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THE PRESBYTERIANS AND SLAVERY.
hierarchies, has been adverse to the delay than a regard for the public practical recognition of every inno- welfare demands !” and recommendcent man's right to his own limbs and ed that, if “a Christian professor sinews, and to sell or employ his own shall sell a slave, who is also in comlabor as to himself shall seem best. munion with our Church”—said slave
The Presbyterian, Congregational, not being a consenting party to the Baptist, and kindred “Orthodox” sale—the seller be “suspended till he denominations, have no very consist- shall repent and make reparation !” ent or luminous record on this sub- It need hardly be added that, with ject. Thus, the Presbyterian Gen- few and spasmodic exceptions, the eral Assembly did, at its session in Presbyterian Church thenceforth was 1794—long before its division into found apologizing for Slavery, and “Old School” and “New School”- censuring its determined assailants adopt a note to one of the questions far oftener than doing or devising in its longer Catechism, wherein, ex- anything to hasten that “ total abolipounding and applying the Eighth tion,” which it had solemnly proCommandment, it affirmed that the nounced a requirement of ChristianBiblical condemnation of "man- ity. And, though the Synod of Kenstealers"
tucky, in 1835, adopted a report on “comprehends all who are concerned in Slavery, which condemned slavebringing any of the human race into Slavery, holding broadly and thoroughly, and or retaining them therein. Stealers of men are those who bring off slaves or freemen, reprobated the domestic slave-trade and keep, sell, or buy them. To steal a as revolting, even horrible, in its freeman, says Grotius, is the highest kind cruelty, the same report admits that of theft,” etc., etc.
« those who hold to our communion, But this note was directed to be
are involved in it;" and no action erased by the General Assembly of
was taken whereby they should be 1816, in a resolve which characterizes Slavery as a “ mournful evil,” but required to choose between their condoes not direct that the churches benection with the Church and persist
ence in buying, holding, and selling purged of it. In 1818, a fresh AsViews,” wherein Slavery is reprobat- which occurred not long afterward, sembly adopted an “Expression of men, women, and children, as slaves.
Nor did the division of this Church, ed as a
work any improvement in this re“ gross violation of the most precious and sacred rights of human nature, utterly incon- spect. A majority of the slaveholding sistent with the law of God, which requires members, doubtless, adhered to the us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to “Old School ;" but the “New tally irreconcilable with the spirit and prin- School” did not see fit to make ciples of the gospel of Christ, which enjoin that all things whatsoever ye would that slaveholding a bar to its communion, men should do to you, do ye also to them.''
On the contrary, certain Presbyteries But, instead of requiring its mem- having done so, the General Assembers to clear themselves, and keep bly of 1843 censured their action, and clear, of slaveholding, the Assembly required that it be rescinded. And exhorted them to "continue and in- though, in 1846, the next General crease their exertions to effect a total Assembly reiterated, in substance, abolition of Slavery, with no greater the broad condemnation of Slavery
contained in the Expression of Views “any right, wish, or intention, to inin 1818, and in 1849 proclaimed that terfere with the civil and political
relation between master and slave, as “there has been no information before this Assembly to prove that the members of our it exists in the slaveholding States of Church, in the Slave States, are not doing this Union," condemned two minisall they can (situated as they are, in the ters who had delivered Abolition lecprovidence of God) to bring about the possession and enjoyment of liberty by the en- tures, and declared the opponents slaved,”
of Abolition “true friends to the it is as certain as that "fine words Church, to the slaves of the South, butter no parsnips,” that slaves con- and to the Constitution of our Countinued to be bought, held, and sold try.” by members of the “New," as well The Baptists of Virginia, in Genas of the “Old School” Presbyterian eral Assembly, 1789, upon a reference Church, and that, while Abolitionists from the session of the preceding were subject to continued and un- year, on motion of Elder John Lesparing denunciation in the common land, as well as the special organs and
Resolved, That Slavery is a violent deutterances of these rival sects, slave- privation of the rights of nature, and inconholders often filled the highest seats sistent with republican government; and
therefore we recommend it to our brethren in their respective synagogues, and to make use of every measure to extirpate Slavery regarded their aimless denun- this horrid evil from the land ; and pray Alciations and practical tolerance with mighty God that our honorable Legislature
may have it in their power to proclaim the serene complacency.
great jubilee, consistent with the principles
of good policy.” With the Baptists and Methodists But no similar declaration has -two very numerous and important been made by any Southern Baptist denominations, the case was some- State Convention since field-hands what different. Each of these rose to $1,000 each, and black inchurches was originally anti-Slavery. fants, at birth, were accounted worth The Methodists, in the infancy of $100. On the contrary, the Souththeir communion, were gathered ern Baptists have for thirty years mainly from among the poor and been among the foremost champions despised classes, and had much more of slaveholding as righteous and affiliation with slaves than with their Christian, and the Savannah River masters. Their discipline could with Baptist Association in 1835 gravely great difficulty be reconciled with decided that slave husbands and slaveholding by their laity, while it wives, separated by sale, should be decidedly could not be made to per- at liberty to take new partners; bemit slaveholding on the part of their cause Bishops; and this impelled the seces “such separation, among persons situated as sion, some twenty years since, of the our slaves are, is civilly a separation by “Methodist Church South,” carrying death, and they believe that, in the sight of
. To off most, but not all, of the churches second marriages, in such cases, would be located in the Slave States. The to expose the parties not only to greater General Conference held at Cincin-church censure for acting in obedience to
hardships and stronger temptations, but to nati in 1836 solemnly disclaimed their masters," etc., etc.
THE CHURCHES AND ABOLITION.
Thus adapting Christianity to far more of hindrance than of help Slavery, instead of requiring that from our ecclesiastical organizations. Slavery be made to square with the And this fact explains, if it does not requirements of Christianity. And excuse, the un-Orthodox, irreverent, , this is a fair specimen of what has and "infidel" tendencies which have passed for religion at the South for been so freely, and not always unreathe last thirty or forty years. sonably, ascribed to the apostles of
In full view of these facts, the Abolition. These have justly felt that Northern and Southern Baptists met the organized and recognized religion for thirty years in Triennial Conven- of the country has not treated their tion, over which slaveholders usually cause as it deserved and as they had a presided, and wherein the righteous- right to expect. The pioneers of “modness of slaveholding could not, there. ern Abolition” were almost uniformly fore, without seeming rudeness, be devout, pious, church-nurtured men, questioned. Abolition might be free- who, at the outset of their enterprise, ly stigmatized; slaveholding was ta- took the cause of the slave' to the citly admitted to be just and proper Clergy and the Church, with undoubtby the very constitution of the body. ing faith that it would there be recAnd by no sect or class have anti- ognized and by them adopted as the Slavery inculcations been more viru- cause of vital Christianity. Speaking lently reprobated than by the Bap- generally, they were repulsed and retists of the South.
sisted, quite as much to their astonThe Free-Will Baptists, several ishment as their mortification ; and bodies of Scottish Covenanters, and the resulting estrangement and hosother offsets from the original Pres- tility were proportioned to the fullbyterian stock, with certain of the ness of their trust, the bitterness of Methodist dissenters or seceders from their disappointment. It would have the great Methodist Episcopal organ- been wiser, doubtless, to have forization, have generally maintained an borne, and trusted, and reasoned, and attitude of hostility to Slavery. So, remonstrated, and supplicated; but of late years, have the greater num patience and policy are not the virber of Unitarian and Universalist con- | tues for which reformers are apt to ventions. But all these together are be distinguished; since, were they a decided minority of the American prudent and politic, they would choose People, or even of the professing some safer and sunnier path. No inChristians among them; and they surance company that had taken a do not at all shake the general truth large risk on the life of John the that the anti-Slavery cause, through. Baptist would have counseled or apout the years of its arduous and per- proved his freedom of speech with ilous struggle up from contempt and regard to the domestic relations of odium to respect and power, received Herod.
• Witness Lundy and Garrison at Boston, 1828. And life is thorny and youth is vain ; 3 " Alas! they had been friends in youth;
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness on the brain.”
- Coleridge's Christabel
THE PRO-SLAVERY REACTION.
The Liberator, by its uncompro- be. Other such rewards of $10,000, mising spirit and unsparing denunci- $50,000, and even $100,000, for the ations, soon challenged and secured, bodies or the heads of prominent to an extent quite unprecedented, the Abolitionists, were from time to time attention of adversaries. . Treating advertised; but these plagiarisms were Slavery uniformly as a crime to be re- seldom responsibly backed, and provpented, a wrong to be righted at the ed only the anxiety of the offerers earliest moment, if it did not convince to distinguish themselves and cheaply the understanding of slaveholders, it win a local popularity. Their aspect at least excited their wrath. Before it was not business-like. In several inhad been issued a year, while it had stances, Southern grand juries grave probably less than a thousand subscri- ly indicted Northern “ agitators" for bers, and while its editor and his part offenses against the peace and digner were still working all day as jour- nity of their respective States ; and in neymen printers, sleeping, after some at least one case a formal requisition hours' editorial labor, at night on the was made upon the Governor of New floor of their little sky-parlor office, York for the surrender of an Aboliand dreaming rather of how or where tionist who had never trod the soil of to get money or credit for the paper the offended State; but the Governor required for next week's issue than (Marcy), though ready to do what he of troubling the repose of States, they lawfully could to propitiate Southern were flattered by an act of the Legis- favor, was constrained respectfully to lature of Georgia, unanimously pass- decline. ed, and duly approved by Governor That “error of opinion may be safeLumpkin, offering the liberal reward ly tolerated where reason is left free of $5,000 to whomsoever should ar- to combat it,” is a truth that does rest, bring to trial, and prosecute to not seem to have occurred either to conviction, either of them under the the Southern or Northern contemners laws of that State—the arrest be- of the Garrisonian ultras. In fact, it ing the only difficult matter. There does not seem to have irradiated the was no reason to doubt that the prof- minds of the chief priests, scribes and fer was made in good faith, and that Pharisees of Christ's day, nor those the stipulated reward would have of the hereditary champions of estabbeen more promptly and cheerfully lished institutions and gainful tradipaid than Southern debts are apt to tions at almost any time. The South
1 Harrison Gray Otis, the wealthy and aristo iliary a negro boy, his supporters a few insignifcratic Mayor of Boston, being required by a icant persons of all colors"—whence the said Southern magistrate to suppress The Liberator Otis concluded that his paper ought not to diswhich was probably the first he had heard of it turb the slumbers of the quite significant and -in due season reported that his officers had potent Southrons. The superficial, purblind * ferreted out the paper and its editor, whose Mayor! office was an obscure hole, his only visible aux. ? Jefferson's Inaugural Address.
GEN. JACKSON FOR PENAL LEGISLATION.
ern journals and other oracles im- | sorts of publications, calculated to stimulate periously, wrathfully, demanded the them to insurrection, and to produce all the
horrors of a servile war. instant suppression and extinction of “There is, doubtless, no respectable porthe “incendiaries” and “fanatics,” tion of our fellow-countrymen who can be under the usual penalty of a dissolu- than that of indignant regret at conduct so
so far misled as to feel any other sentiment tion of the Union ;' to which was now destructive of the harmony and peace of added the annihilation of Northern the country, and so repugnant to the principrosperity and consequence through tates of humanity and religion. Our happi
ples of our national compact, and to the dica retributive withdrawal of Southern ness and prosperity essentially depend upon trade. The commercial and polit- peace within
our borders—and peace de
pends upon the maintenance, in good faith, ical interests at the North, which of those compromises of the Constitution regarded Southern favor as the sheet- upon which the Union is founded. It is for
tunate for the country that the good sense, anchor of their hopes, eagerly re
the generous feeling, and the deep-rooted sponded to these overtures, clamoring attachment of the people of the non-slavefor penal enactments and popular holding States to the Union, and to their
fellow-citizens of the same blood in the proofs of Northern fidelity to Consti- South, have given so strong and impressive tutional obligations. The former were a tone to the sentiments entertained against not forthcoming; in fact, the most the proceedings of the misguided persons
who have engaged in these unconstitutional adroit and skillful draftsman would and wicked attempts, and especially against have found it difficult to frame any dared to interfere in this matter, as to au
the emissaries from foreign parts who have such law as was required—any one thorize the hope that those attempts will no that would have subserved the end longer be persisted in. But, if these expresin view—that would not have directly sions of the public will shall not be sufficient
to effect so desirable a result, not a doubt and glaringly contravened the consti- can be entertained that the non-slaveholding tution or bill of rights of even the States, so far from countenancing the slightmost“conservative” State. Yet Pres- est interference with the constitutional
rights of the South, will be prompt to exerident Jackson did not hesitate, in cise their authority in suppressing, so far as his Annual Message of December 2, in them lies, whatever is calculated to pro
duce the evil. 1835, to say:
“In leaving the care of other branches of “I must also invite your attention to the this interesting subject to the State authoripainful excitement produced in the South ties, to whom they properly belong, it is by attempts to circulate, through the mails, nevertheless proper for Congress to take inflammatory appeals addressed to the pas- such measures as will prevent the Postsions of the slaves, in prints, and in various Office Department, which was designed to
* The following is an extract from the Augusta Resolutions, similar in spirit and demand, were (Ga) Chronicle of October, 1833.
adopted by the Legislatures of South Carolina, * We firmly believe that, if the Southern States North Carolina, Alabama, and doubtless other do not quickly unite, and declare to the North, if Slave States. the question of Slavery be longer discussed in any shape, they will instantly secede from the Union, 4 The Richmond Whig, in the course of a fulthat the question must be settled, and very soon, mination against the Abolitionists, said: by the SWORD, as the only possible means of
“The people of the North must go to hanging self-preservation."
these fanatics if they would not lose the benefit of February 16, 1836, both houses of the Vir- the Southern trade, and they will do it. ** * Doginia Legislature agreed to the following: pend upon it, the Northern people will never sac
- Resolved, That the non-slaveholding States rifice their present lucrative trade with the South, of the Union are respectfully but earnestly re
so long as the hanging of a few thousands will pre
vent it." quested promptly to adopt penal enactments, or such other measures as will effectualy suppress
Not a bad calculation, provided "the Northern all associations within their respective limits purporting to be, or having the character of, Aboli people” and the enjoyers of "the lucrative trade" tion societies."
aforesaid had been identical; but they were noto