Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

bag, that had fallen on his back and was kicking upwards. He got his stick under the insect and gave it a toss, and it fell on its feet. "Now, go, poor devil. " said he, " hoe your own road. You have just as good a chance as any other bug of your kind." Our civilization proposes to give every child in the commonwealth the mastery of the English language, which holds all the treasures of poetry, fiction, science, philosophy, and religion, that the world has garnered. We mean to give to every boy sufficient knowledge of numbers to enable him to keep his accounts with the world with which he is to buffet—the ability to write, that he may embody his thoughts and send them to his distant friends, or transmit them to posterity, if they have sufficient value to carry them so far. When we have given him this education we . say to him, " Now, go forth—not poor devil, but brave boy—Go forth! The world is all before you. The highest honors in the land are open to you—its greatest wealth, its proudest positions. Your father was poor, and your home humble; and your clothes but indifferent while you were attending school; but that must not depress you. You are in a land of freedom, and at this very hour one who in his boyhood worked on a flat-boat, and in his manhood split rails, wields the helm of state of the proudest and greatest nation the world ever saw in its grandest crisis ; and as he, a laboring boy, rising from poverty, has won and honors that position, so may you." Our system does more than this. It stimulates the industry of every child. The smallest girl who tends a loom or spindle in yonder factory, is entitled to wages for every hour's work she does. She may be of foreign birth; she may not speak our language; she may be a cripple; but if she has industry and ability to tend one of your simplest machines, the law steps in and secures her wages for her work.

Let me give a familiar illustration as to the operation of our law on the subject. You live in a pretty village, and some of you are carpenters, fence-makers, etc. One of you may live near to a wealthy neighbor, who is not very generous, but who is a clever old fellow in his way. He wakes up some morning and finds that his fence has been blown down. He sees you walking about with your hands in your pocket, and falls into conversation with you. You say, "Mr. Jones, your fence .is'down." "Yes, John," he replies, "and I am almost too old to put it up. By the way, you are doing nothing; suppose you put it up." "Yes, Mr. Jones," say you, "I will do it gladly," and you go to work and put up his fence. From time to time neighbors pass and see you at work. When the job is done you go to Mr. Jones and say, "I have finished your fence." "Well, John," he replies, "I am very much obliged to you, I will go and look at it." He examines the work and says, "This is very capitally done; I think that the fence is better than it was before; T am really very much obliged to you." "But, Mr. Jones," say you, "I didn't put it up for thanks. It is my trade to do this sort of work, I don't mean to charge you much; but I have been so many days working at it, and my bill will be so much." "But," says he, "I didn't agree to pay you a dollar. I didn't think of such a thing. If I had known that you would charge me for it, I would have tried to do it myself; you had no work to do, and were loitering about here, and I thought that I was merely asking a' friendly turn by suggesting it to you." You reply, "Mr. Jones, pay me for my work. If you think that I charge too much, call in two or three disinterested men, and let them say what the work is worth. I only want the value of my labor." He refuses to pay, and you bring suit before a magistrate. In that suit what are you required to prove? Not that he agreed to pay you for the work, but simply that he asked you to do it; that you did it, and its value. You prove by your neighbors who saw you laboring from time to time, that you did the work, and establish by two or three judicious men the value of the work; and the alderman gives judgment in your favor; because the law of the State, yes, of every free-labor State, declares that every man, woman, and child who works shall have wages for that work. Mr. Jones may take his appeal to court. But when the case comes before the court, you prove the same facts, and the judge tells the jury what the law is, and the jury give you a verdict. They thus say that a man cannot violate the law of Pennsylvania by robbing the laborer of his hire, and by their verdict he is obliged to pay the alderman's costs and the court costs as a penalty for having tried to violate the law.

But, gentlemen, oifer system does more than this, it stimulates the inventive powers of our people, by securing to the poorest man who discovers a principle or invents a process the exclusive enjoyment for a long term of years of the results of his invention or discovery. It does everything possible to stimulate our industry, our energy, our ingenuity. Thus it obtains from every child born or brought into the Commonwealth the most and best that he or she is able to do. It expands and quickens its intellect; it stimulates its energy, its industry, its enterprise. Thus the free people of the North became wealthy, educated and powerful, and are coming to be recognized by all nations as the grandest people that have ever occupied any portion of God's earth. Thus I have hastily characterized one of the conflicting orders of civilization; that under which capital hires its labor. Now let us go to that portion of oar land where the other order under wjhich capital owns its labor prevails.

That which is owned can own nothing, even the patent cannot give him the results of his invention. When the slave earns a dollar he only^adds that amount to his master's wealth. A master may agree with his slave that if he will pay him so much he shall have his freedom, and the slave may earn or beg the amount, the whole amount, and pay it, and the master after receiving it may legally ignore the whole transaction and still hold him as a slave; because the law of the Slave States is that a slave, being a thing—being property—cannot make a contract. Thus the slave can have nothing. A slave who was charged with stealing his master's pig denied it. "Why," said the witnesses, i% how dare you say that you did not steal it? Didn't we see you carrying it off? Didn't we smell you cooking it? Weren't you eating it when we arrested you?" "Yes," replied the negro, "that is all true ; but I didn't steal the pig. Don't I belong to massa ?" " Certainly yon do." "Didn't the pig belong to massa?" "Yes," "Well, then, don't the pig belong to massa just as much when it is in me as it did before?" That is the other side of the case. When you, laboring men, have done your week's work—and a hard week's work it may have been, upon the roads or the streets, in the blacksmith shop or the factory—you go to your little home a happy man on Saturday night carrying your wages. When you kiss that wife of yours, you may not thrill as you did when your lips first touched hers ; but you are prouder of her and love her more tenderly than then, because it was she who gave you those bright boys and blooming girls. It is she who, though hers is the last watch at night, is prompt in the morning to get the cozy breakfast. It is she who sees those little ones off to school, in clean clothes, though they be "well patched." It is she who makes a proud man of you on Sunday as you and she wend your way to church, or while you rest from the week of weary labor, sees that the children go clean and in their last new suit to Sunday school and church, as proud as the children of your proudest neighbors. You plan with her what you are to do, and of the bright future that hope tells you is before each child. You talk with her of what you will do with the money that you are saving. She shares the dream of going some day West or South, and under that beneficent act, the homestead law, settling on 120 acres of public land for you and her and ten for each of your little ones. That by the way is one of those odious laws which the " Lincoln Congress" have passed, and which, though Andy Johnson had pressed it before a Democratic Congress for twenty-five years, had always been defeated, and which, when at last it was passed under a Democratic Administration, James Buchanan vetoed. That law, as you know, gives to each of you who is a single man eighty acres of public land, and to each of you who is a married man one hundred and twenty acres, with ten additional acres for each of your children. You dream of going and settling upon those public lands, and your good wife shares your dream. You are only waiting till you save enough money to pay the passage of yourselves and the little ones. That wife you love; and it would be worth the measure of the best man's life in the world to dare to insult her in your presence. What would be the worth of the life of the man who would dare to offer outrage to that fair daughter of yours in your home. But the laboring man ov woman who is owned has no home. The laborer who is owned has no wife. The father and the mother of slave children have no children to honor them in obedience to the Divine command. The wife may be put upon the block and sold before the eyes of the husband. The child may be put there while the father and mother plead that somebody who is to buy it will buy them also, that they may still be near the little thing. Do you think, men of Manayunk, that your condition would be improved by having a benevolent master to own you—to outrage your wife and daughter at will—to sell your children from you upon the auction block? Yet that has been the condition of four millions of people in the Southern States, and the question at issue is simply whether that system is better than ours. And the gentleman, in defending his side of the issue, complains because Congress gave the widows of the freed slaves who have been killed while fighting our battles the benefit of what is and has been for years the law of Pennsylvania. He says that the widow of a white soldier, who cannot produce the certificate of her marriage, must go without a pension. That is not so. The pension laws require her to prove that she was the soldier's wife. The law of Pennsylvania is, that cohabitation and reputation make a man and woman, for all legal purposes, husband and wife. Who says the ceremony at a Quaker wedding? Let any man and woman in this assemblage get up and say, "We are man and wife," and then go and live together for a week, and let that man be killed in the military service of the United States, and you will see whether that woman cannot get a pension as his widow, by proving that they were married according to the laws of Pennsylvania. Now, these people who have been owned, and bought and sold —whose masters would not allow them to be married—are fighting our battles, and because we have given them the benefit of the law of Pennsylvania, and declared that if a woman can prove she has been acknowledged; as a man's wife for the period of two years next preceding his death, and is the mother of his; children, she shall, in case of his death in the military service, be regarded as his lawful widow, and shall, with her children, receive a pension. The gentleman quarrels with that act because these people have '* skins not colored like his own," and are thus escaping from bondage into the light of our free civilization. I shall show you, before I get through, that many of these people, whom the gentleman talks about as "negroes," are white as himself or I, and are the kinsmen of the leaders of the Southern Confederacy. We have freed the colored children of Jefferson Davis and his brother Joseph. The daughter of General R. E. Lee is a woman I have often seen at Washington. She is not of her father's color; she is about midway between his and that of her colored mother.

But to return from a digression. Where the man is owned he can earn nothing for himself. He can have no wife or child to call his own—none that can be more sacred to him than the calf or sheep that his master owns and may sell. Where laborers are owned there are n© public schools. Why should the slave be taught? When the children of Israel were in bondage, their oppressors provided that no smith should be among them, lest he might fashion instruments of iron with which they would strike for freedom. All through the Southern States the laws, in the like spirit and for the same object, have provided that there shall-<be no schoolmaster among the slaves. By the law of every Slave State it has been made a felony to teach a colored person to read—they have not said in their acts " to read the Word of God ;" but the child who can read nothing cannot read that. While the Southern people have been contributing in a small way to missionary societies, etc., they have held four millions of human souls in the bondage of profoundest ignorance, and have imprisoned as a felon any man or woman who might undertake to teaGh any of them to read the Word of God. So, too, they have shut out all education from the poor white men of that section, not by statute, it is true, but as effectually. Your children cannot go to school if they are obliged to walk many miles; ano? where one man owns a plantation of three, five, or ten thousand acres, and has it worked by his three, five, or seven hundred, or his thousand slaves, the poor people living on little patches of ground have no chance for public schools. And outside of the city of Baltimore I do not know of a single public school in a slave State for white or black children—not one. In this way the poor white men are driven out of the South. If they want to have their children educated, they must leave their homes, sell their little property to their wealthy neighbors, and come to a Northern State, where there is a system of public education. Hence you find that Indiana and Illinois and the Northwestern States generally, are full of poor people, who have escaped from the oppression of the slave States, who have sold the graves of their fathers andthe homes of their childhood to come North, where there is social equality for the poor man and education for the poor man's child.

This war is, I aver, between these two conflicting systems of civilization. One system acknowledges matrimony between man and woman. It proposes to train up children in accordance with the commandment to ■' honor their father and their mother that their days may be long in the land which the Lord their God giveth them." It is a system in accordance with Christianity—a system under which the poor emigrant sees in his child the proud American citizen, the aspirant for wealth and honors, whether social or political. The other system denies to the laboring classes all their rights. "Ah!" but says my friend, "you are talking now about niggers—at least I was talking about niggers." I ask the gentleman whether the Almighty had the right to make his children of what color he pleased. He nor I, nor the slavemonger made the negro. The negro did not select his own color. If the Almighty had told him in advance what sort of a place America was, and advised him of the prejudice its people have against dark colors, and that he was going to send him here, and had asked him what color he would prefer, I have no doubt that the negro would have chosen to be of the white race. The Lord, my Father, made him. He made him in his own image, and he points him through the Scriptures to the Gross to which I go for. my highest hopes. I have no right, black and ugly though my Father's child be, to wrong and oppress him because o$ the act of that Almighty Father in giving him a color not like my own.

But I tell the gentleman that he is abusing the children of his friends; and I will show him to how large an extent these people, for whom he says we legislate too largely, are such. In answering, in Congress, arguments of the same drift as those presented by the gentleman, I had occasion to go to the census to show who and what the colored people of the South are. I beg leave to read a short extract from that speech. The charge was, not only that we wanted to give the negroes civil rights, but that you men of the North wanted to intermarry with them. I repudiated that charge, and answered it thus:—

"It is not the men of the North who have been enamored by that complexion which is described as the 'shadowed livery of the burning sun.' It is. not the men of the North who have laid their ' snowy hands' in 'palms of russets;' or * hung Europe's priceless pearl that shames the Orient on Afric's swarthy neck ;' or realized experimentally the truth of the poet's aphorism, that—

'In joining contrasts lieth Love's delight.'

"These exquisite and delicate sources of enjoyment have been in the exclusive possession of the Southern Democracy, the colaborers in politics of the gentleman who charges them so wantonly upon the people of his own section. He has never seen the white Northern man ■choose his companion from that race. I have by me the picture of a band of slaves sent North by General Banks, four of whom are as white as we who hold this discussion. They <iome from the colored schools recently established in New Orleans. They are children of Southern Democrats; born in Virginia and Louisiana, they were owned or sold by their fathers as negro slaves.

"I look, sir, upon that picture of Washington's companion in the Eevolution [pointing to the picture of La Fayette] and his fit associate in this Hall, and I remember that when on his tour through this country in 1824 he visited the Southern States, he very publicly expressed his surprise at finding the complexion of the negro population in the cities so largely changed from what it had been at the close of the revolutionary war.

44 But a few weeks ago, in conversation with a distinguished son of Kentucky, himself a slave-holder, upon the question now under discussion, he said to me that in 1849, he was at school at Danville,, Kentucky ; that there was there, on an average, three hundred young men, and that though the colored population of the town numbered six hundred, there were but six of pure African blood. The students at that school were not Northern Abolitionists or Republicans. They were the wealthy and educated young gentlemen of the Democratic South.

"But, sir, let this question not rest upon isolated instances or narrow localities. Let us look at the census of 1860. I find by it that more than half a million of the colored people of that section are, as I have already said, the kindred of the white race of the South. Thus, in Louisiana, of the free colored people, 81.29 per cent, are of mixed blood, while in Pennsylvania only 36.67 are of mixed blood. And here let me say that the latter are nearly all of Southern birth."

I then recalled an incident occurring in a Philadelphia court, where there were fifty witnesses, all colored, from Charleston and its vicinity, and among them all neither a white nor a black man; they were all of mixed blood.

Again, iij 1850, the census shows there were among the slaves seven and three-tenths per cent, of mixed blood. In ten years the per centage had increased to ten and forty-one one-hundredths per cent. I have seen slave girls as fair as the fairest among us; I have seen slave men as white as the whitest among you. Their complexion makes no difference in their rights, so long as the mother is a slave. The condition of the child of a slave follows that of the mother.

Now, my friends, we are in a war between these two orders of civilization. That war is made by the rebels to divide and destroy our country. They claimed first by peaceful but ■unconstitutional means, to force their accursed system of unpaid labor upon us; and when they could not do that, and found we resisted it, they organized a rebellion, and undertook to snatch from us by war more than half our country. We determined that they should not do it. We called out armies and sent them to the field; we created a navy; and all this while a large body of men, all those who loved the Democratic organization better than their country, remained at home finding fault with every act of the government. You know well that when I was in this town pleading for recruits to swell our army, the Democratic orators were going about the country denouncing the conscription, denouncing the suspension of the habeas corpus, asserting that the war was " Lincoln's war for the nigger," and thus trying to keep men from joining the army to crush the rebellion ; and what was more, inspiring every Southern rebel, whether civilian or soldier, with a hope that there would be a diversion in their behalf in the North. The rebels would have surrendered long ago but for the hope that the Democratic sympathy for them in the North would become practical and effective. They would surrender before a week, but that they hope the Democratic party, which holds the doctrine of my friend and is in such close sympathy with them, will achieve a victory at the coming election.

Now, what wrong thing have we done? Are we not right in maintaining our country? Do you want to maintain for yourselves and posterity your rights and interests in the Southern States? The Constitution gives you the right of citizenship in each one of those States. Do you desire to see the sunny South, with its fertile fields, its broad rivers, and the many blessings which it promises to you and your children, dissevered from your country? Are you willing that an alien confederacy shall be established whose boundary shall divide our country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, that may make war upon you at any and at all times? Some of you have come from the Old World, and you know that while France keeps up an army, England must keep up an army; and that while England and France keep up standing armies, the Germanic States must do so; and while these do so, Russia must pursue the same policy. In other words, you know that, in time of peace, all Europe is one immense camp. You know that the first-born boy of nearly every poor family is taken for the standing army or the navy. You know that the laboring people are taxed to maintain those standing armies and navies. Why? Because those countries are comparatively small, and each one is afraid to disarm, lest, if it should do so. some of the others may assail it.

Recognize a Confederacy on the south of us, and from that time forward we must maintain an army of half a million men, because our Southern neighbors would maintain such an army. By merely acknowledging their independence we should be brought to the condition of Europe, with a standing army and an immense navy, to support which the laboring men of the country would be eaten up. You know that there could not be peace between two countries divided by no mountain range, no broad sea—divided by nothing but an imaginary line, requiring for its discovery a surveyor with his instruments. What line is there to divide the so-called Southern Confederacy from the United States? Can you, as you go down the Baltimore Railroad, tell when you pass from Pennsylvania into Delaware, or when you pass from Delaware into Maryland? No, not one of you can. Nor can you tell when you pass from Iowa into Missouri, or from Pennsylvania into Maryland in the valley. There is no natural line of division. Every slave who might cross our lines would be followed by a master armed to seize him. This invasion of our territory would be resisted or resented, and so every slave who escaped would make a cause of war. If we could not live in peace under the Constitution, in God's name, how can we hope to live in peace as two armed Confederacies, watching and taunting each other from day to day? To acknowledge the independence of the rebellions States is to make war perpetual, and to doom ourselves and children to all the exactions and oppressions of European despotic life.

"But," says the gentleman, "you have put the negro on an equality with the white man by taking him as a soldier." My friends, from the outstart I have supported the policy of making the negro help fight this war. I could not see that he was a bit better than the white man. And I ask you, mother, was it not better that we should take the rebel's slave and put him in the ranks of our army to fight, than that we should take your son and put him there? I ask you, young wife, was it not better that we should take the rebel's slave, put a uniform on him and a musket in his hand, and say to him, "Now fight for our country and your freedom," than that we should take that young husband of yours and send him, under General McOlellan, into the swamps of the Chickahominy? Men of Manayunk, are you jealous of those negroes who are fighting, day by day, around Petersburg, to put down the rebellion? Do you, father, regret that it was not your son who was put to death at Fort Pillow, crucified by those towards whom the sympathies of the gentleman flow out so exuberantly? "No," say you, "we must put down this rebellion, and you were right in taking the rebel's laborer to do it."

Let me turn to a work that I wish every one of you would read. It is from the pen of a distinguished Democrat, a gentleman who represented Indiana for four years in Congress, and who was Mr. Buchanan's Minister at the Court of Naples. It is entitled "The Wrong of Slavery, the Right of Emancipation, and the Future of the African Race in the United States, by Robert Dale Owen." Its motto is, " Over the entire surface of the globe, the races who compel others to labor, without laboring themselves, fall to decay."

When the war began, we of the North were eighteen millions of people; the rebels were but eight millions of white people; yet they had nearly as much laboring and fighting power as we, as I shall show from this book. The slave girl and woman do the work each of a man. But to Mr. Owen's book:—

"We had need of all our resources, even to the uttermost. Had we at that time employed them all? Had we not, up to that time, left in the hands of our enemies, with scarcely an effort to disturb it, one of the chief elements of their military strength?—nay, an element so overwhelmingly influential in its practical results, that, according to its management against us or in our favor, might be the ultimate issues of the war—defeat if we neglected it, victory if we employed the opportunity! Let us look closely to this.

"By the census of 1860, the number of white males between the ages of eighteen and forty-five was, in the loyal States, about four millions; in the disloyal States, about a million three hundred thousand—let us say about three to one. The disparity seems great; but as a basis of military strength, the calculation is wholly fallacious; for the disloyal States contained, when the insurrection broke out, three millions and a half of people, who were not insurgents, who did not voluntarily assist in the rebellion, but who were compelled by force to render it most efficient aid.

"Out of the above four millions, the North had to provide soldiers and (with inconsiderable exception, not usually extending to field-labor) laborers also.

"Not so in the South. Her million three hundred thousand had more than their own number to aid them in military as well as agricultural labor; for, as among slaves both sexes are employed from an early age to a late period in life in the field, the number of laborers out of three millions and a half of slaves may fairly be put at two millions. Let us estimate three hundred thousand of these as employed in domestic service and other occupations followed by women among us, and we have seventeen hundred thousand plantation-hands, male and female, each one of whom counts against a Northern laborer on farm or in workshop, or a Northern soldier laboring on intrenchment or fortification; each one of whom, staying at home to labor liberates a white man for active military duty in the field.

"To one million three hundred thousand add one million seven hundred thousand, and we have three millions total in the insurgent States of numerical force available in this war; that is, of soldiers to fight and laborers to support the nation while fighting.

"Then supposing the negroes all loyal to their masters, or at least remaining to labor for them, the comparative military strength, so far as it is indicated by population, was as four in the North to three in the South.

"If we take into account that ours were the invading and attacking forces, while the insurgents had the advantage of acting upon their own territory, near to their supplies, with short inside lines of communication, and on the defensive, it need not surprise us that, after the lapse of a year and eight months of unintermitting war, the scale still remained in the balance, neither side yet hopelessly depressed.

"Under such a condition of national affairs, when there was a question of claims held by the enemy, upon which rested his powers to supply his armies with the necessaries of life, it was incumbent upon us to go much further than to inquire whether the commander-in-chief had the right to take and declare forfeited these claims. The true and fit question is, whether, without a flagrant violation of official duty, he had the right to refrain from taking them.

"You have no oath," our present Chief Magistrate said, addressing, in his Inaugural, the insurgents already in arms against lawful authority—" you have no oath registered in Heaven

« AnteriorContinuar »