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circles of society at the South, this would be thought low and vulgar-equally so with buying up horses and swine. But slave-trading on a sufficiently large scale is considered a reputable employment, just as the large importers and distillers of rum are respected among us, while the dealer of drams is despised. The items that follow are from the work of Mr. Weld, just mentioned, and which, for thirteen years past, has had an extensive circulation and eager perusal in our widely extended country, without having had one of its vast collection of facts disproved or even questioned, to our knowledge.
"That they" (the smaller dealers) “are not despised because it is their business to trade in human beings and bring them to market, is plain from the fact that when some 'gentleman of property and standing,' and of a good family,' embarks in a negro speculation, and employs a dozen ‘soul-drivers' to traverse the upper country and drive to the South cofiles of slaves, expending hundreds of thousands in his wholesale purchases, he does not lose caste.
"It is known in Alabama that Mr. ERWIN, son-inlaw of HENRY CLAY, and brother of J. P. Erwin, formerly postmaster and late Mayor of the city of Nashville, laid the foundation of a princely fortune in the slave-trade carried on from the Northern slave States to the planting South ; that Hon. H. HITCHCOCK, brother-in-law of Mr. E., and since one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Alabama, was interested with him in the traffic; and that a late member of the Kentucky Senate, (Col. WALL,) not only carried on the same business a few years ago, but accompanied his droves in person down the Mississippi. Not as the driver, for that would be vulgar drudgery, beneath a gentleman, but as a nabob in state, ordering his understrappers.
" It is also well known that President JACKSON was a 'soul-driver,' and that even so late as the year before the last war, he bought up a cofile of slaves and drove them down to Louisiana for sale.
“THOMAS N. GADSDEN, Esq., the principal slave auctioneer in Charleston, S. C., is of one of the first families, and moves in the very highest class of society there. He is a descendant of the distinguished General Gadsden, of revolutionary memory,” and "member of the Continental Congress," wards Governor of the State.” “The Rev. Dr. Gadsden, rector of St. Philip's Church, Charleston, and Rev. Philip Gadsden," and "Col. James Gadsden, of the U. States' Army, are his brothers.” “Under his hammer, men, women and children go off by thousands; its stroke probably sunders, daily, husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, perhaps to see each other's faces no more. Now, who supply the auction table of this Thomas Gadsden, Esq., with its loads of human merchandise ? These same detested soul-drivers,' forsooth, (as they are sometimes called, even at the South.) They prowl through the country, buy, catch, and fetter them, and drive their chained cofiles to his stand, where Thomas Gadsden, Esq., knocks them off to the highest bidder, to Ex-Gov. Butler, perhaps, or to Ex-Gov. Hayne, or to Hon. Robert Barnwell Rhett,” (M. C.,)“or (it may be) to his own Reverend brother, Dr. Gadsden." (Weld's “Slavery as it is,” p. 174.)
One illustration more must suffice. During the great negro speculation of 1836, when all the
negroconsuming States were insanely eager to purchase at high prices, and all the negro-breeding States were enriching themselves with the sales, the souldrivers,' now multiplied beyond all former precedent, were separating wives and husbands, parents and children, with unwonted celerity, and driving them in chained coffles, or droves, as speedily as possible to the market. The whole South was feverish and in motion. Money for the operation was in brisk demand. The banks extended their loans, and were drained. Capitalists demanded high rates of interest. Through the banks they made loans to the speculators. Then it was that the Trustees of the Gen. eral Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, lured by these high rates of interest, though well knowing, as every body did, the purposes for which their capital was wanted, withdrew their funds, to the amount of $94,692.88, from a Northern institution where they were drawing the usual interest, and invested them in the Southwestern banks, where they would be loaned to the speculators in the bodies and souls of men, women, and children. In the re-action and general bankruptcy that followed, the Presbyterian Church lost $68,893.88 of their funds. Had the General Assembly and its Trustees understood and felt, as they should have done, the sinfulness of "the legal relation of master and slave," they would have understood and felt the sinfulness of this abominable slave-trade which the relation involves, and the consequent sinfulness of loaning money to carry it on. But they deemed it "ultra" and "fanatical" to recognize these self-evident truths. And therefore they lost the greater part of their funds.
We dismiss this feature of the Slave Code, presuming that its paternity, its character, its vitality, and its practical workings have now been made sufficiently clear. In this feature of the system, its Slave Traffic, the people have been found no better than their laws, and the Church no better than the people.
SEIZURE OF SLAVE PROPERTY FOR DEBT.
As Property, Slaves may be seized and sold to pay the Debts of their Owners,
while living, or for the settlement of their Estates, after their decease.
This is evident from the very nature of property, especially of chattels personal, as well as from the fact that slaves may be bought and sold, and pawned or mortgaged for the security of debts. A pawn or mortgage is of the nature of barter. If not redeemed, it becomes a barter in the end. And barter is only one form of purchase and sale. Whatever may be bought and sold may be bartered, consequently mortgaged; and, if unredeemed, seized, taken possession of.
The very definition of slave property, as cited in Chapter I., specifies this incident. They "may be sold, transferred, and pawned.” They are "chattels personal, to all intents, constructions and purposes whatsoever."
"The slave, being a personal chattel, is at all times liable to be sold absolutely, or mortgaged, or leased, at the will of his master. He may also be sold by process of law for the satisfaction of the debts of a