Imágenes de páginas

the most curious and interesting chapters in the world's annals. A better acquaintance with it would tend to somewhat abate the intense egotism of Caucasian ignorance, by leading us to contemplate the not improbable idea of African savans of the eighth or tenth century discussing the possibility of ever elevating the white barbarians of the north, and questioning whether the Japhetic races were capable of civilization. But the prospects held ont by this region, of mercantile profits and the conquest of trade, will interest a much larger class. Strangely enough, there is lying nearer to Western Europe than is any of the great fields of its foreign commerce, a country of vast extent, and of almost unbounded fertility, and accessible to sea-going vessels, that has been waiting through weary ages to pour its wealth into the lap of any who will receive it. Its agricultural resources excel those of India, and rival our own Mississippi Valley; and the labor to develop these is at hand ready to be employed, at prices that would render American slave-labor ridiculously expensive, and for which European fabrics would be received to any extent purchasable by such products. The whole region is now one vast cotton-field, and the production of that staple seems to be easily capable of an indefinite expansion; and there is no reason to doubt that that country alone could very soon be made, by native industry, to supply raw cotton for the whole of Europe. We are glad to know that Great Britain already has her hand as well as her eye upon that good land; we trust before many years her flag will wave along the Niger, the Bénu-wé, and on the bosom of the Tsad, and that her strong but beneficent hand will bind the warring chiefs of all Sudan in the bonds of a peaceful commerce, and so achieve the redemption of a great nation.

We would, in closing, as a simple act of justice, commend these noble volumes as deserving a wider circulation and a more general reading than they have received. Of their intrinsic worth there can be but one opinion among all who know them, while, in point of interest or entertainment, we confess to have found them peculiarly valuable.

Art. IX.—THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY. Southern Presbyterian Review, January, 1861. Article Sixth : The

STATE OF THE COUNTRY. The article in the Southern Presbyterian Review, on “The State of the Country,” a production fresh from central South Carolina, is written by Dr. Thornwell, one of the leading minds of the Southern Presbyterian Church. As a defense of southern secession, it will, of course, be held as authoritative and conclusive in its own section. Before the bar of the civilized world, however, the very defense will be held a malfeasance. While the author was penning its unhappy periods, as near as we calculate, the organs of the different languages of Christian Europe, speaking the sentiments of both courts and people, were pouring forth their articulate anathemas against southern slaveholding treason. An earnest prayer in the noble heart of free Europe pulsated alike for the triumph of Garibaldi over the legions of Italian popery, and of Lincoln over the cabals of the American oligarchy. Doubtless there are in Europe as noble men, individually, as Dr. Thornwell, who are ready to utter their plea for the "peculiar institutions” of Southern Europe; but the pronunciation of a common infamy is emphatic upon them and him as advocates alike of causes accursed of God and man. Only the infamy upon him is deepest; inasmuch as the Italian “institution” is the remnant of a venerable past, while the South Carolinian is an upstart monster, a misbegotten cross between young despotism and modern democracy.

Dr. Thornwell denies that the desire of reopening the slave-trade is a motive for southern secession. In this he is doubtless sincere, for his Quarterly has opposed firmly, and on Christian grounds, the recommencement of that iniquity. But the developments even now transpiring convince us that, however free from participation he may now be, that project is a part of the political programme of the South Carolina traitors, and that Dr. Thornwell will be obliged in due time to give it his adhesion. He denies, too, that splendid dreams of empire and conquest have been a stimulant to the movement; but who can call to mind the schemes of fillibuster and Cuban purchase which have so filled the reveries of the cotton states for the last few years, without remembering that they were never surrendered-only for the time defeated. And while these schemes of fillibuster southward were agitating the public mind, who can forget that the breaking of the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas raid, and the plot to force a slavery constitution upon Kansas, were pushing the conquests of slavery northward. But one more national victory of the proslavery Democracy, and the decision of the Lemmon case would have opened the door to the remanding of slavery to the free states. But one turn still farther of the judicial screw, and emancipation even in our northern states would have been decided to be subversive of the rights of property, and contrary to the Constitution, and the plot would have been completed. Slavery would have been pronounced national; Abolitionists and anti-slavery men would have been lynched and hung as freely in New England as in Carolina ; and Senator Toombs might have built his slave-pen under the shadow of Bunker Hill. To such a denouement were we firmly and rapidly marching. From it we were saved, not by the advocates of compromise and preachers of pseudo-conservatism, but by fearless hearts and unshrinking voices; by men in Church and State who breasted the brunt of battle and won the victory that culminated in the election of Abraham Lincoln. By that triumph the cohorts of the slave power, so lately exulting in the prospect of laying the nation beneath their feet, were routed, driven in dishonor from power, and amid the exposures of their corruptions and treasons, were broken in sunder, and urged by their own madness down the precipice of rebellion.

It is to the resistance of the extension of slavery into the territories, as indicated by the election of Lincoln, that Dr. Thornwell attributes the secession. We accept the issue. If the extension of slavery and the formation of new slave states are the condition of union with slaveholders, we are ready to give them a walking paper-abite, evadite, festinate. The extension of slavery, carried out by those additions which would be by a series of purchases, conquests, and annexations, successively demanded upon pain of dissolving the Union, is but another name for the absolute supremacy of slavery over this nation and continent. This would be to transform our republic into an oligarchy, the most despotic ever inaugurated over a civilized people. It would, indeed, forsooth “preserve the Union;" but it would preserve the Union at the expense of all that renders the Union dear.

Dr. Thornwell's main position, to which all his utterances are subordinate, is, that the proper attitude of our government, as between slavery and freedom, is one of “ ABSOLUTE INDIFFERENCE OR NEUTRALITY.” It is a question between North and South, upon which neither side should be favored. Freedom is to be held as

the prospedishonor from powere broken

good as slavery, slavery as good as freedom; and the government is bound to know no preference for either. Subordinately to this he maintains, 1. That slavery is not the creature of local law, but has a presumptive prescription of universality; 2. That slavery, as a property relation, is sanctioned by the national Constitution; and, therefore, 3. It has a right to equal existence with freedom or against freedom in the territories, in defiance of all legislation.

Before stating a counter position, we may premise that had this governmental neutrality been historically maintained for the last thirty years, the antislavery contest and triumph would never have occurred. Historical fact it is that the last three administrations, at any rate, have been instruments of the slaveholding interest, in pushing proslavery aggression upon freedom and the North. Abolitionism, pure and proper, never would have gained influence in the North; but what abolitionism could not do, the pressure of southern aggression has done, namely, arouse and concentrate the North for freedom. Nor could the North be aroused until distinctly and clearly the ultimatum of complete subjugation to the slave power loomed in view. As that ultimate appeared in prospect, the Republican party sprung into existence; as the ultimate grew clearer the party increased in power, and when it was fully felt that the contest was not for the negro's rights, but for our own dear-bought liberties, its victory became destiny. How cool is the assurance of Dr. T. in telling us, at the terminus of such a series of proslavery aggressions, pushed upon the North with all the power of every branch of the government, that what the South asks is governmental “neutrality !”

Our counter position is this. From the foundations of our gov. ernment until this contest, freedom has been held accordant and slavery discordant with the fundamental principles of our republic. Freedom has been held the predominant rule, and slavery the dark and temporary exception. Slavery has no more been held as good as freedom than Satan as good as Messiah. Slavery was held simply to be suffered from due regard to existing interests; yet was the leaning to be toward freedom, and the limitation and ultimate termination of slavery held in view. Dr. Thornwell well knows that the perpetuity of slavery is a modern heresy. He is old enough to remember when the black dogma was first broached, that slavery was not an endurable evil, but a perpetuable good. He has had his share in the guilt of the propagation of this doctrine of Satan and John C. Calhoun. The very fact that the word slave was elaborately excluded from the Constitution proves the animus of the

body than any phrase, Pletter of the docud to that dis

body and the age that founded it. That studied silence, more eloquent than any phrase, proclaimed the temporal nature of slavery through every line and letter of the document. To that discountenance of slavery it bound our nation, and to that discouragement, by the grace of God, we mean to hold it bound. The framers of the Constitution, with their entire generation, held that slavery was speedily bound to die. Its existence at this very time is a shameless audacity, an infamous anachronism, an insult to the century, one of slavery's countless breaches of faith. Long since its duty was DEATH, and the voice of the age demands its execution.

The true philosophic history of the case is this: Certain individuals in the first place, without authority of law, purchase a number of human beings and use them as slaves. As the number of purchasers increases an institution and a class are formed. As the class grows powerful legislation sanctions, by regulating, the institution; and thus a degree of state interest is created. What, then, are the duties and rights of the surrounding community in regard to this institution ? Clearly, if founded in right, and accordant with the public good, to sustain and cherish it; if otherwise, by the judicious exercise of their franchises, but with due regard to vested rights, to check its growth and shape a course for its termination.

Again, in due time a confederacy of states is formed. The class is powerful, and is enabled to secure advantages and safeguards for itself. It imposes upon all the states the burden of restoring its fugitives, the obligation by fleets or armies to subdue insurrections, together with such a mode of representation that the owner of five hundred slaves shall have a power in the government equal to a village of three hundred Northern freemen. What now are the rights and duties especially of those upon whom these obligations are imposed ? Clearly the same as before. If the institution be founded in right, and accordant with public good, the burden should cheerfully be borne, and the institution and class be sustained and cherished. If otherwise, if founded in wrong, if injurious to public welfare and oppressive in its exactions, those who feel their weight have a full right to discuss their nature and to exercise their franchises, with due regard to vested rights, to abate the evils and limit their extension. It is useless to deny this right of discussion; it is equally useless to affirm that the people of the nation, or the government that represents the people, is bound to a strict “impartiality,” and deprived of all right to abate or check the evil.. No

« AnteriorContinuar »