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The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus by American Anti-Slavery Society

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master is tempted to inflict cruelties, not merely to wreak his own
vengeance upon him, and to make the slave more circumspect in future,
but to sustain his authority over the other slaves, to restrain them
from like practices, and to preserve his own property.

A multitude of facts, illustrating the position that slaveholders
treat their slaves _worse_ than they do their cattle, will occur to
all who are familiar with slavery. When cattle break through their
owners' inclosures and escape, if found, they are driven back and
fastened in again; and even slaveholders would execrate as a wretch,
the man who should tie them up, and bruise and lacerate them for
straying away; but when _slaves_ that have escaped are caught, they
are flogged with the most terrible severity. When herds of cattle are
driven to market, they are suffered to go in the easiest way, each by
himself; but when slaves are driven to market, they are fastened
together with handcuffs, galled by iron collars and chains, and thus
forced to travel on foot hundreds of miles, sleeping at night in their
chains. Sheep, and sometimes horned cattle are marked with their
owners' initials--but this is generally done with paint, and of course
produces no pain. Slaves, too, are often marked with their owners'
initials, but the letters are stamped into their flesh with a hot
iron. Cattle are suffered to graze their pastures without stint; but
the slaves are restrained in their food to a fixed allowance. The
slaveholders' horses are notoriously far better fed, more moderately
worked, have fewer hours of labor, and longer intervals of rest than
their slaves; and their valuable horses are far more comfortably
housed and lodged, and their stables more effectually defended from
the weather, than the slaves' huts. We have here merely _begun_ a
comparison, which the reader can easily carry out at length, from the
materials furnished in this work.

We will, however, subjoin a few testimonies of slaveholders, and
others who have resided in slave states, expressly asserting that
slaves are treated _worse than brutes_.

The late Dr. GEORGE BUCHANAN, of Baltimore, Maryland, a member of the
American Philosophical Society, in an oration delivered in Baltimore,
July 4, 1791, page 10, says:

"The Africans whom you despise, whom you _more inhumanly treat than
brutes_, are equally capable of improvement with yourselves."

The Rev. GEORGE WHITEFIELD, in his celebrated letter to the
slaveholders of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and
Georgia, written one hundred years ago, (See Benezet's Caution to
Great Britain and her Colonies, page 13), says:

"Sure I am, it is sinful to use them as bad, nay worse than if they
were brutes; and whatever particular _exceptions_ there may be, (as I
would charitably hope there are _some_) I fear the _generality_ of you
that own negroes, _are liable to such a charge_."

Mr. RICE, of Kentucky in his speech in the Convention that formed the
Constitution of that state, in 1790, says:

"He [the slave] is a rational creature, reduced by the power of
legislation to the _state of a brute_, and thereby deprived of every
privilege of humanity.... The brute may steal or rob, to supply
his hunger; but the slave, though in the most starving condition,
_dare not do either, on penalty of death, or some severe punishment_."

Rev. HORACE MOULTON, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in
Marlborough, Mass. who lived some years in Georgia, says:

"The southern horses and dogs have enough to eat, and good care is
taken of them; but southern negroes--who can describe their misery and
their wretchedness, their nakedness and their cruel scourgings! None
but God. Should we _whip our horses_ as they whip their slaves, even
for small offences, we should expose ourselves to the penalty of the

Rev. PHINEAS SMITH, Centerville, Allegany county, New York, who has
resided four years in the midst of southern slavery--

"Avarice and cruelty are twin sisters; and I do not hesitate to
declare before the world, as my deliberate opinion, that there is
_less compassion_ for working slaves at the south, than for working
oxen at the north."

STEVEN SEWALL, Esq. Winthrop, Maine, a member of the Congregational
Church, and late agent of the Winthrop Manufacturing Company, who
resided five years in Alabama, says--

"I do not think that brutes, not even horses, are treated with _so
much cruelty_ as American slaves."

If the preceding considerations are insufficient to remove incredulity
respecting the cruelties suffered by slaves, and if northern objectors
still say, 'We might believe such things of savages, but that
civilized men, and republicans, in this Christian country, can openly
and by system perpetrate such enormities, is impossible';--to such we
reply, that this incredulity of the people of the free states, is not
only discreditable to their intelligence, but to their consistency.

Who is so ignorant as not to know, or so incredulous as to disbelieve,
that the early Baptists of New England were fined, imprisoned,
scourged, and finally banished by our puritan forefathers?--and that
the Quakers were confined in dungeons, publicly whipped at the
cart-tail, had their ears cut off, cleft sticks put upon their
tongues, and that five of them, four men and one woman, were hung on
Boston Common, for propagating the sentiments of the Society of
Friends? Who discredits the fact, that the civil authorities in
Massachusetts, less than a hundred and fifty years ago, confined in
the public jail a little girl of four years old, and publicly hung the
Rev. Mr. Burroughs, and eighteen other persons, mostly women, and
killed another, (Giles Corey,) by extending him upon his back, and
piling weights upon his breast till he was crushed to death [17]--and
this for no other reason than that these men and women, and this
little child, were accused by others of _bewitching_ them.

[Footnote 17: Judge Sewall, of Mass. in his diary, describing this
horrible scene, says that when the tongue of the poor sufferer had, in
the extremity of his dying agony, protruded from his mouth, a person
in attendance took his cane and thrust it back into his mouth.]

Even the children in Connecticut, know that the following was once a
law of that state:

"No food or lodging shall be allowed to a Quaker. If any person turns
Quaker, he shall be banished, and not be suffered to return on pain of

These objectors can readily believe the fact, that in the city of New
York, less than a hundred years since, thirteen persons were publicly
burned to death, over a slow fire: and that the legislature of the
same State took under its paternal care the African slave-trade, and
declared that "all encouragement should be given to the _direct_
importation of slaves; that all _smuggling_ of slaves should be
condemned, as _an eminent discouragement to the fair trader_."

They do not call in question the fact that the African slave-trade was
carried on from the ports of the free states till within thirty years;
that even members of the Society of Friends were actively engaged in
it, shortly before the revolutionary war; [18] that as late as 1807,
no less than fifty-nine of the vessels engaged in that trade, were
sent out from the little state of Rhode Island, which had then only
about seventy thousand inhabitants; that among those most largely
engaged in these foul crimes, are the men whom the people of Rhode
Island delight to honor: that the man who dipped most deeply in that
trade of blood (James De Wolf,) and amassed a most princely fortune by
it, was not long since their senator in Congress; and another, who was
captain of one of his vessels, was recently Lieutenant Governor of the

[Footnote 18: See Life and Travels of John Woolman, page 92.]

They can believe, too, all the horrors of the middle passage, the
chains, suffocation, maimings, stranglings, starvation, drownings, and
cold blooded murders, atrocities perpetrated on board these
slave-ships by their own citizens, perhaps by their own townsmen and
neighbors--possibly by their own _fathers_: but oh! they 'can't
believe that the slaveholders can be so hard-hearted towards their
slaves as to treat them with great cruelty.' They can believe that his
Holiness the Pope, with his cardinals, bishops and priests, have
tortured, broken on the wheel, and burned to death thousands of
Protestants--that eighty thousand of the Anabaptists were slaughtered
in Germany--that hundreds of thousands of the blameless Waldenses,
Huguenots and Lollards, were torn in pieces by the most titled
dignitaries of church and state, and that _almost every professedly
Christian sect, has, at some period of its history, persecuted unto
blood_ those who dissented from their creed. They can believe, also,
that in Boston, New York, Utica, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Alton, and
in scores of other cities and villages of the free states, 'gentlemen
of property and standing,' led on by civil officers, by members of
state legislatures, and of Congress, by judges and attorneys-general,
by editors of newspapers, and by professed ministers of the gospel,
have organized mobs, broken up lawful meetings of peaceable citizens,
committed assault and battery upon their persons, knocked them down
with stones, led them about with ropes, dragged them from their beds
at midnight, gagged and forced them into vehicles, and driven them
into unfrequented places, and there tormented and disfigured
them--that they have rifled their houses, made bonfires of their
furniture in the streets, burned to the ground, or torn in pieces the
halls or churches in which they were assembled--attacked them with
deadly weapons, stabbed some, shot others, and killed one. They can
believe all this--and further, that a majority of the citizens in the
places where these outrages have been committed, connived at them; and
by refusing to indict the perpetrators, or, if they were indicted, by
combining to secure their acquittal, and rejoicing in it, have
publicly adopted these felonies as their own. All these things they
can believe without hesitation, and that they have even been done by
their own acquaintances, neighbors, relatives; perhaps those with whom
they interchange courtesies, those for whom they _vote_, or to whose
_salaries they contribute_--but yet, oh! they can never believe that
slaveholders inflict cruelties upon their slaves!

They can give full credence to the kidnapping, imprisonment, and
deliberate murder of WILLIAM MORGAN, and that by men of high standing
in society; they can believe that this deed was aided and abetted, and
the murderers screened from justice, by a large number of influential
persons, who were virtually accomplices, either before or after the
fact; and that this combination was so effectual, as successfully to
defy and triumph over the combined powers of the government;--yet
that those who constantly rob men of their time, liberty, and wages,
and all their _rights_, should rob them of bits of flesh, and
occasionally of a tooth, make their backs bleed, and put fetters on
their legs, is too monstrous to be credited! Further these same
persons, who 'can't believe' that slaveholders are so iron-hearted as
to ill-treat their slaves, believe that the very _elite_ of these
slaveholders, those most highly esteemed and honored among them, are
continually daring each other to mortal conflict, and in the presence
of mutual friends, taking deadly aim at each other's hearts, with
settled purpose to _kill_, if possible. That among the most
distinguished governors of slave states, among their most celebrated
judges, senators, and representatives in Congress, there is hardly
_one_, who has not either killed, or tried to kill, or aided and
abetted his friends in trying to kill, one or more individuals. That
pistols, dirks, bowie knives, or other instruments of death are
generally carried throughout the slave states--and that deadly affrays
with them, in the streets of their cities and villages, are matters of
daily occurrence; that the sons of slaveholders in southern colleges,
bully, threaten, and fire upon their teachers, and their teachers upon
them; that during the last summer, in the most celebrated seat of
science and literature in the south, the University of Virginia, the
professors were attacked by more than seventy armed students, and, in
the words of a Virginia paper, were obliged 'to conceal themselves
from their fury;' also that almost all the riots and violence that
occur in northern colleges, are produced by the turbulence and lawless
passions of southern students. That such are the furious passions of
slaveholders, no considerations of personal respect, none for the
proprieties of life, none for the honor of our national legislature,
none for the character of our country abroad, can restrain the
slaveholding members of Congress from the most disgraceful personal
encounters on the floor of our nation's legislature--smiting their
fists in each other's faces, throttling and even _kicking_ and trying
to _gouge_ each other--that during the session of the Congress just
closed, no less than six slaveholders, taking fire at words spoken in
debate, have either rushed at each other's throats, or kicked, or
struck, or attempted to knock each other down; and that in all these
instances, they would doubtless have killed each other, if their
friends had not separated them. Further, they know full well, these
were not insignificant, vulgar blackguards, elected because they were
the head bullies and bottle-holders in a boxing ring, or because their
constituents went drunk to the ballot box; but they were some of the
most conspicuous members of the House--one of them a former speaker.

Our newspapers are full of these and similar daily occurrences among
slaveholders, copied verbatim from their own accounts of them in their
own papers and all this we fully credit; no man is simpleton enough to
cry out 'Oh, I can't believe that slaveholders do such things;'--and
yet when we turn to the treatment which these men mete out to their
_slaves_, and show that they are in the habitual practice of striking,
kicking, knocking down and shooting _them_ as well as each other--the
look of blank incredulity that comes over northern dough-faces, is a
study for a painter: and then the sentimental outcry, with eyes and
hands uplifted, 'Oh, indeed, I can't believe the slaveholders are so
cruel to their slaves.' Most amiable and touching charity! Truly, of
all Yankee notions and free state products, there is nothing like a
'_dough face_'--the great northern staple for the southern
market--'made to order,' in any quantity, and _always on hand_. 'Dough
faces!' Thanks to a slaveholder's contempt for the name, with its
immortality of truth, infamy and scorn.[19]

[Footnote 19: "_Doe_ face," which owes its paternity to John Randolph,
age has mellowed into "_dough_ face"--a cognomen quite as expressive
and appropriate, if not as classical.]

Though the people of the free states affect to disbelieve the
cruelties perpetrated upon the slaves, yet slaveholders believe _each
other_ guilty of them, and speak of them with the utmost freedom. If
slaveholders disbelieve any statement of cruelty inflicted upon a
slave, it is not on account of its _enormity_. The traveler at the
south will hear in Delaware, and in all parts of Maryland and
Virginia, from the lips of slaveholders, statements of the most
horrible cruelties suffered by the slaves _farther_ south, in the
Carolinas and Georgia; when he finds himself in those states he will
hear similar accounts about the treatment of the slaves in _Florida_
and _Louisiana_; and in Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee he will hear
of the tragedies enacted on the plantations in Arkansas, Alabama and
Mississippi. Since Anti-Slavery Societies have been in operation, and
slaveholders have found themselves on trial before the world, and put
upon their good behavior, northern slaveholders have grown cautious,
and now often substitute denials and set defences, for the voluntary
testimony about cruelty in the far south, which, before that period,
was given with entire freedom. Still, however, occasionally the 'truth
will out,' as the reader will see by the following testimony of an
East Tennessee newspaper, in which, speaking of the droves of slaves
taken from the upper country to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc.,
the editor says, they are 'traveling to a region where their condition
HELL.' See "Maryville Intelligencer," of Oct, 4, 1835. Distant
cruelties and cruelties _long past_, have been till recently, favorite
topics with slaveholders. They have not only been ready to acknowledge
that their _fathers_ have exercised great cruelty toward their slaves,
but have voluntarily, in their official acts, made proclamation of it
and entered it on their public records. The Legislature of North
Carolina, in 1798, branded the successive legislatures of that state
for more than thirty years previous, with the infamy of treatment
towards their slaves, which they pronounce to be 'disgraceful to
humanity, and degrading in the highest degree to the laws and
principles of a free, Christian, and enlightened country.' This
treatment was the enactment and perpetuation of a most barbarous and
cruel law.

But enough. As the objector can and does believe all the preceeding
facts, if he still '_can't_ believe' as to the cruelties of
slaveholders, it would be barbarous to tantalize his incapacity either
with evidence or argument. Let him have the benefit of the act in such
case made and provided.

Having shown that the incredulity of the objector respecting the
cruelty inflicted upon the slaves, is discreditable to his
consistency, we now proceed to show that it is equally so to his

Whoever disbelieves the foregoing statements of cruelties, on the
ground of their enormity, proclaims his own ignorance of the nature
and history of man. What! incredulous about the atrocities perpetrated
by those who hold human beings as property, to be used for their
pleasure, when history herself has done little else in recording human
deeds, than to dip her blank chart in the blood shed by arbitrary
power, and unfold to human gaze the great red scroll? That cruelty is
the natural effect of arbitrary power, has been the result of all
experience, and the voice of universal testimony since the world
began. Shall human nature's axioms, six thousand years old, go for
nothing? Are the combined product of human experience, and the
concurrent records of human character, to be set down as 'old wives'
fables?' To disbelieve that arbitrary power naturally and habitually
perpetrates cruelties, where it can do it with impunity, is not only
ignorance of man, but of _things_. It is to be blind to innumerable
proofs which are before every man's eyes; proofs that are stereotyped
in the very words and phrases that are on every one's lips. Take for
example the words _despot_ and _despotic_. Despot, signifies
etymologically, merely one who _possesses_ arbitrary power, and at
first, it was used to designate those alone who _possessed_ unlimited
power over human beings, entirely irrespective of the way in which
they exercised it, whether mercifully or cruelly. But the fact, that
those who possessed such power, made their subjects their _victims_,
has wrought a total change in the popular meaning of the word. It now
signifies, in common parlance, not one who _possesses_ unlimited power
over others, but one who exercises the power that he has, whether
little or much, _cruelly_. So _despotic_, instead of meaning what it
once did, something pertaining to the _possession_ of unlimited power,
signifies something pertaining to the _capricious, unmerciful and
relentless exercise_ of such power.

The word tyrant, is another example--formerly it implied merely a
_possession_ of arbitrary power, but from the invariable abuse of such
power by its possessors, the proper and entire meaning of the word is
lost, and it now signifies merely one who _exercises power to the
injury of others_. The words tyrannical and tyranny follow the same
analogy. So the word arbitrary; which formerly implied that which
pertains to the will of one, independently of others; but from the
fact that those who had no restraint upon their wills, were invariably
capricious, unreasonable and oppressive, these words convey accurately
the present sense of _arbitrary_, when applied to a person.

How can the objector persist in disbelieving that cruelty is the
natural effect of arbitrary power, when the very words of every day,
rise up on his lips in testimony against him--words which once
signified the _mere possession_ of arbitrary power, but have lost
their meaning, and now signify merely its cruel _exercise_; because
such a use of it has been proved by the experience of the world, to be
inseparable from its _possession_--words now frigid with horror, and
never used even by the objector without feeling a cold chill run over

Arbitrary power is to the mind what alcohol is to the body; it
intoxicates. Man loves power. It is perhaps the strongest human
passion; and the more absolute the power, the stronger the desire for
it; and the more it is desired, the more its exercise is enjoyed: this
enjoyment is to human nature a fearful temptation,--generally an
overmatch for it. Hence it is true, with hardly an exception, that
arbitrary power is abused in proportion as it is _desired_. The fact
that a person intensely desires power over others, _without
restraint_, shows the absolute necessity of restraint. What woman
would marry a man who made it a condition that he should have the
power to divorce her whenever he pleased? Oh! he might never wish to
exercise it, but the _power_ he would have! No woman, not stark mad,
would trust her happiness in such hands.

Would a father apprentice his son to a master, who insisted that his
power over the lad should be _absolute_? The master might perhaps,
never wish to commit a battery upon the boy, but if he should, he
insists upon having full swing! He who would leave his son in the,
clutches of such a wretch, would be bled and blistered for a lunatic
as soon as his friends could get their hands upon him.

The possession of power, even when greatly restrained, is such a fiery
stimulant, that its lodgement in human hands is always perilous. Give
men the handling of immense sums of money, and all the eyes of Argus
and the hands of Briarcus can hardly prevent embezzlement.

The mutual and ceaseless accusations of the two great political
parties in this country, show the universal belief that this tendency
of human nature to abuse power, is so strong, that even the most
powerful legal restraints are insufficient for its safe custody. From
congress and state legislatures down to grog-shop caucuses and street
wranglings, each party keeps up an incessant din about _abuses of
power_. Hardly an officer, either of the general or state governments,
from the President down to the ten thousand postmasters, and from
governors to the fifty thousand constables, escapes the charge of
'_abuse of power_.' 'Oppression,' 'Extortion,' 'Venality,' 'Bribery,'
'Corruption,' 'Perjury,' 'Misrule,' 'Spoils,' 'Defalcation,' stand on
every newspaper. Now without any estimate of the lies told in these
mutual charges, there is truth enough to make each party ready to
believe of the other, and _of their best men too,_ any abuse of power,
however monstrous. As is the State, so is the Church. From General
Conferences to circuit preachers; and from General Assemblies to
church sessions, abuses of power spring up as weeds from the dunghill.

All legal restraints are framed upon the presumption, that men will
abuse their power if not hemmed in by them. This lies at the bottom of
all those checks and balances contrived for keeping governments upon
their centres. If there is among human convictions one that is
invariable and universal, it is, that when men possess unrestrained
power over others, over their time, choice, conscience, persons,
votes, or means of subsistence, they are under great temptations to
abuse it; and that the intensity with which such power is desired,
generally measures the certainty and the degree of its abuse.

That American slaveholders possess a power over their slaves which is
virtually absolute, none will deny.[20] That they _desire_ this
absolute power, is shown from the fact of their holding and exercising
it, and making laws to confirm and enlarge it. That the desire to
possess this power, every tittle of it, is _intense_, is proved by the
fact, that slaveholders cling to it with such obstinate tenacity, as
well as by all their doings and sayings, their threats, cursings and
gnashings against all who denounce the exercise of such power as
usurpation and outrage, and counsel its immediate abrogation.

[Footnote 20: The following extracts from the laws of slave-states are
proofs sufficient.

"The slave is ENTIRELY subject to the WILL of his master."--Louisiana
Civil Code, Art. 273.

"Slaves shall be deemed, sold, taken, reputed and adjudged in law to
be _chattels personal,_ in the hands of their owner and possessors,
and their executors, administrators and assigns, TO ALL INTENTS,
Brev. Dig. 229; Prince's Digest, 446, &c.]

From the nature of the case--from the laws of mind, such power, so
intensely desired, griped with such a death-clutch, and with such
fierce spurnings of all curtailment or restraint, _cannot but be
abused._ Privations and inflictions must be its natural, habitual
products, with ever and anon, terror, torture, and despair let loose
to do their worst upon the helpless victims.

Though power over others is in every case liable to be used to their
injury, yet, in almost all cases, the subject individual is shielded
from great outrages by strong safeguards. If he have talents, or
learning, or wealth, or office, or personal respectability, or
influential friends, these, with the protection of law and the rights
of citizenship, stand round him as a body guard: and even if he lacked
all these, yet, had he the same color, features, form, dialect,
habits, and associations with the privileged caste of society, he
would find in _them_ a shield from many injuries, which would be
_invited,_ if in these respects he differed widely from the rest of
the community, and was on that account regarded with disgust and
aversion. This is the condition of the slave; not only is he deprived
of the artificial safeguards of the law, but has none of those
_natural_ safeguards enumerated above, which are a protection to
others. But not only is the slave destitute of those peculiarities,
habits, tastes, and acquisitions, which by assimilating the possessor
to the rest of the community, excite their interest in him, and thus,
in a measure, secure for him their protection; but he possesses those
peculiarities of bodily organization which are looked upon with deep
disgust, contempt, prejudice, and aversion. Besides this, constant
contact with the ignorance and stupidity of the slaves, their filth,
rags, and nakedness; their cowering air, servile employments,
repulsive food, and squalid hovels, their purchase and sale, and use
as brutes--all these associations, constantly mingling and circulating
in the minds of slaveholders, and inveterated by the hourly
irritations which must assail all who use human beings as things,
produce in them a permanent state of feeling toward the slave, made up
of repulsion and settled ill-will. When we add to this the corrosions
produced by the petty thefts of slaves, the necessity of constant
watching, their reluctant service, and indifference to their master's
interests, their ill concealed aversion to him, and spurning of his
authority; and finally, that fact, as old as human nature, that men
always hate those whom they oppress, and oppress those whom they hate,
thus oppression and hatred mutually begetting and perpetuating each
other--and we have a raging compound of fiery elements and disturbing
forces, so stimulating and inflaming the mind of the slaveholder
against the slave, that _it cannot but break forth upon him with
desolating fury._

To deny that cruelty is the spontaneous and uniform product of
arbitrary power, and that the natural and controlling tendency of such
power is to make its possessor cruel, oppressive, and revengeful
towards those who are subjected to his control, is, we repeat, to set
at nought the combined experience of the human race, to invalidate its
testimony, and to reverse its decisions from time immemorial.

A volume might be filled with the testimony of American slaveholders
alone, to the truth of the preceding position. We subjoin a few
illustrations, and first, the memorable declaration of President
Jefferson, who lived and died a slaveholder. It has been published a
thousand times, and will live forever. In his "Notes on Virginia,"
sixth Philadelphia edition, p. 251, he says,--

"The WHOLE COMMERCE between master and slave, is a PERPETUAL EXERCISE
of the most _boisterous passions_, the most unremitting DESPOTISM on
the one part, and degrading submission on the other..... The parent
_storms_, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of _wrath_, puts
on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, GIVES LOOSE TO THE
WORST OF PASSIONS; and thus _nursed, educated, and daily exercised in
tyranny,_ cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities."

Hon. Lewis Summers, Judge of the General Court of Virginia, and a
slaveholder, said in a speech before the Virginia legislature in 1832;
(see Richmond Whig of Jan. 26, 1832,)

"A slave population exercises _the most pernicious influence_ upon the
manners, habits and character, of those among whom it exists. Lisping
infancy learns the vocabulary of abusive epithets, and struts the
_embryo tyrant_ of its little domain. The consciousness of superior
destiny takes possession of his mind at its earliest dawning, and love
of power and rule, 'grows with his growth, and strengthens with his
strength.' Unless enabled to rise above the operation of those
powerful causes, he enters the world with miserable notions of
self-importance, and under the government of an unbridled temper."

The late JUDGE TUCKER of Virginia, a slaveholder, and Professor of Law
in the University of William and Mary, in his "Letter to a Member of
the Virginia Legislature," 1801, says,--

"I say nothing of the baneful effects of slavery on our _moral
character_, because I know you have been long sensible of this point."

The Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia, consisting of
all the clergy of that denomination in those states, with a lay
representation from the churches, most, if not all of whom are
slaveholders, published a report on slavery in 1834, from which the
following is an extract.

"Those only who have the management of servants, know what the
_hardening effect_ of it is upon _their own feelings towards them._
There is no necessity to dwell on this point, as all _owners_ and
_managers_ fully understand it. He who commences to manage them with
tenderness and with a willingness to favor them in every way, must be
watchful, otherwise he will settle down in _indifference, if not

GENERAL WILLIAM H. HARRISON, now of Ohio, son of the late Governor
Harrison of Virginia, a slaveholder, while minister from the United
States to the Republic of Colombia, wrote a letter to General Simon
Bolivar, then President of that Republic, just as he was about
assuming despotic power. The letter is dated Bogota, Sept. 22, 1826.
The following is an extract.

"From a knowledge of your own disposition and present feelings, your
excellency will not be willing to believe that you could ever be
brought to an act of tyranny, or even to execute justice with
unnecessary rigor. But trust me, sir, there is nothing more
corrupting, nothing more _destructive of the noblest and finest
feelings of our nature than the exercise of unlimited power_. The man,
who in the beginning of such a career, might shudder at the idea of
taking away the life of a fellow-being, might soon have his conscience
so seared by the repetition of crime, that the agonies of his murdered
victims might become music to his soul, and the drippings of the
scaffold afford blood to swim in. History is full of such excesses."

WILLIAM H. FITZHUGH, Esq. of Virginia, a slaveholder, says,--"Slavery,
in its mildest form, is cruel and unnatural; _its injurious effects on
our morals and habits are mutually felt."_

HON. SAMUEL S. NICHOLAS, late Judge of the Court of Appeals of
Kentucky, and a slaveholder, in a speech before the legislature of
that state, Jan. 1837, says,--

"The deliberate convictions of the most matured consideration I can
give the subject, are, that the institution of slavery is a _most
serious injury to the habits, manners and morals_ of our white
population--that it leads to sloth, indolence, dissipation, and vice."

Dr. THOMAS COOPER, late President of the College of South Carolina, in
a note to his edition of the "Institutes of Justinian" page 413,

"All absolute power has a direct tendency, not only to detract from
the happiness of the persons who are subject to it, but to DEPRAVE THE
GOOD QUALITIES of those who possess it..... the whole history of human
nature, in the present and every former age, will justify me in saying
that _such is the tendency of power_ on the one hand and slavery on
the other."

A South Carolina slaveholder, whose name is with the executive
committee of the Am. A.S. Society, says, in a letter, dated April 4,

"I think it (slavery) _ruinous to the temper_ and to our spiritual
life; it is a thorn in the flesh, for ever and for ever goading us on
to say and to do what the Eternal God cannot but be displeased with. I
speak from experience, and oh! my desire is to be delivered from it."

Monsieur C.C. ROBIN, who was a resident of Louisiana from 1802 to
1806, published a work on that country; in which, speaking of the
effect of slaveholding on masters and their children, he says:--

"The young creoles make the negroes who surround them the play-things
of their whims: they flog, for pastime, those of their own age, just
as their fathers flog others at their will. These young creoles,
arrived at the age in which the passions are impetuous, do not _know
how to bear contradiction_; they will have every thing done which they
command, _possible or not_; and in default of this, they avenge their
offended pride by multiplied punishments."

Dr. GEORGE BUCHANAN, of Baltimore, Maryland, member of the American
Philosophical Society, in an oration at Baltimore, July 4, 1791,

"For such are the effects of subjecting man to slavery, that it
_destroys every humane principle_, vitiates the mind, instills ideas
of unlawful cruelties, and eventually subverts the springs of
government."--_Buchanan's Oration_, p. 12.

President EDWARDS the younger, in a sermon before the Connecticut
Abolition Society, in 1791, page 8, says:--

"Slavery has a most direct tendency to haughtiness, and a _domineering
spirit_ and conduct in the proprietors of the slaves, in their
children, and in all who have the control of them. A man who has been
bred up in domineering over negroes, can scarcely avoid contracting
such a habit of haughtiness and domination as will express itself in
his general treatment of mankind, whether in his private capacity, or
in any office, civil or military, with which he may be invested."

The celebrated MONTESQUIEU, in his "Spirit of the Laws," thus
describes the effect of slaveholding upon the master:--

"The master contracts all sorts of bad habits; and becomes _haughty,
passionate, obdurate, vindictive, voluptuous, and cruel_."

WILBERFORCE, in his speech at the anniversary of the London
Anti-Slavery Society, in March, 1828, said:--

"It is _utterly impossible_ that they who live in the administration
of the petty despotism of a slave community, whose minds have been
_warped_ and _polluted_ by that contamination, should not _lose that
respect_ for their fellow creatures over whom they tyrannize, which is
essential in the nature and moral being of man, to rescue them from
the abuse of power over their prostrate fellow creatures."

In the great debate, in the British Parliament, on the African
slave-trade, Mr. WHITBREAD said:

"Arbitrary power would spoil the hearts of the best."

But we need not multiply proofs to establish our position: it is
sustained by the concurrent testimony of sages, philosophers, poets,
statesmen, and moralists, in every period of the world; and who can
marvel that those in all ages who have wisely pondered men and things,
should be unanimous in such testimony, when the history of arbitrary
power has come down to us from the beginning of time, struggling
through heaps of slain, and trailing her parchments in blood.

Time would fail to begin with the first despot and track down the
carnage step by step. All nations, all ages, all climes crowd forward
as witnesses, with their scars, and wounds, and dying agonies.

But to survey a multitude bewilders; let us look at a single nation.
We instance Rome; both because its history is more generally known,
and because it furnishes a larger proportion of instances, in which
arbitrary power was exercised with comparative mildness, than any
other nation ancient or modern. And yet, her whole existence was a
tragedy, every actor was an executioner, the curtain rose amidst
shrieks and fell upon corpses, and the only shifting of the scenes was
from blood to blood. The whole world stood aghast, as under sentence
of death, awaiting execution, and all nations and tongues were driven,
with her own citizens, as sheep to the slaughter. Of her seven kings,
her hundreds of consuls, tribunes, decemvirs, and dictators, and her
fifty emperors, there is hardly one whose name has come down to us
unstained by horrible abuses of power; and that too, notwithstanding
we have mere shreds of the history of many of them, owing to their
antiquity, or to the perturbed times in which they lived; and these
shreds gathered from the records of their own partial countrymen, who
wrote and sung their praises. What does this prove? Not that the
Romans were worse than other men, nor that their rulers were worse
than other Romans, for history does not furnish nobler models of
natural character than many of those same rulers, when first invested
with arbitrary power. Neither was it mainly because the martial
enterprise of the earlier Romans and the gross sensuality of the
later, hardened their hearts to human suffering. In both periods of
Roman history, and in both these classes, we find men, the keen
sympathies, generosity, and benevolence of whose general character
embalmed their names in the grateful memories of multitudes. _They
were human beings, and possessed power without restraint_--this
unravels the mystery.

Who has not heard of the Emperor Trajan, of his moderation, his
clemency, his gashing sympathies, his forgiveness of injuries and
forgetfulness of self, his tearing in pieces his own robe, to furnish
bandages for the wounded--called by the whole world in his day, "the
best emperor of Rome;" and so affectionately regarded by his subjects,
that, ever afterwards, in blessing his successors upon their accession
to power, they always said, "May you have the virtue and goodness of
Trajan!" yet the deadly conflicts of gladiators who were trained to
kill each other, to make sport for the spectators, furnished his chief
pastime. At one time he kept up those spectacles for 123 days in
succession. In the tortures which he inflicted on Christians, fire
and poison, daggers and dungeons, wild beasts and serpents, and the
rack, did their worst. He threw into the sea, Clemens, the venerable
bishop of Rome, with an anchor about his neck; and tossed to the
famished lions in the amphitheatre the aged Ignatius.

Pliny the younger, who was proconsul under Trajan, may well be
mentioned in connection with the emperor, as a striking illustration
of the truth, that goodness and amiableness towards one class of men
is often turned into cruelty towards another. History can hardly show
a more gentle and lovely character than Pliny. While pleading at the
bar, he always sought out the grievances of the poorest and most
despised persons, entered into their wrongs with his whole soul, and
never took a fee. Who can read his admirable letters without being
touched by their tenderness and warmed by their benignity and
philanthropy: and yet, this tender-hearted Pliny coolly plied with
excruciating torture two spotless females, who had served as
deaconesses in the Christian church, hoping to extort from them matter
of accusation against the Christians. He commanded Christians to
abjure their faith, invoke the gods, pour out libations to the statues
of the emperor, burn incense to idols, and curse Christ. If they
refused, he ordered them to execution.

Who has not heard of the Emperor Titus--so beloved for his mild
virtues and compassionate regard for the suffering, that he was named
"The Delight of Mankind;" so tender of the lives of his subjects that
he took the office of high priest, that his hands might never be
defiled with blood; and was heard to declare, with tears, that he had
rather die than put another to death. So intent upon making others
happy, that when once about to retire to sleep, and not being able to
recall any particular act of beneficence performed during the day, he
cried out in anguish, "Alas! I have lost a day!" And, finally, whom
the learned Kennet, in his Roman Antiquities, characterizes as "the
only prince in the world that has the character of _never doing an ill
action_." Yet, witnessing the mortal combats of the captives taken to
war, killing each other in the amphitheatre, amidst the acclamations
of the populace, was a favorite amusement with Titus. At one time he
exhibited shows of gladiators, which lasted one hundred days, during
which the amphitheatre was flooded with human blood. At another of
his public exhibitions he caused five thousand wild beasts to be
baited in the amphitheatre. During the siege of Jerusalem, he set
ambushes to seize the famishing Jews, who stole out of the city by
night to glean food in the valleys: these he would first dreadfully
scourge, then torment them with all conceivable tortures, and, at
last, crucify them before the wall of the city. According to
Josephus, not less than five hundred a day were thus tormented. And
when many of the Jews, frantic with famine, deserted to the Romans,
Titus cut off their hands and drove them back. After the destruction
of Jerusalem, he dragged to Rome one hundred thousand captives, sold
them as slaves, and scattered them through every province of the

The kindness, condescension, and forbearance of Adrian were
proverbial; he was one of the most eloquent orators of his age; and
when pleading the cause of injured innocence, would melt and overwhelm
the auditors by the pathos of his appeals. It was his constant maxim,
that he was an Emperor, not for his own good, but for the benefit of
his fellow creatures. He stooped to relieve the wants of the meanest
of his subjects, and would peril his life by visiting them when sick
of infectious diseases; he prohibited, by law, masters from killing
their slaves, gave to slaves legal trial, and exempted them from
torture; yet towards certain individuals and classes, he showed
himself a monster of cruelty. He prided himself on his knowledge of
architecture, and ordered to execution the most celebrated architect
of Rome, because he had criticised one of the Emperor's designs. He
banished all the Jews from their native land, and drove them to the
ends of the earth; and unloosed the bloodhounds of persecution to rend
in pieces his Christian subjects.

The gentleness and benignity of the Emperor Aurelius, have been
celebrated in story and song. History says of him, 'Nothing could
quench his desire of being a blessing to mankind;' and Pope's eulogy
of him is in the mouth of every schoolboy--'Like good Aurelius, let
him reign;' and yet, '_good_ Aurelius,' lifted the flood gates of the
fourth, and one of the most terrible persecutions against Christians
that ever raged. He sent orders into different parts of his empire,
to have the Christians murdered who would not deny Christ. The
blameless Polycarp, trembling under the weight of a hundred years, was
dragged to the stake and burned to ashes. Pothinus, Bishop of Lyons,
at the age of ninety, was dragged through the streets, beaten, stoned,
trampled upon by the soldiers, and left to perish. Tender virgins
were put into nets, and thrown to infuriated wild bulls; others were
fastened in red hot iron chairs; and venerable matrons were thrown to
be devoured by dogs.

Constantine the Great has been the admiration of Christendom for his
virtues. The early Christian writers adorn his justice, benevolence
and piety with the most exalted eulogy. He was baptized, and admitted
to the Christian church. He abrogated Paganism, and made Christianity
the religion of his empire; he attended the councils of the early
fathers of the church, consulted with the bishops, and devoted himself
with the most untiring zeal to the propagation of Christianity, and to
the promotion of peace and love among its professors; he convened the
Council of Nice, to settle disputes which had long distracted the
church, appeared in the assembly with admirable modesty and temper,
moderated the heats of the contending parties, implored them to
exercise mutual forbearance, and exhorted them to love unfeigned, to
forgive one another, as they hoped to be forgiven by Christ. Who would
not think it uncharitable to accuse such a man of barbarity in the
exercise of power?--and yet he drove Arius and his associates into
banishment, for opinion's sake, denounced death against all with whom
his books should afterwards be found, and prohibited, on pain of
death, the exercise, however peaceably, of the functions of any other
religion than Christianity. In a fit of jealousy and rage, he ordered
his innocent son, Crispus, to execution, without granting him a
hearing; and upon finding him innocent, killed his own wife, who had
falsely accused him.

To the preceding maybe added Theodosius the Great, the last Roman
emperor before the division of the empire. He was a member of the
Christian church, and in his zeal against paganism, and what he deemed
heresy, surpassed all who were before him. The Christian writers of
his time speak of him as a most illustrious model of justice,
generosity, magnanimity, benevolence, and every virtue. And yet
Theodosius denounced capital punishments against those who held
'heretical' opinions, and commanded inter-marriage between cousins to
be punished by burning the parties alive. On hearing that the people
of Antioch had demolished the statues set up in that city, in honor of
himself, and had threatened the governor, he flew into a transport of
fury, ordered the city to be laid in ashes, and all the inhabitants to
be slaughtered; and upon hearing of a resistance to his authority in
Thessalonica, in which one of his lieutenants was killed, he instantly
ordered a _general massacre_ of the inhabitants; and in obedience to
his command, seven thousand men, women and children were butchered in
the space of three hours.

The foregoing are a few of many instances in the history of Rome, and
of a countless multitude in the history of the world, illustrating the
truth, that the lodgement of arbitrary power, in the best human hands,
is always a fearfully perilous experiment; that the mildest tempers,
the most humane and benevolent dispositions, the most blameless and
conscientious previous life, with the most rigorous habits of justice,
are no security, that, in a moment of temptation, the possessors of
such power will not make their subjects their victims; illustrating
also the truth, that, while men may exhibit nothing but honor,
honesty, mildness, justice, and generosity, in their intercourse with
those of their own grade, or language, or nation, or hue, they may
practice towards others, for whom they have contempt and aversion, the
most revolting meanness, perpetrate robbery unceasingly, and inflict
the severest privations, and the most barbarous cruelties. But this is
not all: history is full of examples, showing not only the effects of
arbitrary power on its victims, but its terrible reaction on those who
exercise it; blunting their sympathies, and hardening to adamant their
hearts toward _them_, at least, if not toward the human race
generally. This is shown in the fact, that almost every tyrant in the
history of the world, has entered upon the exercise of absolute power
with comparative moderation; multitudes of them with marked
forbearance and mildness, and not a few with the most signal
condescension, magnanimity, gentleness and compassion. Among these
last are included those who afterwards became the bloodiest monsters
that ever cursed the earth. Of the Roman Emperors, almost every one of
whom perpetrated the most barbarous atrocities, Vitellius seems to
have been the only one who cruelly exercised his power from the
_outset_. Most of the other emperors, sprung up into fiends in the
hot-bed of arbitrary power. If they had not been plied with its fiery
stimulants, but had lived under the legal restraints of other men,
instead of going to the grave under the curses of their generation,
multitudes might have called them blessed.

The moderation which has generally distinguished absolute monarchs at
the commencement of their reigns, was doubtless in some cases assumed
from policy; in the greater number, however, as is manifest from their
history, it has been the natural workings of minds held in check by
previous associations, and not yet hardened into habits of cruelty, by
being accustomed to the exercise of power without restraint. But as
those associations have weakened, and the wielding of uncontrolled
sway has become a habit, like other evil doers, they have, in the
expressive language of Scripture, 'waxed worse and worse.'

For eighteen hundred years an involuntary shudder has run over the
human race, at the mention of the name of Nero; yet, at the
commencement of his reign, he burst into tears when called upon to
sign the death-warrant of a criminal, and exclaimed, 'Oh, that I had
never learned to write!' His mildness and magnanimity won the
affections of his subjects; and it was not till the poison of absolute
power had worked within his nature for years, that it swelled him into
a monster.

Tiberius, Claudius, and Caligula, began the exercise of their power
with singular forbearance, and each grew into a prodigy of cruelty. So
averse was Caligula to bloodshed, that he refused to look at a list of
conspirators against his own life, which was handed to him; yet
afterwards, a more cruel wretch never wielded a sceptre. In his thirst
for slaughter, he wished all the necks in Rome _one_, that he might
cut them off at a blow.

Domitian, at the commencement of his reign, carried his abhorrence of
cruelty to such lengths, that he forbad the sacrificing of oxen, and
would sit whole days on the judgment-seat, reversing the unjust
decisions of corrupt judges; yet afterwards, he surpassed even Nero in
cruelty. The latter was content to torture and kill by proxy, and
without being a spectator; but Domitian could not be denied the luxury
of seeing his victims writhe, and hearing them shriek; and often with
his own hand directed the instrument of torture, especially when some
illustrious senator or patrician was to be killed by piece-meal.
Commodus began with gentleness and condescension, but soon became a
terror and a scourge, outstripping in his atrocities most of his
predecessors. Maximin too, was just and generous when first invested
with power, but afterwards rioted in slaughter with the relish of a
fiend. History has well said of this monarch, 'the change in his
disposition may readily serve to show how dangerous a thing is power,
that could transform a person of such rigid virtues into such a

Instances almost innumerable might be furnished in the history of
every age, illustrating the blunting of sympathies, and the total
transformation of character wrought in individuals by the exercise of
arbitrary power. Not to detain the reader with long details, let a
single instance suffice.

Perhaps no man has lived in modern times, whose name excites such
horror as that of Robespierre. Yet it is notorious that he was
naturally of a benevolent disposition, and tender sympathies.

"Before the revolution, when as a judge in his native city of Arras he
had to pronounce judgment on an assassin, he took no food for two days
afterwards, but was heard frequently exclaiming, 'I am sure he was
guilty; he is a villain; but yet, to put a human being to death!!' He
could not support the idea; and that the same necessity might not
recur, he relinquished his judicial office.--(See Laponneray's Life of
Robespierre, p. 8.) Afterwards, in the Convention of 1791, he urged
strongly the abolition of the punishment of death; and yet, for
sixteen months, in 1793 and 1794, till he perished himself by the same
guillotine which he had so mercilessly used on others, no one at Paris
consigned and caused so many fellow-creatures to be put to death by
it, with more ruthless insensibility."--_Turner's Sacred history of
the World_, vol. 2 p. 119.

But it is time we had done with the objection, "such cruelties are
INCREDIBLE." If the objector still reiterates it, he shall have the
last word without farther molestation.

An objection kindred to the preceding now claims notice. It is the
profound induction that slaves _must_ be well treated because
_slaveholders say they are!_


Self-justification is human nature; self-condemnation is a sublime
triumph over it, and as rare as sublime. What culprits would be
convicted, if their own testimony were taken by juries as good
evidence? Slaveholders are on trial, charged with cruel treatment to
their slaves, and though in their own courts they can clear themselves
_by their own oaths_,[21] they need not think to do it at the bar of
the world. The denial of crimes, by men accused of them, goes for
nothing as evidence in all _civilized_ courts; while the voluntary
confession of them, is the best evidence possible, as it is testimony
_against themselves_, and in the face of the strongest motives to
conceal the truth. On the preceding pages, are hundreds of just such
testimonies; the voluntary and explicit testimony of slaveholders
against themselves, their families and ancestors, their constituents
and their rulers; against their characters and their memories; against
their justice, their honesty, their honor and their benevolence. Now
let candor decide between those two classes of slaveholders, which is
most entitled to credit; that which testifies in its own favor, just
as self-love would dictate, or that which testifies against all
selfish motives and in spite of them; and though it has nothing to
gain, but every thing to lose by such testimony, still utters it.

But if there were no counter testimony, if all slaveholders were
unanimous in the declaration that the treatment of the slaves is
_good_, such a declaration would not be entitled to a feather's weight
as testimony; it is not _testimony_ but _opinion_. Testimony respects
matters of _fact_, not matters of opinion: it is the declaration of a
witness as to _facts_, not the giving of an opinion as to the nature
or qualities of actions, or the _character_ of a course of conduct.
Slaveholders organize themselves into a tribunal to adjudicate upon
their own conduct, and give us in their decisions, their estimate of
their own character; informing us with characteristic modesty, that
they have a high opinion of themselves; that in their own judgment
they are very mild, kind, and merciful gentlemen! In these conceptions
of their own merits, and of the eminent propriety of their bearing
towards their slaves, slaveholders remind us of the Spaniard, who
always took off his hat whenever he spoke of himself, and of the
Governor of Schiraz, who, from a sense of justice to his own character
added to his other titles, those of, 'Flower of Courtesy,' 'Nutmeg of
Consolation,' and 'Rose of Delight.'

[Footnote 21: The law of which the following is an extract, exists in
South Carolina. "If any slave shall suffer in life, limb or member,
when no white person shall be present, or being present, shall refuse
to give evidence, the owner or other person, who shall have the care
of such slave, and in whose power such slave shall be, shall be deemed
guilty of such offence, _unless_ such owner or other person shall make
the contrary appear by good and sufficient evidence, or shall BY HIS
OWN OATH CLEAR AND EXCULPATE HIMSELF. Which oath every court where
such offence shall be tried, is hereby compared to administer, and to
_acquit the offender_, if clear proof of the offence be not made by
_two_ witnesses at least."--2 Brevard's Digest, 242. The state of
Louisiana has a similar law.]

The _sincerity_ of those worthies, no one calls in question; their
real notions of their own merits doubtless ascended into the sublime:
but for aught that appears, they had not the arrogance to demand that
their own notions of their personal excellence, should be taken as the
_proof_ of it. Not so with our slaveholders. Not content with offering
incense at the shrine of their own virtues, they have the effrontery
to demand, that the rest of the world shall offer it, because _they_
do; and shall implicitly believe the presiding divinity to be a good
Spirit rather than a Devil, because _they_ call him so! In other
words, since slaveholders profoundly appreciate their own gentle
dispositions toward their slaves, and their kind treatment of them,
and everywhere protest that they do truly show forth these rare
excellencies, they demand that the rest of the world shall not only
believe that they _think_ so, but that they think _rightly_; that
these notions of themselves are _true_, that their taking off their
hats to themselves proves them worthy of homage, and that their
assumption of the titles of, 'Flower of Kindness,' and 'Nutmeg of
Consolation,' is conclusive evidence that they deserve such

Was there ever a more ridiculous doctrine, than that a man's opinion
of his own actions is the true standard for measuring them, and the
certificate of their real qualities!--that his own estimate of his
treatment of others; is to be taken as the true one, and such
treatment be set down as _good_ treatment upon the strength of his
judgment. He who argues the good treatment of the slave, from the
slaveholder's _good opinion_ of such treatment, not only argues
against human nature and all history, his own common sense, and even
the testimony of his senses, but refutes his own arguments by his
daily practice. Every body acts on the presumption that men's feelings
will vary with their _practices_; that the light in which they view
individuals and classes, and their feelings towards them, will modify
their opinions of the treatment which they receive. In any case of
treatment that affects himself, his church, or his political party, no
man so stultifies himself as to argue that such treatment must be
good, because the _author_ of it thinks so.

Who would argue that the American Colonies were well treated by the
mother country, because parliament thought so? Or that Poland was well
treated by Russia, because Nicholas thought so? Or that the treatment
of the Cherokees by Georgia is proved good by Georgia notions of it?
Or that of the Greeks by the Turks, by Turkish opinions of it? Or that
of the Jews by almost all nations, by the judgment of their
persecutors? Or that of the victims of the Inquisition, by the
opinions of the Inquisitor general, or of the Pope and his cardinals?
Or that of the Quakers and Baptists, at the hands of the Puritans,--to
be judged of by the opinions of the legislatures that authorized, and
the courts that carried it into effect. All those classes of persons
did not, in their own opinion, abuse their victims. If charged with
perpetrating outrageous cruelty upon them, all those oppressors would
have repelled the charge with indignation.

Our slaveholders chime lustily the same song, and no man with human
nature within him, and human history before him, and with sense enough
to keep him out of the fire, will be gulled by such professions,
unless his itch to be humbugged has put on the type of a downright
chronic incurable. We repeat it--when men speak of the treatment of
others as being either good or bad, their declarations are not
generally to be taken as testimony to matters of _fact_, so much as
expressions of _their own feelings_ towards those persons or classes
who are the subjects of such treatment. If those persons are their
fellow citizens; if they are in the same class of society with
themselves; of the same language, creed, and color; similar in their
habits, pursuits, and sympathies; they will keenly feel any wrong done
to them, and denounce it as base, outrageous treatment; but let the
same wrongs be done to persons of a condition in all respects the
reverse, persons whom they habitually despise, and regard only in the
light of mere conveniences, to be used for their pleasure, and the
idea that such treatment is barbarous will be laughed at as
ridiculous. When we hear slaveholders say that their slaves are _well
treated_, we have only to remember that they are not speaking of
_persons_, but of _property_; not of men and women, but of _chattels_
and _things_; not of friends but of _vassals_ and _victims_; not of
those whom they respect and honor, but of those whom they _scorn_ and
trample on; not of those with whom they sympathize, and co-operate,
and interchange courtesies, but of those whom they regard with
contempt and aversion and disdainfully set with the dogs of their
flock. Reader, keep this fact in your mind, and you will have a clue
to the slaveholder's definition of "_good treatment_." Remember also,
that a part of this "good treatment" of which the slaveholders boast,
is plundering the slaves of all their inalienable rights, of the
ownership of their own bodies, of the use of their own limbs and
muscles, of all their time, liberty, and earnings, of the free
exercise of choice, of the rights of marriage and parental authority,
of legal protection, of the right to be, to do, to go, to stay, to
think, to feel, to work, to rest, to eat, to sleep, to learn, to
teach, to earn money, and to expend it, to visit, and to be visited,
to speak, to be silent, to worship according to conscience, in fine,
their right to be protected by just and equal laws, and to be
_amenable to such only_. Of _all these rights the slaves are
plundered_; and this is a _part_ of that "good treatment" of which
their plunderers boast! What then is the _rest_ of it? The above is
enough for a sample, at least a specimen-brick from the kiln. Reader,
we ask you no questions, but merely tell you what _you know_, when we
say that men and women who can habitually do such things to human
beings, _can do_ ANY THING _to them_.

The declarations of slaveholders, that they treat their slaves well,
will put no man in a quandary, who keeps in mind this simple
principle, that the state of mind towards others, which leads one to
inflict cruelties on them _blinds the inflicter to the real nature of
his own acts_. To him, they do not _seem_ to be cruelties;
consequently, when speaking of such treatment toward such persons, he
will protest that it is not cruelty; though if inflicted upon himself
or his friends, he would indignantly stigmatize it as atrocious
barbarity. The objector equally overlooks another every-day fact of
human nature, which is this, that cruelties invariably cease to _seem_
cruelties when the _habit_ is formed though previously the mind
regarded them as such, and shrunk from them with horror.

The following fact, related by the late lamented THOMAS PRINGLE, whose
Life and Poems have published in England, is an appropriate
illustration. Mr. Pringle states it on the authority of Captain W. F.
Owen, of the Royal Navy.

"When his Majesty's ships, the Leven and the Barracouta, employed in
surveying the coast of Africa, were at Mozambique, in 1823, the
officers were introduced to the family of Senor Manuel Pedro
d'Almeydra, a native of Portugal, who was a considerable merchant
settled on that coast; and it was an opinion agreed in by all, that
Donna Sophia d'Almeydra was the most superior woman they had seen
since they left England, Captain Owen, the leader of the expedition,
expressing to Senor d'Almeydra his detestation of slavery, the Senor
replied, 'You will not be long here before you change your sentiments.
Look at my Sophia there. Before she would marry me, she made me
promise that I should give up the slave trade. When we first settled
at Mozambique, she was continually interceding for the slaves, and she
_constantly wept when I punished them_; and now she is among the
slaves front morning to night; she regulates the whole of my slave
establishment; she inquires into every offence committed by them,
pronounces sentence upon the offender, and _stands by and sees them

"To this, Mr. Pringle, who was himself for six years a resident of the
English settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, adds, 'The writer of this
article has seen, in the course of five or six years, as great a
change upon English ladies and gentleman of respectability, as that
described to have taken place in Donna Sophia d'Almeydra; and one of
the individuals whom he has in his eye, while he writes this passage,
lately confessed to him this melancholy change, remarking at the same
time, 'how altered I am in my feelings with regard to slavery. I do
not appear to myself the same person I was on my arrival in this
colony, and if I would give the world for the feelings I then had, I
could not recall them.'"

Slaveholders know full well that familiarity with slavery produces
indifference to its cruelties and reconciles the mind to them. The
late Judge Tucker, a Virginia slaveholder and professor of law in the
University of William and Mary, in the appendix to his edition of
Blackstone's Commentaries, part 2, pp. 56, 57, commenting on the law
of Virginia previous to 1792, which outlawed fugitive slaves, says:

"Such are the cruelties to which slavery gives rise, such the horrors
to which the mind becomes _reconciled_ by its adoption."

The following facts from the pen of CHARLES STUART, happily illustrate
the same principle:

"A young lady, the daughter of a Jamaica planter, was sent at an early
age to school to England, and after completing her education, returned
to her native country.

"She is now settled with her husband and family in England. I visited
her near Bath, early last spring, (1834.) Conversing on the above
subject, the paralyzing effects of slaveholding on the heart, she

"'While at school in England, I often thought with peculiar tenderness
of the kindness of a slave who had nursed and carried me about. Upon
returning to my father's, one of my first inquiries was about him. I
was deeply afflicted to find that he was on the point of undergoing a
"law flogging for having run away." I threw myself at my father's feet
and implored with tears, his pardon; but my father steadily replied,
that it would ruin the discipline of the plantation, and that the
punishment must take place. I wept in vain, and retired so grieved and
disgusted, that for some days after, I could scarcely bear with
patience, the sight of my own father. But many months had not elapsed
ere _I was as ready as any body_ to seize the domestic whip, _and flog
my slaves without hesitation_.'

"This lady is one of the most Christian and noble minds of my
acquaintance. She and her husband distinguished themselves several
years ago, in Jamaica, by immediately emancipating their slaves."

"A lady, now in the West Indies, was sent in her infancy, to her
friends, near Belfast, in Ireland, for education. She remained under
their charge from five to fifteen years of age, and grew up every
thing which her friends could wish. At fifteen, she returned to the
West Indies--was married--and after some years paid her friends near
Belfast, a second visit. Towards white people, she was the same
elegant, and interesting woman as before; apparently full of every
virtuous and tender feeling; but towards the colored people she was
like a tigress. If Wilberforce's name was mentioned, she would say,
'Oh, I wish we had the wretch in the West Indies, I would be one of
the first to help to tear his heart out!'--and then she would tell of
the manner in which the West Indian ladies used to treat their slaves.
'I have often,' she said, 'when my women have displeased me, snatched
their baby from their bosom, and running with it to a well, have tied
my shawl round its shoulders and pretended to be drowning it: oh, it
was so funny to hear the mother's screams!'--and then she laughed
almost convulsively at the recollection."

Mr. JOHN M. NELSON, a native of Virginia, whose testimony is on a
preceding page, furnishes a striking illustration of the principle in
his own case. He says:

"When I was quite a child, I recollect it grieved me very much to see
one tied up to be whipped, and I used to intercede _with tears in
their behalf_, and _mingle my cries with theirs_, and feel almost
willing to take part of the punishment. Yet such is the hardening
nature of such scenes, that from this kind of commiseration for the
suffering slave, I became so blunted that I could not only witness
their stripes with composure, but _myself_ inflict them, and that
without remorse. When I was perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age,
I undertook to correct a young fellow named Ned, for some supposed
offence, I think it was leaving a bridle out of its proper place; he
being larger and stronger than myself took hold of my arms and held
me, in order to prevent my striking him; this I considered the height
of insolence, and cried for help, when my father and mother both came
running to my rescue. My father stripped and tied him, and took him
into the orchard, where switches were plenty, and directed me to whip
him; when one switch wore out he supplied me with others. After I had
whipped him a while, he fell on his knees to implore forgiveness, and
I kicked him in the face; my father said, 'don't kick him but whip
him,' this I did until his back was literally covered with _welts_."

W.C. GILDERSLEEVE, Esq., a native of Georgia, now elder of the
Presbyterian church, Wilkes-barre, Penn. after describing the flogging
of a slave, in which his hands were tied together, and the slave
hoisted by a rope, so that his feet could not touch the ground; in
which condition one hundred lashes were inflicted, says:

"I stood by and witnessed the whole without feeling the least
compassion; so _hardening_ is the influence of slavery that it _very
much destroys feeling for the slave_."

Mrs. CHILD, in her admirable "Appeal," has the following remarks:

"The ladies who remove from the free States into the slaveholding ones
almost invariably write that the sight of slavery was at first
exceedingly painful; but that they soon become habituated to it; and
after a while, they are very apt to vindicate the system, upon the
ground that it is extremely convenient to have such submissive
servants. This reason was actually given by a lady of my acquaintance,
who is considered an unusually fervent Christian. Yet Christianity
expressly teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This shows how
dangerous it is, for even the best of us, to become _accustomed_ to
what is wrong.

"A judicious and benevolent friend lately told me the story of one of
her relatives, who married a slave owner, and removed to his
plantation. The lady in question was considered very amiable, and had
a serene, affectionate expression of countenance. After several years
residence among her slaves, she visited New England. 'Her history was
written in her face,' said my friend; 'its expression had changed into
that of a fiend. She brought but few slaves with her; and those few
were of course compelled to perform additional labor. One faithful
negro woman nursed the twins of her mistress, and did all the washing,
ironing, and scouring. If, after a sleepless night with the restless
babes, (driven from the bosom of their mother,) she performed her
toilsome avocations with diminished activity, her mistress, with her
own lady-like hands, applied the cowskin, and the neighborhood
resounded with the cries of her victim. The instrument of punishment
was actually kept hanging in the entry, to the no small disgust of her
New England visitors. 'For my part,' continued my friend, 'I did not
try to be polite to her; for I was not hypocrite enough to conceal my

The fact that the greatest cruelties may be exercised quite
unconsciously when cruelty has become a habit, and that at the same
time, the mind may feel great sympathy and commiseration towards other
persons and even towards irrational animals, is illustrated in the
case of Tameriane the Great. In his Life, written by himself, he
speaks with the greatest sincerity and tenderness of his grief at
having accidentally crushed an ant; and yet he ordered melted lead to
be poured down the throats of certain persons who drank wine contrary
to his commands. He was manifestly sincere in thinking himself humane,
and when speaking of the most atrocious cruelties perpetrated by
himself, it does not seem to ruffle in the least the self-complacency
with which he regards his own humanity and piety. In one place he
says, "I never undertook anything but I commenced it placing my faith
on God"--and he adds soon after, "the people of Shiraz took part with
Shah Mansur, and put my governor to death; I therefore ordered _a
general massacre of all the inhabitants_."

It is one of the most common caprices of human nature, for the heart
to become by habit, not only totally insensible to certain forms of
cruelty, which at first gave it inexpressible pain, but even to find
its chief amusement in such cruelties, till utterly intoxicated by
their stimulation; while at the same time the mind seems to be pained
as keenly as ever, at forms of cruelty to which it has not become
accustomed, thus retaining _apparently_ the same general
susceptibilities. Illustrations of this are to be found every where;
one happens to lie before us. Bourgoing, in his history of modern
Spain, speaking of the bull fights, the barbarous national amusement
of the Spaniards, says:

"Young ladies, old men, people of all ages and of all characters are
present, and yet the habit of attending these bloody festivals does
not correct their weakness or their timidity, nor injure the sweetness
of their manners. I have moreover known foreigners, distinguished by
the gentleness of their manners, who experienced at first seeing a
bull-fight such very violent emotions as made them turn pale, and they
became ill; but, notwithstanding, this entertainment became afterwards
an irresistible attraction, without operating any revolution in their
characters." Modern State of Spain, by J. F. Bourgoing, Minister
Plenipotentiary from France to the Court of Madrid, Vol ii., page 342.

It is the _novelty_ of cruelty, rather than the _degree_, which repels
most minds. Cruelty in a _new_ form, however slight, will often pain a
mind that is totally unmoved by the most horrible cruelties in a form
to which it is _accustomed_. When Pompey was at the zenith of his
popularity in Rome, he ordered some elephants to be tortured in the
amphitheatre for the amusement of the populace; this was the first
time they had witnessed the torture of those animals, and though for
years accustomed to witness in the same place, the torture of lions,
tigers, leopards, and almost all sorts of wild beasts, as well as that
of men of all nations, and to shout acclamations over their agonies,
yet, this _novel form_ of cruelty so shocked the beholders, that the
most popular man in Rome was execrated as a cruel monster, and came
near falling a victim to the fury of those who just before were ready
to adore him.

We will now briefly notice another objection, somewhat akin to the
preceding, and based mainly upon the same and similar fallacies.


Multitudes scout as fictions the cruelties inflicted upon slaves,
because slaveholders are famed for their courtesy and hospitality.
They tell us that their generous and kind attentions to their guests,
and their well-known sympathy for the suffering, sufficiently prove
the charges of cruelty brought against them to be calumnies, of which
their uniform character is a triumphant refutation.

Now that slaveholders are proverbially hospitable to their guests, and
spare neither pains nor expense in ministering to their accommodation
and pleasure, is freely admitted and easily accounted for. That those
who make their inferiors work for them, without pay, should be
courteous and hospitable to those of their equals and superiors whose
good opinions they desire, is human nature in its every-day dress. The
objection consists of a fact and an inference: the fact, that
slaveholders have a special care to the accommodation of their
_guests;_ the inference, that therefore they must seek the comfort of
their _slaves_--that as they are bland and obliging to their equals,
they must be mild and condescending to their inferiors--that as the
wrongs of their own grade excite their indignation, and their woes
move their sympathies, they must be touched by those of their
chattels--that as they are full of pains-taking toward those whose
good opinions and good offices they seek, they will, of course, show
special attention to those to whose good opinions they are
indifferent, and whose good offices they can _compel_--that as they
honor the literary and scientific, they must treat with high
consideration those to whom they deny the alphabet--that as they are
courteous to certain _persons_, they must be so to "property"--eager
to anticipate the wishes of visitors, they cannot but gratify those of
their vassals--jealous for the rights of the Texans, quick to feel at
the disfranchisement of Canadians and of Irishmen, alive to the
oppressions of the Greeks and the Poles, they must feel keenly for
their _negroes!_ Such conclusions from such premises do not call for
serious refutation. Even a half-grown boy, who should argue, that
because men have certain feelings toward certain persons in certain
circumstances, they must have the same feelings toward all persons in
all circumstances, or toward persons in opposite circumstances, of
totally different grades, habits, and personal peculiarities, might
fairly be set down as a hopeless simpleton: and yet, men of sense and
reflection on other subjects, seem bent upon stultifying themselves by
just such shallow inferences from the fact, that slaveholders are
hospitable and generous to certain persons in certain grades of
society belonging to their own caste. On the ground of this reasoning,
all the crimes ever committed may be disproved, by showing, that their
perpetrators were hospitable and generous to those who sympathized and
co-operated with them. To prove that a man does not hate one of his
neighbors, it is only necessary to show that he loves another; to make
it appear that he does not treat contemptuously the ignorant, he has
only to show that he bows respectfully to the learned; to demonstrate
that he does not disdain his inferiors, lord it over his dependents,
and grind the faces of the poor, he need only show that he is polite
to the rich, pays deference to titles and office, and fawns for favor
upon those above him! The fact that a man always smiles on his
customers, proves that he never scowls at those who dun him! and since
he has always a melodious "good morning!" for "gentlemen of property
and standing," it is certain that he never snarls at beggars. He who
is quick to make room for a doctor of divinity, will, of course, see
to it that he never runs against a porter; and he who clears the way
for a lady, will be sure never to rub against a market woman, or
jostle an apple-seller's board. If accused of beating down his
laundress to the lowest fraction, of making his boot-black call a
dozen times for his pay, of higgling and screwing a fish boy till he
takes off two cents, or of threatening to discharge his seamstress
unless she will work for a shilling a day, how easy to brand it all as
slander, by showing that he pays his minister in advance, is generous
in Christmas presents, gives a splendid new-year's party, expends
hundreds on elections, and puts his name with a round sum on the
subscription paper of the missionary society.

Who can forget the hospitality of King Herod, that model of generosity
"beyond all ancient fame," who offered half his kingdom to a guest, as
a compensation for an hour's amusement.--Could such a noble spirit
have murdered John the Baptist? Incredible! Joab too! how his soft
heart was pierced at the exile of Absalom! and how his bowels yearned
to restore him to his home! Of course, it is all fiction about his
assassinating his nephew, Amasa, and Abner the captain of the host!
Since David twice spared the life of Saul when he came to murder him,
wept on the neck of Jonathan, threw himself upon the ground in anguish
when his child sickened, and bewailed, with a broken heart, the loss
of Absalom--it proves that he did not coolly plot and deliberately
consummate the murder of Uriah! As the Government of the United States
generously gave a township of land to General La Fayette, it proves
that they have never defrauded the Indians of theirs! So the fact,
that the slaveholders of the present Congress are, to a man, favorable
to recognizing the independence of Texas, with her fifty or sixty
thousand inhabitants, _before she has achieved it_, and before it is
recognized by any other government, proves that these same
slaveholders do _not oppose_ the recognition of Hayti, with her
million of inhabitants, whose independence was achieved nearly half a
century ago, and which is recognized by the most powerful governments
on earth!

But, seriously, no man is so slightly versed in human nature as not to
know that men habitually exercise the most opposite feelings, and
indulge in the most opposite practices toward different persons or
different classes of persons around them. No man has ever lived who
was more celebrated for his scrupulous observance of the most exact
justice, and for the illustration furnished in his life of the noblest
natural virtues, than the Roman Cato. His strict adherence to the
nicest rules of equity--his integrity, honor, and incorruptible
faith--his jealous watchfulness over the rights of his fellow
citizens, and his generous devotion to their interest, procured for
him the sublime appellation of "The Just." Towards _freemen_ his life
was a model of every thing just and noble: but to his slaves he was a
monster. At his meals, when the dishes were not done to his liking, or
when his slaves were careless or inattentive in serving, he would
seize a thong and violently beat them, in presence of his
guests.--When they grew old or diseased, and were no longer
serviceable, however long and faithfully they might have served him,
he either turned them adrift and left them to perish, or starved them
to death in his own family. No facts in his history are better
authenticated than these.

No people were ever more hospitable and munificent than the Romans,
and none more touched with the sufferings of others. Their public
theatres often rung with loud weeping, thousands sobbing convulsively
at once over fictitious woes and imaginary sufferers: and yet these
same multitudes would shout amidst the groans of a thousand dying
gladiators, forced by their conquerors to kill each other in the
amphitheatre for the _amusement_ of the public.[22]

[Footnote 22: Dr. Leland, in his "Necessity of a Divine Revelation,"
thus describes the prevalence of these shows among the Romans:--"They
were exhibited at the funerals of great and rich men, and on many
other occasions, by the Roman consuls, praetors, aediles, senators,
knights, priests, and almost all that bore great offices in the state,
as well as by the emperors; and in general, by all that had a mind to
make an interest with the people, who were extravagantly fond of those
kinds of shows. Not only the men, but the women, ran eagerly after
them; who were, by the prevalence of custom, so far divested of that
compassion and softness which is natural to the sex, that they took a
pleasure in seeing them kill one another, and only desired that they
should fall genteelly, and in an agreeable attitude. Such was the
frequency of those shows, and so great the number of men that were
killed on those occasions, that Lipsius says, no war caused such
slaughter of mankind, as did these sports of pleasure, throughout the
several provinces of the vast Roman empire."--_Leland's Neces. of Div.
Rev._ vol. ii. p. 51.]

Alexander, the tyrant of Phaeres, sobbed like a child over the
misfortunes of the Trojan queens, when the tragedy of Andromache and
Hecuba was played before him; yet he used to murder his subjects every
day for no crime, and without even setting up the pretence of any, but
merely _to make himself sport_.

The fact that slaveholders may be full of benevolence and kindness
toward their equals and toward whites generally, even so much so as to
attract the esteem and admiration of all, while they treat with the
most inhuman neglect their own slaves, is well illustrated by a
circumstance mentioned by the Rev. Dr. CHANNING, of Boston, (who once
lived in Virginia,) is his work on slavery, p. 162, 1st edition:--

"I cannot," says the doctor, "forget my feelings on visiting a
hospital belonging to the plantation of a gentleman _highly esteemed
for his virtues_, and whose manners and conversation expressed much
_benevolence_ and _conscientiousness_. When I entered with him the
hospital, the first object on which my eye fell was a young woman very
ill, probably approaching death. She was stretched on the floor. Her
head rested on something like a pillow, but her body and limbs were
extended on the hard boards. The owner, I doubt not, had, at least, as
much kindness as myself; but he was so used to see the slaves living
without common comforts, that the idea of unkindness in the present
instance did not enter his mind."

Mr. GEORGE A. AVERY, an elder of a Presbyterian church in Rochester,
N.Y. who resided some years in Virginia, says:--

"On one occasion I was crossing the plantation and approaching the
house of a friend, when I met him, _rifle in hand_, in pursuit of one
of his negroes, declaring he would shoot him in a moment if he got his
eye upon him. It appeared that the slave had refused to be flogged,
and ran off to avoid the consequences; _and yet the generous
hospitality of this man to myself, and white friends generally,
scarcely knew any bounds._

"There were amongst my slaveholding friends and acquaintances, persons
who were as _humane_ and _conscientious_ as men can be, and persist in
the impious claim of _property_ in a fellow being. Still I can
recollect but _one instance_ of corporal punishment, whether the
subject were male or female, in which the infliction was not on the
_bare back_ with the _raw hide_, or a similar instrument, the subject
being _tied_ during the operation to a post or tree. The _exception_
was under the following circumstances. I had taken a walk with a
friend on his plantation, and approaching his gang of slaves, I sat
down whilst he proceeded to the spot where they were at work; and
addressing himself somewhat earnestly to a female who was wielding the
hoe, in a moment caught up what I supposed a _tobacco stick_, (a stick
some three feet in length on which the tobacco, when out, is suspended
to dry.) about the size of a _man's wrist_, and laid on a number of
blows furiously over her head. The woman crouched, and seemed stunned
with the blows, but presently recommenced the motion of her hoe."

Dr. DAVID NELSON, a native of Tennessee, and late president of Marion
College, Missouri, in a lecture at Northampton, Mass. in January,
1839, made the following statement:--

"I remember a young lady who played well on the piano, and was very
ready to weep over any fictitious tale of suffering. I was present
when one of her slaves lay on the floor in a high fever, and we feared
she might not recover. I saw that young lady _stamp upon her with her
feet;_ and the only remark her mother made was, 'I am afraid Evelina
is too _much_ prejudiced against poor Mary.'"

General WILLIAM EATON, for some years U.S. Consul at Tunis, and
commander of the expedition against Tripoli, in 1895, thus gives vent
to his feelings at the sight of many hundreds of Sardinians who had
been enslaved by the Tunisians:

"Many have died of grief, and the others linger out a life less
tolerable than death. Alas! remorse seizes my whole soul when I
reflect, that this is indeed but a copy of the very barbarity which
_my eyes have seen_ in my own native country. _How frequently_, in the
southern states of my own country, have I seen _weeping mothers_
leading the guiltless infant to the sales with as _deep anguish_ as if
they led them to the slaughter; and _yet felt my bosom tranquil_ in
the view of these aggressions on defenceless humanity. But when I see
the same enormities practised upon beings whose complexions and blood
claim kindred with my own, _I curse the perpetrators, and weep over
the wretched victims of their rapacity._ Indeed, truth and justice
demand from me the confession, that the Christian slaves among the
barbarians of Africa are treated with more humanity than the African
slaves among professing Christians of civilized America; and yet
_here_ [in Tunis] sensibility _bleeds at every pore_ for the wretches
whom fate has doomed to slavery."

Rev. H. LYMAN, late pastor of the free Presbyterian Church, Buffalo,
N.Y. who spent the winter of 1832-3 at the south, says:--

"In the interior of Mississippi I was invited to the house of a
planter, where I was received with great cordiality, and entertained
with marked hospitality.

"There I saw a master in the midst of his household slaves. The
evening passed most pleasantly, as indeed it must, where assiduous
hospitalities are exercised towards the guest.

"Late in the morning, when I had gained the tardy consent of my host
to go on my way, as a final act of kindness, he called a slave to show
me across the fields by a nearer route to the main road. 'David,' said
he, 'go and show this gentleman as far as the post-office. Do you know
the big bay tree?' 'Yes, sir.' 'Do you know where the cotton mill is?'
'Yes, sir.' 'Where Squire Malcolm's old field is?' 'Y--e--s, sir,'
said David, (beginning to be bewildered). 'Do you know where Squire
Malcolm's cotton field is?' 'No, sir.' 'No, sir,' said the enraged
master, _levelling his gun at him_. 'What do you stand here, saying,
Yes, yes, yes, for, when you don't know?' All this was accompanied
with _threats_ and _imprecations_, and a manner that contrasted
strangely with the _religious conversation and gentle manners_ of the
previous evening."

The Rev. JAMES H. DICKEY, formerly a slaveholder in South Carolina,
now pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Hennepin, Ill. in his "Review
of Nevins' Biblical Antiquities," after asserting that slaveholding
tends to beget "a spirit of cruelty and tyranny, and to destroy every
generous and noble feeling," (page 33,) he adds the following as a

"It may be that this will be considered censorious, and the proverbial
generosity and hospitality of the south will be appealed to as a full
confutation of it. The writer thinks he can appreciate southern
kindness and hospitality. Having been born in Virginia, raised and
educated in South Carolina and Kentucky, he is altogether southern in
his feelings, and habits, and modes of familiar conversation. He can
say of the south as Cowper said of England, 'With all thy faults I
love thee still, my country.' And nothing but the abominations of
slavery could have induced him willingly to forsake a land endeared to
him by all the associations of childhood and youth.

"Yet it is candid to admit that it is not all gold that glitters.
There is a fictitious kindness and hospitality. The famous Robin Hood
was kind and generous--no man more hospitable--he robbed the rich to
supply the necessities of the poor. Others rob the poor to bestow
gifts and lavish kindness and hospitality on their rich friends and
neighbors. It is an easy matter for a man to appear kind and generous,
when he bestows that which others have earned.

"I said, there is a fictitious kindness and hospitality. I once knew a
man who left his wife and children three days, without fire-wood,
without bread-stuff and without shoes, while the ground was covered
with snow--that he might indulge in his cups. And when I attempted to
expostulate with him, he took the subject out of my hands, and
expatiating on the evils of intemperance more eloquently than I could,
concluded by warning me, _with tears_, to avoid the snares of the
latter. He had tender feelings, yet a hard heart. I once knew a young
lady of polished manners and accomplished education, who would weep
with sympathy over the fictitious woes exhibited in a novel. And
waking from her reverie of grief, while her eye was yet wet with
tears, would call her little waiter, and if she did not appear at the
first call, would rap her head with her thimble till my head ached.

"I knew a man who was famed for kindly sympathies. He once took off
his shirt and gave it to a poor white man. The same man hired a black
man, and gave him for his _daily task_, through the winter, to feed
the beasts, keep fires, and make one hundred rails: and in case of
failure the lash was applied so freely, that, in the spring, his back
was _one continued sore, from his shoulders to his waist_. Yet this
man was a professor of religion, and famous for his tender sympathies
to white men!"


ANSWER:--Their knowledge on this point must have been derived, either
from the slaveholders and overseers themselves, or from the slaves, or
from their own observation. If from the slaveholders, _their_
testimony has already been weighed and found wanting; if they derived
it from the slaves, they can hardly be so simple as to suppose that
the _guest, associate and friend of the master_, would be likely to
draw from his _slaves_ any other testimony respecting his treatment of
them, than such as would please _him_. The great shrewdness and tact
exhibited by slaves in _keeping themselves out of difficulty_, when
close questioned by strangers as to their treatment, cannot fail to
strike every accurate observer. The following remarks of CHIEF JUSTICE
HENDERSON, a North Carolina slaveholder, in his decision (in 1830,) in
the case of the State _versus_ Charity, 2 Devereaux's North Carolina
Reports, 513, illustrate the folly of arguing the good treatment of
slaves from their own declarations, _while in the power of their
masters_. In the case above cited, the Chief Justice, in refusing to
permit a master to give in evidence, declarations made to him by his
slave, says of masters and slaves generally--

"The master has an almost _absolute control_ over the body and _mind_
of his slave. The master's _will_ is the slave's _will_. All his acts,
_all his sayings_, are made with a view to propitiate his master. His
confessions are made, not from a love of truth, not from a sense of
duty, not to speak a falsehood, but to _please his master_--and it is
in vain that his master tells him to speak the truth and conceals from
him how he wishes the question answered. The slave _will_ ascertain,
or, which is the same thing, think that he has ascertained _the wishes
of his master,_ and MOULD HIS ANSWER ACCORDINGLY. We therefore more
often get the wishes of the master, or the slave's belief of his
wishes, than the truth."

The following extract of a letter from the Hon. SETH M. GATES, member
elect of the next Congress, furnishes a clue by which to interpret the
looks, actions, and protestations of slaves, when in the presence of
their masters' guests, and the pains sometimes taken by slaveholders,
in teaching their slaves the art of _pretending_ that they are treated
well, love their masters, are happy, &c. The letter is dated Leroy,
Jan. 4, 1839.

"I have sent your letter to Rev. Joseph M. Sadd, Castile, Genesee
county, who resided five years in a slave state, and left, disgusted
with slavery. I trust he will give you some facts. I remember one
fact, which his wife witnessed. A relative, where she boarded,
returning to his plantation after a temporary absence, was not met by
his servants with such demonstrations of joy as was their wont. He
ordered his horse put out, took down his whip, ordered his servants to
the barn, and gave them a most cruel beating, because they did not run
out to meet him, and pretend great attachment to him. Mrs. Sadd had
overheard the servants agreeing not to go out, before his return, as
they said _they did not love him_--and this led her to watch his
conduct to them. This man was a professor of religion!"

If these northern visitors derived their information that the slaves
are _not_ cruelly treated from _their own observation_, it amounts to
this, _they did not see_ cruelties inflicted on the slaves. To which
we reply, that the preceding pages contain testimony from hundreds of
witnesses, who testify that they _did see_ the cruelties whereof they
affirm. Besides this, they contain the solemn declarations of scores
of slaveholders themselves, in all parts of the slave states, that the
slaves are cruelly treated. These declarations are moreover fully
corroborated, by the laws of slave states, by a multitude of
advertisements in their newspapers, describing runaway slaves, by
their scars, brands, gashes, maimings, cropped ears, iron collars,
chains, &c. &c.

Truly, after the foregoing array of facts and testimony, and after the
objectors' forces have one after another filed off before them, now to
march up a phalanx of northern _visitors_, is to beat a retreat.
'Visitors!' What insight do casual visitors get into the tempers and
daily practices of those whom they visit, or of the treatment that
their slaves receive at their hands, especially if these visitors are
strangers, and from a region where there are no slaves, and which
claims to be opposed to slavery? What opportunity has a stranger, and
a temporary guest, to learn the every-day habits and caprices of his
host? Oh, these northern visitors tell us they have visited scores of
families at the south and never saw a master or mistress whip their
slaves. Indeed! They have, doubtless, visited hundreds of families at
the north--did they ever see, on such occasions, the father or mother
whip their children? If so, they must associate with very ill-bred
persons. Because well-bred parents do not whip their children in the
presence, or within the hearing of their guests are we to infer that
they never do it _out_ of their sight and hearing? But perhaps the
fact that these visitors do not _remember_ seeing slaveholders strike
their slaves, merely proves, that they had so little feeling for them,
that though they might be struck every day in their presence, yet as
they were only slaves and 'niggers,' it produced no effect upon them;
consequently they have no impressions to recall. These visitors have
also doubtless _rode_ with scores of slaveholders. Are they quite
certain they ever saw them whip their _horses_? and can they recall
the persons, times, places, and circumstances? But even if these
visitors regarded the slaves with some kind feelings, when they first
went to the south, yet being constantly with their oppressors, seeing
them used as articles of property, accustomed to hear them charged
with all kinds of misdemeanors, their ears filled with complaints of
their laziness, carelessness, insolence, obstinacy, stupidity, thefts,
elopements, &c. and at the same time, receiving themselves the most
gratifying attentions and caresses from the same persons, who, while
they make to them these representations of their slaves, are giving
them airings in their coaches, making parties for them, taking them on
excursions of pleasure, lavishing upon them their choicest
hospitalities, and urging them to protract indefinitely their
stay--what more natural than for the flattered guest to admire such
hospitable people, catch their spirit, and fully sympathize with their
feelings toward their slaves, regarding with increased disgust and
aversion those who can habitually tease and worry such loveliness and
generosity[23]. After the visitor had been in contact with the
slave-holding spirit long enough to have imbibed it, (no very tedious
process,) a cuff, or even a kick administered to a slave, would not be
likely to give him such a shock that his memory would long retain the
traces of it. But lest we do these visitors injustice, we will suppose
that they carried with them to the south humane feelings for the
slave, and that those feelings remained unblunted; still, what
opportunity could they have to witness the actual condition of the
slaves? They come in contact with the house-servants only, and as a
general thing, with none but the select ones of these, the
_parlor_-servants; who generally differ as widely in their appearance
and treatment from the cooks and scullions in the kitchen, as parlor
furniture does from the kitchen utensils. Certain servants are
assigned to the parlor, just as certain articles of furniture are
selected for it, _to be seen_--and it is no less ridiculous to infer
that the kitchen scullions are clothed and treated like those servants
who wait at the table, and are in the presence of guests, than to
infer that the kitchen is set out with sofas, ottomans, piano-fortes,
and full-length mirrors, because the parlor is. But the house-slaves
are only a fraction of the whole number. The _field-hands_ constitute
the great mass of the slaves, and these the visitors rarely get a
glimpse at. They are away at their work by day-break, and do not
return to their huts till dark. Their huts are commonly at some
distance from the master's mansion, and the fields in which they
labor, generally much farther, and out of sight. If the visitor
traverses the plantation, care is taken that he does not go alone; if
he expresses a wish to see it, the horses are saddled, and the master
or his son gallops the rounds with him; if he expresses a desire to
see the slaves at work, his conductor will know _where_ to take him,
and _when_, and _which_ of them to show; the overseer, too, knows
quite too well the part he has to act on such occasions, to shock the
uninitiated ears of the visitors with the shrieks of his victims. It
is manifest that visitors can see only the least repulsive parts of
slavery, inasmuch as it is wholly at the option of the master, what
parts to show them; as a matter of necessity, he can see only the
_outside_--and that, like the outside of doorknobs and andirons is
furbished up to be _looked at_. So long as it is human nature to wear
_the best side out_, so long the northern guests of southern
slaveholders will see next to nothing of the reality of slavery. Those
visitors may still keep up their autumnal migrations to the slave
states, and, after a hasty survey of the tinsel hung before the
curtain of slavery, without a single glance behind it, and at the
paint and varnish that _cover up_ dead men's bones, and while those
who have hoaxed them with their smooth stories and white-washed
specimens of slavery, are tittering at their gullibility, they return
in the spring on the same fool's-errand with their predecessors,
retailing their lesson, and mouthing the praises of the masters, and
the comforts of the slaves. They now become village umpires in all
disputes about the condition of the slaves, and each thence forward
ends all controversies with his oracular, "I've _seen_, and sure I
ought to know."

[Footnote 23: Well saith the Scripture, "A gift blindeth the eyes." The
slaves understand this, though the guest may not; they know very well
that they have no sympathy to expect from their master's guests; that
the good cheer of the "big house," and the attentions shown them, will
generally commit them in their master's favor, and against themselves.
Messrs. Thome and Kimball, in their late work, state the following
fact, in illustration of this feeling among the negro apprentices in

"The governor of one of the islands, shortly after his arrival, dined
with one of the wealthiest proprietors. The next day one of the
negroes of the estate said to another, "De new gubner been
_poison'd_." "What dat you say?" inquired the other in astonishment,
"De gubner been _poison'd_! Dah, now!--How him poisoned?" "_Him eat
massa's turtle soup last night_," said the shrewd negro. The other
took his meaning at once; and his sympathy for the governor was
turned into concern for himself, when he perceived that the
poison was one from which he was likely to suffer more than his
excellency."--_Emancipation in the West Indies_, p. 334.]

But all northern visitors at the south are not thus easily gulled.
Many of them, as the preceding pages show, have too much sense to be
caught with chaff.

We may add here, that those classes of visitors whose representations
of the treatment of slaves are most influential in moulding the
opinions of the free states, are ministers of the gospel, agents of
benevolent societies, and teachers who have traveled and temporarily
resided in the slave states--classes of persons less likely than any
others to witness cruelties, because slaveholders generally take more
pains to keep such visitors in ignorance than others, because their
vocations would furnish them fewer opportunities for witnessing them,
and because they come in contact with a class of society in which
fewer atrocities are committed than in any other, and that too, under
circumstances which make it almost impossible for them to witness
those which are actually committed.

Of the numerous classes of persons from the north who temporarily
reside in the slave states, the mechanics who find employment on the
_plantations_, are the only persons who are in circumstances to look
"behind the scenes." Merchants, pedlars, venders of patents, drovers,
speculators, and almost all descriptions of persons who go from the
free states to the south to make money see little of slavery, except
_upon the road_, at public inns, and in villages and cities.

Let not the reader infer from what has been said, that the
_parlor_-slaves, chamber-maids, &c. in the slave states are not
treated with cruelty--far from it. They often experience terrible
inflictions; not generally so terrible or so frequent as the
field-hands, and very rarely in the presence of guests[24]
House-slaves are for the most part treated far better than
plantation-slaves, and those under the immediate direction of the
master and mistress, than those under overseers and drivers. It is
quite worthy of remark, that of the thousands of northern men who have
visited the south, and are always lauding the kindness of slaveholders
and the comfort of the slaves, protesting that they have never seen
cruelties inflicted on them, &c. each perhaps, without exception, has
some story to tell which reveals, better perhaps than the most
barbarous butchery could do, a public sentiment toward slaves, showing
that the most cruel inflictions must of necessity be the constant
portion of the slaves.

[Footnote 24: Rev. JOSEPH M. SADD, a Presbyterian clergyman, in
Castile, Genesee county, N.Y. recently from Missouri, where he has
preached five years, in the midst of slaveholders, says, in a letter
just received, speaking of the pains taken by slaveholders to conceal
from the eyes of strangers and visitors, the cruelties which they
inflict upon their slaves--

"It is difficult to be an eye-witness of these things; the master and
mistress, almost invariably punish their slaves only in the presence
of themselves and other slaves."]

Though facts of this kind lie thick in every corner, the reader will,
we are sure, tolerate even a needless illustration, if told that it is
from the pen of N.P. Rogers, Esq. of Concord, N.H. who, whatever he
writes, though it be, as in this case, a mere hasty letter, always
finds readers to the end.

"At a court session at Guilford, Stafford county, N.H. in August,
1837, the Hon. Daniel M. Durell, of Dover, formerly Chief Justice
of the Common Pleas for that state, and a member of Congress,
was charging the abolitionists, in presence of several gentlemen
of the bar, at their boarding house, with exaggerations and
misrepresentations of slave treatment at the south. 'One instance
in particular,' he witnessed, he said, where he 'knew they
misrepresented. It was in the Congregational meeting house at Dover.
He was passing by, and saw a crowd entering and about the door; and on
inquiry, found that _abolition was going on in there_. He stood in the
entry for a moment, and found the Englishman, Thompson, was holding
forth. The fellow was speaking of the treatment of slaves; and he said
it was no uncommon thing for masters, when exasperated with the slave,
to hang him up by the two thumbs, and flog him. I knew the fellow lied
there,' said the judge, 'for I had traveled through the south, from
Georgia north, and I never saw a single instance of the kind. The
fellow said it was a common thing.' 'Did you see any _exasperated
masters_, Judge,' said I, 'in your journey?' 'No sir,' said he, 'not
an individual instance.' 'You hardly are able to convict Mr. Thompson
of falsehood, then, Judge,' said I, 'if I understood you right. He
spoke, as I understood you, of _exasperated masters_--and you say you
did not see any. Mr. Thompson did not say it was common for masters in
good humor to hang up their slaves.' The Judge did not perceive the
materiality of the distinction. 'Oh, they misrepresent and lie about
this treatment of the niggers,' he continued. 'In going through all
the states I visited, I do not now remember a single instance of cruel
treatment. Indeed, I remember of seeing but one nigger struck, during
my whole journey. There was one instance. We were riding in the stage,
pretty early one morning, and we met a black fellow, driving a span of
horses, and a load (I think he said) of hay. The fellow turned out
before we got to him, clean down into the ditch, as far as he could
get. He knew, you see, what to depend on, if he did not give the road.
Our driver, as we passed the fellow, fetched him a smart crack with
his whip across the chops. He did not make any noise, though I guess
it hurt him some--he grinned.--Oh, no! these fellows exaggerate. The
niggers, as a general thing, are kindly treated. There may be
exceptions, but I saw nothing of it.' (By the way, the Judge did not
know there were any abolitionists present.) 'What did you _do_ to the
driver, Judge,' said I, 'for striking that man?' 'Do,' said he, 'I did
nothing to him, to be sure.' 'What did you _say_ to him, sir?' said I.
'Nothing,' he replied: 'I said nothing to him.' 'What did the other
passengers do?' said I. 'Nothing, sir,' said the Judge. 'The fellow
turned out the white of his eye, but he did not make any noise.' 'Did
the driver say any thing, Judge, when he struck the man?' 'Nothing,'
said the Judge, 'only he _damned him_, and told him he'd learn him to
keep out of the reach of his whip.' 'Sir,' said I, 'if George Thompson
had told this story, in the warmth of an anti-slavery speech, I should
scarcely have credited it. I have attended many anti-slavery meetings,
and I never heard an instance of such _cold-blooded, wanton,
insolent_, DIABOLICAL cruelty as this; and, sir, if I live to attend
another meeting, I shall relate this, and give Judge Durell's name as
the witness of it.' An infliction of the most insolent character,
entirely unprovoked, on a perfect stranger, who had showed the utmost
civility, in giving all the road, and only could not get beyond the
long reach of the driver's whip--and he a stage driver, a class
_generous_ next to the sailor, in the sober hour of morning--and
_borne in silence_--and _told to show that the colored man of the
south was kindly treated_--all evincing, to an unutterable extent,
that the temper of the south toward the slave is merciless, even to
_diabolism_--and that the north regards him with, if possible, a more
fiendish indifference still!"

It seems but an act of simple justice to say, in conclusion, that many
of the slaveholders from whom our northern visitors derive their
information of the "good treatment" of the slave, may not design to
deceive them. Such visitors are often, perhaps generally brought in
contact with the better class of slaveholders, whose slaves are really
better fed, clothed, lodged, and housed; more moderately worked; more
seldom whipped, and with less severity, than the slaves generally.
Those masters in speaking of the good condition of their slaves, and
asserting that they are treated _well_, use terms that are not
_absolute_ but _comparative_: and it may be, and doubtless often is
true that their stares are treated well _as slaves_, in comparison
with the treatment received by slaves generally. So the overseers of
such slaves, and the slaves themselves, may, without lying or
designing to mislead, honestly give the same testimony. As the great
body of slaves within their knowledge _fare worse_, it is not strange
that, when speaking of the treatment on their own plantation, they
should call it _good_.


So it is for the interest of the drunkard to quit his cups; for the
glutton to curb his appetite; for the debauchee to bridle his lust;
for the sluggard to be up betimes; for the spendthrift to be
economical, and for all sinners to stop sinning. Even if it were for
the interest of masters to treat their slaves well, he must be a
novice who thinks _that_ a proof that the slaves _are_ well treated.
The whole history of man is a record of real interests sacrificed to
present gratification. If all men's actions were consistent with their
best interests, folly and sin would be words without meaning.

If the objector means that it is for the pecuniary interests of
masters to treat their slaves well, and thence infers their good
treatment, we reply, that though the love of money is strong, yet
appetite and lust, pride, anger and revenge, the love of power and
honor, are each an overmatch for it; and when either of them is roused
by a sudden stimulant, the love of money worsted in the grapple with
it. Look at the hourly lavish outlays of money to procure a momentary
gratification for those passions and appetites. As the desire for
money is, in the main, merely a desire for the means of gratifying
_other_ desires, or rather for one of the means, it must be the
_servant_ not the sovereign of those desires, to whose gratification
its only use is to minister. But even if the love of money were the
strongest human passion, who is simple enough to believe that it is
all the time so powerfully excited, that no other passion or appetite
can get the mastery over it? Who does not know that gusts of rage,

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