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the slave states? Who protect you against taxes and monopolies, but we? And if you doubt our sincerity, come to us, and convince yourselves, that there are no paupers and no populace amongst us; and that our slaves lead a happier and more contented life than (to say nothing of wretched Europe) your own day-laborers and factory operatives, who toil for two-thirds of their existence that they may not starve the remaining third ! On our estates we are patriarchs, in Congress the champions of unbounded freedom. Without us, you had long ago become slaves to your banks and speculating companies. The factory system of the North is a greater enemy to liberty than the slavery of the negroes. Among us there is no hatred like that of the poor laboring classes against the rich; but sympathy and union. Our slaves are, so to say, mernbers of our families, and we care for them as a part of ourselves. You, who labor fourteen or fifteen hours a day, and then sink exhausted to bed, do not know the value of liberty. You feel merely when you are oppressed, when you are in want of the commonest necessaries of life. We, on the contrary, know its entire value, are as free from degrading compulsion as from depressing cares, and have higher views for a nobler sphere of action. We never enter into jealous competition with you, or tender you (like the brokers of New York and Boston) a niggardly recompense for severe toil. We willingly grant you equal rights with ourselves; we are the best members of a republican commonwealth. We need not to enrich ourselves with the sweat of your labor; we slaveholders are the only unselfish democrats in the Union!
Such are the representations of the lordly masters, in the bold, grand style and feeling of the ancient classical world. But while they make an impression, and cast light into a region not before known or observed, the shadows which were spread over other portions of the picture are not diminished. We feel that a counter statement is ole on the side of the slaves; that the noblest of all republics can no longer be founded on slavery par excellence; and that even those who are averse to all dogmatic influences and disputes, cannot here deny that Christianity has a power and might of wholesome efficacy which tends to universal emancipation.
When I now look back on what I have here stated as impartially as I could, I feel as though I had been wandering about in a labyrinth, and had attempted to draw others uselessly into it. And have not the Americans indeed been for fisty years winding and unwinding this Ariadne's clue, without making any progress in advance ? and has all the talking and disputing been any thing else than a for the most part inefficient accompaniment to what the tremendous force of circumstances has produced and is daily still
producing? But does mere letting alone ever lead to satisfactory results ? Is not every one who takes a hearty interest in these matters almost irresistibly impelled, in view of the past, the present, and the future, to ponder them again and again, and to cast about, with or without success—for correctives? too then be permitted to make such an attempt.
If we begin by taking a look at the forms of the Constitution, we see that the entire legislation respecting slavery is vested in the individual states; and subsequently a resolution was adopted by a majority of votes (although lately again repealed) to the effect that Congress had no right to discuss or determine any question relative to slavery. With respect to this, Calhoun observed: “No one disputes the general right of presenting petitions to Congress; but Congress has both the right and the duty to reject them beforehand, when they contain matters on which it cannot decide at all.” * But since slavery is a state of things not confined to any single state or shut up within its limits; since even the free states are affected by it, while the laws passed in consequence (e. g. respecting emigration, immigration, settling, &c.) contradict one another and lead to hostile divisions,-is not the formal and real nullity of Congress as great an injury and an evil, as if, on the contrary, it had been intrusted with the sole decision of all questions thereto belonging, with a complete disregard of the rights of the single states? Would not the interpretation of the laws of the Union or an explanatory addition for extending the powers of Congress have turned out differently, had the slaveholders supposed that it would join in and support their views ?
That a new-born state like Missouri should blindly embrace the curse of slavery, that a few slaveholders should be able to extend it over all posterity, that Congress itself on the birth-day of the new state should proffer the gift and not dare to withhold it, although aware of its deadly nature,-all this shows an unsound and evil state of things, which all counter arguments and reasons may explain, but cannot restore to a healthful condition.
So too it is not a mere incidental contradiction (contradictio in adjecto); it remains a substantial stumbling-block,-a grating, unresolved discord,—that slaves in Washington, as they are dragged away by the dealers in human flesh, should chant in piteous mockery, “Hail Columbia, happy land!" that the District of Columbia, the seat of the noblest and greatest of republican governments, should be condemned by a resolution of Congress to remain a grand slave-mart to all future time. Here the indi
Speeches, p. 200. † The city of Washington grants licenses (according to Mason, p. 174) for the slave-trade, for 400 dollars.
vidual parts have obtained a false preponderance over the central, vivifying power of the Union, and, instead of promoting gradual ameliorations, have rendered them impossible.
Just as little consistency is there in the fact that Congress regulates the traffic in general, and stigmatizes the African slavetrade as a capital crime; while it suffers the American slavetrade under its very eyes, and holds this outrage to be right and just, because definitions are placed above eternal laws. Not only are the free states shocked at this circumstance, but even several of the slaveholding states have passed restrictive laws with respect to it ;* union and unanimity, however, are nowhere to be found. Even admitting that the holding of slaves is not to be interfered with, it does not follow that the sale of them should be permitted ; and in general the practice is not found to exist where, as in South Carolina, all the young slaves can still be employed and made use of. Where on the contrary, as in Virginia, their natural and irrepressible increase far exceeds the demand, and is extremely burdensome to their owners, the latter rejoice at the newly opened market in the southwestern states, which enables them to make money by selling human beings, and at the same time to get rid of a superfluous and dangerous population. That this is the best way of wholly freeing Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland from slavery, is true only in case the breeding of slaves for sale is not regarded as a profitable business, and purposely carried on; neither can the sale of individual criminals—a sort of transportation—be confounded with the trade in innocent slaves, or serve to justify it.
Every where slave-dealers are hated and despised, and excluded from virtuous, respectable society; for amid all the horrors and sufferings of slavery, the worst and bitterest is this heartless separation of families, whereby parents and children, brothers and sisters, are sold off into the remotest parts of the world, so that at the close of the auction they must all look upon each other as dead. By doing away with this iniquity, the most heart-rending and inhuman of slavery's practices would be put a stop to, without ever materially affecting property, or giving rise to political dangers. With this correct feeling, the constitutions of some of the states (as e. g. Mississippi) distinctly intimate that, and prescribe the time when, this internal trade shall have an end. Far more difficult is it (and that we saw) to interfere with the holding than it is with the selling of slaves'; and above all it would seem utterly impossible to procure indemnification to the
* In Kentucky, for instance, the importation of slaves as merchandize is prohibited.
† It is preposterous to liken these sales to the voluntary separation of members of a family.
amount of 1000 or perhaps 2000 millions of thalers. And yet it is very probable that the slaveholders themselves will be driven by degrees to a point where this bugbear will lose the greater part of its terrors, and where their interests will coincide for the most part with the wishes of their opponents.
When in several of the European states, and especially in Prussia, an alteration was discussed in many of the relations and burdens of serfs, tenants, vassals, and the like, a party advocated the retention of the existing state of things without alteration, on the ground of the immensity of the loss and the impossibility of raising the emancipation or indemnification money.
And still the thing was accomplished, to the satisfaction of all parties. Might not the same or at least something similar be possible in America ?
An important question which here arises, is that respecting the relative cost and value of the labor of blacks and whites. Statistical writers have calculated the time when the latter, in consequence of the increasing population and competition, must become cheaper than the former; and have joyfully predicted that then will slavery be wholly and easily abolished. To me, on the contrary, it seems that the difficult problem would hy no means be fully solved with the occurrence of that event. For though I willingly allow that the free white man labors, produces, and accumulates more than the slave; and though for the present I lay aside the important question, as to whether white men are able to perform every kind of work in all climates; their successful introduction into the slave states would leave nothing decided respecting the future fate of the two millions of blacks. If these do not work more than before, the slaveholders will be ruined ; if the masters diminish their reward and maintenance, the slaves will find themselves worse off than before. If they let them go
free as soon as they change from a valuable property into an expensive burden, the so-called freedmen will stand in a deplorable position towards the shrewder and more dexterous whites.
As soon as the slaveholder, in consequence of an increasing white population, reckons and must reckon among his outlays the capital and interest of the purchase money, the cost of food, lodging, and clothing, the care of the infirm and aged, the absconding of the refractory, the value of slave as compared with that of free labor, &c., the holding of slaves will no longer appear so cheap and advantageous as it is usually assumed to be.Very gradual was the enlightenment of European masters in similar circumstances; those, however, who first became aware of the truth managed by far the best, and served to the rest as an example.
The experiments made in the Antilles, where, it is said, real estate rose greatly in value on the abolition of slavery, and the in-', demnification seemed almost a gift;" the vast progress made by the free states of the West; the far slower development noticed for some years in many of the slaveholding states; these and the like facts, will have the effect of directing a constantly increasing attention to the subject, and of suggesting ameliorations, which should be at the same time reasonable and beneficial.
As in the abolition of the internal slave-trade I behold the first great means towards an essential improvement of the existing state of things; so 100 I regard as the second, not by any means a sudden, forcible, and in fact impossible equalization of blacks and whites,---but, what is already in many places begun, a gradual and voluntary grant of property in the soil. Offensive as it may sound, the introduction of a sort of serfdom, or glebæ adscriptio, appears to me a measure which, while it avoids sudden social and political leaps, includes in itself a better condition, and prepares for one better yet. The former slave is then no longer a mere chattel, without any recognition of or regard for his personal rights, but stands on solid ground; he is no longer a piece of moveable property to be sold at pleasure like a brute, but there is opened to him the possibility of acquiring something for himself: in fact, a man bound to the soil is in many respects better off than he who is bound to a machine.
The objection, that by this means a feudal system, a feudal nobility, a new sort of property, would be established, seems to me of no great weight. For there is here no question of the oppressive prerogatives of great feudal barons, but only of the salutary and useful relations of patron and client; and if our feelings are opposed to institutions of this sort, still more are they to that of slavery properly so called.
In conformity with these views are both the means and the objects proposed in a law of Kentucky, which says: Every proprietor is at liberty to determine, that his slaves and their posterity shall descend to his heirs and their posterity, as a part of his freehold estate. I
Another improvement connected herewith, and of the highest importance, has already been adopted in several cities, amongst others in Charleston. The masters namely allow many of their negroes to seek free employment for themselves, and to pay them out of their earnings a certain monthly sum. This forms the transition to emancipation connected with the obligation to pay tribute, and forms a counterpart to rural settlement. It is certainly not necessary that the boasted patriarchal relation should be put * Gurney, p. 54. Madison Papers, üi. 1263.
M'Gregor's America, i. 423. Martel's Briefe, p. 64. | Statutes, p. 1478.