Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

SLAVERY IN THE REVOLUTION.

giarism from the Mecklenburg (N. | taining happiness and safety.” See C.) Declaration of April 20th, pre- also the Mecklenburg Declaration. ceding, he indignantly repelled; but The original draft of the Declarahe always observed that he employed | tion of American Independence was whatever terms best expressed his first communicated by Mr. Jefferson thought, and would not say how far separately to two of his colleagues, he was indebted for them to his read- John Adams and Benjamin Franking, how far to his original reflec- lin, on the committee chosen by Contions. Even the great fundamental gress to prepare it; then to the whole

TO

has so memorably set forth as follows: Roger Sherman and Robert R. Liv“We hold these truths to be self ingston; reported, after twenty days evident, that all men are created gestation, on the 28th of June; read equal; that they are endowed by in Committee of the Whole on the their Creator with certain inaliena- 1st of July; earnestly debated and ble rights; that among these, are life, scanned throughout the three followliberty, and the pursuit of happiness; ing days, until finally adopted on the that to secure these rights govern- evening of the 4th. It may safely ments are instituted among men, be said that not an affirmation, not a deriving their just powers from the sentiment, was put forth therein to consent of the governed ; that, when the world, which had not received ever any form of government be- the deliberate approbation of such comes destructive of these ends, it is cautious, conservative minds as those the right of the people to alter or to of Franklin, John Adams, and Roger abolish it, and to institute a new gov- Sherman, and of the American Peoernment, laying its foundations on ple, as well as their representatives such principles, and organizing its in Congress, those of South Carolina powers in such form, as to them shall and Georgia included. seem most likely to effect their safety The progress of the Revolution and happiness," was no novelty to justified and deepened these conviethose who hailed and responded to tions. Slavery was soon proved our it. Three weeks before, the Virginia chief source of weakness and of peril. Convention had unanimously adopt. Of our three millions of people, half

o

on the 27th of May by George Ma- and though all the colonies tolerated, son, which proclaims that “All men and most of them expressly legalized are by nature equally free, and have slaveholding, the slaves, nearly coninherent rights, of which, when they centrated in the Southern States, enter into a state of society, they paralyzed the energies and enfeebled cannot, by any compact, deprive or the efforts of their patriots. Incited divest their posterity; namely, the by proclamations of royal governors enjoyment of life and liberty, with and military commanders, thousands the means of acquiring and possess of the negroes escaped to British ing property, and pursuing and ob- camps and garrisons, and were there manumitted and protected; while The documents and correspondence the master race, alarmed for the of the Revolution are full of comsafety of their families, were unable plaints by Southern slaveholders of or unwilling to enlist in the Conti- their helplessness and peril, because nental armies, or even to be called of Slavery, and of the necessity thereinto service as militia.

4 The grandfather of James M. Mason, late U.S. Senator from Virginia, since Confederate

Emissary to England. George Mason was one of Virginia's most illustrious sons.

by created of their more efficient deThe number of slaves in the States fense and protection. The New respectively, at the time of the Revo- England States, with a population lution, is not known. But it may be less numerous than that of Virginia, closely approximated by the aid of the Carolinas, and Georgia, furnished the census of 1790, wherein the more than double the number of slave population is returned as fol-. soldiers to battle for the common lows:

cause. The South was repeatedly

overrun, and regarded as substanNew Hampshire....... 158 Delaware...

tially subdued, by armies that would

293,427 2,759 North Carolina ...

not have ventured to invade New

England, and could not have mainPennsylvania ........ 3,737 Tennessee. ........ tained themselves a month on her

lessee. ......... 3,417 Total.............. 40,3701 Total............... 657,527 | soil. Indeed, after Gage's expulsion

[graphic]

NORTH.

SOUTH.

8,887 Vermont...........

17 Maryland........... 103,036 Rhölle Island....... 952 Virginia. ..... Connecticut...........

100,572 Massachusetts 6......'none South Carolina...... 107,094 New York........... 21,324 Georgia............. 29,264 New Jersey......... 11,423 Kentucky..

......... 11.830

[ocr errors]

5 The number of troops employed by the Colo- | with Franklin and Jay for negotiating peace pies during the entire Revolutionary war, as with Great Britain, on the 14th of August, 1776, well as the number furnished by each, is shown wrote from Charleston, S. C., to his son, then in by the following, which is compiled from statis England, a letter explaining and justifying his tics contained in a work published by Jacob resolution to stand or fall with the cause of Moore, Concord, entitled, “Collections of the American Independence, in which he said: New Hampshire Historical Society for the year “You know, my dear son, I abhor Slavery. I 1824," vol. i., p. 236.

was born in a country where Slavery had been

established by British kings and parliaments, as New Hampshire ...

12,496 2,093

by the laws of that country, ages before my exMassachusetts.....

68,007 | 15,155

istence. I found the Christian religion and Rhode Island ..

5,878 4,284

Slavery growing under the same authority and Connecticut......

32,039 7,792

cultivation. I nevertheless disliked it. In New York .......

18,331 3,304

former days, there was no combating the prejuNew Jersey....

10,726 6,055

dices of men supported by interest: the day, I Pennsylvania ....

25,608

hope, is approaching, when from principles of Delaware ........

2,317 376 gratitude, as well as justice, every man shall Maryland ........

13,912 4,127

strive to be foremost in showing his readiness to Virginia .........

26,668 5,620

comply with the golden rule. Not less than North Carolina ...

7,263

twenty thousand pounds sterling would all my South Carolina .......

6,417

negroes produce, if sold at public auction toGeorgia .................. 2,679

morrow. I am not the man who enslaved them;

they are indebted to Englishmen for that favor: Total ......... ........) 232,341 / 56,163

nevertheless, I am devising means for manumit

ting many of them, and for cutting off the entail 6 Massachusetts adopted a new State Consti of slavery. Great powers oppose me,--the laws tution in 1780, to which a bill of rights was pre and customs of my country, my own and the fixed, which her Supreme Court soon after de- | avarice of my countrymen. What will my chilcided was inconsistent with the maintenance of

dren say if I deprive them of so much estate?

These are difficulties, but not insuperable. I Slavery, which had been thus abolished.

will do as much as I can in my time, and leave Pennsylvania had passed an act of Gradual | the rest to a better hand. Emancipation in 1780.

"I am not one of those who arrogate the pe& Henry Laurens of South Carolina, two years

culiar care of Providence in each fortunate event;

nor one of those who dare trust in Providence President of the Continental Congress, appointed

for defense and security of their own liberty, Minister to Holland, and captured on his way while they enslave, and wish to continue in, thither by a British cruiser, finally Commissioner | slavery, thousands who are as well entitled to

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

THE STATES AND THEIR TERRITORIES.

der at Saratoga, New England, save in connection with the discovery the islands on her coast, was pretty and elucidation, already noticed, of carefully avoided by the Royalist elemental principles, had pretty generals, and only assailed by raids, thoroughly cured the North of all which were finished almost as soon attachment to, or disposition to jusas begun. These facts, vividly im- tify Slavery before the close of the pressed on the general mind by the Revolutionary war.

IV.

SLAVERY UNDER THE CONFEDERATION.

As the public burdens were con- chartered claim to such lands much stantly swelled, and the debts of the beyond the limits of their then actual several States increased, by the mag- settlements, that their partners in the nitude and duration of our Revolu- efforts, responsibilities, and sacrifices tionary struggle, the sale of yet un- of the common struggle were likely settled lands, especially in the vast to reap a peculiar and disproporand fertile West, began to be regard tionate advantage from its success. ed as a principal resource for the Massachusetts, Connecticut, New ultimate discharge of these constantly York, Virginia, North Carolina, and augmenting liabilities : and it be- Georgia, each claimed, under their came a matter of just complaint and several charters, a right of almost inuneasiness on the part of those States--- finite extension westward, and, in the Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, event of the establishment of Ameriand South Carolina—which had no can independence, would naturally

freedom as themselves. I perceive the work in order to get their liberty. Our oppressors before me is great. I shall appear to many as a have planned to gain the blacks, and induce them promoter not only of strange, but of dangerous to take up arms against us, by promising them doctrines: it will therefore be necessary to pro- liberty on this condition; and this plan they are ceed with caution. You are apparently deeply prosecuting to the utmost of their power, by interested in this affair; but, as I have no doubts which means they have persuaded numbers to concerning your concurrence and approbation, I join them. And, should we attempt to restrain most sincerely wish for your advice and assist them by force and severity, keeping a strict ance, and hope to receive both in good time."---- guard over them, and punishing them severely Collection of the Zenger Club, pp. 20, 21.

who shall be detected in attempting to join our 9 The famous Rev. Samuel Hopkins, D.D., an

opposers, this will only be making bad worse,

and serve to render our inconsistence, oppression, eminent Calvinist divine, published, soon after

and cruelty more criminal, perspicuous, and the commencement of the war, a dialogue con

shocking, and bring down the righteous vencerning the slavery of the Africans, which he geance of Heaven on our heads. The only way dedicated to . “The Honorable Continental pointed out to prevent this threatening evil is to Congress, and of which the following passage

set the blacks at liberty ourselves, by some publie exhibits the drift and purpose:

acts and laws, and then give them proper en

couragement to labor, or take arms in the defense "God is so ordering it in his providence, that of the American cause, as they shall choose. This it seems absolutely necessary something should would at once be doing them some degree of be speedily done with respect to the slaves | justice, and defeating our enemies in the scheme among us, in order to our safety, and to prevent that they are prosecuting."--Hopkins's Works, their turning against us in our present struggle, vol. ii., p. 584.

10

.

o

each possess a vast area of unpeopled, their respective charters, now known ungranted, and ultimately valuable as Tennessee, Alabama, and Missislands. The landless States, with ob- sippi. vious reason and justice, insisted that Though the war was practically these lands, won by the common concluded by the surrender of Cornvalor and sacrifices of the whole wallis at Yorktown, October 19, American people, should be regarded 1781, and though the treaty of peace as their common property, and to was signed at Paris, November 30, this end should be surrendered or 1782, the British did not evacuate ceded by the States claiming them New York till November 25, 1783; respectively to the Confederation, and the Ninth Continental Congress, The colonial charters, moreover, were which convened at Philadelphia on glaringly inconsistent with each the 3d of that month, adjourned next other; vast tracts being ceded by day to Annapolis. A bare quorum them to two or more colonies respectively; and it was a puzzling question, but one and another soon dropped even for lawyers, to determine wheth-off; so that the journal of most days er the earliest or the latest royal con- records no quorum present, and no cession, if either, should have the pre- business done, until about the 1st cedence. There was but one benefi- day of March, 1784. On that day, cent and just solution for all dis- Mr. Jefferson, on behalf of the deleputes and difficulties in the premises; gates from his State, presented the and this was a quit-claim by the re- deed of cession to the Confederation, spective States of their several rights by Virginia, of all her claims to juand pretensions to lands exterior to risdiction over territory northwest of their own proper boundaries, in favor the Ohio, and to the soil also of that of the common Confederacy. This territory, subject to the reservation consummation was, for the most part, in behalf of her soldiers already seasonably and cheerfully agreed to. noted. This deed being formally Connecticut made a moderate reser- accepted, Mr. Jefferson moved the vation of wild lands assured to her appointment of a select committee to by her charter in what is now Northern Ohio. Virginia, beside retain western territory; and Messrs. Jeffering her partially settled country son, Chase of Maryland, and Howell south of the Ohio, now forming the of Rhode Island, were appointed such State of Kentucky, reserved a suffi- committee. From this committee, ciency north of the Ohio to provide Mr. Jefferson, in due time, reporte liberal bounties for her officers and an Ordinance for the government of soldiers who fought in the war of the “ the territory, ceded already, or to Revolution, conceding all other ter- be ceded, by individual States to the ritory north of the river, and all ju- United States," specifying that such risdiction over this. And it was pre- territory extends from the 31st to the sumed, at the close of the war, that 47th degree of north latitude, so as North Carolina and Georgia would to include what now constitutes the promptly make similar concessions of States of Tennessee, Alabama, and the then savage regions covered by Mississippi, but which was then, and

and

[merged small][ocr errors]

remained for some years thereafter, particular State within which such alteration unceded to the Union by North Car- | 18 proposed to be made.' olina and Georgia. This entire ter- On the 19th of April, Congress ritory, ceded and to be ceded, was took up this plan for consideration divided prospectively by the Ordi- | and action, and Mr. Spaight of N. nance into embryo States, to which O. moved that the fifth proposition names were given ; each of them to above quoted, prohibiting Slavery receive, in due time, a temporary or after the year 1800, be stricken out territorial government, and ulti- of the Ordinance; and Mr. Read of S. mately to be admitted into the Con-C. seconded the motion. The quesfederation of States upon the express tion was put in this form: “Shall assent of two-thirds of the preceding | | the words moved to be stricken out States; but both their temporary stand ?" and on this question the and their permanent governments Ays and Noes were required and were to be established on these fun- taken, with the following result: damental conditions :

N. HAMP...Mr. Foster.......ay, “1. That they shall forever remain a part

Mr. Blanchard....ay, 149 of the United States of America.

MASSACHU..Mr. Gerry.......ay, "2. That, in their persons, property, and

Mr. Partridge....ay, 5territory, they shall be subject to the gov R. ISLAND..Mr. Ellery .......ay, ernment of the United States, in Congress

Mr. Howell......ay, 14%. assembled, and to the Articles of Confedera- | CONNECT... Mr. Sherman.....ay. tion, in all those cases in which the original

Mr. Wadsworth...ay, s

ay; } Ay. States shall be so subject.

| NEW YORK.Mr. De Witt.....ay, Le "3. That they shall be subject to pay a

Mr. Paine........ay, part of the Federal debts, contracted or to N. JERSEY..Mr. Dick.........ay, 1 No vote.' be contracted; to be apportioned on them by PENNSYL... Mr. Mifflin .......ay, Congress, according to the same common

Mr. Montgomery..ay, 4 Ay. rule and measure by which apportionments

Mr. Hand........ay, ) thereof shall be made on the other States. | MARYLAND.Mr. Henry.......no, len “4. That their respective governments

Mr. Stone........ no, shall be in republican forms, and shall admit | VIRGINIA. . Mr. Jefferson.....ay, no person to be a citizen who holds an he

Mr. Hardy.......no, No. reditary title.

Mr. Mercer.......no, "5. That after the year 1800 of the Chris

| N. CAROLI..Mr. Williamson...ay, Divided tian era, there shall be neither Slavery nor

Mr. Spaight. .....no, involuntary servitude in any of the said S. CAROLI... Mr. Read........no, ? States, otherwise than in punishment of

Mr. Beresford....no, crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally

The votes of members were sixteen guilty.”

for Mr. Jefferson's interdiction of The Ordinance concluded as fol

Slavery to seven against it, and the lows:

States stood recorded six for it to three " That all the preceding articles shall be

against it. But the Articles of Conformed into a charter of compact ; shall be duly executed by the President of the United federation required an affirmative States, in Congress assembled, under his

vote of a majority of all the States to hand and the seal of the United States; shall be promulgated, and shall stand as funda

sustain a proposition; and thus the mental conditions between the thirteen orig restriction failed through the absence inal States and those newly described, unal

of a member from New Jersey, renterable but by the joint consent of the United States, in Congress assembled, and of the dering the vote of that State null for

1 By the Articles of Confederation, two or cast the vote of a State. New Jersey, therefore, more delegates were required to be present to | failed to vote.

« AnteriorContinuar »