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in these arts, and the friends of liberty themselves have thereby been led, in some instances, to make unwise and unfortunate concessions.
In this book we shall endeavor to show what "the legal relation” is; what the usages of slaveholders generally are; and the natural and necessary correspondence and connection between them. In describing the “legal relation,” we shall use the testimony of slaveholders themselves, in their own language, set forth in the most solemn and authenticated form, the public testimony of their legislative acts and judicial decisions, made for the very purpose of defining and enforcing that relation. If such testimony cannot be received, there is an end to all rational discussion. Our account of the usages and practices current among slaveholders will be found sufficiently authenticated by their own testimony, and by other unimpeachable witnesses. More than all this: The intelligent and reflecting reader will be compelled, if we mistake not, to perceive that the connection between the li gal relation" and the most frightful "abuses” is that of cause and effect, or more properly, of a WHOLE with its constituent and essential PARTS, insomuch that the presence of the one implies and certifies the presence of the other.
In speaking (as we are conipelled by the prevailing use of language to do) of "the legal relation,” of the “laws" of slavery and of slave "owners," we must not be understood to concede the “legality” of such a relation, or the validity of such “laws," or the reality of such “ownership,” in the proper mean. ing of those terms. The “law of sin and death" is not obligatory law. “Mischief framed by a law" binds men to nothing but to the repudiation and contempt on it. “If it be found," says Lord Littleton, “that a former decision is manifestly absurd and unjust, it is declared, not that such a sentence was bad law, but that it was not law.” “It is generally laid down that acts of Parliament contrary to reason are void.” Of the character and validity of the Slave Code the reader of this volume will have an opportunity to judge, when he shall have carefully examined and considered it.
N. B.-It is sometimes alleged that the severe laws against the oducation and free religious worship of slaves were occasioned by the impertinent interference of abolitionists. But it will be found, on an examination of their dates, that, with few exceptions, they were enacted long before any of the Abolition Societies were formed, and even before the American Revolution.
On the other hand, it is sometimes said that these and other severe enactments are antiquated and obsolete. It is marvellous to see with how much confidence these self-confuting statements are made by the same persons. The careful reader of the following pages will find ample evidence that both these pleas are without a shadow of foundation.
Fundamental Idea of modern Slaveholding; namely, the assumed principle of
Human Chattelboot, or Property in Man ; constituting the relation of Owner and Property-of Master and Slave.
SOUTH CAROLINA.—"Slaves shall be deemed, sold, taken, reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels personal, in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.” (2 Brevard's Digest, 229; Prince's Digest, 446, &c., &c.) LOUISIANA.—“A slave is one who is in the
power of a master to whom he belongs.
The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry and his labor. He can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire any thing, but what must belong to his master.” (Civil Code, Art. 35.)
The slave is entirely subject to the will of his master, who may correct and chastise him, though not with unusual rigor, or so as to maim and mutilate him, or expose him to the danger of loss of life, or to cause his death." (Art. 173.)
It will be found, as we proceed, that this attempted