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"There, gentlemen of the South, you have the definitions of the transitive verb abolish and its two derivative nouns, abolition and abolitionist ; can you, with the keenest possible penetration of vision, detect in either of these words even a tittle of the opprobrium which the oligarchs, in their wily and inhuman efforts to enslave all working classes irrespective of race or color, have endeavored to attach to them? We know you cannot ; abolition is but another name for patriotism, and its other special synonyms are generosity, magnanimity, reason, prudence, wisdom, religion, progress, justice, and humanity.
And here, by the way, we may as well explain whom we refer to when we speak of gentlemen of the South We say, therefore, that, deeply impressed with the conviction that slavery is a great social and political evil, a sia and a crime, in the fullest sense, whenever we speak of gentlemen of the South, or of gentlemen anywhere, or at whatever time, or in whatever connection we may speak of gentlemen, we seldom allude to slaveholders, for the simple reason that, with few exceptions, we cannot conscientiously recognize them as gentlemen. It is only in those rare instances where the crime is mitigated by circumstances over which the slaveholder has had no control, or where he himself, convinced of the impropriety, the folly and the wickedness of the institution, is anxious to abolish it, that we can sincerely apply to him the sacred appellation in question-an appellation which we would no sooner think of applying to a pro-slavery slaveholder, or any other pro-slavery man, than we would think of applying it to a border-ruflian, a thief, or a murderer. Let it be under
stood, however, that the rare instances of which we speak are less rare than many persons may suppose. We are personally acquainted with several slaveholders in North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, who have unreservedly assured us that they were disgusted with the institution, and some of them went so far as to say they would head to acquiesce in the provision of a statute which would make it obligatory on them all to manumit their slaves, wituout the smallest shadow or substance of compensation. These, we believe, are the sentiments of all the respectable and patriotic slaveholders, who have eyes to see, and see-ears to hear, and hear; who, perceiving the impoverishing and degrading effects of slavery, are unwilling to entail it on their children, and who, on account of their undeviating adherence to truth and justice, are, like the more intelligent nonslaveholders, worthy of being regarded as gentlemen in every sense of the term. Such slaveholders were Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and other illustrious Virginians, who, in the language of the great chief himself, declared it among their “first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery, in this country, may be abolished by law.” The words embraced within this quotation were used by Washington, in a letter to John F. Mercer, dated September 9th, 1786—a letter from which we shall quote more freely hereafter ; and we think his emphatic use of the participle abolish, at that early day, is proof positive that the glorious “ Father of his Country is entitled to the first place in the calendar of primitive American abolitionists.
It is against slavery on the whole, and against slave holders as a body, that we wage an exterminating war. Those persons who, under the infamous slave-laws of the South—laws which have been correctly spoken of as a "disgrace to civilization,” and which must be annulled simultaneously with the abolition of slavery-have had the vile institution entailed on them contrary to their wills, are virtually on our side ; we may, therefore, very properly strike them off from the black list of three hundred and forty-seven thousand slaveholders, who, as a body, have shocked the civilized world with their barba rous conduct, and from whose conceited and presumptuous ranks are selected the officers who do all the legisla tion, town, county, state and national, for (against) five millions of poor outraged whites, and three millions of enslaved negroes.
Non-slaveholders of the South ! farmers, mechanics and workingmen, we take this occasion to assure you that the slaveholders, the arrogant demagogues whom you have elected to offices of honor and profit, have hoodwinked you, trifled with you, and used you as mere tools for the consummation of their wicked designs. They have purposely kept you in ignorance, and have, by moulding your passions and prejudices to suit themselves, induced you to act in direct opposition to your dearest rights and interests. By a system of the grossest subterfuge and misre presentation, and in order to avert, for a season, the ver geance that will most assuredly overtake them ere long, they have taught you to hate the abolitionists, who are your best and only true friends. Now, as one of your
own number, we appeal to you to join us in our patriotic endeavors to rescue the generous soil of the South from the usurped and desolating control of these political vampires. Once and forever, at least so far as this country is concerned, the infernal question of slavery must be disposed of ; a speedy and perfect abolishment of the whole institation is the true policy of the South-and this is the policy which we propose to pursue. Will you aid us, will you assist us, will you be freemen, or will you be slaves ? These are questions of vital importance; weigh them well in your minds ; come to a prudent and firm decision, and hold yourselves in readiness to act in accordance therewith. You must either be for us or against us-antislavery or pro-slavery ; it is impossible for you to occupy a neutral ground; it is as certain as fate itself, that if you do not voluntarily oppose the usurpations and outrages of the slavocrats, they will force you into involuntary compliance with their infamous measures. Consider well the aggressive, fraudulent and despotic power which they have exercised in the affairs of Kanzas; and remember that, if, by adhering to erroneous principles of neutrality or non-resistance, you allow them to force the curse of slavery on that vast and fertile field, the broad area of all the surrounding States and Territories — the whole nation, in fact, will soon fall a prey to their diabolical intrigues and machinations. Thus, if you are not vigilant, will they take advantage of your neutrality, and make you and others the victims of their inhuman despotism. Do not reserve the strength of your arms until you shall have been rendered powerless to strike; the present is the
proper time for action ; under all the circumstances, apathy or indifference is a crime. First ascertain, as nearly as you can, the precise nature and extent of your duty, and then, without a moment's delay, perform it in good faith. To facilitate you in determining what considerations of right, justice and humanity require at your hands, is one of the primary objects of this work ; and we shall certainly fail in our desire if we do not accomplish our task in a manner acceptable to God and advantageous ta
man. ;; But we are carrying this chapter beyond all ordinary
bounds; and yet, there are many important particulars in which we have drawn no comparison between the free and the slave States. The more weighty remarks which we intended to offer in relation to the new States of the West and Southwest, free and slave, shall appear in the succeeding chapter. With regard to agriculture, and all the multifarious interests of husbandry, we deem it quite un necessary to say more. Cotton has been shorn of its magic power, and is no longer King ; dried grass, commonly called hay, is, it seems, the rightful heir to the throne. Commerce, Manufactures, Literature, and other important subjects, shall be considered as we progress.