it ought this its proper function struck with the rarity of instances in which among us. Other causes of the evil we an important question, if arising within the allude to exist, but we need not at present arena of political strife, is considered with a name them. It will be seen, we may rebreadth of thought adequate to its thorough mark, that it springs from the abuse of some elucidation. What are the causes of this of our most valuable privileges, and is only national deficiency? In the first place, we another illustration of the imperfection of are too one-sided as individuals, and too | all human systems. " many-sidedas a people. Each one is Now we would not have it inferred from born into or attaches himself to a sect, these observations that we do not think this clique or faction ; and every region has its nation arrives at the truth of questions that predominant local dogmas and tone of arise within it, or that it does not as rapidly thought. Each one therefore is apt to have advance in the settlement of principles as a preconceived theory, or a local prejudice, others. It does so; but yet it does not which more or less interferes with a wide outstrip others as it should, considering its and liberal view of any question which unimpeded thought and unshackled press, if touches the whole nation, or the discussion there was less of the friction we have deof which embraces general principles. In scribed. Truth appears to be only struck out the next place, there may be too incessant among us in fragments after the conflict of VOL. VII. NEW SERIES.

25

NO. V.

battle, and finally moulded together for And that this assemblage of horrors might general use after the bitterness of the strife want no fact of distinguishing dye, he has passed away

is now exciting those very people to rise in One question there is, the solution of arms among us, and to purchase that liberty which seems to be hopelessly impeded by of which he has deprived them, by murderthese causes — the question, namely: ing the people upon whom he has obtruded What is the duty of the whole nation, aris- them; thus paying off former crimes coming under its admitted Constitution, in ref- mitted against the liberties of one people erence to the subject of Negro Slavery in with crimes which he urges them to comthe Southern States ? The passage of the mit against the lives of another." new Fugitive Slave Bill and its enforcement This may be too strong a statement of have given occasion for a new discussion of the case, and no doubt was considered

80, as this subject, and have especially stimulated all it was not inserted by Congress in the Decthose influences which we have named, as ad- laration as adopted. Still, it is undeniable verse to the wisest and calmest consideration that the introduction of slaves into the colof important questions. There are some rea- onies was especially patronized by the Engsons why this should not be regretted, as it lish Government, and maintained by represents the question in a more tangible peated acts of Parliament. And also, beand practical shape than it usually assumes, ing openly countenanced by the Dutch in and enables us to test the declamation it their municipal charter and corporate sociexcites by the well-established principles of eties

, slavery was forced upon the American government, of common sense, and of di- Colonies."* “In nearly every instance," vine law.

says Dr. Stevens, "the earliest legislation in There may be occasions when it is the each colony was directed to putting down part of wisdom to decline a controversy in such a species of labor. Virginia early disvolved with collateral issues and impractica- couraged it, and during her colonial existence, ble abstractions; but it is not only wise, but passed laws imposing duties on slaves im manly, to embrace the occasion, when the ported into the colony, thus virtually proquestion is presented in a form that admits hibiting them." Mr. Madison says, " The of a clear decision by the common sense British Government constantly checked the and common conscience of the world. But attempts of Virginia to put a stop to this before commencing the presentation of our infernal traffic." “ South Carolina soon, own views of this embarrassing subject, we passed a law prohibiting their further imporpropose to show the operation of the causes tation.” It was rejected by the King in we began by adverting to, in impeding the council, who declared the trade “ beneficial fair discussion and settlement of the general and necessary to the mother country." gutestion, in order that we may bespeak a more candid hearing.

“ Massachusetts, the first State in America In the first draft of the Declaration of and that, too, though a member of one of the

which directly participated in the slave-tradle, Independence submitted by Thomas Jeffer- Boston churches carnestly rebuked the traffic

, imson, the following was among the grievances posed duties upon negrous imported; and aimed enumerated : " He (the King of Great Brit- at other efforts; but as late as 1774, when the ain) has waged cruel war against human

Assembly of Massachusetts passed an act 'to pres

vent the insportation of negroes and others as nature itself, violating its most sacred rights slaves,' Governor Hutchinson refused his assent, of life and liberty in the persons of a distant and dissolved the Assembly, because to sanctiou

The people who never offended him, captivating it would have violated his instructions. them and carrying them into slavery in royal orders to Governor Wentworth, of News1

Hampshire, directed him not to give his assent to, another hemisphere, or to incur miserable

or pass, any law imposing duties on begroes imdeath in their transportation thither. This ported into New Hampshire. Slaves were introi piratical warfare, the opprobrium of in- duced into Penusylvania by William Penn; and tidel powers, is the warfare of a Christian though before he died he did somewbat to melior-> King of Great Britain. Determined to keep ate their condition, he died a slaveholder:

“ But what could the remonstrapces of colonies open a market where men should be bought or the labor of individual philanthropy accomplish, and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.

* Stevens's History of Georgia, chap. ix.
+ Ib. p. 286.

when kings, aud queens, and cabinets, and cities, opposition to these tepets counter petitions were and Parliaments, and associations, for two hundred drawn up at Darien and Ebenezer, the former years, were the patrons and participants in this dated January 30, 1739, the latter March 13th, evil traffic? The treaty of Utrecht, in 1711, con- 1739, strongly disapproving their introduction, and stituted Her Britannic Majesty Queen Aone, and urgiog the Trustees to persist in their refusal." His Catholic Majesty Pililip V., the crowned slave-merchants of North America; the Queen He quotes the Reverend Mr. Habersbam agreeing in the space of thirty years to bring into

as saying: the Spanish West Indies one hundred and fortyfour thousand negroes, to the exclusion of every

"I once thought it was unlawful to keep negro other slave-trader; and in her speech to Parlia- slaves, but I am now induced to think God may ment' the following year, she boasted of her plan have a higher end in permitting them to be in thus obtaining for English subjects a new slave brought to this Christian country than merely to market in the Spanish West Indies. .." In 1729, Parliament, at the recommendation in America have already been made freemen of

support their masters. Many of the poor slaves of the King, granted supplies for keeping up the the heavenly Jerusalem; and possibly a time may sļave-traders' posts in Africa; and in 1745 a British

come when many thousands may embrace the merchant embodied the views of the mass of the gospel, and thereby be brought into the glorious English people when he entitled his tract, * The liberty of the children of God. These and other African Slave-Trade, the great Pillar and Support considerations appear to plead strongly for a of the British Plantation Trade in America''*

limited use of negroes; for, while we can buy Such was the general origin of the insti- provisions in Carolina cheaper than we can here

,

no one will be induced to plant much.” tution in the colonies, and the sentiments that existed in relation to it; but in the case Free trade, it would appear by this exof Georgia, the Trustees in England, who tract, compelled the relinquishment of the held the government of that colony, pro- original policy., Hon. Colonel lleron writes, hibited the introduction of negroes. They May, 1748 persisted for many years in this prohibition,

* It is well known to every one in the colony contrary to the repeated remonstrances and that negroes have been in and about Savannah exertions of the colonists themselves; and for these several years past; that the magistrates finally yielded to the representations and knew and winked at it, and that their constant the apparent necessity of the case. What

toast is the one thing needful,' by which is meant those representations were, and what high negroes." names lent their sanction to them, the fol The celebrated George Whitfield, who lowing extracts from Stevens will show : was establishing his Orphan House, at Be

thesda, Georgia, says : 4. Not only was this decline visible in Savah nah, bat it existed in every part of the province, "Upwards of five thousand pounds have been as is evidenced by the magistrates, who in a let- expended in that undertaking, and yet very little ter to Mr. Martyn, Secretary of the Board, state proficiency made in the cultivation of my tract of

that the whole inhabitants of Augusta, who land, and that entirely owing to the necessity, I have had uegroes among them for some years lay under of making use of white bands. Had a past, declare that if they cannot have that liberty negro been allowed I should now have had a sufthey will remove to the Carolina side; and many ficiency to support a great many orphane, without of late seeing us strenuous to see the Trustees' or- expending above half the sum which has been : ders fulfilled, express themselves in the same laid out. An unwillingness to let ro good a design strain.'

drop, and having a rational conviction that it must Thus this colony, once the pride of the philan- necessarily, if some other method was not fixed thropie, the object of so many hopes, and the upon to prevent it-these two considerations, theme of so much eulogy, was pining in misery honored gentlemen, prevailed on me about two and gasping for vitality, even under the eye of its years ago through the bounty of my good friends, great founder, and within seven years of its first to purchase a plantation in South Carolina, where establishment..

negroes are allowed. Blessed be God, this planOne of the remedies proposed was, to use tation has succeeded; and though at present. I their own language, the use of negroes, with have but eight working band-, yet in all probabilproper limitations, which, if granted, would both ity there will be more raised in one year and occasion great numbers of white people to come with a quarter the expense than has been prohere, and also to render us capable to subsist our: duced at Bethesda for several years last past. selves, by raising provisions upon our lands, until This conGrus me in the opinion I lave entertained we could make some produce fit for export

, in for a long time, that Geurgia never can or will be some measure to balance our importations. In a flourishing province without negroes are allowed." Stevens's History of Georgia, p. 268.

These historical references will serve to

some.

present a general view of the origin of sla- other relation of labor and capital, and the very in these States. It will be seen that it constant advantages to accrue to both parwas never established or advocated by the ties, but especially the slave, by it, the writer colonists as an institution good in itself, but exclaims, “What limits can be set to the objected to, and only admitted on compul- admiration for a system which bids fair to sion when it appeared necessary to their do so much !" existence.

These quotations and observations will be We quote now from the Southern Quar- sufficient to show that there has a new set terly Review for January, 1851, the following of opinions, doctrines, and arguments grown passages, as confirmatory of the uniformity up in the South. They are held, we know, of these sentiments : “ Indeed, for a long chiefly in one State, and are known as the time, even our own people were disposed to South Carolina doctrines; but they are comadmit our inferiority in this respect, and paratively new, and may extend themselves. were used to base their apology for slavery What is the cause of this change? Previous mainly upon the ground of the present im- to any external pressure, we have seen that possibility of abandoning it ;" * and thus these opinions did not exist at the South; many, if not most slaveholders, gradually à priori, therefore, there is reason to believe adopted the oft-repeated assertion, and were that some connection exists between that wont to admit in argument that our system pressure and these opinions. We believe it was in all points inferior to others, and could to be the general sentiment that that cononly be maintained on the plea of necessity." nection is positive-cause and effect. The

Such were the opinions and acts of the “ Abolitionists” are responsible for it. They South as represented by their great men have been unjust, one-sided, and unphiloin former times. Let us now

contrast sophical. They have represented the slavethem with the modern doctrines, inculcated holder as wilfully unjust and wicked. Men with all the earnestness of conviction by whom their neighbors, even their slaves,

know to be gifted with every Christian The views and arguments of General virtue and every huinan charity, they have McDuffie, Governor Hammond, Mr. Cal- maligned and denounced in the most ophoun, &c., we need not quote. They are probrious terms. Every one not carried fresh in the minds of all.. Mr. McDuffie away by their fanaticism has felt this to contended that Republicanism itself cannot be injustice, and, indeed, irreconcilable with exist permanently without the institution common sense. All know that men may of slavery. The laboring population, “ the be morally pure and honest while practising hewers of wood and drawers of water," he that which others may

consider thinks, are unsafe depositaries of political no man positively knows for his brother powers and rights. The other authorities man what is right and what not in comwe have named hold, we believe, the same plicated cases. "Judge not, that ye be not thing. But as we have not at hand the judged.", means of quoting the language of these Self-preservation, (or what seemed to gentlemen, we will turn to the article in our them to be such,) being the first law of able Southern contemporary, from which we nature, compelled then to defend themhave already quoted for a summary of the selves. Metaphysical subtleties being the opinions we are trying to represent. “The chief weapon of attack, they resorted to the investigation (the writer calls it) is of com same weapons for defense; and in that secparatively recent date, but its results are tion whose mind was impregnated by the of vast importance. It has effected a revo- genius of a great master of the sophisins of lution in the intelligence of the South which inetaphysics, the result is as we have shown. places the system upon an impregnable posi- The difficulties of the subject have been inition. It has been examined from every point crea

eased, and its solution retarded. Since of view, and we believe that every examina- the attack on the institntion has been made tion has increased its value. We are satisfied from without, it has come to be defended as now that we are right-right politically, in- good per se, and we have seen no progress dustrially, socially, and above all, relig- made towards a modification of their systems sously."

by the Southern States, no comparisons of After showing its superiority over every opinions by those who have the fullest prac

wrong. And

« AnteriorContinuar »