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the emphatic and earnest protests of other Christian bodies in this land, against our monster iniquity. Whatever the delinquencies of individual ministers and churches in this regard, in proportion to the vitality of religion in the land has been its effect in toning the public conscience against slavery. The abolition of the slave trade and of slavery in the British Parliament, was led by Christian men on Christian grounds. After his first failure, Wilberforce wrote: “I never felt so on any Parliamentary occasion. I could not sleep. The poor blacks rushed into my mind, and the guilt of our wicked land. I do not deserve the signal honour of being an instrument of putting an end to this atrocious and unparalleled wickedness. But, O Lord, let me earnestly pray thee to pity these children of affliction, and to terminate their unequal wrongs.” That is the spirit of the Christian. Having witnessed the abolition of the slave-trade, in later life Wilberforce urges Buxton to enter upon the blessed service of abolishing slavery. Buxton's motion in Parliament was “that the state of slavery is repugnant to the British constitution and to the Christian religion.” Slavery was abolished in European Christendom by the prayers and faith of Christian men. We do not claim the whole of this work for Christianity by its direct and positive influence upon society. Slavery is so clearly against the will of God in the constitution of mankind, that natural religion is opposed to it in proportion to the enlightenment of reason and conscience. Even Aristotle, after all his special pleading for slavery as a state of nature, makes this concession : “As other men became worse when they get nothing for being better, and when no rewards are given for virtuous or vicious actions, so it is with slaves. . . . It is necessary also that in everything some end should be defined ; it is therefore right and expedient that freedom should be proposed to them [the slaves] as a reward; for they will be willing to labor when a prize and a definite space of time is laid down. It is right also to bind them as hostages by their families.” Hence, with the progress of civilization, and the development of a public conscience and of the spirit of personal freedom, came an intenser antagonism to slavery. But to ascribe this, as do Laurent and Salvador to the philosophy and the political theories of the French Revolution, is to mistake an effect for the cause. The doctrine of political liberty and fraternity was itself an offshoot of Christianity—the Christianity of the New Testament as distinguished from the ecclesiasticism of the middle ages. The leaven of Christ's teachings produced the political fermentations of the eighteenth century as truly as the religious fermentations of the sixteenth. Whenever Christianity has had its legitimate expression, it has told against slavery. As Macaulay states it, “the forms in which Christianity has been at different times disguised, have been often hostile to liberty. But wherever
* Anti-Slavery in Modern Times.
the spirit has surmounted the forms—in France, during the wars of the Huguenots; in Holland, during the reign of Philip II. ; in Scotland, at the time of the Reformation ; in England, through the whole contest against the Stuarts, from their accession to their expulsion; in New England, through its whole history—in every place—in every age—it has inspired a hatred of oppression, and a love of freedom.” Before the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies, it was made a charge against a Wesleyan missionary that he had read an inflammatory chapter of the Bible to his congregation!
THE slave trade was abolished in 1808 by the United States; in 1811, by Denmark, Portugal, and Chili; in 1813, by Sweden; in 1814 and 1815 by Holland; in 1815 by France; the Congress of Vienne sought to obtain the entire and final abolition of a traffic so odious and so loudly reproved by the laws of religion and nature. In 1822, Spain abolished the slave trade, and in the same year Wilberforce attacked slavery, after the slave trade, and won over public opinion by appeals and repeated meetings, while his friend, Mr. Buxton, proposed emancipation in parliament. The Emancipation Bill was pre
* Works, Vol. VI., p. 312.
sented in 1833. On the 1st of August, 1834, slavery ceased to sully the soil of the English colonies. In 1846, Sweden, in 1847, Denmark, Uruguay, Wallachia and Tunis obeyed the same impulse, which France followed in 1848, Portugal in 1856, and which Holland has lately imitated. Lastly, in 1861, the last form of servitude disappeared in Russia; and Spain, in retaking a part of the island of St. Domingo, promised never to reëstablish slavery there. As Cochin, whom we here follow, well puts it, “in a century, the initiative of Wilberforce has put slavery to rout, or at least called it in question over the whole surface of Christendom;" leaving only Spain and Brazil, and the Southern United States as the accomplices of this iniquity. “The destinies of servitude and liberty,” he continues, “are both at stake in the crisis which is shaking the new world. This combat is the rudest of all, but it will be the last. Instead of suffering one's self to be overwhelmed by the inconceivable slowness of moral progress, it is precisely because the last effort is difficult that it is necessary to enter into it with all one's might, full of faith in the sure triumph of the Christian religion, justice, and perseverance over the conspiracy of interests, the obstinacy of prejudices, the despotic torpor of habits.” Already Missouri leads the way to this bright and blessed consummation;–Missouri, that, in 1820, led us into the fatal demoralization of slave compromises— Missouri, that inaugurated civil war in Kansas in order to force slavery upon her soil, now makes haste to free herself of its curse. And that majestic Providence before which we stand in awe at each unfolding of its wondrous plan, is causing the Wrath of man to praise Him, who hath arisen for the crying of the needy. How long the President and his advisers held back from any official recognition of justice and freedom for the slave as the controlling elements in our national struggle ! But at length came that great golden day of the Proclamation.
WASHINGTON, January 1, 1863. By the President of the United States of America:
WHEREAs, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing among other things the following, to wit:
“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be thenceforth and forever FREE, and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any effort they may make for their actual freedom. That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the states and parts of states, if any, in which the people therein respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States, and the fact that any state, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections, wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such states shall have participated, shall, in the absence